Sunday, October 31, 2010

Comics this week

Star Wars: Blood Ties #3- As I had said before, I’m not really a big fan of Star Wars much less Boba Fett. Having said that, writer Tom Taylor has managed to won me over with his interpretation of the character. Yes, the fight scene were a little weak considering how much better Boba was compared to the rest of the bounty hunters but overall Star Wars: Blood Ties continue to be an excellent read. Too bad there’s only one more issue left.

Uncanny X-Men #529- That’s it. I’m dropping Uncanny from my buy list. As Hope round up one more Light, Emma Frost hired Fantomex to kidnap Sebastian Shaw. I always had an issue with the prison in Utopia. Frankly, it’s a bad idea that they should get rid of ASAP. Seriously, the X-Men have Shaw, Empath and others under lock and key but allow Magneto to walk around free? Sounds stupid right? This issue didn’t help the problem and what’s worse is that Danger allowed the kidnapping to happen on some strange experiment to see if Frost is good or evil. Don’t look at me; it makes no sense to me either. So I’m dropping Uncanny from my buy list. You can’t say I didn’t give them a chance.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Better Headlines Please!

“My heart bypass surgery cost me $8”

“What?” “Are you sure?” “In Singapore?” These were the words of disbelief that greeted Singapore Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s statement that his heart bypass surgery in early May cost him only $8.

I admit I also have the same problem. I did not believe him. In expensive Singapore, having to pay $8 for any surgery is unheard of. The devil is in the details.

When reading the 57-year-old personal blog, most of his bill was actually paid by his personal health insurance along with the government MediShield plan. $8 covered the reminder of the bill.

That makes prefect sense. However, most people who do not check further will just be fooled by the headline of “My heart bypass surgery cost me $8.”

That brings me to the main point of this post; Headlines!

We need better headlines from the Singapore newspapers. Really, “My heart bypass surgery cost me $8” is totally wrong. Mr. Khaw’s bill is far more than that because the bill was paid from his personal insurance policy which he paid yearly premium on. That is still money out of his pocket right?

To be fair, this isn’t just a Singapore problem. Anyone who glanced at the news from France will be fooled by the “retirement at 62” headlines. However under the new French rules, retirement at 62 with full pension is almost impossible and the actual age of retirement under the new rules is 65.

So the next time you read a big bold headline, look into the details of the story. The actual facts could very well be totally different from it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Oracle is dead

The biggest star of the World Cup is dead. Shot to fame because he managed to predict the results of 8 straight matches in the World Cup, Paul the Octopus, the Oracle Octopus, has died of old age.

It’s a sad, sad day for football (and supernatural) fans as Paul was the greatest and most uplifting story in the World Cup. Only sore losers from defeated teams hate him but every else love him.

I do too. So sad, so sad…I’m sorry, I need to stop now. I’m need to go off to cry…sob, sob

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Happy Marriage

Here comes the bride…by herself. (Sing it with music in the background; it’s funnier that way)

Desperation has a whole new meaning in Taiwan as Chen Wei-yih has decided to marry herself! Saying that she is uninspired by the men she's met but facing social pressure to get married, the 30-year-old decided to pose for wedding photos, enlisted a wedding planner and rented a banquet hall for a marriage celebration of one person. Her!

Now I know of women who are desperate for marriage but this is something else. What’s even funnier for me is the amount of support Chen is getting. Once this news was known, she has been received sympathetic comments online and even her own mother is helping with her wedding plan!

It seems people, or at least people in Taiwan, are perfectly fine with this! I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Expensive But Sensible

Just last week, I heard that the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is looking to tie up with the Australian exchange ASX Ltd. Now I heard that’s SGX will take over the Sydney-based exchange in a deal worth A$8.4 billion ($8.3 billion).

Now a merger between SGX and ASX will create the fifth-largest listed exchange in the world, so on paper this looks like a good deal. Shares in ASX jumped up 25% once news spread, however the news is less great for SGX shareholders.

SGX shares fell as much as 6.7% before recovering some of the losses. The reason is simple; ASX will lose its monopoly in Australia next year when a new exchange, Europe's Chi-X Australia Pty Ltd, will start operations.

