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.