Friday, February 28, 2014

Putin Strikes Back

Say this about Valdmir Putin; he don't do things in half measures. 

Just days after riots and protests in Kiev ousted the democratically elected pro-Russian Ukraine president, Viktor Yanukovych, dozens of armed men in military uniforms seized government buildings and the airport in the capital of Ukraine's strategic Crimea region. No one seen to know who these men are but as they had raised the Russian flag over the government buildings they sized, it doesn't take much to guess. 

It feels as though after getting struck going nothing due to the Sochi Winter Olympics, Russian President Putin is making up for lost time. In scrambling Russian fighter jets, granting asylum to Viktor Yanukovych and tacitly backing the takeover by local Russians of Crimean government buildings, he has all but thrown down the gauntlet to the new government in Kiev. Honestly I think he shouldn't have bothered because sooner or later Ukraine will have to go back to the Russian's orbit. 

The simple fact is this; Yanukovych did the only thing he could when he took the deal with Russia.

The economic deal offered by the West required him to undertake economic reforms in Ukraine that would have put Ukraine in recession for years. Russia offered him a deal that did not require political suicide. Would the West now offer better terms to the new fledgling administration of Ukraine?

Maybe but I doubt how much better it could be.

I doubt it because how are the Americans and the European Union (EU) going to come to the financial rescue of Ukraine when they can barely support the economies like Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain? Yes, I know the IMF (International Monetary Fund) already said it was "ready to respond" to Ukraine's bid for financial assistance and the EU has publicly said it was considering emergency loans for the country but where is the money going to come from? Ukraine will need US$35 billion over the next two years just to avoid default. Can you imagine US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel going to their people saying that they are going to give US$35 billion to Ukraine? I can't. And this US$35 billion amount is if the Russian don't do anything else! Russia can put a choke hold on the Ukrainian economy anytime they want to because Ukraine depends heavily on Russia's gas and primary resources.

However in a way I also do understand why President Putin scrambled jets and ok the takeover of the government buildings because...what could the West do? If Russia really go after the military option in Crimea, they would have a large segment of the population (some reports says up to 80%) behind them and with a large military facility anchored in Sebastopol, the Russian would have immediate support from local forces. I sincerely doubt NATO will take any military action to support the so-called new government (because most of them are part of the government that lost the last Ukrainian elections to Yanukovych) in Kiev in such a conflict.

President Putin's moves on Ukraine may seen rash and heavy-handed and it is also one that's carefully thought out. Unfortunately for the new fledgling administration of Ukraine, it is also one that's relatively safe.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Maria Komissarova; Stay Strong

Maria Komissarova has been having a bad month. At the start of February, she was a freestyle skier going to represent Russia in the Sochi Winter Olympics, but by the end of February she could face paralysis from the waist down.

Severely injured on a practice run on 15th Feb, Komissarova, 23, has publicly wrote on her Instagram account that she could not "feel my body lower than my belly button." According to reports, Komissarova fractured her 12th dorsal vertebrae, located in her lower back, and a six hours emergency surgery had to be done to implant a metal rod into her spine. The day after her crash and surgery, she was airlifted to Germany for further treatment. Unfortunately it seems there's little the doctors there could do for her. 

Like I posted before, I have little interest in the Winter Olympics but it's always a sad thing when athletes get hurt. Worse is the fact she never even got to race in the Olympics, she was injured before her race even started. Maria Komissarova; stay strong and get well soon. 

Comics this week

Deadly Class #2- The debut issue of this was killer; the car chase, the hot Asian chick with the katana, the final scene showing the school of assassins; everything was there. In this issue however, writer Rick Remender made the mistake of showing us the the different cliques of the school. Sorry but this was a misstep. The scenes showing the lessons of beheading and assassin psychology were kind of neat, but I didn't buy this issue for a rendition of Assassin 90210! Focus of the lessons or get the kids out on the streets planning their hits; I doubt anyone who pick up #1 bought it for a 90210 remake. The good news is that artist Wes Craig and colorist Lee Loughrigde are still in top-notch form here but even they can't save the poor direction of the script. Hopefully, #3 will get back on track.