So the question being asked in Singapore is why is the SGX paying $8.3 billion for an exchange that is going to lose market share next year?

I also have that question, the price do seem a little high to me, but at the same time I can see why SGX did this. SGX and ASX are the second and third largest listed bourses in Asia and both have been around for awhile, so on several levels this merger make sense. As for the price…time will tell if it is a good price.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tough but Good

Singapore has been hard hit for the past couple of years by private schools which suddenly closed down, leaving angry students in their wake. Usually these students have no recourse to either continue their courses or getting a refund on their school fees.

The most recent case was the School of Applied Studies. The small private school closed suddenly due to financial difficulties and their three hundred students were left stranded despite paying between S$13,500 for a diploma to S$36,000 for a degree.

To raise standards in the private education sector, the Singapore government has put in place the Private Education Bill. However in a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, industry players says the new bill is so tough that about half of the 1,000 private schools in Singapore may have to close down. Under the new and tougher Private Education Bill, private schools need to register under the new framework if they wish to continue their operations and about half of the private schools will be unable to do so.

You know what I say to this: “Good!”

Personally I have little sympathy for the administrators of the private schools. There had been far too many cases of schools closing down suddenly, leaving students in trouble. Since the schools had closed, it is almost impossible for the students to get their money back. If the Private Education Bill can stop these incidents from happening, I’m all for it. I’ll leave my sympathy for the students.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why America?

Terrorism made the Singapore news again. A Singaporean, Mr. Balraj Naidu, was convicted in America for conspiring to provide weapons to Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka.

The U.S. Justice Department said Mr. Balraj Naidu was part of a group that tried to buy U.S.-made weapons and ammunition and provide them to the Tamil Tigers to be used against Sri Lankan government forces. Another Singaporean, Mr. Haniffa Bin Osman, was also convicted on the same matter but more attention has been paid to Mr. Balraj Naidu as he is a founding member of a political party, the Reform Party, here in Singapore.

However this post is not really about politics or even Mr. Balraj Naidu. This post is about why the hell was Mr. Balraj Naidu being charged in America in the first place? Now I understand that the Tamil Tigers was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by America, but I still find this charge to be very strange. The U.S. Justice Department openly admits that the weapons are to be used in Sri Lanka and they were never intended to be used against America or any American citizens.

So…why are the 2 Singaporeans being charge in America for? I can understand it if Sri Lanka charge them but America? The Tamil Tigers never attacked America, America never send troops to Sri Lanka; basically America got nothing to do with the Sri Lankan civil war. A civil war which is now over because the Tigers were defeated in 2009!

Why is America getting involved in a civil war which is now over and over weapons which were never intended for use against America? I mean they are Singaporeans but you don’t see the Singapore government charging Mr. Balraj Naidu or Mr. Haniffa Bin Osman for helping the Tamil Tiger do you?

And we shouldn’t because Singapore got nothing to do with the Sri Lankan civil war! Not only is the war over, it is also none of Singapore’s business! It also got nothing to do with America.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #12- After last issue’s disaster, I am glad to say writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi have managed to right the ship. The main thing they did; move the series away from Firestorm. The main character this issue is the Martian Manhunter and his psychic drag-out fight with D’Kay Drazz. One thing that I extremely like was the psychic nature of the fight. The flow of the contest between the two was wonderful and the trick at the end…brilliant. Now they just need to prematurely stay away from Firestorm.

X-23 #1- Sigh, it just had to happen. After a great first issue which dealt with X-23’s character, writer Marjorie Liu has been dragged kicking and screaming into the mini-event that is “Wolverine in Hell.” Liu did the best she could but the main problem is that the “Wolverine in Hell” is boring, so even the addition of Gambit is no help. Too bad because I thought this series could have went somewhere after the first issue.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unbalance Economy

You know for a country which is expected to achieve a growth forecast of 13-15% for 2010, Singapore will rather strangely be in a recession at the end of the year! That’s according to Singapore Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran.

