31 January 2006
Gaming last night with Wilson, Brian and Dillon at the 9th level of Orchard Cineleisure was incredible fun. However, it was hard to get on a ranked server where all four of us could operate in a squad.
After the games, we were at an eating establishment at River Valley Road at 1:30 am.
30 January 2006
Bruce Sterling's latest non-fiction volume is a collection of soundbites, a tome of techno-gossip glimpsed from reading, conferences and talks with corporate futurists, scientists and major figures. Interesting ideas, summarised in unattractive prose woven in a series of meandering chapters stitched together by the most flimiest of premises, yes, a hint of literary pretension as Sterling attempted to shoehorn the seven disparate themes together by utilising Shakespeare!
My friend, Wilson, had wanted to ask Bruce Sterling when he was town last year why his novels always started out promising, I guess the premises are always brilliant*, but ended up 'sucky'. Brian, Colin and I laughed when Wilson said that. Wilson didn't managed to ask that question. Oh well. Bland prose notwithstanding, what counts is the intriguing ideas explained and explored through awful soundbites, 'Tomorrow Now' is a good read, sorta like reading the less well-written Wired articles strung together.
A prevading theme that Sterling has emphasised is the New World Disorder which is nothing more than his name soundbite for the low intensity conflicts that has been a dominant feature before and after the Great World Wars of the twentieth century. Total war is an anomaly as it is well understood by historians and social scientists. There is really nothing 'New' about this New World Disorder.
Another theme Sterling harped on was that of biotechnology and genetic engineering which he explored in an interesting chapter prefacing the book.
Here are some interesting ideas in the form of Sterling soundbites:
In Stage 6: The Pantaloon:
'The secret sting in Stewart's famous aphorism "Information wants to be free" is in the part that got clipped off when the slogan become popularised. The full quote ran: "Information wants to be free; information also wants to be expensive." It's only when you hold both of these principles in your head at once that you become a true information-economy adept. If you focus exclusively on one half or the other, you will spend most of your time profoundly lost, in a thrashing state of hapless resentment.'
There are truisms abound and also kooky ideas.
In Stage 5: Justice:
'This political movement is likely to be proglobal and multilateralist. It's unlikely to base itself within a single nation-state, since national governments are severely bottled up up and appeals to local patriotism are self-limiting.
It will need some physical strongholds and some model polities. Nation states don't seem particularly promising, at least not at first. A likelier candidate is big cities. The government of cities can be captured by small upstart groups of enthusiasts, and the best such candidates would likely be multiethnic cities, heavily involved in global trade and populated by diasporas. Brussels might be quite good. Singapore. Perhaps New York City, Amsterdam or Hong Kong.'
I wish Sterling would explore more on the sustainable technologies that he has been espousing in his talk and his blog if I recall.
There are few pop futurist volumes out there. Most social science books are not popular tomes for the masses. 'Tomorrow Now' is just about the only volume there attempting to explore the near future in a social context and a lot of credit must be given for that. I think this is a very worthwhile read despite the prose and soundbites.
Presently, I am reading 'Histories of the Future' which is a collection of essays edited by Daniel Rosenberg and Susan Harding. This volume 'foregrounds everyday attitudes, images, stories, performances, debris, movement, lifestyles, and work.' from an academic view.
*I have read a lot of Bruce Sterling novels. I like them and I have bought every one but I find the prose and plotting to be dreadfully unexciting. The ideas, however, are another matter. Sterling explores social change.
29 January 2006
28 January 2006
Wilson is a monster. In two days, he has a score of 590! He's got a Silver Star and three other badges!
I played for a short while last night and got a dismal K/D ratio of 2:5. I was slow on the draw. After I woke up (after 5 deaths in a row), I went on to score 2 kills. I have managed to improve my K/D ratio to 0.42. I would love to improve it to a 1.0 or above. That would mean avoiding artillery and aircraft. Carefully selected spawn points!
For me, Bronski Beat's magnum opus would always be the "Hi-NRGesque" single 'Hit that Perfect Beat', and not 'Smalltown Boy' or 'I feel Love'. It is ironic as lead vocalist, Jimmy Somerville, had already left to form The Communards with Richard Coles.
Beyond the chart-hitting first single, the subsequent single 'C'mon, C'mon' and the album 'Truthdare Doubledare' proved to be quite dismal. And I guess the success of the Communards eclipsed Steve Bronski and his band completely and Bronski Beat became a forgotten entity.
27 January 2006
26 January 2006
Last night, I got on the Battlefield 2 Special Forces server and before I know it, I was killed five times in the space of less than ten minutes. It was mainly being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Oh well. I decided against 'camping' in one spot and hoping to pick people off. Instead, I hid in a little used corridor of a warehouse and waited. Each time, I see enemy troops passing by, I would wait a little before venturing out, following them and finishing them off. This way, I swiftly racked up six kills in a row though I did run out of ammo and had to loot a dead medic which I had just killed.
