Monday, December 30, 2013

The Loudmouth Is Right

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a reputation of being a loudmouth in world football. The captain of the Swedish team had called himself the best player in the world and openly said the World Cup next year will be less of an event because he won’t be there.

The Swedish captain is now in hot soup in his own country after speaking out that people has no right to criticize his country's FA for not giving a new Volvo to women's midfielder Therese Sjogran for earning a record 187 caps. Male midfielder Anders Svensson was granted one for breaking Thomas Ravelli's record of 143 international caps.

Ibrahimovic say it’s only fair that male footballers get more rewards as they faced a higher level of competition and bring in more money. It is a statement that’s totally politically incorrect in Sweden which prides itself on gender equality.

Amazingly, I find myself agreeing with the loudmouth here. Come on Sweden, the fact that male world football is much tougher than women world football is a certainty. Even in obsessive gender equality country like Sweden, men's football gets bigger crowds and support. This means they bring in more sponsorship, money and eyeballs.

Does this means they should get more? Hell yes! I take no pleasure in this but in this case, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is totally right. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Comics this week

Forever Evil #4- After some fits and starts, I have to say Forever Evil is coming along nicely. Writer Geoff Johns took his time, but his portrayal of the Injustice League this issue is top-class. Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Black Mantra, Black Adam and Captain Cold each has a distinct function and voice in the team and the first taste of the team working together is interesting to say the least. Also look out for the scene between Lex and Bizarro which is nothing short of great. The only knock I have is the Batman/Catwoman section of the issue which struck out wrong; I want more Injustice League and Crime Syndicate!

Jupiter’s Legacy Giant-Sized #1- When writer Mark Millar and artist Frank Quitely released Jupiter’s Legacy #1, I didn’t pick it up because I didn’t see the hook in the story. Jupiter’s Legacy Giant-Sized #1 collect Issues 1 to 3 of Jupiter’s Legacy and boy do I see the hook now or not. Millar almost certainly wrote this story together as a whole because this story is so smooth I can’t tell where one issue end and another began. The story itself is great with an almost Shakespearean twist with the mighty hero Utopian betrayed by the very heroes he help create. I may not have Jupiter’s Legacy #1, #2, or #3, but I will be certainly be there for #4.   

Justice League #26- With the Forever Evil event, writer Geoff Johns has been using his Justice League books to flesh out the back-story of the various members of the Crime Syndicate. This issue, we have the origin stories of Power Ring, Deathstorm, Johnny Quick and Atomico. Unlike the fun origin stories of Ultraman and Owlman, I didn’t find the origin stories here to be all that interesting. However since all the Crime Syndicate now had their origins told, maybe next time the story can move forward again.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Pathetic Thai Opposition

What do you do when you faced an election you can’t win? For Thailand, the opposition party there decided that the answer is to cause a riot and block the election from going through.

Taking a page out of the Egyptian military government’s playbook, the main opposition Democrat Party’s supporters are trying to cause chaos on the streets of Bangkok to delay or cancel the election set on 2nd Feb. The Democrat Party also announced that they will boycott the general election, an election they were certain to lose, because the election process needs “reform”.

What a bunch of crybabies!

The ruling Puea Thai Party didn’t change anything to get into power, but they worked hard in northern Thailand to secure a powerbase and then used it to get into power. Even after getting in power, they didn’t change anything and continued to win elections after elections.

The Democrat Party’s reaction to the rise of the Puea Thai Party for the past 12 years has been nothing short of self-defeating. Instead of getting down to the ground to get support back in the north, they are trying to stop a free and fair election! Even in Singapore, with an unfair biased election system geared for the ruling party, you don’t see our opposition parties trying to stop any election. They knuckled down and work the ground.

It seems that’s not the case in Thailand. They rather try to stop the election all together. The fact that a political party called the Democrat is trying to stop an election is so ironic it’s not even laughable. It’s just pathetic. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Is Valencia Worth It?

$418 million! That’s the amount of debt Spanish football club Valencia but it’s no deterrence to Singaporean businessman Peter Lim. The Singaporean businessman has a net worth of $2.3 billion and has pledged to wipe out the debts and make money available to buy new players for the club.

Now this is not the first time Mr. Lim had tried to buy a football club. In 2010, Mr. Lim made a failed bid for Liverpool so this bid does not come as a total surprise, but…why Valencia?

I don’t get this purchase. Valencia is so heavily in debt that Mr. Lim would need a sixth of his asset just to clear the debt. Add to that the money needed to buy new players, the money needed to finish their stadium; the total money involved would be well above $500 million.

Also the Spanish La Liga is a league of two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, with Atletico Madrid being the best of the rest. Valencia is a mid-table team at best. They have little to no chance of getting into Europe, much less the Champions League.

Half a billion dollars for a team which isn’t even in Europe? I hope Mr. Lim has a solid plan for the club because from where I sit, that’s too much to pay.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Who Care About Fairness?

Since the riot in Little India, the Singapore Police had charged 25 men involved in the riot. Outside them, over 200 men have been given police advisories while another 53 had been deported out of Singapore without charge.

It is these 53 men who had been deported that has raised the ire of activists with Workfair Singapore issuing a statement lamenting the Singapore law that allow the government to deport migrant workers without trial or the right to appeal.

I’m sorry but the activists are barking up the wrong tree if they believe Singaporeans are going to be on their side on this argument. Simply put; yes, it is unfair that these foreign workers can be deported without the right to appeal but most Singaporeans do not care about that.

To Singaporeans and the Singapore government, the workers are here to work and to make money. This is their role in Singapore. As everyone can see on the comments on the internet, the foreign worker’s personal well-being is of a secondary concern to us, if it’s a concern at all.  

Fair or not; right or not; that’s just the way it is in Singapore. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is director’s Peter Jackson’s follow-up to last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and is the second installment of a three-part film series based on J. R. R. Tolkien's 1937 100+ page novel, The Hobbit.

Yes, I am still sore that anyone would try to get 3 films out of a 100+ page novel.

However if you ignore that, like I intend to, you would find that The Desolation of Smaug is a fine, fun and exciting film.

The movie pick up right where An Unexpected Journey left off with the 13 Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) on the run from Azog (Manu Bennett) and the orcs. So it is advisable to see the first movie first before this one. However even if you didn’t, I don’t think it’ll matter too much as this movie is a different beast from the first.

Whereas he was more into setting the mood in An Unexpected Journey, here Peter Jackson seem more intend on having a good fun time. It mostly worked as the action set-pieces were something to behold. From the fight with the spiders, to the barrel battle, to the battle in the Lonely Mountain against Smaug, action and combat is something this movie has no shortage of.

Also I like the fact that Jackson didn’t forgot about the humor of the book. The Hobbit was written by J. R. R. Tolkien as a children book and is a pretty light-hearted, quick paced book. The Desolation of Smaug is something like that. It is a movie more into having fun than the more serious Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Not to say the movie doesn’t have a serious side. This movie shows Bilbo finally understanding the corrupting evil influence of the One Ring as he could understand the language of spiders while wearing the ring and even brutally killing a spider when he lost the ring in the skirmish.

As exciting and as good as the movie is, there are just some things that prevent it from being great. For one thing, the elves in this movie are on steroids. At one time in this movie, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) told Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) she cannot hunt 30 orcs alone.

On the strength of this movie, I have to disagree. Whenever Legolas and Tauriel show up, orcs get knocked down like bowling pins. Whereas the company of dwarves were captured on 3 different occasions (spiders, Wood Elves, guards from Laketown), these 2 elves kill orcs without breaking either sweat or stride. Honestly if this was a RPG game, players would be screaming these 2 were OP (overpowered).

I also have to say the love triangle subplot between Kili (Aidan Turner), Legolas and Tauriel is nothing short of ridiculous. Not for a single moment did I even remotely believe that an elven warrior like Tauriel would consider a dwarf like Kili over the handsome, orc-killing, almost invincible prince of Mirkwood. The stupid love triangle was without question the weakness part of the whole movie.