Now for people who have no idea about what this is about, Mr. S Iswaran said in Parliament that Singapore will see a technical recession in the second half of 2010. Yet Singapore will still see growth of 13-15% for the full year.

If there was ever any doubt in anyone’ mind Singapore has a strange economy, this will settle it! Singapore must be the only country in the world which will end the year in a recession even while growing 13-15%. Now I heard of countries growing while ending the year in a recession, but growing 15% and still managing to end the year in a recession? That has to be a first!

Now some people might accuse me of splitting hairs but a technical recession is still a recession! A recession while the country achieved a growth forecast of 13-15%. Who can read that line and tell me it isn’t strange?

What’s even stranger for me is the fact that in Q3 (the July-September period), the Singapore economy fell 19.8%, the largest contraction since 1975. If there is a technical recession, then Q4 will have another contraction. 20% contraction in Q3, another contraction in Q4; yet we managed to grow 15% for the full year. Doesn’t this mean that in the first half of the year, Singapore grew by…over 30%?

Now the same people who accuse me of splitting hairs on the technical recession will also say I’m splitting hairs because in the end, Singapore still grew by 15%. However I disagree with the notion that all’s well in the economy because Singapore manage to post an impressive number. Reading these numbers, you have to say it sounds like a year of feast and famine.

That means the growth of Singapore was unbalanced. And when that happens, it means the Singapore economy is unbalanced. And having an unbalance economy is never a good thing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vote Buying in FIFA? Really?

On Dec 2, officers from FIFA will choose the host for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. That was the plan before undercover reporters from London’s Sunday Times newspaper put together a sting operation that exposed corruption in FIFA.

Posing as lobbyists for the American bid, reporters arranged meetings with Nigerian delegate Amos Adamu and Oceania Football Confederation president Reynald Temarii and filmed them asking for funds in exchange for their votes. FIFA president Seep Blatter has already promised to probe into World Cup bribery claims.

What’s the big deal?

Seriously, I don’t see what’s so special about this. There had long been suspicions of vote buying in FIFA. Hell, there had long been suspicions of vote buying in FIFA, IOC and almost every other international sports governing body you can think of. Now we have evidence of wrong-doing but anyone who says they are surprised by this don’t read the sports news very often.

So what’s the big deal? This seems par for course to me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Time Is Over

A lot of Singaporeans are screaming “YES!” when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said that they are looking to send a team to play in the Malaysia Cup again. As Singapore was once part of Malaysia, our football team played in the Malaysia Cup even after independence.

This lasted till 1994 when Singapore withdrew from the competition. A lot of Singaporeans fondly remembered our time in the Malaysia Cup when 50,000 fans would pack the National Stadium in Kallang to roar on the Singapore Lions. Nostalgia might be great but anyone hoping (or praying) for a return to those time will be disappointed.

For one thing, talks are centered on a Singapore Selection team playing in the Malaysia Cup. Would Singaporeans cheer on a Singapore team made up foreigners? Another thing is that Singapore no longer has a National Stadium! It’s been tore down for the new Sport Hub, which won’t be ready for at least another few years.

Even if we return to the Malaysia Cup, it would not be the same. The Kallang Roar is dead, the National Stadium is gone, and no matter how Singaporeans miss them, they are not coming back. The time of the Malaysia Cup is over.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Correct Choice In A Bad Situation

On Thursday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) surprised market-watchers by allowing the Singapore dollar to rise. By widening the trading band in which the Singapore dollar was allowed to be traded in, the Singapore dollar was propelled to a record high.

A lot of people were caught out by this action and had questioned the timing behind it. With Singapore's economy shrinking by a jaw-dropping 19.8% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, many believed this is not the time to allow the currency to rise. For all the talk, Singapore’s economy is still an export-reliant one.

However, I don’t see the MAS having a choice in the matter. As I had posted a few days ago, several governments had intervened in the forex market to try and stop their currencies from rising. They tried and failed. With the Chinese refusing to publicly allow the yuan to rise, other Asian currencies are suffering. Singapore can also do what other countries did, and mostly likely failed as well.

