Friday, December 30, 2016

Crazy China

Big money transfer are nothing unusual in the world of football, but even by the crazy standard of the world’s most popular sport, the money that is being thrown by China is nuts! It is common knowledge that the Chinese President Xi Jinping is a huge football fan and he has been actively trying to promote and raise the standard of Chinese football.

That’s all good and well, but the bid to curry favour with the powers to be in China has made the clubs in the Chinese Super League crazy. I mean Guangzhou Evergrande paid €42 million for Jackson Martinez. Shanghai Shenhua paid $78.2 million for Carlos Tevez, and then gave him a salary of $762,000 a week. That’s a week!

Then there are rumours of another Chinese club offering Alexis Sánchez a £400,000-per-week offer, and yet another offering Real Madrid a £250m transfer for Cristiano Ronaldo. If Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes is to be believed, that Chinese club was willing to pay Ronaldo a £85m annual salary.

Sorry but if the clubs in the Chinese Super League think buying foreign stars is the way to go to raise the football standard of China; they are wrong. Throwing money at foreign players is a short term fix that does nothing for the long-term health of football in the country. Simply put, you can’t buy success in international football. You need to throw money at the unsexy for that to happen. AKA, youth development and football academy! Just look at Bahrain and our own dear Singapore as prime examples.

I won’t fault players for taking the money and plying their trade in China. I mean I would if I’m offered those amounts of money, but fans of Chinese football need to rein in their expectations. These players will do nothing to raise the standard of their football. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Comics this week

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2- I have to say this to writer Joshua Williamson; he knows how to mix things up. A fight between the Justice League Vs Suicide Squad should, on paper, be a simple thing but Williamson put enough spin on things that it made the final outcome plausible. Yes, Enchantress against Superman loos kooky but overall, the fight works. I especially like the fact that Williamson made no bones about the fact that Amanda Waller may be the Big Bad in this story as even Maxwell Lord’s team has a rightful bone to pick with her. In short, #2 is the same as #1. The story is much better than expected!

Monstress #9- Anyone who thinks his family is dysfunctional will think otherwise after reading this issue. Flashbacks have been a part of this series from the beginning but we never seem much of Maika and her mother together. We do now. Many characters had told Maika that her mother deserved to die and we could now see their point of view. More importantly, writer Marjorie M. Liu and artist Sana Takeda made us sympathised with these characters and glad the bitch is dead. Considering how the series thus far has been about Maika chasing after the legacy of her mother, that took guts. Another great issue in this series!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Goodbye Princess Leia

2016 has been a bad year for celebrities. Many of them died this year and now, just a few days before the end of 2016, come news of yet another star that has gone.  Carrie Fisher, better known as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movie, has passed at the age of 60.

Unfortunately, this news was not totally unexpected. The Star Wars actress suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles less than a week ago and has been receiving treatment. Sadly, she lost the battle. The actress first starred in A New Hope when she was just 19, and she will probably make her last on screen appearance in the forthcoming Star Wars Episode VIII movie, which will hit the cinemas next year.

Perhaps it is fitting that the Star Wars movies that has overshadowed most of her other works will be the last movie she appeared in. Goodbye, Carrie Fisher. You will be missed.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Comics this week

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1- I went into this with low expectations despite DC advertising this as the first major DC crossover since Rebirth. I was pleasantly surprised. The idea of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is simple. Batman and the JL have discovered that Amanda Waller is running a covert assassination squad comprised of their enemies, and they intend to put a stop to it. Writer Joshua Williamson’s story is pretty by the book but he did the job. He seems to have a good handle on the characterises of both teams, but what really impress me in this issue is the art. Artist Jason Fabok was excellent. His detailed and cinematic style was perfect for this. Good start!

Spider-Gwen #15- The Christmas issue, but a good Christmas? Yes, there’s such a thing as writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez show Gwen and cast at Christmas and how the holidays affects them all. I must say this Matt Murdock is growing on me as Latour shows him putting his pieces in place and some small history of the character. The Western Sun of the Hand? The Kingpin of Crime? Friends with benefits with Superior Cindy Moon? Current the boss of Spider-Gwen? Now this is one character I want to read more of!

Trinity #4- This series has been good in a very surprising way. Whereas in the past, this team-up has always due to world-shattering event, writer Francis Manapul is going the other way here by having a low-key and introspective examinations of the 3 characters and what makes them tick. More importantly, he showed what them tick with each other! I can understand why some people think this series is slow and dull and if you are looking for high-action fisticuffs, this is not for you. However for an in-depth look at the Trinity, this is the series you want.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Let It Be An Arms Race!

Thanks you stupid Americans. Thank you for the coming disaster that is Donald Trump. Incoming U.S. President Donald Trump has once again proved to the world why he should NOT be the President of the most powerful country in the world by saying there should be a world nuclear arms race.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia need to boost its nuclear forces, Trump was asked about the U.S. nuclear weapons capability and he said, "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

That’s right. Not only does the incoming U.S. President not mind Russia expanding its nuclear capability, he don’t mind other countries joining in the nuclear arms race as well. I mean is there’s another way to see what “outlast them all" means? He don't mind because he thinks America will win a nuclear arms race. As if there is something left to win once nuclear weapons starts flying!

And this is the guy whose hands will be on the nuclear codes once he takes over? So thank you all Americans. The world is going to have a few interesting years ahead and we have you all to thank for it. Thank you Americans! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Standing Stone Games

The biggest MMORPG news that came out over the past few days was the bomb Turbine dropped on players that they had decided to move their flagship game, Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), to a new studio. Turbine is going to spins LOTRO and DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online) to new studio, Standing Stone Games, and not only that, the publisher will now be Daybreak.

This news came out of the blue. No one, not even long-time players, saw it coming. Already, the forums are filled with worries from players as they wonder about the long-term health of the game. Not helping things is the news that Turbine will no longer be involved in the development of LOTRO and DDO. They will continue on the development of their own products instead. I assumed this means Turbine will concentrate on their recently launched mobile game, Batman: Arkham Underworld.

But guess what; I say let's give Standing Stone Games a chance. I have been playing LOTRO on-and-off for years and while I have no problem with Turbine, if Turbine would rather concentrate on their own products instead of LOTRO and DDO, then it might be a bad thing for LOTRO to be under the development of a new studio.

Already, Standing Stone Games is trying to pacify fans and players by saying that new character model revamps could be coming along with a new (Mordor) expansion of the game. Honestly, I don't really care much about character models but this is a good first step. Let's give the studio a chance and see what happens. Who knows; this might turn out for the best.

Now if only someone could tell me what do I do with all the Turbine points I have?

Monday, December 19, 2016

The 1MDB Verdict

Last month, I laughed at the verdict given to Yak Yew Chee. The private banker was jailed18 weeks on fraud charges relating to Malaysia's 1MDB financial scandal. He was also fined $24,000. His crime; being paid $7.5 million for helping with a transfer of $110 million.

Even writing this, I’m having an urge to laugh. A fine of $24,000 for being paid $7.5 million? 18 weeks jail for a fraud that was $110 million? That’s laughable right? Well, it seems I had laughed too early because the sentence to the second person convicted in the mess that is 1MDB is even funnier.

Yvonne Seah, a former director at the Singapore branch of Swiss bank BSI, helped forge documents and failed to report suspicious money transfers from accounts allegedly linked to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho. She pleaded guilty. Her sentence was a fortnight in jail and a fine of $10,000.

Seriously, I don’t know why the Singapore courts bother. Billions were misappropriated from the Malaysian state fund and these guys helped to the tune of $110 million. The sentences were weeks and their fines were like less than 1% of the money they took.

