Thursday, December 31, 2015

Not As Popular

Today on the radio, some DJ was interviewing a local football official about the state of the game in Singapore right now and what can be done to improve the game. The official gave a surprising fact to the DJ; some schools in Singapore are not offering the game as a CCA anymore.

I was surprised but at the same time, I know I should not be.

The official said the blame for this was due to the fact schools now only offer sports which they can win in. This means the sports they offered and put resources in are sports which they are traditionally good at. As he said, "If you are not going to win, then don't play."

I don't think that's quite right.

Now I won't discount the reason the official gave as totally incorrect but I think there's one more reason the official has not said. Football is just not as popular among the young as it used to be.

I say this because...well, a lot of kids nowadays can no longer watch football on TV. Ever since Singtel got the EPL rights and jacked up the price, I have not subscribed. I don't think I'm the only one who didn't. A lot of people who used to regularly watch football on Saturday night now no longer do so. Their kids who would watch the game with their fathers now would also not be able to watch the game.

Without the exposure of the EPL, it's little wonder football has dropped in popularity in Singapore. Older fans are still fans, but for the young who don't watch the EPL (or watched it irregularly), football is just not as important to them as it was when I was young. It's natural.    

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fault and Recovery

The movie: The Force Awakens
The location: Golden Village Vivocity IMAX
The time: 6.35pm

About a quarter of the movie gone and..."Sorry but we are facing technical difficulties."

That's right. Tonight I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a quarter of the movie in, I faced the blue screen of death. At a movie theater! Even after the movie restarted, there was audio problems throughout the movie. Static noise came out, making the movie slow, quiet moments a non-starter. After the movie ends however, Golden Village offered everyone in the theater a full refund with a complimentary pass to another movie which I must use by the end of February 2016.  

The movie was destroyed by the technical problems (and it wasn't very good to begin with) but Golden Village did what they could. Full refund with a free movie ticket? Well, I guess I could withdraw the complaint email I was going to sent to Golden Village.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Comics this week

Jupiter's Circle Vol. 2 #2- t the end of the first volume of Jupiter's Circle, Skyfox left the team and it seems the stage was set for him to turn villain. Writer Mark Millar now set the stage with a surprising portrayal that's far different from his protayal in volume 1. At the start of the issue, Skyfox has retired from the superhero life and is slumping around with 60s counterculture icons. However the 60s is America was a time of great change and whereas Sheldon and gang tow the official superhero line of non-inference, a retired superhero like Skyfox don't feel he has to tow the same line and could do what he thinks is right. You can easily see the murky middle ground between the two sides and it would not really be all that surprising if Skyfox gets into trouble with the U.S government of that time.

Payback #4- If there was any doubts , this issue settled it. Paybacks is a villain book. The members of the team are not a group of villains per say, but they do work for a villain. Money is everything for Mr. Pierce and control is a close second. The ruthless way he ordered the assassination of Skisquatch shown his colors clearly and Bloodpatch's reaction to the (seemingly) death of his partner set things up for the future. The twist in the end of Ms. Adventure was also a nice touch. Things are looking up for the future.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Returning A Skull

Nicholas Cage is a great actor. He is also one hell of a weirdo. However one thing I must say is that he earned my admiration when he made the right decision to return his rare dinosaur skull back to the Mongolian government.

According to reports, Cage won an auction for a Tyrannosaurus bataar skull in 2007. He paid US$276,000 to a gallery for the rare dinosaur skull but last year was informed by the US Department of Homeland Security that the item was stolen from Mongolia. The Mongolian government requested that the actor returned the skull and Cage agreed.

Now, I have no idea why anyone would paid a quarter of a million dollars for a dinosaur skull but for him to just agree to return the item without fighting the matter in court is something worth admiring. According to all reports, Cage was totally unaware the skull had been stolen and bought the item in good faith as the gallery he bought it from had all the right (faked) documents. So he actually had a case, but he choose not to fight it and return the skull to the rightful owner.

He may be strange but he did the right thing here. Good for you Nicholas Cage!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jose Mourinho for Louis van Gaal

When Louis van Gaal was appointed manger of Manchester United, I thought it was a strange choice. The man has a great CV, but I never rate LVG very highly and thought he’ll be a bad fit. Half a season later and that seems to be the case.

Results wise, Man Utd is doing okay. They are fifth in the Premiership but only on goal difference. For a good chunk of the season, they were in the top 4. That’s not good enough for Man Utd fans and pressure is mounting on the embattled Manchester United manager especially regarding the fact that his Man Utd do not attack enough. Speculation is that LVG will be axed and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be his replacement.

Wait a minute; What?

Fans are complaining that Louis van Gaal don’t attack enough, and the Man Utd board think that’s something that’s going to change under cynical win-at-all cost Jose Mourinho? Do you guys even watch teams that played under Jose Mourinho? Since when has Jose become a manager whose team “attack”? He’s more likely to put 11 guys behind the ball than come out with an attacking formation.

Like I said earlier, I thought Louis van Gaal was a bad fit for Man Utd. I think the same can be said for Jose Mourinho; only worse! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Wrong Winner At Miss Universe 2015

WTF? I, like many people throughout the world, had that reaction when I heard that the host of the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant uh...misread the winner? One live TV!

Host Steve Harvey announced Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, as the winner of the Miss Universe Pageant. Then, a few minutes later, he admitted his misread his cue cards and announced Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach had, in fact, won the crown.

Not to kick a dog while it's down but WTF?

I read that host Steve Harvey is a comedian; well he must have mixed up his work because this was one hell of a joke. Yes, there's pressure but come on. How in the world could you possibly make such a mistake? Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach won't mind too much but you have to feel for Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez. She must be feeling terrible.

For host Steve Harvey; mistakes happen but sorry man, this was a big one. Stick to your day job as a comedian; no more hosting job for you.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Sacking Of Jose Mourinho

The biggest sporting news today is without question the sacking of Jose Mourinho. 7 months after winning the English Premiership for the third time, Mourinho was sacked after a terrible season thus far that left Chelsea FC just a point above the relegation zone.

With results like that, I don’t think anyone can begrudge Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's decision for getting rid of “The Special One”. In fact the question has been why Abramovich took so long before making his decision. After all, the man’s ruthless streak has been well-documented. Carlos Ancelotti was sacked one season after leading Chelsea to the double just because he finished second to Man Utd. Roberto Di Matteo won the Champion League with Chelsea in 2012 and that wasn’t enough to save him from getting the sack in the same year.

Chelsea is now fifth from the bottom of the Premiership and 1 point above relegation. Why did Abramovich took so long before making the decision? In simple terms; money! That’s what stood out for me when I heard that Mourinho had been sacked. The man is going to get a £40m payout from Chelsea after getting the sack. With a payout like that, I have to wonder why in the world did Chelsea sack the man at this moment.

Chelsea is too far down the table to make a run for the Champions League, much less win the title. There’s not too many players available in the January transfer window, and Pep Guardiola’s contract with Bayern Munich only expire at the end of this season.

You can’t win at this moment; can’t buy good players next month; no good replacement for Mourinho; and have to pay him £40m! Sorry Roman, but you got it wrong. You should only sack “The Special One” at the end of the season.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Comics this week

Justice League #46- After the last few issues where almost everything was blown out of the water, I could forgive writer Geoff Johns for a setup issue. After the last issue, many were left wondering about the continuation of this storyline. After all, can there be a “Darkseid War” when Darkseid is dead?  The answer is a big “Yes” as the other players in the game made their moves on the Anti-Monitor. A lot of the credit for this issue falls to artist Francis Manapul who seems to be having fun. Bring forth the next chapter!

Web Warriors #02- Electro-Horse, “It’s a pig!” Spider-Ham, “It’s a horse!” Just like that, Mike Costa sold me on this issue. It’s fun; it’s weird; it’s a blast! I thought of picking this up till the end of the first arc, but if this continues I may have to consider putting this under “ongoing collection”. It’s that fun of a read.  