The MAS probably see this and realized that any intervention in the market is an exercise in futility. I believe that if the MAS had its way, the Singapore dollar would not be at a record high. However Singapore just don’t have the financial muscle to stop the Singapore dollar from rising, so it had to widen the band to at least control the rise to an acceptable level.

I believe they made the right decision. If you can’t stop it, at least you must be in a position to control it. In the end, they made the best of a bad situation and it was the correct choice to make.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Comics this week

The Thanos Imperative #5- As writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning expand the cosmic section of Marvel, Nova had been falling on the wayside. Other cosmic heroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator and Ronan has been getting more attention from the cosmic duo. With that in mind, I am sure glad on the much-needed attention on Nova this issue. In a short but powerful scene, Richard Rider showed again what a hero he has become since taking on the mantle of Nova Prime. He talked down Medusa and Gladiator and chooses to personally help the Guardians of the Galaxy, but at the same time sent Quasar to the Fault to help the alliance as well as his Nova Corps. After all the stupidity in Secret Avengers, I’m glad to see Nova back to what he should be. A leader!

Green Lantern #58- Writer Geoff Johns is one of those writers who like to have several storylines happening at the same time, interwoven with each other. Green Lantern #58 is a clear example of how good a read this method can be when it works. The issue jumps from one place to another but at no time was it hard to follow. However what really shines was the character development of the various lanterns. Carol Ferris has officially been promoted from forever supporting character to an interesting character in her own right. The way she told off Hal was role reversal at its finest. Now if only Johns give us more info on the entities.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Miracle Rescue

When a cave-in on August 5 trapped 33 miners over 2,000 feet underground in a copper mine in northern Chile, I thought it was a great tragedy. When I heard that the men could only be rescued by Christmas, I thought they were dead.

Show what I know!

In a show of amazing human spirit, all 33 trapped miners have been rescued from the mine. In a painstaking operation, a specially designed steel capsule barely big enough than a man was inserted into the mine and one by one, the miners were pulled to safety.

The men were trapped for 69 days, over 2,000 feet underground; hell, no one even knew they were alive for 17 days after the cave-in! Yet now, all 33 of them are safe and sound. I am still amazed they were able to do it!

The word has been overused but in this case it fits; this is truly a miracle!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Yuan

At the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) talks in Washington, the subject that dominated the talks is the Chinese currency. Developed countries like the United States, Europe and Japan complained bitterly that Beijing's currency policies have led the Chinese yuan to be grossly undervalued.

China has dug in its heels, refusing to allow the yuan to rise. Fears of a currency war between the world's most powerful economies are over-rated because it is just not going to happen, but I feel governments in Asia need to lend their voice against China on their currency.

Simply put; it is in their interest that the yuan be allowed to go up.

Due to the current level of the yuan, governments from Japan, South Korea, India, Thailand, the Philippines, all had to intervene in the market to stem a rise in their own currency. The yuan is just too low. No one, including the Chinese, argued on this point. When they defend the level of the yuan, the Chinese don’t argue on the economics but on the social aspect of the currency.

The Chinese government say the Chinese people will lose jobs if the currency rises, but that is just a wrong argument because the low yuan is taking away jobs from other countries where the level of their currencies match their countries’ wealth (or lack of). China has now the second biggest economy in the world, but they are arguing that their currency should be at the level of a third-world country!

That is just crazy and Asian governments need to lend their voice to the West on this. After all, the West is not the only one suffering from the yuan.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Singaporean Bid

Days after I posted that I don’t understand why New England Sports Ventures (NESV) would want to takeover English Premier League club Liverpool, news has come out that a Singaporean billionaire is set to make an improved offer for Liverpool.

Singaporean Mr. Peter Lim, who is worth about $1.5 billion, has matched the $476 million being offered by NESV but reports say his bid had already been rejected by Liverpool. Whether or not Mr. Peter Lim managed to buy Liverpool, you can’t miss the feeling of pride of Singaporeans that one of their own is trying to buy a storied club like Liverpool. However this may be false pride because my problem with Liverpool remains the same; why would anyone want to buy Liverpool at this point of time?