Now that’s a laugh. Like I said earlier…why bother? 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Comics this week

Jessica Jones #3- Writer Brian Michael Bendis has made no bones about the fact this Jessica Jones series is a continuation of his Alias series. With this issue, he proved the series will be much more than that. Civil War II may be one of the worst Marvel crossover events in recent memory but Bendis seems willing to go back to that disaster to mine new stories. The re-introduction of the Alison character from Civil War II is a little jarring but the interplay between Jessica and Alison and how well Alison read Jessica saved the return of the character. Another interesting character into the mix that is Jessica Jones.  

Motor Girl #2- Just when we thought we got the main character figured out, writer and artist, Terry Moore, pull a shock on us by implying that Samantha Mooney's delusion may just be that; delusions! Instead of aliens who stop by the junkyard for quick repairs, this could be just the delusions of a very damaged woman. Where is the line between delusions and reality for Samantha Mooney? I don’t know but I will be here to find out.

Superwoman #5- Some comics are the sum of all their parts; some are not. Superwoman is a title that falls into the latter category. There’s a lot going on and writer Phil Jimenez tried to give everyone a moment to shine but…well, there’s almost too much goings on! Jimenez need to focus on Lana’s role as Superwoman and saved space for the main character. I mean we never even seem the end of the issue where Lana lost the battle! If Jimenez could focus more on Lana, this series would be so much better. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How NOT To Spend Loot!

What would you do if you managed to steal US$5 million? Buy a house? Buy a car? Bury it somewhere for a rainy day? All possibility I would say. Spent US$1 million on a free-to-play mobile game? No way!

Well, someone did. In a story that’s stranger than fiction, a man in the US plead guilty to embezzling $4.8 million from his employer between 2008 and 2015, and then spending about a fifth of the ill-gotten loot on the mobile F2P title Game of War. I am amazed by this story and I will admit, when I first read it, I thought it was a hoax. I mean…spending one million dollars on a F2P game? That just ridiculous! However, the story does seem to be true. Every site I went to ran the story and almost all of them expressed amazement at it. One even went as far to say, the story is so bad it has to be true. 

Sadly, that's right. How could a guy smart enough to steal US$5 million be so stupid to spend 20% of it on a game he could have played for free? The story has to be true.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Santa's Machines

Do you know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was NOT originally part of Santa’s reindeer team? In the 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (commonly called "The Night Before Christmas"), Santa Claus's team of flying reindeer numbered 8 and the names of the reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. Rudolph was included in the 20th-century due to the enduring popularity of the Christmas song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Well, in a few years’ time, Santa may need to replace Rudolph and gang because global warming has curbed winter food for the animals and scientists has found that reindeers are getting smaller and smaller as a result. According to their reports, the average weight of adult reindeer on Svalbard, a chain of islands north of Norway, was 55kg in the 1990s. Now it’s 48kg.

Since global warming is not going to stop any time soon, chances are the reindeers will get smaller and smaller in the future. Considering how fat Santa is and how heavy all the presents are, chances are Santa need a new animal to pull his sled. Polar Bears maybe? No, wait; polar bears are in trouble too due to global warming so…machines?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Comics this week

Champions #3- After 2 issues of setup, which exactly works very well, who would have thought the Champions’ first mission would be so “meh”. Writer Mark Waid tried to set the tone of the issue with political commentary in a more realistic world setting, but it was honestly poor. I have no problem with comics coming straight out against social issues (see my review of the latest issue of Ms. Marvel) but having a bunch of American kids and a robot going halfway around the world to defend 1 small village so that the women and girls there could have education is just too ridiculous even for comics. What? The Champions can’t find any problems to solve closer to home?

Justice League #10- After some many missteps, writer Bryan Hitch finally got it right. This issue wasn’t great but it was fun. Hitch threw the kitchen sink at readers this issue and it worked. This was a goofy issue with some fun twists in the midst of it. Hopefully, this is a sign of better things to come.

Moon Knight #9- Sometimes the setup is so good, the payoff must be great to make it worthwhile. Unfortunately for writer Jeff Lemire, this issue was just merely good. On its own, this is a very good issue but considering how great the previous issue was, it just pale in comparison. Yes, Warren Ellis and Jeff Lemire had spoilt us. Artists Wilfredo Torres, Francesco Francavilla, and James Stokoe, all did stellar work that enhanced the story. Each of them did one of many iterations of Marc Spector and it works! Good issue! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

News on Pokemon Go!

I’m no fan of product tie-ins but at times, it’s a good thing. It’s good because we fans get inside info before the tie-ins happened. I mean just look at the latest news on Pokemon Go!

A Reddit user alturrisi (who has to be working at Starbucks) posted an internal Starbucks memo that says a new Pokemon Go update will be released in the US on December 8 that would coincides with the release of a new Pokemon Go-branded Frappuccino. Not only that, the memo state that new Pokemon will also be added to Pokemon Go this Thursday, December 8. That’s this week.

Usually, people will ignore such rumours but there’s was just an update that installed place-holders for the 100 Pokémon that were in Pokémon Gold and Silver. Perfect timing right? Let’s wait for a few days and see. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Comics this week

Deadly Class #24- Writer Rick Remender took a huge risk a few issues ago by killing almost all the main cast. With this issue, I am beginning to see why he did so. With the new cast, Remender could go back to the first few issues of the series when Marcus and gang were all freshmen. Marcus and his crew may not be around anymore, except for Saya of course, but with the new freshmen, Remender could restart the cycle and at the same time also show the intrigue and politics of the student body of the second year students. In many ways, this is a setup issue but it is a great setup issue. Read it!

Monstress #8- What’s there to say about the art of this series that hadn’t been said before? Nothing because artist Sana Takeda did another stellar job this issue that’s par for course for her. Her work isn’t just influenced by Japanese anime but by Japanese art and it is very refreshing. Writer Marjorie M. Liu’s story and world-building is good but Sana’s work is just great. Pick this series up!

Ms. Marvel #13- Between writer Gail Willow Wilson and artist Mirka Adolpha, this issue managed to do a most strange thing; it made the superhero heroic without having to do any of the usual superhero stuff. This issue had Kamala running around the city trying to get people to vote. I think this must be an American thing because of the recent election. Not a bad issue, but you most probably need to be an America to fully understand it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

China Flex It's Muscle

If you are not with us, you are against us. 

That’s the line given to Singapore by China when they seized 9 Singapore armoured personnel carriers in Hong Kong last week. For a long time now, Singapore has tried to have it’s cake and eat it by walking a careful line between the U.S. and China. China is now saying that stance is at it’s end.

Using it's economic muscle, China has slowly gained the diplomatic advantage in South East Asia. Laos and Cambodia are strictly in China’s orbit; promises of investments seem to have swayed Philippine’s President Duterte to shelf their country’s territorial disputes; and they saved Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bacon by buying the Malaysian’s power plants. Now it’s Singapore’s turn.

I say; Singapore should just ignore China.

Yes, China is a big country and is very important for trade but seizing our armed forces’ weapons just to make a point? That’s just a step that goes beyond any acceptable norm. The Singapore government may not be able to do anything to China but they cannot allow and accept this. Not only that, if the Singapore accepts the seizure, cut ties with Taiwan and America over it; then we are burning the forest to save a tree.

Simply put; America is more important to Singapore than China. Throwing our weight behind China over America is just stupid when three quarter of our trade is with America. As Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has publicly said several times, Singapore does not want to take sides in the battle of influence between China and the U.S. However if China wants to force the issue, then there’s only one side to pick for Singapore.

