Tuesday, May 31, 2016

WP Leadership Contest

In America, when politicians fight for their top party leadership, dirty tricks and personal insults are par for the course. In Singapore, a seemingly friendly leadership tussle in the opposition Worker’s Party (WP)is big news.

Politics in Singapore is dominated by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and leadership changes in that party comes from on top. Any disputes and in-fighting is kept strictly in-house. So when long-time WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang has to fight off lawyer Chen Show Mao for his position, it is news.

It shouldn’t be.

In most other countries, this is normal and it is Singapore that is weird. An open transparent leadership challenge like this is good for Singapore. If anything, Singaporeans need to encourage this as it is good for Singapore. Singaporeans can see that in the WP, orders from the top are not followed without question and there are clear, open, and transparent ways for differences to be settled within the party.

So a public open leadership challenge like what happened in the WP is good. No, it is beyond good; it is great! Singapore is becoming a normal country.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Pokemon Cafe

Want a Pikachu latte? How about a Pikachu soda to go with that? Well, now you can because the Pokemon Cafe has arrived in Singapore and Singaporeans are lapping it up. Lines are long and at one point, people had to wait 5 hours in line.

Yes, 5 hours!

Honestly, I didn't know about the cafe but I saw it at PARCO Bugis Junction today and I totally get it. When I read the menu with all the too-cute-to-eat pictures, I immediately got it and if you don't, then you got issues. My favorite has to be the rice dish where the rice is shaped like a Pokemon ball. That's just hilarious.

So if you are interested, get to Bugis Junction now. The Pokmon Cafe is located on the fourth level where the Shaw Bugis used to be.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Comics this week

DCU: Rebirth #1-Like all resets, there were some misses in the New 52 and for all intent and purposes, Rebirth is DC’s Hail Mary pass to right all wrongs. Honestly, I don’t think New 52 was that bad but I’m willing to go Rebirth a go. Like all resets, you can only judge this issue based on potential and on that front, writer Geoff Johns did a good job. Wally West’s story and his acceptance of his death were great. His rescue by Barry Allen was superb, and everything was overshadowed by the reveal of just who will be the main villain in Rebirth. I’m sure the reveal will fly over the head of some people but for people like me who gets it; it was just cool!

Justice League #50- It’s fair to say the “Darkseid War” has been the highlight of the New 52. With Rebirth on the horizon, writer Geoff Johns ends it on a crazy and high note. Jason Fabok's art and Brad Anderson's colors matched the epic story and together, the trio made a gorgeous comic for the ages. Pick this one up. No wait; pick up the whole “Darkseid War” saga. You will not be disappointed.

Monstress #6- With enemies on both side of the war, Maika Halfwolf did the only thing she could; she made a deal with the monster inside her. The only problem is…what happened to the cliffhanger at the end of #5? I can’t help but feel writer Marjorie Liu rushed things to end the arc before the series goes on hiatus till August. That’s too bad because till now, Monstress has been a well-crafted story ably backed by the beautiful art of Sana Takeda. It done enough to get me back in August but this was a sad end to what had been a great series.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Suddenly There's Problems

For the first time in over 30 years, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has kicked a bank out of the country. Singapore's central bank announced that Swiss bank BSI has been served a notice of intention to withdraw its status as a merchant bank in Singapore.

Swiss bank BSI has been linked to a global money-laundering scandal at Malaysia's state fund 1MDB that has embroiled Prime Minister Najib Razak and two Singaporean executives of the bank are already facing charges in Singapore due to the scandal. MAS also announced that it had also asked state prosecutors to investigate six other senior executives at the bank including its former chief executive for possible criminal offences.

The moves came after Swiss authorities named several banks involved in their own probe in the 1MDB saga. So months after checking 40 banks in Singapore and finding no issues about their conduct, only problems involving certain “individuals”, MAS suddenly found problems with the bank. Problems so big they had to kick the bank involved out of Singapore to "get rid of the problem".

I guess it’s better late than never.  Ha!

