Thursday, November 27, 2014

Comics this week

Earth 2: World’s End #8- One thing I’ve discovered about World’s End is that the issues tend to jump. Here we have a riot in the refugee camp and the issue told us to read Earth 2 to know what had happened. There we have Constantine breaking 4 villains out of stasis and we were told to read the main Constantine series to know what happened. Come on DC, this is a WEEKLY series! You’re telling me even with a WEEKLY series, I still need to go elsewhere to know what’s happening in this series? That just sucks.  

Scarlet Spiders #1- One of the worst storylines Spiderman ever had is the horror that was “The Clone Saga”. It was total crap, right up there alongside Brand New Day. So I was kind of shaking my head when I read that Scarlet Spiders is a mini-series starring 3 (count them; 3!) clones. I admit the concept make sense; who better to send to destroy a clone factory than clones themselves. So Ultimate Jessica Drew, Kaine and Ben Reilly were sent on this suicide mission to the home dimension of the Inheritors where they met with strange variations of Tony Stark and Johnny Storm. The resulting issue wasn’t bad but it doesn’t reach the heights of Spiderverse. In fact, this issue seems and read like a filler issue, and that’s something Spiderverse does not need.

Spiderman 2099 #6- Although I’m not a huge Spiderman fan, I am very familiar with Miguel O'Hara as a friend of mine collected the Spiderman 2099 series. So it was nice to him back in action, and in 2099! Happening immediately after Amazing Spider-Man #10, this issue sees Miguel, Lady Spider and six-armed Spider-Man running from the Inheritor, Daemos. I found this issue to be a mixed bag. I enjoyed the character development of Lady Spider as the prim and proper May took her chance to be a little fun and flirty away from her Victorian time, but why did they kill the six-armed Spider-Man? I know Spiderverse is about dead Spiders but I thought the six-armed Spider was a fun character to have around (especially how funny it was he had to explain how he got six arms every single time he meet a new Spider). Still, on the whole this was an excellent issue and a worthy addition to Spiderverse. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ban That Means Nothing

Last week, I laughed at the online petition to ban US-based "pick-up artist" Julien Blanc from entering Singapore. I mean a petition to ban someone who didn’t have any intention of entering the country? That just makes no sense right?

Well, the Singapore government obviously don’t care much about making sense because they just agreed with the petition to “ban” the man from Singapore. According to the government statement, Mr. Blanc is barred from entering Singapore "especially if he is here to hold seminars or events that propagate violence against women".

All great and swell, everyone can thump his/her chest and say they did a good thing. Only one problem; the man wasn’t coming to Singapore. He never had any intention of coming to Singapore. So to ban him from coming to a country which he wasn't going to means…well, nothing. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nothing Learned

U.S Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, has resigned as reports surfaced about differences between him and U.S President Barack Obama. In short, Mr Hagel and President Obama have different opinions about whether to commit more American troops to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Currently, it’s too early to tell which way President Obama will lean but the fact that it’s still a question is shocking for me. After a decade of non-stop war in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m amazed the United States of America still want to fight. Has nothing been learned in America?

Before you went into Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States of America was the hyper-power of the world. Since then, the U.S went into the Great Recession, had a housing bubble burst, and had their international reputation went into the toilet.

Now you are thinking of putting more troops into Iraq, and even intend to add Syria into that list? Truly, has nothing been learned in America? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dishonored: Game of the Year

“Dishonored: Game of the Year” is the GOTY edition of the stealth action-adventure video game first released in 2012. Developed by Arkane Studios, the studio that made Bioshock 2, I found Dishonored to be a game that doesn’t change the stealth playing field but it does do a lot of things very well.

Set in the Victorian, steam-punk city of Dunwall, you play as Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles. Quickly, you are framed for her murder and the kidnapping of the young princess, Emily. After escaping from prison with the help of the Loyalists, a resistance group fighting to reclaim Dunwall, you seek vengeance on those who framed you and also come into contact with the Outsider, a powerful magical being who (for some reason) imbues you with magical abilities.

Played from a first-person perspective, the game will remind players a lot of games like Thief but with more combat. Don’t get me wrong, Dishonored is primarily a stealth game but the game does allow you to undertake the missions in a variety of ways. For example, you can carry out your assassination missions by killing no one but the target; or you can murder everyone in your path when getting to the target.