We Stand On Guard #6- I admit; I thought this was an ongoing series but now found out that it isn't. No matter because if this was the last ever issue of We Stand On Guard, it was one hell of a way to close the story. Sacrifices were made by members of the Two-Four with Amber finally showing us readers why she's the main character thus far. Not only that, the story shows us why war is always a nasty thing to be avoided at all cost. I don't know if writer Brian K. Vaughan intend to keep the series going later but if he do, I'll be there to pick it up.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Expectations of The Force Awakens

One week before the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I will play the devil advocate and say this to Star Wars fans; Guys, lower your expectations. 

Fans in America have already been lining up to see the movie and I have to worry if the movie will ever do justice to the sky high expectations of fans. Forget about the fact that the last 3 films (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) were the weakness of the six movies, the simple fact is that even if J.J. Abrams do a good job in The Force Awakens, it might still not be enough. 

The original Star Wars movies are now more than just films; they are cultural icons. Fair or not, that's the yardstick that The Force Awakens will be measured against. People are hoping that The Force Awakens will be the new A New Hope. Honestly, I don't think that's fair.

The original trilogy were made between 1977 to 1983; it is now 2015. Times have changed, and I do not think this new or any future Star Wars movies will ever match the original trilogy. In fact, I think it's grossly unfair to even expect the new movies to match the original films.   

Don't get me wrong; I hope it will measure up to the originals but I don't think anyone should expect it to. Guys, lower your expectations and let The Force Awakens stand on it's own. That's the only way to be fair to it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tighten The Rules

Every year, shopping centers in Singapore would put up Christmas decorations to celebrate Christmas…and to draw in more customers. I’m not a fan of these decorations because they are put up way too earlier and the shopping centers usually operate on a format of cramping in as many lights as they can in as small as a space as they can.

So it comes as no surprise that for the second time in as many weeks, a Christmas decoration along Orchard Street had caught fire. Last week, a Christmas tree outside Knightsbridge mall caught fire. Yesterday night, a street lamp outside Peranakan Place caught fire. Next week…your guess is as good as mine.

The Singapore government needs to look into ways to restrict all these silly Christmas decorations. I know there is currently an advisory in place for festive season fire safety but come on; considering the number of lights switched on along Orchard Road, it’s a very loose advisory. Let’s not give more work to the people in our Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Comics this week

Earth 2: Society #7- What a finish! You know a show that started poorly but was then saved by a strong finish? (Cough, Netflix’s Daredevil, cough) Well, that’s the case with Earth 2. The series started poorly but I feel writer Daniel H. Wilson may have saved the series with a great finish to the first arc. The various heroes of Earth 2 joined in to stop Doctor Impossible and by the end, you got the definite feeling that this was the beginning of something great. Justice Society; here we come! 

Secret Wars #8- The limp to the finish line continues as writer Jonathan Hickman forgo all pretense of character and plot development and just gave artist Esad Ribic license to deliver nonstop action. Marvel’s decision to delay the finish of this event series now actually make sense as Ribic had a ton of fun with all the heroes, villains, Negative Zone bugs and Marvel Zombies. Considering how poor (or non-existent) the writing is, it’s great news for Marvel they had Ribic on board. Without his work, this issue would be nowhere near as impressive as it was.

The Troop #1- Known for its Assassin Creed adaptation, Titan Comics now venture into superhero territory with The Troop. After reading #1, I think they may have a winner here. Writer Noel Clarke ticked a lot of boxes but in a way that is just different enough to be interesting. Artist J. Cassara compliments the writing beautifully with detail art that’s expresses the characters’ feelings with gusto. I picked this up with no expectations whatsoever, and finished it feeling this could be the sleeper hit of the year. Take a look, it’s well worth it.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tomb Raider

I’m not a fan of Tomb Raider. In the long history of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider, I think I had played only 1 of the games (forgotten which one) and seen 1 of the movies (mainly due to the then young and still hot Angelina Jolie). So it’s fair to say I’m not a fan.

This game changed that.  

Tomb Raider is a 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise showing a young, green and inexperienced Lara Croft in her first adventure. For that reason, it has been dubbed Tomb Raider: Year 1 by many fans. In many ways, Tomb Raider: Year 1 is correct.

The game begins with Lara setting out on her first expedition aboard the ship Endurance, with the intention of finding the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Against the advice of others, she ordered the expedition to venture into the Dragon's Triangle, an area east of Japan known for its violent storms. The ship was struck by a violent storm and shipwrecked, leaving the survivors stranded on an isolated island.

Lara was one of the survivors and as she tried to locate the other survivors of her ship, she found evidence that the island was inhabited. Strange carvings, dead bodies, animal sacrifices, cultists all proved to her that the island had been inhabited for a long time and that the island she washed up on was the legendary island of Yamatai. Not only that, she became convinced that there was something mystical about the island.

However the story of Tomb Raider takes a backseat to the gameplay and the characterization of Lara. The game emphasized the origins of Lara, showing her development to become the character everyone knows and love. Many people say this was the highlight of the game and I fully agree on that. After playing the game, I finally get it. I finally understand why so many people love Lara Croft so much. Like I said earlier, this game made me a fan.

I especially liked the fact that this Lara Croft was one who bleeds and gets dirty. Good use of cut-scenes shows Lara hurt, injured and desperate. Even when you were in-game playing Lara, you could see the dirt on her and that by itself makes this game better than previous Tomb Raider games.  The game also made sure to show that Lara is no saint. She makes mistakes and has a tendency to believe she knows better than everyone, even when she acknowledges that others were more experience than she was.

Not only that, the gameplay was excellent. The visual of Yamatai was great and the game itself was exciting. Many times during combat, I found myself holding my breath. Some of the puzzles and hidden tomb locations were also very well done.

Of course the game was not perfect. The multiplayer was non-existent because…well, no one’s there. A lot of the achievements in the game are in the multiplayer so if you are one of those who aims for 100% completion; sorry but you’re out of luck.

Also, Lara Croft was emphasized so much in the game the rest of the cast became pretty forgettable. Most of them could be easily be put into generic tropes like dead mentor, insane bad-guy, lovelorn potential boyfriend etc. Tomb Raider was about Lara Croft, Lara is the Tomb Raider. Everyone else was a secondary character that weren't worth remembering.

Overall, Tomb Raider is a game I would highly recommend. It’s an exciting action-adventure game that would not only please old fans of Lara Croft but also bring new fans to the franchise. Bring forth the sequel; Rise of the Tomb Raider!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

38 Oxley Road

Should the bungalow at 38 Oxley Road be torn down?

For those who do not know, this bungalow was the home of the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his family now want to tear it down as per the wishes of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. However some misty-eyed Singaporeans now want the bungalow to be considered a National Heritage site due to its “deep historical value”.

Sorry but I don’t buy it. Yes, I’ sure there were some momentous decisions made in that house but to me, our wishes is secondary to the wishes of the man himself. Mr. Lee want the house to be demolished and considering what he had done for Singapore, respecting this minor request is the very least we should do.

Honestly, I don’t think there too much to argue about. The man wanted his house tore down. To me, that's should be it. Respect his wishes and do it. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Only In America

Despite a friend of mine always sending me Facebook posts on abuse of animals by Singaporeans, I’m not a big fan of pets and animals. The most I ever had were a couple of fishes and turtles as pets.

However sometimes news come out that just strike me.

One such piece of news comes from America where a man stabbed his dog to death with a samurai sword.  Douglas Joseph Hagler from North Carolina stabbed his dog, 13-month-old Siberian husky Koda, 11 times with his samurai sword and killed it.

For that, he was sentenced to 100 days in jail.

Really? Stabbing a dog, his own dog, to death with a sword and you just get 100 days in jail with 5 years probation. Only in America I guess. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Michelin Star?

Can a hawker stall in Singapore get a Michelin Star? That question is being asked in Singapore after news came out that a ramen stall in Japan got a Michelin Star. 

In the typical kaisu Singapore way, Singaporeans are now wondering if a Singapore hawker stall can do the same. After all, if a ramen stall in Japan with a grand seating capacity of just 9 seats can do it, why not in Singapore?

The answer is simple. In Singapore, we don't have the same food culture as in Japan. Most hawker stalls here sell food that are filling, cheap and quick to make. These are the main criteria for a stall in Singapore. Having great food (which usually means increase prices) is secondary.

