Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Is He Talking About?

In his young political career, PAP (People’s Action Party) MP (Member of Parliament) Baey Yam Keng has put his foot in his mouth a few times already. Lesson not learned it seems as he managed to do so again.

In a speech in Parliament, Mr. Baey tried to “clarify” his recent remarks defending Mr. Sun Xu (an undergraduate from China who called Singaporeans “dogs”). However all Mr. Baey managed to do is to dig a bigger hole for himself when he say that nationality should not be a factor when the government make their decision of who get a government scholarship. He went further to say that a scholarship should be awarded based solely on meritocracy, and should not be allocated specifically to locals or foreigners.

That is a problem because that is totally untrue. Now I have been saying the furor over the comment by Mr. Sun is a storm in a teacup but Mr. Baey has managed to make things worse with his speech. The problem is that the various scholarships given out by the Ministry of Education (MOE) ARE based on nationality!

Just a simple check on the various basic scholarships on offer by the MOE and you can clearly see that some on them are only on offer for certain nationalities. For example the SIA Youth and A*Star India Youth scholarships are available only to India nationals while Singaporeans are only allowed to apply for the MOE Scholarship.

Singaporeans are already unhappy with comments of Mr. Sun, they are already unhappy with the fact that Singapore taxpayers are paying for the studies of foreigners; the last thing they need is a MP from the ruling party to go up and say the wrong thing in Parliament!

The thing is that someone has to pay for the scholarship and that someone is currently the Singapore taxpayers. Needless to say, most Singaporeans are wondering why their money are being used to fund the studies of foreigners instead of Singaporeans. Now I think Mr. Baey was trying to defend government policy but if that is the case, he got his facts wrong. The simple fact is that government scholarships are based and targeted at various nationalities.

It’s something most people, including people in the MOE, would not argue about! It’s a fact! So for Mr. Baey to say that nationality should not be a factor when the government makes their decision of who get a government scholarship; either he is publicly going against government policy or I have to seriously wonder if the man actually knows what he is talking about!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Expected Delay

Since the opposition Worker’s Party (WP) expelled Yaw Shin Leong, Singaporeans has been waiting for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) to call for a by-election in the Hougang seat. However the PAP has been taking their time in calling the by-election because there is no deadline to call for a by-election.

For people complaining about this, I have to ask them what do you expect? Hougang is a WP stronghold and with the problems the PAP currently having, it’s only sensible for them to delay holding the by-election till a time when they have a chance to win the by-election. If they hold it now, the PAP will be defeated and does anyone truly believe they will rush to their own defeat?

If Singaporeans are unhappy about this, then you can only blame the WP for this incident. They are the one who foolishly (in my view) decided to expel a sitting MP from their own party. I think only the most anti-PAP of Singaporeans will blame the PAP for WP’s own mistake.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Comics this week

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #6- After too long of a wait, the New Guardians team are finally seeing some action together. The new “villain” Invictus seems like a powerhouse but also don’t seem that interesting. Hopefully writer Tony Bedard can do something about that in the future but currently he is doing a fine job of showing the different roles each of the Guardians would be doing in the team. Arkillo will be the tank/battering ram, St. Walker will be the healer, Munk will be the teleporter etc. That’s important in a team where almost everyone has incredible cosmic powers. Now if only Bedard could do something about the villain!

I, Vampire #6- When I, Vampire was first announced, there were a lot of doubts about it. Comics about vampires don’t really have a good history and vampires in a superhero world like the DCU? However writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino have made I, Vampire one of the best series in the New 52. Yes, the appearance of Constantine and Batman were totally unnecessary but at least the duo had shown some real guts in this series. The game-changing end of this issue would rewrite everything we know about this series and we’re just at #6! Bring it on!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Furor Over Nothing

Recently there had been a furor in Singapore over a post made by a foreign undergraduate from China describing Singaporeans as dogs. The problem started when Mr. Sun Xu, an undergraduate from China who is studying in Singapore on a Singapore scholarship, accidentally bumped into some senior Singapore citizens, and ended up being the subject of angry stares and muted mutterings.