Let China melt the armoured personnel carriers as they had threatened to do. The loss of the armoured personnel carriers would just prove what everyone had always suspected; China is no friend of Singapore. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bye Bye

For nearly 30 years, The New Paper has been around. Come tomorrow, that’s no more as the paper takes it's final bow today. Now I’m sure there will be some Singaporeans who are sad to see the paper go but for the majority of Singaporeans, they would meet demise of The New Paper with indifference.

The main problem as I see it is the simple fact that although The New Paper had tried to change itself many times, it has failed to distance itself from The Strait Times. Yes, it has more sensational stories, arguably a better football section, and more colour pictures but when it came to the meat of a newspaper, the stories were pretty similar to those of The Strait Times. It was really The Strait Times’ young brother so when advertisers cut down on promotion via advertisements in newspapers, The New Paper would be the one who get hit the hardest.

To me, The New Paper has always been just sort of there. The Strait Times is still around and with all the news currently online, I don’t think I would miss it too much. Sorry but that’s just the truth. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Blame Game

As quickly as that, the Singapore national football team are out of the AFF Suzuki Cup. The biennial football competition is contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia and Singapore had slumped to their worst showing in the 20-year history by finishing last in their group.

The blame game has already began with the players, the coach, the management, are getting some of the blame. To me, the blame game starts and ends on one thing; age.

Simply put, the national team is too old. The defence is anchored by 38 year old Daniel Bennett, our main striker is 31 year old Khairul Amri, and our captain is 32 year old Shahril Ishak. Our team is just too old to compete and that’s not something the players or the coach can control.

That’s on the Football Association of Singapore. Our youth development has failed so if there’s anyone to blame on the Singapore team getting kicked out on the first round of the Suzuki Cup, it’s on the FAS.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Comics this week

Spider-Gwen #14- What happened? The first half of this issue was excellent with Matt Murdock finally making a play to make good his deal with Gwen. Then…the art went to shit. I had said several times I do not agree with Marvel’s use of duel artists on an issue and this issue is Exhibit A on why. The difference in style between artists Robbi Rodriguez and Chris Visions is so huge, for a moment I thought there was a printing error. It was just terrible and that’s bad because writer Jason Latour threw the kitchen in this issue with a guest star from Jessica Drew and showing how awesome of a villain Matt Murdock would make. Too bad about the art switch. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ditto Is Here!

You have to give this to Niantic; they do not rest on their laurels. Since Pokémon Go was launched, Niantic has been making subtle changes to the game and while some changes have not went down well with fans, other changes had been welcomed.

Ditto for the Ditto. The final missing Pokémon in Pokémon Go outside the legendary has finally appeared in the game and Niantic did not just stop there. Taking advantage of the Pokémon shape-changing ability, Niantic threw in a twist by having Ditto show up in the map as another Pokémon. This means you could catch a simple Rattata, and then after catching it, it shows up as a Ditto!

That’s brilliant! Using the power of Pokémon to give a sensible twist to the game? Not only is it great, it also give an explanation on why Ditto was missing till now. Smart and clever at the same time!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Goodbye F1

Formula One (F1) supremo Bernie" Ecclestone has publicly said that he believed both Singapore and  Malaysia will no longer be hosting the F1 Grand Prix once their current agreement expires in 2018. I can only say one thing to that; it’s about time!

I don’t know about Malaysia but I never thought Singapore was a good fit for the F1. It’s an open secret to everyone in Singapore the race has been losing money since it came to Singapore and it’s became a yearly nightmare to close off part of the Marina Bay area for the race. Though the visual of the night race was great, the fact is neither the racers nor the teams were all that interested in coming to Singapore in the first place.

Singapore is a small country with no car manufacturing industry to speak of. The price of cars in this country is so high, most Singaporeans who own one has to take multi-years loan just to own it. We are just not a good fit for the F1 so goodbye night-race, and I hope the Singapore replacement is a better fit for you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Comics this week

Jessica Jones #2- Putting writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos together was the smartest move Marvel did recently. I know, between Civil War 2 and The Spider-Clone Saga, there’s not a lot of competition but you only need to read this series to know why the few people who read it are all raving about it. The dark and gritty series probably won’t last very long so enjoy it while it’s still here.

Justice League #9- Someone has managed to hack the power rings of the Green Lanterns, the computer in the Batcave, and even Cyborg’s body. The Justice League is under attack from a foe with a vendetta against them, and this person is…a recent widow who did all this from the basement of his house? Really? That’s the best writer Bryan Hitch can come up with? Hopefully, there’s a twist somewhere in the next few issues because this explanation is just stupid.

Trinity #3- After reading, I have to say this issue is something you will either get or not, depending on how well you like going through Batman’s origin story. Writer Francis Manapul goes through similar ground in Batman's purpose and guilt but put in enough freshness to just about get a pass from me. He’s a little lucky artist Clay Mann did some excellent work here to compensate for the been-there, done-that story. A good enough issue on its own, but I’m still waiting for this series to launch. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Not Dead Yet

Who says Pokėmon Go is on the wane? Niantic Labs sure didn’t and they got the stats to prove it. Recently, Niantic Labs held their first Pokėmon Go event for Halloween and it was a huge success.

Niantic Labs said that during the 5 days event, players caught 1.3 billion Pokémon with the ghost Pokémon, Gastly, being caught the most. However, most players don’t do the event for the Pokėmon. Most players, like me, were there for the candies!

The event increased Pokémon Candy payouts for every Pokémon caught and even the Professor got into the act, giving Trainers two Candies instead of one for every Pokémon transferred to him. Some players even say the best part of the event was the Buddy Pokémon which award four candies instead of the usual one.

With such rewards, players responded.  So don’t believe the rumours. The death of Pokémon Go has been greatly exaggerated.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

'Strong' Deterrent

There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the verdict was meant to prove that Singapore will not tolerate people using the local banking system for money laundering. I am of course talking about the case of Singapore private banker, Yak Yew Chee, who was jailed on fraud charges relating to Malaysia's 1MDB financial scandal on Friday.

Allegations that huge sums were misappropriated from the Malaysian state fund through money-laundering have triggered a massive corruption scandal which Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak seems to have survived. However Yak Yew Chee, a former managing director at the Singapore branch of Swiss bank BSI, was not so lucky as he became the first figure to be convicted in the international saga. Mr. Yak pleaded guilty to four charges of forgery and failure to report suspicious transactions related to the investment fund and was sentenced to 18 weeks in jail by the court. He was also fined $24,000.

The crime involved transactions that include a transfer of $110 million that went through six banks and nine accounts before landing up at the Swiss bank account of Selune Ltd. Yak was paid a bonus of $7.5 million for his part of the deal.

Wait, what? He was paid over $7 million for a crime that was over $110 million, and his punishment was 18 weeks in jail with a fine of $24,000? I know this is white collar crime and the $7.5 million he got was given to the Singapore government but come on!

Like I said earlier, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the verdict was meant to prove that Singapore will not tolerate people using the local banking system for money laundering. However I’m afraid the fine and punishment involved is not going to deter anyone.  $24,000 for a crime that was over $110 million? That's really going to deter people. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

More Pokémon On The Way

Of all the Pokémon Go websites out there, the most famous is arguably The Silph Road. With the latest update of Pokémon Go, the people running The Silph Road proves once again why that is the case.  introduces new incentives for playing - and may hint at the arrival of 100 more Pokémon to the game in the near future.

