Thursday, July 30, 2015

Comics this week

Copperhead #9- With Deputy Boo prisoner of the outlaw gang, this issue has Sheriff Clara rounding up a posse to the rescue. In many ways, this is to be expected in space western, but writer Jay Faerber did more than that in this issue. Faerber gets into the AIs of Jasper and the society of androids function. I find that part of the issue to be amazing and I hope Faerber will get back to it in the future. Of course, artist Scott Godlewski's work is still amazing and together, the duo is making Copperhead a must read for everyone. 

Ninjak #5- Remember the part in the Avengers movie where Loki was captured and then Fury has the suspicion that Loki was exactly where he wanted to be? I have that feeling at the end of this issue when Konnon was captured by Ninjak and delivered to MI6 minus arms and legs. Honestly, the end save this arc as the final fight between Konnon and Ninjak was pretty pointless and it was not helped by the constant flashbacks to Colin's past. The backup story was much better, giving us an insight to what made Colin the super spy ninja he is today. This issue is not perfect but writer Matt Kindt looks to have a plan and he did enough to make me come back for the next arc. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Myth Of Unity

With the General Election (GE) widely expected to be called in September, the various opposition parties are to meet to discuss strategy. The planned meeting is mainly for opposition parties to avoid multi-cornered fights.

That may be good and true but anyone expecting anything more than that from the opposition are living in dreamland. Simply put; not all opposition parties are equal. Many people say the Worker's Party (WP) are first among equals among the opposition parties in Singapore. They are wrong.

The WP are the only opposition party with candidates in  Parilment (NMPs do not count), so that makes them not first among equals but the only opposition party of note in Singapore. The rest of the opposition may take offence at this but to me, the WP are the only party who has prove at the ballot box that they can  faced the People's Action Party (PAP) and they should be treated accordingly.

WP has said that they are going to contest 28 seats in the coming GE and to me, that means the rest of the opposition need to make way in those 28 seats. They can contest the rest but those 28 should be solely for the WP.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Power Of The Internet

No one has ever accused me of being a poetic person, and that's something that's unlikely to ever change. So when I read that a poem went viral, I thought it was probably something I won't be able to get into.

“Worst Day Ever?”

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say
Today was a very good day

Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.

I will admit; it's smart and fun but I don't quite get why it became an internet sensation. What I really liked however was the journey of "how" it became an internet sensation.

The poem was written by Chanie Gorkin for a school assignment. She also entered it for a poetry contest in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother shared the poem with her friends on Facebook and they shared it with others.

Somehow a guy in the U.K named Zachery Stephenson got a hold of it and printed out the poem. He then struck it on the wall of  a bar in London where another guy named Ronnie Joice saw it. Ronnie took a photo of the poem and tweeted about it. From there, the poem became the internet legend it is now.

Now that, the power of the internet, is even more amazing than the poem itself.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Silly Season Is Here Again!

With the Electoral Boundary Review Committee’s report out already, any pretense that a GE (General Election) is not coming is over. So do you know what that means? It means it's the season for silly Singaporean's complains!

Case in point; Mr. Chew B.W for his complaints about the rising cost of living. Now many Singaporeans has the same complains but the problem for Mr. Chew is that he lives in a private estate and his complains include as the cost of a year's tuition at The Learning Lab ($4,000) and a fencing costume for one of his children ($600). 

Many netizens on social media has been mocking Mr. Chew about his complains but come on people; it's election season! You know what they say; in Singapore, you can't complain against anything. During election, you can complain about everything.

So for the netizens do missed out on complaining about Mr. Chew; don't worry. There will be more cases like Mr. Chew's in the near future. All the way till the exact GE!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Comics this week

Birthright #9- Like I said before, I’m not quite sure about the plot going into separate directions. I can see what writer what Joshua Williamson is trying to do, but there's just not enough room in the issue for 3 separate threads all going on at once. The flashback of young Mikey, adult Mikey and his younger brother’s road trip, and the search for the 2 brothers. Thanks to artist Andrei Bressan's good work, the series is still threading water but Williamson need to condense the story quickly.

