Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year Everyone!



Goodbye 2014; Hello 2015!



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mother Nature


As everyone knows, Air Asia flight QZ 8501 went missing a few days ago during a flight from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore. With the Indonesian Navy reporting that it has retrieved more than 40 bodies along with debris from the plane about 10km away from the spot where the plane was last seen on the radar, it is all but confirmed that the plane went down in the sea.

With more bodies expected to be pulled from the water, chances are slim that anyone had survived the flight and the blame game will start will start in earnest. It’s human nature to need someone to blame. It’s normal but in this case useless.

Bad weather was the cause of the crash and I personally don’t think you can blame anyone for it. Sure, you can argue the plane should not be allowed to take off with a monsoon storm on the horizon but it’s the monsoon season in the region. Flying through storms is normal in this time of the year. However normal it is, unfortunately for this flight, something went wrong and the plane went down.

If there’s someone to blame, it’s Mother Nature and there’s not much anyone can do about her. For all the talk by experts, when you fly through a monsoon storm, there is always a chance something could go wrong. Even in modern times with all our technology, Mother Nature is still the boss of us all. That is just a fact.

Finding a scapegoat, whether it's a person or a company, will not change that. On Earth, Mother Nature is still the queen.   

Monday, December 29, 2014

Comics this week


Birthright #3- I’ll give writer Joshua Williamson and artist Andrei Bressan credit for putting together an excellent issue that’s both fun and good to look at. However the plot of the story need some work. After the sophomore issue which features a beat-down at a police station, this issue has Conan Mikey taking his family on the run from the Feds. Now I can understand the story potential of a road trip, but a guy who had successfully killed demons, dragons, and monsters running from the police? That’s just doesn’t tally. Birthright is still well-written, well-paced and interesting, but there’s a worry in trying to set things up, the writer is getting ahead of himself. It's good, but that's a worry. 

Magneto #13- One thing I have to say; of all the titles sucked in by the AXIS crossover event, Magneto is one of the few who had not been sunk by it. That is down to writer Cullen Bunn basically ignored the event until he couldn’t (the gathering of villains issue). Ignoring AXIS is what he did this issue, with a story that focused on Briar Raleigh and the effects Magneto has even on people who had never met him, and the series is better for it. Look at the Inhumans series if you don't believe me. The issue is pure setup, but it moves the story forward and did it in an interesting way. Good work Mr. Bunn! 
 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Empire Strikes Back


Days after US President Barack Obama promises that the US will take "proportionate response" against North Korea for the hack on Sony Pictures, North Korea's Internet went dark for several hours yesterday.

Of course much like North Korea refusal to take credit for the hack on Sony, the US is refusing to say they are responsible for taking down North Korea’s internet but if you add one and one, you’ll get two. Still, I must say the American’s idea of "proportionate response" must be different from everyone else’s.

North Korea hacked a movie studio and in return, the US…takes down their internet? I’m no fan of North Korea but that’s their idea of "proportionate response"? I guess that’s what you get when you mess with the most powerful nation in the world.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Why The Hate?


I have been keeping quiet on the new LTA app, Taxi-Taxi@SG, but as people keep complaining about the app, I feel the need to ask a question. Why do you guys believe the app must have a booking system?

I don’t get all these complains about the LTA app. The main complain people has is that you can’t make booking on it. Well, that’s because LTA is not a taxi company. When you want to make a booking, do you call LTA? Of course not, you call the taxi company. So why do you believe the new LTA app “must” have a booking system?

That makes no sense to me. If they have a booking system on the app, who are you going to pay the booking fee to? Again, LTA is not a taxi company. The app is a system to show nearby taxis; designed for people for do NOT want to make a booking.

That seems like a very good thing to me. There’s already apps like GrabTaxi and Uber for people who want to make taxi bookings. What good would another be? An app to show nearby taxis seem like a good idea to me, and that’s what Taxi-Taxi@SG is. The app is FREE to boot! 

I personally don’t see what the big issue is. If you’re really unhappy about the free app, then don’t bloody download it. No one is forcing you to us it right? The hate for the app makes no sense. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hear Me Roar!


George R.R. Martin is a man who wears many hats. He’s the editor of Wild Cards, consultant to TV series, and the slow writer of the Song of Ice & Fire series. Many on you would know the last as The Game of Thrones.

Here’s one more hat for Martin; proud movie theater owner!

By now, everyone would have heard of Sony Pictures caving in to the threats of North Korea and cancelling the release of “The Interview”. I mean they are so afraid of Kim Jong Un, they don’t even dare release the film in DVD! It is a total victory for the North Korean dictator.

Not so fast.

Showing a stubbornness that would make Ned Stark proud, Martin say he intend to screen the movie! The author co-owns Jean Cocteau Cinema, a movie theater in New Mexico, and offered to screen the controversial movie at his theater. Of course, there are problems to the plan like getting a copy of the movie but there seem to be at least one guy in America with some balls.

Kim Jong Un, look out! Winter is coming.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Comics this week


Justice League #35- You know what this Amazo virus story arc reminds me of? The story of DC Online! In the game, Lex Luthor created a virus to give normal people superpowers and this arc gives me a similar vibe. The main difference is that here, the virus also create Amazo who becomes a metahuman, instead of a technological villain. This was a smart move by writer Geoff Johns who give a fresh spin to a villain which I never care much for. Not only that, Johns managed to mix some humor into the story with Batman and Superman having an exchange about his Haz-Bat suit, a name Batman absolutely refused to take any credit for. He blames Robin instead. Johns even manages to give time to Luthor, showing his doubt and horror at the growing plague spreading throughout the city. Great issue! 

Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1- The latest installment of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity takes place on Earth-5 whose greatest hero is Captain Marvel, the World’s Strongest Mortal. The story has Dr Sivana attacking the Rock of Eternity to steal time from other universes in order to create a new eighth day of the week: Sivanaday! Now the problem with Thunderworld is the same as with the other Multiversity issues thus far; there’s not a lot to connect them. However Morrison got a save here with a story that’s a lot smarter than previous issues. Time travel stories are always a hit-or-miss affair and Morrison got a hit here with a story that makes smart use of the concept of time travel. There’s an elegance to the end of the story when Captain Marvel uses time to beat Sivana’s time stolen extra day. Also artist Cameron Stewart did an excellent job capturing the look and feel of a Silver Age comic. The ever present smile on Captain Marvel and clean art is a superb throwback to the look of yesteryear. It may have nothing to do with the overall story of Multiversity, but on its own “Thunderworld Adventures” is wonderful.

Scarlet Spiders #1- I am beginning to understand why Scarlet Spiders has 3 issues; Ultimate Jessica Drew, Kaine and Ben Reilly will each get to star in one issue. Jessica got the start so this issue has Kaine as the star and the issue was better for it. We see Kaine using his ability and strength to guide Ben Reilly along, have a clear insight in his personality, and basically see what make him tick. Almost good enough to make you forget the “The Clone Saga” disaster that gave birth to him.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"The Golem and the Jinni" by Helene Wecker



The debut novel of Helene Wecker, “The Golem and the Jinni” is a mixed bag. By that I meant it’s a historical-urban-romantic fantasy that also questioned what life really means and touches on the clash of cultures in the melting pot that is New York City.

If that sounds daunting, well…that’s because it is but don’t worry. Although this is her debut, Helene Wecker show a firm hand in her writing, giving us one of the most delightful debut in years.  

The story starts in Poland at the end of the 19th century, when a kabbalist named Yehudah Schaalman creates a golem at the request of Otto Rotfeld. Rotfeld is leaving Europe for America and decided to “commission” a new bride for himself. However Rotfeld dies during the sea voyage to New York City and the newly awakened golem, shaped like a woman, escaped alone into the unfamiliar city. A rabbi, Rabbi Meyer, takes in the golem and named her, Chava. He found her a job at a bakery and begin teaching her how to pass for a human among the Jewish population of New York.

