Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No More Please

With the exit of Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone is the person in sole charge of Formula One. One of the first things he said after the Singapore Grand Prix is that Singapore could staged F1 for the next 20 years.

For the stake of all concern, I hope not.

After the end of the Singapore Grand Prix last week, I decided to wait for the podium presentation. Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were the top 3 finishers and as the camera showed them waiting in a small room for the podium presentation, you can just see how tired they were. Teammates Webber and Vettel shared a handshake and just fell into their chairs. Alonso had a bottle of water and instead of drinking it, he poured it over his head.

All 3 drivers were so tired and hot that they looked like they had been in a sauna!

Since the first year, drivers had complained about the Marina track. The complains ranged from it being humid, hot, bumpy, to the track being “challenging.” And that’s just from the drivers! Singaporeans raged against the roadblocks; shop-owners along the circuit complained about loss of business due to the roadblocks; and it is believed that Singapore had been losing money on the race since year one. It was no surprise when Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry S. Iswaran refused to confirm that Singapore is thinking of extending the race beyond the current contract.

Frankly, I’m all for a Singapore F1 race but I hate the Marina track. It sucks! If Singapore wants to hold an F1 event, we need to build a proper racing track! However that doesn’t seem likely so when the current F1 contract runs out in 2012, here is one Singaporean and racing fan that hopes it will not return.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Main Focus

With a general election expected in December this year, it was just a matter of time before it happened. As Singapore’s population crossed five million this year and over a third of the total population are foreigners, it was a matter of time before an opposition party played the immigration card.

To little surprise, it was the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) who went to bat first.

At a rally at the Speaker's Corner, SDP Secretary General Chee Soon Juan asked the Singapore government to slow the influx of foreign workers. Say what you want about the SDP, no one can accuse them of being afraid to take risks.

Unfortunately for the Singapore government, the immigration card will not be a big risk for the SDP. Since 2007, about 150,000 foreign workers have entered Singapore each year completing for jobs, housing with ordinary Singaporeans. Despite Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying last month that the government would limit the number of foreigners this year to 80,000, for a lot of Singaporeans it is a case of too little, too late.

The SDP also called for a minimum wage and lower sales tax for Singaporeans at the rally but almost all the attention has been focused on the call to limit foreign workers. That tell you a lot of what the main focus will be in the upcoming elections.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Price For Mas Selamat Kastari

Last week, Singapore and Malaysia announced that they have settled a land deal regarding the Malaysian railway land in Tanjong Pagar. Details of the deal involve Malaysia getting four land parcels in Marina South and two land parcels in the Ophir-Rochor area; in return Singapore got land parcels in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji, Woodlands, and Bukit Timah.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the deal jointly and both said they were delighted at the deal. Solving long-standing land disputes between 2 countries is always a good thing but when the deal was announced, I was surprised that Singapore had given away land in the Ophir-Rochor area.

With new plans to expand the Central Business District to the area, those parcels of land were in prime area. Maybe even in the heart of a new financial business district. Even the parcels in Marina South are in good locations as the location is somewhat near the Marina Sands casino.

I thought it strange that Singapore had given away prime land in return for land in less important locations. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a bad deal; it just wasn’t a good one as I thought Singapore gave away a lot. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars here.

Now I understand.

On Feb. 27, 2008, Mas Selamat Kastari embarrassed the Singapore government when he escaped from a Singapore prison by wriggling out a bathroom window. Despite a massive manhunt around the island, it would be a year before the terror suspect was recaptured…in Malaysia! Malaysian police captured him with help from Indonesia and almost no input from Singapore. It was humiliation on top of embarrassment.

Malaysia had already rejected Singapore’s request to extradite Mas Selamat but after 18 months of saying “No,” Malaysia suddenly announced that they will deport him back to Singapore. In the same week when the land deal was made.

A coincidence that has nothing to do with the land deal? I don’t think so.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Comics this week

Uncanny X-Men #528- Last issue, I complained about how the story jumped from one place to another without resolution. The problem still persist this issue but luckily a more streamline approach helped this issue. Instead of jumping all over the world, this issue we only get Emma Frost in Utopia, Hope and Storm helping a New Light, and for some reason Namor. There is still no link between the various stories but some good characterization on Hope saved this issue from being a total waste of paper. Hope was trained by Cable. Trained to be a survivor, a soldier; not a superhero! I love the scene when Storm go up and centre to confront the bad guys, and Hope going “Tactical Disadvantage! Tactical Disadvantage!” in the back. Writer Matt Fraction showcase the differences between Hope and a typical X-Men like Storm and more of this kind of writing is needed for this series.