In the next few maps, I continued using primarily the G3 though the PKM was useful when I came across a number of infantrymen in close combat. I have maintained a ratio of approximately 1:1 last night (more for some games and slightly less for others.) and the previous night. Great fun!
I bought Biosphere's 'Substrata' in 1997 and gave it a cursory listen and then put it away. Last night, I took it out and played it loud. It was sublime.
'Subtrata' is a driving, atmospheric multi-layered affair, on par with the best of the early Delerium effort. And no, this isn't one of those a chill-out albums.
I have most of the Bel Canto CDs and this one is absolutely different from them.
25 January 2006
WOO HOO! What a game! What fun! Battlefield 2. Incredible excitment. Two nights ago, when the game started, I jumped into an APC (Vodnik) and started driving towards the enemy flags, bypassing every single flag, reaching the enemy base camp. At the base camp, I manned the heavy machine gun on the APC and proceeded to gun down enemy troops, killing about four. Then, an enemy special forces guy came and planted C4 on my vehicle, at which point, I jumped out and shot him down with my trusty G3 assault rifle. After which, I was gunned down.
Last night, when the game started again, I took a LAV-25 and drove for the enemy base camp. Together with an M1A1 and another LAV-25, we rove outside their camp, shooting down droves of enemy troopers that attempted to leave camp. I managed to get four through long range fire with my 25mm autocannon before falling prey to a predatory helicopter gunship!
24 January 2006
Paper Armour and what not
I didn't know that the Chinese used armour made of paper until I came across an entry on the use of paper armour in 'The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery and Invention' by Joseph Needham, Robert K. G. Temple last night. Bedtime reading. Apparently, the paper from these armour are made from stronger fibres and could resist even arrows!
On a related note, apparently this book listed quite a fair number of inventions and discoveries that even the majority of Chinese themselves are unaware of. Oil rigs and drilling for natural gas, discovery of sunspots, etc.
23 January 2006
I have read references of the methods used by the Chinese communists in the Korean War and these references have stated that that the human waves or hordes of Chinese charging in battles is a myth. Could that have been the basis of a racial fear, the Yellow Peril, by Westerners in the past?
In fact, the veterans of the 1948-1949 civil war (of course the Chinese Civil War really stated a lot earlier) were experienced in small unit tactics and operated in small groups. This volume by a Korean War veteran confirmed the references James Dunnigan (Author of 'How to make War' and other books) made, the Chinese had a close form-up area before they attack with sub-machine guns, grenades and mortars. The Chinese troops were generally tough, experienced peasants who overran American units and inflicted upon the US military their greatest defeat ever at the end of 1950.
This interesting narrative by T. R. Fehrenbach, a retired colonel who saw action in the Korean War, is laced with accounts of small unit actions as well as his disillusionment with the ill-prepared American military. Fehrenbach also understood that the basis of a democratic state may not have allowed the formation of professional legions... Ironic in today's context. Hahaha.
Brian recommended this book a month or two ago. All in all, it's a fast and engrossing read.
22 January 2006
That is how I characterise the new Depeche Mode single, A Pain I'm used to'. I can't rip into an audio track and put it on a CD compilation. The copy protection does not allow that.
I guess that is the last CD single I will buy from Depeche Mode despite owning every CD single they have ever released.
When music companies choose to adopt such technical solutions to protect themselves against piracy, they will lose legitimate customers like myself.
21 January 2006
This evening, I took a walk from Raffles City to Clarke's Quay. There, I proceeded to Robertson Quay, Kim Yam Road, Mohamed Sultan Road and River Valley Close.
I recall that there was a kampong at River Valley Close in the late seventies. I recall seeing a well there in 1977 and attap houses.
20 January 2006
Brian and I have recently been playing quite a bit of Battlefield 2.
Here are the links to our statistics:
Shyue Chou's statistics
As you can see, Toepopperman's statistics are a lot better than mine. I tend to get killed at the spawn point far too often. And I charge with guns blazing far too often against better players.
When Wilson the Fuzzyoctopi joins us, I think his statistics would easily top us all!
My current ratio is very poor:
19 January 2006
18 January 2006
My current first person shooter (FPS) game of choice is Battlefield 2 and its expansion, Battlefield 2: Special Forces.
The previous few nights, I went on the ranked servers and was massacred on the scale of 1 kill is to 10 deaths. On certain games, I could not score even a kill! I was averaging 4-6 points per game. My mouse cursor was jumping and it was not stable. I need a new mouse.
In games, I was getting killed within 1-2 seconds of respawning by artillery barrages, snipers, base-campers and so forth. Last night, I decided to be patient instead of charging headlong into action. Yes, I was still focused on kills but I also go for flags.
