Tuesday, January 31, 2012

With Friends Like...

One of the biggest successes America can tout in its war against terrorism is the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Last year, U.S. Navy SEAL took the life of Osama after a secret spy operation helped by a Pakistani doctor by the name of Dr. Shakeel Afridi.

Pakistan quite naturally is very unhappy that one of its citizens is helping a foreign government conduct an assassination on its territory and intends to put the doctor on trial for the charge of treason. It’s something any government in the world worth its salt would do. The U.S. has been trying to get the doctor out of Pakistan and into America for his help.

However they really need to go about it in another way. Just days ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly confirmed that Dr. Shakeel played a key role in the Bin Laden mission. It was a clear bid to put public pressure on the Pakistani government.

Sorry but how is that suppose to help Dr. Shakeel? I mean not only did the man help a foreign government conduct an assassination in his country but you just confirm to the world he played a vital part in the operation. I mean what do you think the Pakistani government will release the doctor after that?

Of course not! If they do that, the Pakistani government will be saying to the rest of the world (and their own citizens) that’s it is perfectly okay to conduct assassinations in their country! Now which government in the world is going to allow that? If the U.S. government wants Pakistan to release their agent, they need to come up with something other than public pressure because to say it is counter-productive is an understatement.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Less Wheat From Now On

It is an accepted fact that the world is growing warmer. However, a lot of people are choosing to ignore the problem as they feel the effects of global warming would only be felt in the future. They feel that global warming does not affect the here and now; AKA, it’s not their problem.

A U.S. led study however is making a serious dent in that assumption. With the change in temperature, the world’s weather pattern has changed as well. And with the change in weather pattern, it comes as no surprise that our food supplies are going to be affected.

In the study, wheat (one of the world’s main food sources for humans) is beginning to show effects of global warming. Scientists from Stanford University released data showing that wheat crops are now aging faster and producing less. Climate scientists say that higher world temperature is to blame for this and warned that as episodes of extreme heat are becoming more frequent across the globe. As the temperature increase, there will be huge challenges for farmers growing the crop.

This is not in the future but in the here and now. Farmers will need to adapt to the changing environment now as the weather is changing as we speak. So for those people who are choosing to ignore global warming as they feel the problem will not affect them; you are so, so wrong.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Still Waiting

Like most Singaporeans, I heard of the CPIM (Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau) arrest of the chiefs of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) earlier this week. However I had stopped myself from commenting on it as there had been very little information on the arrest.

I’m still waiting.

All we know so far is that CNB director Ng Boon Gay was arrested last month and SCDF chief Peter Lim Sin Pang was arrested on 4 Jan this year. Both were arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act and both are now out on bail. Oh wait; we also know that the duo had been suspended for “serious personal misconduct”.

That’s it! That’s all we know which means we don’t know anything because no information about what they had (allegally) done has been released yet! While both men had been suspended from their duties following “serious personal misconduct”, the nature of their actual offence is a total mystery.

A mystery I think the Singapore government needs to clear ASAP. Did the men take money? Was it sex for favours? Why it took the government so long before even admitting the 2 men were under investigation?

Despite what some Singaporeans are saying, I do not think this case is like the corruption case involving SLA (Singapore Land Authority) last year. That was a case of two senior employees at the SLA cheating the agency of some $11.8 million; this is a case involving the CBB and SCDF. The Singapore government need to understand that there is a lot of difference between the SLA, CNB and SCDF. Most Singaporeans ignored the SLA, some people don’t even know what the SLA is for, but the CNB and SCDF are different matters altogether!

The CNB and SCDF are security agencies. Singaporeans are very interested in what sort of “corruption” had been uncovered at these 2 agencies. The sooner the information is released, the better it will be for everyone including the Singapore government.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Comics this week

Justice League #5- In the early 90s, a group of superstar artists decided to create Image Comics. Of the lot, Todd McFarlane was widely considered the pick of the bunch. However I had always believed that Jim Lee was slightly better than McFarlane. For the past few years, Jim Lee had made a mockery of my belief by disappearing from the comic world. If there’s one thing we can be grateful for in the New 52, it is the resurrection of Jim Lee. He seems to be having fun in the New 52 and the last page of this issue shows it. I won’t spoil it by saying what it shows but it is great. It’s worth it to pick up this issue just for that one page alone. It’s that good!

