Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Force Is (Sort Of) Back

This morning I read about Walt Disney $4 billion buyout of George Lucas's Lucasfilm and to say I’m surprised is an understatement. With this purchase, Disney has control of the Star Wars franchise and they didn’t waste time in announcing a new Star Wars film. Star Wars Episode 7 will open sometime in 2015 with Episode 8 and 9 tentatively stated for 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Now most fans seems happy with the acquisition as it means there’s finally more Star Wars films. I belong to the group that’s slightly worried. However the reason why I’m worried has less to do with Mickey Mouse and more to do with the last big acquisition Disney had; Marvel.

A lot of people looking at Marvel now will say things are going good for the company. The Avengers was a smash hit and there are more big movies in the pipeline. However most people forgot that movies are just one part of Marvel’s business and it's not the main part of the company. Their main business is comics and that is one area that had suffered since the acquisition by Disney.

Although I’m not privy to the inner workings of Marvel, as a long-time comics fan and collector I can say Marvel comics business has suffered since they were bought over by Disney. A few years ago, Marvel was the head of the pack in the industry. Now they play second-fiddle to DC.

Now this might not be the fault of Disney, but timing wise there’s no doubt Marvel began to lose their (then big) lead after the takeover. And it’s not just a sales problem; creatively and artistically, DC is now better than Marvel. Not only that, DC takes more risk than Marvel in their comics. Marvel now only release titles that involves the Avengers, the X-Men, and Spiderman. So much so, the running joke is that the other comics companies have a pool on how many titles Wolverine will show up per month.

I admit I’m not really a fan of Star Wars so maybe that’s why I’m less than pleased with the purchase by Disney, for fans of Star Wars this could be great news. Still, I hope for these fans that history does not repeat itself.

Monday, October 29, 2012

By Crom!

By Crom! Arnold Schwarzenegger back as Conan? That’s what in the pipeline as it has been reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed on to return to the role that first made him a star; Conan the Barbarian.

The new Conan film will be titled “The Legend of Conan” and is supposed to be a sequel to 1982's Conan the Barbarian. According to the reports I read so far, the producers intend to pretend Conan the Destroyer (the first sequel) and the Conan reboot in 2011 never happened.

Now I have no problem with Schwarzenegger being back as Conan (despite his age) but pretending the other 2 films did not happen is just looking for trouble. These films are out there, so thinking fans will just accept that they never happen is just insulting our intelligence. This is especially so when the same actors appear in Conan the Destroyer as in the original 1982 version. That’s just stupid.

I can understand if they want to pretend the 2011 version did not happen. Though I thought Jason Momoa did a good job as Conan (as well as the clucky script allowed), the film was filmed about 30 years after the original so fans can accept that, but not for Conan the Destroyer. Destroyer was a sequel and pretending otherwise is a stupid move. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Comics this week

Artifacts #22- You know something; I am getting tired of telling people how good an artist Stjepan Sejic is. From now on, even if I don't say anything, just assume that his work is great. Writer Ron Marz has put together a nice mysterious supernatural detective story in this issue but the main star of the issue (and the series as a whole) is still the gorgeous art by Sejic. I hope Top Cow got this guy on a long-term contract because if I’m from Marvel or DC, I would be looking at his work and wondering how great he would be at a higher profile title! 

Justice League Dark #13- After the #0 issue, you just knew Nick Necro would show up. He did as expected but writer Jeff Lemire still manages to spring a few surprises into the issue. This is the most action-packed issue of the series for quite a while and the chase between the House of Secrets and House of Mystery is the main highlight. Yes, there’s a chase between houses! I’m still not convinced it’s a good idea to have John Constantine’s former mentor and Zatanna’s former lover being the main villain of the team but there’s enough crazy magic and spells in this issue to make me wonder if I’m wrong about that. This is quite an entertaining issue to say the least.