Hit-Monkey #3- With #3, Hit-Monkey has come to an end. It’s a bittersweet moment for me because although writer Daniel Way had crafted an engaging tale, at the same time I realized that there is just a problem about the series. A monkey who is a hitman may be a fun idea but when Hit-Monkey himself does not speak, that’s a problem in the long run. Marvel may have hit gold with the monkey, but a long running series may be just beyond what the character is capable of.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Product Placement Hell

Yesterday I just saw the first episode in the latest season of Amazing Race Asia. At least I “think” it is an episode of Amazing Race Asia, because with all the product placement in the show, I have a hard time telling!

As a rule, I don’t watch reality shows. I may watch a few episodes of American Idol now and then, some Deadliest Catch when I have nothing to do, but that’s about it. The sole reality show that I make time to watch is The Amazing Race.

However the latest season of The Amazing Race and Amazing Race Asia seems more like an advertiser’s wet dream than a true competition. In the past seasons, we have competitors running around the world as they tried to complete tasks in strange, exotic locations.

Now, we are force-fed products placement that has almost nothing to do with the race. Last night while watching Amazing Race Asia, I saw product placement for Sony, a cruise line, and even a lousy TV cartoon show! All so jarring, I find that I am unable to enjoy the race!

And it’s not just Amazing Race Asia! This is a problem faced by the latest season of The Amazing Race as well. It was no surprise to me when it lost the Emmy for “Best Reality Show” because how can any viewers enjoy the show when they have product placements in their faces all the time?

Answer: They can’t!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nothing But Roadblocks!

For the third year running, the Formula One is in Singapore. The SingTel Singapore Grand Prix race will be held over the weekend at the Marina Bay so-call circuit.

Ever heard of familiarity breeds contempt? For Singaporeans, that seems to be the case this year as I heard of nothing but groans this year. There is just no interest among Singaporeans this year for the F1. It’s not just Singaporeans who have this problem as even government officials doesn’t seem excited about the race. The F1 concert was cancelled and outside a few advertisement banners, there had been almost no promotion of the race.

In fact, the best (if not the only) way to get a reaction out of Singaporeans for the race is to mention the roadblocks in the Marina area! Now that; that will get a reaction out of almost anyone in Singapore! “Nothing but roadblocks!” everyone will cry.

Outside that…no one cares.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Maybe Games

The Commonwealth Games has always been considered a poor cousin to more famous events like the Olympics and the World Cup but even with lowered expectations, nothing could prepare people for the nonsense that is the New Delhi Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games is held once every four years and brings together athletes from countries in the commonwealth. The Games is supposed to be held in New Delhi this year.

I said “supposed” because less than two weeks before the opening ceremony, construction for the Games village, main stadium, and practically everything else are still ongoing! This is turning out to be a major embarrassment for the Indian government as the Games were supposed to showcase the country as an up-and-coming country. So much for that idea!

Preparations are so bad that Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell had to publicly pressure the Indian government by calling a press conference and calling the athletes' village “unfinished.” He was being polite as some had already called the village "unlivable" as only 18 of 34 residential towers at the village are completed.

Just to twist the knife a little more, a footbridge under construction collapsed on Tuesday, injuring 23 construction workers. The footbridge was to lead pedestrians to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium where the opening, closing ceremonies and athletics events are supposed to be held.

Again there is a “supposed” because the Games might not be held at all. An Australian discus-thrower had already pulled out of the Games due to security concerns and the New Zealand team manager is another person who has publicly said that the games may not go ahead. Guess we will all know in 2 weeks time if that is true.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Strange Spat

Border disputes between countries are not uncommon, so the current spat between China and Japan is hardly a surprise. The spat began when a Chinese fishing trawler was spotted by Japanese patrol boats near an island chain in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.

The Chinese vessel then made a run for it and in an incident that only happened in a movie, the Chinese trawler and the Japanese patrol boats engaged in a high-sea chase. Refusing to stop, the Chinese trawler rammed into two Japanese patrol vessels before finally stopping. The incident has sparked the worst row between the two Asian giants in years, made worse by the fact that Taiwan also has a claim in the area as there are possible oil and gas deposits there.

Japan has released the trawler and the crew but detained the boat captain, Zhan Qixiong, as they believed he intentionally rammed his trawler into the two Japanese patrol vessels. China reacted to this by suspending high-level exchanges between the two countries and even stopping tickets sales of Japanese boyband SMAP.

