Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s Condition

In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew is a man without equal. He’s Singapore's first prime minister and the man widely credited with our country’s economic success. Since Feb 5th however, Mr. Lee has been admitted to hospital for severe pneumonia.

Since then…it has been a deafening silence.

So I wasn’t all that surprised when rumours began circulating has it that Mr. Lee has died, and I was just as unsurprised when the state-owned news channel, ChannelNewsAsia, and the pro-government Straits Times newspaper quickly came out to quash the rumours. The simple fact is; in the face of no information, people are going to be tempted to make their own.

That’s just a simple fact. We know Mr. Lee’s condition is serious and he is on mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit of the hospital. We know that his condition is so serious that Singapore Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin even asked Singaporeans to "pray for his recovery" on Wednesday.

So…just how serious is his condition? I totally understand the need and desire for privacy from his family but Mr. Lee is a titan not just in Singapore, but throughout Asia. People want to know how he is doing. I would suggest the Singapore government release regular updates on his condition to satisfy the people’s curiosity. If they do not, the rumours will just keep on popping up.   

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Record U.S Freeze


You know I had heard of the record freeze in the U.S for days but…it’s half a world away. Surely it doesn’t affect me right?

Wrong! In an example of how climate change affect all of us, this week my comics will be late because shipment from America is impossible at the moment. Nothing I can get angry about, after all even Niagara Falls has frozen over!

So for all of you who thinks climate change does not affect you; you are wrong. Climate change is a global phenomenon and it affects everyone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review of Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a 2014 spy action comedy film directed by Matthew Vaughn and in my humble view should be tilted, “The Kind of Movie A James Bond Should Be”!

Based on the comic book “The Secret Service”, by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, the Kingsman follows the recruitment and training of a potential secret agent, Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton) into a secret spy organisation known as “The Kingsman”.

The movie starts 17 years ago when during a mission in the Middle East, a Kingsman mission went haywire and a Kingsman candidate died. Harry Hart (Colin Firth), codenamed "Galahad," blamed himself for the death and personally delivers a bravery medal to the man's widow and young son, Gary "Eggsy" Unwin.

Seventeen years later, a Kingsman agent codenamed “Lancelot” died while attempting to rescue a climate scientist James Arnold, leading to an opening in the Kingsman ranks. Soon after, Eggsy, now an unemployed aimless young adult, got arrested for stealing a car and Hart arranged for his release. After a short trial, Hart offered Eggsy a chance to enter the Kingsman ranks which Eggsy quickly accepted.

From there, the film spilt into two. One part showing the training of Eggsy, while the other showing Hart’s investigation into the death of Lancelot.

First off, this is a fun movie! The slam-bang action about British secret agents is aimed squarely at James Bond and it was deliciously done. Vaughn is clearly a James Bond fan and even when the script poke fun at the genre, you could see the glee in it all.

Vaughn is helped by some excellent performances from his cast. Taron Egerton was doable as the wide-eyed rookie, Colin Firth shown some unexpected action chops as Galahad, but a James spy movie is only as good as its villains and you just can’t beat Samuel L. Jackson and Sofia Boutella!

Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine is the kind of over-the-top, take-over-the-world villain James Bond villains used to be and Jackson looks like he is having a ball playing him. I have never heard of Sofia Boutella but she more than held her own against Jackson. Her character, Gazelle, is an assassin with bladed prosthetic legs but not only that, Boutella managed to portray Gazelle as a devoted henchmen who truly liked, maybe even love, her employer. The interplay between the Valentine and Gazelle were one of the highlights of the movie. It is cute, menacing and lovable; all at the same time!

I also like how shameless Vaughn is to the James Bond references. A Swedish princess, an anal sex gag, and martini shaken, not stirred? Man, I wouldn’t be shock if the makers of the James Bond films start suing but it is fun to watch.

Of course not everything was perfect. I find some of the violence to be slightly unnecessary. The action in the church was seriously overdone and I don’t think anyone need to see so many heads getting blown up at the end of the film.

Overall however, Kingsman is a movie worth watching. Whether you are a James Bond fan or an action fan, you should watch it. It is that fun! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

US$48 Million

I just read one of the strangest, most uplifting stories in a very long time. In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that savaged Japan, the Japanese people had returned almost US$48 million in cash! 

Most of these items were found in wallets and safes in the aftermath of the twin tragedies and the Japanese promptly return the items to the authorities when found. Now I know of the Japanese reputation for honesty, but US$48 million? That's something else. I mean people who found the items even refused to collect the money when the owners can't be found!

That's just something that's not going to happen in Singapore, and Singapore's not unique. I think in most of the world, returned items will not even come close to US$48 million. So bravo Japan; well done! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

PAP Need To Anoint A Successor

Good news; Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s surgery for prostate cancer was successful and a full recovery is expected. Bad news; he needed surgery in the first place.

