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!