I was able to manage a better than 1:1 ratio at times. At other times, I managed a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio with 18-27 points and over 50 if the side wins.
I have been somewhat successful on the Special Forces servers, managing a 1:1 or better ratio.
I have also planned my deployment when I used the sniper. And I have managed a few satisfying kills. It is fruitful to snipe at the base where players are more likely to be stationary.
On another note, I find that on one-to-one face offs, I would get wasted by the advanced G36 or F2000 assault rifles that some players are carrying. I have resorted to carrying Light Anti-Tank Weapons (LAW) and twice, when I was jumped, I blew my adversary away.
The players on the ranked servers are better than the typical unranked ones. My rank is still private first class (PFC) in the game. I hope to make corporal tonight.
The latency on the Singapore servers (EASG), Thai servers (EA TH) and Japanese servers are decent on Starhub cable. Strangely enough the latency on the Taiwan servers (EATW) are too high. Lousy ping times.
The most satisfying moment of last night was when I ran to a surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher just when a Blackhawk helicopter was hovering nearby and brought it down, killing the three occupants.
Woo! The new 10-track In Strict Confidence EP 'Where the sun and moon unite' is due out in mid-March. Information from their blog on myspace.com
1. Promised Land (Extended Version)
2. Paradise Regained
4. Promised Land (Club Mix)
5. Wintermoon (Samsas Traum Remix)
7. Emergency (Blind Faith & Envy Version)
8. Paradise Regained (Patenbrigade:Wolff: Remix)
9. Promised Land (Blutengel Remix)
10. Samael (Lucas Boysen Mix)
17 January 2006
Woo! The new booster pack for Battlefield 2 is due out on the 8th of February. Ack. There won't be a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM release. Pity.
Hmm.. New maps, new vehicles and new weapons. Promising!
Operation Smoke Screen
Main Battle Tank - Leopard 2A6
Main Battle Tank – Challenger 2
Fighter – Eurofighter (Typhoon T1)
Attack Heli – Eurocopter Tiger (Tiger HAP)
SA80 L85A2 with UGL (AG-36)
L96A11 New Army
European Union1 new award
European Union Special Service Medal
I have been playing a lot of Battlefield 2 and I have been playing badly, getting slaughtered ten times for every kill I make. I am only gaining 4-6 points per game (unless the team wins) on ranked servers in Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand.
Players on ranked servers seems to be a lot better than those on local servers and non-ranked ones.
*Image taken from http://www.battlefield2.com
16 January 2006
15 January 2006
Mosque at Gentle Road
Thirty or so years ago, there was once a Malay kampong at Gentle Road. Today, the area is filled with semi-detached houses and the IRAS skyscraper (Is that where our tax dollars go? In both senses of the word...). The old mosque, which was a zinc and attap affair, has since been rebuilt into this nice elegant place of worship. There is even a glass minaret!
During Hari Raya, they would sacrifice rams at this site. You could smell death and, the stench was very strong.
14 January 2006
David J.Morris' account of the Battle of Khafji is interesting not because of the plight of the marines who were trapped in Khafji but rather, their observations of the traits and performance of the Qatari and Saudi Arabian army.
In addition, there are other bits of information that are of interest.
On the performance of the Saudi Arabian army:
1. The unit involved exhibited poor fire discipline. At one point, it was noted that they were firing TOWs in a wanton display of firepower. There was no regard for the conservation of ammunition. It is also stated in the book that they have a habit of expending all their ammunition before returning to base.
2. The Saudi Arabian units started firing at extreme ranges when the chances of hitting anything is low.
3. The Saudi Arabian V-150 TOW missile carriers starting launching TOW missiles without regard for anything or anyone in their rear area (backblast).
3. The Iraqi units were using a large number of Chinese-built Type 531 APCs.
4. The Saudi Arabians stopped to loot the Iraqi bodies regardless of the surrounding firefight. They were not looting weapons but personal effects!
5. The Saudi Arabian V-150s is a thin-skinned vehicle. There were reports of how RPGs sliced the vehicle in half. A number were destroyed in the fighting. Singapore fields the V-200, a variant (used only in Singapore) of that vehicle. Anyway, most thin-skinned vehicles would be sliced apart by LAWs or RPGs.
6. The Qatari AMX-30s (with a maximum frontal armour of 80mm) were highly vulnerable to tank fire. Two were destroyed in that action. One of them 'charged' in...
7. The Iraqis were using Brazilian ASTROS II rockets to shell the marine positions but the marines noted that these were highly inaccurate. Of course, the Brazilians, Chinese and French were the biggest suppliers of arms to Iraq... The Malaysian army has since bought a number of the ASTROS II multiple rocket launchers.