However on the whole, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a winner. Far better than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it’s a fun ride through Middle-Earth as the action and humor of the movie shines through. Everyone in the theater was laughing during the barrel escape, and the ending will make you want to watch the third movie of the series, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

That makes The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug a winner in my book.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

People Are Asking The Wrong Questions

A few days ago, there was a strange incident in a subway train in Singapore. A commuter was caught on video carrying and holding a samurai sword in a train. Needless to say, the man was arrested.

SMRT said that the police were called in and a police spokeswoman confirmed that the man was detained for possession of a weapon. The police spokeswoman however refused to respond to questions on the nationality or age of the man. This led to many people speculating on the internet that the man was a foreigner.

I have to ask, "Who cares what nationality he is?" The man is clearly sick and unwell but instead of asking what he is suffering from, we are asking where he is from. Is it written somewhere a mentally unwell sword-carrying overseas man is more dangerous than a mentally unwell sword-carrying man from Singapore?

No, so why should anyone care which country the guy is from? It make no difference whatsoever! The main thing is that no one was hurt, why the man did what he did, and what could be done to prevent such incidents in the future.

Those are the questions people should be asking.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December of Unexpected Snow

When historians look back at this December, they would call this month “The December of Unexpected Snow”. They would call it that because this year, not only has there been snow, the snow came at places where you don’t expect them.

A winter storm, called Alexa, has covered parts of the West Bank and Israel with heavy snow. Roads into Jerusalem were closed to private traffic. Other countries in the Middle East like Egypt also suffered from snow.

Yes, snow in the Middle East, a region known far more for sunny deserts.

Just not to be outdone, snow has also fallen in Northern Vietnam for the first time in recent memory. So rare is the occurrence that Vietnamese have taken to the road, causing a 5-hour traffic jam as everyone is driving into the mountainous provinces of Lao Cai and Ha Giang to see the rare wintry snow.

So yeah, this is “The December of Unexpected Snow”, a December for the record books. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Don't Sell Something No One Believe

In the wake of the Little India riots, one of the things that has been attributed as the cause of the riots is the frustrations felt by foreign workers on their working and living conditions in Singapore. In the light of this, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam visited a foreign workers’ dormitory in Yishun and was quoted as saying that the foreign workers “have no complaints about working conditions, about their salaries, about their employers".

Basically, he is saying foreign workers are not exploited in Singapore.

Come on, foreign workers are so routinely exploited in Singapore it's almost the norm. Their salaries are hideously low, their working conditions dangerous, their living conditions bad, and in any dispute between them and their employers, the pro-business Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will almost always side with the employers. That's the image Singapore has, and it's one that not entirely incorrect.

Take the examples of the past year for instance. Foreign workers had to go on strike to improve their living conditions, and even just to get their pay. In one case, foreign workers whose contracts were ending were not paid for months and they had to strike to force the employer to pay them. Once it made the news, the said employer's money problems suddenly disappeared and the workers were paid promptly. The employer was suspected to have intended to deport the workers immediately once their contracts were up without paying them a single cent of what they were owned.

In most countries that provide Singapore's low-cost workers, Singapore's reputation as an employer is so low, workers would not want to come here if they have a choice. We are the third or fourth choice on their list and it is a totally understandable position to take when the Singapore Management University (SMU) conclude that 65% of injured foreign workers in Singapore had been threaten with premature repatriation by their employers.

So I find it strange that a minister from the Singapore government is trying to sell a picture that Singapore do not exploit foreign workers. Even to a Singaporean like me, that's total nonsense. And if Singaporeans are not buying that, you can just imagine what they think of it in other countries.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gold Farming Companies

In the world of MMORPG, World of Warcraft (WoW) is the king of the hill. Their subscription numbers probably outnumbered the subscribers of all the other MMORPGs combined.

So when they start giving away high level characters, you know the practice is now officially mainstream. In the news of the latest WoW expansion, Warlords of Draenor, it is announced that subscribers with the expansion can boost a character to level 90 so that they can "enjoy" the expansion immediately. Maybe it’s the purist in me but since when did gaming company become gold farmers?

You know those gamers who level up characters and then selling those characters to other players for cash? They are banned right? Well, if they can’t do it, how come gaming companies can? To be fair, WoW is hardly the first to do this. Games from TERA to EverQuest II to LOTRO are all doing this or are going to do this in the near future. LOTRO even intend to sell level 50 characters to players in the coming future!

So in the interest of fairness, I have a suggestion. Gaming companies should let gold farmers come out into the open and advertise their services openly. After all, the farmers aren't doing anything the companies aren't doing too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Comics this week

Astro City #7- After a series of great short stories, writer Kurt Busiek decided to change things up for the first multi-part arc of this new series. For that, he called back a few old fan-favorites like Samaritan, the Confessor and Winged Victory. However, even though this is the first true-blue superhero story of Astro City, most of this issue is setup with Busiek more focused on filling in the background of Winged Victory. Credit must be given to artist Brent Anderson whose ability to give his characters a range of emotional looks works to perfection in this issue. Without him, this issue would not have worked. However Anderson is here, so this is another solid issue for Astro City.

Justice League of America #10- Since JLA started, Stargirl has been the odd one out as most missions has been done without her. Since Forever Evil started however, writer Geoff Johns seemed to be on a mission to change that. The results have been mixed. Honestly, the flashbacks in this issue just didn’t cut it. Okay, we saw how Courtney got her powers and her strained relationship with her parents but the disconnect between the scenes were telling. Basically, we weren’t given any reason before this issue to care about Stargirl, much less her family. In a world taken over by the Crime Syndicate, why should we care about them of all people? That’s a point this issue never quite made clear. 

Superman/Wonder Woman #3- Of all the new series DC has been putting out recently, I think Superman/Wonder Woman has been the pick of the lot. While artist Tony S. Daniel has delivered some great work thus far in this series, for me the main man is writer Charles Soule. He has showed that he has a great handle on the 2 main characters but in this issue, he also shown how good he is with the supporting cast. Soule not only provide character and relationship development instead of action, he also did it in a way and style that is nothing short of amazing. A nervous Diana who has no idea how relationships work; a chat between friends (Batman and Superman); and (hopefully) a new dynamic between Superman and Zod; Soule showed a steady hand in all aspect of his writing. I have a feeling this series is going to be great. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Protesting Against Democracy

All around the world, we heard of people demonstrating and protesting against their government for more democracy, more representation. In Thailand, 150,000 protesters in Bangkok are protesting against democracy.

In 2011, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra won an election that even the opposition admitted was free and fair. Not only did she win, she won in a landslide. In response to the protestors, PM dissolved Parliament and set an election on Feb 2.

Knowing full well they are going to lose the election, the opposition say they don’t want an election. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition politician, went further, saying that the demonstrations would continue until a “People’s Council” made up of unelected “good people” is setup.  

In short, the opposition in Thailand is in the mood for a naked power grab.

Am I the only one who find the situation in Thailand hilarious? Not only are the protesters against democracy, they are protesting FOR an unnamed, unelected, unknown group of “good” people to run their country! In a world where most people want more democracy, the people in Thailand are not just asking for less, they are asking for none whatsoever! Think about that and tell me that's not funny.    

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let's Wait

On Sunday evening, the first riot in Singapore in more than 40 years occurred in Little India. The incident has left the country shell-shocked as 18 people, including some Singapore Police Force officers and Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel, were injured and 5 police vehicles were burnt in the incident.

Information has been sparse so far with the only confirmation been that the incident spontaneously happened after a fatal traffic accident at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road. A private bus knocked down and killed a foreign worker and the incident was sparked off from there.

A lot of comment has been given because of this incident. Some have commented on the rising tension in the city between locals and foreigners. Some have commented on the bad working conditions foreigners have in Singapore. Others have blame alcoholism with the government blaming all alcohol sale in Little India this coming weekend.