Magneto #20- This series has been a slow burn but here at the finish, it has been nothingg short of being wonderful. Writer Cullen Bunn's Magneto will set the standard for other writers for years to come and that's well deserved. This Magneto series show who Magneto is, why he's doing what he’s doing, and why he can never stop. Under Bunn's deft hand, Magneto has become more complicated than ever and it is a travesty that this series is going to end. Catch it while you can!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Bioware had a lot riding on Dragon Age: Inquisition. The third installment of the Dragon Age series, Inquisition had to make up the lost sales of Dragon Age 2 and get the franchise back on track. It mostly succeeded.

Personally, I never had been a great fan of the series. I thought Dragon Age: Origins was a good game but was overrated. It wasn’t anywhere near as great as many would have you believe. Dragon Age 2 had a great story, but the gameplay wasn’t as good and it didn’t allow you to have as many choices as Origins. Bioware obviously took into account fans’ complaints during the production of Inquisition and the result was a game that’s the sum of its predecessors. 

The story takes place after the events of Dragon Age 2 with the Mages and Templers in all-out war. The Chantry is trying to de-escalate the situation and holds a peace summit. You took part in the summit when things go badly wrong.

Once you recovered, you discovered that a big blast killed everyone at the summit except you. Not only that, there’s now a big hole in the sky and demons from the Fade are using it to enter your world. Your job is to stop the demons, closed the hole in the sky, and find out who targeted the summit.

At its heart, Dragon Age: Inquisition is an action role-playing game and in many ways it is superior to its predecessors. The behind-the-back combat view took a little time for me to get use to but once I did, the action flows. I also like the fact that the Qunari race is playable for the first time, and considering the number of Youtube videos out there showing Qunaris in-game, I’m not the only one.

The idea that you’re not just the leader of a bunch of adventurers, but the leader of a movement that aims to reform the world and bring order to it was very well executed. Your inquisition will sent followers to scout regions, undertake missions, require power, play politics, do investigations; and all these actions are tied, some loosely I admit, to the story. This allows you to have a sense of epicness; that you are truly playing for the world.

However in many ways, it is the little things that Dragon Age: Inquisition really shines. The small pieces of lore scattered all over the place, the small details in the elf temple, the decisions you make in the throne room; these are what ultimately set this game apart from the first two.

Of course the game is not perfect. I found the tactical view to be terrible. It is almost useless especially when you encounter multiple enemies standing close to each other. Some of the specialization classes are also overpowered, some even say the Knight-Enchanter class is unkillable. It’s an exaggeration, but only just.  

I also find the Dragon Age Keep to be a stupid. In theory, Dragon Age Keep allows players to have an ability to import their save files from the first two games into Dragon Age: Inquisition. If players of the previous games do not have access to their save files, they can go to a website, Dragon Age Keep, in which they can detail the major plots of the previous two Dragon Age games. In theory, this allows players to customize their games without having to replay of the initial games.

In practice however, Dragon Age Keep can mess up because it does not save the files onto the game. Everytime you enter Inquistion, the game will go to Dragon Age Keep to get the files. I actually went and change the info on my Dragon Age Keep because I wanted to start a second game. Once I done that however, the info on my first game got change so I got a game whose world history was changed halfway into the game. Talk about breaking world immersion.

On the whole however, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a good game. An epic story (that admitting loses steam halfway), detailed environments, excellent combat, good voice acting, makes Dragon Age: Inquisition the best game of the Dragon Age series. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Comics this week

Justice League #42- I heard of having too many cooks, but “The Darkseid War” seems to be suffering from having too many good ingredients. There are just so many good points in the story writer Geoff Johns seems undecided on what to focus on. To be fair, the man may just be a victim of his own success because everything here is on him. The JL team, Darkseid, Anti-Moniter,  Myrina Black and her daughter Grail; everything that’s here was down to the man and he’s trying to give everyone a chance to shine. Personally, I would prefer that more time be spent with Superman and Lex but that might mean less than with the JL team which might mean the shocking end of this issue may not pay off as great as it did here. Like I said, a victim of his own success. 

