Friday, August 29, 2008

Comics this week

Reign in Hell #2- You know how 2 weeks ago I was complaining about Secret Invasion #5 being a issue where everyone just stand around talking? Writer Keith Giffen show how to do it right! As word of Lord Satanus and Lady Blaze's coup against Neron spreads, heroes and villains in the magical world of the DCU wondered which side to take, or even if they should take sides in the conflict. Everyone who is anyone in the magical world has a decision to make, but what made this issue work was the reasons Keith Giffen gave. Everyone has a reason to pick the side they choose, and it made sense! I mean if you are Blue Devil, it make prefect sense to side with the Satanus and Blaze. Keith Giffen made an effort to show why they pick the sides they did, and this was what saved the issue. That plus Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz's artwork make me give the issue a thumbs-up.

Nova #15- Here was Nova coming out with one issue after another of great to good comics. What happened? The series got hijacked by Secret Invasion! Secret Invasion was an attack by Skrulls on Earth and Nova was nowhere near Earth! Why was he even involed? If the Skrulls hadn't attack him, he will still be ignorant of the Skrull's attack! Can't Marvel just let one series go without bringing it down with unnecessary crossovers?

Avengers: The Initiative #16- Skrull Kill Krew has to be the stupidest name of a supergroup I've ever heard of, but amazingly this issue isn't half-bad. As you can guess this is 'another' Secret Invasion tie-in, but since the Avengers were at the front lines I guess this tie-in worked better than Nova's (read above). I enjoyed Komodo's return and it's always interesting to see the other smaller Avengers team in action (the Desert Stars this time), but the main attraction to me was the appearance of Nick Fury and his Howlers. That's was how it should be done in the Secret Invasion series proper!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Security going mad

In a time of danger, safety is important. But there are times where things just go too far.

In a case of head shaking stupidity, a Muslim woman was asked to leave Venice's Ca' Rezzonico museum, which houses 18th-century Venetian art, by a security guard because she was wearing a veil over her face.

I find this case to be so stupid. The woman was visiting the museum with her husband and children and had cleared security when she entered the building. So how is it that a security guard in charge of one room can override the guards at the entrance of the building?

Another true case of security gone mad. You can read the article from the link below.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080827/od_nm/italy_veil_odd_dc;_ylt=AvM.uY7Gn8FDU8hNjkZF1i.s0NUE

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why Not?

Recently the Straits Times had an article about 3 Singaporeans who wanted to give up their Singapore citizenships but can’t because MINDEF want them to do their NS first.

Looking at the article, it seems like a simple case of young men running overseas to avoid NS. But reading the article carefully, I am struck by a simple thing. The 3 brothers have dual- citizenships in Norway and Singapore. They have a Norwegian father and Singaporean mother. I mean when you are born, you take your father’s name right? So the men wanted to be Norwegian instead of Singaporean. What’s wrong with that?

Seem fair and right to me; why not let them give up their Singaporean citizenship. It’s not as if we asked every Singapore PR to give up the citizenship of their home country, why not let the 3 brothers give up their Singapore citizenship.

What was even funnier was Singapore insistence that the 3 brothers served their NS first. Why should they serve NS when they have no intention of ever fighting for our island? It’s not as if they are afraid of the army life, one of the men is a career soldier in the Norwegian army for god sake!

The Singapore government has been known as a pretty inflexible juggernaut but this decision by MINDEF that the brothers must serve their NS first before giving up their Singapore citizenship is amazing! Let them go; they are Norwegian, not Singaporean.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Goes Around Comes Around

When the West recognized Kosovo as an independent country earlier this year, I was against it. To me, this was just like opening Pandora’s Box. The West ignored protests from Russia and other countries and recognized Kosovo anyway.

President George W. Bush has now discovered the meaning of ‘what goes around comes around’. Russia now is going to recognized Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries. Something the White House is desperate to stop.

I’m against the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia because their case is exactly like Kosovo’s; we can’t just allow every ethnic group in the world to declare independence. The world is messy enough as it is.

The unfortunate thing is…America can’t stop Russia! How can they? America was upfront and centre earlier this year pushing for the independence of Kosovo, so how can they now stop Abkhazia and South Ossetia without looking like total hypocrites.