PM Lee having been diagnosed with lymphoma, blood cell tumours that develop from white blood cells, in 1992 but last I heard, he had made a full recovery. Now instead of lymphoma, he has been diagnosed and treated for another kind of cancer.

Now from what I read, survivors of prostrate cancer can with proper medication and good diet live long healthy lives but with our PM having survived 2 different kinds of cancer, it is time for the PAP (People’s Action Party) to seriously put a No. 2 in place to take over.

With a General Election on the way, this is the perfect time. I know that currently, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is the No. 2 but there had always been doubts if he is the man that will take over as Prime Minister after PM Lee steps down.

This is a doubt that needs to be cleared once and for all. PM Lee’s Lee surgery may have been successful but with his illness, PAP needs to publicly anoint a successor and usually for these kinds of cases, it’s better to do sooner rather than later.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Big Yawn

With a General Elections (GE) coming up, to the surprise of no one, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is once again attacking the Worker’s Party (WP) on the management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). They had been trying to do that ever since they lost the Aljunied GRC in the last GE and like always; Singaporeans are treating the case with a big yawn.

The PAP needs to get this through their heads; this issue is just not a vote-getter! 

Singaporeans are worried about the CPF Min Sum, high property prices, and the high cost of living. No one cares about the financial statements of the town councils as long as rubbish get collected and the floor get swept. Even for Singaporeans who do care, this issue rank far far below the fact that most Singaporeans will never be able to take out their full amount of CPF.

So if the PAP is thinking that the WP would lose Aljunied due to this; sorry but that’s not going to happen. Get rid of the CPF Min Sum and you may have a chance; a debate over a Auditor-General’s report is not going to change anything on the ground.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Comics this week

Amazing Spiderman #14- It’s finally over! The Spiderverse is Marvel's best event in years but instead of ending in a bang, it ends...maybe not a whimper, but with an anti-climactic conclusion. #14 is almost entirely a big slugfest as the surviving Spiders and Inheritors meet up on Loomworld for the final battle. Now I have no problem with big slugfest, and I do enjoy the way writer Dan Slott uses Spider-ham to save baby Benji Parker, but this issue did not play to the strength of Spiderverse. The biggest plus for this event was the dynamics between the various Spiders, how they gel and rub off each other. This interaction is almost totally missing in this issue. On the whole, the event is great and it was a joy to all these different Spiders; too bad about the ending though.  

Astro City #20- The current arc has been stop-and-start for me but then this issue came out and made me rethink everything. The premise on aging superheroes is one that I can’t help but engage on, and the diverging paths Crackerjack and Quarrel are handling the issue is great. Different people handle things differently and writer Kurt Busiek makes no bones about that fact. These two may be heroes but they are also desperate. They see the writing on the wall and are not happy about the words. It’s no surprise that someone will try something desperate, and suffer the consequences of the decision. Superb!

Rai #7- Reluctant allies usually mean terrible allies and Rai found that out the hard way in this issue as the Positrons and the Raddites goes at it. This comes as no surprise as both Silk and Izak were always going to go at each other sooner or later but both Rai and Spylocke were hoping they would hold off till they taken down Father. No such luck and writer Matt Kindt even managed to throw in a mystery when the appearance of an older Rai. That plus the beautiful work of artist Clayton Crain make this issue nothing short of excellent. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bound To Happen

It was bound to happen sooner or later. That’s my view when it was reported that Samsung's Smart TV could be listening and sharing info of people viewing the Smart TV.

Basically, Samsung's Smart TV uses voice recognition technology and as the TVs are connected to the internet, the TVs are able to capture and transmit nearby conversations to others…without the knowledge of the people watching the TV. It’s even in the fine print of Samsung's privacy policy for smart TVs!

Voice recognition technology in Samsung's Internet-connected TVs captures and transmits nearby conversations. The policy warns, "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition."

In a move against the growing backlash, Samsung said that the technology can be activated or deactivated by pressing a button on the TV remote and the technology is very similar to how voice assistants work on smartphones. They also say there's no threat of eavesdropping if the feature isn't activated.

Good and well but the problems I see is that a) the voice recognition is on by default and…well, b) who the hell ever read the privacy policy? Samsung clearly put this tech in to get info on their customers and doing it without their consent but guess what; it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Government has been using technology to track citizens’ activities for ages so it’s no surprise to me that multi-national companies with money to burn are going to do the same. It was always bound to happen. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ignorance Is No Excuse For Stupidity

In another case of tourists behaving badly, 2 Americans have been arrested in Cambodia for taking naked photos of themselves inside the famed Angkor temple. Sisters Lindsey Adams, 22, and her 20-year-old sister Leslie were discovered taking "nude pictures" inside the Preah Khan temple at the world heritage site and both were promptly arrested.