Frankly, I think everyone need to hold off on having any knee-jerked reactions to this incident. The incident just happened, information is sparse and the investigation is on-going. More importantly, the riot seen to occur spontaneously on its own. So I believe Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's decision to convene a Committee of Inquiry to look into the root cause of the riot in Little India is the right thing to do.

The committee will look into the factors that led to the incident, how the incident was handled on the ground, and why it happened. Everyone should wait for the committee to finish their investigation before shouting on what should be done to prevent any further incident.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Am A Trade Fair Regular

The humble Pasar Malam is a trade fair! Pasar Malam literally means "night market" in Malay and in Singapore, it is basically a tempory market that pop up in a residential neighbourhood for a few days. So for a few days, the neighbourhood will have a collection of stalls that sell goods such as toys, clothes, shoes etc, at low prices.

I never knew it is considered a trade fair!

Why do I say it? I say this because the National Environment Agency (NEA) just shut down an event in Aljunied for not having a license to operate a trade fair. In the opposition-run GRC, an operator started an event at a mall and 15 stalls open for business for the Christmas and New Year period. The event was promptly shut down by the NEA because the operator never applied for a license for a trade fair in the area. In the view of the NEA, the event is a trade fair which of course came as a shock to everyone including the event operator, the opposition MP...and me!

15 stalls at a local mall is a trade fair? My goodness, every pasar malam I've been to have more than 15 stalls. You mean all this time I was going to trade fairs and I didn't even know it? When I think of trade fairs, I had always thought of them as events held in big shopping centers like Takashiyama or Suntec.

I am wrong. I must have been to over 50 pasar malams in my life and at least to the NEA, every one of them was a visit to a trade fair. So yes, I am a trade fair regular!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Great Statesman Passed

 Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is arguably the world's most revered statesmen after successfully leading South Africa from apartheid rule when he was elected as South Africa's first black president in 1994. Not only that, he did in a way that garnered respect from his opponents for the relatively peaceful way change came about. Even FW de Klerk, South Africa's last white president, praised Mr. Mandela's for being a unifier and having "remarkable lack of bitterness" towards the people who jailed him for 27 years.

Mr. Mandela was 95 and he will be missed.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Comics this week

Earth 2 #18- Okay, this Batman is definitely not THE Batman. Writer Tom Taylor seem to know what buttons to push to make this series tick as he introduced new version of Aquaman, Jimmy Olsen and Batman. Since taking over the series, Taylor has been trying to stamp his mark on the series and in this issue, he has done so. Aquawoman? James Olsen, the super-hacker? A Batman willing to pop a defenseless Joker? I’m sold!

Hinterland #3- With the success of The Walking Dead, The Y-Man and some others, post-apocalyptic comics is all the rage nowadays. So it’s to the credit of writer Ian Edginton that he managed to put a fresh spin on yet another post-apocalyptic story. Yes, I agree there quite a lot of info dump here but the idea of elves, trolls and goblins taking revenge on the human race after an apocalypse is just cool. I especially like the inside joke Edginton took on the idea of mutants. An easy shot at the number of mutants books on the shelf? Maybe, but it’s still funny as hell.

Inhumanity #1- With the end of Infinity, the Inhumans has been tagged by Marvel as the next BIG thing. Written by Matt Fraction, Inhumanity #1 is supposed to be the start of a brand new franchise that Marvel hope will one day rival the X-Men and Avengers. Considering how many Spiderman, X-Men and Avengers titles they have, this is something Marvel desperately needs. With that in mind, this issue is a positive start. I still hate the idea of multiple artists on one issue (5 in this 1 issue?) but Fraction did a good job balancing the story between the history of the Inhumans and what is happening now with the death of their king, Black Bolt, and the destruction of their city. It’s not without flaws, but there’s enough here to let me give Fraction the benefit of the doubt. I’m interested to see where we go from here, and that’s always a good thing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Sub For Singapore

All (or almost all) Singaporean men must serve two years in the military. Not happy with that, the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) just announced that they are buying two new submarines from German defence contractor ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

Although the total cost was not announced, the SAF was more than happy to say the deal included a logistics package and a crew training arrangement in Germany while the German firm said the propulsion system of the new sub will significantly increases the submarine's underwater range.

Good, fine and well…but why do we need them? Our soldiers may be crap (as a NSF, I can say that) but Singapore already has the most modern airforce in the region. In terms of size, we are outnumbered but weapons wise, we are heads and tails in front of anyone in Southeast Asia. So why would we need 2 subs with an advance range system?

Submarines are not really needed because…well, Singapore don’t need them. Even if you want to add a new look to the battlefield, how are 2 submarines going to change a thing on the field? Frankly, outside a hole in our wallet, I can’t see what use the new subs are to Singapore. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

UFC Singapore

Yesterday, I saw the first advertisement for UFC Fight Night 34 which is scheduled for January 4, 2014 at The Marina Bay Sands in Marina Bay, Singapore. At first it was to be called “UFC Fight Night: Ellenberger vs. Saffiedine” but since Jake Ellenberger is injured, it is now just UFC Fight Night 34.

As it is the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Singapore, it is widely expected to be a sellout. However for people who think or is worried that this is the opening salvo of a battle between the UFC and Singapore-based ONE FC, I think you are worried about nothing because…well, just look at the official fight card.

Fight card
Weight class   
Welterweight- Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Tarec Saffiedine    
Featherweight- Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Hacran Dias    
Welterweight- Luiz Dutra Jr. vs. Kiichi Kunimoto    
Bantamweight- Kyung-Ho Kang vs. Shunichi Shimizu    
Welterweight- Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern    
Bantamweight- Dustin Kimura vs. Jon Delos Reyes    
Lightweight- Mairbek Taisumov vs. Tae Hyun Bang    
Featherweight- Max Holloway vs. Will Chope    
Bantamweight- Royston Wee vs. Dave Galera 

Sorry but that’s not a fight card to get too excited about. Outside Tatsuya Kawajiri and a few others, I don’t know most of the fighters on the card. Looking at the card, I have to say it’s far more likely the UFC is trying to test the waters in Singapore. If the UFC is trying to take on ONE, they will fill the card with bigger, better names.

Monday, December 2, 2013

No Review Of Catching Fire

Last week, I went and saw Catching Fire in the cinema. After the show, I was asked when would I write the review of the movie. I replied that I wouldn’t because I didn’t like the show. I was then asked why not.

As some of you may have noticed, every month I would write a review of a book, movie or game. What some of you might not have noticed is that I only write reviews of book, movie and games I liked (or at least I do not dislike).

The reason for this is very simple; I can’t be bothered to write a review about something I don’t like. In my view, if you like something, it makes sense to write a review of it to recommend it to others. If you don’t…well, forget it because maybe others would.

Take Catching Fire for example. It has been top of the box office for 2 weeks now so there’re a lot of people who like it. I don’t understand why as I found the movie to be painfully slow and filled with gaping plot-holes but that’s my view. A lot of people with their wallets do not agree with me.

To these people, I say good for you. I don’t understand why but to each his own. Just don’t expect me to bother arguing about the book, movie or game with you because I can't be bothered to. I don't like the movie.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Still Kings Of The World

Six men, including 2 Singaporeans, have been arrested in the U.K following a sting operation by undercover reporters from The Daily Telegraph newspaper. The reporters uncovered an attempt to fix English football matches.

It was just in February that Europol said that it had found evidence of match-fixing in top international football matches, and now match fixing is uncovered in the U.K. This after alleged match-fixing king, Dan Tan, has been detained by Singapore police. What does this tell you?