Feeling peeved, he then went on China's microblog "Weibo" and posted that, "there are more dogs than humans in Singapore.” Singaporeans were up in arms over the matter especially since Mr. Sun is here on a Singapore scholarship paid for by Singapore taxpayers.

I don’t see why Singaporeans are so upset of the post. So this idiot is venting over bumping into senior citizens and is calling Singaporeans bad names over the incident. Is it that much of a surprise?

I have seen and heard of many Singaporeans complaining about foreigners and calling foreigners bad names. Is it that much of a surprise they are doing the same thing to Singaporeans? To me, the feeling between Singaporeans and Chinese foreigners is one of mutual dislike so I’m not shocked by the post at all.

The problem for Mr. Sun was that he did his venting on a public forum for all to see. However he is hardly the only foreigner in Singapore who feels this way about Singaporeans. The only thing is that most of them are smart enough to do their complaining privately, usually with words that are much worse than anything Mr. Sun posted.

So get a grip people. That post is nothing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Brick-and-Mortar vs Online

According to Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard, brick-and-mortar outlets selling games for PC are a dying breed that would go the way of the dinosaur in 10 years time. My view on this: don’t count on it.

Now Jagex is a company that is best known for RuneScape, the world's largest free-to-play MMORPG so I guess it is understand why it’s CEO is gung-ho on digital download. However I just don’t see it happening.

Personally I have nothing against downloading games digitally, but brick-and-mortar outlets will always be there and in my view, will always take up the majority of game purchases. The reason I say this is because digital download face a lot of hurdles which companies have been unable to handle.

Lack of bandwidth, loss of content control, DRM and an artificial shelf life are all problems consumers face when we buy games online. Of the lot, the biggest concern I have is the shelf life of a game I bought. How long would an online vendor maintain a game so that I could download it whenever I feel like it?

Take for example when Majesty 2 came out last year. When it came out, I decided to play the original Majesty first to refresh myself on the controls. This is not a problem for me as I have the original game but if I didn’t...then I might have a problem. The thing is that Majesty is a 7 year old game and there are always doubts if online vendor will maintain a game for so long. I mean online vendors don’t offer warranties on how long they will maintain the games so how can I be sure if the game I buy now will be available 5-10 years down the road? The last thing I (or anyone) want is to see, "Sorry this digital content is no longer available."

Frankly I don’t mind shelling out a little extra now, if it ensures that I would always have the game available for my personal use in the future. So unless online vendor can offer that, I would have say Mr. Mark Gerhard is wrong. Brick-and-mortar outlets are here to stay.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Not Going To Work

After 13 hours, Euro zone finance ministers got another bailout for debt-laden Greece. This is the second bailout for Greece as European leaders are desperate to keep Greece within the Euro zone.

It’s not going to work. I think given the scale of the problems besieging Greece at the moment, European leaders need to accept the inevitable. Greece cannot be saved and they need to bit the bullet.

Even with the bailout passed by the Euro zone finance ministers, Greece's debt would only be cut to around 121% of its GDP (gross domestic product) by 2020. That is if everything goes well. So in the best case scenario; in 8 years time, after years of strict measures imposed by the European Central Bank (ECB), if all goes according to plan, Greece's debt would only be cut to around 121% of its GDP. Is anyone truly happy with that?

Europeans leaders have been trying for many years to save Greece and it has been failure after failure. If 121% of GDP is the best they could come up with, then wouldn’t it be more advisable to just write off the whole thing? I mean under this latest bailout, private investors will see a cut on the value of their bonds to a loss of around 75% anyway!

The bottom-line is that the bailout will cost Europe 130 billion euros (made up of 130 billion euros in fresh loans and 100 billion euros in write-downs on privately held Greek government bonds) and the debt will only be cut to 121%. I just cannot see how Greece is worth that much money for that bad of a result.

