Thursday, June 30, 2011

Balancing America's Books

Yesterday I saw the press conference by U.S. President Barack Obama on the need for America to balance its budget and decrease its deficit. I thought he generally did a good job at the press conference, answering and deflecting tough questions with poise.

However, I have a hard time taking him seriously. For all the talk about America balancing its books and cutting its deficit, the rest of the world has a hard time believing that the U.S. is serious about the matter.

The Republican Party has refused to increase taxes to balance the budget and no one has publicly spoken about the elephant in the room. Take the press conference of Obama for example; for a press conference on balancing the U.S. budget, there is an elephant in the room neither he nor the press spoke of. The 3 wars America is currently involved in!

Currently America is involved in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and the U.S. government estimate that these wars would cost around US$1.8 trillion. Most others consider that figure to be a gross underestimate.

Simply put; there is just no way the United States of America can balance its budget while they are fighting 3 wars at the same time. I’m not saying the wars are not worth fighting in; it’s just that no one seriously think America can balance the budget while throwing money in 3 different wars. It just can’t be done.

So for all the talk about tax increase and spending cuts, if America truly wants to balance its budget and cut its deficit, there’s a simple way to do that. Stopping fighting wars you can’t pay for!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No Business Like Show-business

In show-business, there is no such thing as bad publicity. In fact, sometimes bad publicity might be a good thing because a) it keeps you in the minds of the public and b) it may makes you more important than you really are.

Obviously, the authorities in Myanmar know nothing about show-business because they had just deported actress Michelle Yeoh. Best known for her roles in “Police Story 3”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Tomorrow Never Dies”, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh was in Myanmar to speak to pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she would be acting as the Nobel laureate in an upcoming film, “The Lady”. However upon arrival at Yangon's international airport, the actress was detained and then sent out of the country on the next flight.

The backers of “The Lady” need to send a thank you note to the authorities in Myanmar for giving free publicity to the film. “The Lady” is a love story about Ms. Suu Kyi and her late British husband Michael Aris that will be release in October and I had no plans of watching it. I mean it’s a love story for god sake, so I had no interest.

Then this happens and suddenly I think I might go watch the film. I mean for the government in Myanmar to deport a world famous actress, the film must have pushed a few buttons right? So I think I will go see it when it comes out just to see what the authorities in Myanmar are so sensitive about.

Like I said above; the backers of “The Lady” need to send a thank you note to the authorities in Myanmar for doing free publicity for the film.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Earth and Beyond

“To space and beyond” It seems that the catchphrase of Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story series needs to be changed.

On an island in New Guinea, the environment group WWF (World Wildlife Fund) said that they had found over 1,000 new species that include a river shark, a frog with fangs, and a round-headed dolphin! Now considering how remote and unspoiled the New Guinea rainforest is, discovery of new species might not be surprising, but the big thing is that these 1,000+ new species were found over a 10 year period!

This means the WWF found a new specie at the rate of one every 2 weeks! That probably means that there are other species there that are not found yet. To space and beyond? Maybe it should be “Within Earth and beyond”!

Pictures of some of the new species found

Sunday, June 26, 2011

No Boys Or Girls

A kindergarten that do not address kids as boys or girls; that tell the teachers to avoid words like "him" or "her"; that has no books on "Snow White," "Cinderella" or other classic fairy tales but children's books that deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children?

Amazingly, there is a kindergarten just like that in Stockholm, Sweden. Funded by the Swedish government, the "Egalia” preschool is part of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.

Now I know the issue of gender equality is important in the West, but are you guys (Oops, can’t say that) people serious? Men and women are different. We always have been; we always will be. Not just in the way we look, but also the way we think. I’m not saying men are smarter but when faced with a situation, men and women will typically act and react differently. That is just a fact.

We are different and a kindergarten that does not even teach their kids the meaning/difference of “boys” and “girls” is not going to change that. In fact I would go as far as to say that no amount of social engineering is going to change that. There was a similar experiment in Israel that failed miserable but only after years of trying by the researchers. So "Egalia” should stop using their kids as guinea pigs in a useless experiment and do what kindergartens are supposed to do; teach children properly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Just How Important Is It?