Until this culture changes in Singapore, I highly doubt is any hawker stall in Singapore will ever get a Michelin Star. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Comics this week

Plutona #3- When we were kids, everyone dreamt of being a superhero. Now imagine you are in a world with superheroes but you don't have any superpowers. What would you do to get a chance, just a chance, of having those powers? In Plutona, writers Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox show us with 2 kids desecrating the corpse of a beloved superhero just for that chance. When it was revealed what Teddy was going with the corpse, I could not believe it and I sure as hell did not expect it. What a twist! 

Monday, November 30, 2015

No Innocent

Almost everyone is talking about the Uber driver who got hit by a LTA (Land Transport Authority) enforcement officer. Most are talking about how the officer is beating up an old man, but there’s one thing I have to say after watching the video.

The guy was asking for it.

Seriously, I think anyone watching the video can safely conclude that the Uber driver was acting very aggressively against the LTA officer. According to Sunday Times report, the driver actually provoked LTA officer to book him and had been waiting at the taxi-stand for his passenger.

So the Uber driver was in the wrong waiting at the taxi-stand and when the officer arrived, he challenged the officer? I won’t say the officer was right in hitting the Uber driver but…well, you have to say the guy was asking for it. 

The LTA officer may be in the wrong, but after seeing the video I can't say the Uber driver was in the right. All I can say is that in this situation, no one comes out of it an angel. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Comics this week

Jupiter's Circle Vol. 2 #1- There was a time when Utopian and Lady Liberty weren’t a couple? That caught me out because Sheldon and Grace has always been shown together but when you think about it, it was never mentioned in Jupiter's Circle before that they were a couple. Once that’s out of the way, I enjoyed this issue. Writer Frank Millar is clearly going after the Superman myths with Sheldon and Jane Sampson as Superman and Lois Lane, and Grace as Wonder Woman. The potential love triangle and the kick these characters get living civilian lives are very interesting. Hopefully, this new volume will reach the highs of Jupiter's Legacy.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1- I must say this debut issue surprised me. Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur was a Jack Kirby creation that is a bit of a cult hit among comic fans. Writers Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare now intend to bring the duo back but this time in present-day Marvel Universe. Rather surprisingly, it worked! Moon Boy is now replaced by Lunella Lafayette, Moon Girl, and she is a delight. A preteen girl with super intelligence, Lunella remains me a lot of Penny Akk in “Please don’t tell my parents I’m a supervillain”. Like Bad Penny, Moon Girl stands out and that’s never a bad thing for a lead. This debut issue spent a lot of time on the setup, but it look promising. Very promising.

Superman: Lois and Clark #2- They are supervillains! Really, that’s what I would think if I was the son of Lois and Clark. His mother has a gun and a plan ready when they were attacked. His father is always not around and is clearly hiding something. Being supervillains is as good of an answer as any right? Clearly the biggest plus to writer Dan Jurgens’ work is the family dynamics of the…White family, so much so that Intergang has become almost an afterthought. If the series continues on this vein, I’m okay with that. The White family is more interesting than a lot of mindless brawling. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Singapore Out Of The Malaysian Super League

Singapore will no longer be in the Malaysia Cup. 4 years after returning to the Malaysian League, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announced that Singapore will not be invited back next year for the Malaysian Super League. 

A lot of people were surprised by this, and I count myself among them. However what surprised me was the timing of the announcement, the current season is still on-going, and not the announcement itself. I always though Singapore's return to the Malaysian League was going to be a short affair and I was right. I never thought Singapore will be in the Malaysian League for the long term because well...I can't see what Malaysia is getting out of the deal?

The LionsXII participation in the Malaysian Super League got great interest in Singapore. Malaysian side Harimau Muda entry in the S.League is an after-thought. When Singapore left in 1994, Malaysian football survived and some would argued even thrived. The S-League is, and some would argued always has been, on life-support. We Singaporeans like to blow our own horn but the fact is that Singapore football need the Malaysian Super League far more than Malaysia need Singapore. They sure as hell don't need the local S-League. 

So the FAM decision does not surprise me. They are getting little to no return with Singapore's return to the Malaysian League so they are making the only decision that makes sense to them. Truthfully, looking at it from their point of view, they made the correct decision.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Russia Or Turkey?

What would NATO do if Turkey was the one who made the mistake? I have to ask that because right now the evidence is showing that this was what happened when a Russian fight jet was drown by an air-to-air missile fired by a Turkish F-16.

Turkey claimed that the Russian Sukhoi flew over Turkish territory but note the Turk's very careful statement. They say the Russian jet "flew over" Turkish territory, not that the jet was over Turkey when it was shot down. Russian President Vladimir Putin insists that the aircraft was not in Turkish airspace and was actually shot down over Syrian territory.

The problem for NATO is that he is right!

The Russian jet was 1 km in Syria when it was shot down and it's crash site was 4 km from the border. In fact, according to Ankara's own radar map, the Russian Sukhoi could at best be described as "crossing" over Turkish territory. Analysts has already weighted in saying the Russian jet flew over a small piece of Turkey that projects into Syria and this small piece of real estate would have taken the Russian jet only moments to fly over. Some even went as far as to say it would have taken less then 5 mins for the Russian jet to exit Turkish airspace after entering it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not known to make empty threats and he had all but promise consequences for this "stab in the back" committed by "accomplices of terrorists". So I have to ask what does NATO do now because when it comes to fighting ISIS, the Russian have a much bigger role to play than Turkey? The Turks may be in NATO but they are far more interested in ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than destroying ISIS. Last I checked, the recent Paris attacks were conducted not by Assad but by ISIS.

So NATO need to decide what is more important; getting rid of Assad or ISIS, because the downing of the Russian jet has crystallized the question for them. They need to pick a side between these 2 and tell both Turkey and Russia their position. Preferably, they will do it soon before Moscow decide on what form of retaliation to take against Turkey.

If NATO wait till then, it may be too late for everyone and the only winner in that scenario will be ISIS.

Video Games Nostalgia

Nostalgia is big business. People have always been willing to fork out massive amount of money for their childhood toys. Nowadays, those toys include video games.

So I guess it can't come as too much of a surprise that someone in Japan got a 3,000,0000 yen (US$24,417) payday for his 3,290 PlayStation games. Yes, you read that right. Someone still has games for the original PlayStation system, and he got 3,290 of them. To put it in context, according to Sony, there are about 7,978 PlayStation games in existence. This means this seller got about half of them!

I don't know if I should be worried or impressed. Considering the payout for the games, I guess it will have to be the latter.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Crazy Football Fans

I'm not a big fan of Rafael Benitez but when I read that his job as the boss of Spanish giant Real Madrid is under threat due to a 4-0 loss to arch rival Barcelona, I can't help but think what insane idiots football fans could be. 

Yes, losing 4-0 to Barcelona is bad but for fans to call for his resignation now is crazy. Rafael Benitez was only appointed to the post recently, and in the 16 games he had been in charge, Madrid had lost a grand total of just 2 games. Does that sound like the record of a manger doing a lousy job to you? If yes, why the hell is Jose still at Chelsea? 

This remains me of last season when Newcastle fans chased then manager Alan Pradew out of St. James Park despite him doing a good job there. Pradew is now chasing for a spot in Europe at Crystal Palace while Newcastle is in danger of relegation.  I hope the same thing happen now. I hope Madrid don't have any success this season. Their fans don't deserve it. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Waste Of Money

That's my thought when I heard that the LTA (Land Transport Authority) intend to design and build a system where people do not need to tap their Ezlink card when they enter or exit public transport like buses and the MRT.

The idea of a totally hands free system might sound good on paper but I really have to ask; do we really need such a system? I mean what's so hard about tapping your card when you enter the bus or the MRT? Is it that inconvenient and inefficient that we need to spend millions of dollars to develop such a system?