Ballistic #4- This series is ridiculous and that is in a good sort of way. I mean where else would you get a story where a female assassin got killed and then get biologically engineered into a talking psychotic gun who/which can cry? It's crazy; it's ridiculous; it's mad; and it's bloody fun. Writer Adam Egypt Mortimer and artist Darick Robertson have to be insane to be able to create it. No sane mind would be able to think this up. Thanks guys for this insane original tale. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Heroes Is Returning

Over at the IGN website, a piece of news caught me by surprise. The superhero TV show "Heroes" is returning!  

For those of you who don't know or forgotten, "Heroes" was the show that made Zachary Quinto (Spock from Star Trek) and Masi Oka (Hawaii Five-0) stars. It's a show that shows a group of normal humans that gained superhuman powers. It's first season was a hit, lost some steam in the second season, then went into the toilet after that. 

Now it is returning in a new show called "Heroes Reborn". No word yet if it's a sequel, prequel or remake but...I'm not looking forward to it.

I know it may come as a surprise to some but I think they should just let the show stay in it's grave. Yes, the show has a lot of die-hard fans and many of them are kind of pissed at the open-ended way the series ended in Season 4 but the show had a good run. Not only that, it had a bad Season 2, a terrible Season 3, and a so-so Season 4. It never came close to reaching the heights of Season 1, so would "Heroes Reborn" be able to reach the show's highs when it had failed for 3 straight seasons?

Maybe, but most probably not. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

So What If They Are Gunning For Votes?

Here in Singapore, the Singapore government has just released its Budget for the year and the eye-catching thing about it was a S$8 billion fund to "honor" the older generation. Called the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP), it is to help our elderly cope with daily expenses and especially their medical needs.

Others called the PGP an attempt to score political points and channels more money into the GIC through our CPF accounts. I agree. The PGP is designed to score political points with the elderly and probably to get more money into the CPF. 

So fucking what? 

Does anyone truly believes the ruling PAP (People's Action Party) is going to do anything that doesn't benefits them? Aren't they are a political party? You think they are not looking to get votes for the coming elections? You think they are doing this out of the kindness of their heart?

No they are not, but who cares? They get to score political points, the elderly gets benefits and the money would come partially from higher taxes in tobacco and liquor products. What's the problem? The only complain I have is that the PGP is a scheme that's over 10 years which is too long. 

The needs of the elderly 5 years from now could be vastly different from what it is now. The PAP (which if you noticed is very similar to PGP) should look into having some yearly review of the fund so that the money could be tailored for the use of the elderly. A one-size-fits-all approach over 10 years is just asking for trouble. 

Outside that, all is good. The government is giving you money, take it and stop complaining.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Facebook Overpaid

Let me be a spoilsport here; Facebook's US$16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp is stupid!

Now Facebook has been on a buying spree ever since they went public, US$1 billion for Instagram, a failed US$3 billion offer for photo-sharing mobile app Snapchat, and now US$16 billion for WhatsApp. Now I can understand Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg trying to get into the mobile messaging market but is WhatsApp worth US$16 billion?

Hell no! This is a company that basically offers only 1 service and charges its users the grand price of US$1 annually to use it. Oh, and users get the first year free. Even though it has about 450 million users, logic say most of these users are using WhatsApp due to the price. The price rises and...they might not be there. So I think it's fair to say that 450 million number is kind of a mirage.

A company like that is worth US$16 billion? It's still February but to say Facebook overpaid for WhatsApp is the understatement of the year.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comics this week

Bad Ass #2- After the excellent debut issue, writer Herik Hanna and artist Bruno Bessadi kept the ball rolling as #2 has more of the same zany fun #1 had. I especially like the way Herik Hanna is taking the mickey out of the Batman comics and how much mileage he is getting out of a thus far pretty simple story. Part satire, part parody, and all around fun; pick this up for a great time.