It means Singapore’s match-fixers are still king of the world! The arrest of Dan Tan has little to no effect on the match-fixing network based in Singapore! Japan has their yakuza; Hong Kong has their triads; Singapore…has our football match-fixers. Despite the best efforts of police, it seem they are here to stay.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Comics this week

Infinity #6- The two halves of the conflict finally comes together as Captain America and the Galactic Council finally arrived on Earth. With the Builders out of the picture, writer Jonathan Hickman devote his full attention to the battle as the Avengers faced off against Thanos and his generals. On this great credit must be given to Jim Cheung and Dustin Weaver. The two artists show off their skills as the battle was breathtakingly beautiful. I also liked the fact that Thanos was rounding holding his own against the whole Avenger team but I also think the ending of the battle was cheap. Maybe they are trying to build up Thane as a threat for the future but for him to just walk in to take out his father seems to come out of left field. Not only did we not know he was anywhere near powerful to do this, he did it with a new undiscovered power to boot! This was a good issue but also a bad ending to a very good series.

New Avengers #12- In the main Infinity series, the Illuminati subplot struck out like a sore thumb. This epilogue issue was the perfect time to close off the storyline but writer Jonathan Hickman was more interested in setting things up for the future. Outside the fallout of what happened in Wakanda, the entire issue was setup for the future. Nothing wrong there, but if Hickman wanted to do that then this issue should not be the last issue of the Infinity crossover. Yes, I know Infinity is not marketed as a crossover but it is and this issue has almost nothing to do with Infinity.

Justice League Dark #25- Recently, JL Dark has been hijacked by first Trinity War, and then Forever Evil. After 2 back-to-back crossover...we are now at the start of yet another? Writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mikel Janin did a good job on this opening issue of The Blight crossover but frankly I have no interest in picking up Pandora and The Phantom Stranger to continue the 18 issue crossover. I have crossover fatigue. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

China In A Bind

When China declared a new airspace defense zone that goes over disputed territories they claimed against several other nations. The most famous dispute are the islands known as the Diaoyu Islands in China which is also claimed, and controlled by, Japan but the new zone by China also go over or come very close to territories claimed by South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.

So it's comes as no surprise to me when America, strong ally of Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, decide to sent a strong message to China. Two unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers on a "training mission" flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea without informing Beijing. Basically telling the Chinese the China's declaration of the new airspace defense zone is not worth the paper it is printed on.

This should come as no surprise. Not only is America a strong ally of Japan, China has no legal leg to stand on in their claim on Diaoyu. After World War 2, America was looking to give back the island and asked for nations to stake their claim on the island. Japan did, China did not. Now some people may argue Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek were too busy fighting against each other in a civil war to bother about making a claim on some islands in the middle of the East China Sea but the fact remains that they did not. Of course back then no one knew there were oil and gas beneath the islands so no one cared. 

Even Japan was guilty of this. Oil and gas were discovered in 1969, and the islands were only given back to Japan in 1972. That year, only then did the Chinese government began to declare ownership of the islands. Amazing what oil and gas could do right?

Personally I think China got itself into a real bind with this move because they are just going to lose face on the matter. America, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and maybe a few others will just ignore the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone and there's not much China can do about it. If China really want it, then they need to defend and enforce the zone, which means going up against the whole region.

Frankly, this zone by China just do nothing but create more problems for China. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just Say Sorry And Move On

Fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden has been causing consternation for many countries with his revelations of spying by the U.S government. This time is Singapore’s turn.

Reports published in the Australian newspaper, Sydney Morning Herald, said that Singapore and South Korea had played key roles in the "Five Eyes" intelligence network involving the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Singapore was especially singled out as it is a major telecommunications hub, so we are a very important link in the surveillance network. Naturally, our neighbors are pissed at us for spying on them with Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ong Keng Yong, been summoned to the Malaysian Foreign Ministry. 

In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet.

Look, every country spied on their neighbors and Singapore is no different. However when you are caught doing the spying, you apologize to the offended party, stop the spying, then after a few months go back to the spying. This was what happened when reports surfaced that the U.S were spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. U.S President Obama personally apologized to Chancellor Merkel and everyone moved on. 

This is probably what needs to happen now. The Singapore government say "sorry" to the Malaysian government and everyone can move on. In other words, say sorry and keep on spying at a later date. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Surprise Win For Singapore

Last month, I posted that it was a great honor for Singaporean family drama "Ilo Ilo" to be awarded 6 nominations at the Golden Horse Awards but I did not think it was going to win there. So it’s with great pleasure to announce that I was utterly, totally wrong!

On Saturday, to the surprise of many people, "Ilo Ilo" was the surprise winner of the Golden Horse Awards. Director Anthony Chen's first feature-length film won 4 awards, including the coveted Best Film. The movie about a Filipina maid who befriends the troubled son of the Singaporean family she works for even beat off the challenge of Wong Kar Wai’s kung fu epic "The Grandmaster"!

The other awards won by the film were for the Best New Director and Best Original Screenplay for Anthony Chen and Best Supporting Actress for Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann.

Great work and congratulations to Anthony Chen and Yeo Yann Yann, especially to Anthony, for making Singapore proud!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Game of Thrones Adventure Game

With the hit TV series, George R.R. Martin’s The Game of Thrones is now a franchise in the same vein as Star Wars. If there’s any doubt about this, you just need to read the latest rumors on the internet about an upcoming game based on Game of Thrones by Telltale Games.

Now a computer game based on The Game of Thrones is nothing new as there had been several of them already (most of them crap). What’s different this time is that Telltale Games is a gaming computer respected for adventure games!

If you have no idea what that means, adventure games is a genre of gaming that is based on point and click as well as choices you select within the game. Basically, it is a genre that’s based more on drama (or comedy) than fighting and action. Now for fans of the TV series, this might be a strange fit but with all the intrigue going on, I find the idea of a Game of Thrones adventure game very appealing!

What’s more, Telltale Games already has a history of successful licensed properties like The Walking Dead and Fables. I had played their The Walking Dead game and if their Game of Thrones is anywhere as good as that, count me in. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Comics this week

Avengers #23- As the last Avengers tie-in/crossover issue to Infinity, it’s no surprise that writer Jonathan Hickman used this issue as the set-up to Infinity #6. However even counting that, this was a poor and unnecessary issue. As the Galactic Council fleet approaches Earth, they have to contend with Thanos’ fleet. Hickman was clearly trying to clear the deck so that the Avengers can have a final battle with Thanos but the way he did it was senseless. I know and can understand the need for Hickman to give a problem so that superpowers like Gladiator and Super Skrull will not be at the final fight against Thanos but Black Dwarf? The guy got beaten by Black Panther (the female one) and can't even beat Black Widow and Eden! This guy is the one who managed to delay Gladiator and Super Skrull? Come on! Hopefully the finale is better than this. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brazil 2014

Africa: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria
Asia: Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea
Europe: Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Spain
North & Central America & Caribbean: Costa Rica, Honduras, United States
South America: Argentina, Brazil (hosts), Colombia, Ecuador, Chile

It is done! After years of playing countless qualifying round, the team who has qualified for the World Cup next year in Brazil has been settled. 30 out of the 32 nations are set but frankly unless a miracle happens, Mexico and Uruguay will take the last 2 spots.

In my humble view, defending champion Spain and host Brazil will be hot favorites for the tournament while the rest will be dark horses at best. Still the ball is round, and in football anything can happen.

Brazil 2014; here we come!    

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

I picked this up at the library because…I liked the cover.

I admit, it’s shallow but I do pick up books due to their covers. Sometimes it doesn’t work out; other times, it works wonderfully as I pick up a book I would have normally overlooked. “Fuzzy Nation” by John Scalzi is firmly in the latter category.

On the distant planet Zara XXIII, disbarred lawyer and current mineral prospector Jack Holloway, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, has discovered a seam of sunstones. Unimaginably valuable jewels, the seam is going to make him rick beyond dreams as Jack lay legal claim to the seam as the discoverer of the seam.