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #5- Now that the set-up of the team is over, it’s time for the New Guardians to investigate how rings from their respective corps were stolen in the first place. What came about is a fun mystery tour of the massive structure that has appeared in the universe. Writer Tony Bedard does a good job of hinting at the contrasting personalities of the New Guardians and artist Tyler Kirkham match him with some solid pages. The New Guardians still hasn’t catch fire but the potential of the series is undeniable.

I, Vampire #5- Batman don’t know there are vampires in the DCU? Really? The man fights beside an Amazon Princess, knows magic exist in the DCU, is the world’s greatest detective, but he has no idea vampires exist. Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov needs to stop with all these guest-stars that are hurting more than helping the series. I thought Constantine's appearance last issue was unnecessary but at least he was still in character. This Batman is not. The only good thing in this issue is Andrea Sorrentino's work which suits Batman and Gotham to a T. Too bad about the story.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Star Wars Uncut: Director’s Cut

I’m not a fan of fan-made movies. The reason is simple; almost all of them are crap!

This latest fan-made movie, Star Wars Uncut: Director’s Cut, however is ridiculously funny. It’s still crap but the director ragingpugh (who I think we can all agree has too much time on his hand) celebrate the crappiness of fan-made movie.

Just watch it and find out what I mean!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Not What They Need

For all the talk about how Singapore need an alternate voice to the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), there are a lot of Singaporeans who believed that none of the opposition parties and its members has the quality to match the PAP. The latest troubles at the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) will not helping matters.

Even through the SPP is one of the minor political parties in Singapore, it has been able to punch above its weight due to presence of its veteran leader Mr. Chiam See Tong. However differences within the party became public the SPP’s first assistant secretary-general Mr. Wilfred Leung informed the SPP central executive committee (CEC) that he does not intend to run for a position in the committee. This is major news within the SPP as Mr. Leung was expected to succeed Mr. Chiam See Tong as the party’s next secretary-general.

The problem seems to be discontent with Mr. Chiam and his wife, Mrs. Lina Chiam. Key members of the party had said to have lock with Mrs Lina Chiam, who had taken over her husband’s position within the SPP. Sadly, I kind of expected this.

Despite (or because) his status as the longest serving opposition in Singapore, Mr. Chiam has a long history of falling out with senior member of the political party he was in. It happened in the Singapore Democratic Party, with the Singapore Democratic Alliance and now with the SPP. I see a trend here.

However I do hope that the Chiams and the members of the SPP can come up with some sort of agreement or comprise. The SPP is already a minor party within the opposition, the last thing they (and the opposition) need right now is a spilt within the party.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese New Year

Today is the eve of the Chinese New Year. Here wishing all readers a "Happy and Prosperous Year of the Dragon"!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review of Margin Call

I have never heard of J.C. Chandor but after seeing “Margin Call” I can safely say the director is gong to have a long career in front of him. “Margin Call” is a movie on the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the reactions of a group of people in charge of a large investment bank on the outset of the crisis.

“Margin Call” starts with a bloodbath on the trading floor as the investment bank in question was conducting massive layoffs. One of the employees fired, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci), was a manager in the risk management division. Before he leaves, he hands over a project he was working on to Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto), a junior risk analyst.

That night, Peter finished Eric’s project and discovered that the company’s trading strategy has put the company in great risk of collapse. Sullivan informed his friend Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) as well as his boss Will Emerson (Paul Bettany). Once he discovered how serious the problems are, Will immediately tried to contact Eric Dale but discover that Eric has not went home and his HP no. has been cancelled by the company. He then contacted Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), the company’s head of sales.

Throughout the night, the employees engaged in a series of high-level meetings with senior executives like the company’s head of securities Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), the company’s head of risk Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore), and the company’s CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons). Tuld revealed his plan to sell off all of the toxic assets of the company before the market catch wind of their worthlessness, thus enabling the firm to continue. Rogers strongly object to this plan as it will destroy the firm's relationships throughout the financial sector as they would be selling worthless paper.

From then on, the movie became a tense affair as Tuld and Rogers engaged in a test of wills on whether to go ahead with the plan. Needless to say, the plan went through and the aftermath was not pretty.