Monday, May 23, 2016


I have a lot of sympathy for people with allegories. So when I heard that an Indian restaurant owner in the U.K has been convicted of the manslaughter of a customer who died after having a reaction to a curry containing nuts, I didn't thought much of it. In fact, I only felt sorry about the dead man.

Reading the case however changed my mind. 

Paul Wilson, 38, was found slumped in the toilet at his home in Helperby in January 2014 having died from a severe anaphylactic shock. It seems Mr. Wilson knew about his allergy and asked for no nuts when he ordered a chicken tikka masala takeaway from the Indian Garden, Easingwold, North Yorkshire. The restaurant owner, Mohammed Zaman, made the mistake of...putting a groundnut mix powder in the curry which Mr. Wilson ate.

Are you kidding me? The restaurant owner was found guilty of manslaughter because of a power he used? I mean I understand that the laws in the U.K is different from the laws from Singapore but that is...no pun intended, nuts! The guy asked for "no nuts" and the restaurant owner didn't put nuts. How in the world is that manslaughter?

I'm sorry he's dead but Mr. Wilson had no business eating out anywhere if he's that allergic. I mean he died from a powder used in a curry. If Mr. Zaman's restaurant had put in nuts in the curry, I can understand the conviction. They did not. I'm sorry for Mr. Wilson's family but you can't blame the restaurant for his death. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Comics this week

Civil War II #0- When I read that Marvel’s latest event is Civil War II, my reaction was “meh”. After reading #0, I’m afraid my view has not changed. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Olivier Coipel, and backed by a movie, on paper Marvel’s latest event looks like a winner. However I just can’t escape the feeling of being there and done that. Not helping matters is the new Inhuman named Ulysses who seems like the poster boy of a character made just to be a plot device. Hopefully things will get better once it actually starts, but for now I’m going to give it a miss.

Rai #13- As a villain, Father has been the all-powerful bad guy in the Rai series. In this companion piece to 4001 A.D, writer Matt Kindt show another side of Father proving that in the Valiant U, things are always less than black or white. Beautiful work by artist Cafu and colourist Dave Lanphear backed an intriguing issue that shows things from Father's perspective. Father may now be a tyrant but you can’t say he didn’t try to do things differently. The idea that the first Rai was not a warrior and in fact cannot fight at all is intriguing to say the least. Hopefully, we will get more history on the Rais in the future. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I heard a lot about this book but never got around to reading it. However there are many people who love the book, including Steven Spielberg who is making a movie based on the book. After reading it; I must say I get it. I understand why so many love this book because I felt in love with it too!

Ready Player One is a 2011 science fiction and dystopian novel by Ernest Cline. Taking place in the not-so-distant future of 2044, the world is in the midst of an energy crisis with no solution in sight. Luckily for the people of the world, there is OASIS.

A worldwide virtual reality system that operates like an online utopia, OASIS is a place where anyone can plug into to play, work, study, and meet up. For protagonist Wade Watts, it is heaven. A heaven that got rocked when OASIS creator James Halliday died and left a will that would leave his entire fortune to the person who finds his Easter egg.

The richest man in history, an erratic and dying Halliday created a game in OASIS that requires people to find 3 hidden keys in OASIS that would open 3 hidden gates also found in OASIS. A great scavenger hunt in the vast OASIS where everyone can play and anyone can win; Halliday’s game caught the imagination of millions including Wade. 5 years after Halliday’s game came into being, Wade (or his online avatar) became world famous for being the first person to find the first key and open the first gate. With billions on the line however, Wade soon find that he has to dodge danger both online and in real life to win the game.

Now reading the synopsis of the book, one would think this was just another novel with a virtual reality angle to it. That is both right and wrong. It is true that this is a novel with a heavy dose of VR but Cline changed things up beautifully by filling the novel with pop culture trivia. In the book, James Halliday is a reclusive nut who never quite outgrown the 80s. So every devilishly complex clue on his treasure hunt is rooted in the 80s and to complete the game you need to have an intimate knowledge of 1980s pop culture.

