31 October 2007
Astounding. Someone has managed to take an image of him with her mobile phone. It was probably only a matter of time.
Ironically, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and others have paid thousands for his works but in a report in the Times:
"Banksy has let it be known what he thinks of the high prices his works fetch, writing on his website: “I can’t believe you morons buy this s***.” "
Simply too funny. Personally I am not a fan of Banksy but I am amused by the entire affair, the value attached to his graffiti work, the publicity that his antics generated and more.
Banksy does have a great sense of humour though.
30 October 2007
I just saw a fascinating set of paintings done by an artist, James Hart Dyke on the current wars. What was striking was the 'every day' feel of the images, which was, needless to say, at odds with the images protrayed in many Hollywood movies.
29 October 2007
I just finished reading 'Istanbul: Memories of a City' by the Nobel Prize-winning Orhan Pamuk, 'Modesty Blaise' by Peter O'Donnell and 'Football and Gangsters: How organised crime controls the beautiful game' by Graham Johnson.
I had bought 'Istanbul' in 2005 before he won the Nobel Prize. Before I had managed to get around to reading the book, the pages had turned yellow with spots! Books would not survive well in the humidity here, acid-free paper or otherwise. A pity.
I had previously read on the history of the Byzantines, the power structures and history of the Ottomans and more.
I am currently reading 'My Name is Red' by Orhan Pamuk, 'Ancient Rome' (a compiled and edited volume) and 'Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World' by Stephen Oppenheimer. I have Pamuk's 'The White Castle' lying around somewhere. I have been meaning to read 'Captain Alatriste' by Arturo Perez-Reverte soon.
What are you reading? I guess it is a perennial question that I ask my friends.
'No money no hamburgers!' What a delightful piece of animation! Gorgeous and evocative backgrounds. Eccentric character designs like no other that I had seen. Hilarious! Cabaret singers, gangsters, Tour de France, the imaginery metropolis of Belleville! Wow!
I had wanted to watch it when it first came out in 2003 or 2004 but I had missed it. I finally picked up a region 3 edition for S$9.95 at HMV. I watched this little piece last night
1. Saw Something
3. Deeper And Deeper
4. 21 Days
6. Use You
9. A Little Lie
I picked the new Dave Gahan album 'Hourglass' when I visited HMV on Saturday afternoon. I had finally managed to listen through it a few times. The first three tracks were electronically driven pieces with merit with 'Kingdom' being the lead single. Strong powerful lead off. However, the album began to trail off after the third track. 'Use you' had potential but the chorus was extremely annoying and repetitive. 'We have each other, you're my brother..' Nooooooooooo!
Given Gahan and his companion's splendid songwriting in 'Playing the Angel', I would have thought that this effort would be a stronger one than their first album. Sadly, it was not so.
28 October 2007
I also noted that the old Sheraton/ANA Hotel was finally being demolished.
27 October 2007
Last night was a night of accidental meetings with old acquaintances and colleagues. I was browsing at Borders after a hunt for books at PageOne earlier when I bumped into Serene. Then, I bumped into the person formerly known as Cynthia. She was now Victoria. Well, they looked pretty much the same as when I knew them about seven to eight years back.
I stumbled upon Hog's Breath at Vivocity last night. I found it tucked in a secluded corner on the third floor when I was dodging a crowd of dizzy, screaming teenagers which had gathered to gawk at the Rock, a some time wrestler and thespian wannabe who presumably was set up to be the Arnie of the 21st Century, albeit, lacking Arnie's screen presence, which really wasn't saying much.
I ordered the Tex-Mex Combo which came cold! The steak was rubbery and cold. The chicken wrap thingie was cold as were the fries and rice. The mushroom soup was watery and had something weird inside. This little adventure reminded me of the period just before the demise of Denny's, Chilli's, Planet Hollywood and TGIF franchise in Singapore when the quality of the food served deteriorated alarmingly. They were clearly on their last legs then. I would be sticking to Outback, Black Angus and Hard Rock Cafe when it came to food of this kind.
The two concessions? The service was good. The view from the bar counter overlooked the bridge adjoining Sentosa. Magical!