At the same time, a tinsmith named Arbeely accidentally frees a jinni from a flask in which he has been imprisoned for centuries. With no memory of how he was subdued, the jinni is trapped in human form and takes the name of Ahmad. Living in New York’s Little Syria, he uses his natural power over fire to work at the forge while looking for a way to return to his natural form.

Chava and Ahmad eventually meet and despite (or because of) their differences become friends. The novel show Chava and Ahmad's journey as they try to live as humans and come to influence the lives of the people around them before coming to a climax when Yehudah Schaalman comes to New York.

Now I’m not usually a fan on genre-mixing, but more works like this will definitely change my mind. “The Golem and the Jinni” is one of the best rojak works you will ever find as Helene Wecker not only seamlessly weaved the different genres together, she makes you wonder why no one has ever thought of this before!

I mean two fantasy creatures during turn of the century New York? They are the ultimate immigrants in the ultimate city of immigrants at the ultimate time of immigration. That’s a great idea.   

Wecker also examined the idea of life and what being human really means. The golem and the jinni have different views on what living in a human world really means and how to do so. Chava is caring and sensitive, while Ahmad is more reckless and joyful. Taking turns, the book shows how both Chava and Ahmad dealt with the social and mental problems they face while learning to live as a human.

This is a fantasy story about immigration set in a historical accurate 19th century New York City. The premise and idea of the story is nothing sort of perfect and there must be writers out there kicking themselves for not thinking of doing this before.

Of course, the book itself has some problems. I could do without the meandering backstory of how the jinni got captured and sometimes, the historical details of the book were too much. I have no interest in the daily working of a bakery in 19th century New York and the various rules about walking in Central Park.

The twist at the end of Yehudah Schaalman being the reincarnation of the sorcerer that captured the jinni a thousand years ago was a little too convenient. It would have been better if he was another mage; sometime there is such a thing as wrapping things up too neatly.

However these problems do not change the fact that “The Golem and the Jinni” is a wonderful book. The premise is unique, the writing is elegant and the final product is great. Read it!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cancellation!


The next big event on the calendar of DC is titled “Convergence”. Due for release in April and May, I personally think the event should instead be titled “Cancellation”!

This is because DC is cancelling 14 series in March, a month before “Convergence” starts. Some of these titles had been around since the start of the New 52. Batwoman, Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns, Green Lantern: New Guardians are among the 14 titles being cancelled. This is alongside new titles like Klarion and Arkham Manor.

As someone who does not collect any of the 14, the announcement doesn’t affect me much but DC really should give the newer titles some time to build an audience. In case you were counting, Klarion and Arkham Manor would only get between 6-8 issues before being cancelled.

That’s just not enough time and this isn’t the first time this happened. Remember Threshold? 8 issues and it was canned. I don’t know what titles will come out of “Convergence” but whatever they are, they need to come out of the blocks running. The DC editorial team will deliver the cancel-hammer if they don’t.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The CPF Review


With an election seemingly imminent in 2015, the Singapore government is currently carrying out a “review” of the CPF. Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin threw the first salvo when he was quoted as saying this may meant a review to the much hated minimum sum.

According to the minister, one area being looked at is whether it's possible to have different minimum sums for different groups, depending on their needs. I only have one thing to say to that; forget about it! Singaporeans are not going to accept that as a solution.

The Singapore government need to understand the problem isn’t how much must be kept in the CPF due the minimum sum; it’s the fact that there’s a minimum sum in the first place. Whether it’s $1, $155,000 or $161,000 is kind of beside the main point when your money is struck there in the CPF!

Any changes to the CPF system must take this into account. The problem isn’t the amount we must keep in the CPF; the problem is that there is money belonging to us that we can never access because of the minimum sum policy.

Any review that doesn’t get rid of the minimum sum is an exercise in futilely. Having different minimum sums for different groups is like missing the forest for the trees.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Comics this week

Astro City #18- What do you do when you’re an aging superhero? Well in the world of Astro City, that’s a real problem as Black Rapier, Crackerjack and Quarrel are now faced with the problem of aging. There’s no forever youthful character in the world of Astro City and I love the way writer Kurt Busiek handled it. You have Black Rapier retiring (the issue starts at his retirement party no less), while Crackerjack and Quarrel deciding to truck on. Even then, Busiek shows that age affects everyone as both Crackerjack and Quarrel now require daily drugs to keep going. It’s not just the physical problems but the mental ones as well. Crackerjack now sound like a grumpy old man who refused to admit his age while Quarrel quietly wonder if it’s time to hang it up. Ageing is a problem most comics don’t even approach but this is Astro City and this is another great issue.

Amazing Spiderman #11- Part 3 of Spiderverse has the long awaited showdown between Peter Parker and Superior Spider-Man. Writer Dan Slott played the scene well with both characters finally coming to an understanding that they need each other to survive the threat of the Inheritors. This is especially true as Solus finally comes to the table. Karn and Morlun may have the lion share of the action thus far but Slott shows that there are more to the Inheritors than these 2 and they are not just about pure power. The problem for the issue comes when Slott had to move the action away to focus on setting up other books. There are just too many of them and that affect the flow of the issue. Outside that, the action, story and art of Spiderverse are still there. If they could move away from setting up the tie-ins and just focus on the main event, it would be great. As it is, Spiderverse is now just very good. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nothing New


So the United States of America tortured people. In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet. That’s my view when the US Senate Intelligence Committee released a report detailing "brutal" interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects by members of the CIA.

So the CIA tortured people. How is that news? That’s why they were kept in Guantanamo Bay right? That’s what the “extraordinary rendition of terror suspects” is all about right? They were dropped off in countries like Thailand, Syria and Egypt so that they could be tortured. That’s hardly news. People had been saying all that for years.

Yes, there is some new stuff in the report like how at least one person died while under torture and how the “program” was pretty unsuccessful in getting good information but generally, there’s nothing new about the reports. Yet when you go on BBC, CNN or FOX News, all the stations goes on and on about how damming, brutal and explosive the report is.

I don’t get it. I’m no news reporter and I heard most of the stuff that is in the report. Anyone who thinks what’s in the report is new had not been paying attention. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

PM Lee's Rallying Cry


“The next GE is critical for Singapore and for us. It is not just about expressing approval or disapproval. It is not just about winning a seat in Parliament. It is not a by-election,” he said, adding that the PAP intends to contest every seat and win back the WP-held Aljunied, Punggol East and Hougang constituencies.

“The next GE is about choosing a clear vision for Singapore, choosing a capable leadership for Singapore, choosing a brighter future for Singapore,” he said adding that the whole of Singapore is "at stake".

“Our future is at stake because if we do not remain a nation of opportunity, our children will have no future. Our society is at stake because if we do not uphold a fair and just society, our society will be pulled apart. Our country is at stake. If the PAP fails, Singapore is in deep trouble. We shall not fail.”

With this speech, Singapore Prime Minister and People's Action Party (PAP) chief Lee Hsien Loong all but guarantee that a General Election (GE) will be held in 2015. With the next General Elections due by January 2017, this comes as no surprise.

The question is whether the PAP will claw back the seats they lost to the Worker’s Party (WP) in the last GE. The Prime Minister openly acknowledged this as he took particular aim at the WP when he spoke at the PAP60 Rally over the weekend.

Now many people on the blogshere are saying that taking aim at the opposition is a sign of weakness. I disagree. Taking aim at the opposition, especially the WP, is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of reality.