Personally I find the dispute a little strange. Pride and face always played a large part in Asia but the dispute is basically on a boat captain who is accused of intentionally ramming his trawler into two Japanese patrol vessels. An accusation that no one is disputing!

I find this beyond strange, right into the realm of the ridiculous! I have not heard of a single Chinese official who has come out to say the captain is innocent so I think it’s fair to say even they believed that the ramming was intentional. If that’s the case, what’s the problem?

To be fair, China has the better claim on the disputed islands but no matter who the islands truly belong to, the fact is that this captain ram his trawler into TWO Japanese patrol boats! That’s plain wrong and Japan has more than a right to detain him. I mean if the situation is reserved, would China had done any differently? The answer is obvious to all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Inspiration

Philippe Croizon, a 42-year-old former metalworker, just swam across the English Channel. Nothing special there expect that the man lost his hands and legs 16 years ago in an electrical accident!

Coming from a man with all his arms and legs intact but can barely swim, I just have to say Wow! What this man did was an inspiration, made even more amazing by the fact he did it 10 hours ahead of time!

Reports say Mr. Croizon trained for two years for his Channel crossing attempt. It was 2 years well spent! Congratulations Mr. Croizon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Not F2P LOTR Online

It has been a week since Lord of the Rings Online went F2P. After trying out thegame for a week, I will say this.

It isn’t really F2P.

Like most F2P games, LOTR Online is going to make its money through their microtransaction store. Turbine Entertainment has made it that you “have” to use the store if you intend to go anywhere in the game.

In the F2P LOTR world, you will have free access to all quests in the starting areas till the city of Bree. Once you finished the quests of Bree, which would bring you till about level 25, expect to pay to go any further because everything beyond Bree is locked. To unlock all the quests in the areas, players need to pay for the quest packs at the Turbine store.

When I said last week that I find it hard to believe that players will pay for the quest packs and instead will try to power their way out of the zones, I didn’t realize just how empty every area is in game once you leave Bree. I mean, there are literally no quests for you to do!

One of the most enjoyable things about LOTR Online in the past was that you are never without a quest as the whole game was filled with them. Not anymore!

I can’t help but say “Wow” and not in a good way. The way to buy quest packs (or anything) in the Turbine store is to get Turbine points which you can then use to purchase quest packs. You will have to either buy the Turbine points or finish the requirements on the deeds book.

That’s another problem this game face now as players (including me) are swamping the starter areas to finish all the deeds they are missing at the moment. I have a level 32 loremaster in the Shire which is a zone for level 10 players. I once saw a level 65 hunter near Bree killing level 16 mobs. Needless to say, this mining of mobs has caused imbalance in the game and new characters are now forced to complete for mob resources.

Entire zones outside Bree are almost empty of players. I ran my burglar from Bree to the Forsaken Inn in Lone Lands and did not see a single player the whole time. I had to run all the way to the city on the east side of the Lone Lands (forgot the name of the city) before I saw another player.

Maybe it’s still early and that’s why the zones are so imbalanced now but if it doesn’t change soon, I foresee a lot of problems for the game in the future. And for a game as fun as LOTR Online, that’s a waste.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The YOG Saga Continues

Weeks after it ended, the millstone that is the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) continues to haunt the Singapore government. Questions from Singaporeans about the cost of the YOG which ballooned from the estimated $104 million to $387 million just refused to go away.

Seeking to douse the flames this time was Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Vivian Balakrishnan. He has been in the firing line for the Games since day 1 and now says, “"We were plain wrong."

Mr. Balakrishnan said in comments published by local media that the government had underestimated the requirements and cost of the YOG. Even admitting that mistakes were made however, the minister still insisted that Singapore benefited from the 12 day event as it showcased Singapore’s ability to host big events.

I applauded Mr. Balakrishnan for taking some responsibility for the YOG as mistakes were made but frankly I doubt that the benefits of the YOG are worth $387 million. Like most Singaporeans, I just don’t feel that the YOG is worth that much money! On average, Singapore spent over $32 million a day on the YOG. In a country that steadfastly refused to have a minimum wage, we spent $32 million a day on an event that did not bring in any tangible benefits.