By August this year, Singapore will hold its Presidential Election. With the less-than-stellar performance of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) in the recent General Election (GE), this Presidential Election has gotten the attentions of many Singaporeans as an upset might be on the cards.

With that in mind, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has come out to stress that electing a President is very important as the President needs to be “dignified” and it is not like electing a Member of Parliament (MP). Personally I do agree with the DPM that choosing a President is an important decision and Singaporeans should do so after careful thought on the matter.

However, this statement from the DPM has more than a few Singaporeans scratching their heads. You have to admit it seem funny hearing this from a PAP member. For the past few weeks, various government figures, like former Senior Minister S. Jayakumar and Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, had spoke publicly on the “restrictive” powers of the elected president. Mr. Shanmugam was even quoted as saying that the elected President has no role in advancing policy and only has limited veto powers.

This has led many Singaporeans to say that the Elected President is nothing but a ceremonial role. It most definitely seems that this was the image the PAP wants to put out. That the PAP government was the one in charge and that the President does not have a right to counter or even check the government.

However, there is a real flipside in making the Elected Presidency a ceremonial role. If the Elected President only has a ceremonial role without any real powers, it doesn’t really matters who Singaporeans vote in as President right?

If anything, by making the Elected President into nothing but a ceremonial role, the PAP is making it even more difficult for their endorsed candidate, Mr. Tony Tan. If the President isn’t an important role, it would make much of an impact if vote in someone other than Mr. Tony Tan right?

The PAP probably realise this and that is probably why the DPM has come out to say that the President has a very important role...which is in direct contradiction to what the government has been saying for weeks. So just how important is the role of the President in Singapore?

That I believe will depend on whether the PAP candidate wins the election!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Comics this week

Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing#1- I’m one of those guys who is looking at DC with a skeptical eye these days. Their upcoming revamp isn’t really filling me with hope for the future and right now, they are screwing up the present with the merging of the DC and Vertigo universes. However I was willing to give writer Jonathan Vankin and artist Marco Castello a chance…I shouldn’t have bothered. Much of the problem I had with this issue comes from John Constantine's reaction to Swamp Thing’s lashing out at polluters. There’s no reason for him to be surprise because Swamp Thing has done similar stuff like this before and even if Constantine is surprised; so what? The John Constantine I read for many years couldn’t care less if Swamp Thing was killing bad guys. There were a few bright spots in this issue; Batman’s “No smoking in the car” for one, but overall this issue was disappointing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CoH Going F2P

Just last month, I blogged about the MMORPG “Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures’ going down the Free-2-Play route. The game hasn’t even started the F2P play yet, and already another game has announced that they would also go F2P.

Paragon Studios has just announced that the 7 year old “City of Heroes” will also be going F2P. Much like Age of Conan, City of Heroes will also have a hybrid payment system. This means that just this year, there had been at least 4 different MMORPG (Global Agenda, Champions Online, Age of Conan & City of Heroes) which had all went to the F2P route. That has led many people to ask why this tsunami of MMORPGs going the F2P route?

Two word; Star Wars! Or to be exact; Star Wars: The Old Republic.

It is the most expensive game been made and it has been under wraps by noted developer Bioware for the past few years. It is also suppose to be release late this year. And that is the reason why everyone is going the F2P!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Neither New Nor Radical

So the Obedient Wives Club (OWC) has finally come to Singapore. The Malaysian-based OWC is an Islamic group that promotes the idea that a wife has to be totally obedient to her husband in all aspects, including in sex.

Since it was reported that OWC is opening a branch in Singapore, there has been many people who has taken a stand against the group. Groups like “The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore” (Muis), Young Women Muslim Association (PPIS) and feminist group Aware have all came out against OWC saying that their views are contrary to Islamic teachings and "demean women and the concept of family'.

I have to ask, “Why all the hate?”

