25 November 2006

Quote from Richard Dawkins

"Yet if you look at the language we employ, it is no more strong or intemperate than anybody would use if criticizing a political or economic point of view: no stronger or more intemperate than any theatre critic, art critic or book critic when writing a negative review. Our language sounds strong and intemperate only because of the same weird convention I have already mentioned, that religious faith is uniquely privileged: above and beyond criticism."




Quote from Douglas Adams

"Book critics or theatre critics can be derisively negative and earn delighted praise for the trenchant wit of their review. A politician may attack an opponent scathingly across the floor of the House and earn plaudits for his robust pugnacity. But let a critic of religion employ a fraction of the same direct forthrightness, and polite society will purse its lips and shake its head: even secular polite society, and especially that part of secular society that loves to announce, "I'm an atheist, BUT . . .""
Drawings for D&D

I will be putting up a set of drawings. These will be more dramatic figure sketches utilising methods that are somewhat more reminiscent to that of comics. Standard proportions will be somewhat thrown out for heroic ones. These figures are for a friend's D&D v3.5 rules supplement.

They will be work in progress. Images for side panels. Images for sidebars, etc.
From an article titled 'The New Face of King Coal'

"The environmental consequences of China and India’s coal-fired growth are potentially disastrous. Coal burning in China and India is generally inefficient and polluting – emissions control is often lacking (or not enforced) and the quality of domestic coal is often poor. This means that larger quantities of coal must be burnt, meaning greater emissions of CO2 per unit of power output. International Energy Agency forecasts suggest that, by 2030, coal-fired power in these two countries will add some 3,000 million extra tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere every year – equivalent to around 20 times the UK’s current total CO2 emissions from power generation. Over this same period, emissions from China alone are forecast to grow by as much as those of the entire industrialised world, by which time China will have long passed the US as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

However, while coal is one of the most carbon-intensive fuels for power generation, it remains a plentiful and cheap resource for emerging economies. China and India have relatively modest natural gas reserves, and these are mostly located far from where power is needed. Developing gas infrastructure is costly and involves long lead times. In China and India, where brown- and blackouts are common, the priority is to build new capacity using proven technology as quickly as possible. "
Merdeka 1957


Malaya, Merdeka, 31.08.1957. This would probably mean something to Malaysians. There is a Ferret Scout Car and a few wheeled armoured personnel carriers in that armoured column.

Quote from an article by Stuart A. Kauffman

"In the West, those who hold to a view of a theistic God, including the Christian fundamentalists of such power in the United States, find themselves in a cultural war with those who do not believe in a transcendent God, whether agnostic or atheistic. This war is evidenced by the fierce battle over Intelligent Design being waged politically and in the court systems of the United States. While the battleground is Darwinism, the deeply emotional issues are more fundamental. These include the belief of many religious people that without God's authority, morality has no basis. Literally, for those in the West who hold to these views, part of the passion underlying religious conviction is the fear that the very foundations of Western society will tumble if faith in a transcendent God is not upheld.

The majority of the Abrahamic peoples are Muslims. I know the Islamic world poorly, but believe that their fundamentalism again in part lies in these moral issues."

24 November 2006

Tannenberg: Monk versus King

The 1410 battle at Tannenberg was a battle of significance and had been cast as a decisive battle, a nationalistic battle, a racial war and more by politicians, historians, nationalists, extremists and more.

The reality, as related in William Urban's 'The Teutonic Knights: A Military History', showed otherwise, it was a battle between competing powers and was rooted in the circumstances of that period. In less than a year after the battle, the new Hochmeister Heinrich von Plauen had taken command and held the Poles and Luthanuians at the siege at Marienburg, withstood the onslaught of Polish and Luthanuian forces in Prussia and retook most of what had been lost. The Teutonic Order was decapitated in terms of leadership and the treasury was soon to be depleted.

However, it was undoubtedly the beginning of the end for the Teutonic Order after 1410 due to a variety of socio-political factors. Europe had changed greatly and the military and economic balance were no longer in the favour of the Teutonic Order.

The Teutonic Order swiftly lost everything in the Thirteen Years War in Prussia just some decades later. Livonia was lost some decades after Prussia when the Order became an anachronism.
AK (Silver) has a potty-mouth

I asked Silver(AK) to finger Hatash and Crom who were a lot higher in levels in Dune MUD. For many years Silver is the second ranking player on Dune MUD. Now, he is ranked measly 20 or 30.

AK says:
why

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
You're behind.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Go level up!

AK says:
i can't!

AK says:
i still have 125 more stats to level

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Is that a glitch?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
That much?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
I have 1 more stat.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
2 more monsters and I get that stat.

AK says:
you're weak

AK says:
you're an asshole

AK says:
you're a weak asshole!

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Whoa!

AK says:
mischan

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
This must be blogged.