Any “long-term” benefits resulting from the YOG are questionable at best, so despite Mr. Balakrishnan’s best efforts, nothing has changed. Singaporeans are still harping on the YOG.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #10- Last issue, I said that there was an interesting development in the Aquaman’s story and I hoped that writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi managed to keep the momentum going. Mission success! Aquman’s story this issue had spot-on pacing and good characterization as Black Manta chased after his son Aqualad. The fact that the young man didn’t know Blank Manta is his father makes things even more interesting. The second part of the issue deals with Firestorm and the Black Lantern inside him. The expansion of Firestorm’s power to “destroy the universe” seems unnecessary but everything was saved by the last page of the issue when the Black Lantern finally showed up. Now that’s one hell of a page!

X-23 #1- I admit when I heard that Wolverine's troubled clone daughter was having her own ongoing series, first thought that came to mind was that this will be another Wolverine rip-off. So I was pleasantly surprised by X-23 #1. This issue reads like an extension of Second Coming, when the rank-and-file of the X-Men knew of X-23’s involvement in the kill squad known as X-Force. The reaction from the New X-Men is much more natural than anything in the other X-books and writer Marjorie Liu rather surprisingly (and wisely) seems more interested in Laura’s social struggles than in letting her kill everyone in sight. Maybe it’s a case of low expectations, but this was a surprisingly excellent start to X-23

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Music Slump

Now I’m not a huge fan of music. I don’t go out and buy the CDs or download the songs of my favorite singers or bands the moment they come out, in fact, I don’t really have a favorite singer or band at the moment.

However even I know the music industry is in the dumps right now in America. The reason usually given is that most fans don’t buy CDs, but instead download pirated songs on the internet. I have a better theory. The music industry is in the dumps because there’s just nothing to get excited about!

At the MTV Video Music Awards, the biggest winner was Lady Gaga and Best New Artist was teen idol Justin Bieber. Seriously, are these two overproduced “musicians” really names that would get music fans all excited? When I was in my teens, we had Nirvana and grunge. In my 20s, we had bands like Blur and Oasis. You know, bands that are actually known for their music!

Now Lady Gaga is actually a pretty good performer on stage, but she is more known for her fashion sense than her music and Bieber is more known for his looks than anything else. Yet these 2 are the biggest winners of the night at the VMA! No wonder the music industry is in the toilet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Expected Rejection

When Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong spoke last week that he wanted more Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) to take up Singapore citizenships, I commented that it was wishful thinking. I said on this blog that it was more advantageous to be a PR than a Singaporean in Singapore and since then I had being proven right.

Since the SM spoke on the matter, response from the expat community in Singapore has been swift and pretty much unanimous. Most of them have no intention of giving up their PR status.

I find this very understandable. With their PR status, PRs are having the best of both worlds. They can make their money in Singapore and leave Singapore when things get bad. If you can have your cake and eat it at the same time, wouldn’t you do the same?

Since the SM statement however, the government has been in full retreat trying to backpedal on the matter. The Strait Times has been at pains to explain why PRs do not want to be full Singaporeans. Jurong GRC MP Halimah Yacob even says that “eventually” PRs will make up their minds if they want to take up citizenship and asking Singaporeans not to be “discouraged”.

Who is the one being “discouraged”? I know I’m not because I fully expect this response from the PRs. Most Singaporeans I know believe that the PRs in Singapore are only here to make money. The majority of the PRs (if not all of them) never had any intention of giving up their status to be full Singaporeans. This is almost common knowledge.

So I find it very surprising at how surprised the Singapore government is by the response of the PRs! It is almost as if the government is doing some sort of soul-searching on why PRs do not want to be full Singaporeans. This I do not understand.

PRs did not come to Singapore for freedom or because Singapore is their homeland; they came here to make money. Some of them will succeed, some will not; but none of them came to be Singaporeans. Add to that, you have more advantages being a PR than a Singaporeans in Singapore and it’s no wonder the expat community in Singapore has pretty much unanimously rejected the SM statement. This should NOT surprise anyone.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Comics this week

The Thanos Imperative #4- Thanos Imperative #4 will be remembered for one thing and one thing only. The moment Nova, Gladiator, Silver Surfer, Ronan, Beta Ray Bill and Quasar smashed into Lord Mar-Vell's ship and totaled it. The mission wasn’t a totally success but my god, it was fun to watch. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning need to do more of this and more of the fight at the Fault. The Guardians of the Galaxy stealth mission in the Cancerverse was the bleeding...cancer of this issue. The rebirth of Thanos was no surprise but the way it was done had me shaking my head. I hope the writers noticed that they just made Thanos unkillable. That will be a huge problem down the line. Still as long as the fights are as good as it was in this issue, things are good.