Justice League #28- With big changes in store for the Justice League after the Forever Evil event, DC seem to have decided to let the original members of the League lead their own teams. With Aquaman having his “Others” team, Cyborg’s team seem to be the Metal Men. As ideas goes, there are worse ones out there and if this issue is an indication of what’s to come, DC might be on to something.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Let Singaporeans Decide

Recently someone leaked a guide from the Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) online. The guide gives its readers instructions on how to express support for Section 377A, including examples on how to write to a Singapore minister.

For people who have no idea, Section 337A is the Singapore law that criminalizes sex between men. A lot of people on the internet are unhappy about the guide from the church but I have to say I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Now I’m not saying Section 337A is a good law, but there have been a movement to repel Section 377A of the Singapore's Penal Code. Quite a number of organization has joined together to try and repel Section 377A under a number of reason like freedom, and if some organizations can organize themselves to move against the law; why can’t churches organize themselves to support the law?

As they say, what's good for the goose is good for the gander and last I heard the Vatican, the ultimate power in Christianity, is still firmly against homosexual relations between men. Is it that surprising a network of churches would be against homosexual relations between men and organizing themselves to support Section 337A? I don't find it surprising at all. 

As for those of you who say a church should not comment on a civil law under the name of religion, I find that reasoning to be stupid. We have organizations who are campaigning against the law in the name of freedom, but at the same time we are saying campaigning for the law in the name of religion is wrong? That’s require verbal agility I don’t possess.

Best way to settle this; put Section 337A on a national ballot and let Singaporeans choose whether to have this law on the books. Let the people of Singapore decide the issue.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ice Hockey Confusion

Let me get this out of the way first; I know nothing about ice hockey. Born and bred in sunny Singapore, I know zero about ice hockey. I also care next to nothing about the Sochi Winter Olympics.

However I have read that Russia recently lost an ice hockey game to the Americans after a goal by Russia was disallowed. The goal was disallowed after video evidence and eventually resulted in a 3-2 shootout victory to the Americans.

Now I have no idea what the “net off the mooring” exactly means but I have a big question; why was one of the referees in the game an American?

From what I read, the decision to disallow to potential winning Russian goal was made by American referee Brad Meier. That makes no sense. This is the Olympics right? There can’t be a shortage of referees at Sochi, so why is an American referee in charge of a game where the Americans are playing?

Is that normal for international ice hockey? Hopefully one of my readers who know ice hockey can inform me because I can’t understand it at all. It's so stupid, it's unbelievable.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fail! Please Fail!

                                               Coming to a battlefield near you!

In the Iron Man comics and movies, Tony Stark invented the Iron Man to fight his enemies. Now it seems Uncle Sam is intending to be Tony Stark.

A high-tech suit of armor called The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is being developed by engineers for the use of the U.S. Army. According to reports, the suits are designed to be bulletproof and are equipped with a variety of sensors and cameras and the plans are so advanced the first prototypes could be ready for testing by this year.

Coming from a fan of comic books, I hope the tests failed miserably.

Yes, I know the saying that all technological advances go through the military first and you can call me silly if you want to but I don’t want a superhero like Iron Man to be the “inspiration” of a military suit design for use on the battlefield! I just don't want to see that happening.  

So here I will be in Singapore hoping that the weapon tests in the U.S. fail and fail miserably!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft

Computer collectible card game is a bit of an oxymoron. Collectible card game (CCG) means you collect cards and then play the game based on the said cards. On the computer, you don’t have cards; you only have a program that pretends to be cards. If you can get pass that oxymoron, then the game for you is “Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft”.

Hearthstone is a free-to-play card game created by Blizzard Entertainment that’s very similar to Magic: The Gathering, but with some subtle differences that only becomes more and more apparent as you play along. The hidden depth of the game makes it a different beast and after a few sessions, you wouldn't even think of Magic as you play.  

First off, you need to pick a hero. There are nine in total, each in a different class; Mage, Shaman, Warlock, Druid, Priest, Paladin, Warrior, Rogue and Hunter. Each hero/class has unique class-specific cards, which you use along with general cards usable by all classes to form a deck of 30.

