Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Strange Sport

I consider myself a sports fan but I will admit this; I don't get American Football. To me, it's a bloody strange sport that stops a lot and when it starts, there's little to almost no action. I just don't get it. 

I also don't get the officiating. 

In America (where else), a player who scored a touchdown was penalized for kneeling in Muslim prayer after scoring. Really? I seem American player kneeling in Christian prayer all the time with no problems but kneeling in Muslim prayer...that's a problem? 

Now I get this is America and the country is in many wars with Muslims forces throughout the world but you need to at least pretend to be tolerant of Muslims in prayer. Especially when you are very tolerant of Christian in prayer.  

But then what the hell do I know? This is American Football. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

So What?

Blizzard's fans are in mourning as the World of Warcraft (WOW) developer announced that they are cancelling Titan MMO. For those of you who do not know, for the past 7 years, Blizzard has been making Titan which is supposed to be the successor to WOW.

Those plans are now in the shredder as the would-be MMO is now vaporware. I take on this; what else is new?

Come on people, games in development gets canned all the time. I mean just look at the number of Kickstarter games that fail. That’s not even counting games in development by respectable companies. Remember Overlord 3? Or Starcraft Ghost? Or the most infamous of them all, Duke Nukem Forever?

So let’s put this in perspective, the “bye-bye” Blizzard said to Titan is nothing new. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Comics this week

Sinestro Futures End #1- After a series of yawn inducing Futures End tie-in, I finally hit one that’s worth something. As expected, the future of Sinestro is a dark one with the Korugarian in prison and without his ring. Most of the issue is on his prison break but the most interesting part of the issue is Sinestro’s flashback of how he got into prison in the first place. The fleeting success he had as well as his reconciliation with Soranik are great teasers and the eventual fate of the Yellow Lanterns? Great!

Red Lantern Futures End #1- Angry white man, Guy Gardener, as a Blue Lantern? Ok, I admit this issue didn’t quite work but the premise is strange enough and interesting enough to get me reading to the end. The story of Guy,  Bleeze and Rankorr is a tad by the numbers but while it’s nothing great, it was interesting enough to make me look forward to see how/if the writers will go about making this version of the future come true. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

History Repeat Itself?

As the U.S launched new air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants, this time in Syria, U.S President Barack Obama hailed the support of Arab nations in the air strikes and proudly said that more than 50 nations had agreed to fight IS.

Honestly, I think President Obama need to can it on the rhetoric of having a coalition to fight IS. The fight is in the Middle East; he is bombing Syria without a United Nations mandate; doing it without the permission of the Syrian government; and doing it without the blessings of China and Russia. Does this remind anyone of anything? 

If your answer is Iraq and George Bush, then you are not alone. This is eerily similar to what happened before the Iraq War and we all know how that war turned out for the Americans.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review of The Purge: Anarchy

I’ll be honest; I watched “The Purge: Anarchy” strictly because I enjoyed the first film. Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, I thought “The Purge” was a solid movie that was let down by a kooky ending.

Written and directed by James DeMonaco, the Purge series takes place in a future America where once every year, there is a 12-hour period where all crime, including murder, is legal. “The Purge: Anarchy” takes place a year after the original showing us the sixth annual Purge. As the people countdown to the hour of the start, the film showcased how 3 different groups of people got caught up in the annual “holiday” and how they fight and survived the night.

Starring Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, and ZoĆ« Soul, I have to say “The Purge: Anarchy” is an improvement on the first film. Not only that, I have to say I’m very impressed by James DeMonaco’s ability to turn the premise of the Purge into something vastly different from the first film.

“The Purge” was a movie that showed an upper-class family trying to survive the night after their much valued security has been penetrated, “The Purge: Anarchy” went the other way. The sequel showcase people from the lower class, the ways they try to survive the night and how the annual purge is more than a holiday for people to release their aggression, it is also a way of population control for the government.

Not only that; whereas the first Purge was more of a tense thriller, Anarchy is an action movie. Gangs, paramilitary police, men on mission of vengeance like Frank Grillo’s character populated the movie and the action sequences are on a whole other level from the first movie.

Of course, having a man like Grillo in the leading role help immensely. A solid actor who made a name in supporting roles of movies like “Warrior”, “The Grey”, and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “The Purge: Anarchy” shows how well Grillo could be in the leading role of an action movie. He is a lean mean fighting machine and the movie makes me wonder why Hollywood hasn’t make him an action star yet. This is a guy who could be the next Liam Neeson.

However the main problem that hamstrung the first film also affects Anarchy; the ending sucks! James DeMonaco really went looking for a good ending in this movie and he did not succeed.