8. Dismount? What dismount? The Saudi Arabians rode into combat!
I think the title is surely hyperbole?
13 January 2006
I have always enjoyed real-time strategy (RTS) games. 'Cossacks', in my opinion, is one of the most enjoyable ones out there. I have played 'Cossacks: European Wars', 'Cossacks: The Art of War' and 'Cossacks: Back to War'.
I have been consistently beaten by the computer again and again when it sent an army to 'fix' my main one while a second large one flanked me and descended on my hapless town. Damn!
In another case, I had attempted to gain command of the sea and instead, the computer opponent outbuilt me, sank my fleet and gained sea dominance, after which, its fleet sank my transports and landed troops on various locations (attempting to flank my defences).
In terms of tactical battles, one can form square against cavalry charges, form line for maximum firepower, form columns for melee. And if one were to form square or columns, one can be very vulnerable to artillery fire. There is a lot of room for tactics here. Pikemen against cavalry, protecting musketeers. Light infantry screens as skirmishers. Mobile firepower in the form of dragoons.
Last night, when I was laying siege to the enemy town after overcoming the computer opponent in a series of vicious battles, I ran out of coal, iron and gold, essentially, my units will not fire. And my invading army of 62 mortars, 12 cannons, numerous pikemen, dragoons, hussars were overcome by grenadiers and dragoons. I need to husband my resources well. Ugh! This game is a challenge.
I have always preferred controlling nations that has light cavalry, be it, cossacks or hussars. I find raiding to be very worthwhile. If possible, light infantry would be great too.
On another note, it is necessary to play on the 'Hard' setting or higher. 'Normal' is simply boring.
12 January 2006
11 January 2006
Pelikan Fountain Pen Ink
This was found in the warehouse. This obviously dates back to a long gone era. The design of the bottle is such that one can dip one's pen conveniently.
Pelikan is, of course, a long established maker of fine fountain pens based in Germany.
I just received this Front Line Assembly CD 'Convergence' after winning an eBay auction. It's a compilation of two early EPs, 'Corrosion' and 'Disorder'.
There is another Front Line Assembly CD 'Corroded Disorder' which is essentially the same two EPs with a different ordered tracklisting.
'Convergence' is an interesting collage of disturbing sounds and through these early tracks, one can appreciate how the later Front Line Assembly tracks came about.
10 January 2006
I wonder if anyone remembers the good ol' Yajimaya Singapore bookstores that were located in the old Plaza Singapura and Thomson Plaza?
I was just looking through some old books in my cupboards when I stumbled upon this old book mark tucked into one of the books.
There were apparently two stores in Singapore and one in Malaysia.
I remember the one in Plaza Singapura with great fondness. I remember visiting them in the late seventies and early eighties. I remember buying those Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigator books there when I was still in primary school. That was before Kinokuniya came to Singapore with its expensive volumes.
Presently, Kinokuniya is the only surviving Japanese bookstore chain from what I know. Maruzen had departed from Millennia's Walk and Ngee Ann City a few years ago. I have always found that Kinokuniya priced their books 20% more than Borders through many volume-by-volume comparisons and strangely enough, quite a few people I know have the erronenous perception of the opposite! (ie The Cambridge History of the Roman World is $80.95 in Borders and over $100.00 in Kinokuniya! I have also done many other book-to-book comparisons.) I have spoken to one of the overseas acquisitions manager at Kinokuniya previously on this as well as one of their promotions manager. They insisted otherwise. Oh well. I hold a Kinokuniya privilege card and I could, of course, wait for those 20% off sale. Right!
Anyway, the book mark brought back quite a few memories.
09 January 2006
08 January 2006
07 January 2006
05 January 2006
04 January 2006
03 January 2006
02 January 2006
01 January 2006
I decided to compile the CD singles that I bought over last year. * My first compilation of 2006!
1. I hate to be in Love – Wave in Head
2. In my Mind – Z Prochek
3. In this together – Apoptygma Berzerk
4. Clear Vision – Dubok
5. Breed to Death – Dismantled
6. Ground (Darker Version) – Assemblage 23
7. Perfect Body – Spetsnaz
8. Turn Me on (Rename Vocal Club Mix) – De/Vision
9. Sugar (Jagz Kooner Remix) – Ladytron
10. Suffer well – Depeche Mode
11. X-Rated (Dark Club Remix) – Psyche
12. Krafty (Andy Green Remix) – New Order
13. Exterminate Annihilate Destroy (Reclubbed) – Rotersand
14. Just let go – Fischerspooner
15. Plastic World (Kakan Lidbo Remix) – Colony 5
16. Destroy Everything you touch – Ladytron
17. A Pain that I’m used to – Depeche Mode
*Of course, I do not have the two Depeche Mode singles and the one Ladytron single. Grr...