I, Vampire #13- After #12, the problem facing writer Joshua Hale Fialkov is that main character, Andrew Bennett, is now the "Big Bad" while the main bad guy of the series, Mary, is now a powerless human. So what does he do? He took the ball and ran with it! A masterful pivot by Joshua Hale Fialkov now has Andrew and Mary switching roles, and with Mary less than happy about being the great hero. The art of Andrea Sorrentino has been the main selling point of the series so far but in this issue, the story takes centre-stage and Mary, Queen of Blood may be a better protagonist than Andrew Bennett ever was. She was queen of the vampires, she almost dominated the world, and now she’s a human taking on her former lover who is now a vampire out to bring a new breed of evil vampire into the world. To say she’s a replacement for Bennett is an understatement, she has the potential to be much more than that.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The “Singaporean” Idea

In the latest (stupid) initiative to boost crowd attendance in our local S-League, the S-League board has decided to adopt a proposal of fining the 2 clubs that finished at the bottom of the league.

This proposal was meant to inject “excitement” in the league but thus far all it managed to do is to draw flak and a shake of the head from fans in Singapore. Correction; from fans throughout the world! Even foreign news agencies such as Reuters and UK's Daily Mail got into the act, denouncing the proposal with derision.

Yet despite all the negative feedback (one poll in Singapore has 77% of its respondents against the proposal), it seems the S-league has no intention of backing down. S-League CEO Lim Chin has shown no indication of cancelling the proposal and it now seems the proposal will be in place for the next S-League season.

Now some of you may be asking why? The fact that the proposal is so out of this world that even news agencies from the U.K are laughing at it should be enough to tell anyone how bad of an idea this is. When this proposal is put in place, the S-League may be the only league in the world that financially penalized teams for not being winners!

The answer to the question why is due to the fact this is Singapore. In the Singapore context, this proposal makes sense. In Singapore, winners are rewarded while all the rest are to fend for themselves. So in a way, this S-League proposal makes sense because it is a distinctly “Singaporean” idea. If you are last, you must pay for finishing there! Only in Singapore would this proposal have a chance of being implanted. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Funny Parking

You know of all those vehicles you always see illegally parked along the road? You see them and always wondered why LTA or HDB don’t go and book them for parking illegally.

A friend of mine came on the other side of the equation recently when he got a fine for illegal parking and boy was he upset about it. According to him, he parked his vehicle along the road and went to “do something”. When he came down a few minutes later, he actually saw the traffic warrant officer and quickly got into his vehicle and drove off.

He is upset he still received a fine for it.

The funny thing was he don’t dispute that he was illegally parked, only that he “shouldn’t” received the fine because “it was a few minutes”. It took everything I had not to laugh. Maybe it was because I don’t own a car but I find it funny people can complain about a fine and, at the same time, admit to committing the fine. Even if it was for a few minutes, you were still illegally parked right?

Not to him! Because he “made an effort” to drive off, he feel the fine is “unjustified” and he intend to appeal against the fine with LTA. Just show you everything depends on where you find yourself in a situation. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Total Stupidity

As unbelievable s it sounds, a group of scientists in Italy has been convicted of (ready for this?) failing to predict an earthquake! In April 2009, an earthquake hit Italy and now 7 scientists has been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison for failing to predict the earthquake.

I don’t blame you if you think this is a hoax. I can't believe it either at first but it is true; this unbelievable story is for real. The fact that there is no science that can correctly predict earthquake does not seem to matter (you know the Japanese would love to have that), unless their appeal is successful, these scientists are going to jail.

The total stupidity of the accusation is just mind-numbing. I mean what’s next; do we lock up every police officer for failing to prevent crime before it happen or lock up every economist for failing to predict the next economic crisis or every weatherman for failing to get the weather forecast correct? Because that's what happened to these scientists! Talk about stupid!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just Ignore The Guy

NUS Law student and ASEAN scholar Alvin Tan Jye Yee has got Singaporeans in a dizzy for the past few weeks due to his joint sex blog with his girlfriend. Not only that, he has not help things by penning a lengthy article he written on the merits of living in Malaysia as compared to Singapore.

The explicit photos and videos of him having sex with his girlfriend on his blog had been taken down but that has not stopped Singaporeans from calling for him to return money he got for his NUS scholarship. He had so far refused to do so.

