07 October 2006

SdKfz 265 kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen


Armoured Command Vehicle based on the chassis of the PzKpfw I. Two hundred of these 5.8-tonne vehicles were converted from obsolete PzKpfw I tanks. Not an effective type.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Stream in the Jungle


Pencil outline of a sketch. Main positioning. The light study will come later. Posted by Picasa
It's crazy. Visibility has dropped to 2 km or less. The air quality is extremely poor tonight. The PSI reading is now 150 at 9:00 pm. I rushed to Borders, picked up two science fiction novels by Ken Macleod. Over electronic mail, Kelvin and Kew Soon have sparked off a renewal of interest in hard SF. I bought novels by Gregory Benford, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter. I shall hide at home and read tonight.

06 October 2006

Stamps



Is stamp collecting a preserve of the old? I don't collect them but I suspect that this may be a declining hobby due to the advent of electronic mail over the last decade.

05 October 2006

Good Intentions, Bad Information

You know how people with good intentions send chain mails with bad information and then ask their friends to propagate it thinking that they are dispensing good medical or health information? Well, I really wish that they would stop doing that. Here is a recent one I received:

"> >>Drinking cold water after meal = Cancer !> >>> >>For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable> >>to you.> >> It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal.> >> However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you> >>have just> >> consumed.> >> It will slow down the digestion.> >>> >> Once this "sludge" reacted with the acid, it will break down> >>and be> >> absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food.> >> It will line the intestine.> >>> >> Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer.> >> It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.> >>> >>

_________________________________> >>> >>A Serious note about Heart Attacks> >> HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE": (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!)> >>> >> Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to> >>be the> >> left arm hurting.> >> Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line.> >>> >>You may never have the first chest pain duringthe course of a heart> >>attack.> >>> >> Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms.> >>> >>60% of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not> >>wake up.> >>> >> Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep.> >> Let's be careful and be aware.> >> The more we know, the better chance we could survive...> >>> >> A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it> >>to 10> >> people, you can be sure that we'll save at least one life.> >> Read this..... It could save your life!!> >>> >> Let's say it's 6.15 pm and you're driving home .> >>> >> Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that> >>starts to> >> radiate out> >> into your arm and up into your jaw.> >> You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your> >>home.> >> Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that> >>far.> >> You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course> >>did not> >> tell you> >> how to perform it on yourself.> >>> >> "HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE":> >>> >>Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack,> >>without help,> >> the person whose heart is beating> >> improperly and who begins to feel faint,> >> has only about 10 seconds left before losing> >>consciousness.> >>However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly> >>and very> >> vigorously.> >> A deep breath should be taken before each cough,> >> deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the> >>chest.> >> A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two> >>seconds> >>without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be> >>beating> >> normally again.> >> Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements> >>squeeze> >> the heart and keep the blood circulating The squeezing pressure> >>on the> >> heart> >> also helps it regain normal rhythm.> >> In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital. Tell> >>as many> >> other people as possible about this.> >> It could save their lives!! "> >>> >> **PLEASE BE A "TRUE" FRIEND> >> AND SEND THIS ARTICLE> >> TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS> >> YOU CARE ABOUT.> >>

I asked His Royal Omniscient Highness about it. From His vast reservoirs of Knowledge, he proclaimed the following:

"the cold water thing is absolutely rubbish!

Heart attack chest pain do go into the left arm, and into your jaw andis sometimes mistaken for acid reflux or heart burn.The coughing and deep breathing thing is kinda true but its wrong in this context. Deep breathing and breath holding is used to slow down some types ofpalpitations (very fast heart beats) and coughing regularly is used tospeed up extremely slow heart rates, but in this context, doing bothwill result in nothing happening!"

Who is this Highness? Doubt His Holiness? Well, His Munificient Royalness is not merely some third rate GP dispensing cough medicine, He is more than that. He knows everything. Actually, he's a specialist.

