Monday, April 30, 2007

Rodriguez's Planet Terror

When I was with Edmund on Saturday, he spoke to me of the trailer for Grindhouse - the double-bill feature of movies from Robert Rodriguez and his partner of crime Quentin Tarantino. But the most interesting point of the film is the common denominator - Rose McGowan (Charmed) having two roles. The first one was the craziest of all, with her character - Cherry Darling's one leg got amputated to give way to have her fitted with a M4 carbine rifle attached.

People complained about Grindhouse that since it is a double-bill feature, it was clocked at a whopping 193 minutes, but Tarantino's Death Proof - Cannes premier standalone feature would be clocked at 110 minutes. It was like appealing to audience to seat back for three hours!?

This is the final trailer version of Grindhouse...sorry of the quality but it's not Quicktime format.

The Alumni Dinner

I didn't post on Saturday because I was quite tired after attending the school alumni dinner and I was annoyed that the Internet connection at my place was down due to the node breakdown at my place.

First off, in the morning, I met Edmund for meals and discussing some few things in regarding of plans involving Simon. However, I could not meet him since he had to settle a few things with the Income Tax Department and he could only arrive in the evening. Therefore, I spent the entire morning with him for just food before going back home.

I was pretty tired and I took an afternoon nap until 5 plus where I picked my dad's friend to meet up with my dad on the way to dinner. Be we agreed that those people organizing the dinner there were pretty much active than those in Ipoh. The amount of money raised for tonight's dinner was at about $500K. Each table costs $800 including of food and usage cost of the main clubhouse room. There was no corkage so we are allowed to brink in wine and other hard drinks.

Unfortunately, some guests including Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik and Professor Khoo Kay Kim were unable to attend due to personal commitments since Saturday was also the Ijok by-election day.

I know that most teachers - the administrative ones would be coming for the show including the retired teachers. Some whom I knew and some that my dad knew like Timothy Chee, John Lee and Thomas Choo were there as not to miss the annual event. I met some of my teachers, John and Mr L.S Khoo - my P.E teachers as well as the current A.S Mr. Meor who will be retiring in July. The teachers were here since Friday and they all spent three days wandering around K.L including shopping? Surprisingly, the Brother Vincent would be in company. Dad thought he was frail a few years ago, but at the age of 79, he is strong and going.

Some interesting things though...the dishes were given wacky names including Loan Shark, Three Honorables - Student, Teacher, Principal, Ta Pau Blues, Post Exam Desert, etc.. but the interesting thing parallel was that there was match tension between Man Utd vs Everton, with one of my dad's workers, Y.S is updating me on the score - Man Utd would win 4-2 and Chelsea drew 2-2.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Degrading Quality of School Plays

Tomorrow, I am invited to attend the Michaelian Reunion Dinner at Tropicana Club with my dad and one of his friend. Quite excited to go there, but I had some planning dilemma - how am I going back to town after the dinner? Immediately after dinner or tomorrow morning at around 5.30 a.m.?

Will be good there as I can talk to some people there and scold some..haha.

But the thing I want to complain about is about the quality of the school plays for the last two years. Ever since my English teacher Mrs. Adeline retired from teaching, the directing duties was taken over by a lesser known Corrinne. But seeing the last two including Mulan, I felt that the school musicals are getting more cartoonish than ever. It is like taking a step backwards rather than moving forward.

To help students behave more maturely and to help them out into facing the working world, I think that the standards of the musicals should be relook into. They should perhaps try the more adult-themed plays, dramas and so on, as to give them a partial exposure to Broadway-standard stage work. But I think the concern is that to do so requires a lot of money since you are required to obtain the play rights which can be expensive. So, why not we get a few people from the Actor's Studio to help this out? After all, sometimes a local play can be as good as the Broadway one.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Barracuda Sings This

In issue #34 of The Punisher Max: Barracuda, (also as part 4), our big man Barracuda has bad-mouthed this song by Rod Stewart called Sailing. Reportedly, it is one of Garth Ennis' favorite songs. So this one was taken during his Glastonbury 2002 concert.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wanton Punishment: The Living Daylights

This is supposedly yesterday's post. But because my line got blocked yesterday, due to unforseen circumstances, I was forced to delay my posting and doing my assignment. Anyhow, with tomorrow being an off day for me, since tomorrow is the King's installation day, I would be able to proceed on with doing some work of my own.

On Monday, I have mentioned that I have bought The Man of Stone, the 7th arc of Punisher Max written by Irishman Garth Ennis. My friend Edmund was very excited of hearing my commentary about the Man of Stone and here it is, exclusively since being released a week ago is the review of The Man of Stone.

BTW, the TPB cover for the arc is not from issue #39, but instead from issue #41. Here is the final cover: That's my favorite cover for the arc as well!

A word of warning: the storyline literally ties up whatever loose ends that are found in the two storylines: Mother Russia and Up Is Down, Black is White. If you do not understand what these characters say and mean in the current story, please read those two storylines first before reading this.

Art wise, the art is drawn by Leandro Fernandez who also drew Up Is Down, Kitchen Irish and The Slavers. The coloring is done by Dan Brown. Brown is famously noted for his brush stroke coloring. Hence his coloring scheme and lighting tones is very familiar to readers who also read Up Is Down and The Slavers. The mute color scheme illustrates the harsh world of The Punisher. It is augmented with hard and top down lights - a term used by cinematographers to symbolize drama and tension.

Basically, the premise is mainly about settling the score. You need to read the final part of Mother Russia to get the idea. Frank knew from that moment after rescuing the girl that some guy will be looking for him someday as to seek the answer behind the assault at the Suhdek ICBM complex. Rawlins, the man who tried to assassinate Castle for pissing the cabal of generals was selling him out as revenge and attempting to even the score against his ex-wife Kathryn O'Brien. She's back on a vengeance mission - hunting six ex-Taliban men who she was involved in ten years ago.

Here's the quote from Castle in Mother Russia:

"I think one of the Ivans figured out who we were. I was even kind of counting on it towards the end...It doesn't seem to bother you much the virus being destroyed. As a matter of fact, a suspicious man might think you set the whole thing up."

This implies that the Man of Stone himself...Nikolai Zakharov is obsessed for the truth.

If that is not convincing enough, refer this from Mother Russia:

"The generals crawl back into their holes intent on burying Barbarossa in the deepest darkest eyes-only files they've got. Don't know if they'll be pissed enough to come and fuck with me."

This above implies that Rawlins had come to assassinate Frank in Up Is Down. Ultimately, Castle taped his confession as the proof of their intention of screwing him - which is using as blackmail.

"The Russian government keeps the silo business under wraps, which isn't difficult once the screaming starts about the airliner. All the same, someone figured out we were not Al-Qaeda: someone who might come looking for me some day."

Man of Stone literally examines Russia and Zakharov, a relic of the Cold War. It questions a man who was hated during the Cold War and his influence in the current Russian ideology. After the fall of the Communism and under the stewardship of former president, the late Boris Yeltsin, Russia has been turned into a country of democracy and capitalism. However, Yeltsin's leadership had some problems. He attempted to shape the country into following the new direction but it caused more problems than positive results.

In the process, Russia became soft enough. If there is an incident happening inside here that risks more consequences should a matter is spilled out, they are preparing to keep in under wraps and tight. As mentioned in Mother Russia, "Moscow is full of mental pygmies". They have started to show more cowardice than it was before during the Cold War. In World War 2, cowardice is punishable by death with the implementation of Order #227 on July 28 1942, signed by Stalin. That order became known as the "Not One Step Backwards" Order. If there is a truth that leaks out to the people, you can expect a revolt like the Bolshevik Revolution. A government would definitely try to avoid a scandal.

This quote from Zakharov from Act I of the story provides the meaning to the text:

"No one in Moscow wants to know. The idea of U.S involvement in the attack terrifies them. To confront Washington over such a matter would be unthinkable. They are cowards. They dream of mushroom clouds and wet their beds."

It is this story that Ennis posed a question to us: shouldn't the Communism ideology be dissolved in this kind of situation where the world is right now? We are now witnessing the case where the dark side of capitalism - which defeated Communism during the Cold War - through the corporate crimes and the hegemony committed by the pencil-pushers of the U.S Government. Zakharov, through experience knows the tricks that the Americans would pull in order to achieve victories. We have gone through two World Wars. What if there is a World War Three happening in 2012 onwards? World War Three happening because of the hegemony of the USA? Another modern Holy Crusade? Up Is Down, Black Is White - maybe the next day we wake up, it is war and the world goes the other way round, cuckoo...period.