While the latest update was to add in a new rewards system, but has got everyone’s attention is the news that the people from The Silph Road has found a hidden code in the game that appears to be placeholders for the next generation of Pokémon. That’s right; the 100 Pokémon that were introduced to the game in Pokémon Gold and Silver are now on their way to Pokémon Go.

More Pokémon means more walking; more catching; and more fun to be had. In short, more Pokémon is always a good thing. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Comics this week

Superwoman #4- Is she crazy or is it an extension of her new powers? That’s the question facing Lana Lang when she begins to see a vision of the dead Lois Lane. While Superwoman's illness gets worse, Ultrawoman put her plans in motion. This was a fun and well executed issue with good art from Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy. The only drawback is that at times it’s a little too talky. If writer Phil Jimenez can rein that in, it would be great. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump Wins

The results are in and Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States of America. He will be the first person to hold the office despite having no prior political or military experience and many people will consider this an upset.

I don’t. America is such a divided country that a good portion of Americans do not care who the candidates are. A good number of Republicans will not vote for a Democrat, and the feeling is highly mutual on the Democrats side. That’s why anyone following American news channel will see news anchors across various news agency all saying the same thing; this election will be close.

Also, despite all the talk of Hillary Clinton being the favourite, she was never able to pull away from Trump. At the end, her campaign was derailed by the FBI who did the Republicans a clear favour. Honestly, I think America made a huge mistake here with Trump. You don’t make a guy who tweeted at 3am in the morning the President of your country! You just don’t.

For the sake of the world, I hope I am wrong but we can do nothing now but see where the train wreck takes us. I think America is in for an interesting 4 years. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Gridlock

Well, it’s out. The “proposed” changes to the Elected Presidency are now out and to the surprise of…no one, changes has been made. The next President Elections due in 2017 will only be limited to Malay candidates. To me, the fun wasn’t in the changes but the way various government personals and media are trying to explain the changes in a way that is digestible to the Singapore public.

Deputy Minister Minister Teo Chee Hean said the changes to the Elected Presidency will help avoid gridlock. I honestly have no idea our parliament is suffering gridlock right now with just 6 opposition Members of Parliament.  I think the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) need to find a way to make their 60+ advantage in Parliament work for them to prevent this.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said the Malay candidate for the presidency must meet the same exacting standards as any other candidate from another race as if in the past if a Malay candidate stands for the Presidency, he will be of a lower standard. Trying to tackle the giant elephant in the room, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong insist the reserved election for the minority race is NOT a maneuver by the PAP to prevent the victory of the opposition in the 2017 presidential election.

Every single one of these “explanations” is laughable. Come on, everyone and their uncle in Singapore knows the only reason the PAP did all these changes is because Tan Cheng Bock came within a whisker of winning the past time and he is up for the election this time. Not able to find a way to stop him from contesting the election, they had to invent some way to stop him.

Thus, the PAP played the race card. And as an example of how gridlock the Singapore Parliament truly is right now, the change to our Constitution was announced by the PM Lee Hsien Loong and everyone said it in a language that shows that this is a done deal. That’s right, that changes to the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore! Now that’s gridlock for you. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

In Defense of The Current Guy

There are only two days to go before we know who would be the next President of the United States of America. In the blue corner, we got the secretive yet experienced Hillary Clinton. In the red corner, we got the famous yet loose-lipped Donald Trump.

In short, whoever the winner is, he/she will be a step down from the current guy. I know there are some people in America who just hate current President Barack Obama but from the outside looking in; I think he did a pretty good job as President. It is showing in his opinion polls as he is so popular right now, he is criss-crossing the country campaigning on behalf of Clinton.   

Now I would agree he would probably not go down as a great President, but considering the mess he inherited from George W. Bush, he did a pretty good job. Under his tenure, America’s standing in the world has improved; the US economy began their slow recovery; and many terrorist leaders, including Osman bin Laden, died during his two terms as President.

Did he make mistakes? Of course he did, but what’s new? No one is perfect and every US President in history made mistakes. On the whole however, I think most people would agree Barack Obama was a better than average President. He didn’t set the world on fire, and he didn’t usher in the next golden age of America. He did his job.

In the end, that’s all you can ask for. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Comics this week

Deadly Class #23- The more things change, the more things remind the same. We see this clearly this issue as Master Lin schooled Saya on the finer points of betrayal and death. Thing is…he does make a certain amount of sense. Master Lin is task with turning Saya into a killer and like all good teachers, he’s not afraid to do whatever is necessary to get things then. The end of the story here he gave Saya a new pledge with a foretelling of the betrayal to come? Man, writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig really show their stuff here!

Moon Knight #8- We all know the character of Moon Knight. Marc Spector has a spilt personality which many writers had fun playing with but I can say no one has pushed it as far as writer Jeff Lemire. There is just so much wonderful chaos in this issue that it just works. And the ending; oh, what an ending. I just can’t wait for the next issue of Moon Knight.

Motor Girl #1- A former POW who is now back in America trying to adjust to civilian life while she knowingly has a mental condition that she’s hiding from other people? That in itself would make Motor Girl a potential winner, but that’s not good enough for writer Terry Moore. No, he has Samantha running a junkyard that is visited by a UFO that crashed landed there. When she saw that the aliens were looking for spare parts, she was only too happy to oblige. The first in a long new line of customers? I shall say I always thought Terry Moore to be slightly overrated but count me in on this new series. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Prank In Singapore

The killer clown craze is stupid. Originating in the US, the craze is basically guys dressed in “scary” clown costumes scaring unsuspecting people on the street. It’s so stupid the craze has spread to other parts of the world including Singapore.

I know this because there’s a YouTube video titled “Killer Clown Scare Prank In Singapore”. Uploaded by some guy named “Joel Wong”, the video has become well-known in Singapore because…the clown prankster now under police investigations for being a public nuisance.

What? Are you kidding me? Don’t the police have better things to do? This is a prank, and the only crime I see is the fact it wasn’t a very funny one. Last I check, stupidity still isn’t a crime in Singapore. There's a police investigation for a such a harmless stupid prank? Now that's funny. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why The Wait?

Ever heard of Batman: Arkham Underworld? No? Well, I’m not surprised. It’s a new mobile game where you aim to become the next criminal mastermind of Gotham. Since this is the city of Batman, you need to recruit various Gotham supervillains to aid you in your conquest.

Sound like a great game right? Well, there’s a problem. I can’t find the game!

Though developer Turbine says the game is available for iOS and Android, I couldn’t find the game on the Android app store. After some serious Googling, I finally found the reason why. Batman: Arkham Underworld is NOT yet available on Android!

It seems the Android release is scheduled only in March 2017 though the game is on iOS for at least 4 months already. This is not the first time this happened. Pokemon Go for example was on Android well before going on iOS. Why is that? 

I know they are different but I always wondered why game companies almost always released a game on one format or console first before releasing it on another. To me, it just never made any sense as you would want as big of a launch as possible right?

Well, I now have to wait 5 months before I can play Batman: Arkham Underworld. Hopefully the game is worth the wait. Better yet, hopefully I can still remember the game exist in 5 months time! Who knows what new hot game would have been released before then. By then, I may just forget the game even existed. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

No Way To Go But Up

Nine months ago, Tampines Rovers scored a coup when it lured former Arsenal and Liverpool player Jermaine Pennant to Singapore. Now, it is reported that Pennant is leaving Singapore after just one season. Before leaving though, he fired a shot across the bow of Singapore football by saying not even Lionel Messi can save the local S-League.

You know what’s the saddest thing about what he said? He was right.