And that is in a best case scenario! Can you see things going wrong? I sure do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Disappointing Budget

The Singapore Budget 2012 released on Friday was touted as a “budget for the poor and disadvantaged" that will reduce Singapore’s dependence on foreign workers and do more for the disadvantaged in Singapore. I have sent the weekend looking over the budget and…well, I don’t see it.

The title I would give to this budget is “The Redundant Budget”. As many of you would probably had guessed, I find several things in the new budget to be redundant. These are the biggest 3 “offenders” in my view;

Redundant 1
The media has been focusing the government’s move to tighten the foreign worker quota. They are doing this by reducing the Dependency Ratio Ceilings (DRC). The DRC specified the maximum proportion of foreign workers that companies in various industries can hire. The manufacturing industry’s DRC will be cut from 65% to 60% while the services sector’s DRCs will be cut from 50% to 45%.

This means that foreigners will only be allowed to make up 60% of the workforce in a manufacturing company while the remaining 40% of the workforce must be Singaporeans. Ditto for a company in the service sector; 45% foreign workers to 55% Singaporeans.

What is 5%? Let me give you an example; Even if you are a big manufacturing company employing 100 people, the difference under the new rules will be just 5. 5 more Singaporeans will get a job in the company that employs 100 people! If you are a small manufacturing company, the difference will be less than that. How is a 5% difference going to curb the rise in the population of foreign workers when 1 in 3 people in Singapore is already a foreign worker? A difference of 5% is so little it is redundant.

Redundant 2
I do not understand the scrapping of the Additional Transfer Fee by the government. The transfer fee is a fee you pay to the government when you transfer a vehicle, usually a second-hand vehicle. Now abolishing the fee will no doubt be welcome by Singaporeans but I don’t quite understand the need for it. If you buy over a car, you will have to pay $50,000 and above for it. The transfer fee of a vehicle comes up to $100-$400. Getting rid of the transfer fee will hurt the coffers of the government with only minimal benefit for Singaporeans. I mean if a Singaporean can pay $50,000+ for a car, what’s another few hundreds?

Redundant 3
Starting in September, the CPF contribution rates for older workers aged between 50-65 will be increased by up to 2.5%. At the same time, older Singaporeans will get a “Silver Housing Bonus” of $20,000 if they downgrade to a smaller home (3 bedroom flats and below).

More CPF contribution for the elderly is always good but the budget sort of missed the point. The problem the elderly has isn’t how much money they have in their CPF, but how much money they take home. Many elderly workers have money in their CPF accounts, but are living hand-to-mouth because they are unable to touch their CPF accounts. Putting more money in the CPF, which they can’t use, isn’t going to help them with their day to day living expenses at all.

It’s the same with the “Silver Housing Bonus” of $20,000. Housing prices in Singapore are very high and despite all the so-called “cooling measures” of the Singapore government, the prices are not coming down (in some cases, it’s still rising only more slowly). A normal 3 room HDB flat in Singapore cost at least $300,000 so a bonus of $20,000 isn’t going to convince anyone to downgrade.

Instead of redundant, to be more exact I will say I find this budget announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam to be very strange. It is as if the Singapore government knows what is needed by Singaporeans but is unsure how much to push to give the benefits needed by the disadvantaged. So the budget is filled with half-hearted measures that don’t do enough.

More than anything, I find that disappointing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hilarious Hypocrisy

For the third time in a week, staff member from another Israeli embassy was attacked in a targeted bombing. This attack happened in Thailand and is the latest after similar attacks in India and Georgia, all targeting Israeli embassy staff.

Israel and their lap...uh ally, the United States, waste no time in blaming Iran for the attacks. Don’t you just love hypocrisy?

I don’t know if Iran is really behind this spate of assassination but even if they are, Israel and the U.S. are about the last countries on Earth with a right to complain about the matter.

A series of Iranian scientists had been killed in recent years and Israel had been widely suspected to have a hand in their deaths. Now I don’t know if Israel is behind that spate of assassinations but there had been many movies and television series made about how Israeli secret services had in its history assassinated many enemies of Israel and the Jewish people. As for the U.S.; they had been targeting militants in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq for years.