I say Singaporeans should just ignore the guy. Frankly, there’s no reason for him to return the money we gave him and no way for us to make him do it either. In fact, the longer Singaporeans keeping harping on the matter, the better it is for him.

Because the guy wants attention!

Think of his blog and his written article if you will. This boy is just dying for attention, he wants his 15mins of fame, and that’s why he put up a blog showing him having sex. Just ignore the guy. At best, he’s a guy most famous for posting photos of himself having sex on the internet.

Why get angry with an idiot like that?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lore Reading

As BioWare gear up to take Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) toward the realm of free-to-play (F2P), there is one thing I fully intend to do once the game goes F2P; read the lore!

The world of Star Wars is full of lore and within SWTOR, there is a huge codex full of interesting lore and history. I never read it. Yes, I know some of you grinding your teeth in frustration but there’s a good reason for my non-reading.

It was a subscription game!

While SWTOR was a subscription game, I was on a 60 days time limit. I’m one of those players who has a ton of alts (in SWTOR I have one for every class) and reading the lore just takes up too much time. Time better used to level up my alts! With the F2P transition, time is no longer an issue.

I’m not the greatest F2P fan out there, but on this I’m grateful. Without a time limit, I can take my time slowing reading the lore and I fully intend to do so. True to say, it's probably one of the first things I'll do once it goes F2P.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Comics this week

Justice League #13- This issue of Justice League focuses heavily on Wonder Woman and her conflict with the villain The Cheetah. Writer Geoff Johns gave Cheetah a detailed background story in an effort to make her more interesting. It worked mainly due to artist Tony Daniel’s great artwork which makes me forget all about Jim Lee. What I am disappointed on was the way the issue paper over the kiss by Superman and Wonder Woman last issue. The closest we came to having any follow-up on the kiss was Superman’s, “It was a kiss, not a commitment” comment. I’m sorry but talk about being anti-climactic. However I do enjoy the backup story this issue. They didn’t forgot about Steve Trevor’s talk with Oliver Queen and it does setup nicely to JLA #1. An interesting if slightly uneven issue to the series. 

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #13- With the original team gone at the end of #12, writer Tony Bedard has decided to focus on Kyle Rayner instead of a potential new team of New Guardians. While I have no problem with the concept as a whole, I do fear that too much focus on Kyle will become a problem in the future. Take this issue for example; Kyle and Carol Ferris got Atrocitus to teach Kyle the method to harness the power of the Red Lantern. As a plot, there’s nothing wrong with the story but the focus on Kyle trying to access the Red Lantern’s rage energy just wasn’t really that interesting. Outside seeing Kyle’s cool Red Lantern uniform again, there just wasn’t anything to feel excited about. I mean does anyone truly interested in watching Kyle getting a lesson from all the lanterns corps in the ways of accessing all the energy of the emotional spectrum? I fear the answer is no.

Harbinger #5- Like I said last issue, I fear for this series. I felt last issue that the story was too similar to the original Harbinger series and #5 did not help allay my fear at all. With #5, the first story arc is over and I feel this series is less of a reboot and more of a re-telling by Joshua Dysart and Khari Evans. Just like the old Harbringer series has Peter Stanchek rebelling against Toyo Harada, with this issue things looks like they will go the exact same way. Time (and sales figures) will tell if this was the right approach to take and I hope Valiant got it right but for (old) readers like me, there’s nothing here I haven’t seen before in the original series. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Giving Up On Being Friends

Last month, Sino-Japanese relations soured greatly when a row over disputed islands led to violent anti-Japanese protests across China. The row hurt trade relations between the two countries and despite most predictions, things has not gone back to normal.

The latest incident between the two countries was a visit by two Japanese ministers to a controversial shrine for war dead on Thursday. China immediately condemned the visit as usual but the Japanese reactions have been telling. For the past few years, successive Japanese government has been bending over backwards to smooth over relations between them but in the latest incident, the Japanese has basically ignored the Chinese protest.