Liverpool has debts about $453 million, they are in the relegation zone in the English Premier League (EPL) and one of the co-owners, George Gillett Jr., has defaulted on a $75 million loan from American hedge fund Mill Financial. This means Liverpool is in real danger of going into financial administration, which also means a 9 points deduction in the EPL!

So with all these problems, why would anyone (even a Singaporean) want to buy Liverpool?

Monday, October 11, 2010

City of Heroes: Going Rogue

Last weekend, I spent my time going back to City of Heroes (CoH). CoH is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) based on the superhero genre. For a long time, it was the sole superhero kid on the block but with Champions Online and the upcoming (if delayed) DC Online, competition is now tough for publisher NCsoft.

The game started in 2004, so it is now 6 years old. To match up with the new kids on the block, NCsoft released an expansion, City of Heroes: Going Rogue. This is only the second expansion for CoH after 2005’s City of Villains (CoV). So it is the first full expansion in 5 years for the game and NCsoft incited former players back by having a free weekend trial with the Going Rogue expansion.

Entering the game for the first time in about a year, I decided to try out the new expansion. I logged on my level 50 Mind-Master and tried to find my way to Praetoria, the new playfield of CoH. I quickly found no way of doing so and broadcast a question on how to do so.

To my shock, I found out that I can’t! To enter Praetoria, you must create a new Praetorian character because Praetoria is a level 1-20 playfield. I’m still in shock about that but okay, I created a new Praetorian character and enter Praetoria for the first time. The new playfield was excellent. Most players are of the option that Praetoria is the best 1-20 playfield in the game and I am inclined to agree.

As an alternate Earth dimension, new characters begin as neutral Praetorian which means all the classes are available. The storyline of Going Rogue is also excellent as you can decide if you want to follow the good if tyrannical Emperor Cole or the freedom-fighting if chaotic Resistance.

There are various shades of gray in the storyline with neither side wholly good or wholly evil. City of Heroes: Going Rogue also has what can be called a moral system. In CoH or CoV, heroes are heroes (in Paragon City) and villains are villains (in the Rogue Isles). In Going Rogue, players will be faced with a series of missions where they can decide their character’s morality. Heroes who act evil can become Vigilantes and Villains who act heroically can become Rogues. Vigilantes and Rogues can access both sides of the game (Paragon City and Rogue Isles) but they cannot enter the Taskforce missions which are the level-50 missions of the game.

Even after they become Vigilantes and Rogues, players will have missions where they can switch sides completely to the opposite. These missions with moral choices are pretty well-done. The missions themselves are nothing new but the moral choices available make things interesting. However, will these new choices make me go out and buy City of Heroes: Going Rogue?

The answer is No!

During the free weekend, former players can only push their new characters to the maximum of level 14. I thought that was a strange limit to impose because the level limit is at 50 but I soon found out why. At Level 20, Praetorian characters will have a final mission where they have a choice to either become a Hero or a Villain and then they will enter either Paragon City or the Rogue Isles. The Going Rogue expansion only has playfields for level 1-20 characters!

No matter how good the playfields are, there are only 4 of them. How did NCsoft okay an expansion which has nothing for characters level 21-50? The recent Age of Conan expansion, Rise of the Godslayer, has a new level 1-20 playfield and about 4-5 other playfields for level 80 characters! Compare the 2 expansion and you add to that the fact old characters can’t even enter Praetoria at all; Going Rogue strikes me as pretty weak.

Also I have to wonder how serious was NCsoft about the free weekend. I never received any email about it and if I didn’t read about it in Massively (a MMORPG website), I would have no idea there was a free weekend for former players! How was NCsoft going to incite former players with a free weekend when the players don’t even know about it?

There is also a stability problem with the game. At several times, I lost “connection to the mapserver.” At first I thought it was my internet connection but when I was in a 6 man team, I found that 3 other players in the team have the same problems. That leads me to believe the problem should be pretty widespread.