Oh well, chain letters. It should be obvious enough but in reality, some people don't know better.
Unhealthy McDonald's Milkshakes

His Magnificient Highness once mentioned that the milkshakes at McDonald's are exceptionally bad. As someone who likes thick creamy milkshakes (not that blended thin smoothie rubbish), I was curious. So, I asked him. Here is his reply:

"it has quite a high fat content as they use vegetable oil to make it creamier rather than milk..."

Yikes! OILSHAKES! I think I will stick to Billy Bombers for their milkshakes. Heh.

* Yes, I remember the days when McDonald's had fries dipped in beef tallow (fat) and was absolutely the worst... I don't particularly care for the fries at McDonald's. I think they are sub-standard. I have never understood the hype and hysteria...

04 October 2006

Singapore Open Gaming VIII


Ken is organising the next session:

Date: 14th October 2006
Time: 1pm - 6pm
Venue: Blk 3, Queen's Rd #01-139 (Just off Farrer Road, one level below West Lake Restaurant)
Cost: Nil

It has been extremely successful, attracting between 25 to 30 people per session now!

"To seek what is impossible is madness: and it is impossible that the bad should not do something of this kind."

'The Meditations' Marcus Aurelius, 167 A.D.
A Fusion of the Unholy




It is surprising that a number of Japanese have a penchant for Nazi and German militaria of the Second World War. Like many throughout the world with a unhealthy fascination for Nazi uniforms, badges, regalia, and so forth, in the case of the Japanese, this has been reflected in their popular culture, from toys to anime to manga. (There are many examples, I will name them in future.) And that, of course, brings us to this series of seemingly very well-envisioned and well-made science fiction toys with overtones of Nazi stormtroopers.


These toys are based on Jin Roh (Wolf Brigade), a science fiction anime. Quoting the site:

"A remarkable collaboration between two generations of filmmakers, JIN-ROH marries a hard-hearted script by Mamoru Oshii–the internationally acclaimed maker of GHOST IN THE SHELL–with the vérité direction of Hiroyuki Okiura, assistant to Oshii on GHOST.

An ominous new child of its pedigree, JIN-ROH goes to places beyond GHOST IN THE SHELL. Its protagonist is not another Major Kusanagi, GHOST’s cold and unsatisfied government cyborg looking to ascend to virtual angelhood. Like Kusanagi, JIN-ROH's Constable Kazuki Fuse (said "foo-seh") is a special-forces operative who kills in the name of the law. Like Kusanagi, he doubts the worth of his humanity. But unlike Kusanagi, Fuse is yet a man of flesh and blood, and he still remains human enough to feel cold–to be frightened–and to seek, with quiet desperation, to be absolved.


JIN-ROH's setting is Tokyo–not the Tokyo of the future, but of an alternate past. In the bizarre, ironic tradition of Philip K. Dick’s THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, JIN-ROH presents a Japan that lost a different Second World War–not to America, but to Nazi Germany. Now, more than ten years after the defeat, the occupation troops have left, but their legacy is JIN-ROH’s twilight-zone city where the domestic terrorism of "The Sect" plays out in everyday bombings and street battles against the counterterrorist Capital Police–and their elite armored, helmeted, and red-goggled Special Unit."

Ooooh... I am gagging already...

"The movie JIN-ROH is about those in society who are predators among prey. But these "beasts" never bother to change their shape; like Red Riding Hood’s wolf, they merely drape themselves with human clothes that do not even disguise the eyes, teeth and claws of a killer. Society rightly fears them."

Yeah yeah yeah, a self-important but pedestrian movie with little to recommend. However, that's besides the point, crap movie or otherwise. The toys! Yes, the toys. The anime gave rise to these magnificient toys. The intricate designs of the armoured stormtroopers, the elaborate stylings of German Second World War uniforms and equipment coalesced into a surreal fusion of an alternate future and a horrific past. Just look at them. Look at the no-nonsense, purposeful postures.