"Maybe there is hope for the Motherland after all!" - Formichenko, Mother Russia.

In this kind of situation, maybe we might need a figurehead like Zakharov to save the day.

Afghanistan is currently a place nearest to Russia where the military from nations like Britain and America would be hunting Islamic insurgents and extremists who are alleged to be part of the terrorist cells, Al-Qaeda and Osama. Zakharov cannot do it in Russia, he would be charged if he does his plan in Russia - where's the best place for fighting where no one can hear you? Of course it is Afghanistan. In this kind of situation, where's the best place to fight your wars when you are in a neutral country?

Whatever the actions that Zakharov did clearly mirror what Russia is currently doing against the rebel state of Chechnya. Like in the story, the situation in Chechnya is deteriorating so badly that Moscow is increasingly faced with a series of options, all of which are unfavorable to its strategic and security interests.

The highlands, the desert, the spots that fight well for a guerrilla fight - that's Afghanistan. In the 80s, in the quest to defeat the Russians, the Americans help the Mujahideen. But now, as of their double practice, the Americans are hunting those people down. That's what hegemony is. In fact, fighting in the place like Afghanistan is a nod to the late 80s movies like Rambo III and even Timothy Dalton's first film as James Bond - The Living Daylights. Of course, there are a lot of casualties in Afghanistan. Even the common people are killed and beheaded. In Act II, a reporter was beheaded for trying to snoop more about the Man of Stone. This is Ennis's nod to Daniel Pearl, a reporter was killed under the similar circumstances.

"Put him on the next plane to Moscow - in a diplomatic bag." - Leonard Pushkin

Both Frank and Nikolai have the same thinking as both are from the military. They know how the other one thinks. Just as Frank watching the news of Nikolai clearly implies a plan of inviting him back to Russia to clean up the mess that is Suhdek. Rawlins, the common denominator in this situation is a physical representation of the hegemony of the U.S.A. You can be sure that those sly tricks that he had in the sleeve represent the dark side of capitalism. But the common weakness of being a soldier is that you are bound to follow orders. That's one of the General soldier ethics. One moment he helps, one moment he double-crosses, as seen in the third act.

Ennis clearly clarifies and emphasizes that Kathryn is a all-rounded woman that never involves in those common cliches such as a damsel in distress. She has a vendetta and a score to settle. Perhaps it is a revenge against the humiliation suffered since she got stranded in Afghanistan since 1996.

Unfortunately, a lot of people complained about the fact that O'Brien is killed at the third act. But I felt that it was slightly rushed here. In writing an issue, you are only limited to 24 pages maximum per issue. So I guess that there was a problem in pacing and probably, Ennis had to rush in that issue. People are starting to like O'Brien as a popular all-rounded supporting character. Personally, I felt that O'Brien had done her role well in the entire arc. What is there for her to do after finishing her vendetta mission? Evidently, there was line that she spoke of in part 5:

"After that, comes the big question. What happens next. With hubby gone, I'll have no one left I want to kill. No battles left to fight. Little bit scary. The only job I know how to do and I never want to do it ever again. It's like what does that leave in my life, you know? What am I going to do with myself now?"

That's the situation that Vietnam vets are facing right now. During the war, they are able to handle million-dollar military equipment in order to defeat the Communists and the Vietnamese military. After the war, when they come back, they are booed by people. They struggled to find jobs, and getting hated by people anywhere. That's the disillusionment that every soldier faces in fighting in a hollow war.

Back to the O'Brien matter, her death was somewhat similar to Alec Guinness posing his question of his character Obi-Wan in the first Star Wars movie. What else can he do after in the Death Star? What else can he do? If he decides to stay around alive, there's nothing much he can do and consequently he was pushed back to the wall. So that's where he insisted that his character to be killed. But the thing of O'Brien killed by a land mine is somewhat could not be understood. It could have been better if she got wounded during the skirmish at the helicopter or being shot at by an unknown assailant - but I think it's rushed.

Somehow, the way of removing her off the board is paving the way of introducing a hard-ass all-round independent character, Jenny, that will be featured in the next storyline, The Widowmaker (issues 43-49) (January - September 2007)

In here, Man of Stone questions the role of people being in the military being asked to fight in war that has no purpose, whereas it is billed as a war against terrorism. They were sent to fight in war that is opposed by many parties and their own people. During the fight, over 5000 people were killed in two fronts, Iraq, and Afghanistan. People are tired. But they were sent here because the U.S wanted oil to supplement and stocking up their resources. The U.S is becoming like a parasite, as Zakharov commented. Rawlins, as the U.S is starting to be a parasite - not a soldier as he said to be. In the final act, Yorkie (seen in Kitchen Irish) felt that the war is not for good but instead keeps claiming more lives than meeting its purpose. Every year, it costs close to $100 billion to fund a year for war and in the end, the U.S Treasury is way below zero. Every taxpayer's money is used up for this worthless war. It was no longer fighting the Cold War, as I have mentioned before.

Clearly, Man of Stone fills up the gaps / blanks left out in Mother Russia and Up Is Down. The characterization is at is very best, with the characters such as O'Brien, Rawlins and Zakharov is defined clearly including the past history of the moment he was called as Man of Stone. What makes a man exact a vengeance? It is like whoever unleashes the killer side of you. So, whatever that is started in In The Beginning is finally coming to a close in this story arc.

"To manipulate a man is a careful project. Too light a hand and he follows to his own whim. Too heavy a hand and he will turn on you."

One Big Group Of Lunch

This afternoon, we had a luncheon farewell for one of my colleagues, Elaine who would be leaving on the 1st of May. Her last day in the company would be on the 30th. However, not all colleagues will be there on that day as some would be taking their annual leaves and return on the 3rd of May. Some would be taking leave this Friday and Monday.

We had a luncheon for her at Secret Recipe and at the same time, it is a birthday one for our tester Siew.

Above: Seng's Spaghetti with Meatballs.

Above: My non-Muslim colleagues - except the one on my left.

There's my friend, the only other male colleague, Seng and his spaghetti, the birthday girl Siew (in black) and my other colleague from J.B.

Sye Nie and Secret Recipe's signature dish - the lamb stew. Unfortunately it loses to Manila's Place as it is much better. Or some other places, which I could not remember in Penang.

Finally, it's Elaine and Bee Kim. Did I tell you that Bee Kim's behavior reminded me granny?

But I'll be seeing her on Friday again. I'm working on Friday, going back home on Sunday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Short Ranting

Today got some work to finish up. I'm just inches away from finishing an assignment. But will need a lot of time to polish, test, polish and so on.

Went to Comics Mart after Monday's exercise. Quite surprised to see the new Punisher book out there: Man of Stone. It was the only copy available there and I managed to snap it out. Then I was told that the copy just came in today.

The release dates are kind of a little confusing. The actual comic was out on the 18th, last Wednesday, but Amazon states that the book will be out on the 2nd of May. Quite confusing.

Busy body:

I kind of being a little annoyed by Tengku Adnan's statement in today's article in Bernama:

The notion of every Malaysian departing Malaysia filling up a departure card...the Ministry wants to know what will you do there and then do something at you. Is the reason of research purposes is merely an excuse? Come on, people want to have some privacy. They got their own reasons for going out. If a person wants to go for holiday elsewhere, you still insist of knowing what else next? Aren't they enough of poking and snooping around people besides the embassy of the country they are visiting (visa purposes). Come on, man...

Excuse for that ranting...I just kind of minding more of my privacy.

Chinese New Year Prediction Coming True?

Joey Yap said that Segolene Royal is to be the next French President. I think I agree on that.
France is a staunch nation that opposes the Iraq invasion in 2003. Let's hope they continue to that. But the problem is U.S calls them Old Europe.

My brother just started a blog of his. I think it's too good for him to resist the idea of setting up one. Maybe he's going to rant more on games. Maybe he might rant on teachers, or maybe call his friends to take a look at his blog. I have no idea.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

SQL Server 2005 Blues Are Over

Finally, the SQL setup blues are over.

I had some problem with setting up and configuring Microsoft SQL Server 2005 since Friday. Apparently, the changes in Windows Vista's IDE environment prompted massive changes. With the help of some online guides. I found out the solution.

1. The machine name used to run the application must be in upper-casing only.
2. The collation must case-insensitive.
3. For running in Windows Vista, you must install SQL's Service Pack 2 to do so.
4. The User Control feature can be annoying at times, but just click the command to run.
5. Be sure to allow TCP/IP or memory pipes in Configuration Manager. It is an important tool to run and setup before running SQL Server 2005.