26 October 2007
Peter Dennis, an illustrator whose work had graced the covers of some of the Osprey titles, shared his technique in an blog entry. He provided a step-by-step narrative of how he was given a sketch by the author of the volume. There, he would prepare sketches and acquire the necessary models. The whole process was quite instructive.
I was grateful for his generosity in sharing this.
The denial of the Armenian genocide in the early 1900s, is indicative that the Turkish majority has not still not come to terms with the myriad minority groups within the country.
From the an article in the Independent:
"It is no longer an irrelevant relic of its failed bid to lead the 15 million Turkish Kurds to independence which collapsed after its military defeat in the 1990s and the capture of its leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1999."
"But the strength of the PKK position has less to do with geography and more to do with the politics of the region. Since it was founded in 1978 the PKK has always benefited from Ankara's refusal to recognise that there is a Kurdish minority and the stifling of all means of constitutional protest. It still does."
Will Turkey now send its army into northern Iraq?
25 October 2007
I am frustrated. I have an old IBM Aptiva which houses an ancient Pentium 200. The old Aptiva is housed in an industrial-strength chassis. Heavy, impenetratable, and likely to withstand hits from RPGs. Try as I may, I just cannot not prise the solid metal covers from the casing. I need the information in the hard disk inside the casing.
24 October 2007
The USAF is considering upgrading the radars of its fleet of F-15C fighters to an AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array). The consistent defeat of F-15s by Su-30MKI in simulations was a major factor.
Quoting from the Defence Industry Daily:
"With cruise missile defense rising in importance, and longer-range detection of threats desired, upgrades are necessary. They may also correct a known air-air weakness that can reputedly be exploited by aircraft like Russia's SU-30 family. Thus far, 18 USAF F-15Cs have been modified to carry APG-63v2 radars – a misnomer, since the upgrade uses a revolutionary new technology that bears little resemblance to its predecessor."
In recent years, the Indonesian and Malaysian procurement of the Su-30MKI had brought a new dimension in terms of long range strike capability for this region. The replacement of the Singaporean A-4SU Super Skyhawks by the F-15SG with its AESA radar would provide Singapore with an equivalent strike and air defence capability to its neighbours.
Quoting from the Defence Industry Daily:
"The F-15SG will be an advanced version of the U.S. Air Force's F-15E Strike Eagle, with minor customization to Singapore's specifications and the most up-to-date avionics available. The higher-thrust GE F110 engine will be used in place the Pratt & Whitney F100 engines that power some F-16s and most F-15s. AN/APG-63v3 AESA radars will be included, and there are rumors that a number of Israeli electronics and self-defense systems will be part of the F-15SG as well. Sniper XR surveillance & ground targeting pods, and IRST systems built in for air-air engagements, will also be added to Singapore's standard equipment list."
The recent Thai announcement of their purchase of the JAS-39 Gripen had signalled a general modernisation of the regional air forces.
Image source: Boeing
Sketch and watercolour with pigment ink of the Grumman TBF Avenger. Marie's Watercolours, Chung Hwa Pencils, Faber-Castell Pigment Ink.
The Grumman TBF Avenger (and also TBM as built by Eastern Motors, a GM subsidiary) was one of the great aircraft that assisted in turning the tide against the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1942.
Oh no! My old trusty and thirsty (for cartridges that is!) Lexmark Z25 Inkjet is not supported on Windows Vista. Lexmark does not seem to be updating their drivers. This is annoying. I will have to find a means to print.
I will really prefer not to have to purchase a new printer just for Windows Vista.
I guess this means that this will be my last Lexmark product too.
23 October 2007
Sketch and watercolour with pigment ink of the Douglas TBD Devastator. Marie's watercolours, Chung Hwa pencils, Faber-Castell pigment ink. Simple sketch.
The Devastator torpedo bombers valiently attacked the Imperial Japanese Navy at Midway, sacrificing themselves in an attempt to sink the Japanese aircraft carriers. After that action where the majority of the aircraft were wiped out, the Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers became the mainstay of the US Navy.
This little sketch is a tribute to those brave men who defied the Imperial Japanese Navy and paving the way to eventual victory.
22 October 2007
A sketch of two Douglas SBD Dauntless divebombers. Diverbombers of this type were instrumental in smashing the aircraft carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy at Midway in June 1942, thus saving civilisation as we know it.