Sadly, the fact is Singapore football is in the doldrums.  No one really go to see the S-League anymore and the champion of the season is Japanese club Albirex Niigata which is exactly a satellite team for the Albirex Niigata team in Japan. Yes, a feeder squad from Japan won the local league.

Honestly, the impact of Pennant has been limited but that doesn’t mean what he said about Singapore football is incorrect. The shining light in all this? There’s no way to go but up. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Comics this week

Birthright #20- After 20 issues, we finally see him. After so long, writer Joshua Williamson finally gave us a bone and show us who Lore really is. I’m sure the scene everyone will be talking about is the dragon Sameal threw at his former comrades but for me, it was the before and current version of Lore that got my attention. I can’t help but wondered what caused such a change in the man who is now revealed as the former “Chosen One”. First Lore, then Mikey; it seems being the “Chosen One” sure is a terrible job.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #12- There are comics with drama; there are comics with action; then there are comics like Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Hilarious jokes are tossed left and right by writer Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare as Lunella's problems mount. The main joke here is that while Lunella sees her problems as world-ending events, the rest of us just laugh at the “drama” of kids. A fun issue!

Ms. Marvel #12- This is a wonderful issue. Writer Willow Wilson and artist Mirka Andolfo knocked it out of the park with this one. After the events of Civil War, Kamala goes on vacation which in her case means back to her homeland of Pakistan. I loved how Wilson mixed in the great slice of life scenes in Pakistan while softly showing the realities of life faced by a Pakistani-American in America. Mirka was excellent showing Kamala’s confusion while surrounded by her loving extended family. All that plus they also introduced the street-level superhero in Karachi! Pick this one up, it is nothing short of being marvelous (pun intended).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review of The Accountant

Much like his good friend Matt Damon, I always found Ben Affleck to be a strange person to be an action star. However much like Matt Damon, Affleck has been a surprising effective action star. “The Town”; “Batman vs Superman”; and now Affleck did it again in “The Accountant”.

The film has Affleck as Christian Wolff, a mathematical genius who works mainly as a forensic accountant for dangerous criminal organizations that are experiencing internal embezzlement. Such work got the attention of the U.S Treasury Department whose director, Raymond King (J. K. Simmons) want to catch Wolff before his retirement.

However all the Treasury Department knows of Wolff is that he is good, and that his alias is "The Accountant”. With little to nothing to go on, King blackmail young Treasury analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to help him identify and arrest the “Accountant”. With the heat on, Wolff was advised by his friend "The Voice" to lay low and take a non-criminal account.

The case is auditing the books of robotics corporation Living Robotics, whose in-house accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), found suspicious financial discrepancies. The company's CEO, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) willingly cooperates with Wolff's investigation while believing Dana's findings to be a mistake. Wolff discovers that $61 million dollars has been embezzled from the company. From there, Wolff finds his life in danger as an assassin (Jon Bernthal) target him for death and he find that Dana is also targeted by the assassination team.

Now I know the reviews of “The Accountant” have been decidedly mixed but I enjoyed it immensely. Ben Affleck is excellent in this movie, giving a committed performance that brought Wolff to life. Whether he was killing assassins or solving math problems, Wolff was a believable character.

In fact, I say the cast on the whole was excellent. Both Simmons and Bernthal made the most of their limited time on screen and Cynthia Addai-Robinson gave Medina the right mix of intelligence and desperate to make the character work. However the best part of the movie for me was the slightly sweet, off-beat feel of the movie.

This film has several complex things going on at the same time; pained social interactions, brutal intense action scene, complex math accounting problem; yet the movie does works! Director Gavin O'Connor works in the twists well and for an action film, the movie has some surprising emotional depth. I could see the connection between Wolff and his assassin a mile away but when it happened, the scene worked remarkably well. A lot of that has to do with the acting but the direction of the film also helps.

Having said all that, some things in the film did not work. The reviews of the film is mixed and while I don’t agree, I can see why that’s the case. Like I said earlier, the movie has many gears in play and you can argue that there was too much. The movie has a scattershot feel to it and fans who like their action movie to be focused on good guy- bad guy action will be disappointed with this film.

On the whole, I thought the movie to be excellent and I would highly recommend it. Much like “John Wick”, I have a feeling “The Accountant” will be a franchise. If that’s true, then I will be here for the sequel. It’s good. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Restoration" Works

2 years and $14 million later, the Bukit Timah Reserve has reopened. The Reserve, which houses Singapore’s tallest hill at 163m, was closed in Sep 2014 for “restoration works” and The National Parks Board (NParks) has now proudly said the “restoration works” are done.

According to the NParks, the Reserve now comes with railings along footpaths; new boardwalks; and an upgraded visitor centre. Oh, there’s even a slip-resistant trail to prevent hikers from slipping. I’m sorry. I know we Singaporeans are pampered city-folks but a “slip-resistant” trail? Come on; a “slip-resistant” trail in a nature reserve? 

What in the world is so natural about that? When you go on a hike, surely falling down on the trail is an accepted risk right? I mean if you can’t even accept that, why are you even there? I know the kaisu mentally of Singaporeans means the NParks want to cover their ass but be serious; railings along trails and a slip-resistant trail? I thought the Bukit Timah Reserve was closed for “restoration works”, not create new items that turn a hike into a walk.

Surely Singaporeans are not that pampered…are we? 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

New Prince Album

It was bounded to happen and sooner than I expected, it is happening. Since the death of Prince, fans of the late singer expected that more, if not most, of his unreleased songs will be released in the future. 

On Nov. 22, that will happen.

Prince is famous (or infamous) for his Vault. A location that contains his unreleased recordings which is said to numbered over 500 songs. Rumors has it there are enough material inside the Vault to last till the end of the century. That's about to be put to the test as "Prince 4Ever" is expected to be only the first of many offerings from the Vault. 

Don't know if the new songs will be any good but I do intend to find out. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Comics this week

Astro City #40- Spells seem as contracts between otherworldly beings and mages? Yet somehow, it worked! Writer Kurt Busiek did it again as Marta, tax accountant and minor mage, has to work out a spell/contract dispute between the Silver Adept and the followers of a demigod. Another fine example of what make Astro City different from all the other superhero books out there every week.

Justice League #7- Okay, I’ll just come out and say it. This has been a terrible JL series so far. I don’t know what big overall plan writer Bryan Hitch has but I won’t be here to see it. I mean the previous JL series was great so I gave this series a chance but thus far, to say it has been disappointing is a huge understatement. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Funny Game

Football is a funny game. Maybe it’s because of that, football fans and media covering football are also sometimes void of sense. I say that because after the bore that was Liverpool vs. Manchester United, fans and the media are saying Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho seems to have his swagger back.

No talk about how he sent his team out to defend for 90mins and put 9-10 men behind the ball at all times. At times, Man Utd looked like they had a 6 men defense! Yet people are saying this was "vintage Mourinho" and that he had "his tactics spot on".

Strange because no one said this when Mourinho's predecessor, Louis van Gaal, did it! No wait, van Gaal never did this because he never had a 6-man defense! Yet somehow van Gaal was chased out of Old Trafford for being “boring” while Mourinho was "spot on".

Having 35% of the possession and playing boring football, but somehow that’s a good thing if your name is Jose Mourinho. If you name is Louis van Gaal then…Strange don’t you think? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why Is It So Close?

With less than a month to go before the U.S 2016 Presidential Elections, one thing is perplexing to me. I have no idea why the 2016 presidential race is so close! I just don’t get it!