No! Why is LTA even considering this when the MRT trains keep breaking down every few weeks? If the LTA want to spend millions fixing the trains to prevent the breakdowns, then I'm all for it. Spending money on a hands free system? That's nothing but a total waste of money. Sorry LTA, but get your priority straight. Fix what's important.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Comics this week

Astro City #29- A lot of times, comic books has heroes charging to alien planets kicking butt and taking names. To these heroes (and to us reader), they are the good guys righting some wrongs. Writer Kurt Busiek is now trying to turn that on its head by having the latest story of Astro City set on one of these alien worlds that is being attacked by these Earth heroes. Honestly, this issue has a lot of world-building as Busiek try to give us insight to the culture and beliefs of the alien world. The info-dump is a little too much but the idea is great and between Busiek and artist Brent Anderson, I have no doubt, this arc is going to be great.

Ms. Marvel #1- What do you do when a young hero finally makes it? For Kamala Khan, she gets to join the Avengers and become the icon of Jersey. She has become one of those heroes she always admires. Now she has to face the fallout. She has little time for school and no time for romance. Taking the hint, her old friend Bruno now has a girlfriend and Kamala finds that she’s more than a little jealous of the new couple. Even though she has no right to because she was the one who said she can’t be in a romance with Bruno. She knows that but… Not only that, Ms. Marvel is accused of being a sellout by joining the big leagues and ignoring the people of Jersey. Writer G. Willow Wilson does a fine job here of showing the problems that comes with being a successful superhero. This new series is off to a good start.

Payback #3- This series has been a nice surprise thus far and writers Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal fully intend to continue that trend. The back-story of Ms. Adventure is pretty standard and I figured it out at the end of the last issue but the rest of the issue is great. The reasoning behind all the murders put a good twist to Mr. Pierce and I especially like the way it was Skisquatch and The Soviet Nunchuck (the two seemingly dumb brutes) who were the smart ones in this issue. The art by Geoff Shaw also seems to be getting better and better. Keep this going guys! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cap Roig, Spain

When Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away on Mar 23 at the age of 91, it was an important historic moment for Singapore. Mr Lee's influence cannot be underestimated in Singapore but his advise has been ought throughout Asia and the world.

Now it seems the world is honoring the man. Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan has officially unveiled a bust of Mr Lee in the gardens at Cap Roig, Spain. There are only two other busts of Mr Lee in public, both in Singapore. I'm a little amazed the first oversea bust of the man is in Spain but hey; that's still great!

Cap Roig, Spain. Tourist attraction for Singaporeans in the future.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Comics this week

Birthright #11- We all know that Mikey, the would-be Chosen One, has been co-opted by Lore and is now a vessel for Nevermind. At the end of this issue, we now also know see that his kid brother, Brennan, has a passenger aboard his soul. The Diviner, the entity sent to kill Mikey, is now with Brennan and like the Nevermind with Mikey, the Diviner is telling Brennan to keep his presence a secret. So now we have 2 brothers who has not seen each other in years on a road trip, both having an alien supernatural entity attached to their souls. Oh, and both of these entities ant to kill each other. Looks like it’s going to be a fun trip.

Darkseid War: Green Lantern #1- By now, I think it’s fair to say that the Darkseid War tie-ins has been a series of hits and misses. Green Lantern is without question a hit! I must say this issue perfectly captured the essence of Hal Jordan and what the character is about. His decision to turn into the God of Light and his subsequent decision to reject the godlike power is pure Hal Jordan. Writer Tom King hit it out of the park with this one. This is not just a mindless one-shot that cashes in on the Darkseid War, but a powerful emotional story that is by far the best Darkseid War tie-in so far. Pick this up!

Secret Wars #7- Once again I have the sneaky feeling I must have miss something that happened in one of the tie-ins? I mean I know Black Panther has the Infinity Gauntlet left behind by Doctor Strange but since when did the Infinity Gauntlet allowed its wearer to command undead zombies? I know Panther himself don’t have that power, at least not to that level, so what happened? Also doesn’t anyone knows that by taking down Doom, Battleworld will be destroyed and everyone in it will be too? What’s their plan to avoid total destruction? Secret Wars had a great start but the past few issues has been disappointing. Hopefully writer Jonathan Hickman can recover the story is in the last 2 issues. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Is Surge Pricing?

Surge charging or surge pricing is a method used by Uber and Grabtaxi to “encourage” more of their drivers to be on the road. The way it works is really very simple; when the companies have a period of high demand, the pricing for their drivers’ fares increase thus allowing their drivers to earn more per trip. This in turn encourages more of their drivers to go online to pick up passengers.

A few days ago, a lady in Singapore posted on Facebook that she took a 27 mins trip and was charged $169 for it. The lady, Ruby Lambert, was rushing for a meeting with four of her colleagues, and she made a booking on Uber. As there were 5 of them, she made the booking under “UberExecLarge” and blindly accepted the surge pricing. According to Ms Lambert’s Facebook post, the trip was uneventful…till she got the bill.

I’m sorry but Ms. Lambert and Singaporeans better get used to the concept of surge pricing. This is the way Uber works; the higher the demand, the higher the charge; and a charge of $169 for a 27 mins trip is almost nothing to the horror stories from overseas. Last year, there was a hostage crisis in Australia and Uber charged their customers $100 minimum for 1 trip. Can you imagine increasing fares 4 times during a hostage crisis? Under surge pricing, it can happen. 

As the population of normal taxis goes down in Singapore, more people will take to Uber and Grabtaxi. This will in turn increase the chances surge pricing. So Singaporeans better get used to this concept. As long as Uber and Grabtaxi are around, this practice is here to stay. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Self-Inflicted Problems

Last weekend, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese leader Xi Jinping shook hands in Singapore, the first time leaders from both countries met since their split in 1949. Naturally, this is seemed as a diplomatic coup for the Singapore government but it is not without problems of its own.

Some of the problems are unavoidable; President Ma has been accused of selling out to China over the summit and many believe the timing has more to do with the upcoming Taiwan elections than anything else. However some problems for Singapore are just self-inflicted.

First, three Taiwanese youth activists who had traveled to Singapore on Saturday were not allowed through immigration and were deported back to Taipei on Sunday morning. Then, 3 members of the anti-China political party, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), who were already in Singapore, were taken away by Singapore Police from a hostel for “police questioning”. They were taken away on Saturday morning and released later that night.

I just cannot understand why the Singapore government did all these. Come one, what problems can 6 activists cause? It seems this is a case of Singapore kaisuism at work. The leaders of Taiwan and China are meeting and shaking hands; does anyone seriously believe the world media will care about the actions of 6 activists at such a meeting? Detaining these guys doesn’t help Singapore at all and instead make us look bad in the world media. Unnecessarily, I might add!

There was no reason for the police to detain the 3 members of the TSU and denied entry to the 3 youth activists. They had committed no crime and had no plans to commit any crimes (unless you consider potential embarrassment to foreign leaders a crime). More importantly than all that is the fact that questioning these guys just make us look bad. Call me kaisu too but for a Singaporean like myself, that's more important than the handshake.   

Monday, November 9, 2015

Comics this week

Darkseid War: Supermann #1- After Darkseid War: Batman, I was going into this with low expectations but guess what? I dig this. Superman's transformation into a God of Strength may not be earth-shattering because Superman is for all intend and purpose a god, but the end result is very good. Credit to writer Francis Manapul for daring to show that a Superman without the moral hangups may actually be more effective than a Superman with some morals. Darkseid War: Flash was crap so the tie-ins is now 1 out of 3.

Monstress #1- If this series is anything like the debut issue, then we have a winner here. Writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda put together a sixty-plus page masterpiece there. Jumping right in the middle of the story, this debut issue gave us a story of a girl seeking vengence for her mother who we slowly discovered wasn't a saint herself. All set in the background of a all-consuming complex war that pits humans and their magic against demi-humans and their pagan gods. Pick this one up while you still have the chance.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Comics this week

Darkseid War: Batman #1- It shows how good the Darkseid War is that DC is actually having tie-ins for a sotry that is only shown in the regular Justice League series. Usually tie-ins are for events, not regular storylines but the Darkseid War is so good, expectations is being made. Unfortunately, this tie-in just does not do it for me. Writer Peter Tomasi and artist Ferando Pasarin tried their best but a sideshow of Batman in the Mobius just that; a sideshow. I mean it's hard to take this issue seriously when the cosmos is out of whack, Darkseid is dead, and the Anti-Monitor War is still out there. Having Batman confront a small-time hood like Joe Chill is just too much of a climb down to take seriously. 