All’s fair in war, so I actually have no problem with assassination, target killing or whatever you want to call it as a tactic, but the moment you start whining and complaining about other people doing the same thing to you what you are doing to them? That just make me want to laugh at you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Comics this week

DC Universe Online: Legends #23- The villains turned on Lex and threw their lot with Brainiac. Uh…I thought this series was on the DC Universe Online. What the hell is this? This plot development has nothing to do with the online game. Has DC jumped the shark and decided to ignore the online game altogether? If so, they should end this series or change the title of the series because it would have nothing to do with the online game anymore.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #21- This issue has 2 pivotal moments that would run through the rest of the Wheel of Time books. One shows Perrin beginning to gain the wolf powers that would one day make him a lord, and the first meeting between Perrin and the Whitecloaks. A meeting that would ignite a feud that chased both parties till the very end. This is why I have always said that the Wheel of Time should focus on Rand, Mat and Perrin. When the action is on the 3 of them, the books were great and ditto for the comics. An excellent issue for all fans of the Wheel of Time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not Shrewd At All

The Workers' Party's (WP) expelled Members of Parliament (MP) Yaw Shin Leong from the party yesterday, paving the way for a by-election in the single member constituency of Hougang. WP chairman Sylvia Lim said that Yaw was expelled "because he has not addressed allegations” in his private life. The allegations in question are the rumors that Mr. Yaw (who is married) had an extra-marital affair with a married female opposition party member.

Addressing the media, WP chief Low Thia Khiang said that the decision was difficult but necessary as the WP believes in transparency and accountability. I only have one thing to say to that; it was unnecessary!

Frankly, I can’t understand why the WP made a mountain over something most Singaporeans cares little about! I mean have there been calls from the Singapore public telling the WP to do this? Have there been calls from the residents of Hougang demanding that the WP expel their MP? If there is, I sure must have missed it because from where I stand, no one in Hougang gives a shit. It says a lot when even the People’s Action Party (PAP) mouthpiece, the Strait Times, admitted that most residents in Hougang don’t really care about the alleged affair.

Now I don’t care how confident the WP are in winning the Hougang seat again, or how much they believe in transparency and accountability, but as a political party you do not take such an unnecessary as giving a seat in Parliament you won just 9 months ago!

That’s just stupid, especially when it is over an alleged affair no one in the constituency even cares about! Now some people may say the WP made a shrewd political move by taking the moral high ground, but I totally disagree with that. Taking the moral high ground doesn’t stop the problem of them now having to match the PAP machinery in a battle that could have been avoided.

If the WP had ignored the allegations, let Mr. Yaw continued do his work serving the residents of Hougang, people would have forgotten the whole thing in a few weeks. Considering that the next General Elections will only be called in 4-5 years, how in the world would it hurt the WP by keeping silent?

The shrewd move would have been to keep quiet, and let Singaporeans forget the alleged affair. Now the WP has to face the PAP again in a battle in Hougang where it is theirs to lose. The PAP literally has nothing to lose in Hougang and if I am Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, I would have gone to bed yesterday a very happy man.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

6 Prints in 5 Months!

Reading the list of comics coming in this week, I saw this;

6th printing? The New 52 only came out about 5 months ago, the Justice League series is only at #5. I know because I collect it. However that’s not what I’m unhappy about. I’m unhappy about the fact that DC has 6 printing of an issue that only came out 5 months ago!

That is just so wrong on so many levels. Whatever happened to the rarity of books? I can understand their position. As a company, DC wants to make money but 6 printing in just 5 months is just overkill! Worse is that this is not a lone case. Batman #1 is into its 3rd printing.

These money grabbing tactics was what destroyed the comics market in the 90s. The massive printing of issues led to the collapse of the market 10 years ago, don’t DC knows that? Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Line No One Use

With the Circle Line (CCL) stations now in operation, there had been reports about how sparsely used some of the new CCL stations are. Attention has been paid especially to Caldecott station which was reported to be empty even during peak hours.