I hope they succeed in stopping the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but the U.S is the wrong country to lead the charge. They need someone like Spain, which also opposed Kosovo’s independence, to lead the charge. The U.S need to take a backseat on this and let other countries take the lead.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Good Graces in the Olympics

With the conclusion of the Olympic Games, China has had its coming out party it wanted. As host of the Olympics, China had executed 16 days of near-flawless logistics and made no doubt that it can hold such great events.

The spectacular closing ceremony is a little like the opening ceremony, a little too much, but it is over and all eyes will be on London, host of the 2012 Games. With the Games over, China can report their biggest medal haul in Olympic history, topping the gold medal table for the first time in history. Overall, it has been an excellent performance by China.

But it is not one without its blemishes. The internet flaming of Liu Xiang was a joke. The man was clearly injured! He had been injured for months and the injury couldn’t clear up for the Olympics. I can’t understand what’s wrong with the Chinese people blaming him for pulling out when he was injured.

That however was nothing compare to the ‘allegations’ that China field underage gymnasts in the gymnastics competition. I said ‘allegations’ because it’s quite clear to me at least one of the gymnasts is below 16. I know they are not the first country to do this (North Korea, Romania had also been sanctioned before for the same offence) but I think between the gymnastics and Liu Xiang incident, we can clear say that China had a ‘will’ to win.

However there is a thing as too much of a good thing. China, for all its’ success, seems to be a bad winner. The direct opposite of USA, who is a bad loser (they were ROBBED by judges, Usain Bolt and the Jamaicans are taking drugs), China seems to have a desire to win, no matter the methods!

For all its world-class venues and glitch-free organizing, China needs to learn something from the British. After the best showing for decades at an Olympics, there is still no chest thumping from the British. In fact, the British media cheekily call this Olympics “The Great Haul from China”. Newspapers came out with articles that said, “We are British, for heaven’s sake!”

When it comes to good graces this Olympics, the Brits came out tops.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Comics this week

Stormwatch #13- After the disaster of the last re-launch, you can understand why I have very low expectations for the latest re-launch of WildStorm. Amazingly, Wildcats, Authority, Gen13 and Stormwatch all came out on time. Will wonders never ceased! Stormwatch (like the rest of the re-launch titles) pick up things right after the excellent 'Number of the Beast' mini-series. The world was destroyed at the end of 'Number of the Beast', and Stormwatch is on the job to pick up the pieces. The title is no longer on the human division but more on the prime team on Skywatch, which I thought was a good move. I also like how Jackson King has returned to splitting up Stormwatch into different teams. Maybe we can have another Authority coming out of this title. A good issue that re-introduced readers to the post-Earth Wildstorm.

Guardians of the Galaxy #4- I think I have left no doubt about what I feel about 'Secret Invasion'. In case you don't know, IT SUCKS! So when I saw this is a Secret Invasion tie-in, I can only shake my head in disappointment. Surprisingly this tie-in works. The reason mainly being that outside a sabotage, no Skrulls turned out. That's great! The issue isn't really about Skrulls but more about the issue of trust. Basically, the team don't have any. The members don't even know each other all that well and this issue played that up beautifully. Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning have crafted another beautiful issue here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Singapore Tax-Haven

The corruption and money-laundering scandal that have engulfed former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian and his family had reached Singapore.

Taiwan's investigators will descend on our fair island to investigate whether the former president moved money through the Singapore banking system to launder ill-gotten money. I know this is a sensitive case, maybe even political case, but I think maybe it’s time Singapore take a look and put in some control on money coming into Singapore.

This is not the first time our banking system has come under international scrutiny. Indonesia has long complained that corrupt officials and businessman in Indonesia move their money out of the country through Singapore; even Nepal’s former prince has made Singapore his home in part because of Singapore financial ‘position’.

Now I love the fact money is coming into Singapore, they are the reason why our property market is holding up so well, but in our search for hot money, Singapore has now gained a little reputation as a tax-haven. I think it is time for Singapore to re-think our position on this. We may gain money from foreign investors due to this reputation but, in the long-term, I think we are doing more harm than good with this reputation.