Secret Six #7- Now that the first arc is out of the way and the team is now together, writer Gail Simone can get into the meat of the Secret Six. Basically how could a bunch of no-good second rate villains work together as one and why would they do so. The main plot Simone has is the protection of one of their own; 16 year old Black Alice. I like the twist that the villainous magical villains were incline to give Alice a chance than the heroes and what's more is the reasoning behind it. The heroes do not want to risk the survival of the world while the villains...well, they don't care as much about the risks to the world. Sort of make sense why Black Alice would eventually becomes a villain right? 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hold the COI

Has there been a change in the rules I didn’t know about? That’s what I was thinking when I read the Ministry of Health (MOH) response to the opposition WP’s (Workers’ Party) call for Committee of Inquiry (COI) to investigate the Hepatitis C virus infection cluster at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

The MOH released a statement saying the Singapore government will convene a COI provided the WP is prepared to lead evidence before the COI.

I’m sorry but I always thought a COI was convened to investigate. Since when must a party who ask for a COI need to present evidence before the COI they are asking for? If there’s evidence already, then what’s the need for the COI? I mean is there a need for an inquiry if you already have evidence? That’s just stupid isn’t it?

Now I’m a guy who’s willing to give the government the benefit of doubt but I feel the call from the WP was very reasonable and their response was anything but. At least 5 deaths are now linked to the outbreak at SGH and there are questions on why the public and the MOH were never notified of the outbreak till months later.

From what I read thus far, the discovery of the Hepatitis C cluster was somewhere in April/May but the MOH was only notified of it in late August. By all accounts, that’s wrong. The SGH waited 3 months before informing MOH and I don’t think anyone can blame the public for asking why there was such a delay. Mistakes were surely made so it’s reasonable to ask why the outbreak happened and why the SGH waited so long to inform the government. These are very reasonable questions and an independent COI will answer them.

So I agree with the WP’s call for a COI. Hold it, investigate, answer these questions and put in steps to prevent it from happening again. Not holding the COI will just give more problems for the government as…well, why shouldn’t a COI be held? Do the government know something they’re not telling? Do they know the answers to these questions so a COI is a waste of time?

If so, then the Singapore government need to inform the Singapore public. There was an outbreak that should not have happened and then SGH delay informing people about the outbreak. Why? These are questions the public deserve answers to. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Great Rumor

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is now just two months away and fans throughout the world are all looking forward to the highly anticipated film. Many places have even arranged “Star Wars Marathon” event so that people can see all seven movies one after another in one go.

Good luck to the crazies who will take up that option but this post is on the various rumors for the movie. Specifically, I want to talk about the rumor that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” big bad guy will be…Luke Skywalker!

According to the trailers released so far, it seems Luke failed to restore the Jedi Order as the Jedi and the Force are considered stories and legends to the new characters of the movie. So rumors are that Luke turned to the Dark Side because of his failure. 

In a way, the rumor makes some canon sense. Star Wars I to III has Anakin turned into Darth Vader. IV to VI has him restored to the Light due to his son, Luke. So the rumors go that VII to IV will have Luke on the Dark Side and redeemed by someone else, maybe his daughter.

Now I don’t know if this rumor is true, most likely it’s not, but I have to say this; I hope it is true! This is a great idea and I could see why it has taken a life of it’s own on the internet. Having the iconic hero of Star Wars going to the Dark Side may be too much for Disney but…by the Force, it’s a great idea. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Comics this week

Justice League #45- The King is dead; Long live the Kings! That's seems to be the motto of the Darkseid War after last issue's shocking ending. With Darkseid now dead, the balance of the cosmos is now out of balance and certain members of the Justice League have now inherited part of the power. Basically some members now have the powers of gods and they are not ready for it. Amazing how writer Geoff Johns had played with all our expectations in this storyline and how good of a job he had done. It's no wonder DC is going all in on the Justice League; everything seems to be going right. Even the change of artist was the correct decision. Francis Manapul's work is almost perfect for the darker tone of the story right now. Pick this up, if not then get ready to buy the TPB. You won't regret it.

Payback #2- After the strange, funny, and very interesting debut, writers Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal attempt to extend the story and, for the most part, succeeded. It seems the super-powered repomen that is the Paybacks do not consist of only heroes; villains who have fallen in debt are also in the team and placing heroes and villains side-by-side on the same team seems like a recipe for drama. The only worry I have is that the seemingly easy placement of Mr. Pierce as the "Big Bad" of the series. I hope they are not going down that road. It's too easy of a call.

Rai #11- You have to give writer Matt Kindt credit. Few writers would have so much belief in their ability that they use 3 issues to setup the story. Since Rai's return, that's what been happening as we see the various factions retool and rearmed themselves to take on Father again. The surprising thing is how well it has been going. Kindt is dropping hints here and there for readers on how things are going to play out and it is keeping things interesting. The part where it is hinted that Rai and Rai VIII were not the only Rais to have been banished from New Japan was nothing short of gold for long time readers. And the last page showing the aged Eternal Warrior? Artist Clayton Crain need a pay rise just for that page alone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Verdict Is In

After an investigation that lasted over 5 years and a 140-day trial, one of the longest in Singapore, City Harvest Church co-founder and senior pastor Kong Hee and five other church leaders were found guilty on Wednesday of all charges of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts against them.

Criminal breach of trust is punishable with a life sentence or up to 20 years in prison, and a fine. For falsifying accounts, the punishment is a maximum of 10 years in jail, a fine, or both. However it is unlikely the punishment will be so harsh for the 6 because...well, they didn't take any money from the church. The main question is how the leaders used the money donated to the church. 

Money was used to further the singing career of Kong Hee's wife, Sun Ho, and the money was moved throughout the world to hid that fact. Now some will argue that the church leaders should be allowed to use donations as they wish as the money were donated to the church. Other will argue that using the money to further the career of Sun Ho actually help increase the profile of City Harvest Church. 

I can understand the views of these arguments but in my mind, there was never any doubt the 6 will be found guilty. I mean if the Venerable Shi Ming Yi can be convicted of four charges of conspiracy, misuse of funds and forgery for trying to help his aide return money his aide stole from his temple, these guys had no chance. Good luck to them on the appeal but don't hold your breath.

The verdict is in and it is unlikely to change on appeal unless some new evidence pops out. After 5 years, that is just unlikely. The guilty verdict is here to stay.     

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pray For Rain

One more month! Just wait one more month and it will be over! That's the line fed to everyone in the region by our governments whenever we asked when the haze will go away.

Well, it is Oct 20th and there is only 11 more days to go before October is over. Guess what? The haze is still here. Not only that, it is actually getting worse! Yesterday night, the PSI (Pollutant Standard Index) in Singapore actually hit a high of 442.

Seeing the inevitable, governments in the region has now changed tack. Malaysia's Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has publicly admit that current efforts to fight the fires in Indonesia has had no effect and that only the rainy season can help. Of course since no one can be sure actually when the rainy season will start, no one can say when the haze will go away! Some say it may even take till December for the haze to disappear.

So people of Southeast Asia, no matter if you are Muslim, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, or whatever; start praying. We can now only hope for divine help to solve this problem caused by us greedy humans. Pray for rain people. Pray for rain!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Autotune Is A Fact

Is autotune a bad thing? To me, it is. To me, real singers should be able to sing without the help of digital audio manipulation but you know what; the horse has long bolted out of that stall. So I don't quite understand all the fuss on the "China's New Generation of Sound" video.

A viral video showing two kids Jeffrey Li (aged 10) and Celine Tam (aged 7), singing the song "You Raise Me Up" on the singing show "China's New Generation of Sound", the video has sparked controversy over its perceived use of autotune. Viewer of the video has harshly commented on the show's less than subtle use of autotune for the child singers, especially for Jeffery Li.

My view is that there is little doubt in my mind that autotune was used what? Singers use autotune nowadays. That is just a fact. Britney Spears is well-known to use it and even "real" singers like Adam Levine use it. That's just a sad fact.