Spoiler Alert! I mean after 12 hours of hell, Frank Grillo’s character suddenly decide NOT to take vengeance? Now I admit there’s a laundry list of characters throughout the film trying to convince the man not to take vengeance on the man who accidently killed his son but for him to suddenly decide not to do the deed just does not jell with the determined character that was portrayed throughout the film. I personally think it was a cop-out by DeMonaco.

Another (minor) point that got me was the timeline of this film. This was the sixth Purge so it meant that the purge the previous year was the fifth. However in “The Purge”, Ethan Hawke’s character explained to his young teenage son that when they were younger, both him and his wife went out purging. Does that mean they went out even when they had tween kids at home? That doesn’t make sense.

Still, the Purge series is a fascinating concept that was taken to a logical and engaging new level in “The Purge: Anarchy”. A sequel that’s actually better than the first film, watch this movie for a brutal action movie that is also thought provoking.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Who Say They Are Banned?

Today in Singapore, The New Paper asked the question, "So why are electric scooters banned from our roads and pavements?" After reading the article (twice), I have to ask the question, "Are they banned from the pavements?"

I asked the question because nowhere in the article did anyone say the electric scooters are banned! To give the reporter (Ng Jun Sen) credit, he got quotes from the LTA (Land Transport Authority), the TP (Traffic Police) and the NParks (National Parks Board) on the issue, but I can't see anyone saying the scooters are banned.

The LTA say they are banned on roads (which I think everyone in Singapore will agree is a good idea), but the LTA did not say the scooters are banned on pavements. The NParks say they are banned in parks and on park connecters. I agree with their decision because if you are going to a park; walk!

The TP statement says, "To ensure the safety of all road users, enforcement action is taken against riders of unauthorised vehicles on public roads Riders caught using unauthorised vehicles on public roads are liable, on conviction, to a fine of up to $2,000 or a jail term of up to three months for the first offence."

So...who say the electric scooters are banned on pavement? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the TP statement did not say that the electric scooters are banned; only what's the fine and punishment is are using "unauthorised vehicles". They never say the electric scooters are "unauthorised vehicles.

So if no one is saying the electric scooter is banned on pavements, doesn't that mean they are legal? 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cameron Should Resign

The Scots have voted and Scotland will stay within the United Kingdom. With a vote of 55% to 45%, Scotland had spurned independence in a historic referendum that threatened to rip the United Kingdom apart.

I must say I’m surprised. I thought the Scots would vote for independence because…well, they’re not going to get this chance ever again. However this is their choice and I respect that. However what really surprised me is the fact that British Prime Minister Cameron still has a job.

While the British cheered, kissed and drink in celebration, I have to say I’m surprised no one has told Prime Minister Cameron to quit yet. Now I’m all for letting people vote for their future but this referendum was a stupid political gamble that backfired royally. I understand when Cameron made the promise of the referendum, there were more than enough reason to think it would be an easy win for him but guess what; he was wrong!

Opinion polls showing support for Scottish independence was so high that Cameron had to pledge to grant more powers to Scotland if they stayed in the kingdom. Even the Queen was roped in, touring Scotland almost non-stop before the vote. 

So letting the referendum go on a vote was a misstep that almost became an epic historic mistake for the U.K. From the outside looking in, I have to wonder how in world the British people are letting Cameron get away with this. Even with the win, he should go.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Comics this week

Deadly Class #7- After a short break, writer Rick Remender bring us back to assassin school with an issue that starts slow before ramping it up at the end. The gang is still suffering the fallout of Chico’s attempted hit on Marcus with Saya trying to find Chico’s body and Maria suffering a breakdown. Not helping matters for Marcus is the fact that both girls now have their eyes on him and a love triangle is blossoming here. Yeah, this is a school for assassins, being a psycho killer is a good thing here. I won’t say this is a great start to the second story arc but after the first 6 issues, Remender and artist Wes Craig get some leeway from me. Welcome back class!

Justice League Futures End #1- By now, almost everyone is in agreement that Future’s End is a terrible event. Justice League Futures End does not change that. It seems that 5 years from now, only Cyborg is left on the team with the rest of the team comes from JL United and JLA. Give me back Jessica Cruz, Lex Luthor, and Batman please.

Superior Spider-Man #33- One of the main (and best) thing about Superior Spider-Man is what a superior jerk Otto is as Spider-Man. Insufferable as Doc Octopus, Otto Octavius became insufferable x10 in the young, agile body of Peter Parker. There's plenty more of Otto the jerk in this issue, especially towards his follow Spider-Men. While fun to read, what was really good about this issue was how writer Dan Slott & Christos Gage expanded the story and increased the danger and challenges facing the Spiders. As powerful as Morlun is, it’s hard to imagine you needing 30+ Spider-men to take him down. So letting him have a family and fleshing them out solve that problem neatly. So far, the Spider-Verse event looks very promising. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lotfi Ariffin Does Not Fight For IS!