After that, it's the usual setup thing in SQL 2005. Finally, it's working. And it's Developer Edition for me.

Wooo Hoooo....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wanton Punishment Part III

At this time of writing, I am currently experimenting this using a wireless network at Starbucks across my neighborhood. Quite a dull day, a bit. The group Good Charlotte was at Subang Parade, where I did my grocery shopping today. I could have been joining the run at Kiara Park but the session of attending Clemen Chiang's preview of Options Trading prevented me from doing that thing. In my opinion, that was more interesting. Both are interesting.

While I went shopping today, there was heavy rain at around 3 p.m. But the problem was that it was quite heavy and a there was a thunderstorm. I got to thank myself that I bought a surge-protected cord that protects against lightning strikes. It saved my modems bacon. I wanted to rush back home to see if there would be a disaster on my modem or not. Saved by that thing. The car was left at the tire shop in order to do some rotation.

My friend told me that Windows Vista has a different IDE which might create problems for applications that runs well in Windows XP. Take SQL Server 2005 for example. It installs fine in XP but in Vista I encountered a problem where I could not proceed on. It's like that they could not detect the instance in my machine. Took me the whole day to discover the actual solution. The solution is two ways - one which is setting the machine name into upper casing and the other one is to disable case-sensitive collation. But I can't guarantee whether one of the applications that I carry - the office one - will work or not. Since their database is designed to work on SQL 2000. SQL 2000 does not work on Vista. Instead you need SQL 2005 SP2 to run. I hope it runs fine, since it is run together with JTDS JDBC driver.

Wanton Punishment

This would be the third part of the Punisher retrospective. I might consider of adding one more as to show those prequel: Born or the First And Last series in future, but I figure that those literally are the bookends of Frank Castle's life. Today, I would be covering the last two of the books.

The Slavers is called as the most brutal and humanistic drama in the current Punisher canon. This is the one occasion where the horrors inflicted on Viorica and other women who became the unwilling prostitutes of the Slavers - brutal men from the Eastern bloc nations triggered a spark of conscience in Castle's black heart.

The theme is clearly simple and clear: Slavery. For the sake of money, these men are willing profit from capturing women during the ethnic cleansing of the Serbian war of 1991-95. NATO's influence in the peace-keeping occupation to stop the ethnic genocide had forced the mercenaries led by the father-son team of Tiberiu and Cristu Bulat to leave their native Moldova (a fictional country) and depart for the West - to make money. The one thing that Cristu never like about his father was the unwillingness to change or adapt to the new lifestyle. He makes money but Tiberiu refused to be part of it.

In the first segment, Tiberiu slaughtered a gang of Yardies at an abandoned shipyard. Rather than killing one to show the rest a lesson, he killed all to show that. That eventually boiled the son down and that's where the crushing ball starts rolling onto him.

We are living in the current world where money is the essential need in order to meet our demands for the basic needs that a human has to have: food, shelter, clothes. Simply put that you cannot meet the basic needs if you do not have money. But money can be acquired in both legal and illegal ways. It the current psychology that people will do anything to get money at short term. In the context of legal ways of making money, many people think of one that is working. But a niche knows that there are many ways than that: passive income. A millionaire makes money through many streams of money avenues.

Internet marketing is one way, options trading is another new way. Options trading is a new way. This morning, I attended a preview of options trading by Dr. Clemen Chiang, a renown options trading expert. With options trading, according to him, a person can leverage 10 times the profit than in the stock market and still make money disregarding of the market condition. His method is proven around the world and people can make up to $50000 in one night. The most valuable playing field for the options trading is always the New York Stock Exchange. Only the best companies in the world are listed in the NYSE.

However, Robert Kiyosaki warned that the US market is currently in the slowdown. This situation currently foreshadows the impending stock market crash that might affect the US and possibly Asia except for Singapore (Malaysia - unsure) for 14 years from 2009. When that happens, you can imagine what happen to stock market players suffering from money loss. It's like a global level of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. Consequently, you can say that people might be resorting to crime just for the sake of money.

The moment that sparked the chord of conscience in Frank was the moment the Slavers murdered the infant child of Viorica. This was the point that those genocide people had gone too far. These men had a mole in the NYPD at the form of the timid detective Stuart Westin. In the first-half of the story, Westin used his influence to exert the NYPD to declare a open-season manhunt on Castle. He had distorted the truth of Frank stopping NYPD's Parker and Miller without beating them or killing them. The NYPD had support for Frank for he had done things that they cannot do beyond the law.

These slavers are ex-soldiers by themselves and they know the rules of engagement and strict military discipline. But as the tagline says, "They think they know what war is," this doesn't mean that they the best soldiers ever. With that kind of military mentality, they know no bounds of violence or greed. Not even the prison cells hold them. You can't hold Frank forever in a prison, for he can find a way to get out. Try Ryker's prison. The only thing that they can fear of is someone who is equal and can show them what war is. This was evident in a soldier showing a soldier at the end of part 4.

Much of the scenes in the The Slavers were based on the under-appreciated Bond movie staring Timothy Dalton entitled License To Kill. In his two films as Bond, Dalton's portrayal is the most accurate ever as was written in Ian Fleming's novels. So far, License To Kill is the most brutal of all Bond movies, evident with the release of the Ultimate Edition last year which shows the gore including Leiter's stump, Dario getting minced and etc. Dalton's Bond exhibits anger and real emotion that is never seen in Moore's period (1973-1985). An actor that was chosen as Bond will be offered a customary three-picture deal with an option for extension depending on fan reception and box-office performance. This was the time we get to see Bond as a one-man vs organization with no help whatsoever. Frank is used to be under this kind of pressure and situation, so for Frank it's merely a clockwork for him.

You can check the review of License To Kill here.

Frank can be Bill the Butcher -as how he cut open the guts of Cristu at the end of the second act of the story. And this was the first time that an enemy is scared for his life, and eventually bled out to his death. The final act of Frank executing the father is the exact mirror of the climatic scene of License - Sanchez being burned to death after being soaked with kerosene. Frank has the dark menace inside him - he recorded the video to show those scum in Europe, "Don't come back here." Not even his allies are spared from his phrase here. He doesn't like people to come back and find him, believing that it might disrupt or interfere with his modus operandi.

But the reason d'etre behind his decision is was to serve as a warning to the rest. He knows that he cannot stop the entire criminal activity like kidnapping and robbery, drug smuggling and etc and one time. As the tagline of HYDRA, "kill one and another will pop out" applies here. Just the issue of pirated goods rampant in Malaysia, you can't shut down one and just stop - there will be more trying to exist and so on.

People without humanity -seems like it's better to have Frank step aside and get Anniyan.

For some reason, Barracuda proves to be part-drama and black comedy thanks to the superb performance of Barracuda, the 300-pound black man whose comedic humor was the reason he was chosen as Wizard's Best New Character in a comic book. His humor and slogan - the FUCK YOU gold teeth is something that will intimidate an opponent.

Barracuda is perhaps Ennis' dig of corporate crimes at the former ENRON energy company. According to Wikipedia, the Houston based Enron employed around 21,000 people (McLean & Elkind, 2003) and was one of the world's leading electricity, natural gas, pulp and paper, and communications companies, with claimed revenues of $111 billion in 2000. Fortune named Enron "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years. It achieved infamy at the end of 2001, when it was revealed that its reported financial condition was sustained mostly by institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud. Enron has since become a popular symbol of willful corporate fraud and corruption.

The description of Dynaco - a fictionalized account by Sid Stephens a man rescued by Frank in the opening matches the current description of ENRON.

Note: Sid Stephens was drawn based on actor Damian Lewis and loosely based on Neil Coulbeck.

The plan by Dynaco of withholding parts for electricity generation was to ensure maximum premium profits for its stockholders. A brainchild of Harry Ebbing and his golden boy Dermot Leary, modeled after Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, the idea - in the eyes of the Punisher would be to cause another Hurricane Katrina disaster and in the process cost people money and worst of all - lives of those in the ICU of hospitals since you need power for those critical machines like the breather system.

Dermot Leary - near to the end of the story - boasted to Frank that he can't defeat an organization with just bullets and guns "Why not just go home?" But Dynaco never saw the entire picture that their scheme - the sharks of Wall Street - is still killing people indirectly. So that's why Frank thinks it's for the sake of those innocents, rather than having their blood spilling onto their hands decided to wipe all at one shot. So again, once again, we start to question of post Communism. Capitalism has taken over, and Dynaco is the dark side of capitalism - the choking and torture of the middle and lower class people.