Frankly, I’m not surprised.

The problem I have is that I doubt the entire concept of the CCL. The CCL is a line that has stations linking the outskirts of the city centre to each other and seriously, when was the last time you wanted to go from one edge of the city centre to the other? The thing is that most Singaporeans go to the city centre; they do not go around the edges of the city centre. So it’s no surprise to me that some of the CCL stations are empty.

Also I find the positioning of some of the stations to be questionable. The Telok Blangah CCL station is at the wrong place. Technically, it’s not even in Telok Blangah. We have Telok Blangah Rise, Way, Crescent, Height, Drive, Road, and LTA build the station along Keppel Way. I mean there is an entire estate for them to build the station in, and they build it beside a golf course!

Is it any surprise no one in Telok Blangah actually use the Telok Blangah CCL station? With poor location of the stations, and a poor concept for the line, it’s little wonder to me that the CCL has not been the success envisioned by the LTA.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jig the Goblin by Jim C. Hines

Now usually I review books one at a time but in the case of “Jig the Goblin” by Jim C. Hines, I’m going to review all 3 books in the trilogy at the same time. The reason is that each book is kind of short and the trilogy really needs to be read together for you to truly enjoy it.

The “Jig the Goblin” trilogy consists of 3 books; Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero, and Goblin War. It stars Jig who is, of course, a goblin. Born the runt of the litter, he is often made to stand guard on tunnel watch by the goblin warriors/bullies who been assigned the job. Unfortunately, the mountain the goblins live in is also home to a dragon and a group of adventures captured Jig to force him to be their guide.

Overcoming impossible odds, Jig came out of the quest alive and became famous. It was the start of his problems. Soon after the quest, Jig has to survive the goblin leader’s attempt to kill him, an invasion of pixies, and the fact that he has become the high priest of Tymalous Shadowstar, one of the Forgotten Gods who has a death warrant issued on him by the rest of the other gods.

By the end, Jig will have to face up against orcs, trolls, ogres, pixies, hobogoblins, a necromancer, a dragon, and an entire human kingdom. All the while having only the goblins (the weakest race in the history of fantasy) on his side and even then he has to worry about assassination attempts by his fellow goblins!

As you can tell, the trilogy is satirical and very tongue-in-cheek. The series is very funny with moments that made me laugh out loud. I especially enjoyed Veka, a short and fat goblin who wants to be a heroic sorceress, and her hilarious/tragic attempts to be a hero by following the guidebook, “The Path of the Hero (Wizard’s Edition).” I tell you, there’s a novel just waiting to be written on that premise alone (hint, hint, Jim C. Hines, hint, hint).

However it’s not all fun and games for “Jig the Goblin” as Hines managed to insert some ironic commentary on the fantasy genre. The first book, Goblin Quest, is especially filled with them. It had Jig (the evil goblin who would rather be left alone) being kidnapped by “heroic” adventures and forced to guide them to almost certain death against a dragon (who is sleeping in his home).

As funny and enjoyable as the trilogy is, there are parts of it which I thought could have been better. For one, the ending of the series lack closure. The conclusion to the third book is unsatisfying as a lot of plots were left dangling. What happened to Tymalous Shadowstar? Did Veka succeed in becoming a full-fledged hero/sorceress? These are questions that need to be answered.

Also there were a few inconsistencies in the series. I can’t understand how Darnak the dwarf could be able to tell Jig about Tymalous Shadowstar at the start of the trilogy when no one “civilized” could remember even the god’s name! The final battle between the goblins and the humans was also a little confusing. I know the wolves are fast but they need to be supernatural to help the goblins cover that much ground that quickly.

However, overall I found “Jig the Goblin” to be an enjoyable read. I strongly suggest that you read the series together as it is one of those series that works better when read in full. Each book in the trilogy is as strong the others and Jim C. Hines; you really need to get back to the Jig universe. No offence but I much prefer Jig to your current Princess series.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Incompetent Propaganda

Last year, I blogged about the demonstrations in Russia against Vladimir Putin and how some reports from the Western media were totally wrong. The problem with those reports was the number of demonstrators involved in the demonstrations. The Western media inflated the number of demonstrators involved even beyond the numbers given by the protest organizers.