All indications I had seen and read have Hillary Clinton between 4 to 9 percentage points in front of her rival Donald Trump. I have no idea why it’s so close. Donald Trump inexperience as a politician has clearly been shown in this election. He doubled-down when he should have retreated; made fools of the U.S media who then promptly attacked him; and then peddled half-truths and lies thinking no one would check and call him out on them.

Considering the number of mistakes he had made in this presidential campaign, by all rights Hillary Clinton should be heading to a landslide. Yet somehow, Trump is still within striking distance of her. Why? I don’t know what’s going on in America but from the outside looking in, this should be a no-contest. Even without his missteps, Hillary Clinton is clearly the more experienced, able, and capable of the two.

This should be an easy decision, yet if the polls are to be believed, Americans are spilt between the two. Why?  I just don’t get it. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Comics this week

Superwoman #3- Generally speaking, I have been pretty pleased by this series. However I fear writer Phil Jimenez went into info dump overload in this issue. The entire issue was packed front to back with captions and honestly was too cramped for my liking. Too bad really; if Phil could hold off on the info dump, this issue would have been great.

Monstress #7- After a break, writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda are back! As befitting the idea of a new arc, Liu introduced a lot of new elements in this issue but it generally worked. Maika, Pippa and Master Ren are still being hunted but there’s a new ally in the form of a Tiger pirate and someone who could be an aunt to Maika. Yes, Monstress is back and it’s as good as ever. Pick this up! 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Comics this week

Astro City #39- After 20 years, there are a lot of stories in Astro City and writer Kurt Busiek don’t let you forgot it. I barely remember Marta Dobrescu and Busiek clearly didn’t because this is a fantastic re-introduction to the character. Not only that, we get to see the growth of the character. I’m sure Mara was nowhere near as powerful as this all those years ago when she was first introduced. Here she is 20 years later, calling up spirits, seeing visions, and speaking to the Hanged Man. My only problem; the origins of the Hanged Man. It was kind of…meh. Other than that, this is a great issue!

Deadly Class #22- "Die For Me" is over but…it’s also not quite over as the survivors of the Finals return to the school. As Master Lim greets the new class, we see the effects the Finals has on the sophomores and all is not well. I love the way writer Rick Remender shows the aftereffects of the Final on everyone. Saya, the only surviving protagonist, is rightfully depressed from killing Marcus, but even the surviving antagonists are having problems living with themselves. Petra is having a metal breakdown; Shabnam is both stressed and paranoid (with good reason); and Stephen looks to be self-destructing. Also I have to say artist Wes Craig outdone himself with that graveyard scene. Showing Saya standing over the graves of all her friends…man; what a scene!

Spider-Gwen #12- The previous issue setup the battle between Spider-Gwen and Frank Castle beautifully. The battle was kind of underwhelming but writer Jason Latour then hit it out of the park with the aftermath. With her father in the dock due to her actions, Spider-Gwen decides to make a deal with the devil (literally). No matter how things turn out, her life will definitely change and from the look of determination Spider-Gwen has at the end (shout-out to artist Robbi Rodriguez for that), she knows it. A wonderful end to the issue that made what came before pale in comparison. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Comics this week

Trinity #1- Do we need another series on team of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman? DC thinks so and in the hands of writer and artist Francis Manapul, they seem to have something here. With the New 52 Superman dead, Manapul offer a debut that give us an in-depth look into the emotions of what is basically a new Trinity. How would Batman and Wonder Woman deal with this new Superman who comes with his own family and a son that has his powers? Looks fun.

Justice League #5- “Extinction Machines” had an interesting hook but the double play by writer Bryan Hitch basically ruined the story and I’m afraid the conclusion did not help at. At the end of this concluding chapter, nothing was resolved and we only have our heroes’ word that’s the battle is over. Considering how good the previous JL series was, I hope DC is not going to regret rebooting this series. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

So What If It's A Rip-Off?

Anyone with Steam will know that game developer Hi-Rez has a new game coming up. The upcoming free-to-play game Paladins is officially in "Open Beta" on Steam and already many gamers are screaming "rip-off"! 

Guess what? They are right. Paladins is a team-based shooter which falls under the sub-genre of "hero-shooters" and is an obvious rip-of of Overwatch. But you know what; who cares? Yes, although I played Overwatch a lot, to me it's to be expected that after the success of Overwatch, other developers would want to jump on the bandwagon. Besides, it could be argued that Overwatch itself was a rip-off of Team Fortress 2. Honestly, I haven't tried Paladin and I may not. If I'm already playing Overwatch, it doesn't make sense for me to play 2 different hero shooter at the same time right? 

Besides, I'm kind of hoping that Paladins fail. If it does, maybe Hi-Rez can finally get back to making Global Agenda 2. Where is my Global Agenda 2? There was to be a Global Agenda 2 and it's still not here yet! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Tax Amnesty

Why is Singapore trying to hinder Indonesia's tax amnesty plan? That’s the question a lot of Indonesians are asking after a Reuters report state that private banks in Singapore were passing the names of clients joining the amnesty to the Singapore Police unit dealing with financial crime. This got a lot of Indonesians in Singapore worried because…well, they’re guilty.

It has been an open secret for years that there is a lot of dirty money hidden in Singapore. Indonesians hold an estimated $200 billion in private banking assets in Singapore and it has been rumored that a good percentage of this money are here in Singapore because, let’s admit this, Singapore is a tax haven. The Indonesians are avoiding taxes in their home country.

The tax amnesty from the Indonesia's Finance Ministry is supposed to be an out for these people as Indonesian President Joko Widodo want the repatriated funds to help pay for Indonesia's large budget deficit and broaden the country's tax base. So why is Singapore trying to hinder that?

Simply put; the Singapore government doesn’t want the money to fly out of the country. The Singapore economy is already in trouble, can you imagine what would happen if even half of these $200 billion go back to Indonesia? 

That’s why Singapore trying to hinder the tax amnesty plan and honestly, Indonesia should have expected this. It’s $200 billion! If they think the Singapore government will just allow all the money to fly out of the country without getting their pound of flesh, they are in dreamland. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pokemon GO

After getting a new HP last week, I’m finally joining the monster mobile named Pokémon Go. After playing it for a few days, I will say this of the game. It’s fun, it’s addictive, but I doubt it’s going to have a long shelf life.

Using a player’s smartphone camera and GPS signal, the game put players in the shoes of Pokémon trainers. Going around the real world, players now can enjoy their childhood dreams of being Pokémon trainer and to become the next Pokémon Champion.

In many ways, Pokémon Go is great. I know many people worry about going to places to catch the Pokémon but I don’t see as a problem here in Singapore. Everyone know where to go and at certain places, there’s no shortage of the little monsters. I started the game at Vivocity, walked to Sentosa, took the tram to Siloso Beach, walked to Fort Silso, U-turn back, and took the tram back to Vivo. By then I was level 8 and my bags was full.

It took me about 2 and a half hours but it’s not that difficult. It’s just a walk. The walking aspect is really the highlight of the game. The world aspect of the game is superb. On Sentosa, I was walking to the tram when I saw 2 girls running across me with HPs in hand. I then checked and noticed a Lapras in the area. I followed the girls to the waterfront and 8-10 Pokéballs later, I got my Lapras. Without those girls, I would probably still be missing the Pokémon.

In many ways, Pokémon Go is the first true mobile MMO where many players play together. No one playing alone in your room. This is a true MMO where you will see players of all ages playing. However after a few days of the game, I could see some problems with the game.