Watercolour, pencils, pigment ink sketch. Faber-Castell pigment ink pens, 0.1, 0.2, Maries' Water Colours and Chung Hwa pencils.
I had thought that those vacant taxis circling around nightspots were deliberately waiting for telephone calls for increased revenue while refusing to pick passengers up. However, I learned from a Sunday Times report that apparently, they were actually violating their taxi contract, in a way, touting. They were on the prowl for the ignorant and the naive as to charge them fixed rates of $20.00 to $35.00 per trip. These taxi drivers had this practice for ages. They had also been playing a cat and mouse game with the taxi company inspectors and could easily recognise those inspectors by sight. They also maintained lists of fellow errant drivers as to provide some sort of an early warning system. One of the drivers as quoted in the report was said to have a list of over 130 names.
This really explained quite a bit why we often see empty vacant taxis circling around Clarke Quay and refusing to stop when one tried flagging them down.
Anyway, I take buses and trains.
I am still reeling from the F1 Grand Prix result. Staggering! At least, the two tainted drivers from McLaren didn't win.
21 October 2007
20 October 2007
19 October 2007
18 October 2007
Astounding! Thailand is purchasing twelve JAS-39 Gripens. Operating this aircraft is a lot more practical than the Su-30MKI fighters that Malaysia and Indonesia have procured. Of course, given the foreign policies of these two 'Islamic' states and that the JAS-39 multi-role fighters mount American engines (hence spare parts are going to be dependent on the USA), it is obvious why the Su-30MKI was chosen.
Thailand will also be purchasing two Saab S-1000 Erieye Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
Meanwhile, the Swedes must be really elated as it was reported in an Australian paper that a Thai officer had said that they had preferred F-16Cs and F-16Ds but the Americans were not allowed to sell arms to governments that had been ousted by coups.
Go Thai military junta go! WOO!
I bet the Burmese military junta are drooling.
17 October 2007
Yes, under the Mahathir regime, they have procured a massive armoury. The military build-up under the Mahathir regime were part of their 'modernising' programme which involved hundreds of AIFV types, MBTs, fighters and more.
There is a need for an awareness of this build-up.
It is not unexpected that the Malaysian procurement and deployment of the ASTROS-2 rocket launchers would lead to a similar purchase amongst the neighbouring nations. In this case, Singapore placed an order for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) earlier this year.
The exact composition of the Singaporean order was stated as:
18 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) Launchers.
32 XM31 Unitary High Explosive GMLRS Pods. these have been used in the current Iraq war, where their sudden strike and GPS-guided ability to hit buildings and other hardened structures with their 196 pound single warhead have proven very useful. Each 6-rocket pod carries 227mm rockets with a range of about 60-70 km.
30 M28A1 Multiple Launcher Rocket Systems (MLRS) Practice Rocket Pods.
9 M1084A1 Family of Medium Truck Vehicles (FMTV); 5-Ton Trucks. FMTV trucks are also the basis for the HIMARS launchers.
1 M1089A1 Wrecker. the M1089 is an FMTV truck variant with towing and winching capability that can get a HIMARS vehicle out of trouble in case of treacherous sand, mud, making close friends with the local roadside ditch, etc.
35 VRC-990 Vehicular Radio Communications Sets.
45 VRC-950 Vehicular Radio Communications Sets.
35 VRC-92E Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radios Systems (SINCGARS). SINCGARS is the current standard for US radio systems.
45 VRC-90E SINCGARS.
and other support equipment.
The Malaysian government has today signed a contract for the purchase from Airbus Military of four A400M military airlifters.
The contract, signed in Langkawi by Malaysia’s Secretary General for Defence, Tan Sri Subhan Jasmon brings the number of firm orders for A400M to 192 aircraft."
16 October 2007
15 October 2007
I had wondered as to the number of people using automated scripts (bots), and other forms of cheats in the World of Warcraft. When I first started playing WOW when it was first launched in the US some two years or so ago, I had not witnessed anything besides the occasional farmer at work.