Following the ENRON scandal, Arthur Andersen was shut down following the organization's crime of obstruction of the law and withholding audit evidence of ENRON to be given to the court of law. One of those member of the organization that I knew, Adrian Tsen was a victim as the result of the shutdown.

Barracuda is the collection of the negative stereotypes of black people of one. Hence the humor and his attitude towards those involving him. The funniest moment of all was the moment where Stephens asked him.."FUCKY?" He lost the OU teeth during his skirmish with Frank. Losing a few limbs doesn't stop him from his humor or his capable of maiming people. Barracuda is loosely based on Jaws - the lovable villain in The Spy Who Loved Me. He's a cynic.

Live and Let Die - the first Moore Bond movie is prominently referred to, particularly about Barracuda's characterization. Felix Leiter got bitten by a shark in the novel here. Sharks and combination of JAWS are prominently here.

A few cynical moments of Barracuda:

1. He sings the bad-mouthed version of Rod Stewart's I'm Sailing
He got annoyed with Stephens calling him FUCKY. "Bitch you best disappear with the fuck now! You are putting a strain to my famous god damn sense of humor!"
3. He was sent by Harry to look out for Alice and found her with Dermot. He wanted to chop them down with a machete but the next moment he eats pancakes!?

Alice Ebbing is the most perfect whore that I've ever seen in the comics. Artist Goran Parlov drew her as a nod to John Romita Jr and Sal Buscema's modeling of Mary Jane. According to the sleeve notes, Alice is the flipside of Mary Jane herself. A whore who gets what she wants and event backstabs Harry and Barracuda for freedom with Dermot.

Perhaps it's the popularity and critical praise for Barracuda that Ennis decided to write a spin-off of Barracuda. How he escaped the shark at the end of book remains a mystery. And it is up to me to grab the paperback and see how he escapes. But I had a hunch that it will be like how Jaws escaped The Atlantis - he bit the shark!

Well, that's the retro of The Punisher, for now..but in future there will be one. But I guess that it might be either next month or in year end when the TPB of Widowmaker is out.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wanton Punishment Part II

I had a good head start in writing the Search Agent script. The head and mid section is running fine. But not the lower-half and the tail section. The program isn't taking in the dynamic variables that I've assigned to. That is why I am taking the chance of trying to do this at home. However, I hit a snag when I could not install this in SQL Server 2005. Once finished installing, there are other things to do including turning on port 1433, installing SP2 for SQL and testing the database. Spent the whole day trying to fine tune the bottom half but without good progress.

I was wondering whether if one of my marketing dept. colleague, Geraldine was trying to snoop people's private business. I mean, trying to ask whoever could not come for the sports club early morning run tomorrow the reason for unable to participate the event. Eventually, almost everyone reluctantly agreed to turn up, except for me in the department. My Technical Director was asking everyone who initially said nay to coming for the run. Geraldine anticipated that the four common reasons of inability to turn up for the run would be: personal appointment, lazy to get up, no shoes and just blankly no. I was under the first reason, but my mandatory personal appointment at 8 a.m. prevented me from participating for the run. I have no intention of saying no, but having a seminar tomorrow morning until 11 a.m. prevented me from this.

My friend from Lahad Datu wanted to visit K.L and me tomorrow. Originally, his plan was to be here for about two weeks. Part of it is to help her younger sister to register for college. Unfortunately, the plan hit a snag. The National Service camp in which his sister was assigned to rejected her request for early leave, claiming that by leaving early means delaying the course. They recommended her to finish the first module until the 7th of May. This means that possibly he would only be coming for about 10 days on the 9th. A sad thing for him though. He had missed numerous occasions including last week's PC fair, and wanted to visit Ipoh end of next week.

Wanton Punishment

As promised, I would be reviewing the next two story arcs of The Punisher Max. The next arc after Kitchen Irish, Mother Russia details the story of former SHIELD director Nick Fury being assigned to send Frank Castle to Russia to retrieve a deadly retrovirus called Barbarossa. I had a feeling that the premise is a combination of Mission Impossible II or Resident Evil: Apocalypse since it involves virus and a child as the McGuffin thing. Note: A McGuffin is a Hitchcock-coined term for a plot device.

What is interesting that is worth exploring is the bureaucracy and the hideous secret plans hatched by a small group of generals. This literally refers to a cell of groups - think P2, Masonists, Illuminati - hatching a plan as part of the greedy policy of global domination at all costs. The recent news of Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank head being under scrutiny is largely due to the fact that he neglected the Bank's main objective in helping nations and also combat poverty in Africa. What he did was serving America's hidden purpose. Remember, Wolfowitz is one of the architects beside Rumsfeld behind the Iraq 2003 invasion, prior to his appointment in 2005. The White House continuously support him even though he admitted that he was behind the mess. The mess is already there, other members wanted him out.

Back to the earlier statement, sometimes an assignment contains a hidden purpose as written in Mother Russia. Unknowingly, when Nick agreed to the assignment, the cabal of generals had a hidden plan in hand. With their extra hand, Rawlins, in the Middle-East, they recruited a number of people to hijack a plane and crash it into Moscow. The purpose was to divert the Russians from paying attention to the mission, should things go wrong. However, not all Russians are totally stupid. Some of them actually can see through what Americans do, like our Man of Stone himself, Nikolai Zakharov. Fury became disillusioned over the fact that America became a greedy nation that is out to achieve their objectives by playing dirty. In fact, while they - on behalf of capitalism - defeated communism at the early 90s fearing of communist subversion, they in the end became the main capitalist subversion in the world. They play dirty - whatever tricks in the sleeve, legal and illegal as to ensure that all nations submit to the will.

Nick Fury was raised with believes before World War 2. During the time before World War 2, there was only the Depression era and the American Dream where everyone thinks of America as a paradise and a migration location. However, things turn ugly after WW2, starting with the Truman administration, the US leaders pursued a grand imperial strategy with the aim of staking out the globe. They wanted to achieve dominance at all costs.

"I can no longer sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist subversion and the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. " Jack D. Ripper - Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

Mother Russia's main theme is actually the examination of the Russians, being disillusioned following the fall of Communism in 1989. As I have mentioned in the previous post, Francis Fukuyama famously declared that the greatest achievement in history would be the fall of Communism. With that comes the end of the Cold War. Of course, the Russians are the ones that were on the losing side. When that happened, they crawled back to the shadows and sob themselves away in sorrow. Most began to question of their roles in the post-war. The Man of Stone himself knows how the Americans act and think. Going back to the first part of Mother Russia, the old man Formichenko thinks that the Russians had lost the respect after the Cold War. In the past they were heroes, soldiers, having fought against the Nazis in Stalingrad. Now most people perceive Russians as gangsters and cutthroats, not those who make the reputation and being respected by other people.

Alexei Pajitnov, the man behind the Tetris games, remains one of the few from the Eastern Bloc who is respected by people around the world disregarding the creed. The Tetris game remains the longest selling electronic game ever. The game lasts days, hours non stop until you can't go on anymore.

With Communism out of the way, the Capitalist began to spread their influence towards the world. As the saying goes, while you try to fight something you hate, you eventually become the thing that you once hate. But smartly, Zakharov knows how they think:

1. They do not start a nuclear war. That's their policy
2. If there is something happens perpetrated by them, they will not respond to a call. Because they have people listening to Russians response in Moscow!
3. Most of them are Caucasians
4. The Russians today will start to panic and makes things worst if an ominous rumor reaches to Moscow - "Moscow is full of mental pygmies, like the kind they send to run the missile silos"
5. They are clever, imaginative and tenacious.

But an opinion by Zakharov is worth considering. Maybe Communism is the solution to the current problems the world is facing. Maybe it should not have fallen, maybe there is still the Cold War around. Like Iraq, the Americans chose to attack places they wish to eradicate and build places over it and using the resources in the enemy nation as their own. Being a parasite that is.

In the climax, Frank decided to play chicken on him by launching missiles all over Russia. It's like playing a bluff in poker. Maybe that's how he got the reputation as The Man of Stone. He just knows that there is no nuclear going to happen and leave it there. In the end, he thinks him as a "Russian born here by mistake."

Up Is Down, Black Is White is by far the most cohesive and the best story line ever written in the Punisher. It is actually a back to the basics story of a man's seeking out to punish the sacrilege committed by a grim hollow man. Nick Cavella, whom managed to escaped Castle at the end of In The Beginning is back but this time he had a plan of how throw Frank off the edge by committing the sacrilege of digging the grave of his family and desecrate it. The video footage broadcasted on TV provoked him and Castle went on the killing spree of 70 people in one night, unlike anything before.