Simply put; there’s not much to do. Take away the walking and catching, there’s really nothing more to the game. The Gym battles is simple and, if you are the attacker, easy. The catching of the Pokémons isn’t that difficult, and well, that’s all there is to the game.

Even for a mobile game, the gameplay is really very sparse. I think the game need a lot more to hold on to the players it currently has. If the game can do that, then the future looks bright. If not, then it will get into problems very quickly. In all, what Pokemon Go lacks in polish and depth, it makes up for with a fascinating social experience. It’s a fun game. Let’s all of us see if it has legs. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Comics this week

Astro City #38- After the greatness of the last issue, I must say I’m a little let down by this follow-up. Writer Kurt Busiek moved the story to the soaring 20s but instead of the epic in the previous issue, he decided to focus on the heroine, Jazzbaby. Not a bad issue by any stretch of the imagination but after the epic of Silverstring and Mister Cakewalk, this was a climb-down. Instead of great, this issue is merely good. Yes, I know this is a little unfair but that’s just how good Astro City has been!

Birthright #19- When Birthright first began, the issues would always spilt between the current story and flashbacks to Mikey’s life on the fantasy world of Terrenos. It was a good idea that overstayed it’s welcome. Writer Joshua Williamson has cut down on the flashbacks in recent issues and that was a welcome move. The flashback is back this issue, and perhaps because absence makes the heart grow fonder, it worked.  The flashback this issue was on the Mages’ decision to abandon the war against Lore and the reasons behind their decisions. For the first time in awhile, the flashbacks was exactly more important and better than the current action. Good work!

Superwoman #2- Was this issue rushed? I had to ask because some of the art in this issue by artist Matt Santorelli sure looked that way! On the whole, the art in this issue was pretty good but on certain pages and scenes, it jumped up at you. That was too bad because the story by writer Phil Jimenez was very solid. Several new characters were introduced to roundup the supporting cast of Lana Lang and I could see most of them adding value to the proceedings. So far so good in my view. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Unfair But...

You have to give them credit. Since Yip Pin Xiu won the gold medal in the S2 100m backstroke at the Rio Paralympic 2016, the Singapore media has been trying to push up the achievement and get Singaporeans excited over it.

Unfortunately, Singaporeans are just not biting. In a way, that’s not really surprising. The Paralympic swimmer had won Paralympic gold before. Yip won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, yet most Singaporeans had already forgotten about it. In fact, Yip was considered one of the favorites in her event but her win came as a surprise to most Singaporeans.

On sheer gold medal count, Yip has Joseph Schooling beat but as a Paralympic athlete, she’ll never be as famous as Schooling. Is it fair? Hell no, but that’s just the way it is. No matter how hard the Singapore media try, that’s the way it’s going to be. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Too Late to The Party?

Embarrassingly, I have to admit I had never really played World of Warcraft (WoW). I know, I know; WoW is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 2004 and had 6 expansions since then. How can I say I never played it?

Well, I played the starter edition before which means my characters are all at the max of level 20 but I never had been a subscriber. It’s a good game but I never had the urge to sub to the game before because I never thought of it as a great one. The latest expansion, Legion, has me seriously reconsidering that.

From what I see online and read almost everywhere, Blizzard seems to have scored big with Legion. Fans loved it and watching clips of the expansion on Youtube, I can see why. However it is a 12 year old game with 6 expansions. The max level is 110!

So, am I too late? Is it too late to get into the game now? What do you think? 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Do Not Trust The Internet

How did a plane bounded for Malaysia end up landing in Melbourne? The news headlines have been stating a Malaysia-bound AirAsia X plane end up landing in a different country but guess what? The headlines have been misleading (to say the least).

When reading the details, the AirAsia X plane took off from Sydney bound for Malaysia. Air traffic controllers then went on alert when they noticed the plane was flying in the wrong direction. After some checks between them and the pilot, it was found that the wrong longitudinal position was entered into the aircraft system. Attempts to fix the problem came to nothing and the pilot decided to return to Sydney. However bad weather prevented that and the pilot was forced to fly to Melbourne instead.

That’s it. That’s all there was to the story, but in a bid for more eyeballs, news site on the internet say the plane “landed” in the wrong country. Technically true, but also totally wrong. Another reason not to trust news on the internet!  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Comics this week

Bloodlines #6- This series has been a nice surprise and DC must have noticed too because they let writer J. Krul finish the series in an open-ended way that gives everyone hope for more in the future. Now I know some people dislike the series, but I love it! It’s one of those fun action-packed series that remind me of series in the 90s and yes, I’m a child of the 90s so I’m biased. Hope we get a sequel to this!

Justice League #4- Uh…what’s going on? I have to ask this question because this issue just didn’t make any sense. Last issue, writer Bryan Hitch hints that the guys we thought were the villains were actually trying to save the world while the JL were actually doing more harm than good. Then this issue, we got hints of the direct opposite. Seriously, this sleight of hand followed by another sleight of hand is getting old in a hurry.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Zika Is Overblown

As the world now knows, the Zika virus is now in Singapore. Thus far, doctors said the total number of cases in Singapore stands at 242. This number is expected to rise. As the Singapore government has tried it’s best to combat the virus, I will say this; Singaporeans are getting paranoid for no reason.

Honestly, the threat posed by Zika has been overblown. The Zika virus affects unborn babies yet we have Singaporean parents who keep their kids indoor, not letting them out of the house. Not counting the fact that mosquitoes can fly into the house, the more important fact is that Zika does not affect children or adults in any serious way. The infection often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. Infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other brain malformations in some babies, but even then doctors say the malformation affect about 10% of babies born to mothers with the virus.

So if you are not pregnant, then the Zika virus is not really a threat. Even if you are a pregnant, there is a good chance Zika will not affect your unborn baby. So please do not over blow the Zika threat. It’s a danger, but it’s not “that” great of a danger. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Comics this week

Jupiter’s Legacy Vol. 2 #3- After 2 issues of action, writer Mark Miller slow the story down this issue with the return of Starfox. The bitter ex-villain is now in retirement but a chance to get back at bitter enemy Walter Simpson is just too much to pass up. Also, Kid Guilt Trip (his grandson) is on his case so…well, the old man never had a chance. Pick this one up people!

Spider-Gwen #11- This is it! After a series of setup issues, writer Jason Latour hit it out of the park this issue with both Frank Castle and Gwen getting help in their war against each other. The tension builds as the duo also at the same time try to keep the people they care for away from the inevitable fallout of their coming confrontation. Excellent! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen by Richard Roberts

Anyone who has been reading my blog knows I’m a big fan of Richard Roberts’ “Please Don't Tell My Parents” books. “Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen” is the third book of the series and after reading it, I must say I like the new direction Roberts is taking the series.

At the end of the second book (“Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon”), Penny Akk (still determined to be a superhero) decided that the best way to be recognized as a superhero was to have a second super identity outside supervillain Bad Penny. A challenge from a schoolmate gave her that chance but after a public fight at a school football match, Penny’s parents shut down her superhero career before it could begin.

However all is not lost because the public superpowered fight encouraged more of her schoolmates to come out in the open with their powers. As it had been hinted before, a lot of kids at the school have powers and as they joined Penny’s official superpower school club, Penny became de facto leader of them. The school even roped in retired supervillain, Bull, as an advisor.

Unlike the first two books, “Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen” is more of a coming-of-age story and you know what; I dig it. The members of The Inscrutable Machine are growing up and Roberts isn’t afraid to show it in this book. Ray is thinking of leaving L.A; Claire is thinking of a solo career as a cat burglar; Penny actually starts the book as a solo superhero. Kids grow up and when they do, they drifted apart. It would have been easy for Roberts to just continue their adventures as a group, but credit to him for not taking the easy way out.