The gameplay and playfield of City of Heroes: Going Rogue is good, the new storyline is great, and the new addition of moral choices is excellent. However the expansion is faced with some problems like nothing for characters above level 20, and old characters being unable to enter Praetoria. These design choices are a pity because the gameplay and storyline of Going Rogue are good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Liverpool Sale

Football news has been about nothing but the attempted takeover of the English Premier League club Liverpool by American investors, the New England Sports Ventures (NESV). NESV are owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team in America

I said “attempted” because the current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are refusing to go and will fight the sale in court. Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton however believes the 300-million-pounds sale will go through.

Question is, “Why would anyone want to buy Liverpool now?”

Liverpool is over 200-million-pounds in debt! Add that to the sale price and NESV is paying over 500-million-pounds for a football club currently in the relegation zone. Now I am sure Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson will get the club out of trouble sooner or later but 500-million-pounds, plus a few more for new players; how long will it take for them to make a profit? Just look at Manchester United; they just reported a 83.64-million-pounds loss despite a 100-million-pounds profit!

That’s because Man Utd’s owners, the Glazer family, took a massive loan to buy over the club a few years ago and the 100-million-pounds profit was used to pay off the interest of the loan. If even a currently successful club like Man Utd can’t make a decent profit in the current climate, what chance does a club in the relegation zone do? So don’t be surprised if NEVS sell Liverpool for a profit once they get their hands on it. That’s seems the most logical decision to make.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #11- I have the greatest respect for writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. Johns’ Green Lantern and Tomasi’s Black Adam were both great but they have failed to bring their magic to Brightest Day. Even with a great artwork, there is only so much that can be camouflaged. The Firestorm story need a quick explanation to what's going on because isn’t Nekron gone and dusted? The Aquaman story is so much better that it’s like reading a good issue combined with a poor one. Even the cool name of Deathstorm didn’t save this issue.

S.H.I.E.L.D.#4- The craziness and confusion of #2 is back! After an excellent #3 that answers some of our questions, writer Jonathan Hickman is back to throwing wild ideas at us that makes no sense. The confrontation between Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci was okay when it could have been great and the story of Nostradamus was…well, confusing. I’m sure Hickman has a grand idea at the end of all this, but the payoff better be great because the confusion sure is.

Taskmaster #2- After a first issue that was filled with Taskmaster fighting crazy groups with even more insane names; he is back again doing the same thing. Why fix something that’s not broken, right? Writer Fred Van Lente this time gave us Don of the Dead and gave us some background on Taskmaster himself. Don of the Dead was great, but the backstory wasn’t. In a word; S.H.I.E.L.D.? Come on, is there a need for Nick Fury to be in everything Marvel do that has anything that remotely has spies in it? The action is still wild, crazy, and nutty but the story could use some work.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where Is The Rest Of The World?

News about war, natural disasters and terrorists has been the staple this year, but even now there is some good news. US$11.7 billion has been pledged by countries from around the world to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The funds were pledged by more than 40 donor countries, private foundations, and corporations and will be used to fight against AIDS and other deadly diseases like cancer. This is great news but I believed more can be done. Diseases like AIDS and cancers go beyond borders, they affect humans of all races and nationalities. Yet if you look at the breakdown of the donors, you will be that America pledged US$4 billion to the fund. That means one third of the pledge is by America while the rest of the world takes up the rest.

Now I applauded the Obama administration for their very impressive commitments, but what happened to the rest of the world? America is not one third of the world! Other countries should step up to help in this. I would like to know how much Singapore pledged to the fund. I mean it was just announced that Singapore has the fifteen most expensive office spaces in the world. I wondered where we ranked in the donor list.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stupid Pullout

In Europe, football teams tried their very best to enter the premier European Championship, the Champions League. Not so in Singapore! The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that Singapore will not be entering the Asian Football Confederation (ACL) Champions League.

The FAS said that this decision is necessary because Singapore has 3 foreign teams in the S-League, so we are unable to abide by one of the ACL rules which state that there must not be any foreign teams in the domestic league. So the FAS rather pull out of the ACL best competition then asking the foreign teams to pull out.