Let me put it simply; “Margin Call” is a wonderful film. With a peerless ensemble cast and a smart director, it is intriguing by the very fact of what it tried to do. It creates sympathy for the bad guys of the current financial crisis.

A lot of the credit has to go to the cast, especially Spacey and Irons. Spacey is brilliant as the immoral Rogers who is surprised and none too pleased to discover that he still has some principals. Irons matched Spacey’s performance as the desperate Tuld who makes no apologies for doing whatever he could to enable the survival of his firm.

Let’s admit it, the tropic of financial swaps and debt sales is rather dry, and it is to the cast’s credit that the film works! Even actors I never care for like Demi Moore and Simon Baker put in some stellar work here.

However director J.C. Chandor also came out of this film smelling like roses. In any other film, all the characters in the film would be considered the bad guys. They were the ones who created a crisis that affected millions of people, who sold worthless assets to save themselves and who got rich while doing so! However under Chandor’s deft hands, everyone got to display a glimmer of humanity as zero hour approaches.

Chandor treaded the needle in this movie. He refused to give us any villains but did show the reason why the crisis started in the first place. The people in this film might not be villains but they are no heroes either. Near the end of the film, it was revealed that senior executives of the firm were aware of the risks in the weeks leading up to the crisis but they chose to ignore it due to the money they were making. Even the counterparties of the firm, who were buying worthless paper, were not spared. As the day goes on, the firm’s counterparties knew that something was wrong but despite being increasingly suspicious, they still bought the assets from the firm because the firm was selling it so cheaply.

Chandor made sure to emphasis the fact that greed was the all powerful factor in the financial crisis and everyone was to blame for it.

Yet despite the heavy and dry tropic, this was not a humorless film. There were a few running jokes in the film. One of the running jokes in the film was that the structure of the asset was so complex no one but engineers and rocket scientists could figure out exactly how it worked. Almost every executive in the film told Sullivan to explain the matter to them as simply as possible. Another was the search for Eric Dale. After getting fired, Dale got his phone number cancelled; which made it impossible for the firm to contact him once they found they needed him back. In the end, they had to pay him a truckload of money just to come back to the firm to sit down in the office doing nothing for a day.

Of course if you wish to nitpick, there were some parts of the film that could have done some work. The structure of the assets the firm was selling was never fully explained and it would have been nice to know what happened between Robertson, Cohen, and Tuld during the weeks leading to the crisis.

Still, those were minor instances in the film which could have being better. On the whole, “Margin Call” was a wonderful film. I know it’s still January but I’m pretty sure this will be one of the best film I’ll watch this year. Watch it and see why!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Since When?

Speaking in Parliament about the recommended pay cuts announced by the Ministerial Salary Review Committee last week, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that Singaporeans should not compare Singapore’s ministerial salaries with those of other countries.

The reaction of Singaporeans to the DPM’s statement has been one of outright laughter! I admit I laughed too when I heard his statement.

Come on, since when did Singapore has a problem with comparing ourselves with the rest of the world? We have one of the busiest port in the world; the world’s best airport; the no. 1 destination for rich Indonesian fugitives! However when it comes to comparing salaries of our ministers, we can’t compare ourselves to the rest of the world?

Right, that’s makes a lot of sense. I’m sure Singaporeans will follow his advice and we will never hear any word about ministerial salaries ever again!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Real Reason

The Chinese New Year is just around the corner, and you know what that means! A series of visiting relatives you rather avoid, smiling at bad jokes and a hearty reunion dinner. Only in Singapore, more and more people are now opting to have the reunion dinner at restaurants rather than the traditional home-cooked reunion dinner.

Now if you ask Singaporeans why this is the case, most Singaporeans will say this is due to convenience, modern living etc. I say their reasons are total nonsense. The reason why more Singapore families are opting to eat their reunion dinner at restaurants is because…well, there’s no one to cook for the whole family (the maid don’t count)!

Traditionally the reunion dinner is cook by the women of the house but as most young Singaporean woman nowadays don’t cook, the traditional home-cooked reunion dinner is no longer an option. Even women who do know how to cook, they don’t do it often so they have no confidence of cooking for the whole family.

Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I don’t care about it either way, but my follow Singaporeans; let’s call a spade a spade.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


This blog reached a milestone today. There had been 100,000 views on this blog. 100,000 readers!