I don’t get it. OWC is a brand new group which is not even a year old promoting an idea, which although looks out-of-date, that is not new. Say what you want but the idea of wives being obedient to their husband is hardly new in any Asian society. In fact, you can even call it an old, traditional idea. It is hardly new or radical.

Some people are saying that OWC itself is a radical group but I have yet to hear the reason behind that thinking. Frankly, they are just too new for anyone to label them a radical group and their “ideology” is hardly new or radical. Especially when the “wife has to be totally obedient to her husband” idea seems to be the only “ideology” they have!

I can’t understand what’s so controversial about the Obedient Wives Club. When I first read about it in the papers, I had a chuckle because they seem like a funny little group. I could understand why in our modern times, with our modern Western thinking, some will be offended by their “ideology” but the criticism has gone too far.

This is Asia! Being an obedient wife or wanting an obedient wife are hardly new or radical ideas.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review of X-Men: First Class

After the X-Men trilogy, the clock was wired back in Origins: Wolverine. Origins: Wolverine showed the origin story of the mutant Wolverine and it was only a mild success. However Marvel must have been happy about the movie because they decided to give the same treatment to the X-men.

After a slow start, the movie truly begin when a CIA agent named Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) discover a dangerous group of mutants called the Hellfire Club who are attempting to cause war between the US and the USSR. Unable to convince her superiors in the existence of mutants, she looks for help in the form of Charles Xavier, a Professor of Genetics at Oxford University. Unknown to MacTaggert, both Charles and his “sister” Raven/ Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are mutants.

Charles help the CIA attack the Hellfire Club but the attack failed. Members of the Club, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel (Jason Flemyng) and Riptide (Alex Gonzalez), are all mutants and they proved too powerful for the CIA. However the CIA did meet with Eric Lensherr, a Nazi-hunter who is chasing down Shaw for reason of his own. After this first meeting between Charles and Eric, they begin to gather a group band of mutants, including Havok (Lucas Till), Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), Dr Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), and Angel Salvadore (Zoƫ Kravitz) to go up against the Hellfire Club.

That is the basic story of the movie. Mutants are the next stage of human evolution and after years of believing themselves to be alone, they are starting to discover that there are other mutants out there. Humanity also begins to realize that there is a new species of human around and the movie traced their understandable reaction to the presence of their “successors”.

As you can probably tell from the summary, X-Men: First Class is a prequel to the first X-Men movie; this is a movie about the origin of the X-Men.

Set in 1962, the movie is about the first fateful meeting between Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) and the group they setup that will eventually become the X-Men. How they met, how they became allies and friends, and what caused the spilt between them in the end; these are the events that keep the story going.

Personally, I found the movie to be pretty good. Perhaps not the best X-Men movie around, it is still much better than X-Men: Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. There’s a lot going on but viewers are not overwhelmed as director Matthew Vaughn kept a tight grip on the story, rolling out the action sequence one after another while keeping everything fairly straightforward. The actors also did a good job with McAvoy especially good at being a playful Charles Xavier. A fairly faithful showing of the 1960s also helped me get into the movie.

However, X-Men: First Class has a few problems. The main negative is one they can’t help with. X-Men: First Class is a prequel so everyone knows what is going to happen. Much like the Star Wars prequel trilogy where everyone knows the Jedi will fall, the Sith will win and Darth Vader will be “born”, everyone knows that Charles and Eric will end up on opposite sides, the humans will try to kill the mutants, and Mystique will join Eric’s side of the mutant war. The surprise factor just isn’t there and that brings down the tension of the movie.

I also wonder if something was left on the editing floor because I found the end of the movie to be slightly abrupt. The way Eric “turned” against the humans was strange. One moment he was killing Shaw (oh please, that can’t be a surprise), the next he was fighting against humanity in the name of mutant society. Uh?

Still I found X-Men: First Class to be an excellent movie. It has good action scenes and it treads that fine line between paying attention to the past movies without paying homage to them. With this movie, the X-Men franchise is back on track.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

$750 psf

Housing prices was one of the reasons why the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) won the General Election 2011 (GE) with a lower majority last month. Housing prices has shot up through the roof in recent years and the PAP had promised to lower property prices.