The simple fact is that in the last GE, the PAP lost even while winning. They lost George Yeo, lost a GRC, lost Hougang by a bigger margin, and probably only won in Potong Pasir because Chaim See Tong wasn’t contesting there. It was a bad result all around. This time, the PAP is taking no chances (see the “problems” WP is facing in their town council).

That’s not weak; that is smart. PM Lee and the PAP need to stop the momentum of the WP and saying so outright is a sign that they know what they’re facing. That’s reality. The next GE will be the PAP vs the WP, and to me, it’s a good sign for the PAP that their leaders are acknowledging that fact.

Rather than pretending that the PAP would waltz through another win, the PM is now rallying his troops. That is good for the PAP. To stop the surging WP, they will need to be at the top of their game, not a false sense of security. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rules Need To Be Changed


It’s called the unicycle, or more actually; the electric unicycle. The futuristic-looking ride is basically a one-wheel electric bicycle which comes with a system that prevents users from falling off, much like the Segway.

I had seen it very often in the city area where I work and between it, the electric kick-scooter and electric bicycle, it is part of the wave of alternative electronic transport that is mushrooming in Singapore. Now if only the TP (Traffic Police) will allow people to use them!

Despite what people thinks, these sort of vehicles are not banned in Singapore. Shops are legally allowed to sell them. The restriction is in the use of the electric vehicles. The LTA (Land Transport Authority) do not allow them on public roads; the NParks do not allow them in parks; and the TP do not allow them on pavements. Why are they not allowed on pavement?

I can understand the restriction placed by the LTA and NParks, but why are these vehicles not allowed on pavements? I mean electric wheelchairs are allowed right? So why not the electric unicycle or the electric kick-scooter?

Honestly, I can’t see any reason. The TP need to look into the matter and allow these vehicles to be used. They are not a danger to pedestrians (and I would know since I walked past them so many times), they are useful, and they are environmentally friendly. They should be allowed!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Not Popular Enough For The Ballon d'Or



Messi or Ronaldo?
 
The winner of this year’s Ballon d'Or is widely expected to be one of these two players but some has been touting a new name for football’s most coveted individual award; German keeper Manuel Neuer.
 
Widely considered the best keeper in the world, if not in his generation, Manuel Neuer won the Golden Glove (for best keeper) in the World Cup which Germany won. He is quick, agile, brave, confident and has good concentration. He was the main reason Germany won in Brazil.
 
Unfortunately he has no chance to win the Ballon d'Or.
 
He may be the best player in the world but he will not win and it is not just because of the regular bias for forwards. He won’t win because the Ballon d'Or is no longer about the best football player in the world; it is for the most popular football player in the world.
 
In a segment on the Ballon d'Or, CNN actually used Messi’s and Ronaldo’s Facebook hits as an indication on who would win the award! What does Facebook hits has to do with being the best player on the field? Totally nothing! However CNN is right in that popularity and name-recognition are now of vital importance in winning awards, so Facebook actually do matter nowadays. It’s an indication of how popular Messi and Ronaldo are.
 
In my view, this is ridiculous but there it is. Manuel Neuer would have my vote because he is the best player in the world in 2014, but I don’t expect him to win the Ballon d'Or. He’s not popular enough.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Comics this week


Hinterkind #13- Now this issue is a surprise! Taking a break from the current storyline, writer Ian Edginton decides to move the story backward, 18 months before infection. Yes, it seems Edginton is going to give us a story showing how humanity lost the world and how the various fantasy races took over. The idea of showing how an apocalypse happened is a tempting one but truth be told; I found it less than interesting. We see how the Sidhe Queen was the main cause of the apocalypse by designing and manufacturing a virus targeted against humans. Sorry but a takeover by fantasy creatures based on a virus cooked up in a medical lab? I was kind of hoping for something more original and unique than that. Don't get me wrong, the issue was good but the "super-virus" idea is neither new or original. Considering how unique Hinterkind has been so far, I was hoping for better. 

Rai #5- After too long of a wait, Rai is back and I do mean BACK! The tension in the issue goes through the roof as the various parties of Japan reluctantly comes together to go up against Father. Writer Matt Kindt and artist Clayton Crain gave us a tight story backed by gorgeous art actually made the long wait worth it. Bring on the next issue!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Release The Movie!




Movies leaked to the public before their opening is not a new phenomenon. For example, Sly Stallone’s Expendables 3 was leaked before its release date. However when 5 movies from Sony got leaked, things became very different.

This is because Sony indirectly blame North Korea for its troubles!

The problem streamed from an upcoming Seth Rogan movie, The Interview. The movie, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, has two reporters enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after been granted an audience with the dictator. North Korea called the movie a “war action” and even complained all the way to the United Nations on the matter.

Now sources are saying the possibility that North Korea may have targeted Sony is being seriously investigated. Now usually, I’ll be one to discount such nonsense but in this case, a few things point to this possibility. First; The Interview was not one of the movies that had been leaked. And second; no one from North Korea has come out to defend themselves from the charge. So you know what I would say to Sony right now?

I say…RELEASE THE MOVIE RIGHT NOW!

A rogue nation is so upset with the movie that they (might have) hacked the system of the studio releasing it and tried to hurt the studio by illegally leaking its movies! OMG, this is a marketing dream! You know how much publicity this movie has right now? Even people who had no intention to watch a silly comedy from Seth Rogan will now want to watch it. Some may even do it just to stick a finger to North Korea. I mean the (alleged) actions of North Korea just increased the profile of the movie ten times (at least).

So strike while the iron is hot. Don’t wait Sony; release the movie immediately! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

That Star Wars Trailer



Over the weekend, the trailer of the latest Star Wars movie came out. Due out next year, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is highly anticipated and, as expected, the internet is filled with comments about the trailer.

Now the trailer is nothing but a teaser, lasting only slightly over a minute but Disney clearly knows the fan favorites. Tatooine, the Millennium Falcon, TIE Fighters, X-Wings, a Sith Lord, even a cute robot; all made a blink and you’re miss them appearance. However, try as they might, Disney can’t please everyone. Already fans are criticizing everything from the black stormtrooper to the claymore-like lightsaber of the Sith Lord.

Everyone should just cool it. Come on people, this is just a trailer and a short one at that. If you guys can’t wait to complain, at the very least wait till we see an exact trailer before doing so. I mean this is by Disney! Don’t worry, there’ll be a lot to complain about. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Comics this week


Earth 2: World’s End #8- One thing I’ve discovered about World’s End is that the issues tend to jump. Here we have a riot in the refugee camp and the issue told us to read Earth 2 to know what had happened. There we have Constantine breaking 4 villains out of stasis and we were told to read the main Constantine series to know what happened. Come on DC, this is a WEEKLY series! You’re telling me even with a WEEKLY series, I still need to go elsewhere to know what’s happening in this series? That just sucks.  

Scarlet Spiders #1- One of the worst storylines Spiderman ever had is the horror that was “The Clone Saga”. It was total crap, right up there alongside Brand New Day. So I was kind of shaking my head when I read that Scarlet Spiders is a mini-series starring 3 (count them; 3!) clones. I admit the concept make sense; who better to send to destroy a clone factory than clones themselves. So Ultimate Jessica Drew, Kaine and Ben Reilly were sent on this suicide mission to the home dimension of the Inheritors where they met with strange variations of Tony Stark and Johnny Storm. The resulting issue wasn’t bad but it doesn’t reach the heights of Spiderverse. In fact, this issue seems and read like a filler issue, and that’s something Spiderverse does not need.