Note: The title was taken from the tagline of Miller's Crossing starring Gabriel Byrne.

What makes Nick a hollow man? Bad influence from her Aunt? How he handles his assignment that goes over the edge and puts the Mafia and the Chinese gang in war? He is also meaningless, he relies on his subordinates as his cannon fodder. A leader is supposed to show his leadership by setting himself as a role model, not being bailed out by Carmine Gazzera's sister. He thinks he is above all by committing the murders. The truth, as Frank revealed at the end, is that he doesn't do it. The reputation that he has will carry to one point where he cannot go on.

The other thing sub-themes in here is perhaps about the little cabal of generals as in Mother Russia are desperate to cover their secret by hiring Rawlins - their instrument man and O'Brien's ex-husband to kill Castle. As the teaser said, "Cavella's scheme unleashes a wave of violence that rocks New York to the core, other predators start to come out from the darkness. Scores to be settled, blood to be spilled." Being an instrument man means that he is trained to do whatever he is ordered to do so. That means that Frank had an upper hand and can use the hand to blackmail them.

Kathryn had gained the respect of Castle through her admission. After being sent back to jail, it was admitted that he was not supposed to be a trained animal to be set loose on the enemies of the state. Her role is clearly augmented and expanded well here. Her motivation of saving Castle was clearly the spark of conscience seeing that he was once a family man, thrown into the mess. As for her, she was thrown into the mess with five failed marriages and being recruited at Princeton, senior year. This clearly implies that the Bush Sr. administration had subverted her and turned her into what she is be used in the Gulf War - Desert Storm. After that, what can she do?

Nothing can bring back the dead. Not even the power on earth can do that. But the massive murder as the result of the sacrilege this time struck fear on thugs alike. They fear that little crimes means big punishment on them. That's a big domino effect caused by this little act. But the main thing is that there is more characterization here than any other story arcs. Not even Mother Russia can beat this thing.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yeah, Man! At Least I Have Something!

Today's a pretty quick and short post. Seems that time does not permit to write as much as yesterday, meaning that my second part of Punishment retrospective is put on hold until tomorrow. You know what? What ever I rant here, things come in the next day, meant to fix the problems that I am facing.

Here's the situation to illustrate my point:

I didn't have anything to work on except for the JIRA program. I reminded my P.A that this program lasts for another six days before expiry. We don't work on Saturdays so that was taken into consideration. Just as I have lamented about people unwilling to go beyond typical hawker or Chinese food, the next day it happened after writing the post. In this case, I was given a little assignment to do. Another Search Agent Manager script to be written. That's pretty good already.

That's why I decided to finish as much as I can on the preliminary draft of the script. Then tomorrow, it's either revision of JIRA or revision of the script. But this script doesn't have a deadline...ha.

The office has just installed the automated door locker system. I thought that I would be using that card from now on, but when I reached the floor, everyone was standing outside. Apparently there was a power trip yesterday and I think that the system got defected. So those who were there early had to wait out for about 30 minutes or so, waiting for whoever to dismantle the system and open the door manually. That thing had to be taken back for a replacement. Defect on the first day? Seeing that, I am starting to wonder whether the policy of cost-effective thing is worth the thing or not. If you are cost-conscious and the quality of the things that you buy are defective, what is the point of being cost-effective? But this doesn't happen so often does it? I thought of some people's opinions saying that sometimes, you pay more but it's worth it in terms of performance and quality. Stark opinions, does it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wanton Punishment Part I

I still really got nothing to do today. I kept reminding myself that I only one more week left minus Thursday before the JIRA evaluation period expires. And then my P.A. did nothing serious to pay attention to this work. Please, come on. We got to finish this, then I want to do something else. I've seen other colleagues at work with tasks in hand. What about me? Are you leaving me behind?

One thing that annoys me is that my Indian colleague sitting next to me kept crying at certain times. She must have been hit hard since her father passed away last December, sometime before my grandmother does. But it's already four months already and she's still mourning? Maybe it's the Indian folk music that she played and listening through her earphones makes her something like that. But she's still staying back in that circle of mourning. The truth is that you can't stay in there forever. You need to move on. Can't she get this to her senses?

Anyhow, since today marks the official release of The Punisher Vol 7: Man of Stone, I will be writing three parts of wanton punishment in retrospective about one of comics finest and popular vigilante: The Punisher. In case you do not know, here is the TPB cover of Man of Stone.

Most fans agree as I do that Irishman Garth Ennis, who writes The Preacher is the only man who can write The Punisher at its best compared to anyone else. The Punisher is the modern day incarnation of Josey Wales as modeled by Forrest Carter (1925-1979) in its Wales duology titled Gone To Texas and The Outlaw Josey Wales respectively, with the latter being made into a film starring Clint Eastwood. Like Wales, Frank Castle is a man who lost his family to evil and resolved to wage a one-man war against crime. His modus operandi is not on revenge -to him revenge is a dark emotion -, but punishment where there are circumstances where law cannot punish the guilty. His rules are somewhat similar to the Hammurrabi Code concept: "an eye for an eye." The Punisher is the best selling title in Marvel's MAX line - aimed for adult, matured readers only. Full of violence, profanity, uncensored stuff all intact. That's where The Punisher should be.

In each of the story arcs, Ennis has placed a common theme and sometimes Bond references (He's a James Bond fan BTW) in the storyline and setting. If you go through the arcs, you will notice that these themes represent the crimes that are committed by the USA - which is part of its hegemony - the quest for Global Domination. Famed critic Noam Chomsky, in his book Hegemony or Survival outlines the sins of America in its greedy quest to become the undisputed superpower on the planet.

The first story arc In the Beginning marks the return of Frank's associate Microchip, but this time working with a team led by a rogue CIA agent Robert Bethell. In 1989, Francis Fukuyama declared that greatest moment in world history is the fall of Communism and the Cold War. In here, Frank was questioned of his role in the new millennium - just as in GoldenEye, Bond is questioned of his role in the post Cold-War era. For both men, they were the past. Whatever he did was during the post Vietnam War is now under question, and maybe no longer be accepted. To Microchip, Frank is a direct relic of the Vietnam War. He thinks that Frank never has enough of what he did, ever since the moment he became the Punisher back in Vietnam. Some of the scenes were referred to in the prequel to the series, Born. In the world where we live in fear of Al-Qaeda and the post-911, the CIA thinks that they can erased his past criminal records clean and give him a clean slate by making hunting the terrorists including Osama Bin Laden.

Castle always work alone. At times, trust is something that gets a person killed. He had encountered double-crosses. The latest double-crossing by Microchip is something that he'd never forgive. He gave Microchip a chance to run while he is alive but in the end...was punished for squandering the opportunity before Frank changed his mind. James Bond is described as a blunt instrument for the government - an extension of its dirty work. Frank saw through this and immediately said no - knowing that he'd be manipulated - something evident later on in Mother Russia.

Bethell is a corrupt agent who would smuggle drugs for weapons and money. His crossing with New York mobs coupled with Nicky Cavella and his gang made him an easy target. He's a CIA agent - he can do anything - good or bad - and maybe things tilting to your favour. And while Frank is held captive by Bethell, the gangs think they can eliminate two birds in one stroke. Lewis Larossa modeled Cavella after actor David Strathairn but in the later arc, it's different since it was drawn by Leandro Fernandez. A common cliche in stories is the recurrence of a female damsel-in-distress character that most people seem to be tired with. Thankfully, it was avoided. Kathryn O'Brien is the partial flipside of Castle - an instrument of the corrupt bureaucracy, an unlucky woman who had to do the worst to save her image and sanity. Wisely, she was written as a all-round character with her own independence and the ability to take care of her reputation.

The second story line, Kitchen Irish was mainly about Irish gangs in New York fighting for the will left by an old man Nesbitt worth 10 million dollars. The premise is somewhat the famous Gangs of New York, fighting for control in the turbulent period of 1847-1863. The questioning here is of some people are still stuck back in the past. The past actually serves as lessons for us, to remind us while we move on, taking care to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Many of Irish people are still scarred over the fighting between the Irish Republican Army and the pro-British faction during the 30 year civil war of Northern Ireland, the worst being the Bloody Sunday in 1972. Ennis, being a Irishman himself suffered during those times there. In the later point, Michael Morrison lamented:

"What are we like anyway? All that misery and bloodshed back home and we come to the States and the best we can do is just fucking carry on with it? Did you not even hear what Maginty was saying? We don't have to slaughter each other! We can get what we want without that! We're free of the frigging past!"