If they are serious about it, then they better hurry!

A five-room HDB flat in Tampines has been put on the market with a whopping S$880,000 price tag. Even in Singapore, that price caught the eyes of many. Many are shocked at how a public housing flat could be valued at $750 psf when it’s not even in the city area. Even property agents were shocked by the price.

So it seems that despite promises and efforts by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, housing prices are still increasing. And not to be cynical about it, but since it will be 5 years before the next GE, I have to wonder how much higher property prices will go?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Comics this week

DC Universe Online: Legends #10- At the most basic level, the plot of this issue should be a winner. The Justice League, Batman in particular, is unhappy with Superman after the battle last issue and confronted him on his disappearing act. Unfortunately, the would-be confrontation never happen because Superman overheard the whole thing and then nip it in the bud by apologizing first. Possible but it also turned a (would-be) dramatic moment into an uncomfortable scene where everyone was falling over themselves in self-criticism. Writer Marv Wolfman missed a chance there and then compounded the problem by putting in a stupid plot device to get the people of Metropolis to turn against Superman. Sorry, but that’s a stupid idea that’s just ridiculous.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What A Waste

Okay, I have a question for everyone. However first I want to talk about that “materialistic” survey by the Singapore Management University (SMU).

A new research by the SMU compare students surveyed female students at SMU and at the Northen Illinois University in the United States on how materialistic they are. And to the surprise of no one, the survey showed that Singaporean women are "significantly" more materialistic than their American peers.

When I say “to the surprise of no one”, it really was “to the surprise of no one”! Most Singaporeans, including the psychology professor in charge of the study, agree with the findings of the survey. Even Singaporean women agreed with the survey!

Most women seem to accept the findings of the survey. The terms “realistic”, “practical”, and “financial stability” popped up a lot.

Which brings me to my question; why waste time and money on a survey for a question everyone knows the answer to?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Argument for Gamecards

Cyber-crime is a fact of life nowadays. These incidents happen despite all efforts by companies and consumers to prevent them. So it comes as no surprise that in the realm of internet gaming, cyber-crime has reared its ugly head.

Most people following the news would know of the massive attack on Sony-owned properties a few weeks ago that knocked out their PS3 online system as well as games like DC Online. What most people probably do not know that following that successful attack on Sony, a series of smaller gaming companies has also been attacked by hackers.

The list of companies that suffered attacks includes Epic Games, Codemasters, Nintendo, Bethesda and CCP. CCP’s online game, Eve Online, was even shut for hours due to the attacks. The company says that the shutdown is a security precaution and personal information of their customers remains secure.

Reading between the lines, one can easily conclude that the hackers were after personal information of the companies’ customers. Information like credit card details are stored in the companies’ database and if hackers get their hands on such info, this would mean huge trouble for everyone.

With this in mind, gaming companies should look into safer avenue for their customers to make payment. To me, the safest is without question gaming time cards. I have always used 60-days gamecards for every subscription MMORPGs I’ve played even though it was cheaper for me to just make payment through credit cards.

Attacks like these are what make me think I had made the right decision. However there are many games/companies that do not have the gamecards option and I believe this is something that need to change. Cyber-attacks like Sony’s are shaking consumer’s confidence in the security of their personal info and that will make consumers less likely to play the games in the future.

Having an option like gamecards is in the interest of all concern as it is safe for consumers and companies need not worry about online attacks from hackers trying to get their hands on personal info. Hopefully Bioware’s upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic will have the gamecard option as well. With all the recent attacks, I for one am worried about cyber security.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The NBA Champions!

The NBA Finals are over and the Dallas Mavericks became the NBA champions for the first time in its history. Led by Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs finished off the star-studded Miami Heat in 6 games and sent fans into rapture because they denied LeBron James his first NBA ring.

Frankly I couldn’t care less about the LeBron James situation, but I’m glad the Mavs won because they were the better team this series. Miami may have the Big 3 in LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but the Mavs were the better team with better teamwork and (seemingly) better camaraderie.