Spiderman 2099 #6- Although I’m not a huge Spiderman fan, I am very familiar with Miguel O'Hara as a friend of mine collected the Spiderman 2099 series. So it was nice to him back in action, and in 2099! Happening immediately after Amazing Spider-Man #10, this issue sees Miguel, Lady Spider and six-armed Spider-Man running from the Inheritor, Daemos. I found this issue to be a mixed bag. I enjoyed the character development of Lady Spider as the prim and proper May took her chance to be a little fun and flirty away from her Victorian time, but why did they kill the six-armed Spider-Man? I know Spiderverse is about dead Spiders but I thought the six-armed Spider was a fun character to have around (especially how funny it was he had to explain how he got six arms every single time he meet a new Spider). Still, on the whole this was an excellent issue and a worthy addition to Spiderverse. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ban That Means Nothing


Last week, I laughed at the online petition to ban US-based "pick-up artist" Julien Blanc from entering Singapore. I mean a petition to ban someone who didn’t have any intention of entering the country? That just makes no sense right?

Well, the Singapore government obviously don’t care much about making sense because they just agreed with the petition to “ban” the man from Singapore. According to the government statement, Mr. Blanc is barred from entering Singapore "especially if he is here to hold seminars or events that propagate violence against women".

All great and swell, everyone can thump his/her chest and say they did a good thing. Only one problem; the man wasn’t coming to Singapore. He never had any intention of coming to Singapore. So to ban him from coming to a country which he wasn't going to means…well, nothing. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nothing Learned


U.S Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, has resigned as reports surfaced about differences between him and U.S President Barack Obama. In short, Mr Hagel and President Obama have different opinions about whether to commit more American troops to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Currently, it’s too early to tell which way President Obama will lean but the fact that it’s still a question is shocking for me. After a decade of non-stop war in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m amazed the United States of America still want to fight. Has nothing been learned in America?

Before you went into Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States of America was the hyper-power of the world. Since then, the U.S went into the Great Recession, had a housing bubble burst, and had their international reputation went into the toilet.

Now you are thinking of putting more troops into Iraq, and even intend to add Syria into that list? Truly, has nothing been learned in America? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dishonored: Game of the Year



“Dishonored: Game of the Year” is the GOTY edition of the stealth action-adventure video game first released in 2012. Developed by Arkane Studios, the studio that made Bioshock 2, I found Dishonored to be a game that doesn’t change the stealth playing field but it does do a lot of things very well.

Set in the Victorian, steam-punk city of Dunwall, you play as Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles. Quickly, you are framed for her murder and the kidnapping of the young princess, Emily. After escaping from prison with the help of the Loyalists, a resistance group fighting to reclaim Dunwall, you seek vengeance on those who framed you and also come into contact with the Outsider, a powerful magical being who (for some reason) imbues you with magical abilities.

Played from a first-person perspective, the game will remind players a lot of games like Thief but with more combat. Don’t get me wrong, Dishonored is primarily a stealth game but the game does allow you to undertake the missions in a variety of ways. For example, you can carry out your assassination missions by killing no one but the target; or you can murder everyone in your path when getting to the target.

The game does allow you to complete all missions in a non-lethal manner or vice-verse, and the story will accordingly to your decisions. The variety of choice is one of the game’s main selling points and I liked it. I can complete my mission through stealth, combat, or (usually) a combination of both and the many ways for accomplishing mission goals is something I enjoy.

I also liked the very well thought-out lore. I’m not really a fan of steam-punk (never understood the fascination) but the setting of Dunwall is very good. The idea that the main energy source is whale oil is wonderful and makes a lot of sense in the context of the game. Also the idea of the Outsider is great. The world of Dishonored is basically one well into the early industrial age, so much so that most magic in the world had been forgotten and considered dangerous and “evil”.

The city of Dunwall is also one that is very well thought-out. A city ravaged by plague, Arkane Studios captured the atmosphere of the game very well. The city is stunning but it clearly had seen better days and the bright but grim city captures everything. Even the rich/poor divide of the city was well-captured.

However, I do find some problems with the game. I thought the story has some plot-holes in it. The game never told us why the Outsider chose to give magical powers to Corvo, and if you go the non-lethal, why all the Loyalists killed themselves at the end. I mean if you hadn’t killed anyone thus far, why do they think I will start now? I thought the story in the DLCs, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, to be much better. The story of the assassin, Daud, actually makes more sense than Corvo’s and when the story of the DLC beat the main game, that’s a problem.

Still, I think “Dishonored: Game of the Year” is a good game to get. The freedom of gameplay is great and the levels are generally very clever. The game has a lot of replay value and outside the story, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not great but it’s fun and ultimately, that’s the most important thing for a video game.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spider-Suit!



Remember the old Spiderman jingle, “Spiderman, where are you coming from? Spiderman…” Well, Spiderman came from Stanford University.

A team of researchers from Stanford University has invented a silicone pad that will allow man to scale walls like Spiderman. According to reports from various news agencies, the new pads invented is different from current equipment available is that a person’s weight will have no bearing on his ability to climb.

What’s more is that the pads were invented jointly with the American military who are thinking of a suit that will help soldiers climbing high walls without the need for ropes and ladders.

Spider-Suit, coming up! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Comics this week


Deadly Class #9- I must say I’m not a big fan of Maria but after this issue, I’m beginning to understand her a little. Writer Rick Remender sent us on a flashback, showing us the origin of Maria and the amazing skills she possesses. Artist Wes Craig outdid himself on the fight between Victor and Maria and the almost inevitable fight between Maria and Saya is something I’m really look forward to. The only drawback is Marcus. I know he’s the main character and has a psycho rep in the school but outside that, what do the girls see in him? A reputation can only bring you so far.

Amazing Spiderman #10- Officially Part 2 of Spiderverse, #10 has so many Spiders that even the most hardcore Spiderman fan’s head will spin. Looking back, I have to say it should be obvious that there are 2 groups of Spiders looking to take on the Inheritors, but it came as a bit of a surprise when the two groups first met up. Writer Dan Slott divided the 2 teams pretty well as the group led by Superior Spider-Man is more dangerous while the group led by our normal Spiderman is the better team. As the 2 groups interact in the future, the conflict should be nice to watch. However this issue was bogged down by the “need” to spilt the Spiders which I could have done without. Portals to everywhere got open as Marvel had to set things up for the #1 of Spider-woman, Scarlet Spiders and Silk. Thank goodness Spider Gwen #1 only comes after the event closes or they have to set that one up as well. Good issue that was damaged by the setups.

Spider-woman #1- I picked this up strictly because it’s part of the Spiderverse checklist and after reading it, anyone who thinks of picking this up need to get Spiderverse or nothing will make sense. Though it state there #1, the debut of Spider-woman is a Spiderverse affair. I mean the issue starts with Spider-woman, Silk and Spiderman Noir in an alternate Earth, on the run from the Twins of the Inheritors. The group then jumped to Noir Earth where Anya and Spider Gwen show up! Try making sense of that without reading Spiderverse! It's pretty much impossible. #1 is a pretty good issue but pick up Spiderverse before reading this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Transcab Cancelled IPO


It was supposed to be one of the more high-profile IPO (initial public offering) in Singapore this year. However taxi operator Trans-Cab’s IPO has now been called off.

Why the cancellation you asked? Well, Transcab decided to cancel the IPO after discovering that it is liable to pay an additional insurance premium worth $1.83m! According to the company, Trans-cab revealed that its insurer has rendered the amount as a “premium adjustment” based on cumulative accident claims against the company's taxi fleet.

Well, that’s great timing isn’t it? Just days after Transcab announced it’s intention to float on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), it’s insurance company announced that they will need Transcab to pay more for their vehicle insurance.

Yes, I’m sure they will say the timing is nothing but a coincidence but let us be serious here; it is not! So I have to wonder just how legal this is. Can an insurance company just announce an “adjustment” to an insurance premium for no reason?