AK says:
thank goodness mine has no comments

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
The truth comes out! You're afraid of your mischief appearing in the comments section of your blog.

AK says:
such delusions you have

AK says:
do your parents proud! jump off melbourne central!

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
For a guy speaking from hell, you sure have a lot to say.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Lucifer is allowing you the use of that HOTline from hell?

23 November 2006

DUKW


The DUKW (Duplex Universal Karrier, Wheeled) was an amphibious six-wheeled 2.5 ton vehicle used for the delivery of personnel and equipment from ships to shore over short distances.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Cat and Lizard

Yesterday, I saw my cat with some form of large lizard in her mouth. Half of the lizard, the head, upper torso and forearms were already in! The lizard measured about 25cm in length. Anyway, somehow, the lizard managed to escape. Phew!
IJN Yamato Pictorial


This is a great collection of images of the Yamoto class battleships from Classic Warships. Recommended.
Gustav Adolf the Great

The latest set from the Musket & Pike series, this standalone wargame featured the battles from Gustavus Adolphus, the King of Sweden.

I received this one in early August. I should really get down to playing something from the Musket and Pike series.


So many things. So little time. So little energy.
Cry Wolf

I recall with great fondness when the Straits Times carried the Modesty Blaise comic book strips in the seventies. How swiftly time flies.

Those strips were great. Pulp at its best. And the rigour employed in the drawings. The artist was certainly not lazy.

Great artwork.
The Spirit of Marx awashed in a Sea of Consumerism



Ruis (Eduardo del Rio), a noted underground comic artist of leftist tracts in Mexico, wrote and drew 'Marx para Principiantes' which was a huge bestseller when it was published and translated into English in 1976 as 'Marx for Beginners'. The illustrated primer introduced Marx the historical figure and Marxist principles in a comic book form. Zany illustrations and dialogue balloons abound throughout the enthusiatic and sympathetic volume and the primer soon flew off shelves in great volumes. Cash registers rang, ka-ching! ka-ching! and the wheels of capitalism rolled.

Over the years, 'Marx for Beginners', festooned with an attractive trendy cover, continued selling and selling and selling and soon became the pioneering volume of a whole series of 'For Beginners' books, characterised by cartoons illustrating principles. Over the years, the books sold steadily and was reprinted many times.



Books often get re-titled and re-packaged with new covers especially if they are bestsellers. The 'For Beginners' series is no exception and 'Marx for Beginners' was soon transformed into 'Introducing Marx' with a cute and friendly new cover. For a book about Marxism and preaching violent revolution, this is certainly ironic. Cuteness and violence. Then again, the cute Karl Marx figure had a clenched fist. 'Violent Cuteness'.

A prominent commie once said that Capitalism would even sell its own tools for destruction if there were a profit to be made. I can't remember which commie and the exact statement. Well, in this case, capitalism is certainly assisting in spreading the commie propaganda. Marx, if he were alive, would have been delighted!

Still, the attitudes of the editor and the uncritical writer and illustrator Ruis made for compelling reading mainly due to their apparent, undoubted commitment and adherence to the commie creed. The Marxist glossary at the end where definitions of various terms are expressed in Marxist terminology is telling as the world is re-defined in their own terms. Dangerous!



And like all recent tracts advocating socialism and communism, this one (by the editor in the foreward) explains away the abysmal failures of Communism in the Soviet Union and China as not being the real thing! That, in the best tradition of communism, is doublespeak!

Like any good commies, they will all probably act in the interests of their deterministic view of history and explain it away as being inevitable and 1989 as being only a hiccup...

22 November 2006

Site of the former Boulevard Hotel



The remains of the site where the Boulevard Hotel formerly stands. I wonder why the land has stood vacant for a year or so.

I recall dining at a Chinese restaurant here with my parents more than a decade ago. However things are really transient in Singapore. Posted by Picasa

Sherman M4A2 with Crab I Equipment (Flail)


The M4 Sherman tanks with flails were used to clear minefields at Normandy on D-Day and in Western Europe. With the flail tanks, the British were able to avoid excessive casualties at the beaches.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
He invented the Internet

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet" Gore said when asked to cite accomplishments that separate him from another Democratic presidential hopeful, former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN on March 9, 1999.
Singapore's Nightscape

AK
hahaha

AK
Coming soon: A brighter, more classy Singapore nightscape

AK is obviously highly amused after reading a news report. Who wouldn't be? Anyway, it's long overdue. I'm glad they are lighting up the streets.

21 November 2006

The Return of AK (Silver)

AK says:
SC!

AK says:
you're still alive

AK says:
that's pathetic

AK says:
death becomes you

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Heh.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Are you communicating with me from Hell?

AK says:
it's the other way you fool

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Where do you want me to scatter your ashes?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
There's very little left of you as I understand.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
This is so weird. A supernatural communication from hell on MSN. Like a senance. This must be a first.