That’s what the gunters like Wade do. They filled themselves with 80s pop trivia and we readers got taken along with the ride. What comes out is a ridiculously fun novel celebrating the 80s. There are times where Cline even offers a detailed explanation of 80s pop culture. Want to know how to get the highest score in Pacman? The details of how to do it are here and I am certain there are many people who read this book and either discover or rediscover a joy of the 80s.

Another thing about this novel is how fun it was. Yes, at its heart, this is a book for anyone who has felt like an outsider, a geek, or has grown up in the 80s; but it is also far more than that. This is a novel with heart, with characters that have flaws and made mistakes but never stopping despite the huge odds in front of them.

Despite how fun this novel is, I have to admit there are some glaring flaws in this novel. For one, the brisk pace can be too fast. Outside Wade, you know really know the other characters outside their assigned stereotype. Even Wade suffers from this, being a generic loner for most of the novel. There’re also a lot of coincidences in this novel. I won’t spoil it but the ending of the novel requires several coincidences to come together for it to work and suspension of disbelief is a requirement to accept it.

However I find Ready Player One to be a delightful novel that is a must-read. I disagree with people who say the novel has nothing going for it but nostalgia. It has a lot more than that. Read it and find out for yourself. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Mistake In Manchester

In a weekend that saw some big sporting news like Max Verstappen becoming the youngest winner in Formula One history and Stipe Miocic knocking out Fabricio Werdum to become the UFC heavyweight champion, the biggest news was unfortunately the evacuation of Old Trafford.

In what was supposed to be the last game of the season, Manchester United’s game against Bournemouth never started after a package was found in the stands of their stadium, Old Trafford. The ironic thing is that the suspected package was actually a fake device accidentally left behind after a training exercise. So the evacuation was prompted by a training exercise designed to combat terror fears.

Jokes aside, a lot of people in Manchester are embarrassed and angry over the mistake with the Greater Manchester's mayor calling for a full inquiry and saying it was "outrageous". So in a weekend full of great sporting news, the biggest sporting news is…a stupid mistake that took place outside the sporting arena.

Talk about irony. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

TV on HPs?

I’ll admit this. I don’t get why people watch movies and TV shows on their hand phones.  I don’t get it. The screen is so small, even the biggest HP screen is but a fraction of a regular TV, I just don’t understand why anyone would want to watch a show on a phone.

However I must be in the minority because a Singapore-based video streaming startup just got a 6 figure amount from various sources to extend their online content. Cornflix.TV is an app that is available on the desktop, iOS, Android, Android TV and Apple TV which curates videos from top global media brands.

Like I said, I don’t get it but obviously enough people do that people are willing to put up money to invest in the app.  Good luck to them, just don’t market it to me. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Comics this week

Illuminati #7- Another one bit the dust. Honestly, I’m unsurprised by the cancellation of Illuminati. Writer Joshua Williamson used the series to experiment on various villainous line-ups and for the most part, they worked. Unfortunately, the series never found the sales to justify an ongoing series and Williamson had to work in a rush ending to close out everything. Too bad; I would like to know what he had in store for Elektra and The Absorbing Man.

Jupiter's Circle Vol 2 #6- Volume 2 of the Jupiter’s Circle saga has been a series of ups and downs. Writer Mark Millar saved the best for last however as this finale give us fans big hopes for the upcoming (and long awaited) Jupiter’s Legacy. After 12 issues, we finally see the greatness of Utopian and how that greatness is both his greatest virtue and his greatest weakness. I especially love the subtle way Millar planted the seed of Utopian’s downfall during his (non-)argument with his wife. That was great and so was this issue. Here’s hoping the same can be said about Jupiter’s Legacy.

Web Warriors #7- After Electroverse, writer Mike Costa Art decided to go crazy and boy, was it fun. Although this issue guest-starred Spider-punk, the issue main character is…Spider-Ham 2099! A new character, this zany new Spider is facing off against…Ducktor Doom 2099! Yes, it’s very bit as nuts as it sounds and Costa embraced the craziness and ran with it. So too did artist David Baldeon who was clearly having fun drawing the Duckbots (robot Doomducks). The tactical talk between Spider-Ham and Spider-Ham 2099 was another high point. This issue is great!  