This claim is disputed by ZaraCorp, the company with legal claim to exploit the whole of the planet. Of course this claim, given by the home planet of Earth, is based solely on the fact that there is no sentient species on the planet.

Something that comes into doubt when Holloway’s home is invaded by a small furry, and extremely cute biped. The creature is soon followed by his family as he comes into more contact with the Fuzzys, Holloway begins to suspect that these creatures are more than animals, that they are in fact creatures with intelligence. A fact that would void ZaraCorp’s claim to the whole planet.

First off, I must say I didn’t realize till I finished the book that Fuzzy Nation was a reboot of a 1962 novel by author H. Beam Piper titled “Little Fuzzy”. Yes, we have rebooted TV show, rebooted movies, now we have rebooted books!

Steeping away from that, I found the book to be extremely fun and enjoyable. I have never read a John Scalzi novel before, and I am unfamiliar with the original “Little Fuzzy”, but I thought this book was both fun and (rather surprisingly) pretty thought-provoking.

Humans are basically the bad guys in this book with the lovable alien Fuzzys the cute, endearing, brave, and noble good guys. Even the protagonist, Holloway, is a bit of an ass who was slowly “redeem” by his interaction with the Fuzzys. Even the “good” humans who tried to help the Fuzzys were straitjacketed by human laws and society and it took an outcast human like Holloway, who has more than a few demons in his past, to be able to truly help them. This is not a new concept but under Scalzi's steady writing, it is an interesting one.

I also loved the way Scalzi just admitted the fact that the Fuzzys are Ewoks in another guise. The given way it was written made the comparison a non-factor and I thought it was very smart of Scalzi to do this.

The only bad point of this book is the fact that the ending was a little open-ended. I checked and found that H. Beam Piper’s “Little Fuzzy” has two sequels but since Scalzi isn’t going to write a sequel (or rebooted sequel) to this novel, I think he should have tried to have a better, more affirmative ending.

Still, this is a good book and for a fun, enjoyable read, I highly recommend “Fuzzy Nation”. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Underboobs

The Singapore police were called in for an…underboob?

If you, like me, are wondering what’s an underboob, you can wonder no more! The underboob is “the bottom part of the breasts”. Recently at the Anime Festival Asia, the Singapore Police were called in when a woman made a complaint that a cosplayer was wearing an indecent costume because her underboobs were showing.

The police came, saw the costume in question and left. Now some people are framing this incident as a matter of culture clash, with the conservative church-going woman against a girl with more liberal leanings. I disagree.

Seeing the costume in question, I can’t help but think the woman who made the complain has nothing else better to do. I just cannot take the complain seriously because you can see people wearing far worse almost any day of the week. You go to a beach and you probably see at least one woman in a bikini showing off her top, side and under boobs. All at the same time!

This costume is nothing compared to them. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Is The SAF For Real?

When you are in the army, you do and say things inside that you would not do or say outside. That’s normal and expected. In the army, you are trained to kill and expected to fight if war happens. That’s not normal.

So I’m shocked that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has ban soldiers from singing the song “Purple Light” due to “misogynist” lyrics. Misogynist? This is a song soldiers sang in the midst of a 20km road march and it is ban for misogynist? For real?

Is the current batch of SAF scholars running the SAF a bunch of madmen? You expect soldiers to fight, kill and die for the country, but they can’t say a song due to “misogynist”? Thank goodness my reservist cycle is almost over.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Singapore Need More Answers On "The Messiah"

After the cyber attack by the hacking group “Anonymous”, the Singapore government has been a flutter and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong even made a public vow to capture the hackers involved.

I personally don’t see what’s all the fuss is about because to me “Anonymous” has more bark than bite, but I guess it’s a matter of face for them. Recently, the Singapore government announced they had captured a man in Malaysia they believe to be "The Messiah", the main hacker of the Anonymous” group attacking websites belonging to the Singapore government. However the more I read about the arrest, the more questions I have.

Like why did the PM made the vow on Nov. 6 when according to all reports, the police already had a suspected arrested and in custody on Nov. 4? Like how could 35-year-old James Raj be the Messiah if he was in hiding in Kuala Lumpur for outstanding drug-related offences in Singapore? You would think a man who ran to another country do his best to stay under the radar.

Also why did the prosecution applied to the court for the man to be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Since when did we sent people to the IMH for ADHD? Is ADHD even considered a mental problem? More importantly, if the prosecution think this man has mental problem, doesn’t that mean any statement they had taken from him, without legal consul I might add, has to be thrown out the window?

The Singapore government clearly intended the capture of "The Messiah" to be a big deal, but there are just too many questions to be answered for that to happen. The government need to start talking to the public quickly before the case run away from them. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Comics this week

Astro City #6- I'm running out of words to describe just how good Astro City is. All 5 issues on the good people of Astro City, writer Kurt Busiek now give an issue to the not-so-good people of the city. Thatcher Jerome is a low-level fixer for the mob and of course in Astro City, that means rubbing shoulders with super-beings and costumes. I especially like the way Busiek threw curve-balls one after another to us. Just when I thought I knew how the story would go, the story turned on its head with Jerome making one decision after another that not only surprised us, but making a lot of sense while doing so. After the not-so-great #5, this one has Astro City back to greatness.

Superman/Wonder Woman #2- "You hit me with...sunlight?" That line made my day. Superman's disbelief that there would be anyone stupid enough on Earth to attack him with sunlight was writer Charles Soule's crowning moment this issue. Back by good work by artist Tony S. Daniel, this young series continue to show promise. And that final scene of Zod? Very, very nice!

Unity #1- Ever since they returned, I have been keeping an eye on the works by Valiant. Like most people, when I heard of Unity, I thought it would be a crossover. When it was announced that it's an ongoing series, I was disappointed but thought I gave it a try. After reading it, I'm glad I had been keeping an eye on Valiant's work because anyone who didn't will have a hard time keeping up with this issue. Writer Matt Kindt has a good handle on all the characters like Ninjak and Toyo Harada, but there was no introductions done on anyone, even Man-of-War. So anyone who had not been keeping up on the Valiant books will have a serious problem here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thor 3 Will Be...

Despite years of trying, China is still more known for making cheap, faulty products then making anything resembling with quality. But even with that reputation, this picture is something else!

A cinema in Shanghai put in an image on a poster for “Thor: The Dark World” and the results is nothing short of hilarious. Give credit when it’s due; whoever did the image was good. So good that I can fully understand why the good people at the cinema could mistake the movie was about Thor and his villainous half-brother Loki as a gay couple.

“Thor 3: The Gay Romance of the Asgardians”; it has a good ring to it. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why Not?

Recently a Facebook page was setup calling for the Singapore government to allow Muslim women to wear the hijab. The Islamic headscarf, also known as the tudung here in the region, is currently not allowed to be wore in public services.

Government leaders have weighed in on the issue, and as expected the answer is a “No”. I know they didn’t actually say “No” but Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean says that the Singapore government has to balance all the different community requirements and keep in mind what they need to do to maintain overall social harmony, and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim called for “constructive dialogue” as the way forward.

Let’s be honest; that’s a “No”.

I personally don’t see why not. Most Muslim women in Singapore wear the hijab nowadays and if they want to wear it to work, I personally don’t see why not. For one, it’s so common to see Muslim women wearing the hijab on the streets nowadays, I don’t think any Singaporeans would care if they did in while working. Also the wearing of religious headgear in public services is not without new. Sikh men in the Singapore Armed Forces or Police can wear the turban and in the past, nurses wore uniforms with the nursing cap. Although much changed now, nursing uniform was derived from the nun's habit.