At the start, you only have a simple set of cards, but as you play along you will unlock more and more cards. You can get the cards either by buying card packs or just by leveling up your heroes. This means you can play and enjoy the game without having pay a single cent. For cheapskates like myself, this is great news!

There is also the Arena mode. The Arena costs gold to enter, and is basically the seal-decked format for Hearthstone. Players choose one of three randomly drawn heroes, then build a deck by choosing one card out of three random cards every time till their deck is full. Once you lose three games, the Arena is over and you will be award prizes based on how many games you won.

If you worry about the gold needed to enter the Arena; don't. The best part of the game is the fact that the game dish out gold very often. Once a day, the game will give you a quest (win 3 games; deal 100 damage to opponents, cast 40 spells etc) and once you complete it, you will be awarded gold. Gold you can use to buy card packs or play the Arena. I usually load up my quests to 3, which is the max, and then play the game to finish the quests for the gold. Not only that, I can level up my heroes that way; which get me more cards! 

Of course the game is not perfect. Each hero comes with a unique hero power. The various hero powers range from offensive to defensive and can be used once each turn. They are also range from the useful to the almost useless. Although Blizzard regularly makes adjustments to the cards, I think they need to look into the hero powers. Some of them are in need of some serious revision.

I would also like to have more heroes to choose from. Right now if I want to play a Mage, I need to choose Jania from the Alliance. Why can't I be a Mage from the Horde? The crafting system also need some work. It took me a long time to figure it out, and when I did I wasn't impress. It just wasn't worth the work, much easier to just play the game and get gold to buy the packs.

However the first thing in need of work has to be the ranking system.

Hearthstone has a very workable system of matching you with an opponent of the same rank, but that ranking is based on your overall performance in the game. So when I play my lower level heroes, and promptly lose, it lowered my ranking. However when I play my higher level heroes, it's almost unfair because the game matches me against other players of the same overall rank but they do not have a hero that matches my high level hero. I think it's better for the game to match players based on the heroes' level rather than the overall rank of the players.

All these knocks however will not affect your enjoyment of the game. I have been playing Hearthstone for over a month and found that it is a game that’s fun, engrossing, accessible, and yet hard to be good at. Basically, it’s one of those games that’s easy to pick up yet hard to master; and those games are always the most fun.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Give Help Quicker

In Nov 2012, SMRT bus drivers staged the first strike in 25 years due to low pay and poor living conditions. Honestly, it's not hard to imagine foreign workers in Singapore being unhappy but if there's any doubt, we now have another example of why. 

The Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is investigating local conglomerate Keppel Shipyard and one of its sub-contractors for the non-payment of some 120 workers. The MOM reported that the contractor, Akash Engineering and Technology, did not pay their workers from Bangladesh and India for over 3 months and the workers nearly went on strike last month due to the pay dispute. In damage control mode,  Keppel Shipyard said it had “made every effort possible” to help Akash once it found out about the “difficulties” the company was facing and even gave early payments to Akash due to their financial difficulties.

To me, it doesn't matter what Keppel did or why Akash did not pay the workers. The important thing is that the workers worked 3 months without pay and they could do nothing about it! They have no worker union and they have no one to speak for them;  they only got someone to step in after the Migrant Workers’ Centre heard that the workers were going to go on strike. That is just wrong.

That tells me help only came when they threaten drastic action. The MOM need to do more than punish Keppel and Akash, they need to find a way to get help to foreign workers quicker. Help must arrive before a strike is threaten because if it doesn't, sooner or later the MOM and the Migrant Workers’ Centre will miss one and we have Nov 2012 all over again. 

That is something I think no one in Singapore wants. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Comics this week

Astro City #9- You got to give it to writer Kurt Busiek; he knows what buttons to push for long-time readers of Astro City. This current story of Winged Victory hadn't quite reached the heights of past issues but the trio of young heroes called "The Choirboys" was a hoot. The name was funny but it was also a throwback to The Alterboy, the former hero name of the current Confessor. That in itself was worth the money of this issue.