AK says:
shut yer pie hole

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
All your friends were all saying bad stuff about you at the service.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
I had to tell them.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
That you deserve worse.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
How's hell? Did Lucifer give you an urinal to live in?

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
"AK says:SC!AK says:you're still alive"

You said so yourself. Therefore, I'm alive and you're dead and in hell.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Hey, were you allowed to bring your comic books to hell?

AK says:
i'm still here

AK says:
i'm mudding even

AK says:
gained 4 glevels

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
You must have done quite some evil as your spirit is still haunting the airwaves!

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Begone evil spirit! Be at rest! Go to hell!

The context? We had a long running joke where AK was supposed to perish in a fatal air crash on the way to Australia. Now that he is ...
Sd Kfz 186 Jagdtiger


The Jagdtiger was easily the most powerful vehicle of World War II which entered service. Weighing at 70 tons, the Jagdtiger only mounted a Maybach engine of about 600hp and as such was underpowered and had very limited mobility. This would limit both the tactical and strategic mobility of such a monster.


The 128mm gun of the Jagdtiger was more than capable of destroying any opponent on the battlefield and the 250mm frontal armour had rendered the Jagdtiger close to invincible. Despite the armour and firepower, the Jagdtiger could do little to stem the tide of the inexorable Allied advance.


A total of seventy-seven of these fearsome vehicles were built, of which a number saw action.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Rise & Fall: Civilisations at War

I saw this hybrid which is both a real time strategy (RTS) game and a first person shooter (FPS) though in this case, they use swords.

I am intrigued. This appears similar in concept to an earlier title, Joan of Arc, which wasn't successful. It does not appear that this game is taking the scene by storm. Heh. I will have to see.

The earliest games that employed this concept appears to be Battlezone and Battlezone 2 which were critically acclaimed but were absolutely dismal in sales.

Old Telephone


I found this old telephone in my office. Contrast that with the new one. Heh.

20 November 2006

StarDus


Now, the StarDus building at Institution Hill. This was formerly the site of the River Valley community centre. Today, I don't know where the current River Valley community centre is. What is this StarDus? Posted by Picasa
Inconceivable!

A Sideline article has just reported that John Foxx has collaborated with Robin Guthrie, the ex-frontman of the Cocteau Twins. Several tracks have been written. Inconceivable!
Eating Establishment at the junction of Lloyd Road and Killiney Road


One night... A hive of activity. Posted by Picasa
Sd Kfz 141/2 Panzerkampfwagen III


The Panzer III was the backbone of the German panzers in its role as a gun tank in its early years of victories. Initially armed with a 37mm L46.5 gun, then a 50mm L42 gun and finally a longer 50mm L60 gun, the Panzer III was instrumental in ensuring armoured superiority through a fine combination of armament, armour and speed. Most importantly, the tank had a radio and a crew of five, thus distributing the workload efficiently.

The tank featured here is the Panzer III Ausf N, armed with a short-barrelled 75mm gun for infantry support. Where the Panzer IV once supported the Panzer III with a short 75mm, the roles were reversed! By 1942-43, the Panzer III was no longer an effective gun tank due to its inability to mount a larger high velocity weapon and was relegated to providing support.

The example here had many jerry cans on the turret. Don't ask me why they were there. I don't know.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
From an article titled 'A man who hated government' on Salon

"Gen. William Westmoreland, testifying before President Nixon's Commission on an All-Volunteer [Military] Force, denounced the idea of phasing out the draft and putting only volunteers in uniform, saying that he did not want to command "an army of mercenaries." Friedman, a member of the 15-person commission, interrupted him. "General," Friedman asked, "would you rather command an army of slaves?" Westmoreland got angry: "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." And Friedman got rolling: "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries." And he did not stop: " If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general. We are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher." As George Shultz liked to say: "Everybody loves to argue with Milton, particularly when he isn't there." "
Covenant 'Brave New World'

1. Brave New World (Version)
2. Brave New World (Radio Version)
3. Brave New World (Club Version)
4. The New Virus
5. Brave New World (Tempest Remix by Client)


Hmm... New Covenant single. Competent but hardly exceptional. I have been cutting back on buying CD singles. I think I will give this one a miss.
Tony Thompson 'Gangs: A Journey into the Heart of the British Underworld'

This was an impulse buy. I picked this up at HMV one evening and finished half the book while I was at a cafe and the rest of it the day after.

I was curious. The British underworld. All I knew of it was the occasional reports on daring heists in the papers and the impressions gained from the slick British gangster movies from Guy Ritchie which felt like over the top cartoons.