It’s no surprise that there are some people from Southeast Asia currently fighting in Syria and Iraq on behalf of the Islamic State (IS). IS has recruited people from all over the world, so this cannot come as any surprise. 

So when Yahoo news announced how the death of a Malaysian Islamist in Syria fighting on behalf of IS has sparked an outpouring of eulogies on social media, many people were rightfully concerned. However there’s just one problem.

Lotfi Ariffin, the Malaysian in question, does not fight for IS! 

He died fighting the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad on behalf of an Islamic group call Ajnad al-Sham, a rebel group that operates near the Syrian capital of Damascus which is not affiliated to IS or the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. Having said that, according to his regular posts on social media, Mr. Lotfi Ariffin was a proud Islamist who believed he was answering a call for jihad in Syria.

That is short is the headache facing Western and Arabic states looking to take on IS in Syria and Iraq. Do they just attack IS or should they also attack other Islamic militant groups like Nusra Front and Ajnad al-Sham? How do they differentiate between the groups and if they attack all of them, would that make/force the groups to band together?

For people who are wondering why it is taking so long for the U.S and the Western countries to attack IS, this is just one of the big problems they are facing with no clear answer. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Due To Man

For over than 140 million years, they have been swimming in the Yangtze River. However, now it seems that the Chinese sturgeon will soon be no more.

This comes as no surprise as rising levels of pollution and the construction of dozens of dams along the Yangtze has seem a decreased in the number of Chinese sturgeons in the river since the 1980s. Now, it is estimated only there are only around 100 fish left.

Not only that, Chinese researchers also found no young sturgeons swimming along the Yangtze toward the sea during the period they usually do so. Worse is the fact that they believed that no wild sturgeon reproduced naturally last year in the Yangtze River. All the young ones were artificially-bred by Chinese researchers in a last ditch effort to prevent the sturgeons extinction. That is just not enough in the face of pollution and the dams. 

So it seems all but certain that the Chinese sturgeon will follow the Baiji dolphin, a native species of dolphins in the Yangtze, in going extinct. 140 million years, and gone due to the action of man. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Xbox Games On PC

The big rumor in the gaming world these days is that Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with a streaming service which could bring the latest console games to any computer. Basically, Microsoft is developing a technology that will stream all Xbox games to the PC.

Now as a PC player, you would think this is great news for me. After all, if Microsoft do this, this means all those Xbox exclusive games will now be available to me. If you think so however, you would be wrong.

On paper this may be good news for PC gamers, but if this rumor is true, then I foresee some big problems for Microsoft. First off is the fact that there's no disguising why Microsoft is doing this. The Xbox One consoles is currently being destroyed by Sony's PS4 and things are so bad that even the WiiU (created at much lower cost) is beating it in sales.

However the biggest problem is the fact that there's already a great streaming service available to PC gamers. Microsoft need to explain why we would want to use their service instead of the 200 pound gorilla know as STEAM. Valve's STEAM is by far the best streaming service right now with others like Origins and UPlay also there. Where would Microsoft figure among that?

Now playing console games on home computers is not a new idea. Microsoft already have the OnLive cloud gaming platform but there's a huge jump between that niche service and STEAM. Can Microsoft do it and become the STEAM-killer? Honestly, I doubt it. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Comics this week

Astro City #15- I will admit I was secretly hoping that harmless-looking Ellie was some retired supervillain but the end of this issue will do just fine. Writer Kurt Busiek finished his story of little old Ellie and like always, it was a treat. Special mention is needed for artist Brent Anderson who managed to show the steel behind the frail old woman. I mean even when Ellie managed to show up Vivi Victor and the Honor Guard (Samaritan, Winged Victory, American Chibi etc), you never forget the fact that when we first met the lady, she was a forgetful kind old lady. Brilliant!

Copperhead #1- As a general rule, I’m not a fan of cross-genre stories. If they managed to do it right, it could be good but most of the time, stories that cross genres are just messes. That should also tell you how good the debut of Copperhead is when I find it both interesting and well-written. Yes, writer Jay Faerber ticked a lot of boxes in the story (protagonist with a past, cute kid, slimy businessman etc) but the space western still feel fresh and new. Artist Scott Godlewski must take a lot of the credit for this as his version of the world managed to feel both western and high tech at the same time. This is just #1 so a lot of things can still go wrong, but this is one hell of a promising debut.