So cool it on the kids. Yes, they used autotune...along with thousands of others throughout the world.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Godzilla vs. Kong

Okay, this shared universe is getting out of hand. Ever since Marvel hit gold with Avengers, movie studios had been trying their best to make lighting strike twice. Have a series of movies, tie them together in a tent pole film that will (hopefully) raked in a lot of money.

Now some of these shared universe ideas make sense. DC superheroes being in the same world is common sense. Universal monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, Wolfman etc being in the same universe; okay I can buy that. However Godzilla and King Kong? That’s just a step too far.

Now the idea is that Godzilla and King Kong belongs to an ecosystem of giant super-monsters and the human organization, Monarch, are on a mission to discover and uncover the secrets of these monsters. Only problem with this “great” idea? King Kong is known for climbing the Empire State Building and Godzilla is known to be as tall as a skyscraper. Is Kong Godzilla’s little cousin or something?

Come on, putting these 2 monsters together is silly and they intend to have 3 movies? Right now the first movie is planned in 2017 when “Kong: Skull Island” comes out. The following year will have Godzilla 2 and then Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020.

That’s right. Not only are they in the same movie, Kong and Godzilla are fighting against each other. This is even though Godzilla is 3 times the size of Kong! 

And people complain about Batman vs. Superman? 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Comics this week

Superman Lois & Clark #1- The New 52 reset 2 years ago got a lot of things right, but the new Superman was not one of them. You can understand why DC tried to do it. A younger, less experienced and less powerful Superman seems like a good bet to boost the character's popularity but it didn't work. To many people, Superman being around so long it's hard to imagine him as anything less than all-powerful. I'm one of those people. That was why I pick up this issue. An older, more powerful Superman more in line with the classic Superman character? Count me in.

Ms. Marvel #19- The end of the series and writer G. Willow Wilson closes off the series by trying to tie up as many plots as possible. The family dynamics of the Khan family got the majority of the attention as Kamala and her mother comes to an understanding about her superheroing but Wilson also gave attention to the potential relationship between Kamala and Bruno. Not everything was tied up with a neat bow and that's to the credit of Wilson. Look forward to the new series! 

Spider-Gwen #1- The original Spider-Gwen series was a breakout hit for Marvel but this being Marvel, that doesn't stop them from closing off  the series and starting with a new #1. Luckily for them, nothing has changed as the new Spider-Gwen is every bit as interesting as the old Spider-Gwen. Of course this being Marvel, that's probably not going to stop them  from cancelling this series and restarting with yet another #1. Till then, enjoy this series. 

NEL Breakdown

Well, that didn’t take long.

A month after the election and getting the poison chalice that's the Transport Minister, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan got his first MRT breakdown this morning when the North East Line (NEL) broke down. Luckily for me, I got the NEL just after the line got back on but this morning Mr. Khaw got an early taste of the work in front of him. 

Good luck to him. He is going to need it

Monday, October 12, 2015

What A Joke!

The joke that is 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) just does not stop. Former Umno branch leader Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Matthias Chang were charged today with (get this) attempting to sabotage the Malaysian economy and the country's financial and banking system.

How did they attempt to do this? Well according to the Malaysian prosecution, led by deputy public prosecutors Masri Mohd Daud and Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, the duo did so by attempting to tell the truth! The duo are accused of committing the offence in France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore, between June 28 and August 26 this year‎ when Datuk Khairuddin made several police reports in these countries.

So in short, the duo are detained for…making police reports! The Malaysian Central Bank, Bank Negara, reported that 1MDB had secured three of its permits to transfer US$ 1.83 billion out of Malaysia, based on inaccurate or incomplete disclosure of information which breached domestic regulations, and the Malaysian prosecution decided not to take any legal action even though it's clear that 1MDB had flouted the Malaysian financial and banking regulations.

Then they turn around and charged 2 guys for making police reports? It is almost as if they don’t want anyone to report on 1MDB, doesn’t it? 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Comics this week

Copperhead #10- After the shootout in Copperhead, the chase through the Badlands, Deputy Boo is rescued in this issue. I don't know about you but I thought the ending was kind of anti-climactic. I mean there's enough action and tension in this issue to make it interesting, even a good undercover role for Sheriff Clara, but I thought it could (and should) have been so much more. The plan...just worked too well! Still, this arc by writer Jay Faerber and artist Scott Godlewski show what promise Copperhead has. Hopefully, there's more of the same in the future.

Secret Wars #6- Did I miss something? Last I checked, the survivors from the Marvel and Ultimate Universes were spilt apart by Stephen Strange. So why is regular and Ultimate Reed Richards now working together? Admitting, this gives writer Jonathan Hickman a good way to contrast the two wildly different Reed Richards but I can’t help but think there’s a tie-in somewhere I need to pick up to follow the story. However the biggest problem I have with this issue is why did Strange leave behind a working Infinity Gauntlet without using it? I mean he even got Doom to build his castle in the one place where the Gauntlet would work and...he died without using it? Doesn’t sound anything like the resourceful doctor we all know and love.

We Stand On Guard #4- Well, the Two-Four sure didn’t last long. 4 issues in and about half the squad are either dead or captured. However writer Brian K. Vaughan gave us a glimpse of the bigger picture in the war between America and Canada and artist Steve Skroce proves equal to the task. His art showing the riots and desperation in America is nothing short of amazing. For the art alone, this series is worth the money I spend to buy it. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

(Almost) Clear Skies!

For the past month, Singapore has been shrouded in a haze. However two straight days of heavy rain gave us some respite this morning. Clear skies today people! Okay, not totally but it was a breath of fresh air compared to the past few weeks. Like they say, you don't know what you have till you lost it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How To Do It?

 Khaw Boon Wan has been Transport Minister for only a few days when he announced that he would like to “evaluate” GrabTaxi and Uber to ensure that there is a level playing field. This is due to the feeling that GrabTaxi/Uber drivers have an unfair advantage over normal taxi drivers as they do not need to get any vocational license before starting to drive.

Now this complain is not new. Governments throughout the world has had the same complaints. One of the reason why companies like Uber  and GrabTaxi are able to charge lower rates is because their drivers do not need training. They also don’t have a private taxi fleet. Their cost is lower, so they can charge lower. So saying there should be regulations on such companies is not new. The question is what can be done.

In simple terms, Uber and GrabTaxi are NOT taxis companies. They are phone apps where any driver with a car can sign up and use the app to pick up passengers. How do you regulate a phone app? That’s the question that needs to be answered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for some regulation on having some regulation on drivers of Uber and GrabTaxi. Taxi-drivers need to go for courses and pass tests before they can be taxi-drivers. Right now, drivers who just passed their driving test one month ago can use the apps.

However it’s one thing to say something need to be done; it’s another to figure out how to do it. The Transport Ministry and LTA need to figure that out first before doing/saying anything. If the examples of other governments are anything to go by, it's going to be a hard question to crack.

Monday, October 5, 2015


The gold bikini has been sold! Any fan of Star Wars, or anyone who had seen the movies, know which bikini I am talking about.

The first time I saw Carrie Fisher wearing the gold bikini in The Return of the Jedi, I was like "Wow!" So I can totally understand why someone paid $96,000 for it. The slave bikini costume even includes the collar and several chain links as seen in the movie. Jell, I'm not that big of a fan for the movies and even I would want that bikini.

I can only hope The Force Awakens would have such an "iconic" costume. Carrie Fisher wore the bikini in 1983. 32 years after that scene, we need another one like this!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon by Richard Roberts

I loved "Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain". That book was great fun so I didn’t waste much time in getting the sequel. "Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon" is that sequel and once again author Richard Roberts had gave us a fun delightful read.

The story picks up one month after the end of “Supervillain”. Our three protagonists; Penelope Akk, Ray Viles, and Claire Lutre, are now card-carrying supervillains. However even 13 year-old supervillains need to attend school but as you would expect, the trio are bored out of their minds.

After the high of taking on and defeating adult superheroes, school is just boring. Penny, Ray and Claire are just itching to do some villainary so when criminal mastermind, Spider, offered them a job to go into space, the trio literally jumped at the opportunity.