The game does allow you to complete all missions in a non-lethal manner or vice-verse, and the story will accordingly to your decisions. The variety of choice is one of the game’s main selling points and I liked it. I can complete my mission through stealth, combat, or (usually) a combination of both and the many ways for accomplishing mission goals is something I enjoy.

I also liked the very well thought-out lore. I’m not really a fan of steam-punk (never understood the fascination) but the setting of Dunwall is very good. The idea that the main energy source is whale oil is wonderful and makes a lot of sense in the context of the game. Also the idea of the Outsider is great. The world of Dishonored is basically one well into the early industrial age, so much so that most magic in the world had been forgotten and considered dangerous and “evil”.

The city of Dunwall is also one that is very well thought-out. A city ravaged by plague, Arkane Studios captured the atmosphere of the game very well. The city is stunning but it clearly had seen better days and the bright but grim city captures everything. Even the rich/poor divide of the city was well-captured.

However, I do find some problems with the game. I thought the story has some plot-holes in it. The game never told us why the Outsider chose to give magical powers to Corvo, and if you go the non-lethal, why all the Loyalists killed themselves at the end. I mean if you hadn’t killed anyone thus far, why do they think I will start now? I thought the story in the DLCs, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, to be much better. The story of the assassin, Daud, actually makes more sense than Corvo’s and when the story of the DLC beat the main game, that’s a problem.

Still, I think “Dishonored: Game of the Year” is a good game to get. The freedom of gameplay is great and the levels are generally very clever. The game has a lot of replay value and outside the story, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not great but it’s fun and ultimately, that’s the most important thing for a video game.  

Friday, November 21, 2014


Remember the old Spiderman jingle, “Spiderman, where are you coming from? Spiderman…” Well, Spiderman came from Stanford University.

A team of researchers from Stanford University has invented a silicone pad that will allow man to scale walls like Spiderman. According to reports from various news agencies, the new pads invented is different from current equipment available is that a person’s weight will have no bearing on his ability to climb.

What’s more is that the pads were invented jointly with the American military who are thinking of a suit that will help soldiers climbing high walls without the need for ropes and ladders.

Spider-Suit, coming up! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Comics this week

Deadly Class #9- I must say I’m not a big fan of Maria but after this issue, I’m beginning to understand her a little. Writer Rick Remender sent us on a flashback, showing us the origin of Maria and the amazing skills she possesses. Artist Wes Craig outdid himself on the fight between Victor and Maria and the almost inevitable fight between Maria and Saya is something I’m really look forward to. The only drawback is Marcus. I know he’s the main character and has a psycho rep in the school but outside that, what do the girls see in him? A reputation can only bring you so far.

Amazing Spiderman #10- Officially Part 2 of Spiderverse, #10 has so many Spiders that even the most hardcore Spiderman fan’s head will spin. Looking back, I have to say it should be obvious that there are 2 groups of Spiders looking to take on the Inheritors, but it came as a bit of a surprise when the two groups first met up. Writer Dan Slott divided the 2 teams pretty well as the group led by Superior Spider-Man is more dangerous while the group led by our normal Spiderman is the better team. As the 2 groups interact in the future, the conflict should be nice to watch. However this issue was bogged down by the “need” to spilt the Spiders which I could have done without. Portals to everywhere got open as Marvel had to set things up for the #1 of Spider-woman, Scarlet Spiders and Silk. Thank goodness Spider Gwen #1 only comes after the event closes or they have to set that one up as well. Good issue that was damaged by the setups.

Spider-woman #1- I picked this up strictly because it’s part of the Spiderverse checklist and after reading it, anyone who thinks of picking this up need to get Spiderverse or nothing will make sense. Though it state there #1, the debut of Spider-woman is a Spiderverse affair. I mean the issue starts with Spider-woman, Silk and Spiderman Noir in an alternate Earth, on the run from the Twins of the Inheritors. The group then jumped to Noir Earth where Anya and Spider Gwen show up! Try making sense of that without reading Spiderverse! It's pretty much impossible. #1 is a pretty good issue but pick up Spiderverse before reading this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Transcab Cancelled IPO

It was supposed to be one of the more high-profile IPO (initial public offering) in Singapore this year. However taxi operator Trans-Cab’s IPO has now been called off.

Why the cancellation you asked? Well, Transcab decided to cancel the IPO after discovering that it is liable to pay an additional insurance premium worth $1.83m! According to the company, Trans-cab revealed that its insurer has rendered the amount as a “premium adjustment” based on cumulative accident claims against the company's taxi fleet.