Hinterkind #5- Since this series started, we have seen the world as it was. A terrible world where humans were hunted, killed and captured by fantasy creatures most of them don't even know existed. This issue can titled "The Education of Prosper" as the thus far pretty boring female lead get a harsh but timely lesson on the dangers of this world and the necessary toughness needed to survive it. As long as they keep this up, writer Ian Edginton and artist Francesco Trifogli got me for the long haul.

Superman/Wonder Woman #5- After a slow setup issue, writer Charles Soule and artist Tony S. Daniel now delivered a flat-out, knock-down fight between Superman/Wonder Woman verse Zod/Faora. I must say the work of Daniel here was superb with the tag team of Zod and Faora against Superman being nothing short of excellent. However for me, the highlight of this issue was the homecoming of Wonder Woman to Themyscira. As one of the few Amazons left in the world, her words to her petrified mother showed that in many ways this Wonder Woman was similar to Superman. They are both powerful beings without a people of their own. This short scene showed why writer Charles Soule is the current hot thing in the comics world, and that every word of praise that goes his way is well deserved.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Green Pipes?

Ever heard of Flappy Bird? If you haven’t, then you’re not alone. I only heard of it a few days ago and it was because the game designer has removed the game from app stores despite it being very successful.

Flappy Bird is a mobile game that was created by Vietnamese Dong Nguyen and is surprisingly simple. Players navigate a bird through a series of pipes by tapping repeatedly on the screen. The game has taken the world by storm, especially when Dong Nguyen said that he created the game in less than a day. So why has the man taken down a game that has been downloaded over 50 million times and is making him about US$50,000 in ad revenue a day?

Well, as a tribute to his favorite game, Mario Bros, Mr. Dong made the mistake of making his bird fly through big fat green pipes like those found in Mario Bros. Worse is that he naively admitted that he took the design of the pipes from Mario Bros. Considering that the game was making him US$50,000 a day, it should come as no surprise what actions Nintendo did.

To defend themselves, Nintendo publicly said that they never threatened to sue Mr. Dong; they only sent him a “warning” letter. Well, the “warning” worked because Mr. Dong has now taken down Flappy Bird.

Since I don’t play mobile game, I couldn’t care less whether the game is still up on app stores but from what I had read and seen, I want to know how Nintendo could even sent Mr. Dong any “warning” letter? Did Mario show up in Flappy Bird? Did Luigi or Yoshi or even Princess Peach? No, the only thing from Mario Bros that showed up in Flappy Bird are…green pipes.

Green pipes! That’s the basis for Nintendo’s warning? Green Pipes? That’s it? Are you saying that any game that features green pipes is now in danger of being sued warned by Nintendo? That’s even more stupid than those crazy American copyrights of words like Saga and Scrolls in the title of games. You show a green pipe in your game, and you could be in danger of being “warned” by Nintendo.

What idiocy! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

What Is Surprising Is...

Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock is a 20 year veteran of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). He is also someone on the out with the PAP leadership for contesting in the Presidential Election against the official candidate of the PAP.

As a 20 year veteran of the PAP, most of which were sent in Parliament as a PAP backbencher, it was no surprise when the PA (People’s Association) invited Dr. Tan to the PA Chinese New Year garden party at the Istana. Just as it was no surprise when he was “uninvited” from the garden party shortly after.

So far so good as I personally can’t see how any of this came as a surprise to anyone. Yes, it’s pretty to uninvited Dr. Tan but you have to be realistic about such matters. The PA leadership is not going to go against the PAP leadership especially when Dr. Tan came within a whisker of embarrassing the PAP; after all he lost the 2011 Presidential Election in 2011 to the official PAP candidate, Dr Tony Tan, by just 0.35%.

What is surprising to me was the “surprise” of the PAP and PA. People's Association (PA) deputy chairman Lim Swee Say, who is also an MP and a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, has been quoted as saying he is "surprised" that Dr. Tan has made public his “uninvitation” as he had accepted the reason he was uninvited was because the PA sent the invitation to him wrongly. 