If the answer is yes, then I think we can forget about any transport company being listed in SGX. No transport company in the world in their right mind will list here. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jumping On A Bandwagon


Before this week, I had never heard of Julien Blanc. Now, it seems the man is everywhere, including Singapore!

It all started when Brazil (of all country) decided to rejected Blanc’s visa application. The reason? Blanc is a self-proclaimed pick-up artist who teaches seminars on how to pick up women. His methods involve physical and emotional abuse, including choking women. Many have used social media to slam his teachings as misogynistic and promoting sexual violence. 

Now a petition started by a Singaporean woman, Charis Mah, aims to ban Blanc from ever entering Singapore. There’s only one problem with that; Blanc has no plans of ever coming to Singapore!

Wait for a moment; we are trying to ban a man (who has committed no crime) from entering Singapore even though he is not trying to enter Singapore? Ever heard of jumping on a bandwagon? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

A $1.92 million Sacrifice


Would you a miss a chance for a $1.92 million payday for your country? If you are Roger Federer, then the answer is yes.

The 33-year-old Swiss world no. 2 was “forced” to pull out of the ATP World Tour Final showdown with world number one Novak Djokovic due to injury. Federer, who personally apologized to the crowd, said that he was not "match-fit" after developing a back problem.

I don’t buy it.

Partnering with compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, Federer has a date next week when he will try to get one of the few major honors missing from his cabinet, the Davis Cup. Yes, you can argue he missed the match against Djokovic because he was chasing personal records, but it was a match worth $1.92 million! And he skipped it to save himself for the Davis Cup!

For those of you arguing that he could really be injured…well, let just say I won’t be surprised if Federer line up next week for Switzerland alongside Wawrinka against France. Multi-millionaire or not, talk about a sacrifice. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

In Defense of Sim Lim Square


Last week, reports came out about how a Vietnamese tourist in Singapore was scammed out of S$550 when buying an iPhone 6 at the IT retail complex, Sim Lim Square. Since then, Singaporeans has been saying how Singapore should “clean up” Sim Lim Square.

I must say I’m very puzzled by all the woo hah! I honestly can’t see why Singaporeans are so surprised by the incident. I had been going to Sim Lim for over 15 years (back when the stores there sell shall we say disreputable goods) and I’m not at all surprised by the incident. In fact, I would say the incident isn’t just expected, it is accepted.

Why? Because it is Sim Lim Square! Stores there practicing sales tactics that border on the illegal is nothing new, it has always been that way. Hell, I remember a time when the stores there sell things that were outright illegal. Isn’t there truly really anyone surprised by this?

For those of you saying that tourists do not know the reputation of Sim Lim Square, I’ll say tourists have no business going there in the first place. All this talk about “cleaning up” is counterproductive for Sim Lim Square. Let’s admit it; Sim Lim Square is nothing special if not for its stores and reputation.

It’s what give the building it’s edge. Without that, it’s just another shopping complex (and a pretty lousy looking one at that). If you are not happy about the practices of the stores there, then don’t go there. There’s always Funan. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Comics this week

Copperhead #3- Till now, Copperhead has been trying to be space western/murder mystery/family drama, all at the same time. It's a show of writer Jay Faerber's skill that thus far he had managed to juggle so many balls in the air so well. Artist Scott Godlewski has been ably assisting him by producing some excellent clean art. Having said all that, I have to wonder how things would be in a few issues time when more things are introduced and the world get bigger. Thus far, the series is still strong.

Earth 2: World’s End #6- The fightback continues as the World Government and the Earth's defenders make their stand and (finally) put a dent in Darkseid's forces. However I have to wonder about the last page reveal. I mean of all the people in the world, the White picked him? Why? I can't think of a single reason why and how that could be considered a good choice. In fact, it stick out like a sore thumb.

Spider-Verse #1- I must say I'm surprised that #1 of Spider-Verse has so little to do with the Spider-Verse crossover. Instead of being a part of the crossover, #1 is actually six stories showing the various Spiders of the multiverse and you know what; I'm shocked at how well it worked! Not only are the Spiders different, I love the stylish ways the stories were presented. Lady Spider is a steampunk story while Penelope Parker is...a Powerpuff Girl! Okay, not all of them work but there are some real gems here and I love it when writers and artists take risks. That's Spider-Verse #1 is. A risk-taking issue with more plus than minus. Take a look. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It Was A Mistake

It’s widely accepted that former American President George W. Bush was the worst U.S President America had in living memory, mostly due to the costly Iraqi War. Personally, I always thought that the man was well-meaning but incapable of the job.

One of the things he also appear incapable of is admitting a mistake. To this day, George W. Bush do not believe invading Iraq! In a recent interview, George W. Bush insists sending troops into Iraq was “the right decision” and he only regret the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in parts of Iraq.

Well guess what? The world only has the problems on ISIS because of the decision to send troops into Iraq! So if you "regret" the rise of ISIS, shouldn't "regret" the decision to send troops into Iraq. That’s not even counting the fact that you ordered troops into Iraq on pretense. Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and did not have a nuclear program.

Not if you are George W. Bush. Such details don’t seem to register with him and 6 years after leaving the White House, he is still incapable of seeing what the world already knows. 

Going into Iraq opened a can of worms that the world is grappling with to this day. Going into Iraq was a mistake! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lee Chong Wei’s Coming Suspension

When former world no 1 Lee Chong Wei’s tested for positive for drugs, I thought it was a normal case of a top athlete using drugs for an edge. Badminton might not have a history of athletes using enhancing performance drugs, but it’s hardly a shocking development.

This is however big news in Malaysia where Lee is a national hero. Now there denying that drugs were found in Lee Chong Wei’s urine sample on Aug 30 when he was tested during the World Championship semifinal, but reports coming out say that the drugs found in Lee were not performance-enhancing.

The problem seemingly came about during July 17 when Lee underwent surgery and a banned substance, dexamethasone, was injected into the world No. 1 was part of the surgical procedure. Although I’m not convinced that this is true, I am convinced that it does not happen. Drugs were found in Lee Chong Wei’s urine sample and to the authorities, that’s the end of the matter. He will get banned. 

In many ways, Lee’s case remind me of the case of Alberto Contador. In September 2010, Contador tested positive for a banned substance, clenbuterol, but in an amount 400 times less than what would be required for it to effect his performance. Contador blamed the incident on meat he ate as clenbuterol is a drug commonly used to “fatten” the animals. Almost everyone agreed that this was possible, even likely, but Contador was still suspended.

I doubt Lee’s case will be any different. Even if this was a simple mistake, it does not matter. Lee will still get suspended. In many ways, I almost wish the reports coming out of Malaysia are wrong and this was NOT a simple mistake.

If Lee is going to get suspended, I rather he got it for something he actually did. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Insane WOW Player With 29 Max Characters


In the genre of MMORPG, the World of Warcraft (WOW) is king of the hill. Many MMOs has been released since WOW first came on the stage and every once in awhile, one of them will be called the “WOW-killer”.

None has succeeded and while it's pretenders fall by the wayside, WOW is still going strong. So the question is, “Can any MMO really take over the throne from WOW?” The answer is probably not because WOW is a game with some die-hard fans.

Case in point: Brendan "Tibs" Thibodeau.

A WOW player since 2005 (9 years!), Tibs became a WOW legend by the fact that he had attended six BlizzCons and been at the front of the line for four of those. Not only that, he is again first in line at this year’s BlizzCons.

Just in case you think this is a guy who just stand in line for the conventions, Tibs proudly admits to having 29 max level characters with five legendary cloaks among them. Holy shit! The most number of max characters I had even heard of was a player in SWTOR with 16 max characters. This guy has 13 more than that!