Well, that’s great timing isn’t it? Just days after Transcab announced it’s intention to float on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), it’s insurance company announced that they will need Transcab to pay more for their vehicle insurance.

Yes, I’m sure they will say the timing is nothing but a coincidence but let us be serious here; it is not! So I have to wonder just how legal this is. Can an insurance company just announce an “adjustment” to an insurance premium for no reason?

If the answer is yes, then I think we can forget about any transport company being listed in SGX. No transport company in the world in their right mind will list here. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jumping On A Bandwagon

Before this week, I had never heard of Julien Blanc. Now, it seems the man is everywhere, including Singapore!

It all started when Brazil (of all country) decided to rejected Blanc’s visa application. The reason? Blanc is a self-proclaimed pick-up artist who teaches seminars on how to pick up women. His methods involve physical and emotional abuse, including choking women. Many have used social media to slam his teachings as misogynistic and promoting sexual violence. 

Now a petition started by a Singaporean woman, Charis Mah, aims to ban Blanc from ever entering Singapore. There’s only one problem with that; Blanc has no plans of ever coming to Singapore!

Wait for a moment; we are trying to ban a man (who has committed no crime) from entering Singapore even though he is not trying to enter Singapore? Ever heard of jumping on a bandwagon? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

A $1.92 million Sacrifice

Would you a miss a chance for a $1.92 million payday for your country? If you are Roger Federer, then the answer is yes.

The 33-year-old Swiss world no. 2 was “forced” to pull out of the ATP World Tour Final showdown with world number one Novak Djokovic due to injury. Federer, who personally apologized to the crowd, said that he was not "match-fit" after developing a back problem.

I don’t buy it.

Partnering with compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, Federer has a date next week when he will try to get one of the few major honors missing from his cabinet, the Davis Cup. Yes, you can argue he missed the match against Djokovic because he was chasing personal records, but it was a match worth $1.92 million! And he skipped it to save himself for the Davis Cup!

For those of you arguing that he could really be injured…well, let just say I won’t be surprised if Federer line up next week for Switzerland alongside Wawrinka against France. Multi-millionaire or not, talk about a sacrifice. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

In Defense of Sim Lim Square

Last week, reports came out about how a Vietnamese tourist in Singapore was scammed out of S$550 when buying an iPhone 6 at the IT retail complex, Sim Lim Square. Since then, Singaporeans has been saying how Singapore should “clean up” Sim Lim Square.

I must say I’m very puzzled by all the woo hah! I honestly can’t see why Singaporeans are so surprised by the incident. I had been going to Sim Lim for over 15 years (back when the stores there sell shall we say disreputable goods) and I’m not at all surprised by the incident. In fact, I would say the incident isn’t just expected, it is accepted.

Why? Because it is Sim Lim Square! Stores there practicing sales tactics that border on the illegal is nothing new, it has always been that way. Hell, I remember a time when the stores there sell things that were outright illegal. Isn’t there truly really anyone surprised by this?

For those of you saying that tourists do not know the reputation of Sim Lim Square, I’ll say tourists have no business going there in the first place. All this talk about “cleaning up” is counterproductive for Sim Lim Square. Let’s admit it; Sim Lim Square is nothing special if not for its stores and reputation.

It’s what give the building it’s edge. Without that, it’s just another shopping complex (and a pretty lousy looking one at that). If you are not happy about the practices of the stores there, then don’t go there. There’s always Funan. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Comics this week

Copperhead #3- Till now, Copperhead has been trying to be space western/murder mystery/family drama, all at the same time. It's a show of writer Jay Faerber's skill that thus far he had managed to juggle so many balls in the air so well. Artist Scott Godlewski has been ably assisting him by producing some excellent clean art. Having said all that, I have to wonder how things would be in a few issues time when more things are introduced and the world get bigger. Thus far, the series is still strong.

Earth 2: World’s End #6- The fightback continues as the World Government and the Earth's defenders make their stand and (finally) put a dent in Darkseid's forces. However I have to wonder about the last page reveal. I mean of all the people in the world, the White picked him? Why? I can't think of a single reason why and how that could be considered a good choice. In fact, it stick out like a sore thumb.