Although Nowitzki rightly won the Finals MVP, to me the most important factor for the Mavs this series was the teamwork they had. They looked like they were playing for one another and they made the necessary adjustments to counter Miami.

The Dallas Mavericks, deserved champions of the NBA!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weak Black Bear

For people who do not know, America is currently in the midst of a heatwave right now. It is so hot right now in America that even bears are looking for some time in the pool.

In one of the funniest picture I had ever seen, a woman in Florida took a picture of a giant black bear who was cooling itself in the jacuzzi of the woman’s house. The black bear was looking to escape the 32°C heat and took a 3 min dip in the family jacuzzi before the woman shoo it away.

I know America is currently in the midst of a heatwave right now but a Singaporean who grew up near the equator, I will say this; this is one weak ass bear! Seriously, Singaporeans take 32°C heat all the time and we take it with higher humidity! This giant black bear had to take a dip in a jacuzzi just because it was 32°C? And then got chased away by a woman?

Po, the Kungfu Panda, could do better! This bear is an insult to all of bearkind.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Comics this week

Annihilator #4- As a fan of cosmic goodness, there’s a lot of things to like about this issue. The epic scale of the problems facing the Annihilators, the grand fights, the out-of-the-world solutions the team came up with; all are things I would usually like in a cosmic book. Unfortunately, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning made the mistake of having Quasar narrating the story with a recap to boot. That was a huge mistake. I may not dislike Quasar but he’s the most vanilla character on the team; why pick him as the main man? Surely Ronan, Beta Ray or even the Surfer would be better choices? It was a disappointing end to a series that held so much promise. Luckily, the backup story of Rocket Raccoon and Groot was better (come to think of it, the backup is usually better than the main story in this miniseries). It never reached the heights of The Thanos Imperative or Guardians of the Galaxy but it was a workable end that had humor and action in it. Too bad about the main story though.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review of Kungfu Panda 2

With the money the original made, it will surprise no one that Dreamworks decided to make a sequel to Kungfu Panda. Kung Fu Panda 2 is the long awaited sequel and after watching it, I have to say it’s a pretty good movie.

The plot of the movie is simple and straightforward. Picking up directing from where Kungfu Panda left off, Kungfu Panda 2 has Po (Jack Black) protecting the Valley of Peace as the “Dragon Warrior”. However he is still a bumbling fool that drives his master, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), up the wall. Master Shifu tells Po that although he is the “Dragon Warrior”, he still has a long way to go as he has not achieved inner peace. Po of course has no idea what Master Shifu is talking about.

Soon after, Master Shifu received a letter stating that Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) has taken over Gongmen City after defeating Master Thundering Rhino (Victor Garber), leader of the kung fu council protecting Gongmen City, with a new weapon; a cannon. Master Shifu send Po along the Furious Five to stop Lord Shen from using the weapon against all of China.

After reaching Gongmen City and being captured by Lord Shen’s followers, Po discovered his origins including the fact that Lord Shen was the one who killed his birth parents. Defeated by Lord Shen, Po was then rescued by a soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) who brought Po back to the ruined village where he was born. Remembering his past, Po embraced himself, achieving the inner peace Master Shifu told him about.

Returning to Gongmen City, Po saves the Furious Five and together, they stop Lord Shen from unleashing his cannons on China.

First off, let’s get this out of the way. Kungfu Panda 2 is not as good as the original. The original has a fresh originality to it that the sequel has no way to replicate. However the movie did manage to keep the charm of the first movie.

Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson made a smart decision keeping Po as a bumbling fool instead of being a full fledged kungfu master. Couple that with some fun action sequence, look out for the first fight in Gongmen City, Kungfu Panda 2 retained most of the humor of the first movie.

I also like the fact the movie did not rest on its laurels. The kungfu world was expanded in the movie and Po’s friendship with the Five and his relationship with his foster father, Mr. Ping (James Hong), were also expanded on.