I blame China for this. The flare-up over the disputed islands should have never been allowed to grow to the proportions it has become. Not helping matters was the fact that the first protests in China came while China was dealing with a domestic scandal of its own. When the protests in China started, the Japanese government tried to downplay them but it just kept on growing in intensity. The sneaky suspicions in Japan is that China inflamed the row to distract the Chinese public from the Bo Xilai scandal and I fear the Japanese government has now abandoned all hopes of normal ties with China.

Even before the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, the Japanese government bought over the disputed islands from the Japanese landowners on the island despite stern protest from China. If you combined the two incidents, I can’t help thinking that Japan is saying enough is enough and has now chosen to treat China as an annoying neighbor rather than a potential ally and friend.

At least that’s my hope. The last thing the world need is for two of the major powers in Asia to butt heads and clash over a row of small islands.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yes We Are A Haven; Get Over It!

For decades, Switzerland was known as the premier tax haven of the world with its bank secrecy laws. That is slowly but surely changing with a new German-Swiss tax treaty taking effect next year. With Switzerland going, going, gone; rich people need a new tax haven to keep their assets and evade taxes. 

Singapore has step up to take Switzerland’s place as the tax haven of choice for the rich.

The rich 1% has moved billions of dollars through Singapore due to our secretive bank laws, tax rates that top at 20% and no capital gains tax. These measures had the intend effect. It has caused people to move their money to Singapore. Our entire economy, including our GDP for the past few years, comes directly from this money inflow.

And despite the Singapore’s government public stance on the matter, the fact that we are a tax haven is beyond doubt. Everyone from Indonesia to India to Germany says we are. Indonesia even has a list of over 20 Indonesians currently living in Singapore that are wanted in Indonesia for questioning on tax evasion, fraud and a list of other white collar crimes. The Indian government even hinted that nearly 10% of the foreign direct investment in India came through Singapore because Indian nationals are routing money through us to avoid taxes.

This fact is almost public knowledge and frankly I think the Singapore government should just admit that we are a tax haven. We want these rich people to put their money in Singapore and we are willing to bend a little to get things done. What’s wrong with that? I mean we haven’t done anything Switzerland hasn’t done for years.

Besides…no one is going to believe us when we denied it anyway.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Taxi Common Sense

Recently I was speaking to a friend when our conversation went to the recent survey done by Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). The survey was on the question of why can’t you get a taxi in Singapore when it rains?

According to a five-month study initiated by SMART, the answer to this question is because most taxi drivers usually chose not to drive when it rains. My friend was surprised by the results as the common logic is that more people will chose to take taxis when it rain, so raining days are good business days for taxi-drivers.

I wasn’t. In fact not only was I not surprised, I couldn’t believe it required SMART to have a five-month study for them to figure this out.

In Singapore, taxi-drivers has to set aside a sum of money to the taxi company they rent their taxis from and when they get into an accident, they are expected to “top up” the amount while waiting for the outcome of the accident investigation. That’s all on top of the daily rent they pay to their taxi companies.

I mean come on here, is it a surprise Singapore taxi-drivers are shy about driving in the rain when they have to pay when they get involved in an accident? Considering the financial burden they have to bear if they get into accidents, it’s natural for them to “lower their risk”. I think its common sense and very natural if you’re a taxi-driver. If I’m one of them, I will do the same thing. And as I told my friend; if you’re one of them, I’ll say so would you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Unreal Skydive

     Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria exiting his capsule as he begins his record-setting skydive

When I read that Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner became the first man to break the sound barrier in a freefall jump from the edge of space, I thought “cool”. 

Then I saw this picture!

Wow! Talk about a truly death-defying, record-shattering feat! A picture is worth a thousand words. I read about how man jumped 39 km above the Earth but till I saw this picture, I just didn’t know how high it was. I just imagine the idea of jumping from space till I saw this. Congratulations Mr. Baumgartner, you are nuts but wow! 

                                                             Safe Landing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Comics this week

Demon Knights #13- After the slightly disappointing #0, writer Paul Cornell put the Demon Knights back on track. The team is now in hell under the rule of Lucifer with Etrigan trying to play a double game. However the biggest issue here is the lack of Diogenes Neves. His work has been one of the biggest selling points of Demon Knight and his missing work is felt badly. Bernard Chang is the replacement artist and his work looked rushed. Still with 2 more issues to go before Cornell leaving Demon Knights, I have a feeling he will wrap up his story well for a good sendoff.