There is no real need for us to be a financial hub so badly that we turn a blind eye to ‘improper money’. In fact with our status as a port and oil-refinery success, I feel that all these money-laundering/tax-haven accusations are doing long-term harm to our future. Trading partners are usually uncomfortable doing business with people (or countries) with a reputation/ accusations for money-laundering.

Now I’m not saying Singapore did anything wrong (in fact if Singapore don’t do this other countries will) what I am saying is that there is no need for Singapore to be a tax-haven. With our financial and trading position, Singapore does not need hot money as much as other countries. Let other countries deal with the reputation as a tax-haven, Singapore don’t need to.

Chen Shui-bian’s case is not the first to hit Singapore, and it will not be the last. And that I feel is something Singapore can do without.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Golf in the Olympics?

The Olympics is almost over. As I read on the internet about the Games, I noticed that there are seven sports vying for a spot at the 2016 Olympics.

The seven are golf, rugby, baseball, softball, roller sports, squash and karate. Looking at all 7, I have to ask a simple question, “Why is golf up there?” It’s a big money sport that draws crowds but in what way is it higher, faster, and stronger?

Look at the other sports. Players hit each other with hard tackles in rugby; they hit each other with their fist in karate; you can run kilometers in a game of squash; and what do golfers do? They walk and hit a ball!

I don’t care if this means Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia will probably never go to the Olympics, but golf have no place in the Olympics! I mean come on, they don’t even carry their bags. Their caddies probably deserve the medals more than them.

If golf can go to the Olympics, why not chess, or car-racing, or I know video-gaming! That way maybe even I can go to the Olympics

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Desperately seeking Singaporean-ess

After 48 years, Singapore has finally clinched another Olympic medal. After scoring another silver medal in women’s table tennis team event, the feeling among ordinary Singaporeans is kind of…muted.

A prefect example is my mother’s reaction. She was quite exited when she heard Singapore won a medal. “The Singapore won a medal! They are from China? What about the coach? What about the manager?”

I call this: Desperately seeking some Singaporean-ess in the Singapore national team. My view on this; Singapore bought the medal, but so what! Singapore is hardly alone in this. You can see Kenyan-born runners competing for Bahrain; half the field in woman’s table-tennis was born in China; I read that one of the beach volleyball players playing for Georgia only visited the country twice in her life.

Compare to some countries, Singapore is possibly enlightened in buying our medal. At least our players lived in the nation and as the great American saying goes, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing!”

Enjoy the medal while its here, it’s our first Olympic medal in 48 years. Who knows, it could be 48 years before we get another one.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Comics this week

Secret Invasion #5- There are the Skrulls talking. There is Nick Fury talking. There is the heroes in the Savage Land…talking. I love a talky issue as much as anyone, but this is nonsense. Reading this series, I can’t help but think ‘filler’. The 5 issue could easily be condensed into 3, maybe even 2, issues. The pacing is that bad. Wake me when something interesting happen. ZZzzzzz…

Saturday, August 16, 2008

EPL starts again

With the Beijing Olympics in full swing, almost no one is paying any attention to the start of the EPL. One has to wonder why in the world didn’t they push back the start of the season like every else did, but that’s a different question altogether. I can’t see anyone outside the Top 4 winning the title…again, but here’s my thoughts of the teams.

Top Teams this Season
Chelsea- Chelsea made the best signing in the off-season; his name: Luiz Felipe Scolari. I feel a little for Avram Grant as he has done a pretty good job with Chelsea. But like with Sven-Goran Eriksson at Man City, it just wasn’t enough for his paymaster. One good thing is that Chelsea will play a more attractive blend of football this year so that’s something to look forward to. They are the most likely champion of the new season for me.

Arsenal- So Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb have left for AC Milan and Barcelona already. I say, “So what?” Arsene Wenger has done the most important thing; he had managed to hang on to the core of the team. Emmanuel Adebayor, William Gallas and Cesc F├ábregas are still together, and with the maturing of Theo Walcott, I feel that Arsenal will still challenge for the title this year. Wenger also made a few smart buys. Newcomer Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri (criminally ignored in the Euros) will help Arsenal in the title chase. Well done Wenger!