So all those guys on the internet saying WOW’s time is over, I say you are dreaming. With (insane) fans like Tibs, I think WOW will be top of the MMORPG hill for quite some time. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Comics this week


Birthright #2- After the stunningly intriguing debut issue, writer Joshua Williamson had a lot to live up to. It's common knowledge that for most new series, most of the time #2 does not hit the heights of #1. That is not a problem with Birthright as Williamson again hit it out of the park. The debut issue was a family drama about a family finding their lost son but this issue was action as the secretly fallen hero tore through a police station and artist Andrei Bressan showed the bloody vicious action with total relish. Looking at his art, I truly believed in two things; this guy is a great warrior and the police officer are truly outmatched. The police has guns while the warrior only has swords and shields but those officers has no chance. A superb follow-up! 

Earth 2: World’s End #5- After a month of showing how deadly Darkseid's forces are, the shoe finally falls as the World Government and Earth's defenders make their move. Although part of the issue is on Sloan and Mr. Terrific's new inventions, I'm far more interested in the Parliament's alliance. The Green allied with The Gray? Man, Earth 2 must really be in trouble for that to happen. If nothing else, Alan Scott and Soloman Grundy would be the odd couple of the year and seeing them together should be fun! 

Amazing Spiderman #9- Spiderverse starts here and if the rest of the Spider-event is anything like this issue then everyone can officially say Spiderman is back! Marvel wasn’t kidding when they say writer Dan Slott is a Spider-nerd because almost every Spider I can think of is here. I especially like the humor peppered throughout the issue (stop looking at the butt!). Not only that, Slott is proud enough of his work that he forgo the usual Spider suspects and instead focus the story on the more marginal Spidermen like Spider-UK, Spider Ham and Mayday Parker. Silk made nothing but a cameo while Spider-woman was almost wallpaper. Now that takes guts and the issue was better for it. Bring on the rest! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chuck Blazer; American Spy?

By now, everyone know that FIFA is a den of corruption where money rules. Russia's successful 2018 World Cup as well as Qatar's successful 2022 have both come under the microscope as money politics have been named as the main reason why both countries were successful in their bid.

Honestly, what else is new? Money has always talk the loudest in FIFA. 

What's new is that the FBI has now been linked to the former head of CONCACAF (the football's governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean), Chuck Blazer. Chuck Blazer, once one the most powerful man in world football, has been reported by the New York Daily as an FBI informant used to spy on FIFA since 2011.

According to the report by the newspaper, Blazer was working for the FBI from 2011 and secretly recorded conversations with various officials throughout the world. These includes private meetings as well as meetings within FIFA's executive committee.

If this is true, and thus far no one has denied them, it would explain why FIFA has refused to release the investigation report on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The corruption probe has been finished for months but FIFA has thus far refused to release the report to the public due to “legal reasons”. Hell if one of their top members was a FBI spy for years and they never known about it, I can see why they would have “legal reasons” not to release that info.

It doesn’t take a lot to imagine the damage such information could do to FIFA. I mean one of their main rules is “no government interference” in the running of the country’s football association and yet they have a FBI spy on their executive committee for years?

Man, that's one report FIFA would not want to see the light of day. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Get The Best, Not The Best Woman



As Marvel Studios revealed their “Phase 3” movies in response to Warner Brothers’ slate of DC movies, a lot of attention has been spent on the Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot. Most notably, a lot of people are saying that the Amazonian heroine's big screen debut should be directed by a woman.

Sorry but I think that kind of thinking is a mistake. Yes, I know Wonder Woman is supposed to be a big female empowerment icon in the West but I honestly don’t care if the director is male or female and I don’t think I’m alone. Fans want a good movie, whether the director is a man or woman does not come into the equation. Assuming that the director of a Wonder Woman movie MUST be a woman is just limiting your options of who the director should be.

I mean by that thinking, a Chinese director from Taiwan has no business directing Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain or Life of Pi! So forget about getting a female director for Wonder Woman, just go and get the BEST director for the job.

Monday, November 3, 2014

World-Class Rugby In Singapore?

When I read that Singapore has clinched a 4 year deal to host a leg of the IRB (International Rugby Board) Sevens World Series at its state-of-the-art new National Stadium starting from next year, a question immediately popped into my mind; Why?

Now I know the agreement is a coup for the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) but rugby in Singapore is like ice-hockey; sure everyone heard of the sport but few seen it and fewer actually played it. Basically, outside the school level, Singapore rugby is almost non-existent!

So why are we spending money on an world-class international tournament which has no Singapore involvement? At least I hope not because if there's a Singapore team in the tournament, they are going be get smashed! I mean let's admit it; Singapore rugby isn't even the best in Asia. We get our national team to play world class teams, even at home in Singapore, our team is going to get destroyed.

Sad to say, the Sevens World Series rugby in Singapore is like the World Cup in Qatar. A popular sport in a country that has no place hosting it.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hello Is Harassment

The latest viral video on Youtube right now is the "Street Harassment Is Real" video where a director filmed an actress walking around New York City and getting harassed by men on the street. 

Now I won't argued that there were some outright harassment shown in the video, including a guy who quietly followed the actress for over 5 mins, but like some men I have to question why some of the interaction in the video is considered harassment. I mean most of the guys did nothing but look at the woman while some just said "hello" and “have a good day”.

To this, the director, Rob Bliss, says this, 
“Imagine that you are that girl — or, better yet, imagine that you are you,” he said. “And you’re walking down the street and every guy you saw in that video said those exact same things to you. How would you feel?”

Yes, you read that right. By reputation, everyone knows New York City is an unfriendly city but to have an actual New Yorker openly saying that "hello" and “have a good day” is just not something you say to a stranger in the city? Well, that just settle it. New York City has to be the world's unfriendliest city!  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review of John Wick


If there’s one line to describe John Wick, it is this; John Wick is a kick-ass action movie.

That’s it. Those of you looking for Oscar winning performances or tear-jerking dramas, go someplace else but if you are looking for a slick polish action movie, then this Keanu Reeves film is one you need to watch.

Reeves stars as John Wick, a man who just lost his wife Helen to cancer. Knowing she was dying, his wife posthumously send a gift to him in the form of a puppy named Daisy, hoping the puppy would help Wick cope with his grief. Wick and Daisy connects but their relationship is cut short when a Russian gang member named Iosef (Alfie Allen) broke into Wick’s home, killed Daisy and stole Wick’s car.

After that, Iosef bought the car to a chop-shop but the shop owner Aureilo (John Leguizamo) refused to have anything to do with the car and even punched Iosef for bringing the vehicle into his shop. Iosef immediately reports the incident to his father Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), the head of a major Russian crime syndicate in New York. Aureilo explained to Viggo what happened and Viggo beat and berate his son. He then explained to Iosef and his second-in-command Avi (Dean Winters) who John Wick was; one of the best assassin in the world, nicknamed the "Boogeyman".

From there, it’s one straight line of a vengeance movie as Wick faced off against Viggo, who in an effort to protect his son, put a $2 million bounty on Wick’s head.

As I said earlier, John Wick is an action movie and a very good one. The fights are stylish and the way Keanu Reeves handle the action scenes is something to behold. This is a welcome return to form for Reeves who has been threading water for the past couple years ever since the Matrix trilogy ended.

Also the way the movie expanded John Wick’s world was very well done. The revelation that Wick was part of an old assassin society based around an unassuming hotel named the Continental was marvellous. Although they weren’t in the movie much, directors by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski clearly show that the society has its own rules and code of conduct and anyone who runs afoul of them will have to suffer the consequences.

I also liked the performances of the actors in the movie. Reeves was great and so were the supporting actors. When Viggo first learned of what happened, all he said was, “Oh” and Nyqvist nailed the scene. Nyqvist with that one word managed to convey Viggo’s shock, surprise and rage. Never had so much been said on such a simple word.

