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.