So if Muslim women want to wear the hijab while working at public services, I say let them. To my mind, most Singaporeans would not care less. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Comics this week

Forever Evil #3- With the Crime Syndicate in total of Earth and the heroes defeated, it’s time for Earth’s villains to come to the fore. This issue shows the first glimpses of the group as Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Black Mantra, Black Adam and Captain Cold joined up (finally). Writer Geoff Johns has been taking his time with the story and while I have to say Forever Evil is not an action-packed series, it is both interesting and intriguing. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

Earth 2 #17- Writer Tom Taylor has taken over the series from James Robinson and unlike many other writers who start over with their own stories, Tom Taylor decided to continue on from where Robinson stopped. The result is a smooth transition helped immensely by the fact that artist Nicola Scott remains on board. The story of a Superman gone bad might be done to death but Taylor made things interesting by showing the Wonders reaction to fighting the most powerful bring on the planet and having the most interesting Red Tornado I have ever seen. Taylor also did something Robinson didn’t; he also made me interested in this Earth 2 Batman! And what about the scene showing Earth 2 Joker on ice? Pure fun!

Green Lantern #25- When Hal Jordon was left in charge of the Green Lantern Corps, I said it was a bad idea because well...he just isn’t leadership material. A character like Hal Jordan is the guy you want in the frontline of a fight, not the guy you want making decision for a galactic police force. This issue again show why as Hal Jordan decided to have the Green Lantern Corps police the use of emotional light. To writer Robert Venditti’s credit, he made it clear why this makes sense to Hal. The Corps is the strongest force using light, and with the knowledge that the light reservoir is not infinite, it makes sense to him to have the Corps policing its use. Of course the other Corps will have something to say about this and Carol Ferris, as a Star Sapphire, made it clear to Hal where she will stand if, and when, war start between the Green Lantern Corps and the Star Sapphire due to his decision. Sound like another crossover coming.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Humans Are The Problem

Why is the Singapore government trapping and killing Singapore's long-tailed macaques? That’s the question asked as an estimated 20% of the existing wild monkeys in Singapore has been killed in the first half of the year. According to the the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), this is done due to rising complaints from residents on Singapore’s "monkey problem".

What “monkey problem”?

I have been living near Mount Faber most of my life and I see wild monkeys all the time. I never have a problem with them. Hell, I look forward to seeing them as I jog. It’s fun to see them.

At least it is to me because I sometime happen to see people who have no idea what to do when they see a monkey. Young adults and teenagers are especially bad because some of them don’t even dare go close to the monkeys.

Honestly, Singapore does not have a “monkey problem”. We have a “humans who do not know how to interact with nature” problem. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How Not To Have An Award Ceremony

Answer: Just look at the Youtube Music Award.

The 90 min long awards hosted by Youtube is, in a word, terrible. Yes, with a terrible T! Now I know this is Youtube's first award ceremony so so problems are to be expected but honestly, the organizers should have done a lot better.

At least that's what I heard.

I didn't see the show when it was live and now when I try to go to Youtube to see's not there. Yes, that's right. Youtube has not put up the show on Youtube, they only have put up clips of the show on their site.

Does that makes sense to you? It sure as hell don't to me. This is their own awards show. They host it. They show it live on Youtube and after that, they took their own show down. A Youtube show that's not on Youtube.

Who the hell at Youtube came up with that idea?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hope It's Not Maintenance

On Saturday, more than a dozen Singapore government websites went down. After the online threat from hacking group “Anonymous”, most people thought this was the result of an online attack from the group. However the IDA (Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore) insist it's otherwise.

According to the IDA, the government websites went down not because of an attack but due to a planned maintenance. Most people met this with skepticism as this “planned maintenance” was not announced, it happened on a Saturday afternoon and it came just after the Strait Times newspaper website got hacked.

Now there’s 2 ways to look at this. Either the IDA is telling the truth; or they are not. Frankly, I rather hope they are not because if the IDA is telling the truth, this means that the Singapore government is so afraid of Anonymous that they rather take down their own websites than let it face an attack from the hacking group.

Sorry but that’s just stupid.

So Anonymous knocked down websites belonging to the Singapore government…so what? The group knocked down websites belonging to the U.S. government, even if out websites are down because of them, we are in good company. But if we took down our own websites, if we were running scared because of a hacking group, that’s just embarrassing.  

It’s better to be knocked down than to surrender and if the Singapore government really did take down their own websites due to some online threat from a hacking group, that’s surrender. So hopefully, the IDA is not telling the truth. I rather have the government websites get taken out by Anonymous on Saturday than to be under “planned maintenance”.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Comics this week

Infinity #5- Since the start of Infinity, I have preferred the space portion of the crossover (No, I will not call Infinity an event anymore) to the Earth portion. This issue marks the end of the space portion of Infinity and its end was disappointing. After so many issues of showing the Avengers and the Galactic Council getting their ass kicked, when the victory came, it was quick. So quick that it was unsatisfying. I think writer Jonathan Hickman made a mistake by rushing through the victory as The Builders…well, they just wasn’t that impressive. Still with them out of the way, the conflict with Thanos and the Cull Obsidian can conclude. Hopefully, that end will be better than this.

Green Lantern Annual #2- The last few GL crossovers has not been setting anyone alight, but “Lights Out” has given us back hope. The crossover has a villain in Relic that first look less than impressive, but as the story goes on, we found that this is a villain who is correct. There really is a reservoir of energy that the Lanterns tapped into everytime they use their rings and this immediately changes things up. Even though the Lanterns are still the good guys, as Hal Jordan lead the other Lanterns in a charge at the Source Wall, you find yourself cheering on the side that is destroying the universe everytime they use their powers! Pops has to be given to writer Robert Venditti for this final issue of “Lights Out”. He manages to make you cheer for the Lanterns even though he always made it clear they are the one destroying the universe while the “villain”, Relic, is the one trying to save it. Managing to do this shows the excellent work Venditti did on the “hero” characters in this crossover. Wonderful end to an excellent crossover!

Avengers #22- This issue clearly takes place after Infinity #5, so read that before reading this. Like I said above, Infinity is a crossover. Rushing to Earth after their victory over The Builders, this is the setup issue. We hear the battle plan, an inspiring speech from Captain America, but the main highlight for me is Thor. The Norse god show one of the newer members of the Avengers, Eden, what it means to have the power to save the world and why he must believe that there is such a thing as destiny. And he manged to do it without sounding like a cheese cake! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why This Mask?

Singapore is in a flutter today as international hacker group Anonymous is threatening to disrupt key infrastructure in Singapore to protest against the government's new online media licensing rules. Announced via a YouTube video, a person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask even claimed credit for the work of "The Messiah", a hacker who had broke into two Singapore government websites recently.

However, I'm not here to talk about the threat. Honestly, even if the Youtube video is legit and Anonymous is successful on it's attack on government what? Anonymous is an annoying irritant to people they attack but hacking into websites isn't going to bring down any government.

No, what I really want to talk about is the Guy Fawkes mask they keep wearing! As someone who read and liked Alan Moore's "V For Vendetta", I really wish Anonymous would stop wearing the mask for their own purpose. "V For Vendetta" is a great work, and I really do not like the fact that a hacking group is using it while threatening to do something illegal.

Not only that, they're not even doing it right! I mean did anyone in Anonymous asked Alan Moore or David Lloyd for permission to use their creation for something like this? I mean what's this about telling the Singapore government to stop their new media licensing rules? "V" don't ask! He's an anarchist, he's just go out and stop it. Not only that, he'll destroy everything in his path to do it. "V" isn't out to change the world, in the story he's there to destroy it!

That's the "V" character in "V For Vendetta". He wasn't a hero. Alan Moore wrote him as a character that makes you question if he's right or just crazy.

On second thought, that does sound like Anonymous.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Now It's A Problem

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed said something truly funny today. He said that Malaysians need to stop putting a price on their votes if they hope to see any progress in tackling corruption in the country. 

Everyone heard of the pot calling the kettle black but coming from him, this is in a league of it's own.

Now the man is right. By all accounts, corruption is getting worse in Malaysia but Dr Mahathir is about the last man in Malaysia that has a right to complain about it. Okay maybe the Chief Minister of Sarawak may have something to say about that, but if not no. 1 then Dr. Mahathir is no. 2! 