In GoldenEye, Bond's ex-partner turned villain, Alec Trevelyan's motives was purely blaming on the past: the British sending his ancestors, the Cossacks of Lienz to their deaths in World War II. In Harry Potter series, Voldemort turned bad because of the past where his Muggle father, Riddle Sr. abandoned her mother, Merope. See the coincidence? It's like letting the past shaping you into a pervert and succumbing to the evils conjured from it. What about the River Rats? They are still kids inside...playing pirates!

The Continuity IRA is also a political example of the syndrome. To that cell, anything short of a total victory is like capitulating to the British. People are sick of fighting already. They want to go on and rebuild their lives rather than destroying because of a group of perverts. In this context, there is no Kingdom of Heaven. A kingdom of heaven is a place where there is no fighting, everyone living together in harmony, each respecting one another, work together. Some don't like it...take the Nazi Germany for example. Purity of race?

Here's one of Tyler Durden's quotes in Fight Club:

"The people that you're after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep. DO NOT FUCK WITH US."

There was a saying that once you are a baddie, forever you are a baddie. This would be the case for old Napper French. He had enough of doing the past job and retired to a happy life until the Dublin nigger Maginty dragged him back into the gang fight. The past haunted him and it showed clearly to the little boy. The question is no matter how hard you try to forget the past, why does it come back to haunt us?

A problem with the arc is that there lacks the opposite sex relationship between a man and a woman. Ennis attempted to address one by putting it here, but it is not until when we reach the later story arcs, that we have somewhat a complete working relationship between man and woman later on. However, though it worth to point this out, Frank ended up being the supporting character of the story. Kitchen Irish remains the least cohesive story arc of all. Maybe it is full of black comedy as the MAXI series and it is not serious enough. The arc is pretty independent of the others. In the next few storylines, neither one is associated with Kitchen Irish. But perhaps you should take the inspiration from The Devil's Own or Gangs of New York as the source of reference when reading this. Or maybe read Frank McCourt's memoirs such as Angela's Ashes or The Teacher Man.

An interesting side note about Kitchen Irish is the locations used. For example, Pier 86, The Intrepid Museum is Frank's setup point for The Westies and the gangs fighting here. For those who do not really know which part is it in New York, it is located on 46th Street below the Joe DiMaggio highway. That's Pier 86. Secondly, the fictional O'Malleys bar used in the shootout is actually the McSorley's Old Ale House, located at 15, East 7th Street, near St. Mark's Square.

Next: Mother Russia and Up Is Down, Black Is White

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Massacre Near Roanoke

I just don't know what to say already. I just couldn't think of what to say here, except of seeing shocking news of 33 students got massacred in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Alright...I wanted something else to do besides waiting for feedbacks on what to tinker in JIRA. My PA told me instead - Go through one round and wait. Wait for what? Can you please give me something that might challenge me rather than just boredom? And I don't know why...maybe because of yesterday's ranting today's lunch was not the typical Chinese food type but instead Secret Recipe shop. Those girls totally don't even know how to take beef. They are young but is it because of religion that they can't take it? I don't think so. Then the next thing my fussy fellow said to me was about the brownie which came in as a desert. When her brownie came, she noticed that hers was as solid - as if that came from the fridge, whereas mine was kind of bit melting, particularly it is served after it is heated in the microwave oven for about 30 seconds or so? She started asking questions to other colleagues seating next to me? "Why his is not like mine?" Then again, she wasn't as bad as the Tan family that Edmund spoke of. That family was the worst of the lot. Primitive minded. Thinking that the whole world revolves in their home only. It's no doubt that they have the worst kind of mentality ever.

Back to massacre, the massacre occurred at Blacksburg. According to Google Maps - one of the pioneer online applications using the AJAX technology, Blacksburg is about 60 kilometers from Roanoke. Something interesting at Roanoke is that it is the setting for the sequel of 1602: The New World. Monsters, primitives alike, Peter Parquah, Lord Iron? What..some weird thing. The thing about that place is it serves at the perfect setting for the legend of Pocahontas. At the far end of the east coast is Jamestown, the starting point of the English migration to the United States back in the 17th century. Is this thing meaning that Hulk and The Lost World striking back? Does that mean that the spirits of the settlers are back with a vengeance? Hahahaha.

Surprisingly, I am getting a grip of typing using my laptop's keypad, but strangely at times, the cursor would jump elsewhere and I had to type the UNDO command and retype the last few words again. While at home, I might as well plug the keyboard used for my desktop to type this entry. Edmund tried writing his post using Chinese Wordstar. Hey, I have an alternative - why not type using Altavista's Babelfish?

Monday, April 16, 2007

All Day's Work & No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

Quite boring today. I only had one task remaining: revising the JIRA program upon feedbacks with my main user. However, my PA colleague was on leave today, leaving me nothing to do all day long. You know, it was like "All days work and no play makes jack a dull boy."

However, mine was the opposite: play but no work. I just had virtually nothing to do today. I wanted to ask whether if there's assignment for me to do, but couldn't since the PA usually assigns work to us. So all the 8 hours excluding lunch there is just merely search, surf and do some stuff. Only today, I guess.

I really enjoyed my job very much that almost everyday, I was kind of focused after waking up and wanted to do whatever I set in my targets as in the yearly appraisal. So far, it's good, but the U.M has gave me some sort of motivation to help improve my work prospect there during the yearly appraisal. I didn't really have a problem with colleagues - I did this by trying not to upset them. I harbor no hard feelings against them except one. I noticed that she tends to be fussy and most of the time - evidently during lunch hour - she's always the one calling the shots. She was not under the Java dept. But having sticking in a group for lunch and observing her, her behavior clearly reminded me of my granny - my paternal granny while she was still alive. The group - mostly 5 women out of 7 people never go for something special except for sticking to Chinese or hawker food. They never tend to have beef or western food except if it's a special occasion. From my observation, out of say 7 occasions, it would be average of 5 times she calls the shots. At times it really irked me and I felt like engaging her in a shouting match.

A senior of mine (not that one above) - quite helpful during my first few months in the company will be leaving at the end of the month to pursue her Masters. So, I guess, there will be a big loss especially she's has the extensive knowledge of the company products and its workings. Really, I kind of feared of getting stuck at times if she's not around. I can say she was the saving grace and bail-out person at hard times.

I saw a comment left by Edmund's friend yesterday and I find that it's kind of insulting in nature, also from first glance. I don't really have much understanding of those religious matter, so I just say that it was kind of insulting. Then, when I was in the gym - I was there early today, I saw a staff clearly resembles Regina. Then I saw a promo where you pay $38 for six weeks membership and a free personal trainer session. Maybe she might consider this. Jennifer Walters always go to gym as to improve her superhuman strength when she goes green! I bet this would be good for Regina - slimming to the perfection isn't going to work -it might cost sanity or your health. Talking about that reminded about Anna Nicole Smith whose obsession of beauty ended with her mysterious death in February.

Last week, the PM announced that there was no plans to introduced blogging laws in Malaysia. So, it's a hooray to bloggers out there. Then today, I noticed an interesting comment by one of the Star's editors, Joceline Tan. She said that Shaziman was pervert. He lied about Singapore having a mandatory blogger registration thing. It doesn't exist at all. Here's the extract from Jeff's blog:

It is a medium which they are still not too familiar with, going by the way Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor, the Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister, tried to talk his way through the firestorm.

Shaziman, an engineer by training, looks contemporary enough to understand the new media but his response to the issue was baffling, to say the least.

He reportedly told Parliament that Singapore had started registering bloggers and the government here may do the same. A few days later, he said the government merely wanted “to assess the situation and keep track of the number of bloggers in the country and on the information provided by them”.

He was totally unconvincing and, besides, there is no such registration of bloggers in Singapore.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's Emma's Day and I Have Nothing!?

Waking up in the morning, I only had two things to do today: see my friend and then do my grocery shopping. Unfortunately I could not contact my friend today. Could not get a dial tone at all. So half of my plan went up in smokes. I had a late breakfast today and I thought of going to Sogo and walk around Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to do some sightseeing on textiles.

To some of the Harry Potter fans, April 15th is always known to them as Emma's Day - named after the two stars of the movies, Emma Watson (Hermione) and Emma Thompson (Prof. Trelawney - the old coot Seer but always right). Both share the same birth date - today but they are about 30 years apart. It was no strange coincidence that this occasion was known to the fan circle as that E-day.