The story has morphed from the misadventures of a trio of 13 year old kids to a story of these same kids grappling with the future, sometimes to their own surprise. Penny found out she don’t really like being a leader with underlings. She could do the job but would much rather spent the time she has toying with her inventions and hanging out with her friends. Claire understood her best friend would rather be a hero, so she’s considering how she could make it as a solo villain (I don’t see why she can’t hire henchmen. With her money and powers, controlling henchmen should be a breeze).

Ray even has two potential careers outside the normal superhero/supervillain routes lined up once school is done. This is a bit of world-building from the writer who built a world where superpowers are if not normal, at least not rare, so it make sense there are careers out there for superpowered people who do not want to fight.

Character growth seems to be the name of the game in this book, and not just for the main characters. The side characters also got their moment in the sun. Claudia reconciled with her father, Bull, and is seriously considering ending her superhero career as Generic Girl. Marcia actually stole items from both heroes and villains to gain superpowers, and became friendlier with Penny because of it. Bull retired and became a superpower mentor at school. Several new side characters were introduced in this book and most of them also grew in personality and power throughout the course of the book. At the start of the book, Beaddown was certain her powers were useless for combat but at the end, she was one of the most powerful kids with a versatile power setup. My personal favourite was Charlie who went from joke of the school to someone who could make it.

I also like the fact that sometimes the superpowers give as much problems as benefits.  Gathering Shadows has superhero parents that believe her power set are not suitable to being a hero and Marcia’s new powers makes her crazy. It’s not always roses when you have a superpower and that’s how it should be.

Having said all that, I can understand why some fans did not like this book. It’s honestly a different kind of book from the first two. “Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen” is more sedate and lack the energy of the first two books. In some ways, this is understandable. Put together, the first two book took place within 2 months. The timeline of this book is about half a year. It’s much slower paced than the earlier two books.

Also, there’s not much of The Inscrutable Machine being together. Again, this is due to the structure of the book which has Penny, Claire and Ray doing their own thing most of the time. Sure, they are together in school; Penelope and Ray get on with their relationship on; and Penny and Claire went on a heist; but there’s little action with all 3 of them together. Like I said earlier, sometimes growing up means drifting apart.

Overall, I have to say this was an excellent book. It doesn’t clear the high bar set by “Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain”, but I have to rate it as better than “Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon”. Just be warned; it’s not the same book as the first two. “Please Don't Tell My Parents” is a coming-of-age story, not an action-adventure story. Personally, I liked it. Bring on Book 4, “Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have a Nemesis”.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Zika In Singapore

When the Zika virus first became a huge problem in Brazil, it seems so far away. Well, no longer because there is now 41 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Singapore. None of the infected people are known to have travelled to Zika-affected areas, which mean that the transmission occurred locally.

Thus far, all of the infected people are in the Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive area but considered how pack Singapore is, there’s almost no doubt that will change in the coming days. The good news is that 34 of the 41 infected people had recovered and there are no reports of any of the infected being pregnant.

However with no cure of the virus in sight, chances are the Zika virus is here to stay in Singapore. Let’s just hope they find a cure or a vaccine quickly. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Haze Is Back

Our old friend, The Haze, is back. After all the talk about heavy fines issued to companies involved in the burning of the forests in Indonesia, today Singaporeans woke up to the haze as usual.

According to the website of the National Environment Agency, the 3-hour PSI level for Singapore stood at 168 as of 12pm today. Honestly, I think that's downplaying it because the haze was truly bad this morning.  

Oh well, time to bring out the masks again.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Comics this week

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #10- It’s an indication of Ms. Marvel’s popularity that she is now guest-starring in other comics. It’s kind of weird as Kamala is herself a new hero but strangely, it works! Both Kamala and Lunella are young female heroes who are also Inhumans; it makes sense that they have contact with each other. The simple way writer Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare worked in Ms. Marvel is very effective and made this filler-issue a lot better than it should have been.

Rai #16- After all the twist and turns in the series, I almost forgotten how it how started. Writer Matt Kindt did not! With the 4001 New Japan event ongoing, Rai has been a series undergoing some changes but Kindt has managed to close the arc in a satisfying way that remind readers how it all started. The only problem I see is that you really need to be reading from the very start to fully understand just how good this issue is. Luckily for me, I've been reading since the beginning so this issue is GREAT!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dial It Back

Okay Singapore, it's time to dial it back. I know Joseph Schooling is Singapore’s Golden Boy after winning Singapore's first Olympic gold medal but this is getting out of hand! Today, the Singapore New Paper state that Joseph Schooling, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps as the three leading lights of the Rio Olympics. 

I'm sorry but "No"! 

As great as Schooling's gold medal win is, he's not in the same class as Bolt and Phelps. Come on, Phelps has 23 gold medals; Bolt has 9; Schooling got 1. Hell, Schooling is not on the same planet as Bolt and Phelps! My fellow Singaporeans; it's pretty fine to be proud of Joseph Schooling's achievement but let's not go too overboard here. Dial it back. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Scare At The National Day Rally

The National Day Rally is usually a sedated boring affair here in Singapore. The Prime Minister (PM) would go up on stage and deliver a long televised speech that most Singaporeans would not remember in a week’s time.

Not so this year!

Yesterday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong caused a scare when he fainted briefly while delivering the National Day Rally. More than two hours into his speech, the 64-year-old cancer survivor suddenly stopped speaking and had to be helped off the stage. An hour and 20 minutes later, he returned to complete the speech. Aides blamed fatigue and dehydration and many Singaporeans has send in well-wishes to the PM.

Thus far, there’s nothing to indicate this is anything serious and chances are, even if it is, the Singapore government-owned Strait Times probably won’t be telling. After all, how many of us know of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s problems before he collapsed from a stroke during a cabinet meeting in May?

The unfortunate incident yesterday however has shone a spotlight on the succession issue. Is there anyone who can take over from PM Lee? Currently, it’s not a big issue as the PM is still going strong but it’s food for thought. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Politics Rule In the IAAF

The Rio Olympics athletics program was already in the dumps with the strange case of the Russian athletics team being thrown out, but the case of the United States' 4x100m women's relay team has just made athletics a total joke.

The American team just won their solo race against the clock to book their place in the Olympic 4x100m women's relay final, even though they dropped the baton in the heats. In their appeal, the Americans say the dropped baton exchange between Allyson Felix and English Gardner was due to a knock from Brazilian runner Kauiza Venancio. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) agreed. They disqualified Brazil, who did not make the finals, but ruled that the Americans must run again, in a highly unusual solo flying lap, to beat China's eighth fastest qualifying time of 42.70sec. The Americans did and the IAAF dismissed the expected Chinese protest.

Question; does this means that every time someone is knocked off-stride, the IAAF will grant a re-run? Runners get knocked by other runners all the time. In distance running, it's almost an accepted fact. Even in short distance, it has happened before. In 2011, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang was blocked by another athlete. No re-run then. Hell, the Rio Olympic flame was lit by marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima who was attacked by a crazed spectator while leading the marathon in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Any re-run then?

So why is there one now? That is just stupid! If the Americans were knocked by a Chinese runner and the Chinese team went through, I can understand the decision but that's clearly not the case here. Unless someone is saying the Brazilian team knocked the American team on purpose on behalf of the Chinese, this decision make no sense whatsoever.

But then again this is the IAAF and as shown in the Russian case, it is a place where politics rule all!