It might not be as good as the original, but with its blend of action, comedy, and visual effect, Kung Fu Panda 2 is a sequel that will please audiences. Bring on the next sequel!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Insane Default

I read that the Republican Party in America is “thinking” of forcing the U.S. government to go into a “brief default” on its debt as a way to force U.S. President Obama to cut spending. To any American readers of my blog, I will say this; the Republican Party is crazy!

Honestly they are because there is no such thing as a “brief default”! If America defaults on its debts, does anyone truly believe nothing will happen? The idea of a technical default, delaying interest payments for a few days, is insane for America because no one buy U.S. Treasury for its returns; people buy U.S. Treasury bonds because it’s safe. America is a safe haven but if America default, then it will no longer be considered a safe haven and people will dump it in a hurry. If its no longer safe, then the U.S. Treasury bills are useless.

So there is no such thing as a “brief default” for America. If the United States cannot make interest payments on its debt…the consequences could be far reaching to say the least.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Good Decision

Let me put it out front first; I think the idea behind putting all adult websites on the internet under the ".xxx" suffix to be one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard of. So it’s no surprise to anyone that I’m glad that the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) says they have no plans to block Singaporeans from accessing future ".xxx" adult websites.

I’m glad because it’s not going to work. Seriously, how is anyone going to regulate this rule? Currently, there are tens of thousands of websites on the internet showing adult content. Put up by thousands of companies all over the world. How in the world is anyone going to make them (all) go under the “.xxx” suffix? It’s just not possible. Doubtlessly there will be thousands of websites who will continue to work under the current system.

So even if there is any government agency who block their people from accessing ".xxx" websites, it still would not stop them from looking at adult websites. That’s why I’m glad the MDA say they have no plans to block these sites. Even if they try, it will be nothing but a waste of time and money.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Flooding Again in Singapore

Last year, heavy rain in June caused heavy floods along Orchard Road. The flooding caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses and several measures were put in place to prevent a repeat of the floods.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Yesterday morning, heavy rain caused flash floods again along Orchard Road. Only this time, the rainfall was more intense than last year. According to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), 65mm of rainfall was recorded within 30mins. That is compared to 100mm within two hours on June 16, 2010. The report from the PUB prompted the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Vivian Balakrishnan, to admit that Singapore’s weather has changed.

This is big news as this is the first time a government minister from Singapore had openly admitted that climate change is affecting Singapore in a big way. The first thing you have to do to solve a problem is to admit you have a problem. By admitting that Singapore’s weather has changed, I think the Singapore government is on the right track to tackle the flooding problem. I do agree that there’s limit to human engineering but Orchard Road is the prime shopping belt in our country so preventing the area from flooding is a must for the good of the economy.

I must also say I find the response to yesterday’s flooding to be much better than the response last year when Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says that it would be unrealistic for Singapore to be flood free. The PM even asked Singaporeans to “manage their expectations” as it would be too costly to build the facilities needed to prevent the floods. I’m no fan of Mr. Vivian (I did not overspend on the YOG) Balakrishnan, but he did the right thing yesterday. Here’s hoping the PUB can find a way to prevent the floods same time next year.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Comics this week

S.H.I.E.L.D #1- The second volume of S.H.I.E.L.D begins where the last volume left off; the war between Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci is in full swing and Leonid is standing on the sidelines wondering what to do about it. Writer Jonathan Hickman then quickly introduces Michaelangelo’s backstory into the equation, showing him as the mover and shaker of the various events in volume 1. Having some of our questions answers may be satisfying but you know what’s the best part of this issue? The various characters page at the back! Volume 1 was such a confusing mess in storytelling that I’m glad that Hickman and Marvel added the characters pages. Without it, I would still have no idea what had happened in volume 1. If you have collected the first volume and had no idea what the story was about; pick up this issue. The summary pages will explain all.