These images are from a review of these toys written by Kelvin, a friend who is an authority on toys. Kelvin's words:

I would hesitate to even call those figures real toys because they were only slightly removed from the kits, having the most basic of 12" figure bodies, and non-articulated hands that could barely hold the included MG-34 or MG-42 machine guns (assembly required). Later, Medicom also released the much improved Jin-Roh version, although the base figure was still very limited in poseability, and the armor was permanently attached to the figure.

Kelvin has done an amazing job capturing these images and his arrangements are superb. The MG34 or MG42 are well-modelled. Look at the details of the weapon. The unholy Nazi imagery! The juxtaposition of Nazi imagery upon an imaginery nightmarish Japanese future. It's amazing. Surrealistic, bleak, powerful.

This is the power of symbols and pop culture.

Image source: Courtesy of Kelvin with his kind permission.

Addendum

There are a lot lot more of these powerful images in Kelvin's review. I urge that you give the review a look.

03 October 2006

I wanted to run last evening but I could smell some sort of burning in the air. These were smoke particles from the jungle fires in Sumatra. The fires are south of Palembang apparently. The skies were a uniform grey, blanketed by a haze from the fires.

It rained this morning. I wonder if the air quality will be better later this evening.

Meanwhile, I retired my old Dell Dimension XPS 133i (Pentium P133 MHz) which has served me faithfully for a decade. A wonderful hardy machine. I have also retired my old P600 machine. The old ABIT BH6 motherboard in that machine finally gave way. I had tinkered with the machine for years, affixing many different video cards, sound cards, HDDs, CPUs. The machine had been an excellent testbed. Oh well.

I will think about getting an Intel Core Duo possibly next year. No real hurry, I don't see many compelling games that require that sort of performance yet.
Novena Square


Just six years ago, the area where the Novena MRT* station stood a sleepy pavilion leading into the station. Today, two towering office towers and a mall stands atop it. How things have changed!

And now, a new extension to the Novena Square mall is being built, effectively doubling the area within the mall!

The area around the junction is now surrounded by tall imposing condominiums.

*Mass Rapid Transit. Singapore's subway system.

02 October 2006

Illustration of Techniques

Well, if anyone in Singapore is interested, I wouldn't mind showing my drawing techniques. However, I don't 'teach' children.

Of course, the venue will only be in town. Heh.

A decade ago, some people (technically not in the civil service) had asked me to teach them and I had tried. The problem wasn't with technique, they can draw fine, it was with imagination and creativity. They couldn't create anything from scratch. They needed something in front of them. Something to copy...
Live concert DVD from Clan of Xymox due!

Woo. Good news. There will be a live DVD of their Paris show recorded early this year in La Locomotive. It's about time.
The Conquerors: Alexander the Great

I received this Richard Berg designed game through the mail over the weekend. This is a card-based game which apparently is not turn-based. Hmm.. The sequence of play is one of phases and segments. Hmm.

Components
1 map of Alexander's world
2 sheets of counters
55 Playing Cards
Player Aid Charts

I really should get down to playing. I have just been reading and reading.
John Foxx

I first heard of John Foxx when I heard the hypnotic but alienating 'Underpass' in a compilation about ten years ago. Subsequently, I discovered a few more John Foxx CDs including the bleak 'Shifting City' at Borders.

After hearing John Foxx's 'Crash and Burn' and 'Assembly', I told myself that I would eventually get more of Foxx's work.

He is an underrated genius. I have been meaning to get more of his albums for years. Seven or eight years later, I decided to buy the rest of Foxx's work on a trip to the UK.