Hinterland #11- Give writer Ian Edginton credit. Every time I think I got a handle on the story, he pull the rug right beneath me. Just when we expect the Centaur Tribe to launch holy righteous vengeance on the Vampire Nation, the leader of the centaur instead make the smart long-term play of an alliance against a mutual (more powerful) enemy. I admit the scene of Hobbs just giving info to the vampires smell of an info-dump but even if you count that in, this was a very good issue. Edginton is putting his pieces in play for a grand ending to this arc. I'll be there for it! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Complaining About The Wrong Thing

In Singapore, a lot is currently being made about the news of three foreigners who came illegally into Singapore to abduct a child. A 30-year-old woman, who got custody of her son in England, allowed her divorced husband to bring their son to Singapore to visit his family but after arriving, the husband refused to return the child back to the mother.

In desperation, the woman, whose name cannot be revealed to protect the identity of the boy, entered Singapore illegally with 2 others to take back her child. They failed and the 3 are now jailed between 10 to 16 weeks. Some Singaporeans are saying the sentences are too light and some even complain that our local press is too subdued in their reporting of the case.

I can totally understand why the press is so subdued because this case is a major embarrassment to Singapore. Not because the woman managed to sneak into Singapore, that’s not so unusual, but because the Singapore courts is protecting the ex-husband, the man who abducted the child from his mother in the first place!

These are the facts. The mother had custody. She kindly allowed her ex-husband to bring their son out to Singapore trusting him to return the boy after 2 months. The ex-husband broke her trust, broke the law in England, ignored the English Court's custody ruling, and that forced the mother to take the actions she did. Now the mother is in jail for trying to get back her stolen son?

I’m no lawyer, but this is an injustice if there’s ever is one. The mother had custody, she did a good deed agreeing to let her ex-husband’s parents take care of the boy for two months, and now she is in jail because her lying, cheating ex-husband broke his word to her.

So yeah, the Singapore press is subdued in their coverage of the case. I can totally understand that because if they are not, they will have to roast this unjust ruling that protect the abductor and punished the mother whose child was stolen from her.

Now that is something Singaporeans should complain about!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nope; Not A Sport

The sports network, ESPN, has made enemies of gamers everywhere by announcing…that e-sports are not sports! Uh?

ESPN president John Skipper, speaking at a recent conference, was asked to comment e-sports and he said, "It's not a sport, it's a competition." To be fair to the man, Skipper then went on to say chess and checkers are competitions, not sports, as well but to weigh in on this, I have to say...the man is absolutely right.

Come on people, e-sport is NOT a sport. We sit on our asses playing video games. Forgot sweating, we’ll not even standing! We are NOT doing sports when we are playing games.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What's Wrong With Losing?

In the sport of basketball, the USA is head, tail and foot above everyone else. The NBA is clearly the best league in the world and the American national basketball team is widely acknowledged as the world's best. 

So at the ongoing World Cup, the USA is the heavy favorite and FIBA (International Basketball Federation) now say they are investigating the Australian team for deliberately losing a World Cup game to avoid a possible match with the United States. 

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

Come on FIBA, does this surprise you? With all their NBA stars, the Americans are the clear favorite to win it all and by losing to Angola 91-83, Australia avoid meeting the Americans in the quarterfinals. They will instead meet them in the semifinals which will give them a chance to win a medal. 

Smart move in my view. If I'm an Aussie, I would have done the exact same thing. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

The New Secret Six

When the New 52 started, a whole host of comic books got cancelled. Chief among them, and arguably the best among them, was the Secret Six. Gail Simone's team of villainous henchmen was a big hit with fans but was unfortunately cancelled (abruptly I might add) to make way for the New 52.

After too long of a wait, DC finally did the sensible thing and have order a new Secret Six comic. Not only that, they are going to let Gail Simone write the series again! Now that’s wonderful news, especially the fact that Simone has already announced fan-favorite Thomas Blake aka Catman, will be on the team. Unfortunately, he’s the only one of the original team members to be on the new team but it’s better than nothing. After all, who even heard of Catman, Ragdoll, or even Scandal Savage before the first series?

Here’s hoping lighting will strike twice for Gail Simone. Now if only DC will order a new Black Adam series…

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Comics this week

Justice League #33- With the rest of DC struck behind the thus far unimpressive Futures End tie-ins, we can thank the comic gods that Justice League is so far behind schedule. This is arguably the best JL issue we had in some time. As the JLA battle the Doom Patrol for the new Power Ring, Jessica Cruz, the meat of the issue is the battle between Lex Luthor, Niles Caulder, and Batman. Three brilliant men, each mad in their own way, duke it out to see who can save the day while battles are going on all around them. It would have been hilarious if writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke didn’t hit everything right, and that last page between Superman and Lex? It’s one for the ages!