Moon Knight #17- For the past few issues, Marc Spector had been on a tear against other worshippers of Khonshu. Spector is trying to prevent others members of the Khonshu clergy from using their powers for ill intent but the problem is the God of the Moon and Night Travelers has 3 faces and it is clear that Spector only represent one aspect of the god. When his opponent this issue asked Spector why he was so narrow-minded and why they couldn’t co-exist side-by-side, his only answer was to burn down the building. Another excellent issue here! 

Don't Sign

To the surprise of everyone, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to a €86bn eurozone bailout deal demanded by the EU (European Union). Today members in the Greek Parliament are debating whether to approve the tough economic measures the deal demanded. I say, "Don't sign it!"

Forget the fact that the Greek public had overwhelming voted against the deal in a referendum, the deal on the table miss one crucial detail that MUST be in it for any deal to work. There's no write-off on Greek debts. 

There is no doubt in anyone's minds now that austerity measures is not going to work. For the past 5 years, Greece has been working under severe austerity measures and the result is that their economy has shrunk by just 5 years! Why in the world would more austerity measures work now when it hasn't worked for the past 5 years? 

It won't. The deal on the table is terrible with little to no chance of solving the Greek crisis. Even the IMF (International Monetary Fund) agreed with this assessment. The Greek debt is just too big. For any deal to work, some of it has to be written off. 

This deal don't have that. It won't work so don't sign it. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Have Confidence

Singapore has launched a review of electoral constituency boundaries…2 months ago? I must say I am shocked to read that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong only informed parliament on Monday that the electoral boundaries review committee has been at work for 2 months already.

In Singapore, an electoral boundaries review committee would be formed to redraw constituencies and once the report has been released, parliament could be dissolved at any time and a GE (General Election) would be called. So many people, including me, believe that the announcement yesterday means a GE will likely be called soon.

What I don’t get is why the PM kept the formation of the committee secret till now? Most political analysts in Singapore believe the ground is sweet for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and I agree. Singapore is holding celebrations for our 50th anniversary of independence in August. Singapore just had a very good SEA Games. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew just died earlier this year so the PAP will have the sympathy vote.

Outside all these, the government has also attempted to sweeten the ground. The number of COEs available for the next 3 months will be increased. Road tax for all petrol vehicles will have a 20% discount starting on 1 Aug. So with all these advantages, why is the PAP so afraid that they had to keep the formation of the committee secret for 2 months?

It just doesn’t make sense. Any advantage the PAP can get from these 2 months is nothing compared to the drawback of keeping things secret. I can understand that the PAP is playing things cautiously after the results of the last polls in 2011, but they must not give their opposition ammo just because of an unreasonable fear of a bad result.

Not only is the formation of the committee secret, the PM has also asked the committee to reduce the average size of the GRCs. Now after losing 2 ministers in the last election, I can’t say that’s a bad move but it’s a move that has fear written all over it.

The ground is sweet, the incumbency has many advantages in Singapore, and they have the press. The PAP needs to be more confident. This election is theirs to lose.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Election Bought/Sold

One of the strangest things about the current scandal engulfing Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is how strong his support has been within his own party. As bad as the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal has been, PM Najib’s support in Barisan Nasional (BN) has been very strong.

It seems we now have the reason why.

According to the Citizens For Accountable Governance Malaysia (CAGM), a non-governmental organization, the money that had been in PM Najib’s account were channeled to component parties of BN in the run-up to the 13th general election in 2013. The CAGM were used to “greased the wheels” of election machinery to ensure victory for the BN.

Now throwing money around during election time is no surprise, it happen in every country, but what’s surprising is the numbers involved. According to CAGM, the 13 BN component parties each received an average of RM30 million to RM50 million, and the rest of the funds were given to more than a dozen BN-friendly parties and NGOs.

This, if true, would explain a few things. One; why US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) were channeled into two of PM Najib's accounts. Two; why no one in the Malaysian government has demanded that the PM step down. And three; why PM Najib’s insistence that he did not have or use the money for "his personal gain" has not been challenged by anyone in BN.