Then, I begun hearing about banned accounts and cheats. In many other games that I play, which were mostly browser-based ones, anti-cheating measures were usually deployed swiftly after the initial conception. ie Duels, DuneMUD, etc.
It would appearing that cheating or beating the system had become more important than playing the game? Would this be a form of 'gaming' in its own right then?
14 October 2007
I was at Fat Boy's later when I met Kim Yong. I had not seen him for twelve or thirteen years at least. I spent a fair bit of time speaking to him, Yopi and another gamer who was at the Singapore Open Gaming. He had taught me Thurn and Taxis earlier.
13 October 2007
I had expected Al Gore to easily win the Nobel Prize this year. And he did. He did invent the internet and save the world you know. After all, Arafat the Terrorist had also won one too. So, it's alright.
Meanwhile Doris Lessing picked one up. Good for her. She deserved it. I had read 'Briefing for a Descent into Hell' in 1991 and found the landscape which she had sketched on her literary canvas to be haunting.
I was at Borders earlier. As I was departing, I saw a brigade of twenty or so happy Malay bikers at the junction of Orchard Road and Scotts Road, no doubt celebrating Hari Raya. When the lights turned green, off they went, roaring into the night!
At least, they weren't loud, like some bengs with their bikes with removed mufflers.
12 October 2007
11 October 2007
Otoko-tachi no Yamato was a war drama about a group of Japanese cadets who were sent to crew the Yamato in 1943 and were present in all actions till the Yamato's death voyage in April 1945. The movie was viewed through the eyes of the young 15-year cadets but had a documentary style narrative element which combined real war footage. Pearl Harbour, Midway, Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, Saipan were mentioned and period news reels were spliced in between.
I had read that this 2005 production on the Yamato of the Imperial Navy dethroned 'Spirited Away' becoming the most successful Japanese film of all time. It was this patriotic and nationalistic outing that had struck a cord with mass Japanese audiences in terms the Japanese all-time box office takings. Rather intriguing that it had connected with the current Japanese psyche. What could that imply? Well...
I had thought that the movie would be made mostly with the wizardry of Japanese SFX but I learned from Brian that a full scale 1:1 set of the Yamato was built. The filmmakers had built 190 metres of the 264 metre long ship. There weren't much computer-generated graphics in evidence.
The turrets built for the movie were pretty impressive. The Type 96 25mm anti-aircraft guns were realistic for instance.
The movie was pretty much melodrama fare with the production standards of a TV serial. The dialogue were likewise at a melodrama level, uninspired. Acting consisted mostly of sailors shouting, making loud proclamations, screaming loudly in pain, scolding others loudly, and more loud patriotic utterances. Everyone shouted throughout the 144 minutes of the length of the film.
Meanwhile, shots of the ship were always of the front hull and turrets for good reason, the other parts weren't constructed. As such, one could actually feel a sense of restriction throughout. The smaller scale models or possibly computer-generated ones of aerial bombardment were somewhat unclear, small and unsatisfactory.
The American aircraft depicted included the SBC-2 Helldiver, TBF Avenger, PBY Catalina and F-6F Hellcat. However, at various times, a radial-engined American aircraft with rounded wing-tips could be seen diving at the Yamato. What was this mysterious aircraft? It was hard to say as the three abovementioned aircraft had square cut-off wing tips. The F-4U Corsair was not in evidence in this movie either.
Regarding the Imperial Navy culture protrayed, the Japanese navy was into beatings when it came to discipline. The movie had depicted that aspect well, illuminating the brutality of the discipline within the service. The kendo and sum practices, the emphasis on food, the war effort in munitions manufacturing in Hiroshima, the realisation of the futility of the suicide mission and the acceptance that the order was from the emperor made for an interesting cultural exposition. Fatalism? You bet, it was there in the bucketloads.
The movie was, of course, worth watching as it might have reflected the attitude of this filmmaker and possibly that of the current Japanese psyche.
I had decided to stop playing Warbook. It was taking too much time. As coins generated more coins, constant investment was needed, in other words, hourly husbanding of resources. Secondly, unspent coins were in danger of being lost through raids. As lost coins would constitute a percentage, a fraction of a small number would thus limit losses.
The game was deterministic and linear, limited by very strict obvious formulae despite the inclusion of a random factor. It was not to my taste after a while despite making steady progress. Thus I stopped playing.