The man served as Malaysian Prime Minister for 22 years until his retirement in 2003, and in all that he did nothing about it. Hell, you can even say corruption served him well! Now he is retired and suddenly corruption is a problem in Malaysia? 

Dr Mahathir; what you said was so funny, it was almost sad. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Coming Floods

It's been 1 year since superstorm Sandy hit the east coast of the United States, flooding the streets and subways of New York and Jersey. Since then, the world has been facing natural disaster after natural disaster and just to make sure Singapore isn't left out of the fun, today the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) announced that the total rainfall Singapore will have this coming December and January will be 10 to 20 percent higher than normal.

The reason for this is due to the La Nina phenomenon that should bring more rainfall to Southeast Asia this year. What does this means? It means Singapore will have floods again! Just last month, many areas in Singapore were hit with floods and even yesterday, flash floods occurred at Changi. So as we are hit by floods by year end, we know why.

Or to be more accurate; the Singapore government has a ready-made excuse on why we are going to have floods later this year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

She's A Threat?

The news that the United States government has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel is no surprise. Governments spy on each other; it’s just the way of the world. However what’s surprising is the news that the US has been tapping the chancellor's phone since 2002, even before she was chancellor.

Now it is understandable that countries want to spy on each other, but the scale (and time) of the spying by the Americans is crazy. Mrs Merkel is a well-known friend and ally of America, she was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and she had been spied on by the Americans for over a decade? What’s more is the fact that the Americans justified the spying as in the interest of “national security”. Seriously?

A leader of an allied country has been spied on for national security? I mean Germans complain that Merkel is too pro-American, and yet she’s a threat to American national security? I wonder what the Americans call Putin or Assad?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Not Going To Happen

Last month, Hong Kong adopted an official poverty line. Seeing the similarities between Singapore and Hong Kong, many Singaporeans activists have been asking the Singapore government to do the same in Singapore. Thus far, the Singapore government has refused to do so.

Do not hold your breath thinking that’s going to change.

Mr. Chan Chun Sing, the Minister for Social and Family Development, has all but confirmed that Singapore is not considering having an official poverty line, and I'm not surprised. For all the talk about "cliff effect" and "no such thing as poverty in Singapore", this is the real reason why. Once they adopt an official poverty line in Singapore, the Singapore government will need to raise salaries of workers in Singapore as we need to have a minimum wage.

It makes sense right? If you have a poverty line, then it's just common sense that the next step for the county is to have a minimum wage. And in super pro-business Singapore, that's just not going to happen.

Singapore is a rich country with low unemployment. Yet the reason for this is the relatively low salaries of workers in Singapore. Earlier this month, The New Paper ran a story about a family living out of a van at the carpark of East Coast Park. The family may be homeless but the sole breadwinner has employment. He earns $2,100 a month with a take-home pay of around $1,7000.

Internationally that’s not poor but in high-cost Singapore, that’s not enough for a family to survive on. In the past few years, the number of rich people in Singapore has steadily increased but most, if not all, of them are foreigners who came to Singapore and took up Singapore PR. Wages have been stagnate as Singapore have opened up the floodgates for foreigners for low wage jobs. Salaries for these low wage foreigners are so bad that they have went on strikes and Singapore has been having problems attracting foreign workers.

So now not only are the salaries of foreign workers rising, the Singapore government is also going to have a poverty line (which will lead to a minimum wage). Sorry, but I just don't see that happening.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Comics this week

Justice League #24- After a less than exciting start, the Forever Evil event has been steadily picking up steam and this issue of the Justice League is the perfect example of why. In this issue, writer Geoff Johns manages to do two things. In the first part of the issue, he fleshes out the origin of Ultraman. I don’t know if Johns intended to do it but I found Ultraman’s origin to be hilarious. The destruction of Krypton, the relationship between Papa Kent and Mama Kent; the twisted ways of Earth 3 was refreshingly funny. After watching the saintly Martha Kent stand up to Zod in “Man of Steel”, seeing the fact that Mama Kent is an addict in this universe is comedy gold. Then in the second part of this issue, Johns shine the light on Black Adam. His return is more than welcomed as, finally, we have someone who can stand up to the all-powerful Crime Syndicate. With the great art of Ivan Reis backing up the story, this is an excellent issue all around.

Justice League Dark #24- There is something call “too much of a good thing”, and I’m afraid DC has reached that threshold with John Constantine. As the Justice League showcase the Crime Syndicate and Ultraman, and the Justice League of America spotlight the JLA trying to escape their prison; JL Dark spotlight…John Constantine? I will admit Nightmare Nurse might be an interesting addition to the team in the long run but unless he’s been given a mandate from editorial to push John Constantine, new writer J.M. DeMatteis need to move away from the character. Considering how popular he is, there is a real danger that the character might overshadow the whole JL Dark. Well, at least artist Mikel Janin is still on board.

Red Lanterns #24- Like most readers, I believe Red Lanterns is the weakest of all the Lanterns books out there. A few more issues like this, and everyone will be singing a different tune. Written by Charles Soule, and with art from Alessandro Vitti, #24 is great. Soule manages to capture the character of Guy Gardner, the rest of the Red Lanterns, Relic, and push forward the story of the “Lights Out” crossover; all at the same time. Now that’s impressive. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lenders and Borrowers

Yesterday, I read an article in the newspaper about debtors being harassed by legal money lenders. Now the article was clearly on the side of the debtors with stories of the money lenders harassing the debtors at their home, workplace and in public. Sorry but I have a hard time having sympathy for the debtors.

Call me old-fashioned but I believe that if you owned money, then it is your obligation to pay it back. In the article yesterday, there was one debtor who complained about the money-lenders who harassed him at his workplace. However if you read the article, he also disclosed that he owned money to 15 money-lenders to a total of $40,000!

Sorry but what did he expect? Come on, if you are one of the 15 money-lenders and knows this guy own money to 14 other money-lenders, what would you do? Wait patiently and hope you are not the last guy to be paid or go chase after the guy for your money? To me, there’s no question what I would do.

Personally, I have little to no sympathy to people who borrowed money and then try to hid behind the law to avoid paying back the money they took. If someone borrowed money from 15 money-lenders, then he should expect some of them to go to his workplace. Legal or not, it should be common sense.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No Contest

Since winning the Malaysian Super League with the Lions XII, coach V. Sundramoorthy has been in hot demand with various teams in Singapore and Malaysia going after his signature. Early this month, the football coach once known as “The Dazzler” made public his decision to leave the Lions XII team to coach the team of Negeri Sembilan.

I admit I was a little surprised by the decision as Negeri Sembilan is in the Malaysian second-tier, but with a reported salary of $15,000 per month, Sundram’s decision is understandable. Sundram is not the only one leaving the team. Key Lions XII players Shahril Ishak, Baihakki Khaizan, Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin are all rumoured to be eyeing high-paying moves to Malaysian and Thai sides next season.

This means that a year after winning the Malaysian Super League, the Lions XII will be a vastly different team next season. I don’t blame any of the players or Sundram for this. The blame I believe falls strictly on the shoulders of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

Last season, the Lions XII team did very well. We finished in the top 3 of the League and reached the semi-finals of the Malaysia Cup. Yet, the FAS never tied down the contracts of our coach or our top players. Yes, some might argue that there was no way the FAS could reached or matched the rumored salary on offer, Baihakki Khaizan is rumored to have been offered a contract worth $25,000 per month, but that doesn’t mean the FAS should have allowed the contracts of Sundram and gang to run out.

Even after the success last season, the FAS only offered one year or two year contracts to the players. Those on their final contract year were allowed to run them out. Honestly, that is just stupid!

Singapore needs to tie down the contracts of our top players and we need to do it yesterday. The FAS need to change their policy of 1 year contracts or we are going to have an ever changing Lions XII team every year. Worse, considering what the teams in Malaysia are offering our players, it’s not even a contest. 