Bloodshot #4- As expected, Bloodshot survived the crash from last issue and once he discovered Pulse knows about Project: Rising Spirit, he went after her. The main focus of this issue is the chase but there were a few character building including how Bloodshot not remembering which of his names is the real deal. By the end writer Duane Swierczynski has slowly put Bloodshot’s supporting cast together with Pulse and Kara (the nurse) on an assault on Project: Rising Spirit.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Better Team Won

Last night, the LionsXII lost their semifinal tie against Malaysian side ATM after a 1-1 draw and then losing the penalty shoot-out. As expected, Singaporean fans are already complaining about the referee playing 7mins of injury-time and crying about what an injustice it was.

Yes, they are right. It is an injustice; it is an injustice that ATM needed penalties to beat the LionsXII!

Come on people! Anyone who saw both legs of the tie can easily tell that ATM is the better side; in both matches! I’m a Singaporean and even I have to admit this. They had more control, more attacking purposes, and create more chances. In short, ATM deserved to go through to the finals.

Also I have no problems with the referee playing 7mins of injury-time. Although the fourth referee showed 5mins of injury time, the Singapore trainer came on the field no less than 3 times during injury time (once for the keeper). That plus the subs means the referee had no choice but to add time.   

So Singaporean fans need to stop their bloody whining! The better team won. The better team went through. And that’s the way it should be! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Do Not Have To Be A Singaporean

Now that it’s confirmed Singapore national team coach, Raddy Avramovic, will leave at the end of the year, the chase is on for the next coach of our national football team. Raddy leaving will come as no major surprise to anyone as just last month he got involved in a “dispute” with the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) on the running of the local S-League.

Right now, there has been a few names tossed into the hat but one thing seems to strike out. There are calls from the Singapore public for the FAS to name a local coach. Currently the local front-runners are Richard Bok, Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy; all worthy names in local football.

Having said that; I disagree with the notion that the Singapore national coach HAS to be a Singaporean. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for the national coach to be a Singaporean, but to me being a Singaporean is less important than having the most qualified coach for the role.

The simple fact is that currently we have a terrible national team. Our team hasn’t scored a victory yet in 2012 and most of our current players are just not good enough. Our national team need to undergo a rebuilding process and for that, we need a good coach who is willing to blood new, young players into the national team.

Having a coach who is willing to do that is most important part. Whether or not that coach is local or foreign is secondary. Nationality be dammed; I think it’s far more important for the FAS to pick the best candidate than the best local candidate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CM Punk Decked A Fan

I used to be a fan of pro-wrestling. In the days before the WWF became the WWE, I was a fan. I no longer watch it but I tried to keep up on the news. So when I read that WWE wrestler CM Punk punched a fan in the stands, I thought I check it out.

After a match in Sacramento, Punk left the ring into the stands as part of the show and got surrounded by fans. Security was missing and the fans began to heckle and hit him. Punk turned around and backhanded one of the fans. At first, everyone assumed this was a stunt but Sacramento reporters report that the fan Punk hit has made a report with the police.

Thing is, there’s a video floating on the net on what happened.

After seeing the video, I have to argue that the WWE wrestler did nothing wrong. What I see is several guys hitting the wrestler before the wrestler returned the favor to one of them. I fail to see what the fan has to complain about. If you hit someone, anyone, retaliation is to be expected.

That’s just the way it is. I hope nothing happen to Punk on the police report and the WWE don’t hand out any punishment to him. Buying a ticket to a show should not mean you can lay your hand on the entertainer. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Evil Facebook

They call it “The Amy Cheong Saga” but personally I rather called it “The Fast & The Furious”. A racist Facebook post by a National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) employee named Amy Chong had her sack from her job less than 24 hours later.

On 8 October 2012, Amy Cheong posted comments on her Facebook page on noise from a Malay wedding. Angered by the noise of the wedding, she also mocked the Malay community for not holding their weddings at hotels and implied that Malay divorce rates were high because of their low-cost weddings.