Before you can say “Kids going to space”, Penny had built a bio-spaceship called the Red Herring and off they go towards Jupiter. Once there, they discovered that they weren’t the first humans to go so far from Earth and that human colonists from Earth has been there for decades. Not only that, the colonists are spilt into several groups that don’t like each other very much and they are all at war against aliens from beyond the solar system.

She may be a supervillain, but Penny still thinks of herself as a good person so she tries her best to help out the colonists. She even thinks she could forge a superhero identity in Jupiter, far from the villainous reputation she built on Earth. However after some initial success, her inventions made things decidedly worse and Penny has to go back to what she do best; be the supervillain that saves the day!

Now one of the things I love about "Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain" was how fun it was. Like they say, don’t spoil a good thing and "Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon" followed that advice to a T. The wild fun hijinks are all here with The Inscrutable Machine (T.I.M) trio facing their problems with villainous panache.

Richard Roberts also got a lot of world-building done in this book. Not only did he make “History” Penny’s favorite subject in school, he also went into the history of the space colonists. We basically got the general details of what happen in WW 2, the discovery of America, all the way to the story of Achilles and Troy. Achilles as a bulletproof superhuman? Yes, more of that please. If Roberts ever get tired of T.I.M, I would suggest he try his hand at writing a novel featuring historical figures as people with superpowers. That would be fun.  

“Blew Up the Moon” is also a much more serious book than “Supervillain”. Unlike the first book where the heroes and villains walked away from conflicts relatively unscathed, many characters in this book got severely injured due to all the fighting. There's even terrible genetic horrors which were created by mad scientists but are now went out of control and intend to eat humans.

The ending of the book is also something I enjoy. The colonists dislike each other with a passion but they know they have to work together at times to face off against outside forces like the aliens. Having failed to help them as a hero, Penny went to what works best; be the villain. She became the “Big Bad” that the colonists have to unite against and even managed to inspire the colonists’ every first superhero “The Kluge”. Now that’s not something you read about often.

As fun as “Blew Up the Moon” is, I have to agree with the people that say it does not match up to the quality of “Supervillain”. The main problem I have is the fact that the space adventure brought T.I.M so far from Earth. Most of the side characters in the first book did not show up in “Blew Up the Moon” and that is a big minus in my mind. Instead of Bull and Master Scorpion, we got Chief, Fabulous and Remmy. Sorry but the Fawkes siblings just aren’t as interesting.

I also can’t help but feel the book was rushed. I read somewhere that the writer sped up the writing of this book due to the success of “Supervillain” and I think it shows. There were parts of the book where I had to go back to figure out what happened; when did that character showed up; where did that invention came from? Perhaps more time with the editors would have served the book better.

Overall, "Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon" is still a book I would recommend. It’s not as good as "Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain", but that is a high bar to clear. Take it on its’ own, and you will find that this book is great fun. I can’t wait for Book 3.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Comics this week

Justice League #44- After reading comics for over 20 years, it’s good to know that the media can shock the hell out of me. I totally did not expect the ending of this issue. Kudos to writer Geoff Johns for the big reveal and to artist Jason Fabok for his consistently amazing artwork. The only problem I had with the issue was that it was a little crowded with some sub-plots that are going nowhere even after 4 issues (Lex/Superman). However between a shocking game-changing ending and superb art, this is without question an issue all comic fans must pick up. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Taliban Tech

14 years after they were ousted by Western forces, the Taliban is back. Of course, they never really went away as the Taliban controls large areas of Afghanistan even when NATO troops were in Afghanistan. Now that NATO is gone, the Taliban wasted no time taking the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

Afghan government forces have launched a counter-attack on the city and heavy fighting is continuing in the city but you know what really got my attention? How much the Taliban has changed! 

I mean the Taliban fighters are now taking selfies, some just after breaking out of jail! According to reports, the Taliban attacked Kunduz at night, taking the Afghan government forces by surprise. The Taliban fighters quickly overwhelmed several of the police checkpoints defending the perimeter of the town, captured key buildings, and freed about 500 prisoners from the city's jail.

The freed prisoners then promptly took selfies with the Taliban fighters who freed them and the pictures are now flooding Afghan social media. The capture of Kunduz may represent the Taliban's biggest victory since 2001 but it could be fleeting if they can’t hold on to the city. However, the pictures on social media?

That's different. Those selfies on the streets of Kunduz are some of the most striking and revealing moments of the assault on the city. They are there forever. The Taliban is back, and they are different from the Taliban we all remember. 

The New Minister of Transport

With the win in the General Elections (GE), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced his latest Cabinet. There's some strange decisions in this Cabinet, like the fact that there are now 2 Acting Ministers of Education, but what Singaporeans really want to know is this. Who's the unlucky chap who is going to be the next Minister of Transport? 

The answer is Khaw Boon Wan. The current Minister of National Development will take over from Lui Tuck Yew who did not contest in the latest GE after having a horrid time as the Transport Minister. Could Mr. Khaw Boon Wan do any better? Considering that the transport portfolio has claimed the political careers of 3 men (Yeo Cheow Tong, Raymond Lim and Lui Tuck Yew), the chances are not likely. 

In all fairness, Mr. Khaw probably have a better chance of getting things right than Mr. Lui as the Singapore government has been trying to fix the train breakdown problems for years. A lot of work has already been put in, and with his experience, Mr. Khaw will have a better chance than Mr. Lui to set things right. However the problems with the MRT is so huge it's a huge task no matter who takes over.

Now I'm not jumping on the bandwagon here, but good luck Mr. Khaw Boon Wan. You're going need it at your new job.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Comedy Injury

The Rugby World Cup is on right now in the U.K, and Japan just scored the biggest upset in the competition's history when they beat 2-time World Cup winners South Africa 34-32 victory last weekend. To show what a shock that was, Japan was then crushed by Scotland 45-10 in the very next game.

However Japan has a ready excuse for the defeat against Scotland; 2 exactly! First, they were still on the high after the win against South Africans. Second, their winger Akihito Yamadawas injured after being bitten by a weever fish. What?

In case you do not know, weever fish are fishes that bury themselves in sand during the day and catches passing prey with their poisonous dorsal fins and gills.Winger Akihito Yamadawas was part of the team that shocked South Africa but he was absent for the defeat against Scotland because he was stung by a weever fish when swimming off the sea in Brighton during a recovery session.

It seems that the Japanese team was doing a recovery session in the sea when he got stung and I have to say; this has to be the funniest injury in the history of the Rugby World Cup. Of course considering the crushing defeat by the Scots, missing the game might not be that bad of a thing for Yamadawas.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Super Haze This Year

For the past 3 weeks, the annual haze has descended on Singapore but to me, this year's haze seems extremely bad. Unlike previous years when the haze comes and goes, this year's haze seems to linger. And I'm not alone in feeling this. 

All primary and secondary schools in Singapore will be closed tomorrow and this is why. 

Just look at that! You can barely see the Parliament House and this is just across the Singapore River. The National Environment Agency (NEA) state that PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) reached a high of 317 today. That means Singapore's air quality reached "very unhealthy" levels but I honestly have to wonder about that. Based on previous experience, the haze today seems extremely bad and I have to wonder if 317 is too low. 

Worse is that the haze is believed to be here to stay till November due to the El Nino weather system. That means Singaporeans has another month of the haze to deal with! Good thing for the Singapore government the election is already over.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Comics this week

Astro City #27- Last issue, we celebrated 20 years of Astro City. In those 20 years, writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson has been Astro City's dynamic duo. I can't even remember the last time they weren't the writer and artist of the series. The streak is broken in this issue where Joe Infurnari takes over as guest artist. It's was definitely a change in style as Infurnari's style is much darker than Anderson's but on the whole, I think he did a good job. The story on American Chibi was also quite surprising as it set the stage for her leaving Astro City. We barely knew her. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

4 Months?

As a Singaporean, I too have faced problems with foreigners coming into Singapore and completing with Singaporeans for jobs, housing and the general attitude of some foreigners to my follow Singaporeans. Having said that, 4 months for an online rant?