Green Lantern #57- This! This is why the other lanterns deserved their own series! When Green Lantern: Emerald Warrior became the latest series that came out, there was a collective groan from fans. This issue proves why WE WERE RIGHT! The sheer story potential of the Star Sapphire were on full show this issue as Carol Ferris showed up Hal Jordan and proved there was more than one way to solve a problem. I’m not thrilled at Carol’s new position at the end of the issue. I rather see more of her in the field but between Geoffs Johns’ story and Doug Mahnke's artwork, this issue is a winner.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The day is here and Lord of the Rings Online is now officially a free-to-play game. As I had received an email on the matter from Turbine, I decided to see how the game would change.

After downloading the patch, I entered LOTRO. I managed to enter without problems and the change to free-to-play seems seamless. I tried out all 5 of my characters and while there are some changes in the skills, the changes are minor in the gameplay. I heard of the new man and hobbit starting areas, I may try that later but for this review I will speak on the changes I had noticed.

First thing of course, I am playing the game. As a free-to-play game, there is no need for me to pay a subscription so that’s great. I also get the try the skirmish, a new feature introduced in the latest expansion “Siege of Mirkwood,” which I never got. Overall, things were pretty good.

Then I hit the first problem. One of my alt is at North-Downs and I got this screen that says to access the content of North-Downs, you need to buy the content from the Turbine store. Any quest I currently have in the North-Downs is also gone. However the main thing is that I can safely tell you there is no way I am going to pay for the content in North-Downs.

This is the big problem I have with LOTRO going F2P; the content for North-Down is good but it is also not necessary for me to advance in the game. I can easily skip North-Downs and go to other areas to gain xp. It might be a bit of a grind but I can power myself out of the area easily enough.

I love the fact I can now play LOTRO without a subscription but letting gamers play a sandbox game like LOTRO without a subscription is a risk and I do fear for the long-term future of the game. Hopefully, I am wrong.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Option Please!

Bioware is one of the biggest game development studios in the world with recent hits like Dragon Age and Mass Effect under its belt. They also have a good reputation with gamers.

One of the reasons why they have a good reputation with gamers is because they are pretty open with information. Maybe that is why Casey Hudson, Executive Producer for their Mass Effect franchise, spoke about the collection of anonymous player data.

According to him, Bioware only collect data of events. In Mass Effect 2, these data are things like whether lines of dialogue were skip, what class people are playing, what missions are favorites, even how many times did a player complete the game.

The Bioware executive even gave details on people who played Mass Effect 2 like how 15% of the conversations were skipped, average game time was 33 hours, and that there were 2 players who played through the game 28 times on the PC.

Now let’s leave aside how anyone can play through a game 28 times and concentrate on the data collection. I understand that Bioware want the data to improve game design for their future games but I’m not a big fan of giving data, even anonymous data, to anyone without being asked.

I had played Mass Effect 2 on the PC before and I know my gaming data is currently with Bioware somewhere, but the thing is never once during the game was there any message stating that my data would be sent to Bioware. Now I’m not totally against giving data but I would like to be asked first before gaming companies sent my data to their database.

A simple line like, “Would you like to send your data to the company so that improvements can be made in future games?” Even something as simple as that would be great. I just want something that gives me an option, a choice of whether to give data because right now the only way not to give data is to off the internet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Singaporean or PR

Yesterday while I was watching the news, I read that Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong wanted more Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) to take up Singapore citizenships. SM Goh got a lot of work in front of him.

Seriously, nowadays who is their right mind would prefer to be a full Singapore citizen when he could be a PR? As a PR, you can have almost the same benefits as a Singaporean while having the option of dropping the PR at a moment notice. We had seen a lot of foreigners who came to Singapore, get the PR, make their money for a few years, then drop their PR status and go back to their home country.

I mean there isn’t that much of a difference between full Singapore citizenships and PRs at the moment. In fact, there are some people (including some PRs) who believe it is more advantageous to being a PR than a Singaporean.

I do not know if this was an off-the-cuff remark or if he was serious, but if the SM is serious; I love to see how the government intends to convince PRs to become Singapore citizens.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What's Next?

This year, there are the major floods in China and Pakistan; wildfires in Russia; and 400 year old dormant erupted in Indonesia. In this year when Mother Nature has wreaked havoc across the globe, the hits just keep on coming.

A powerful 7.1 earthquake hit New Zealand, damaged 500 buildings, cracked roads and even ripped a new fault line in the Earth's surface. You read that right, a new fault line in the earth! In a case of every disaster being worse than the last, I wonder what’s next on Mother Nature’s list.