I will admit when I first started this blog years ago, it was a pure ego trip. Frankly, I never thought anyone would be interested in what I write. Certainly I never thought I would ever get 100,000 views on this blog.

However I had reached this milestone and I wish to take this time to thank all my readers for their support. I’ll probably continue with the blog even if no one but me read it but it is great to know you guys are out there. THANK YOU ALL!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Disagree With Catherine Lim

One of Singapore's best-known authors Catherine Lim, who is a frequent critic of the government, sparked controversy over the weekend when she said that she do not believe the ruling party People's Action Party (PAP) is capable of reinventing itself.

Speaking at socio-political blog The Online Citizen's (TOC) Awards Night, Ms. Lim was responding to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech at a PAP convention in November where he said that the PAP will reinvent itself to "build a new PAP for a new era". On the Singapore blogshere, most people seem to agree with Ms. Lim’s assessment.

I don’t.

In last year’s General Elections (GE), the PAP only got around 60% of the total votes and in the Presidential Election in August, Tony Tan (the PAP preferred candidate) won by only 2% of the votes. Everyone including the PAP knows that the PAP can’t do business as usual or their results will be even worse in the next GE.

I think the PAP will try to reinvent itself for one simple reason; it needs to! If it doesn’t, then they are fools and even the anti-PAP blogger in Singapore will admit that the PAP may be a lot of things but they are not stupid.

Of course the PAP may fail to reform but even if that’s the case, it won’t be due to lack of effort. Especially not when the directive comes from the PM himself! The reform will take time and it won’t be easy. However since the next GE is about 6 years away, there is more than enough time for the PM to put his mark on the party.

Time is on their side. With time and the acceptance of necessity, I would put money on the PAP managing to reinvent itself in time for the next GE. After all, history has shown that betting against the PAP is a losing proposition.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Iranian-American Spy Case

An Iranian-born American, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, has been sentenced to death by the Iranian government on the charge of spying. The American government and Hekmati's family said that the charges are false. If you seen CNN or BBC, you will find many analysts saying that Iran had no reason to detain Mr. Amir.

I’m sorry but I don't understand how anyone can say that. Now I have no idea if Mr. Amir is a CIA spy but without question, his background would give the Iranian pause. Mr. Amir is a former US Marine who had served in Iraq, who is currently employed by a small video company that makes war games that recreate real-life conflicts in the Middle East, and who (in this time of high tension between America and Iran) decided to go to Iran to visit his grandmother for the first time in his life!

These are all facts! There are also the rumors of how his parents were exiles from Iran, how Amir worked in military intelligence in Iraq, and how the company he works for is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Sorry but these are all red flags. I mean if an American-born Iranian went to America with Amir Mirzaei Hekmati’s background, I’m sure American intelligence would be very “interested” in the guy. If they don’t, then they’re not doing their job.

Again, I have to say I have no idea if Mr. Amir really is a CIA spy but a man with his background is going to arouse suspicions. Saying that Iran has no reason to detain him is sketching it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Comics this week

Green Lantern #5- The first Green Lantern arc concludes with Hal Jordon and Sinestro saving Korugar from the Sinestro Corps. As the start of a new series, I would have to say this arc wasn’t the best GL story in existence but I believe I finally understood what writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke were looking to do. They were looking to craft a story to get new readers; to keep new readers who pick up GL #1 due to the New 52 revamp. So gone were the space opera and in came the buddy cop story of Hal and Sinestro. It’s not the greatest but the starting arc was a good starting point for new readers. Having said that, I’m glad it’s over. Let’s get back to the space opera!

Demon Knights #5- Writer Paul Cornell again delved into his cast, however unlike the last issue which focused on the Shining Knight, he decided this time to reveal the motivations of each and every knight. Now as I had said before, Cornell and artist Diogenes Neves had been doing some great work in Demon Knights but Demon Knights is a series on warriors and mages! In a series like this, we need…well sword fights and magic. Going into the back-story of the knights is great but we are still only at #5 so it’s more important to get and keep readers. Let’s admit it; there’s no way all the New 52 titles would last through the year and according to the sales chart, Demon Knights is currently being criminally overlooked by readers. The last page of this issue however gives me hope. The upcoming battle looked epic!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Malaysian Cup returned!