Two things about this;
1)      No one in their right mind is going to believe Mr. Lim’s excuse that the PA sent the invitation wrongly. This is a dinner at the Istana, the residency of the President of the Republic of Singapore, no one is going to make suck a mistake.
2)      Anyone who think Dr. Tan is going to take this “uninvitation” laying down has not paid any attention to his political career at all.

This is a man who publicly showed the Singapore public the spilt within the PAP, and against the odds came close to winning in 2011. He is also the man who refused to bow to pressure to withdraw from the race after throwing his hat in. Yet it sounded as if Mr. Lim and the PAP expected Dr. Tan to accept their jab quietly.  

Now that I find surprising and a little laughable. I’m not saying he did the right thing in making this public, washing dirty linen in public is also never a good thing, but Dr. Tan's actions should come as no surprise to anyone. It's very much in line with his personality. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Comics this week

Earth 2 #20- Whereas James Robinson’s Earth 2 focused on Jay Garrick and Alan Scott, Tom Taylor’s Earth 2’s focus is on alternate versions of Batman and Superman. You can now add Lois Lane to his list as this issue was on character development amidst worldwide destruction. Yes, I know Aquawoman got her moment in the sky here but the meat of this issue was on Lois Lane/ Red Tornado. Not only did Taylor showed how important the character was to the team, he also made sure Lane’s love for her husband shone through amidst the gloom. This issue is far quieter than the boom-boom action of the past few issues, but it was every bit as good.

Forever Evil #5- A normal human among gods, that's Batman's place among the Justice League and some would (rightfully) call Batman slightly delusional. This issue, writer Geoff Johns took this aspect of his character and ran with it to a touchdown! When Batman told Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Black Mantra, Black Adam, Sinestro and Captain Cold he’s in charge, I was shocked no one burst out laughing. It was the funniest scene thus far in Forever Evil but so in line with Batman's character, you can actually see him doing it. Add that to the surprise death Power Ring (Go, Sinestro, Go) and you got one hell of an issue!

Ms. Marvel #1- Inhumanity has thus far been a disaster for Marvel. It’s almost a non-event, a sad fact when the potential of the event was enormous. The new Ms. Marvel hopefully will be just the first step in saving the event. A lot of the news had been on the fact that the new Ms. Marvel was a teenage Muslim girl named Kamala Khan and in this issue, writer G. Willow Wilson showed a good handle on cultural aspect of the story. Kamala is a high school girl who is obsessed with the Avengers and want to party with the popular kids but can’t due to her faith and strict parents. The superhero aspect of the story is handled far less well because until the last panel, there is no superheroics. Don’t get me wrong; this is a solid start to the series, but with a title like Ms. Marvel you expect some superheroics right? Not so, and maybe it would have been better if Marvel chosen a new name for the character instead of using Ms. Marvel. This issue showed some promise but as it is, I’m still on the fence on this one.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dammed If You So, Dammed If You Don’t

When the Health Promotion Board (HPB) first put up a FAQ about sexuality on its website last November, no one knows about it. However, this FAQ has taken a live of its own in recent days when an individual named “Aaron” posted a petition against the FAQ.

Aaron objected to the FAQ as he believe it provides pro-homosexuality answers questions like “What does it mean to be gay/bisexual?” and “Where can my child find support in Singapore?” The petition was put up on 3rd Feb and quickly got over 1,200 signatures.

Seeing the response from the petition, the HPB quickly changed the FAQ, removing some links which would have directed users to some services. However in a case of dammed if you so, and dammed if you don’t, another internet user named Melissa Tsang put up a counter-petition on 4th February against the original petition from Aaron and request HPB restore the FAQ to its original format.

Biggest loser in this whole funny affair; the Health Promotion Board, and I have to say I feel kind of sorry for them. Here they are trying to give information to the general public, responded quickly when a section of the general public objected, and then getting complained at for responding too quickly by another section of the general public.

Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. Like they say; you can’t make everyone happy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Well Ahead On Points

Days after failing to disrupt the polls, Thailand's opposition Democrat Party will now challenge the “disputed” election in court on Tuesday. Thai anti-government protesters have been camped out in Bangkok for weeks hoping to bring down the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and it seem they are getting desperate.

For this, you have to give credit to PM Yingluck. For all the bluster of protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, the political movement in the courts, and even the clear bias of the Election Commission, PM Yingluck has held firm on holding elections and she is now reaping the rewards.

When anti-government protesters blocked polling stations and the Election Commission refused to open polling stations, they overplayed their hand. Ordinary Thais were enraged by these actions and clashes have occurred between them and the anti-government protesters. Clashes on the streets of Thailand may not be new but these aren’t red shirts supporters of the government. The yellow shirt anti-government protesters are now fighting against ordinary Thais who had not been involved in the clashes so far. That’s what will happen when you try to take away people’s right to vote and if this was her game-plan, then it is one PM Yingluck had played to perfection.

It seems that while Mr. Suthep has been riling up his supporters, PM Yingluck has been targeting the middle ground and it is a strategy that’s working. So successful has she been that analysts are now saying the unthinkable; Mr. Suthep's movement is now crumbling. New agencies said that the protesters have dwindled to only about 3,000; a far cry from the hundreds of thousands that were there just a few weeks ago and so unpopular are they that some Thais have been quoted saying they will never vote for the opposition Democrat Party ever again.

So I see the court challenge of the Democrat Party as a desperation move and even then my bet is on PM Yingluck. The courts will rule in his favor but after seeing off Mr. Suthep’s movement, I just can’t see how former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva (leader of the Democrats) can take down PM Yingluck especially when you consider how unpopular his party is now. The only hope they have is a military coup which is an irony because Mr. Abhisit is the leader of a political party called the Democrats.

Even then, once election is held again, the Democrat Party would probably be slaughtered at the polls. The war in Thailand may not be over, but PM Yingluck is so well ahead on points it might as well be GAME OVER! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Harry Potter Sequel?

In terms of fantasy books, the Harry Potter series is considered a modern classic. Honestly, I don’t think that’s the case because I don't find the books to be that great but there are a lot of Harry Potter fans out there who devoured every piece of news that’s remotely related to the franchise.

Writer JK Rowling now created a furor by admitting in an interview that she made a mistake when she paired up Harry Potter’s best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. In the interview, Rowling said she plotted for the two to become an item early on but at the end when the last few books came out, having the two paired up was a mistake and Hermione should have married Harry Potter.

Is it me or do I smell sequel here? Rowling is already confirmed that she will be writing a prequel of sorts, a new story set in the same world decades before Harry Potter, so it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine her writing a sequel to Harry Potter.

To be fair, a sequel to Harry Potter is not that bad of an idea. It will be devoured by its legion of fans and the world created by Rowling is rich enough for a few more stories set there. Also, for fans of Harry Potter, there’s no such thing as too much Harry Potter. Even non-fans like myself would probably pick it up.

Basically what I'm saying is that if the interview Rowling gave was a test of the waters, then it must be qualified as a total success. 7 years after the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", interest in Harry Potter is still as high as possible. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Name Game

Currently in Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Bank and other conflict zones, the armed drone is the weapon of choice for US, the UK and Israel. They are popular because the drones can be used remotely without risking human lives. So popular are the drones that armies from France to China now have programs to build their own drones.

With their popularity of course comes the criticism of them being soulless assassination tools. So much so that drone manufacturers are now not using the word "drone". Instead they are calling the drones “Unmanned Aerial System” or “Remotely Piloted Aircraft”.

What a total waste of time!

Don’t these manufacturers know that once a name is given to something, it can’t be changed? Not only that, the people of the world has common sense. We will call the drones what they are, regardless of the PR! Take the example of all those “private contractors” the US and the UK employed in the invasion of Iraq. Everyone in the world called those contractors “mercenaries” and try as the Americans might, no one in their right mind called it the “liberation” of Iraq.

I don’t care how determined these manufacturers are in their efforts to change the name of drones. Drones are well…drones!