What’s my feeling of the pullout? The FAS is stupid! Really, there is just no other word to describe it. I mean outside Albirex Niigata, all the other foreign teams in the S-League comes and go. I mean I lost count of the number of foreign teams we had thus far because they come, stay for 1-2 seasons, and then disappeared. So why in the world are the foreign teams in the S-League more important for the development of football than the most prestigious team competition in Asia?

It’s not!

Monday, October 4, 2010

And The Winner Is...

In the border dispute between China and Japan last month, China looks like the winner. The captain of the Chinese fishing trawler was released by the Japanese and public support for the Japanese government fell off a cliff after that.

Compare to Japan, China had not suffered much in the spat. The Chinese government was relatively unhurt by the incident as most Chinese approved their government's handling of the territorial row. However it now seems that looks were deceiving.

In their bid to pressure Japan, China reportedly blocked commodities shipments, in particular rare earths shipments, to Japan. As China is the world leading exporter of such commodities, other countries have taken note of its action and are now looking for other sources of the commodity.

Rare earths are important as everything from iPods to solar panels used some form of rare earths. It’s a niche but important (and growing) market. And thanks to their actions against Japan, it’s a market China is going to lose.

Already Australia has stepped up to the plate, announcing itself as an alternate source of rare earths. Major consumers Japan, Europe and the United States have taken note and Japan is going one step further by stepping up link with Mongolia, another country with abundant resources of rare earth.

China has since come back to state that there never was any embargo of rare earths to Japan, but no one is taking any chances. Australian and Mongolian businessmen are expecting more orders and China only has itself to blame for that.

Japan may have lost the battle, but in the long-run, it seems that China will lose even more.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

So What?

So astronomers have discovered a new planet, Gliese 581g, that may actually be able to support life. Now the planet is about 20 light years away from Earth, so no one is going to know for sure that there is life there but one of the 2 astronomers who found the planet says he is “100% sure” there is life there as the planet is "squarely in the middle of the habitable zone of the star."

This means the planet should have both liquid water and an atmosphere. So scientists have found an "Earth-like" planet and there is mostly likely life on it. So what?

Really, why is this such a big deal? This planet is 20 light years away so humans are not getting there any time soon. However last year, water was discovered on the moon of Earth. Probes from NASA and the India’s Space Agency found ice in over 40 different carters on the moon so there is a chance that there are ice and water on other planets and moons in our own solar system.

But since then, there had been no serious plans to go to other planets in the solar system. So a habitable planet 20 lights years away? Forgive me if I don’t get too excited about that.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Comic this week

Artifacts #2- At the end of last issue, Sara Pezzini’s sister was executed by Aphorodite IV. This issue is strictly about the immediate aftermath of the murder and the kidnapping of Hope, daughter of Sara and Jackie Estacado. As bearers of the Witchblade and the Darkness respectively, Sara and Jackie are all about finding Aphorodite and turning her into scrap metal. With Dani Baptiste, bearer of the Angelus IV, and Tom Judge, bearer of the Rapture, showing up, this is the set-up issue. Not a bad issue but so far we had only seen 4 of the 13! Hopefully, this does not mean the series will be a constant set-up piece where one bearer after another showed up. I want to see all of them together and get on with it.

Star Wars: Blood Ties #2- I am unsure who Tom Taylor is but if he keeps this up, I’m going to be a fan of his. Picking up right where #1 dropped off, Taylor wrote a tale that gave great background on what kind of a man Jango Fett was. He was both a ruthless mercenary and a good father to Boba. Credit has to be given to Chris Scalf as well on his excellent artwork. An excellent issue on a very promising series.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #5- After 4 issues of excellent work, this was a little of a drop off. However that is something that can’t be helped as little happened in this issue. The scene after the battle has Rand, Lan, and Moiraine getting ready to leave Two Rivers and a teary goodbye between Rand and Tam. Personally, I don’t remember it as that big of a scene. It’s important in a way as this was the moment Rand decided to leave Two Rivers but nothing happened that deserved one whole issue to! I also don’t remember Moiraine being as mother-hen as she was portrayed in this issue. In the book she was always, shall we say “intelligent” in getting what she wants, but I don’t remember sympathy being one of her traits!