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Loss That Looks Like A Win

Despite losing the Bukit Batok by-election, there was no question Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan was the far happier man on Saturday (7 May). The political veteran won 38.8% of the vote while People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Murali Pillai got 61.2%.

On paper, it seems a clear win for the PAP except the fact that during the 2015 General Election, SDP candidate Sadasivam Veriyah garnered only 26% of the vote. This meant that there was a swing of over 10% is just 8 months! Not only that, the PAP did a full-court press on Dr. Chee. All the PAP bigwigs from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong down went to town on Dr. Chee. So much so that at one point of the campaign, Dr. Chee half-joked that he wondered who his opponent was. He even mocked Mr. Murali, asking journalists if any of them want to ask him questions on anything on what Mr. Murali had said.

In the end, not only did he survive, he even thrived under the attacks of the PAP. No wonder the SDP looks like winners on Saturday.  Considering what they were up against, they did better than they had any right to.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Comics this week

Bloodlines #2- In the debut issue, Bloodlines looked like pretty standard fare till the end when the blood and death came into play. Ditto for this issue, except the blood and death in this issue is much much worse. I mean wow! I must give credit to artist V. Ken Marion. The scene in question was disturbing as hell but it wasn’t tasteless or exploitative. He did great on that scene. Can’t wait to see where writer J. T Krul is going with this series.

Moon Knight #2- Throughout the character’s history, Marc Spector's sanity has often been questioned. Writer Jeff Lemire took that and ran with it in the debut. In this issue however, he make it plain that Marc isn’t mad; he just involved in a war among gods. I think this may be a good way for this series to go. The mystic aspect of Moon Knight is often overlooked and going this route may differentiate this series from the previous Moon Knight series which is a good thing. Let’s see…

Spider-Gwen #8- I have been generally in favor of the Spider-Women crossover. The crossover has given us good character moments between the 3 main characters but after every high, there must come a low. This issue is the low. Despite being an issue in Spider-Gwen, the main character here is Silk and Cindy Moon’s counterpart in Earth-65. Writer Jason Latour tried to up the stakes by making Cindy-65 the reason for Spider-Gwen but it just didn’t work. Cindy-65 is just too new and too unknown of a character for it to work. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Clinton vs Trump

It’s over but for the celebration. Barring a miracle, the U.S Presidential contest will be between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The nomination of Hillary Clinton was widely expected, but Donald Trump? What the hell are the Americans thinking? Okay…what the hell are the Republicans thinking? Don’t they want to win in November?  Trump got the nomination by insulting every demographic group generally not in the Republican Party and now, he is going to win in November? Not likely.

Yes, a lot will depend on whether Trump can do a 180 to get the votes of Americans in the center but can he do that in 6 months when he has been insulting people for the past 2 years? Not likely. So I have to ask; what the hell are the Republicans thinking?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Magic Of Football

That’s it! They’ve done it. Following Tottenham's failure to beat Chelsea on Monday, Leicester City has been crowned Premier League champions for the first time in their history.

This is a fairy-tale ending to an unbelievable season. Leicester City was given odds of 5000-1 to win the title by British bookmakers at the start of the season and back then, no one complained about the odds. They had only narrowly escaped relegation last season, and many had tipped them as relegation candidate this season as well. Show what we know right?

Not only that, Leicester City won the title by going old-school. This is a football era dominated by ball possession, but manger Claudio Ranieri has Leicester City going the direct route. Backed by a strong defence, Ranieri got his team going forward quickly on the counter the moment they get the ball and the tactics has paid handsome dividends.

Still, I do think this is a one-off thing for the underdogs. Chances are Leicester City will be back near the bottom next season. For now though, let’s enjoy this. Let’s enjoy the magic that’s football. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Treasures of the World

I’m not really a fan of museums but at the National Museum of Singapore right now, there is an exhibition from the British Museum in London that showcase the artifacts and relics from ancient civilizations. There are treasures from Africa, Oceania, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas, some of which are thousands of years old. Since it's free for Singaporeans, I might as well go take a look right? So here they are; the “Treasures of the World”.