The sisters’ main defense is that they do not know about the sacredness of Angkor Wat and that it is a holy site. Well, too bad and, more importantly, so what? What’s the big deal if Angkor Wat is holy site or not when it is an important cultural site for all Cambodians. You don’t take off your pants and take a photo of it at the site. That ought to be common sense.

Let me put it this way; the Statue of Liberty is no holy site but does that mean I can take a naked photo of myself on it? Of course not! The Statue of Liberty may not be holy but it's still an important cultural and spiritual site to all Americans. Anyone with a bit of common sense would know you can't go naked on it. 

These 2 sisters may be wonderful people, I don’t know, but they did a very stupid thing and whether they know Angkor Wat is a sacred site or not does not matter. Ignorance is no excuse for stupidity. 

Friday, February 6, 2015


After cursing the waste of time and money that was GI Joe 2, I had no plans to watch GI Joe 3 when it will be inevitably be made. Then, I heard this!

Unconfirmed reports has that GI Joe 3 will be a crossover with another Hasbro toy line; that of MASK! For those of you who don’t remember or are too young to know, MASK (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) is a toy line and cartoon from the ‘80s that have secret agents who used vehicles which can transform into another different vehicle. This means a car can turn into a plane, a motorbike can become a mini-submarine etc.

Yes, MASK was a cheesy show but it was a fun cheesy show. So if Hasbro and Paramount managed to pull this off, I will be there for GI Joe 3 and, if all goes well, the MASK spin-off. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Comics this week

Birthright #5- I shall admit; after the stunning debut and a good #2, I though Birthright has been spinning it's wheel for the past 2 issues. This issue made me a believer again. An excellent issue that not only extend the modern story, it also extended on the flashback. And the ending, when we the potential extended family of the "hero"; superb!

The Multiversity Guidebook #1- Given that Multiversity is a series that span the entirety of the DC Multiverse, a guidebook is more than welcome. However The Multiversity Guidebook #1 is much more than that; it’s a superb story within a story issue where writer Grant Morrison slowly but surely ties his series together. Not only that, Morrison gives us a map to the whole of the 52 and a short summary of the worlds minus 7 of them which are under “mystery”. The team of artists on this issue also knocks it out of the park with some beautiful work. Everything from Kamandi’s world to Little Gotham to the guidebook itself was superbly done. The one big knock against Multiversity has been that the issues don’t have much connection with each other; that issue has been in the Guidebook. Buy this!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stop Whining

You remember the seasonal Hello Kitty rush? Well, Transilink has decided to cash in on the crazy run by issuing limited edition Ezlink cards featuring different characters from Japan’s Sanrio.

The trick however is that certain designs are sold only at certain stations which means crazy fans/collectors have had to go to different stations and check at the Control Station to see what designs are available at that station. Naturally, Singaporeans (being the pampered lot that we are) are up in arms over having to hunt down different cards at different stations and many are venting on social media.

My advice to these pampered Singaporeans is to stop collecting.

Now I will admit I don’t find the design to be all that cute but Singaporeans need to understand that being frustrated come hand-in-hand with being a collector. Collecting things, especially limit edition stuff, is supposed to be fun and frustrating. Frustration is part of the process. You are frustrated at your inability to get the design you want, so when you finally get the item you need, your joy is much more acute.

So if you need to bitch about it online; stop collecting! Being a collector is definitely not for you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

In Favor of B2P

Since its start in 2014, rumors has been flying that The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) was going free-to-play sooner or later. Well, the rumors turned out to be partially true as developers Bethesda Softworks have revealed that the MMORPG will now be going buy-to-play om March 17th.

In case you are wondering, this means you only need to buy a single retail version of the game and you can play the game without any mandatory subscription. This subscription-less payment model is similar to the ones going on for Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World (both good games) and I wish other games will go the same route.

More players will try the game with this model and with the in-game store, chances are better than even that TESO will make money. I for me will be entering Tamriel once I finish getting my warden in LOTRO to level 100. See you there! 

Monday, February 2, 2015


 The Singapore's Parliament just passed a bill that will ban the sale and public drinking from 10.30pm to 7am island-wide. The law is expected to take effect in April and I, for one, will be most interested in seeing how the police will enforce the law.

This is mainly because of the very loose definition of “public space” and the timing of the ban. I don’t just mean the question of why a coffee-shop would be considered a public space, but also how would the law be enforced! I mean would enforcement officers go to a wedding dinner (for example) to make sure no one can order more beer after 10.30pm? If a coffee-shop is a public space, why not a restaurant?

For those of you who would say the law was designed strictly for foreign workers; I agree. There's no other reason why foreign worker dormitories would be considered "public space otherwise but the problem is that the government felt a need to disguise the law. The need for pretense meant that the law, at least on the books, is for everyone in Singapore.

Good news; the law probably means that wedding dinners will end sooner. That is if it is enforceable.