Players (and coach) who worry about their long-term career would always prefer to head north of the Causeway where not only would they get better salary, they will get a longer contract to boot! Singapore has always worry about being "competitive" compared to our neighbors. In the realm of football, we are not even close. 

Great Service

Last month, I reported about Games For Windows Live being going the way of the dodo. Now, Warner Bros. has announced that their Batman games are going to give up on the Games for Windows Live platform in favor of Steam! 

Now that's service! Warner Bros's Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City games are two of their most well-received games and their decision to "import" the games onto Steam is great. They did not have to do this but they did, and not only that, the Steam versions of the games will automatically be upgraded to Game of the Year versions! 

Moving from a broken-down platform to Steam and then be given a free GOTY upgrade? Wow! I'm not sure if this free upgrade will work in Singapore, but no matter what, this is great!  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dreams Do Come True

You know how when babies are born, their parents and grandparents always dream of great things in the babies’ futures? 13 years ago, a grandfather in Wales put his money where his mouth and boy did it work out well!

When Harry Wilson came into the world 16 years ago, his grandfather, Peter Edwards, dreamt that he would be a great footballer. So when his grandson was just 18 months old, Peter Edwards went to a bookmaker and placed a £50 bet that his grandson would eventually play international football for Wales. He was given odds of 2,500 to 1.

On Tuesday, Wales was playing Belgium and in the 87th min, Welsh manager Chris Coleman sent on 16-year-old Harry Wilson for his international debut and in turn made the dreaming grandfather £125,000! Peter Edwards promptly retires after collecting the windfall. 

As you can see, dreams do come true.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Comics this week

Batman/Superman #4- Oh! Now that’s unexpected! The world of the older Superman and Batman is Earth 2; the same Earth 2 that currently is an ongoing series! Not only that, this arc gave a reason why Darkseid attacked Earth 2 in Earth 2 #1! The subtle way writer Greg Pak has inserted that fact into the story is so unlike the current loud, proud and brash New 52 DC that I’m beyond surprised. I’m shocked! Backed by the solid art of Jae Lee & Yildiray Cinar, and you have a new series that’s going to be a hit.

Avengers #21- If there’s still any arguments that Infinity is a crossover instead of an event, this issue settle it. #21 shows the Galactic Council’s victory over the Builders and the way of the victory is first shown in #20 of Avengers. The main Infinity series never even hinted at the betrayal of the Ex Nihilos. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Leinil Francis Yu put together a very good issue here; too bad about the wrong marketing though. 

New Avengers #11- Even though this was marketed as a tie-in to “Infinity”, New Avengers has been pretty much doing its own thing. I’ve always dislike the title of this series since technically The Illuminati are not part of the Avengers; since when did Reed Richards and Black Bolt join the Avengers? Outside that, the group has been doing some very un-Avenger like things like destroying whole worlds, something even Thanos approved of when he found out this issue. I do like the way the tension is slowly rising with you sensing how things are coming to a head as their past actions are fast catching up to them. Good issue but not really a tie-in with Infinity.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Correct Decision

As widely expected, the Malaysian Court of Appeal upheld the decision to ban the word "Allah" from the Bahasa Malaysia section of Catholic weekly Herald. This decision surprised no one as even Malaysian Christians, who make up about 9% of the population, did not believe they had a chance.

Now the Malaysian courts has a reputation of being corrupt and a long history of making bad decisions. This is not one of them.

Frankly, I cannot understand why Christians in Malaysia want to use "Allah" as the name of their god. The Christian God has a name. The authors of the New Testament took for granted the existence of the God of the Old Testament. They believed in Yahweh, "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," whom the Jews worshipped as the one true God.

Now Malaysian Christians want to use "Allah" as the name of their God? Sorry but that makes no sense. As amazing as it seems, for once, the Malaysian Court of Appeal made the correct decision here. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review of Gravity

Gravity is a science fiction and space film written, produced, edited and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the director best known for 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. However all the talk I have heard of the movie centered on one name; lead actress Sandra Bullock.

The film stars Sandra Bullock as bio-medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone, a mission specialist on her first space shuttle mission which is to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. During the final spacewalk, NASA warn her team of debris from a Russian missile strike in a satellite. Shortly after, the debris hit the team and the only survivors  are Stone and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). With their shuttle destroyed and communications from NASA lost, Stone and Kowalski has to find a way to safely go back to Earth.

If that sounds like a simple plot, that's because it is. Gravity is a very simple survival movie, only it is set in space. 3 things however made it more than just that.

1)Alfonso Cuaron shows a steady hand in the director's chair and belief in the performance of his two leads.
2) It is a beautiful film. The special effects of the movie is great. I didn't watch it in 3D but even then, I was very very impressed with it. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki was brilliant as he managed to show the beauty of space in all its glory.   
3) Bullock won the Best Actress award at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in The Blind Side in 2009. She is going to win another hatful of awards for her role as Ryan Stone.

The third point is extremely important as Gravity is basically a one person film. No other actors shows up except for Bullock and Clooney, and Clooney is basically a glorified extra here. The movie depends on Bullock and she delivers. Even when she was in her spacesuit, Bullock was able to bring to life Stone's life on Earth. You could feel her pain as she was discussing the death of her young daughter in a schoolyard accident with Clooney. The performance is even more remarkable when you consider the fact that we can't see her expressions. And the end when she finally reached Earth; her joy at finally feeling the gravity of Earth? Brilliant!

I won't say Gravity will be the best movie you'll see this year but with great special effects and a very solid performance from Bullock, this will be one of the better ones. Go and watch it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Singaporeans Really Care About

 On Wednesday, a fire at SingTel’s Bukit Panjang exchange knocked out its broadband and mobile services. Services were disrupted and even now, 2 days after the fire, services are still not fully up.

However, do Singaporeans complained about their internet or how some banking services like ATM were down? No. The biggest complains I heard are from punters who are unable to buy 4D on Wednesday, the day of the draw.  Singporepools, the leading operator for lottery and sports betting, even had to extend the time of the draw till 9pm, instead of the usual 6.30pm, for the punters. Reporters even interviewed one who waited 3 hours, in vain, to buy 4D.

Waiting 3 hours to buy 4D? Man, talk about your priorities. I usually wouldn't even be willing wait 10mins. It tells you what Singaporeans really cares about in their daily lives.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Comics this week

Infinity #4- Thus far in Infinity, I had always thought the space section of the story is much better than the Earth section. Writer Jonathan Hickman has taken his first steps to remedy that in this issue. While the space section is frankly an assassination of a Builder by Thor, the Earth section is backed by a bloody, brutal, drag-out fight between Black Bolt and Thanos. It's wonderful to see Black Bolt finally cut loose, even if he finally lost as expected. I mean how many characters are there that could take on Thanos one on one? I must also say artists Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver put together a wonderful issue here with some superb work on the action and suspense of the various situations faced by the heroes. An excellent issue!

Astro City #5- We all know Astro City is set in its' own world with a long history of superheroics, and in this issue writer Kurt Busiek tried to give us a rundown on just how far back it goes. The problem with this issue however is the fact that it is basically 4 stories in one, and outside the short story of Mister Cakewalk and Dame Progress (set in a steampunk England on less), the rest are unfinished! I have no doubt Busiek will finish it later, the man like to play the long game, but 3 unfinished stories is 3 too many.

Superman/Wonder Woman #1- I admit, I got this to see if it's any good. After one issue, I have to say it does show some promise. Writer Charles Soule seem to have a good handle on the two leads and artist Tony S. Daniel's work is gorgeous. However the introduction of Doomsday also show a problem this series will have. Superman and Wonder Woman are two of the most powerful characters in the New 52; how many villains are there that could give them a fight when they are together? Still, this issue is very  promising and if the rest of the series is as good as this issue, then DC may have a winner here.