Some things don’t change because the Western media are doing it again.

On February 4, two demonstrations were held in Moscow, one supporting Putin and one against. The organizers of the “anti-Putin” rally had to concede that the turnout at the “pro-Putin” rally far exceeded their own numbers. They gave the numbers for their own rally at 62,000 and 80,000 at the “pro-Putin”. The organizers of the “pro-Putin” rally gave the numbers for their own rally at 110,000 and 50,000 at the “anti-Putin”.

No matter how you spin that, the number of demonstrators in the “pro-Putin” rally was higher. So what did the Western media so? They lied.

An Associated Press story, which was picked up by hundred of news organizations round the world, put the number of demonstrators in the “pro-Putin” rally at a ridiculous 20,000. I mean just look at the above picture of the “pro-Putin” rally and tell me how anyone can come up with just 20,000 in that crowd?

I mean the number “reported” by the Western media is 4 times less than the number given by the organizers of the “ANTI-Putin” rally. Come on, even Chinese propaganda can do better than that. If the Western media want to do propaganda, then do it correctly. Report the number of demonstrators at the 2 rallies as being even, not 4 times less than what was reported by the organizers of the “anti-Putin” rally!

That is just incompetence.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Not A Problem of Expectations

With all the problems facing Singaporeans nowadays, there seem to be a perception that the problems Singapore faced is not one of governance but of Singaporeans’ expectations of their government. Sorry but I disagree with that assessment.

I think the problem the Singapore government has is not one of expectations but of an inability to fix problems! Take for example the floods that had occurred in the past few years. Orchard Road is Singapore’s premier shopping belt yet for the past few years, there had been floods along the road. Floods the Singapore government seems unable to get a handle on.

Ditto for the faults on our MRT lines! Months after the first breakdown happened, we are still facing breakdowns/slowdowns on the MRT system. It has become so common that newspapers don’t even report them anymore!

Considering that there hadn’t been a flood on Orchard Road in over 20 years and there hadn’t been a continuous system breakdown on our MRT system since its inception, is there any surprise Singaporeans complained about the floods and breakdowns? Even so, I do feel that Singaporeans have been exceedingly patient with the government.

They had months and years to fix the problems but has been unable to do so. In the latest flood along Orchard Road last year, there was exactly an argument between the government and the management of Liat Towers, the building most affected by the flood, on why the flood happened in the first place!

The problem is not Singaporean’s expectations but the fact that the Singapore government has been unable to fix the infrastructure problems our country faced! Not only that, Singaporeans now have no confidence the government will be able to fix the problems. That is where Singaporeans’ frustrations truely lie.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Comics this week

Artifacts #14- Let me give me a rundown of the series so far; in #12, the universe was destroyed! In #13, the universe was recreated! And the only one who remembered any of this is Jackie Estacado, the bearer of the Darkness. And since Jackie was never the most stable of men to begin with, the information is tearing him apart. I found this issue to be interesting just based on this. Plot-wise, this series has a lot of things going for it and I’m interested to see where Top Cow and writer Ron Marz intends to go from here. I mean they already destroyed and recreated the universe; where do you go from there? I guess I have to pick up the series to find up.

Demon Knights #6- After 2 issues of flashbacks into the lives of the knights, writer Paul Cornell finally delivered the action in this issue. And boy; did he and artist Diogenes Neves delivered or what! This was the best issue on the stand this week and if you are not picking up this gain delved into his cast, however unlike the last issue which focused on the Shining Knight series, you are an idiot! Not only was the action something to behold, Cornell even managed to squeeze in a few scenes of character development for Madame Xanadu, and the Horsewoman. I am sounding like a broken record here but again I have to say this; Cornell and Neves are doing great work in Demon Knights!