10 October 2007
08 October 2007
And the recriminations have started. Referee's fault, Osama bin Laden's fault, David Beckham's fault, etc. Hilarious!
07 October 2007
Bungalow Tapas Bar & Grill is at United Square. Recommended.
06 October 2007
I had heard through the album twice. Standout tracks included 'Stiff Kittens', 'On a Friday', and 'Snuff on Digital'. In my opinion, the vocals were a lot more exuberant than Dave Gahan's controlled and measured vocals in early Depeche Mode (and I preferred the early Gahan vocals). From what I had heard, Blaqk Audio had elements of the Faint, Condition One, Fischerspooner and Duran Duran rather than Depeche Mode. Maybe, the beginning of 'Stiff Kittens' was a little reminiscent, otherwise...
05 October 2007
My friends' statistics:
Magician, Level 3
Visionary, Level 10
Magician, Level 4
Anthony the Swordsman
Visionary, Level 6
General, Level 1
Kuoby the Hobbit
Magician, Level 11
Mogul, Level 4
Your Kingdom's size:
Your income is increased by 104,190.
Your defensive power is increased by 35.5%.
Your army's size:
Not too good. Oh well. I need to boost my defences.
I hope that everyone, in their zeal to support the demonstrating militant monks in Burma, will remember the oppressed minorities, including the Karens, Mons and Shans, who have been fighting the majority Burmans for the last fifty years. It is hypocritical if the rights of the majority are remembered while those of these tribal peoples are neglected.
Buy one full-priced CD and get another at 50% off.
Valid till 18th October 2007. Not much but better than nothing. Besides Borders has got a decent classical music section. One can say that for any music store in Singapore except for HMV.
04 October 2007
Anthony is a pirate at level 17.
Tony is an explorer at level 8.
Siu Hean is an explorer at level 8.
Alex is an explorer at level 6.
Quite a few explorers there. I have a level 9 trader now.
I must say that I am surprised. I have not thought that I will say this but a locally-based company, Tyler Projects, has astounded me with an addictive little gem of a game: Mobile Weapon: Battle Stations. It's a game set in an alternate Victorian world of flying sailing ships and aerial cities. Steampunk essentially! Players take on the roles of explorers, pirates, traders and more, fighting duels, exploring and trading while piloting a plethora of ships and dazzling array of weapons.
One more thing, the game has great art direction. At least, I like it.
03 October 2007
I first watched the John Wayne directed and starred film, 'The Green Berets', over two decades ago and it left little impression except that of a rotund man scrolling around in a beret then. I was watching it again just now. 'The Green Berets' was based on a book by Robin Moore who had also wrote 'The French Connection' which formed the basis of an Oscar winning film.
I had a few thoughts of this clumsily directed patriotic film. Firstly, the script and the dialogue felt extremely artificial. It was as if the main characters were in a bad Western. Granted that a lot of the special forces type did and do come from the south, the dialogue here was simply laughable. I guessed it was just old-fashioned in its approach.
Like Mel Gibson directed 'We were Soldiers', the countryside did not felt tropical at all. Even if it were meant to protray the Central highlands, there should not be orange foliage which was the sign of autumn and that of a temperate forest. Later, I discovered that a lot of the movie was directed in Fort Benning, Georgia.
The orientals in the movie, including the Vietnamese and Montegnards, spoke like book oriental villains of the 1930s comic book variety, a kind of Fu Manchu-cum-Charlie Chan. Each time they spoke or the Montegnard child appear, there would be accompaniment of some pseudo-oriental music.
The scenes of the UH-1 helicopters were not bad at all, as were the protrayal of the small arms used. The explosions in the film felt artificial too. One last note, the movie was made in 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War and was thus contemporary.
02 October 2007
Likewise, I am not active anymore. I kill my daily quota of NPCs and that is about it. The new 'pets' feature in the game is a yawn. It's like a new overpriced item without the power loading.
01 October 2007
I just discovered this little gem on Facebook. Mobile Weapon Battle Stations. Fascinating! I am going to give this a go!
My character is level 5 after the expenditure of about 250+ Action Points (AP).