X-23 #11- This is more like it. Last issue, I said that I found Wolverine and Jubilee guest-starring roles to be useless. Now I still find Wolverine’s presence to be useless but at least there’s a reason for Jubilee to be here. Having a girlfriend for X-23 might be a good idea as thus far, X-23’s life has been filled and ruled by the men around her. The shopping scene between Jubilee and X-23 was great. Jubilee worked so well maybe writer Marjorie Liu could consider making her a regular.

Secret Six #34– Finally out of hell, the Six got down to business immediately by hunting down the sociopath who unfortunately kidnapped and tortured Scandal’s girlfriend Liana. Payback’s a bitch as the Six gleefully tortured and then killed the man. Writer Gail Simone seem to be having a wonderful time as the characters bonded over their time in hell. This was a great issue so I find it quite sad that the series is ending due to an editorial imposed reboot of the DCU. I think there’s still a lot of stories to be told about the Six and hopefully we would get to read those stories sooner or later.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shocking Expenses

With the General Elections 2011 (GE 2011) over, the various political parties in Singapore are opening their books to show how much they spent on the GE. As expected, the People's Action Party (PAP) Tanjong Pagar team was the first to open their books.

This was because there wasn’t a contest in Tanjong Pagar, so they would have the easiest time their expenses right. Their numbers shocked everyone.

The PAP Tanjong Pagar team reported that they racked up S$164,000 in expenses during the recent GE campaign. How the hell does one racked up S$164,000 in expenses when there’s not even a contest in the ward? During the recent GE campaign, the (smaller) Singapore People's Party (SPP) racked up only around $30,000 in total for the three constituencies it contested. Yet somehow, the PAP Tanjong Pagar managed to rack up 5 times that amount in a single ward where there wasn’t even a contest!

How the hell is that possible? I think the PAP and the Tanjong Pagar team need to answer questions on their expenses. Almost everyone I spoke to find the number ridiculous and they are awaiting the rest of the numbers with a slight sense of dread. If this is the number for Tanjong Pagar, what are the expenses for the other PAP teams where there were contests?

The only good thing that came out of this; the SPP spend 5 times less and still managed to almost win the Potong Pasir ward. This shows that in politics at least, money isn’t everything.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Go For It!

One of the surprises in the just concluded General Elections 2011 (GE 2011) was the defeat of former Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo. During the hustling, it was reported that if he was defeated, Mr Yeo would be a candidate for the Presidential Election.

This was vehemently denied by Mr Yeo during and immediately after the elections. Now it seems that he had changed his mind. In his latest update on his Facebook page, Mr Yeo hinted that he is reconsidering his decision as "many Singaporeans from different walks of life, young and old, have asked me to reconsider my decision on the Presidency.”

So far, the views on his decision have been mixed. Some believe he is going back on his word, while others love the idea of him being the President. My view on this; knock yourself out Mr Yeo!

Elections are about choices and if a 23 year veteran of the political scene want to contest the Presidential Election, that’s a good thing for Singaporeans. He is experienced, intelligent and respected in the region. Even the most pro-opposition supporter in Singapore would be hard-pressed to say he will make a bad President.

So if Mr Yeo decides to contest the Presidential Election, I’m all for it. Singaporeans can make a choice of whether to vote him in as the President, and it will be good to have such a choice to make.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another DC Revamp

Once upon a time, comics revamp happened once every 10-20 years. Companies would revamp their entire line of superhero comics to draw in new readers and to “keep things fresh”.

Nowadays, it seems that comics revamp comes once 5 years or so. DC Comics is the latest company set to relaunch all their titles. They intend to release 52 new series with new origins for many characters, and new character designs for all of them. The idea is to draw in new readers by making the characters younger.

What else is new right? However there is one rumor that I truly hope is not true. Rumors on the internet say that DC intends to erase continuity in the Superman line by…making Superman single! Lois and Clark never happened; under the revamp, they never got married.

As radical as it sounds, something like this isn’t new. A few years ago, Marvel got rid of Spiderman and Mary Jane's marriage by having Peter Parker make a deal with a devil. It has been years and the writers (and Marvel) are still receiving hate mail on the matter from fans.

So I have to ask; there is no way DC is mad enough to do something as crazy as that…right?