Green Lantern #6- Writer Geoff Johns proves once again he’s not afraid to shake things up. In this issue, the focus is strictly on Sinestro. Outside a few pages where he’s hanging out with Carol Ferris, Hal Jordon didn’t show up and the issue was better for it. I’m not convinced Mike Choi’s manga-influenced style is a good fit for this series but you can’t complain about the beauty of his drawings. Another good thing was the return of Lyssa Dark. I have always thought she was the most interesting of the Sinestro Corps and in just a few pages, she again proves why. What’s even better is that she’s going to have an ongoing presence! Beautiful art, am interesting setup for the future; overall this was a good issue.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


How do you kill a sport? You do it by calling your sport’s greatest champion a “cheat” without proving that he had cheated. That’s what cycling seems to be going when they ban Alberto Contador for “cheating”.

For those of you who do not know of the case; Contador tested positive for the banned drug clenbuterol in 2010, however at an amount that is 400 times below what is needed for him to get any advantage from the drug. Contador says the drug came from contaminated meat, which is deemed possible by experts as clenbuterol is used on animals.

That did not matter to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Because their stupid rule state that any trace of banned substance is ground for a ban, they banned Contador from cycling for a year. This even though their own experts agreed that the amount found in Contador’s body was too small to have any effect. Contador successfully appealed against the case and got his ban lifted last year. However the WADA appeal on the lifting of the ban and the case got into the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In a ruling on Monday, the CAS said that the Spaniard was responsible for his failed doping test and banned him for the next 6 months.

Why was the ban changed from a year to 6 months you asked? In a case of covering their ass, the CAS said that Contador’s claim that the test result came from eating a bad steak and WADA’s claim that the positive test result came from a banned performance-enhancing blood transfusion were both “unlikely”. Instead, the CAS said that “most likely scenario” was that Contador took a contaminated food supplement.

That’s right. Contador is now banned because of a “most likely” scenario”! Wow! I didn’t know you can convict someone in court based solely on a “most likely scenario”. I always thought you need proof before you can convict someone of “cheating”. I mean what does “most likely scenario” means anyway? Does it mean the judges in the CAS…took a guess?

Sure sound that way to me!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Certain Veto

So Western and Arab states are outrage after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have backed a plan urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up power. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the veto a "travesty" while Washington's U.N. ambassador Susan Rice said she was "disgusted" by the vetoes.

America and their allies seem shocked and surprised by the veto. Uh…why? I would have thought that after the Libyan vote late last year, it would be an iron-clad certainty that both China and Russia would veto anything on Syria. Last year, the U.N. voted for a no-fly zone in Libya. The West and NATO used that as an excuse to help Libyan rebels and attacked Libyan tanks and troops. NATO became the rebels’ airforce in all but name.

Now I’m not saying President al-Assad is a good man. He’s far from it, which was why America sent terrorist detainees to him, but anyone who seriously believe China and Russia were going to fall for the same trick again need his head examined.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The LikeBelt

When a multi-billion dollar IPO in the pipeline, there are people who says Facebook is poised to rule the world. These people are wrong. The takeover of our daily lives by Facebook has already began!

Introducing the “LikeBelt”! The LikeBelt is a belt with a device on it that allow you to just walk up to a building or person, thrust your hips, and it will update your Facebook status to 'Like' that person. According to Deeplocal, the designer of the LikeBelt, the device can also be useable to ‘Like’ places.

A mobile wearable device that allows you to connect to “Facebook”? Yup, sounds like world domination to me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Passing Grade

Yesterday, I met up with an old friend of mine who I had not met in awhile. She had been working overseas for a few years and only recently returned to Singapore.

As we were talking, the topic went to politics and current U.S President Barack Obama. She was of the notion that Obama hasn't been a good president for the U.S as he hasn't done much. Now this is not an unusual thing. I know that Gar from Random Ramblings has the same feeling.

I don't understand it. Personally, I don't think he did that bad of a job. He's not the greatest America is going to get, but I do think he did a fair job as U.S President. When he took over, America was in 2 wars, in a housing crisis, in financial crisis, and it's international reputation was in tatters.