If this report from CAGM is true, then one thing is clear. The BN should not be the government of Malaysia. They bought the election in 2013, to the tune of US$700 million, and even then they lost the popular vote! Malaysia now needs a new general election, hopefully this time it will be one where it won’t be bought. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Marisa Tomei as Aunt May

Let me say this upfront; I don’t understand why there’s a need for another reboot of Spiderman. Actor Tom Holland has been cast as Peter Parker in Marvel’s latest version of Spiderman and I thought the move (and the reboot) wasn’t necessary.

However, Marvel then got fans in an uproar because they cast Marisa Tomei as Peter Parker’s mild manner Aunt May. In case you did not know, this is Marisa Tomei!

You have to admit, Ms. Tomei is one sexy 50 year-old but…Aunt May? Now I think Marisa Tomei is a very good actress (My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler) but if she managed to pull off Aunt May, she deserved another Oscar to put alongside the one she won for My Cousin Vinny. I just can’t see her as Aunt May. To me, this is a serious case of an actress miscast for a role that’s not right for her. Sexy, slutty Marisa Tomei as a character that's usually a mild mannered, understanding, quiet woman? I can't see it.

However I would like to be proven wrong. Like I said earlier, Marisa Tomei is very good so hopefully she will surprise all of us. After all, she has to be better than Emilia Clarke as Sarah Conner right?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Comics this week

Earth 2: Society #2- Ambition is not usually a bad thing. For me, I like it when writers and artists pushed the envelope. However, there’s such a thing as being too ambitious for your own good and after two issues, this may be the problem for Earth 2: Society. Writer Daniel H. Wilson followed the template of #1 by showing Earth 2 both during the crash and the effects of it one year later. No doubt there’s a lot that happened during the year but without the context of what happened, a lot of what’s happening seems out of left field. Why don't Batman trust Huntress and the Flash for example. We have no idea and hopefully answers will come soon
Injection #3- Now this should have been #2 instead of #3! Unlike the very disjointed #2, I can actually understand this issue and the overall story. Writer Warren Ellis and artist Declan Shalvey has in this issue put together something that’s weird, strange and wonderful. This issue gave me back the promise I felt in #1 and hopefully the next issue will keep the ball rolling. The only thing I wish for is that we have more time with the think-tank Maria Kilbride and Robin Morel were in. They look like a group that’s just bursting with stories.

Master of Kung-Fu #3- After the fun romp in the first 2 issues, this Secret Wars tie-in get into the serious business of deciding the next Emperor of Kun Lun. The Thirteen Chambers are opened and all the Grand Masters of the land, including the drunken master Shang-Chi, entered for their chance to rule the land. I knew this would happen sooner or later but I can’t help but feel writer Haden Blackman has to rush things due to the limited series format of Master of Kung-Fu. I mean the start was a flashback from Rand-Kai that might had been an issue all on its own. Hopefully, the final issue will set things right again. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pampered Singaporeans

Tonight, the SMRT lines broke down yet again. Train services were not available at all stations along the North-South and East-West lines due to power fault and although free bus boarding services were provided by SMRT, complaints by Singaporeans flooded the internet.

Now, I’m not exactly against the complaints since the trains did stop, but some of the complaints were just too over-the-top. I read one which says Singapore doesn’t need terrorism, just the MRT breakdowns will kill off the country. I read this (and others) and could only think of one thing; we Singaporeans are a bunch of pampered fools.

Train breakdowns are an inconvenience, and people die during terrorist’s attacks. To compare the two, even jokingly (and I don’t think the guy was joking) is in bad taste. If the trains don’t work, Singaporeans can take taxis and buses. If you die in a terror attack, you are never going home.

America, Great Britain, Tunisia, France, Spain, almost every country in the Middle East, and many others had suffered through the pain of terrorism. To say that train breakdowns put Singapore in the same category as these countries is insulting beyond belief.

Complain all you want about SMRT and the train breakdowns, but Singaporeans should still take care. The breakdowns are hardly the end-all of the country. To some families, terrorism is.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Greece Vote "No"

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras scored a decisive victory yesterday when the Greek public overwhelmingly voted "no" in a referendum to demands by international creditors for more austerity measures. The 61% to 39% result was much higher than anyone expected as polls had indicated just a few percentage points difference going into the referendum.