Spider-Verse #1- I must say I'm surprised that #1 of Spider-Verse has so little to do with the Spider-Verse crossover. Instead of being a part of the crossover, #1 is actually six stories showing the various Spiders of the multiverse and you know what; I'm shocked at how well it worked! Not only are the Spiders different, I love the stylish ways the stories were presented. Lady Spider is a steampunk story while Penelope Parker is...a Powerpuff Girl! Okay, not all of them work but there are some real gems here and I love it when writers and artists take risks. That's Spider-Verse #1 is. A risk-taking issue with more plus than minus. Take a look. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It Was A Mistake

It’s widely accepted that former American President George W. Bush was the worst U.S President America had in living memory, mostly due to the costly Iraqi War. Personally, I always thought that the man was well-meaning but incapable of the job.

One of the things he also appear incapable of is admitting a mistake. To this day, George W. Bush do not believe invading Iraq! In a recent interview, George W. Bush insists sending troops into Iraq was “the right decision” and he only regret the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in parts of Iraq.

Well guess what? The world only has the problems on ISIS because of the decision to send troops into Iraq! So if you "regret" the rise of ISIS, shouldn't "regret" the decision to send troops into Iraq. That’s not even counting the fact that you ordered troops into Iraq on pretense. Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and did not have a nuclear program.

Not if you are George W. Bush. Such details don’t seem to register with him and 6 years after leaving the White House, he is still incapable of seeing what the world already knows. 

Going into Iraq opened a can of worms that the world is grappling with to this day. Going into Iraq was a mistake! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lee Chong Wei’s Coming Suspension

When former world no 1 Lee Chong Wei’s tested for positive for drugs, I thought it was a normal case of a top athlete using drugs for an edge. Badminton might not have a history of athletes using enhancing performance drugs, but it’s hardly a shocking development.

This is however big news in Malaysia where Lee is a national hero. Now there denying that drugs were found in Lee Chong Wei’s urine sample on Aug 30 when he was tested during the World Championship semifinal, but reports coming out say that the drugs found in Lee were not performance-enhancing.

The problem seemingly came about during July 17 when Lee underwent surgery and a banned substance, dexamethasone, was injected into the world No. 1 was part of the surgical procedure. Although I’m not convinced that this is true, I am convinced that it does not happen. Drugs were found in Lee Chong Wei’s urine sample and to the authorities, that’s the end of the matter. He will get banned. 

In many ways, Lee’s case remind me of the case of Alberto Contador. In September 2010, Contador tested positive for a banned substance, clenbuterol, but in an amount 400 times less than what would be required for it to effect his performance. Contador blamed the incident on meat he ate as clenbuterol is a drug commonly used to “fatten” the animals. Almost everyone agreed that this was possible, even likely, but Contador was still suspended.

I doubt Lee’s case will be any different. Even if this was a simple mistake, it does not matter. Lee will still get suspended. In many ways, I almost wish the reports coming out of Malaysia are wrong and this was NOT a simple mistake.

If Lee is going to get suspended, I rather he got it for something he actually did. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Insane WOW Player With 29 Max Characters

In the genre of MMORPG, the World of Warcraft (WOW) is king of the hill. Many MMOs has been released since WOW first came on the stage and every once in awhile, one of them will be called the “WOW-killer”.

None has succeeded and while it's pretenders fall by the wayside, WOW is still going strong. So the question is, “Can any MMO really take over the throne from WOW?” The answer is probably not because WOW is a game with some die-hard fans.

Case in point: Brendan "Tibs" Thibodeau.

A WOW player since 2005 (9 years!), Tibs became a WOW legend by the fact that he had attended six BlizzCons and been at the front of the line for four of those. Not only that, he is again first in line at this year’s BlizzCons.

Just in case you think this is a guy who just stand in line for the conventions, Tibs proudly admits to having 29 max level characters with five legendary cloaks among them. Holy shit! The most number of max characters I had even heard of was a player in SWTOR with 16 max characters. This guy has 13 more than that!

So all those guys on the internet saying WOW’s time is over, I say you are dreaming. With (insane) fans like Tibs, I think WOW will be top of the MMORPG hill for quite some time. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Comics this week

Birthright #2- After the stunningly intriguing debut issue, writer Joshua Williamson had a lot to live up to. It's common knowledge that for most new series, most of the time #2 does not hit the heights of #1. That is not a problem with Birthright as Williamson again hit it out of the park. The debut issue was a family drama about a family finding their lost son but this issue was action as the secretly fallen hero tore through a police station and artist Andrei Bressan showed the bloody vicious action with total relish. Looking at his art, I truly believed in two things; this guy is a great warrior and the police officer are truly outmatched. The police has guns while the warrior only has swords and shields but those officers has no chance. A superb follow-up! 