After a few searches in HMV and Virgin Megastores with His Royal Holiness, the Emperor, I found the following:

John Foxx - Cathedral Oceans II
John Foxx - Cathedral Oceans III
John Fox - The Garden
John Foxx - The Golden Section
John Foxx - The Golden Section Tour and the Omnidelic Exotour with Louis Gordon
John Foxx - In Mysterious ways
John Foxx - Metamatic
John Foxx - Modern Art: The best of John Foxx
John Foxx - Tiny Colour Movies
John Foxx & Harold Budd - Translucence + Drift Music
John Foxx & Louis Gordon - The Pleasures of electricity
Ultravox! - Ultravox!
Ultravox! - Ha! Ha! Ha!
Ultravox - Systems of romance

Foxx's work can be divided into the following:

Ultravox!
Synthpop
Ambient soundscapes

The first Ultravox! albums are rock with quite a bit of experimentation and some form of early electronics. However, they are mostly art rock albums in essence. Impenetrable lyrics and themes abound. Foxx left Ultravox. (The first two albums were released under Ultravox! in honour of NEU! The subsequent ones dropped the exclamation mark.) Ure joined Ultravox and the rest is ....

Foxx then released the prototypical synthpop album in the early eighties which can be compared favourably to Kraftwerk and Gary Numan. These early works, consisting of four albums, had diverse influences from the Beatles to Italian landscapes to urban decay. Foxx then became a designer and disappeared from the music scene for a decade. He re-surfaced later with 'Shifting City', 'The Pleasures of Electricity' and more with a collaborator, Louis Gordon. The later synthpop work have themes of urban decay, alienation, technology and these compare very favourably with the early four albums. The concert album has great interpretations with new arrangements. Foxx's work are overlooked synthpop masterpieces.

Lastly, Foxx has quite a few ambient works with a filmic feel including 'Tiny Colour Movies', 'Cathedral Oceans' and more. These have Foxx painting broad but light aural strokes on a canvas.

For those who want to get everything from John Foxx, I would recommend that they purchase the CDs from the internet. Try Amazon UK. http://www.amazon.co.uk

It is a lot less expensive than buying them in the stores (HMV, Virgin Music) in London or Amazon USA (unless you have free shipping....)


This entry is written for His Imperial Majesty Emperor Loh (Who laughed at me for missing the John Foxx concert), Eugene, Kelvin, V, Steve, Winnie, Ken, Wei Yi, Anne, Amelia, Corrinne, June, and a few other friends...

01 October 2006

Enigma 'A Posteriori'

1. Eppur Si Muove
2. Feel Me Heaven
3. Dreaming Of Andromeda
4. Dancing With Mephisto
5. Northern Lights
6. Invisible Love
7. Message From IO
8. Hello And Welcome
9. 20,000 Miles Over The Sea
10. Sitting On The Moon
11. The Alchemist
12. Goodbye Milky Way

Michael Cretu's latest concoction does not hark back to the previous Enigma releases except for the sampling of a few signature sounds at the beginning and also in certain track segments. Otherwise, gone are the usual samples of Georgorian chants and sensual female vocals in this largely instrumental release. Instead, that is replaced by club friendly beats, akin to that of DJ Tiesto or Paul Oakenfold though somewhat sparser in feel. Does this evoke a feel of space? Surely, one cannot compare the orchestral works such as that of Holst's 'The Planets' or the electronic ambience of Tangerine Dream's 'Phaedra' as being more apt as the vacuum of space is devoid of sound, unless one were to decide not to discount x-rays and other forms of cosmic radiation... The perception of Cretu's creation will largely be dependent on the individual's cultural and mental make-up.

The lead off single is 'Hello and Welcome' which was said to be written as an opening theme for a boxer in a recent match. True? I don't know. If this were an opening theme, it would be a languid piece, relaxed and interspersed with sampled guitars? Perhaps if someone can enlighten me.

The main thrust of 'A Posteriori' will appear to be that a cosmic theme, for instance, the eventual collision of the Milky Way and the Andromeda in five billion years or that of viewing the earth from the moon and more. The feel is that of a languid ambience with no obvious pop singles. Subtle? In a sense. A work, perhaps, for the late hours of the night.