Manchester United – The transfer market this year can be summed up by this: “The Saga of Cristiano Ronaldo”. The on/off, will he/ won’t he saga lasted too long for everyone’s comfort but in the end, Ronaldo did not get the move to Real Madrid that he wanted. An unhappy Ronaldo is a problem for Man Utd because he was the reason they won the title last year. I think a lot will depend on whether Sir Alex Ferguson managed to get Dimitar Berbatov. If Berbatov goes to Old Trafford, they will be in with a shout.

Liverpool- Robbie Keane is a good player but £20m is too much for him. Manager Rafael Benitez made some strange decisions in the transfer market this summer. Robbie Keane to replace Peter Crouch? They are 2 totally different players. I’m afraid how well Liverpool do this season will depend on the form of Fernando Torres again. He was great last season and he might have to be even better this year for Liverpool to have a chance at the title.

Most Likely to go Down
Man City- I admit this is a long shot. The wheels came off for Man City at the end of last season, but even then, that was no reason to fire manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. Eriksson did a great job, better than most people thought he would, but it wasn’t enough for Thaksin Shinawatra. Mark Hughes is a good manager but is Mark Hughes better than Eriksson? I highly doubt it. They will start the season without a striker as all of them are injured and from what I’d read, Man City fans haven’t warm up to Hughes yet as he is an ex-Man Utd player. That plus Thaksin’s cash-flow problems mean that this could be a long season for long-suffering Man City fans.

Hull City- Who is Hull City? Hull City is a 104-year old club who will make history this season by playing in the top-flight of English league football for the first time. It will be a short trip. I look at the Hull’s team-sheet and only George Boateng, Geovanni, Marlon King & Anthony Gardner are recognized names. That’s not enough I’m afraid.

Stoke City- Reports say that Stoke City is keen on signing Newcastle's Abdoulaye Faye, great because they need all the help they can get. No offence but if the biggest names on your squad are Ricardo Fuller and Dave Kitson, you will be in trouble. They will need a lot of organization and spirit to stand a chance this season.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wheel of Time Movies

In the search for the next Lord of The Rings, Universal Pictures have just picked up the rights to Robert Jordan's bestselling fantasy novel series, The Wheel of Time.

Plans are to adapt the fantasy novel series for the big screen with the first movie, The Eye of the World, based on the first book. Now I love ‘The Wheel of Time’ but I have doubts about this project for the big screen. First of all, there are 12 books! If they intend for a movie on every book in the series, that will take 12 years to make!

That’s way too long, but that’s nothing compare to the real problem. The main character in ‘The Wheel of Time’ is crazy! If they intend to follow the book, then Rand al'Thor has to be the main character. But for several books in the series, he went mad! Can you even show a mad hero in PG movie?

The only way I see for Universal to avoid that problem is to show the series from the other characters’ point of view, most probably Mat or Perrin, but that would hardly be ‘The Wheel of Time’ as ‘The Wheel of Time’ is primarily the coming-of-age story of Rand, Mat and Perrin. Mostly Rand!

Hope spring eternal however. Best of luck Universal!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Irony

America has been known as a country that does not get the concept of irony. Russia's blitz into Georgia has proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

U.S President Bush demanded that Russia end its actions in Georgia because, in his words, "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."

One word for President Bush: Iraq

So either Bush did not consider Iraq to be sovereign state or that 2003 was in the 20th century, which do you think is more likely? And the funny thing is that U.S media has played up the fact that Russia attacked Georgia. I find this funny as everyone, including the Georgian government, says that Georgia attack first! How in the world did Georgia become the good guys here?

Irony. A concept America, or at least President Bush, will do well to learn.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Keep Quiet About It

Personally, I thought the Olympic opening ceremony was a little too much. Too melodramatic for my taste, Li Ning running on top of the stadium was just unnecessary. However most people seems to like it, and that’s what important.

Which beg the question why did the show's musical director admit to the fact that the little girl showed singing at the Olympic opening ceremony was just miming. She was only put on stage because the real little girl wasn’t considered attractive enough.