For those of you who are wondering; a Filipino nurse, Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, posted comments on Facebook insulting Singaporeans and calling for the takeover of the city-state by his countrymen. A police investigation was launched and he was questioned by the police. 

Today, a Singapore court sentenced Mr. Bello to four months in prison. 3 months for posting inflammatory comments on Facebook against Singaporeans and 1 month for lying to police investigators. Ello had claimed to the police that his account had been hacked by an unknown person before admitting to posting the comments. In his sentencing remarks, the judge said Ello's postings had "the potential to harm relations between Singaporeans and Filipinos in Singapore."

Seriously? Honestly, if one silly online rant from an idiot as stupid as Ello Ed Mundsel Bello could harm relations between Singaporeans and Filipinos, that tell you a lot about the current relation between out two people right? 

The guy is a moron. He works in Singapore and still insult Singaporeans? Moronic at best, but 4 months in jail for an online rant is way too much. Give him a few weeks and then deport him. No need to keep him in Singapore for 4 months. The sooner he's gone, the better it is for everyone. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Another Missing Billion

10 days ago, the respected Wall Street Journal reported that US$1.4 billion (RM6.02 billion) was missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The money was supposed to be payment from 1MDB to an Abu Dhabi state investor’s subsidiary, but the payment in November 2014 was missing.

Today The Wall Street Journal reported that another US$1 billion is missing. 

According to the newspaper, IPIC (a United Arab Emirates state investment vehicle) had guaranteed US$3.5 billion in bonds that 1MDB issued to finance the purchase of power plants in 2012. In return for the guarantee, IPIC got an option to buy a 49% stake in the power plants as well as collateral for the bond. 

1MDB reported it repaid IPIC US$1 billion for the guarantee, but IPIC insist it never receive the payment. Officers in the UAE are now trying to trace the US$993 million that 1MDB reportedly paid to IPIC. This on top of the missing US$1.4 billion means a total of US$2.4 billion are missing.

Wait a minute; didn't Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak say that the RM2.6 billion deposited into his personal accounts ahead of the 2013 general election was "donated" by a Middle-Eastern donor? The currency used is different but the numbers match (2.4 vs 2.6). So does that means we now know who this donor from the Middle-East is?

Unfortunately, the UAE is saying the money wasn't "donated" but is "missing". It is any surprise that UAE are now trying desperately to get out of their deals with Malaysia and 1MDB? Seems the 1MDB fiasco has caused Malaysia a friend in the Middle-East. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review of Inside Out

The race for this year's Oscar of Best Animated Feature Film is over. Pixar has won the award many times before with films like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL-E and several others; they are going to get another one this year with Inside Out.

Inside Out is set in the mind of 11 year old, Riley Andersen (Kaitlyn Dias). Five emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), lead Riley through life as they influence Riley's actions and memories. Joy is the chief and this cause Riley to be a bubbly happy young girl.

Things change when Riley's parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) moved to San Francisco and this caused changes in Riley's personality. As Joy tries to maintain Riley's bubbly outlook, Sadness began to grow more powerful, changing Riley's outlook in life.

Now growing up can be a bumpy road and in Inside Out, we have one of the best film ever made showing the joy and sadness of growing pains. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, viewers get a front row seat on the turmoil that goes on inside her mind.

This film is without question close to the heart of director Pete Docter who has publicly said that he too faced problems when his family relocated to Denmark when he was young. The experience must have been a great help to the director because the heart of this film shines brightly. The story may be simple but it was touching as hell with adults more than likely to shed a tear or two as the film progresses.

I loved the way the film didn't try to dumb things down. Inside Out is smart and pull no punches as it shows the innocence that is lost as one grows up. What's more, the film wasn't shy about it's message that even "bad" emotions like anger and sadness are needed for a child to grow up to be a well-adjusted person. Now that's takes courage, especially for a animated movie.

Yes, I will admit that the kids may have some problem understanding this film. The film also takes a little while to get going but that's about it. Outside those minor details, the rest of the film is just pure gold.

Hell, forget about the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. Inside Out is bold, sweet, funny, sad, and heartbreaking. Even the accompany short animated film, titled Lava, was great. Forget about the Animated Oscar, this film deserves at least a nomination for Best Picture. It is that good!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Comics this week

Paybacks #1- How much money is there is being a superhero? Not much if you really think about it. Being a villain has it's rewards because if you score a big heist or do a good job, you got it made. Being a hero...there's no finance rewards in it right? That's the premise in this new series by Dark Horse where super-powered repo-man go into the homes and lairs of superheroes to repossess their (and I quote) crime-fighting gadgets, invisible jets, or suits of armor. If you consider the amount of cash Batman throws away every time he goes on patrol, this new series by writer Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal is going to have of material to play with. 

Rai #10- I must say, this 2 thread story line writer Matt Kindt is on after coming back from the break is showing a lot of promise. We have Rai on Earth where he is travelling and slowly gathering allies, and at the same time, the remaining rebels on New Japan are picking up the pieces after their defeat. We even has a great mini arc on Spylocke and how Lula, even if both he and her do not know it yet, has been positioned to be Spylocke's successor since she was a child. Of course, everything under the expert art of Clayton Crain. Great! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Windows 10 Sucks!

Like most people. I upgraded my Windows to Windows 10 recently. Like most people, I am regretting it! Before my "upgrade", I was using Windows 8.1. It wasn't perfect but there is one thing 8.1 is definetly better than 10. It doesn't forced me to update my Windows!

In case you do not know, Windows 10 force users to always install the latest updates. And I mean FORCED! Since I got the Windows 10, I must had over 5 updates already and I only got it for about 2 months. Worse, I can't turn it off and I can't tell Windows to eve delay the update. There had been times when I'm doing something and the system came to a crawl due to the update.

Also I can't control what is updated. The update is automatic and it doesn't give me any option on what to update or what not to update. Windows 10 system doesn't even tell me when it is updating. I discovered it when my system comes to a crawl.

So after using Windows 10 for 2 months, I will say this. Windows 10 sucks!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Results of GE 2015

3 days after after General Election (GE) 2015, a few things can be gleamed from the results.

1) Preparation is everything.
Since the start of the year, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has been throwing goodies at Singaporeans like there's no tomorrow. Everything from Road Tax rebates to Pioneer Packages has been thrown at Singaporeans, and it worked!

2) Lee Kuan Yew is still a factor
A ruthless political operator who led Singapore to independence, Mr. Lee led the PAP to decisive victories in every election since the 1968 general elections, and he died this year in March. Singaporeans withstand 7 hours waiting lines to pay their respect to the man at his wake, and his death played a big part in the PAP victory this year. The sympathy was clearly with the PAP this year and that's not something the PAP usually has. He may be gone, but Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has left his mark on Singapore and his influence is not going away anytime soon.

3) Rally size means nothing
I have told many people that the number of people at political rallies means nothing in Singapore and I like to think the results this year show me to be right. The thing is the sheer domination of the press by the PAP. Most people has no access to the opposition outside election time, so when election season comes around, Singaporeans go to the rallies to hear them speak. That's why the size at opposition rallies is so big. It however does not mean the people at the rallies will vote the opposition. It is two different things.

4) The Worker's Party (WP) are on the rise
I know it may not look that way after the results of GE 2015, but I thought the WP did great this GE. There's a 10% swing against the opposition, but the WP still managed to hold on to the 6 seats they won in 2011. The only seat they lost was in Punggol East which they won in a by-election in 2013 and even then, the PAP only won that by a 2% margin. Compare that to the rest of the opposition, that's great.

5) Tan Hui Hui have a political future
In Singapore, people running as independents don't usually do well. Samir Salim Neji got just 0.6% of the vote in Bukit Panjang running as an independent. Tan Hui Hui, running in Radin Mas, got over 10%! For an independent, that's an amazing result. Ms. Tan was energetic and more importantly, she has a cause she firmly believes in. If you saw her posters around Radin Mas, you will her face on the posters along with #RETURNOURCPF below it. That seems to have resonated with voters. If Ms. Tan is willing to join a political party (one willing to raise the CPF issue) and come back for the next GE, she will have a good long political future.