With the vote, Greece is now in uncharted territory as austerity measures has been demanded by their creditors in exchange for a bailout of its bankrupt economy. Without the measures, there's no bailout. PM Tsipras' demand for a better deal from the creditors has been rejected before and that was why he went to the Greek public. The man's refusal to sign a bad deal for his country had led to this and you know what; I totally understand why he did it.

The simple fact is that after 5 years of austerity measures, the Greek economy is now worse than ever. PM Tsipras did not create this mess, he inherited it, and his first priority is to the country of Greece and the Greek people. He refuse to sign the deal given to him because it calls for measures that has proven to be unsuccessful and he do not wish to continue with a failed strategy. 

Mind you, no one can say Greece hadn't tried the medicine given to them. They tried for 5 years and the condition of their economy had gotten worse and worse. Does it comes as any surprise to anyone that they now want to try something else? 

So this may be uncharted territory but I can totally understand why the Greek public voted as they did. If I was Greek, I would have probably voted the same way, 

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Never-ending Saga of 1MDB

Debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) have been a millstone around the neck of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for months, and it is about to get worse.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Sarawak Report, investigations into 1MDB have allegedly uncovered that US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) has been channeled into the personal accounts of PM Najib. Both WSJ and the Sarawak Report are quoting from documents from the 1MDB probe that is being carried out by the Malaysian government, and the Sarawak Report even claimed that the Attorney-General was aware of the information.

Wow! This is huge. US$700 million is no small figure and what's more is that the report came from the WSJ. WSJ is no sleazy tabloid or some opposition mouthpiece; it is a very respected paper with over a century of history so it's hard to see them going to print with this story without some hard evidence to back it up. Also with this report, 1MDB has just become an international case. 

If the WSJ is going with the story, then it means 1MDB has gotten attention not just in Malaysia and the region, but also throughout the world. PM Najib could ignore the international attention but that still means he has a lot of questions to answer, especially the allegations from WSJ that a transaction of US$61 million was transferred to his account in March 2013, two months before the last Malaysian general election. 

Naturally, Putrajaya has denied the reports, insisting that the PM has not taken any funds for personal use but this case has just gotten bigger and bigger every month. The Malaysians need to nip this case in the bud quickly and if this means getting rid of Najib...well, from the 1MDB saga, that might not be a bad thing for Malaysia. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Monopoly Movie?

Now everyone knows Hollywood has ran out of ideas years ago and are now just rehashing ideas from other medium. TV series (Mission Impossible), cartoons (Ninja Turtles), comics (you name it), books (ditto); all have adaptations to the silver screen. Now you can add one more to that list; Board games!

Yes, you read that right. Hasbro has announced that they will create a movie based on Monopoly, the classic board game. Created over than a century, I think it’s fair to say everyone has either played or heard of Monopoly before, but a movie based on the game? It sounds stupid.

Now I won’t say it’s impossible to do it, or even that it won’t be good (I'm thinking Wall Street with cash thrown around and Jail time for the characters), but there’s just something wrong with the idea of making a movie based on the board game. It just sounds wrong to me.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Comics this week

Secret Wars #4- We always knew it was coming but when it did, it still came as a surprise. The team of Doom and Strange was always going to break with time but when it did, it was...kind of sad. These two managed to save the universe but old relations from the old universe caused the tag-team to break and it was something neither one of them wanted. It was just something that's destined to happen. Artist Esad Ribic managed to show the reluctance of Doom as he killed his one real connection to the old universe and it perfectly complement writer Jonathan Hickman's story.

We Stand On Guard #1- Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan has been on a roll lately and We Stand On Guard changes nothing on that score. Teaming up with artist Steve Skroce for an action-packed military thriller that is set 100 years in the future, We Stand On Guard #1 has one of the most intense opening scenes I can remember. A family sitting down watching television got blasted by a missile but before dying, the father made his young son promise to take care of his younger sister. This was a great start and it continued on throughout the issue. Canada has been invaded by their southern neighbour and a heroic band of Canadian civilians must defend their homeland from the United States of America. With detailed combat, giant robots, and a gritty, gripping story, this issue is superb. Looking forward to #2!