The reckless and stupid post went viral. Criticism on Facebook and Twitter against Amy Chong soon followed and before you know it, calls were made for her to be fired from NTUC and a police report was made. Reactions were swift. The labor movement (yes, NTUC is supposed to be a labor movement) sacked her and several ministers including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong got into the act, condemning her post and backing NTUC's move.

All these in less than 24 hours after Amy Chong first made the post!

Man if this incident does not tell you to be careful about what you put up on Facebook, nothing will! Thank the gods I almost never put anything up on my Facebook page. Fear Facebook my friend, for the consequence will come fast and furious. Fear Facebook and fear it a lot!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Too Late

Turkish forces fired across the frontier into Syria on Sunday after a shell launched from Syria landed in Turkey's border town of Akcakale. This is the fifth day Turkey and Syria had exchange fire and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan once again said that Turkey does not want war, but warned Syria (again) not to test its resolve.

It’s a hollow threat and everyone knows it.

Hollow not in the sense that Turkey can’t or won’t enter the conflict in Syria; hollow in that Turkey is ALREADY in the conflict in Syria! It’s an open secret that Turkey has been helping the Syrian rebels in their rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian rebels are using Turkey as a staging ground to launch attacks into Syria and Turkish “nationals” has been killed within Syria by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. So quite naturally, Syria is now hitting Turkey to stop the flow of rebels coming into Syria. Much like what America has been trying to do in Pakistan for years! 

So it’s a little late for Prime Minister Erdogan to warned Syria about Turkey entering the war. Whether he wants to admit it or not, Turkey is already in the war and Syria (quite rightfully) already consider Turkey an enemy. Turkey has already picked a side in the war; it's too late to back out now. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

New Cooling Measures?

A Housing and Development Board (HDB) executive maisonette in Bishan sold for $980,000. In the third quarter from the April-June, Singapore private home prices rose 0.5%. Resale prices of HDB apartments rose again by 2% quarter-on-quarter. All these are signs that the Singapore government’s cooling measures had failed miserably. So what does the Singapore government do?

It set new cooling measures! From Oct 6, Singaporeans can only have a max tenure of 35 years!

Uh? That’s my reaction when I heard it on the news. I mean the average loan for residential property is between 25 to 30 years. So can someone please tell me how does a max tenure of 35 years help cool the property market?

The biggest reasons for rising property prices are increased immigration, low interest rates and rapid credit growth. Since when did the length of the loan arrangement became a major factor? If the Singapore government says that this new rule will cool the market, they are either wrong or they are not serious in lowering property prices.

Friday, October 5, 2012

High Saving, High Worries

According to an international survey conducted by the Aviva Consumer Attitudes to Savings, Singaporeans are more inclined to save for their future than people in India, China, the U.S and the U.K. However, despite their high savings, the survey also noted that most Singaporeans have worries that they do not have enough for retirement.
To Singaporeans, the results of this survey will come as no surprise. The main reason is that in Singapore, we have rising cost of living along with little government spending on social benefits. It’s common to see old men and women in their 70s and 80s along the street hawking tissue papers or working as cleaners just to get by. The proud lack of a welfare system (for the government) and the policy of increased immigration (which leads to higher cost of living) have made Singaporeans turned more and more to savings. And that might still not be enough for retirement.
As for our CPF…well, the less said of it the better. I personally have no idea when I will be able to get my hands on my CPF money. So this survey which shows that despite our high savings, Singaporeans still worried about our retirement?
Par for course in this country.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Comics this week

Earth 2 #5- Things got into high gear here as the Wonders of Earth 2 takes on Rotworld Gundy. However, as good as the action is, the main high point for me was the introduction and hints of the other Wonders on Earth 2. The Sandmen, Captain Steel, Red Tornado, Sloan; if you include the Atom and Hawkgirl, the guys at the World Army have been busy. Good action with strong layout of the future sound like a great issue to me.   
Green Lantern #13- Writer Geoff Johns is trying to do something different with Baz, the latest Green Lantern. I know that but he need to move things into gear quickly. This issue has more focus on the reactions of the US Government and Baz’s family than with anything to do with Baz itself. Nothing wrong with that but with a brand new GL on the table, it’s strange to see the reactions of other people instead of Baz himself. Hopefully, things will get better because Baz seem an interesting character like a GL who could be considered a villain on Earth kind of way.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review of Dredd