Yesterday night for the first time in 17 years, a Singapore team was playing in the Malaysian League. Tried as they might, the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) had been unable to recreate the magic of the Malaysian Cup in the local S-League and yesterday show what the S-League lacked.

The moment I on the television last night, I could see what the local football scene was missing. A capacity crowd, an electrifying atmosphere, and a passion for the sport that reignite my memories of the last time Singapore was in the Malaysian Cup. It had been too long.

However with Singapore’s return to the Malaysian Cup, there is also a return of something which I do NOT miss. Our whining! Singaporeans has a tendency to whine and this trait is increased ten-fold when it comes to football.

Yesterday, Singapore lost 2-1 to Kelantan. The winning goal came via a penalty which Singapore complained should not have been given. Singapore’s vice-captain Hariss Harun even said that a draw would have been a fairer result.

No, it wouldn’t. Last night, Kelantan was just better. They had more possession, more shots, and more control of the game than Singapore. Singapore played hard but Kelantan deserved to win. Yes, the penalty might be soft but I had seen them given before. There was contact between Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and Kelantan striker Muhammed Gaddar.

It was NOT the wrong decision. So Singaporeans need to stop their whining about unfair referees and miscarriage of justice. We are back in the Malaysia Cup! Let’s just enjoy the trip!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


After a two-year trial, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was found not guilty yesterday by a Malaysian court on the charge of sodomising his one-time aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. The verdict came as a surprise as many (including me) had suspected that the Malaysian government would do all it could to ensure a guilty verdict.

Anwar had said from the outset that his trial was a conspiracy by the Malaysian government to prevent him from contesting the coming General Elections in Malaysia. With this verdict, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed wasted no time in proclaiming that the innocent verdict proves that there was no government conspiracy against Anwar.

Unfortunately for the 2 men, no one will believe them. Now I don’t know for sure if the trial was a government conspiracy against Anwar but sometimes perception triumphs the truth and the perception that there is a government conspiracy against Anwar is so heavy I have no idea how the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) would change that.

Frankly, the Malaysian government can only blame themselves for this situation. The case against Anwar was so weak it should have never gone to trial in the first place. The idea that a 60+ man in poor health like Anwar would be able to force a 20+ young man like Mohd Saiful to have sex is so ridiculous the case should have been thrown out a long time ago. The fact that the trial actually lasted 2 years is a joke!

What’s worse for the Malaysian government is that after the verdict, a rally by Anwar supporters was cut short by 2 small explosions. The preliminary police investigation found that the two explosive devices were placed under police cones in the carpark outside of the courthouse. Under police cones! You can’t get any more obvious than that can you?

So if PM Najib believes that the BN would get a boost from the innocent verdict, he is sorely mistaken. If anything, Anwar's acquittal would probably give his supporters a lift and allows Anwar to attack BN with the charge that his trial was politically motivated.

In short, PM Najib and the Malaysian government may have hurt Anwar with the trial but they came out of the whole saga a lot, lot worse! Advantage: Anwar!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wrong Decision Made

It was always coming. After train disruptions in December, SMRT chief executive officer Saw Phaik Hwa has withstood calls from Singaporeans to step down from her post. As of Friday, Ms. Saw had stepped down from her post as SMRT CEO.

Frankly, it was a long time coming as the continued train disruptions had made her position untenable. The problem I have is not her resignation but the fact that the problems with the train system are still NOT fixed!

When Ms. Saw's took the decision to stay on as CEO, she said that she was staying on to set things right. It has been a month yet Singaporeans are still plagued with slowdowns and breakdowns of the train system. Just yesterday, the news reported of yet another slowdown on the Circle Line!

So despite her wish to take responsibility for the disruptions and her pledge to set things right, Ms. Saw had failed to fix the problems of the SMRT. In the end, her decision to stay on as SMRT CEO in December was the wrong one.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online (DCUO) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) set in the DC Universe. Released by Sony Online Entertainment in January 2011, it was supposed to be the MMO that will rule the superhero MMO market.

That has not been the case as players had abandon the game and Sony had to convert the game to F2P (Free-to-Play) on November 1 to continue the game. In fact, it’s fair to say DCUO is now no. 3 in the superhero MMO Markey, behind Champions Online and City of Heroes. So…what went wrong?

I shall start off with what went right for the game.