Moon Knight #7- Writer Warren Ellis and artist Delcan Shalvey have left the building and in comes Brian Wood (writer) and Greg Smallwood (artist). To their credit, the two newcomers didn’t miss a beat. Take the interaction between Mr. Knight and the beat cop; that's totally something Ellis would write and Wood nailed it! Maybe colorist Jordie Bellaire should also take credit here but I hardly missed Ellis and Shalvey in this issue. Considering their great work thus far, that took so doing.

Original Sin #8- Sigh! Original Sin had its moments early on, but the eventual need for action finally spoilt what had been an interesting murder mystery. I think that when writer Jason Aaron looks back at his work in the future, he would see this as a missed chance for greatness here. The big reveal about the identity of the murderer was a joke. I saw the thing coming 3-4 issues ago and even the reasoning behind the murder doesn’t make sense. He “had” to kill the Watcher because…he don’t have time to do some detective work? Original Sin had a good start but the last few issues were total crap.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

GTA V Coming to PC

Late last week word began to circulate that the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V was in big trouble because "Rockstar (the maker of the game) never wanted to release a PC version." Fans were so incensed that some even hack a marketing firm's website in protest.

Rockstar quickly came up with a public statement saying the PC version of the game is still safe and sound and will come out in "fall 2014". My two cents worth; GTA V will come out on PC, but if it does not…who are we fans to stop Rockstar if they want to destroy their own franchise?

Honestly, I just do not get why developers and publishers don’t go on PC. Yes, I know Sony and Microsoft give goods deals to developers and publishers for exclusive rights to their games but I never understood why they would want to shut out a good portion of the gaming population by doing that.

Take for example the “Infamous” franchise. The latest installment of the franchise, “Infamous: Second Son” was very good. I played a few minutes of it at a demo and was very impressed. However will I go buy a PS 4 just to play it? Not a chance! That is why no matter how good of a game they make, the “Infamous” franchise will never reached the heights of say “Assassin Creed” or “The Elder Scrolls”.

By virtue of the fact they are on all platforms, those franchises will always be bigger than “Infamous”. It’s a simple case of numbers. So I’m not worried about Rockstar not putting the game on PC. Suicide is just not in their interest.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wish You Well, Nicole Seah!

3 years ago, Nicole Seah became the face of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) when they fielded her in the 2011 General Elections. Ms. Seah was young, fresh and (let’s admit it) good-looking. However 3 years after she burst on to the political scene, Ms. Seah announced that she is leaving the NSP.

Now a lot has been written about her leaving the NSP but I can’t see why this came as a surprise to anyone. She is not the first virgin candidate from GE 2011 to leave. Others like Vincent Wijeysingha and Tan Jee Say have left the political scene already and it can be argued that they were bigger and brighter names than Ms. Seah. Also, to her credit, Ms. Seah has been giving the heads up to Singapore about her choice to leave politics before her public announcement.

So I think Singaporeans need to quit harping on the issue. Yes, the loss of Nicole Seah is a blow to politics in Singapore but it’s hardly a big one. She may come back and even if she didn’t, others will step up to fill the void. Every election will bring new faces to the political scene. It happens every time and this is not something that’s going to stop.

So let’s wish Ms. Seah well on her future endeavors and move on people. It’s not the end of the world for anyone. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Comics this week

Sinestro #5- This is a strange issue. Sinestro met up with Hal Jordan and after a long talk, they have the expected slugfest…which Sinestro won with ease by releasing Parallax? Wait a minute, isn’t Parallax dead? Didn’t it die at the Source Wall along with the rest of the entities in the fight against Relic? Yet all this time, it is still within Sinestro? So what was that thing at the Source Wall pretending to be Parallax? Geoff Johns and Jim Lee need to meet with writer Cullen Bunn on this and come up with a proper explanation. Looks like a case of a severe lack of editorial oversight here.

Rai #4- Following it's stunning debut issue, Rai has been mostly failed to live up to its potential. That is until this issue! #4 of Rai has the protector of Japan going off the grid, something he thought impossible, to investigate the truth of his creation. Writer Matt Kindt goes back to what made #1 works; intelligent world-building, a deep sci-fi story, and enough mystery to keep the story engaging. Artist Clayton Crain once again nailed it, giving us a gorgeous look at life in 41st century Japan especially the dark ruthless side of utopia. A wonderful issue!