With my plan got snag, I thought of looking for a parking nearby Sogo where I can park and walk across there for my shopping. But there were no other turns except for one behind Sogo. I took a long shot and on the way, I thought of stopping by and see the National Mosque. Adjacent to the mosque is a Islamic Museum. Just to fill up my time, I decided to take a look, even it costs $12 for a visit. I was amazed by the number of Islamic displays and photographs that they've collected and displayed in here. Inside the museum, there's a special room called the Ottoman Room - special room, opened by Prince Andrew and donated by Standard Chartered Bank. At least I get some understanding of the Kiblat, the mosque architecture and the East West photographs...stunning.

Finally, I decided on going to that place for shopping. Driving back again to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, I finally found Campbell Complex - next to Pertama Complex as one place to park without hassle. A $3 flat rate is good enough already. And I did my shopping there.

I called mum today. She told me that my maternal grandmother passed away on Wednesday. It happened so soon than I expected. I guess that last Friday's visit on the way back home would be the last time I saw her alive. Told me that she had some sort of a long term illness that is sapping her health gradually. Funeral was yesterday. I guess I lost my maternal grandparents and my granny last December - all in the space of two years. But I didn't feel anything at all like if there was no emotional impact on me. Absolutely nothing except doing my work and going back home.

I was quite tired by the time I reached back home at around 5 p.m. Strangely, I felt my right hand shaking uncontrollably while I had lunch. Was it because of me carrying too much heavy stuff yesterday? I supposed it is.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Goal Accomplished But Microsoft Shoos

Today I was quite eager to going downtown for the PC Fair - looking for the NX 6330 book. Something that I really wanted for quite a time. I wanted to save some money on fuel so instead of driving today, I took a train down to KLCC. I knew that I had to clear up my credit card bills, so that was the first thing I did. I am also aware of a probable occurrence of getting mugged, so I carried a bag alone and changed my money to a $100 notes. After all, having a small number of notes is better than having a big number of small value notes?

I had a tough selection today. Rather than going back and buy it unlike the previous occasions, I decided to buy my stuff today and go somewhere else tomorrow. After going through the entire halls to gather catalogs of notebooks, I went off and go through to narrow my selection. To my disappointment the NX series was not on sale today. Maybe the target of buyers are more for end-users but that book is under business class notebooks. After the first round of going through, I spent 30 minutes in the shopping mall going through and deciding which was best for me as well as money. My final three selections were Asus, Dell and HP. The Asus model that I wanted is good but the price is a little over after adding the upgrades, so that was off. The HP Pavillion was way off my budget and it goes a little over the actual purpose of buying the book - which is for work only. My reasoning to shun Pavillion and ultimately Dell was that the specs beats my intention of work. Finally I decided for the lesser known Compaq Presario. I think the slight limitations may help to remind me that book was not for media entertainment. I know the OS included was not good enough for work, so I paid another $500 for the upgrade - more functionality including the key component - IIS - very important if I were to do an ASP.NET application.

But the surprising thing from my decision to buy that notebook was that I was given two bags for free but the price for those bags was at $249. First was the normal bag and the other was the knapsack style bag. And then I get to spin for a special prize - came close to getting a IPAQ or a Samsung 32 inch TV but at least a spare pen-drive will do well.

On the way back, it's a thunderstorm. But reaching back home proved to be pretty difficult. Running the last 500 meters back home and got myself wet in the process. Ha. I was quite excited to see what's in the package and what can the notebook perform. I was quite stringent in the specs. Anything less than what I need might affect the performance. I think sacrificing some features for actual purpose and savings might be the thing. After this, I just have to focus on how to handle paying the remaining credit back to the bank. Just had those in mind already.

While I was testing the system and installing applications for my new notebook, I came across an interesting article. Microsoft was ordering all PC manufacturers like Dell and HP to stop shipping PCs in XP by December this year. They want them to roll in Vista. Come on, experts say that Vista is still full of bugs and incompatibilities - like some I've encountered just now and you want us to upgrade? Dell is still thoughtful of providing XP systems - particularly Professional Edition favored by every expert user.

It says here: "Many home users- especially gamers- do consider XP the 'greatest'- especially after all the media articles and benchmarks showing very poor gaming performance and compatibility on Vista," wrote another.

At the end of this year, however, Microsoft OEMs' contracts will no longer give them the option of selling XP-powered machines. This is despite problems that have surfaced for consumers as well as businesses, such as games and application incompatibility and driver problems.

Most recently, users complained that Vista's start-up, shut-down and application load times are far too long compared with Windows XP. Users on Microsoft's Performance & Maintenance forum, who sound pro-Vista for the most part, have vented about a variety of speed issues."

Read the article here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Saturday Saturday Saturday!

Seriously, this week I am really looking forward to a weekend. There will be a PC Fair downtown and this time I will be getting a notebook. The current machine which I have been using since 2002 will be sold in a two-three months time once I have assured myself that I am able to take care of the new machine.

I managed to raise about 2/3rds or 1/2 of the notebook cost. The desired cost will not exceed $5000, which is my budget.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Now Who Says Romans Are Invincible?

Quite tiring today. I just didn't feel like going to exercise and really wanted to sleep. All the time, my mind kept thinking that today is Friday. Huh...another day to go. Maybe this post and then some cleaning - before going to bed.

Yesterday morning, I woke up and felt some sort anxiousness to see what was the scoreline between Man Utd against Roma. I thought it's some sort of 1-0 or something. Instead, I turned to the Net during breakfast and wow...7-1. I always have the believe that the Italians have the tendency to have a very tight defense and then hit back with counter-attacks. The conventional game of cattanacio.

Check one of the videos here of how Romans are blown off.

Roma captain Francesco Totti made claim to the press during the first-leg of the tournament that Man Utd missed him out as the one of the men to watch. But then when the Romans came to Old Trafford, they were blown away. Now who is the one laughing out loud? It's no longer Totti, but Ronaldo and Carrick. I had a talk with a few friends on the big chance of Man Utd to win the League title. Mainly it's because you have Ronaldo and Vidic. Vidic provides a very stout defense for the team. People criticize Michael Carrick because he didn't score goals. But what not many people understand is that he starts some of the moves that leads to a goal. Eric Cantona called Didier Deschamps as the water carrier, but Deschamps provides the moves to Del Piero, Vialli, Vieri and some people on way to goal.

You know some people think that Italian game is good, which was why they won the World Cup. The Premier League is much more intense. Not many foreign players adapt well to the game. One of the worst cases would be like Carlos Tevez. In England, a player has less than 5 seconds to decide and play the ball or else he would likely be dispossessed by an opponent. Okay, I think that the Italians had their turn already. The biblical prophecy do say that the seven-hill city - Rome will fall soon. Yes, and so does the Italian teams this year. I have the confidence that it will be an All-England final at Athens.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Training Day - The Inspiration Behind The Iraq Invasion

Two days ago, I stumbled upon the published screenplay of Training Day by writer David Ayer (SWAT, Dark Blue). The draft is the shooting draft which includes deleted scenes excised from the final cut including the alternate ending of the film. You can check the shooting draft of the film here.

Before we go on, let me go through briefly the premise of film:

Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is a rookie cop who is out to make a cut as a detective in LAPD's Narcotics Division. On this training day, he was assigned to be the understudy of veteran head Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), whose methods of law enforcement are being under question. Harris methods has landed Hoyt into various problems including being framed for a murder, being a central character of a corruption scandal within the LAPD. Soon, he began to witness the dark, corrupt side of Harris which he must try to solve various twists and turns to solve a puzzle.

Much of the premise was written based on the 1998 Rampart Scandal involving disgraced office Rafael Perez. Hence, Washington based his character on Perez himself. If you look at some of the scenes of both cops beating up and arresting gang members only to have Alonzo letting them go and under his thumb, you can see this was how it culminates to Perez's testimonial of the Rampart Scandal. People in Los Angeles began to call the 70 groups of CRASH - Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums - the worst gang compared to the LA street gangs themselves. Following the scandal, CRASH was disbanded by then L.A.P.D head Bernard Parks.