Anyhow, the overview from Thompson, a veteran journalist, was highly fascinating, the reality was downright dirty, violent and involved huge amounts of money. Some of the crimes were surreal and absurd in feel, nothing like the slick silliness of gunplay seen in movies. The violence, the scale, the existence of a large underworld and the sophistication were there. As for police countermeasures? There was little hint of it.

In any case, the cover looked like a poster from a Guy Ritchie movie, but the cover came from a stock photo. Real? Probably not. It's probably a posed and touched piece.
Gregory Benford 'Artifact'

Gregory Benford, a physicist and SF writer, is known for his hard SF, especially his celebrated 'Timescape'.

'Artifact', written in the mid-80s, is pretty dire, a strange manner of a creature. It can't decide if it wants to be a political thriller or hard SF?

As a political thriller, 'Artifact' doesn't thrill and it lacks pace and plot. As a hard SF novel, the science really only starts from page 180 onwards in a 400-page affair. The premise? A mysterious 'artifact' with a strange set of properties which is explained in an afterword at the end of the novel. Ultimately, 'Artifact' is unsatisfying as a political thriller, weak as SF, horrid as a standalone novel or story and boring as a science text.

If one were interested in the science involved, one would be better off reading a well-explained and illustrated book written in the popular science vein on quantum mechanics, cosmology or such by a known writer like Michio Kaku or Stephen Hawking. Likewise for the other genres. This unholy combination of political thriller and hard SF doesn't work.

Strangely, the book is filled with characterisations of stereotyped Greeks and Italians. Europeans and people with non-Anglo-Saxon extraction seem to get killed in the novel in gruesome ways. Benford appears to harbour a strange anti-European attitude which pervades the novel and the afterword. What's the deal? Why?

Another quirk observed is the numerous lovingly described observations of women's physiques throughout the narrative. Those observations would not be out of place in a lads' magazine like Maxim or Loaded.

The prose is unconvincing, unadorned and hard to read, almost as bad as Asimov's weak prose.

I have read the tedious 'Timescape' previously and was unconvinced. I had wanted to give Benford another try. After this second attempt, I doubt if I will bother with a third.

19 November 2006

Scotts


Scotts is a mixed commercial and residential development housing six stories (including a basement) of shops and restaurants and serviced apartments operated by Ascott. This building is slated to be demolished at the end of the year to make way for another new commercial and residential development. This building is about twelve to fifteen years old. Things in Singapore are transient to say the least. Posted by Picasa
International Building


An old office-cum-commercial building in the heart of Singapore's prime shopping district, this nondescript building was given a metal facade about a decade ago. Twenty years ago, there was a Hardees' fast food joint there.


Things change. Today, it is still as sleepy as it was then when it was housing a Chinese department store. Posted by Picasa
He's like a god to all finnish players

[12:14] Balcon : Thank god I didn't miss the occasion, when Nightbreeze logged on 47 weeks ago
[12:14] Serapis : hehe
[12:14] Marlboro : Why is that?
[12:14] Marlboro grins evilly.
[12:15] Balcon : He's like a god to all finnish players

From a conversation on Dune Mud.
Sun Zi

Wei Yi said on MSN Messenger:

1929 says:
Not all of Sun Tzu's advice is still applicable. For example, he would have handled the stubborn Sunni Arabs of Iraq, and Taliban of Afghanistan, by killing them all, or driving them into exile.

Chuang Shyue Chou says:
Good point there. A political decision that would have invited world condemnation.

He's absolutely right. Genocidal policies are not likely to pass muster these days. Given the large populations of many states today, it is simply inconceivable for most First World states though Rwanda, Dafur (Sudan), Bosnia and Cambodia can still happen. And not forgetting Turkey's genocidal practices in Armenia just less than a hundred years ago and the subsequent denial.
SU-76


The SU-76 saw service from late 1942 to 1945. The SU-76 mounted a ZIS-3 76.2mm divisional gun and a machine gun on a T-60 light tank chassis. The SU-76 was later developed into the SU-76M. Unlike the ineffective T-60, T-70 and T-80 light tanks, the SU-76 mounted a useful weapon which could penetrate 49 to 62mm of armour at 900m.

Tank Museum, Bovington: July 2006 Posted by Picasa
Wait, it's the world famous John Terry!


No, it's only Brian. Heheh. And Amelia in the distance. We had just bought a lot of books. I got nine while Brian bought over fifty! He's scary.


Amelia, Lam and Brian. We were at Cafe Cartel at Siglap for dinner. I made a mistake when I wrote in my order but the management was very kind and allowed my mistake to be overlooked. I wrote in an order for a $56.00 item instead of a $13.40 chicken. I felt so guilty but the manager in charge was nice.

Brian is a Chelsea fan. I like Chelsea too as I recognise that Chelsea plays good football and has an excellent coach. And they have a good chance of depriving Man U! WOO! GO CHELSEA!

Lam scored a goal with his left foot today! He's the star! Posted by Picasa