To me, there’s not much wrong with that. I took part in 3 National Day Parades in Singapore and I will tell you this, not everything you see on TV happen at the parade. I especially the year when the there was a cannon that was suppose to fire…that never happened. It was nothing but good camera work that slices and dices the image together.

So there’s nothing out of the ordinary that happened at the Olympic opening ceremony, but for god sake keep quiet about it! You ever heard about the director of the National Day Parade admitting some images on TV are faked? Of course not!

The Chinese are in desperate need of some PR training

Monday, August 11, 2008

Complete Stupidity

For all those who don't know, there's a new war zone in the world. Russia and Georgia are now engaged in a war over the Georgian rebel region of South Ossetia. The background is simple; South Ossetia want to separate from Georgian and join Russia.

Georgia, thinking that all the world's attention will be on Beijing for the opening of the Olympics, sent troops into South Osssetia overnight on Friday to take back South Ossetia by force. Georgian forces launched heavy rocket, artillery fire and air strikes that pounded the regional capital Tskhinvali, reducing it to ruins. The gargantuan Russia military responded in kind and now has pushed the Georgian forces out of South Ossetia after only 2 days of fighting. Not happy with just that, Russian forces have now expanded their attacks into Georgia itself. The Russian navy had sunk a Georgian boat that was trying to attack Russian vessels in the Black Sea, and Russian planes had bombed targets in Georgia.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who ordered the first Georgian attack, is now begging for Western and NATO help against (in his words) 'Russian aggression'. The U.S and the European Union are now seeking to stop the fighting.

Now I don't know a lot about Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, but after this episode, I believe that the Georgian people need to seriously reconsider their choice of president. I mean what in the world was he thinking attacking South Ossetia? Does he really think Russia is just going to accept the Georgian attack and do nothing when South Ossetia want to join Russia? Does Saakashvili believe that the U.S and NATO are going to fight Russia on his country's behalf? Of course not! Georgia is a country that most Americans didn't even know existed. U.S President George W. Bush (who will be out of office in 3 months) is not going to go to war with Russia on Georgia's behalf; even in their weakened state, no one want to fight Russia period!

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, described Georgia's actions as "complete genocide." He's wrong; it's complete stupidity!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My 10 days in World of Warcraft

In the realm of MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games), one game rule all, World of Warcraft! WoW owned about 60% of the market in the online gaming market in the world and after trying out the 10 day free trial, I can see why.

As a rule, I don’t play MMORPG. I find it too expensive to buy the game, then pay a monthly subscription for a game I might not even liked! Even if you like the game, chances are that you will get tired of it after awhile. So as a rule, I don’t play MMORPG.

So it tells you a lot about the game when I say that I seriously considered subscripting for it once my trial was over. In short, World of Warcraft is a very good game. Its fun and there seems to be a lot to do in the game. Quests come in bunches and the world is big (a very important thing for explorer players like myself) so there’s a lot of places to go. WoW is one of those games where you will forget the time as you play; the mark of a good game in my view.

As it’s a free trial, I tried all the races and all the classes available. There doesn’t seem to be that much difference in the race you choose, expect whether they belong to the Alliance or the Horde. What’s more important is the class you choose. Most of them seem well balanced but there were some notable difference with them. The class basically dictates your playing style, which is a good thing to me as it gives variety. I personally liked the ‘hunter’ class the best, but I guess this is a personal choice.

However there are a few things I dislike about the game. For starters, the graphics is kind of ‘cartoony’. That’s not a problem in the landscapes (the trees, mountains and rivers are all bright in color, even the undead region is pretty bright), but the NPCs look like cartoons as well. The fearsome Thrull from Warcarft 3 look like some sort of midget with an oversize body in WoW. Another is the strange Horde/Alliance divide. If you choose to make a Horde character, then you can’t make an Alliance character on the same server. Seem like a stupid rule to me, but this is a minor complain as you can just switch server quite easily.