However, not everyone was great. I know Adrianne Palicki has managed to gain a reputation as an action actress but I thought she was terrible as Ms. Perkins. She just didn’t seem comfortable at all as the movie femme fatale. I can’t help but think that another actress would have done a much better job at it.

I also thought the ending was poor. After all the kinetic shootouts and fights, the ending was kind of passé. A fist fight in the rain at the docks? I seem that a thousand times before and I didn’t need to see another one.

However on the whole, I thought John Wick was an excellent action movie. The action was cool and while the story was simple, it got the job done. Bring on the sequel! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Comics this week

Earth 2: World’s End #4- After getting the conflict between Earth and Apokolips into gear, the writers of this weekly series decide to have a setup issue. Mr. Miracle and the World Government came to a deal while Batman’s team descent into the Fire Pits. Also Aquawoman unleash Atlantis’ super weapons after losing the city to Death, one of the Furies. So I won’t say the issue is useless, a lot does happen, just surprising as I thought the fight was just kicking into gear. Also if they are going to set things up, why don't they show what happened to Constantine who showed up last issue? A good issue, but not perfect.

Sinestro #6- After so many crossover, I am going to drop all my Green Lantern books. They are great and going strong, but there are just too many crossovers for my liking. Sinestro #6 is an example. I missed a lot as the issue starts with the aftermath of an attack by a New God on the Corps and Sinestro seemingly intrigued by the attacker. The end of the issue was great, an example why I like this series so much, just too bad about all the crossovers. 

TOTO vs 4D

How difficult is the new TOTO? From what I see; very very difficult!

Earlier this month, Singaporepools changed the TOTO system. There are now 49 numbers to choose from instead of 45 and you will win something if you match 3 numbers instead of 4. Also, the total winnings of the lottery increased.

However from what I see, the extra 4 numbers on offer has made winning the TOTO very difficult. In the latest TOTO draw, not only did no one won the Group 1 prize; no one even won the Group 2 prize!

No one even won the Group 2? In all the time I have play TOTO, I have never seen that before. I have always thought that TOTO was better than 4D but after this change, I have to change my mind.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

What's The Problem?


When Yahoo! News reported that Singapore pastor, Joseph Prince, has a reported net worth of $6.3 million and an annual salary of $700,000 (here), many Singaporeans raised their eyebrows at the figures. Many asked if it was right that a pastor be paid so much and if he should be so rich?

I agree with the questions. Personally, I am very uncomfortable with a pastor earning over half a million dollars a year but I shall also say this; Pastor Joseph Prince has done nothing wrong or illegal.

Pastor Joseph Prince is the head of his own megachurch, New Creation Church has over 30,000 members, and the pastor has to my knowledge been above board in his financial dealings. He didn’t try to hide his wealth or salary. The fact that his salary do not come from New Creation Church itself is another plus in my view.

Basically it comes down to this; I am uncomfortable with a pastor being so rich but if the members of his own church has no issue with it and he isn’t doing anything illegally, who the hell am I to say anything? I’m not even a Christian! If there's no foul, well...what's the problem?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Comics this week


Amazing Spiderman #8- The last stop before Spiderverse, this issue had us looking at the team-up between Peter Parker and Kamala Khan and tried to get fans excited with the new Silk series. It failed on both counts. However the issue was saved by the backup where Mayday Parker, Spider-girl, becomes the latest Spider to be hunted by Morlun’s family. I must say I was surprised by the dark turn of the story but after what they did with the Spider-friends, I guess I shouldn’t be. It’ll be fun to see how Mayday stacked up alongside Assassin Spider and Superior Spider-Man as the death squad of the Spiders. Bring on the Spider-Verse!

Earth 2: World’s End #3- 3 issues in and things got moving as the conflict went into high gear. Apokolips makes its move as the 4 Furies engaged Earth’s heroes while the planet itself steadily moved into the solar system. The stakes are high and I have to congratulate the multiple writers and artists who worked on this issue on getting that right. I mean you know things are bad when Khan, Dodds and Sloan are all working towards a common goal and you could literally feel the tension as the heroes had to decide between several bad options before making the “least bad” one. Add that to the sudden appearance of Constantine and you got one hell of a potent mix of a comic book.   

The Multiversity: The Just #1- The big knock again Multiversity has been that the issues don’t seem to have too much connection with each other. If you are one of those readers, you might want to skip The Multiversity: The Just #1 because writer Grant Morrison is continuing in the same vine. You know what…I dig it! The Just is wonderful as Morrison turned the teen heroes of today into the adult heroes of tomorrow as The Just shows a world where most of the heroes of today has passed on and their “titles” of heroes were inherited by their children. It can be a little confusing at first but as I read on, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by this world. Artist Ben Oliver may have a lot to do with it but I can clearly see how interesting this world is and DC may have a goldmine here. If they have a “The Just” series like Earth 2…who knows?



Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Simple Solution


When Qatar was controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup by FIFA's executive committee in 2010, I said then it was a bad idea. Two years later, FIFA is still trying to make the bid works.

Faced with the prospect of playing in the summer heat of the Middle East, FIFA has been trying to think of all kind of ways of making it possible to hold the tournament in Qatar. Ideas ranged from moving the Qatar World Cup to late 2022 in winter, to moving it slightly earlier in early May, to starting games at 1am to avoid the worst of the heat.

I have a better idea. Just move the whole tournament to another country! That solves everything right? Sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Too Much Of A Good Thing



That’s what I thought when I read that Warner Bros. will be releasing more than 10 movies based on DC superheroes. With the successful Marvel had these past few years, it’s little wonder why Warner Bros. would want in on the act but 10 of them?

The 10 DC movies named are as follows:

• "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2016)
• "Suicide Squad", David Ayer (2016)
• "Wonder Woman" (2017)
• "Justice League Part One" (2017)
• "The Flash" (2018)
• "Aquaman" (2018)
• "Shazam" (2019)
• "Justice League Part Two" (2019)
• "Cyborg" (2020)
• "Green Lantern" (2020)

Now as a long-time fan of superhero comics, I love the fact that there are movies in the pipeline but 10 movies in 6 years? Good god, that’s overkill even if you don’t count the Marvel movies.

I hope between them, Marvel and Warner Bros., the two rival studios do not kill the genre. Give us fans some room to breathe guys. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Comics this week


Deadly Class #8- Unlike most people on the internet, I’m no fan of writer Rick Remender’s work on AXIS but in Deadly Class, he is still showing his class (pun intended). #8 gave us the backstory of Marcus and it is suitably horrifyingly awesome. I like the way Remender didn’t sugarcoat anything. Yes, Marcus had good reasons for doing what he did but that didn’t change the fact that he killed a lot of people and was responsible for the deaths for more. The pain the memory bought to Marcus was beautifully illustrated by artist Wes Craig and after last issue so-so return, it’s great to have the series back on form. 

Justice League #35- The game within a game continues as the unlikely and uneasy alliance between Lex and the Justice League continue to give writer Geoff Johns a lot to work with. It’s fun to watch the self-righteous and honorable JL team trying to work an angle on Lex when they have nothing to go on but past history. The fact that Lex is now more afraid of some unknown entity out there than he is of the League is something none of them want to accept and it’s fun to watch the continuing duel of wits between Batman and Lex. More please!

Ms. Marvel #8- Since the beginning, we have seen Kamala Khan fumbling around on her own and that’s part of her endearing charm. She’s a young slightly confused, hardworking working-class hero who is just trying her best after gaining some superpowers. Her inexperience told this issue as the giant robot that attacked her school caused great damage and injured her. Luckily she was rescued by Lockjaw and Medusa and the Inhumans given some answers on how her powers work. Writer Willow Wilson’s strong writing continue to make this one of Marvel’s best and as long as she's on the title, this series looks good for the long haul.