As he head in an election this year with Mitt Romney, America is out of Iraq, going out of Afghanistan (admitting losing the war for America), slowly recovering from the financial crisis and its international reputation is in full recovery.

Not a bad job in 4 years I think. Like I said earlier, Obama is not going to be the greatest president America will ever have but considering where they were when he took over, I think everyone will have to agree he has to get a passing grade.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Comics this week

Magic: the Gathering #1- It’s been some years since I had played Magic: the Gathering but there is always a soft spot in my heart for the Multiverse. So when I heard that IDW is doing a long-running series on Magic: the Gathering, I thought I give it a try. If there was one thing this debut issue got correct, it was the artist and colorist they choose. Artist Martin Coccolo and colorist J. Edward Stevens both did some excellent work in this issue. They look like a good combo IDW should keep together. However the story was poor. Writer Matt Forbeck sort of assumed you know the backstory of Magic: the Gathering. The issue jumped from Ravnica to Fiora and back to Ravnica without pause, assuming that readers know what the planewalker Dack Fayden meant by moving between planes. In a debut issue, Forbeck should really have explained what a planewalker is and what they can do to new readers who are picking up the series for the first time. He didn’t and I believe this made the issue hard to follow.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #19- The chase continues as Moiraine, Lan and Nynaeve chase after Rand, Mat and Perrin. Reaching Whitebridge, they discovered that they had just missed Rand and Mat. Meanwhile Elyas, Perrin and Egwene left the troupe of the Tinkers, traveling on their own way from danger. If there’s one thing this series has managed to do, it is to show off the adventure of the early books of the Wheel of Time series. This is also the part when the books to comic conversion work the best. The Whitebridge itself is a just in point. Showing it off in a picture is something you just can’t do in a book.

Villains For Hire #3- Sigh; I just knew it. To my non-surprise, it was revealed that Misty Knight was being used by someone to attack the Purple Man. The action between the 2 crews was passable but it’s hard to imagine a series with C-list villains dueling it out with each other having the legs to last a running series. In many ways this issue shows why Marvel decided to run the mini-series but with the no. of issues being cut from 5 issues to 4. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning put in a solid shift on the series but it just isn’t good enough to be memorable. Unless something changes in the last issues, I think this mini would be the last we ever see of Villains For Hire.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stupid New Rule

I have only one thing to say about NEA (National Environment Agency) latest move to require all caterers to time-stamp their buffet meals; it is one of the stupidest idea I have ever heard. I will now tell you why.

NEA announced today that from Feb 15 onwards, all caterers are to time-stamp their buffet meals and packed meals. They say this is a safety measure aimed at keeping consumers better informed so that they can avoid consuming food that may no longer be fresh.

News flash; it a packed meal! It’s not fresh! I don’t need a stupid time-stamp on the packet to tell me it’s not fresh. If you want it fresh, go home and cook it yourself! The introduction of this mandatory time-stamp is totally unnecessary.

Worse, it is also totally unenforceable! What is NEA going to do? Send their officers to the kitchen of every caterer in Singapore to make sure all of them time-stamp their meals properly? That’s just stupid!

I mean why does the NEA have this new rule that is both unenforceable and totally unnecessary? Now it that stupid or what!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not A Mess But...

Just a few days ago, I spoke of the troubles at the Singapore People’s Party (SPP). In the past week, things within the SPP went from bad to worse.

On Friday, 6 members of the SPP Central Executive Committee (CEC) quit amid problems between them and SPP veteran leader Mr. Chiam See Tong and his wife Mrs. Lina Chiam. Now it seems, the SPP (being the small party that it is) is having problems filling up the seats in its CEC.

So far, the SPP leadership has yet to confirm the line-up of the new CEC. However according to media reports, former SPP chairman Sin Kek Tong was voted into the new CEC despite not filing any nomination papers for the post. Worse, Mr. Sin had indicated early that he would not be contesting for a place on the CEC and didn’t even knew he was elected before being inform by others.

I would say the SPP is in a mess but that would be an understatement.