What could beat a new fault line in the earth? No wait, forget I said anything. It’s one of those things it’s better not to think about.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Grand Design

Ever since he wrote "A Brief History of Time" is 1988, British physicist Stephen Hawking has been known as one of the world’s foremost physicist and scientist. In his latest book "The Grand Design," which he co-authored with U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking has a new series of theories to give to the world.

A lot of press had been given to his remarks in the book that there is no creator of the universe and the "Big Bang" was a result of the laws of physics. The fact that the foremost scientist of our time has went on record to say there is no God and that God did not create the universe has made a lot of people (and not just the religious) very uncomfortable.

It also completely overshadowed a more important message he has I’m afraid. Hawking says that mankind’s future lies in the stars and not on Earth as we are quickly using up Earth finite resources. Hawking argued that if we do not enter space then mankind will run out of resources on Earth and could face extinction.

A warning of our extinction by the foremost scientist of our time but yet we humans are more interested in the argument of whether there is a God in the universe. God help us all!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #9- This issue was dominated by a pretty pointless fight between Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter. Normally, J'onn J'onnz would crush Oliver Queen like an ant but “he was out of control” so they both survived the encounter. I know, sounds stupid to me too. However the saving grace of this issue is the origin of the new Aqualad. Aquaman’s story has currently been the weakest of the lot but the twist of Aqualad’s origin is so interesting it may save that story yet. That is if (big IF) writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi managed to keep the momentum going.

Secret Six #25 – Ever since writer Gail Simone got the gig for “Birds of Prey”, Secret Six has been on the backburner. The steady decline in quality continues as Bane’s Six finally showed up on a mission. Scandal’s Six are still trying to help Catman (I thought that storyline was done with) and Deadshot did a favor for Black Alice. To be fair, this is a setup issue and much better than the Wild West nonsense from last issue, but Secret Six seems to have lost its magic.

Taskmaster #1- After climbing to the top of the supervillain world and having a seat in the Cabal, Taskmaster has come down to earth in the new Heroic Age. I always thought Taskmaster was an interesting character with a cool and very useful power. The simple story of Taskmaster being framed and having to fight off bounty hunters after his head is nothing to write home about but writer Fred Van Lente made it work. The teams after Taskmaster ranged from famous organizations like AIM and Hydra to obscure groups like Cyber Ninjas, the Lords of the Living Lightning, Trenchcoat Mafia, Black Choppers and the Militiamen. Yes, some of the groups are as stupid as their name sounds but this wacky, action-packed issue works! Jefte Palo's art has a lot to do with that as energy practically leap out of the pages. Wild, crazy, nutty; this is great.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Sandman

In the world of comics, there are a few series which are legendary. “The Watchmen” was one of these, another is “The Sandman." Written by Neil Gaiman, “The Sandman" is now being developed into a TV series. After the movie adaptation of “The Watchmen”, I guess it was only a matter of time.

"The Sandman" tells the life and death of Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams. A godlike being who rules the dreams of all beings, he along with his siblings Destiny, Death, Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium, are the Endless. They are powerful beings that represent mythological forces of nature.

The series almost single-handedly establish the Vertigo imprint and won so many awards I won’t even bother to write them all here. It was a great series. So why am I less than happy with the news?

The main thing is that “The Sandman” was an intellectual book that I’m afraid will not transfer well to the screen. It’s not an action series; there are almost no fights in the series. It’s not a comedy series; it’s ultimately a tragedy. Good do not triumph over evil; every character in the series has shades of grey.

Put them together and even as a fan; I worry.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Numbers Game

As I had said on several occasions, the issue of foreign workers in Singapore is a sensitive issue in Singapore. Knowing that, and with an election coming, it's no surprise that the Singapore government tried to spin numbers to their advantage. In their latest bid to pacify Singaporeans, the Singapore government released info that the population increased at its slowest pace in six years.

However I’m not so sure how “assured” Singaporeans will be by the data. According to the data released, Singapore’s population crossed five million this year and more importantly, over a third of the total population are foreigners. In a country of just over 5 million people, only 3.77 million are Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs).

That’s 3.77 million Singaporeans and PRs (who are basically foreigners also) to 1.23 foreigners. A few years ago, there were like 5-7 Singaporeans for every foreigner in Singapore. About 2 years ago, I read that there were 4 Singaporeans for every foreigner. Now the rate of Singaporeans to foreigners is below 4 to 1. At the rate we are going, it will soon be 3 to 1 as the rise in the number of foreigners continued to outpace that of Singaporeans.

In short, these are numbers most Singaporeans will not be happy about.