A good game to be sure, but is it worth $20+ per month? That’s a question you can only answer but I highly recommend the free trial so that you can play the game first before deciding. If nothing else, you will get 10 days of play from a good game. Now if only I get free trial for LOTR Online and City of Heroes; then I can make some comparison.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Comics this week

Final Crisis #3- Grant Morrison risk-taking nature is paying off big-time in Final Crisis. Reading this issue, I finally get why so many people dislike Final Crisis compare to Secret Invasion; the bad guys win here! Unlike Secret Invasion where everyone expects the Marvel heroes to eventually win, there’s no such certainty here. You go to the last page of this issue and you get this sense that ‘the heroes are toast’! There are a few bad spots that didn’t quite work (Mary Marvel’s new costume, Article X) but overall, this issue rocks! If Morrison can keep the quality of the series up, Final Crisis will be the best mini-series in years.

Trinity #10- One of my biggest problems with Countdown is that at times, the series just jumped! Flash was killed off Countdown but next thing we know, we are at the funeral of the Flash. Same thing happen here. When did Superman fought the antimatter Metal Men? I hope this is not the start of a trend. What I do like is the back-up story in this issue. A female gorilla called Primate who loves Nightwing’s butt? Great! I also like the way Kurt Busiek played up the Superman archetype here. Is that Stellarman? Apollo? Wait, Superman! Cute

Thursday, August 7, 2008

1 Day to the Olympics

The Olympic Games was supposed to be China’s coming out party, a showcase of the rising power and status of the Chinese people. And so far, the Olympic year has been a nightmare for China.

Between the earthquake, the pollution problems, the Tibetans protests; China has stumbled from one crisis after another this year. So with all these problems, you have to wonder why is the Chinese government shooting themselves in the foot.

That’s what they did when they revoked the visa of former Olympic speedskater Joey Cheek. Cheek was going to Beijing as part of Team Darfur, to urge China to help make peace in war-torn Sudan. What’s more the Chinese did not even bother to come out with an excuse on why they revoke the visa. I mean surely if you don’t want him to enter China, don’t give him a visa in the first place. And if you are going to cancel the visa, at least come out if some sort of excuse right?

Now by preventing Cheek from even entering China, what was at best a minor irritant for China has become an international incident. A self-made PR disaster if there ever was one. From where I stand, the Olympics couldn’t finish fast enough for China.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Losing the Drugs

As if the Malaysian police do not have enough problems with its’ creditably, a new scandal has erupted across the Causeway.

Malaysian newspapers had reported that 5kg of amphetamines, which was stored at the police headquarters in Johor, has gone missing. The stash was believed to be worth 1 million ringgit and was from the year's biggest drug bust in March when the Johor police busted an international drug ring in Johor and arrested twelve people including four Singaporeans.

What’s worse is that the thieves were believed to be policemen! With the Anwar sodomy case hanging over them like a guillotine, one has to wonder what the hell has happened to the Malaysian police.

Losing drugs in the police headquarters! No wonder Malaysian has so little faith in their police force. I would too!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson

Book 7 of Steven Erikson's epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, is here. Reaper's Gale is a change of pace as it is a direct sequel to both the fifth and sixth volumes, Midnight Tides and The Bonehunters.

The book starts in the Letherii Empire as the doomed Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, is quickly spiraling into madness while the Letherii secret police works its own agenda. They are not the only one as conspiracies seethe throughout the palace and the empire edges ever closer to war against its’ neighboring kingdoms. Even The Errant, a fallen god, plays a game to regain his lost power.

Then the great Edur fleet returned. Warriors from countless people were selected to cross sword with the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths. Amongst them are Karsa Orlong and Icarium Lifestealer, two of the greatest warriors in the world. Just to top it all off; The Malazan 14th Army, the Bonehunters, has come for revenge.

As you can see, a lot will happen in this book. So if you had not read the previous books in the series…forget about this one! You will no chance of picking up the story if you have no previous knowledge of the previous books, especially Midnight Tides and The Bonehunters.

Even if you have knowledge of the previous books, this one will STILL be a mess.