It was only then I later found out that much of the metaphors of the script written by Ayer served as parallels that the White House would use in its official stance behind the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Here is a summary of the metaphors written by Mark Kelly, a PhD candidate of philosophy of The University of Sydney :

1. Film: Jake Hoyt is a naive rookie who aspires to reach success and assumes that his methods and his contributions will help to make the community safe. On the training day, he helps Alonzo to patrol the streets of L.A from narcotics. On certain occasions, he played into the hands of Alonzo in his naivety.
Real Life: America's current aim is to spread its intention of peace using its own forthrightness, spreading its own doctrine and subversion to the entire world. During the 80s, America had come to work and helped Iraq to stop the Iranian Islamic Fundamentalism. But secretly, America had allowed Saddam to invade Kuwait and started the Gulf War.

2. Film: Alonzo is king of his neighborhood, but he was hated in secret by everyone.
Real Life: Saddam Hussein is president of Iraq but every Iraqis hated him in secret.

3. Film: Hoyt was nearly killed by Smiley (Cliff Curtis) and his gang in the bathroom but his forthrightness through saving Smiley's cousin who was gang-raped earlier of the day spared him and earned Smiley's gratitude. That allowed him to go out and hunt down Alonzo later.
Real Life: America was nearly destroyed by the 9/11 attacks, but the right-wing American government had a moral fortitude of going to Iraq and eliminating Saddam fearing that it has WMDs. In the end, the government was accused of lying to the people by fabricating the fact that Iraq has WMDs.

4. Film: Nobody helped Alonzo during the final stand-off. Not even his own children or the neighborhood. Even the gangs did not do what he said. Hoyt had earned his respect of the neighborhood.
Real Life: When the Iraqis learned that the U.S military was in Baghdad to remove Saddam Hussein from power, they just let them pass through without hindrance. Even the Republican Guard does that too since Saddam never respected them for what they did.

5. Film: Jake shot Alonzo at the last minute (seeing that he was to get shot too) on the thigh and left them to the people, including the Russian gangsters to deal with Alonzo - only after he settles some things including his evidence. From what he learned about Alonzo owing money to the Russians and the forbidden rule of killing a fellow officer, he delayed and left Alonzo to his grim fate.
Real Life: Though capital punishment is objected by Britain and Australia, the Americans left it to the Iraqis to decide justice on Saddam.

The legacy of CRASH and the 1992 L.A riots was still a painful scar of the past for Los Angeles. There was a rift corruption among the D.A's office, the LAPD. Take the "Three Wise Men" in the film, each represents the upper levels of corruption. The three helped Alonzo to solve his problem by cashing out on Roger (Scott Glenn) and fabricated the fact that Roger is a drug dealer. As the result of that, the naive Jake was setup as the man who killed Roger in cold blood in front of witnesses and Alonzo the perpetrator. Even Garth Ennis modeled the crooked cop and the police Tom Price (as in The Slavers) from Bernard Parks.

Maybe I might get out of point, but reading the script again and noticing the parallels made me realized that the similarities that the Bush Administration is using to manipulate the people to invade Iraq. And the 3 Wise Men subplot also serves as the corruption in White House and currently the scandal of Alberto Gonzales and his men.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The People vs George Bush

I've read an article yesterday that documents an insiders account, Ali Allawi about the ultimate failure of the United States to stick to its word. According to him, good intentions but with a big mess left behind. The U.S achieved the Iraqis desired to rid of the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. However, they have replaced that with the corroded, inefficient, incompetent and corrupt state of the new order. See the connection above? Is that as parallel as Star Wars Episodes III and IV?

The actual article is at this link: here

Noam Chomsky's book, Failed States clearly supplements, complements and demonstrates the proof of failure committed by the United States. The main mistake is caused by bureaucracy and mismanagement. Extracts from the article include:

1) The Iraq army was disbanded with after Saddam was ousted. A fatal mistake here as they could have retain the army and help to ensure the security of the people. Instead, they become renegades and were forced to become the pool of resistance against the American stooges.

2) They purged 10 thousands of members of Saddam's Baath party where they could have retained them to ensure proper administration of the country, rather than dismantling from scratch and start again.

3) The Coalition Provisional Authority took the fuel subsidies and sell it at a giveaway price, thus reducing the country's budget.

Paul Bremer together with some generals, who ran the CPA, wanted to retain the military and government members and instead they were rebuffed from the White House cohorts. Bremer's authority was undermined by the W.H's micromanagement. He was never given the chance to do the job properly.

In addition to that, Moqtada Al-Sadr's Shiite community clearly stated their intention of to have the military leaving Iraq as soon as possible. There is a point hidden from here, which is a big group of Iraqis DO indeed know of the hegemony and hidden crimes committed by the Bush administration. People everywhere are indeed very angry of this endless war. What will they get except for the oil that the people crave for.

To the Bush administration, this was part of their "Bush Doctrine" and their intention of spreading their word of Bush - their policies, democracy and the American way, which is a subversion of the dream, truth and justice as well as a perfect utopia that Caesar or even Kennedy imagined.

The thing people started to see through the holes of the black veil of that is the Bush administration. Chomsky stated that 80 percent of Europeans and 36 percent of Canadians perceive America as the biggest threat unlike the Axis of Evil - Iran, North Korea and Iraq. People are getting worried on living in a world shaped and dominated by the U.S And they have come to be deeply fearful and suspicious of them. Imagine this, you walk to JFK airport, those immigration people no longer greet you and you will susceptible to an intense body check including your orifices! That will take about close to 30 minute to 1 hour before you are cleared. If you are Muslim in particular, they are trained to be more prejudiced to them. After all, isn't the Al-Qaeda responsible for 9/11?

Monday, April 9, 2007

*Motherfucker* - A Therapeautic Expression

I've read a few posts by our lovable Patrick Teoh and among the two blogs that he has, the first blog is the most humorous of all. Featuring a special expression that laments his displeasure on certain things, Patrick brings cheer but a cynic way of expressing our sorrows at certain groups.

My mum met Patrick back when he was in Ipoh sometime back. She really wanted to look forward meeting him someday. But I might be meeting him sometime end of this month.

"NIAMAH!!!!!!" Is a Form of Therapeutic Expression. Say it out loud!

You can check his posts at his or TOKKOK.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

A Warm Sunday

Seeing how warm it is today, I think I wouldn't want to have any ice-cream today.

Very warm indeed. I continued playing God of War 2 - and could stop only at the Deep Chasm. I couldn't go on as disc 2 is needed to play the remaining of the game. I noticed that the main premise of a man's quest to alter his fate - seeking the Sisters of Fate is somewhat akin to Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. But it also couples with our man's obsession to kill Zeus. We had brunch today - nothing for lunch. I didn't feel that hungry today.

Edmund today spoke about narcissism and told me that her younger sister Regina is one example of that kind of syndrome. Mainly it's about having too much of obsession and the willingness to go extreme with constant believes that your reputation on the stake. I mean, look at some people in the rich class - I find that when they are being praised or being recognized in the high-class society, sometimes they feel that they got carried away by the reputation and from that it's like the starting point of gradual obsession. Correct me if I am wrong, according to this and by referring to the dictionary -it leads to vanity. Thackeray made his point about this in Vanity Fair.

One of J.K Rowling's characters, Narcissa Malfoy - Draco's mother - is the exact modeling of narcissism. By reputation, she is actually weak in stature - derives on the wealth and reputation of being married to one of the richest wizard families of Britain - the Malfoys. Now that the family is accused of being the in league with Voldemort - what can she do when she is pulled in? This goes to Regina - Edmund's sister - what will happen if she is stripped of the rights or the source that is the foundation of your reptuation? Will you go suicide or go bonkers or something? The thing is that is a definite factor that causes a man's fall from grace. The kind of excessive pride and greed that drives you to a dark end.

After dinner, I watched The Spy Who Loved Me. By far, this was the best of Roger Moore's Bond movies. I didn't really like the others with exception of For Your Eyes Only. It was a commercial success since it featured the biggest set - the main room of the tanker set - in Pinewood Studios designed by Sir Ken Adam, the cartoonish but sadistic villain Jaws (Richard Kiel) and the Lotus Esprit "Wet Nellie".

Jaws was the part inspiration of Garth Ennis's comical villain Barracuda. Both men are big size , capable of maiming people but one exception: Jaws is more or less like Non the silent but dangerous man in the Superman movies. In fact the role of Jaws was intended for Jack Halloran who played Non. The metal teeth serves as the "Fuck You" teeth for Barracuda. But Barracuda is an example and the collection of the negative stereotypes of people. In the spin-off, how Barracuda escaped alive from the clutches of the shark was a mystery - until the paperback comes out but I think his escape show is somewhat like how Jaws escaped: he killed a shark and eat its flesh! Test audiences cheered for that guy - like our comic fans do for dear Barracuda!


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