DC fully supported the game with Geoff Johns being the principal writer of the story and Jim Lee being the game's Executive Creative Director. The story (which is about an alien invasion by the supervillain Brainiac) is interesting and the character designs are good.

DCUO is a good-looking game. The game itself is beautiful and you can clearly see that a lot of work had been put into the cities of Metropolis and Gotham City. I also got a kick out of fighting alongside the various heroes and villains of the DCU. I know some people complained that they are sidekicks to the main heroes like Superman or Batman but I don’t see why that’s a problem. I mean why are you are in a MMO called DC Universe Online if not to fight alongside Batman?

Leveling was also a breeze and I got a character to the max level of 30 in about 3 weeks (which was very quick for me). However when I went on to my secondary character, I found that the experience wasn’t that enjoyable. I have put some thought on why that is the case and think I have the answer.

The characters builds are just too similar. When players play the game, they have a choice of going into a damage mode or an alternate mode (healing/control/tank etc). On paper this sounds cool but in practice, it is far less so. This is because allowing everyone to go dps means you can have a team all doing the same thing! Basically, everyone goes damage and tried to knock down the boss before getting killed. It takes tactics out of the equation and many times, teams just pile on the boss.

More importantly, it means there isn’t much of a difference in the character builds! As everyone can go dps, outside the flashy animation, all the characters played the same. I believe it is why my alts couldn’t maintain my interest in the game. I just couldn’t see that much difference between my alt (which is an ice tank/dps) and my main (nature healer/dps)! It doesn’t help that there wasn’t that many powers to choose from in the first place.

When players first start the game, they have to create a character and the problem begins immediately. When the game was first launched, DCUO only have 6 power sets for players to choose from. Since the launch, two more power sets (Lighting, Light) have been introduced to make a grand total of…8!

That is just pathetic. Especially when you consider that City of Heroes give you close to 16 different powers to choose from at the start! Another problem is in the PS3 design of the game interface. DCUO is designed to be played both by the PC and PS3 and the console-focused interface of the game was very troublesome for me. I only had 8 slots for my powers and since 2 of them are taken by my potions, that means I only have 6 powers to choose from.

That is just sad and I believe is the main reason why DCUO went F2P within a year of launch. I have played all 3 superhero MMOs on the market and I have to rank DCUO behind Champions Online and City of Heroes. It’s not a bad game but the other 2 are just better.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Comics this week

Artifacts #13- With the universe destroyed in #12, this issue is an epilogue showing off the new universe which Top Cow will now be set on. However the issue isn’t a straightforward revamp as writer Ron Marz decided to show the difference between Sara and Jackie and what they are (and are not) willing to do for the greater good. It was a rollercoaster with an open ending that leave a lot of room for other writers to fill in the blanks. Marz did such a great job I want to pick up Witchblade to see if Sara still remember that Hope is her daughter. The only problem I had with the issue was how little we know about what happened to the rest of the artifacts bearers. Does Dani still have the Angelus? Is Finnegan dead? Guess I have to pick #14 to find up.

Villains For Hire #2- After a so-so debut, #2 of “Villains For Hire” was much better. The issue kicks off with Purple Man's crew again coming up against Misty Knight's team of villains. The fights between the C-list villains still leave a lot to be desired but the brains behind the operations takes centre stage with the Purple Man, Misty Knight and Headhunter weaving plot and counterplots against each other. Let me put out a shameless suggestion to writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; make Misty Knight a bad guy! Like the Purple Man, I don’t buy the plot twist in this issue. I think it is a cover for Misty Knight to break Villains For Hire from the inside, so surprise me! Turn her to a bad guy; that will be fun!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Top 10 Political Leader's Salary by Country (2010):
1. Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore): $2,183,516
2. Donald Tsang (Hong Kong): $513,245
3. Raila Odinga (Kenya): $427,886
4. Barack Obama (United States): $400,000
5. Nicolas Sarkozy (France): $302,435
6. Stephen Harper (Canada): $296,400
7. Mary McAleese (Ireland): $287,900
8. Julia Gillard (Australia): $286,752
9. Angela Merkel (Germany): $283,608
10. Yoshihiko Noda (Japan): $273,676

After their less-tan-stellar performance in the General Election last year, the Singapore government put together a committee to review minister’s pay, a particular bugbear for the Singapore public. After half a year, the committee has finally come up with their “recommendations”.

With Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong having said that the government will accept the recommendations made by the Ministerial Salary Committee, Singapore ministers will now have to suffer a “severe” pay cut. PM Lee’s salary will be reduced by 36% to S$2.2 million.

So what? Just look at the list above on the highest paid political leader in 2010. PM Lee’s salary is about 4 times above the second place guy! A cut of 36% will make him…STILL the highest paid political leader in the world.

Seriously, this is why I have always said that the Singapore government should never make a big deal out of their pay. They are the highest paid ministers in the world and a cut of 36% isn’t going to change that. They should do any cuts on their salary quietly because the more they put out their salary to the public, the worse it is for the government.

It has been less than a day since the publication of the recommendation and already the Singapore public’s reactions has been mostly about how “this is a good start”. When it come to their high salary, it’s a lose-lose situation for the Singapore government. The less they talk about it, the better it is for them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Ever-Changing Story

On 23 December, there was heavy rain in Singapore and Singapore’s shopping belt, Orchard Road, was again flooded. However it is the ensuing finger-pointing for this latest embarrassment that had raise eyebrows.

It all started when the PUB first made an official statement saying that there was no flood on Orchard Road rather it was a “ponding” of water. However several photos on the internet showed the flooding in buildings such as Liat Towers and Lucky Plaza (both on Orchard Road) quickly made a mockery of that.

Then the management of Liat Tower (probably in an effort to protect themselves) claimed that the cause of the flood in their building was due to the Stamford Canal being full. PUB immediately denied this saying the Stamford Canal was not full and that the flooding within Liat Tower has nothing to do with the canal. Then on 30 December, PUB issued a press release stating "The sustained heavy downpour resulted in the flooding of several roads including the Thomson/Cambridge areas as well as the basements of Liat Towers and Lucky Plaza." Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan then came out to “urge” Singaporeans to be patient because “alternatives to the Stamford Canal” are being studied to help resolve flooding along Orchard Road.

You heard of the never-ending story? For the flood on Orchard Road, it’s the ever-changing story! Suddenly, there is flooding on Orchard Road. Suddenly the Stamford Canal was full. Suddenly, not only did they know the Stamford Canal was full, they are also “methodically and carefully” studying “alternatives”.

Frankly, I don’t see why they can’t just say that in the first place.

All the finger-pointing beforehand is senseless. Most Singaporeans don’t care why there is a flood on Orchard Road, they just want the problem fixed! The PUB should stop worrying about covering their ass (because it’s no longer possible) and just concentrate on fixing the flood problem on Orchard Road.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No Hero

Recently, the internet has been filled with stories of gender discrimination in Israel. The story has been on the treatment of women by hareidi (Jewish) religious men who had enforced rules on gender separation within their neighborhoods.

This is evidently something that has been happening for a few years already in certain parts of Israel and one of the rules imposed was the separation of seats on buses. On buses piling certain routes within some neighborhoods, there are separate seating place for men and women. Men seat in front while women seat at the back of the bus. The internet has been buzzing because an Israeli woman, Tania Rosenblit, refused to follow the rules and insisted on sitting behind the driver at the front of the bus. She got into an argument with a man and the police were even called in.

In most posts on the internet, Ms. Rosenblit has been likened to an “Israeli Rosa Parks,” for standing up to gender segregation. Now Ms. Rosenblit insists she wasn't looking to be a role model when she refused demands to move to the back of the bus. She’s right; she wasn’t looking to be a hero, she was looking for trouble!

Most people on the internet seem to have forgotten one important thing about Ms. Rosenblit. Ms. Rosenblit is a media producer who got on the bus with a camera. She then proceeded to capture the whole “incident” on camera. The whole thing was as manufactured as you can get but Ms. Rosenblit is now a “hero”?

Please people; heroes are people who stand up for what they believe in like the original Rosa Parks. Now maybe Ms. Rosenblit truly believe in the cause (fighting gender discrimination) but from all the reports I read, it seem clear to me that she went on the bus looking to create an incident. She got what she was looking for.

Maybe the whole thing is for the best as it put a spotlight on gender discrimination in Israel but we should NOT put Ms. Rosenblit on the same level as Rosa Parks. Ms. Rosenblit is no hero. She was just doing her job; to produce “news”.