Who Cares?

The simple unspoken rule in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is that Singaporean Malays are barred from certain sensitive vocations in the SAF. The simple and (to me) outdated belief is that as a country surrounded by Malay majority countries, Singaporean Malays might not want to fight against their ethnic kin if we ever go to war.

So when the SAF introduced the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) for new citizens yesterday, some Singaporeans are questioning why permanent residents who only been Singapore citizens for one year are allowed to be a Naval Combat Engineer (for example) when a born-and-bred Singaporean Malay who has lived here all his life is not?

It is a good question but the simple fact of the matter is this, “Who cares?” As a Singaporean who has been through National Service and almost through his reservist period, I can tell you this with great conviction, "Most of us in uniform have no desire to be there". 

That is just the truth and I think most Singaporeans know it. So if there are some “volunteers” who want to be a combat engineer, would I complain? Hell no, and with the exception of the few “on” Singaporeans, I don’t think most Singaporeans (Malay or otherwise) would either.

So don't ask why these new citizens are allowed to be in these vocations. If they want them, they are more than welcome to them. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Sports Hub Pitch



You would think they would have learned their lesson. 2 months ago when the Singapore Sports Hub was opened for the game between Singapore Selection and Juventus, many people (including me) complain about the terrible pitch.

Today, the national teams of Brazil and Japan are to play a friendly on the same pitch and…it is not much better. The coaches of both teams have openly complained about the pitch with Brazil coach Dunga voicing concerns about his players getting injuries. The pitch is so bad even the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) declared that the pitch was “far short of international playing standards”.

The FAS could say that of course as they are not in charge of the Sports Hub, thus not in charge of its pitch. Which begs the question just who is in charge? It’s been 2 months since the Juventus game, that’s more than enough time for grass to grow. This is Singapore after all and it is ridiculous that a stadium that cost millions of dollars to build can't even get it's field right.

So as Japan and Brazil play on the sandy field today, I have to ask, “Just who is to blame for this farce?” 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Strange New Titles From Marvel


 
You know how people always complain about diversity in comic books? Well, Marvel heard the complaints loud and clear as they intend to release at least 5 new series starring women.
 
Just as Marvel announced the cancellation of the Fantastic Four, they also announced new series for Gamora, Squirrel Girl, Silk and Spider-Gwen. Add them to the previously announced Spiderwoman series and you get 5 new female-led series. Now I'm all for diversity but I have a question for Marvel, “Why these characters?”
 
I can understand that there’s an outcry for more heroine titles and Marvel's respond to the cries is a good thing (just look at the new Black Widow, She-hulk, Elektra series) but this new lineup is strange. With the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I can understand the company picking Gamora. Spider-Gwen may be a new character (she has appear in 1 issue so far) but she seem to have struck a chord with fans of Spiderman, so I can understand picking her as well but...why Squirrel Girl and Silk?
 
Sorry but are these series going to sell? I don’t think so. There may be an outcry for more heroine titles but why not Jessica Jones, or Psylocke or even Songbird? Instead they pick a D-list hero in Squirrel Girl and an almost totally unknown character in Silk?
 
I give Marvel credit; these are bold choices but will they sell? Nope.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Comics this week


Birthright #1- The issue starts innocently enough with a father playing catch with his son near the woods. The son became lost and after an unsuccessful search, the father was accused of killing him. Years passed, the father became a drunk, the parents got divorced, and the younger son got into trouble in school. Things were bleak before the police got a man claiming to be the missing son. According to his crazy story, he was “spirited away” to a fantasy world where he was a hero. The story is crazy but his fingerprints and dental records match that of the missing boy and he do looked a little like the father. Could his story be true? Well, it is but that’s almost an afterthought to what went on before. The promo of this series showed a warrior with a big sword and fantasy creatures flying in the background. However if you came to Birthright thinking this is Conan 2.0, you would be solely mistaken. Birthright is a FAMILY DRAMA and writer Joshua Williamson hit it out of the park with this one. This debut is well-written, well-paced and very interesting. Artist Andrei Bressan also nailed it filling the issue with many small details that flesh out the story. Looks like a winner!

Earth 2: World’s End #1- Ever since 52 became a smash hit, DC has been trying to make lighting strike twice by releasing a series of weekly titles. All of them ranged between okay to not-so-good but give DC credit; they never stop trying. Earth 2: World’s End is their latest weekly title and it is set on Earth 2, an alternate world where the Trinity died saving the world from Darkseid. Immediately, you can see a problem. Readers who don’t follow the main Earth 2 book will have a lot of back-story to cover. Most of them probably won’t even know who Sloan is, much less how important is the reveal that he was the one who killed Alan Scott’s boyfriend and partner. This fact (and some others) would just fly over your head if you don’t follow the regular Earth 2 series. Luckily for me, I do! I won’t say this issue was perfect but I liked it. More Earth 2 is just not a bad thing in my view.

Earth 2 #27- This issue is the companion issue to Earth 2: World’s End and in many ways, it felt like it. This issue features a story that is entirely reliant upon its readers picking up World’s End and World’s Finest (I honestly have no idea Power Girl and Huntress were back on Earth 2). Add to that the complete utter fake and forced relationship between Batman and Huntress, and between Power Girl and Val-Zod, and you got an issue that’s easily the worst in the series thus far. This issue was like the poor cousin to World’s End and I worry about the series if this is the route writer Tom Taylor is going to take.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dangerous Ruling From LTA


Why not? That’s my question when I heard that the LTA (Land Transport Authority) do not allow taxis to have cameras installed inside them.

I know a taxi-driver who had been robbed sometime earlier this year. After the incident, the taxi-driver was understandably worried as he drives at night and decided to install a camera in his taxi. He paid for it out of his own pocket and his taxi company has no problem with it.

LTA however do.

Why? It seems some passengers are “uncomfortable” about the camera being inside the taxi so they complain to the LTA. Being the cover-your-own-ass agency that they are, the LTA is now ordering the taxi-driver to take out the camera. Why?

Recently, we had newspaper reports of taxi-drivers being robbed, being attacked, or simple being taken for a ride (passengers running off without paying). Yet when a taxi-driver decides to be pro-active and install a simple camera inside his taxi, it is not allowed?

I don’t understand why? Would LTA take care of the taxi-driver’s medical bills if he landed in hospital after an attack from a passenger? Would LTA offer compensation to the driver if he got robbed again? No chance of that happening, but when the taxi-driver try to protect himself, he can’t do so?

What nonsense is that? What’s the big deal about a camera anyway? Every MRT station in Singapore has cameras. To my knowledge, most bus interchanges in Singapore has cameras also. Cameras in public transport vehicles are hardly a new phenomenon, so why can’t a taxi-driver put one in his taxi?

This is a stupid ruling by the LTA. Taxi-drivers are trying to protect themselves after the spate of bad news and are willing to pay out of their own pockets to do so. If LTA is not willing to pay for the cameras to protect taxi-drivers, fine but to prevent protection?

That’s not just stupid, it's dangerous!



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Naruto Is Ending!


One of the main reason manga has such a following throughout the world is the fact that there are actually permanent character developments. Things just don't get reset via an event and manga series...ends!

Yes, news out of Japan has that Naruto will end next month.

Now I know Naruto's prime was a few years ago but the manga is still one of the best selling manga out there, so I'm surprised that Shueisha (the publisher) is allowing the creator/writer/artist Masashi Kishimoto to end the series. Yes, I know Kishimoto said in 2012 that the series would end in a year and a half but with all the Naruto is still bringing in, did anyone really believed that?

Obviously we should have. Naruto will end on Nov 10.