Yes, I did not like this one and the list of reasons is long. For one, for a series called ‘the Malazan Book of the Fallen’, the Malazans did not turned up till halfway through the book, 500 pages in. Tehol Beddict's manipulation of the Letherii economy, which was kind of interesting in the earlier books, was getting more boring by the pages here. The grand conspiracy between nations beyond the new Empire's borders was kind of interesting (Redmask was another great character in the series) and it never managed to gather any pace because the story keep jumping from the border to the Empire to the Malazans and then to Silchas Ruin’s group.

Plot-holes are everywhere in this book. I blame this on Erikson trying to squeeze too many things into one book. Even though it is over 1000 pages in length, the book still feel very rushed.

A prefect example is the deaths that occurred in the book. Sheltatha Lore, Sukul Ankhadu and Menandore, 3 goddess/ demi-goddess, were killed in an extremely confusing battle. Trull Sengar was killed by…a blow in the back? This after facing and beating the Mortal Sword of Darkness! Silchas Ruin, one of the 3 sons of Darkness, was beaten by a group of mortal Malazan marines? This after basically defeating a Letherii army by himself!

Silchas Ruin’s group was the biggest problem in this book. The search for the soul of the Edur god, Scabandari Bloodeye, was a strange one to begin with and it just got stranger and more senseless as the story continued. Don’t even get me started on the end when Silchas Ruin used Bloodeye’s soul as the foundation for a new Azath House. How come a mind-reader like Sheltatha Lore would not know of his plans is yet another big blank plot-hole in the book.

I just hope 'Toll the Hounds' will be better.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Foreign Talent at Work

The Singapore government has always said that Singapore requires foreign talent to keep up with other competing countries. Now it seems Singapore needs them as well to keep us alive.

Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) records show that of the 39,490 babies that were born in Singapore last year, only 59 per cent of them have both a Singaporean mother and a Singaporean father. Singapore men fathered 75 per cent of all babies born here, while Singapore women account for just 65 per cent.

It seems that Singapore women just do not want to have babies. 6,071 babies were born to Singapore fathers whose wives are Malaysians, Indonesians, Chinese nationals, or are from other countries. Singaporean women would much prefer to be in the rat race than to look after babies.

Since all the baby bonus; have 2 or more children etc, campaigns are not working, the only out of this is to limit education for women! Yes, limit their education so that Singaporean women have less career prospects, so they will be more willing to have babies. Since the chances of that happening are between zero to none; expect to see more foreigners in Singapore in the future.

So if you are a man looking for a lot of children; remember this: you need to look for foreign talent.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Lake on the Moon

Humans had always wondered if there is life in outer space…the answer seems to be ‘YES”!

Scientists have found a lake filled with liquid ethane on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. The lake was spotted last year, and scientists believed that life could develop in the moon's hydrocarbon lake. Scientists are calling the lake, Ontario Lacus. Of course, it doubtful that it is the ‘only’ lake on Titan so they are still looking for others.

That plus the fact NASA had found ice and water on Mars means that there is also certainly life in outer space. Spore anymore?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Comics this week

Trinity #9- Who the hell is the Swashbuckler? Kurt Busiek always has a love for strange villains but at least I have heard of Morgan Le Fey and Enigma. Swashbuckler? I’m afraid this is one of my problems with Trinity. When you have the team of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on one side, you must have a team of villains with at least the same power level or name recognition on the other side. Swashbuckler? Who the hell is the Swashbuckler?

Reign in Hell #1- Writer Keith Giffen has a reputation in the comics’ world as a guy with an eye for strange, compelling and out-of-this-world ideas. Reign in Hell is a prefect example why he has such a reputation. Lord Satanus and Lady Blaze, Lords of Purgatory, launched a coup against Neron under the propaganda of making Hell a more hopeful and less miserable place. As expected, the dammed masses lapped it up and Hell became a war zone. Neron response to the coup is simple. Call in all debts owned, and every hero or villain in the DCU find themselves drafted into the war. An interesting idea to say the least.
Not only that, this also allow DC to showcase the magical side of the DCU. The DCU’s magical world is much superior to what Marvel has; from Shazam to Swamp-thing to Tim Hunter there is also a magical powered hero in almost every team of note in the DCU. They even have a magical superhero team in the Shadowpact. The artwork was also spot on. Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz gave the book a dark look which fit the book perfectly. Count me in for issue 2.