A reboot directed by Pete Travis, Dredd stars Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, a “Judge” in the vast dystopian metropolis of Mega-City One. America is now a post-apocalyptic wasteland called “Cursed Earth” and the whole of the human population is now packed into 3 mega-cities in the country. A Judge is a law enforcer given the power of judge, jury and executioner in the city.
From the get-go, you know this movie is full of action when Dredd chased after and shoot dead 3 criminals in a bloody and exciting chase through the streets of Mega-City One. It set the tone for the whole movie.
Immediately after the shootout, Dredd is tasked with evaluating rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a psychic mutant who just failed her Judge test. Investigating a triple homicide in a 200-story slum tower block called Peach Trees, the duo learn of a drug den (one of several within the block), and assaulted it. They arrested a criminal named Kay, who Anderson psychically detects has some involvement in the murders.
Unable to them, Kay is also one of the top man in the Ma-Ma gang. Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) is the resident drug lord of Peach Trees and to prevent Kay being removed from the building, Ma-Ma ordered her forces to shut down the block and the death of Dredd and Anderson. From there on, it’s one shootout after another as the duo tried to survive to the top of the block where Ma-Ma has her residence.
First off, forgot everything about the crap that was Sly Stallone’s Judge Dredd! Yes, that movie is also a science fiction action film based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd just like this one but that’s all the similarity they have.
Dredd is a blood-soaked action-packed movie that is miles better than the original. For one, the guys making the blood for this movie made a killing. Blood flow freely in this movie and it has been quite some time since we saw a movie that is so unabashedly bloody.  
Dredd remains faithful to the comic. Judge Dredd's face, except for his mouth, is never shown in the movie! In the comics, Judge Dredd never takes his helmet off because he is the faceless, ruthless, and merciless face of the law and I am glad they kept that. It just wouldn’t be Judge Dredd if we can see his face.
Also I love the fact that they were honest about the fear citizens has of the Judges. In the comics, ordinary citizens are as fearful of the Judges as they are of the criminals. And this movie is not afraid to show you why. It’s not just the matter of corrupt Judges, even upright Judges like Dredd are feared as they hold the power of life and death over everyone.
Of course there are a few things that could have work better. I read that this is the first movie directed by Pete Travis and in some ways it showed. The main story of the movie is about “Slo-Mo”, an addictive new drug that slows down the user's perception of time to 1% of normal. Pete Travis used this as a way to have a lot (and I mean a lot) of slow motion shootout. It was great the first few times, but after the sixth or seventh…
Also we were never told why the Judges were so intend to stop “Slo-Mo”. Yes it’s an illegal drug but that seems a strange reason for all the bodies.
Still, these are minor points. Pete Travis did a good job bringing the city to life and he fearlessly showed the Judges’ merciless duties. Compared to the Sly Stallone’s flick, Dredd is a breath of true Mega-City air.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Safe Driving

Last week I met up with an old friend of mine who is taking his driving test right now. As I got my license over 15 years ago in the army, I was interested to know what he was doing. Personally, I think I was interested in what is being taught now and how different it is from when I got my license.
Generally, I found that it’s mostly the same. Theory, test, then practical. Not a whole lot of difference really. What is different is the safety lessons they give now. Driving lessons always has a safety section but now they are teaching new drivers about ABS, airbags and how safe they will be even when in an accident.
Frankly, I think that’s too much information. New drivers usually drive faster than older drivers and frankly I don’t think it’s such a good idea to tell them how safe they will be even if they crash the car. Yes, of course there are safety features in the car. Everyone knows that but logically speaking, wouldn’t drivers drive more slowly (and safely) if they think they are going to die if they crash?
The aim of the safety lessons is to get new drivers to drive safe. Frankly I think giving new drivers so much info about airbags is counterproductive.