Earth 2: World’s End #5- After a month of showing how deadly Darkseid's forces are, the shoe finally falls as the World Government and Earth's defenders make their move. Although part of the issue is on Sloan and Mr. Terrific's new inventions, I'm far more interested in the Parliament's alliance. The Green allied with The Gray? Man, Earth 2 must really be in trouble for that to happen. If nothing else, Alan Scott and Soloman Grundy would be the odd couple of the year and seeing them together should be fun! 

Amazing Spiderman #9- Spiderverse starts here and if the rest of the Spider-event is anything like this issue then everyone can officially say Spiderman is back! Marvel wasn’t kidding when they say writer Dan Slott is a Spider-nerd because almost every Spider I can think of is here. I especially like the humor peppered throughout the issue (stop looking at the butt!). Not only that, Slott is proud enough of his work that he forgo the usual Spider suspects and instead focus the story on the more marginal Spidermen like Spider-UK, Spider Ham and Mayday Parker. Silk made nothing but a cameo while Spider-woman was almost wallpaper. Now that takes guts and the issue was better for it. Bring on the rest! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chuck Blazer; American Spy?

By now, everyone know that FIFA is a den of corruption where money rules. Russia's successful 2018 World Cup as well as Qatar's successful 2022 have both come under the microscope as money politics have been named as the main reason why both countries were successful in their bid.

Honestly, what else is new? Money has always talk the loudest in FIFA. 

What's new is that the FBI has now been linked to the former head of CONCACAF (the football's governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean), Chuck Blazer. Chuck Blazer, once one the most powerful man in world football, has been reported by the New York Daily as an FBI informant used to spy on FIFA since 2011.

According to the report by the newspaper, Blazer was working for the FBI from 2011 and secretly recorded conversations with various officials throughout the world. These includes private meetings as well as meetings within FIFA's executive committee.

If this is true, and thus far no one has denied them, it would explain why FIFA has refused to release the investigation report on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The corruption probe has been finished for months but FIFA has thus far refused to release the report to the public due to “legal reasons”. Hell if one of their top members was a FBI spy for years and they never known about it, I can see why they would have “legal reasons” not to release that info.

It doesn’t take a lot to imagine the damage such information could do to FIFA. I mean one of their main rules is “no government interference” in the running of the country’s football association and yet they have a FBI spy on their executive committee for years?

Man, that's one report FIFA would not want to see the light of day. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Get The Best, Not The Best Woman

As Marvel Studios revealed their “Phase 3” movies in response to Warner Brothers’ slate of DC movies, a lot of attention has been spent on the Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot. Most notably, a lot of people are saying that the Amazonian heroine's big screen debut should be directed by a woman.

Sorry but I think that kind of thinking is a mistake. Yes, I know Wonder Woman is supposed to be a big female empowerment icon in the West but I honestly don’t care if the director is male or female and I don’t think I’m alone. Fans want a good movie, whether the director is a man or woman does not come into the equation. Assuming that the director of a Wonder Woman movie MUST be a woman is just limiting your options of who the director should be.

I mean by that thinking, a Chinese director from Taiwan has no business directing Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain or Life of Pi! So forget about getting a female director for Wonder Woman, just go and get the BEST director for the job.

Monday, November 3, 2014

World-Class Rugby In Singapore?

When I read that Singapore has clinched a 4 year deal to host a leg of the IRB (International Rugby Board) Sevens World Series at its state-of-the-art new National Stadium starting from next year, a question immediately popped into my mind; Why?

Now I know the agreement is a coup for the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) but rugby in Singapore is like ice-hockey; sure everyone heard of the sport but few seen it and fewer actually played it. Basically, outside the school level, Singapore rugby is almost non-existent!

So why are we spending money on an world-class international tournament which has no Singapore involvement? At least I hope not because if there's a Singapore team in the tournament, they are going be get smashed! I mean let's admit it; Singapore rugby isn't even the best in Asia. We get our national team to play world class teams, even at home in Singapore, our team is going to get destroyed.

Sad to say, the Sevens World Series rugby in Singapore is like the World Cup in Qatar. A popular sport in a country that has no place hosting it.