28 July 2010

Taipan Trader scores

Kuoby is incredible. His score in 600 turns is out of this world. How on earth did he manage that? I am puzzled. What did that dim little Kuobbit do?


I have been trying for achievements now. Then, I will try for a long term cruise to attempt to close up with the Kuobbit.
Posted by Picasa

27 July 2010

Mao Mao and Mimi

Mao Mao, the mean-looking thing. Heheh.

And Mimi, the friendly cat!
Posted by Picasa

Taipan Trader


Kuoby pointed out a new Facebook game, Taipan Trader recently. I started playing and it is addictive. It is an adaptation of the old Apple IIe game, Taipan. This new version has better graphics and also some additions where one can pay real money to get advantages. My sisters and I spent many happy hours playing Taipan in the early eighties. What memories.
Posted by Picasa

25 July 2010

Novena Square and Marina Bay Sands

On Friday afternoon, I was at Spinelli's at Novena Square and I did a pencil draft of the basketball court outside. The perspective from that angle was intriguing.

Later that evening, I was at the Esplanade and I did a pencil draft of the Marina Bay Sands.

I managed to finish the two of the sketches this evening. I will see about putting them up in time to come.
Posted by Picasa

22 July 2010

Hubris: A case of a rotten apple

Recent events bring a concept to mind. George W. Bush and his neocon and neolib cronies had been the perfect illustration of that immediately after the invasion of Iraq. Now, it is Apple and its iPhone 4 crisis.

Firstly, a reminder from Wikipedia:


Hubris (also hybris; pronounced /ˈhjuːbrɪs/ due to the hypercorrection of the Greek spelling due to the incorrect transcription of /u/ for /ὕ/) means extreme haughtiness or arrogance. Hubris often indicates being out of touch with reality and overestimating one's own competence or capabilities, especially for people in positions of power.

Hubris appears in the terms "act of hubris," and "hubristic."


The recent Apple iPhone 4 flaw and the public relations fiasco after is a perfect illustration of the Greek concept of hubris. The derision which the consumers were treated by advising that they hold the sorry devices differently was an act of hubris.

From Dictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary):

hu·bris  (hyōō'brĭs)   
n. Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance: "There is nosafety in unlimited technological hubris" (McGeorge Bundy). 

[Greek, excessive pride, wanton violence see  ud-  in Indo-European roots.] 
hu·bris'tic  (-brĭs'tĭk)  adj. hu·bris'tic·al·ly  adv.


Then came the second act of hubris. There was nothing wrong, the display of the signal bars would be corrected. Utterly dismissive.

From Encylopaedia Britannica:



hubris
in Classical Athenian usage, the intentional use of violence tohumiliate or degrade. The most famous example was the case ofMeidias, who punched the orator Demosthenes in the face when thelatter was dressed in ceremonial robes and performing an officialfunction. Hubris could also characterize rape. Hubris was a crime atleast from the time of Solon (6th century BC), and any citizen couldbring charges against another party, as was the case also fortreason or impiety. (In contrast, only a member of the victim'sfamily could bring charges for murder.) 


And the final act, act III, is where the other mobile devices were compared and run down. The fiasco certainly did not dent Apple's share price. Instead, a week after the announcement that rubber cases of sorts will be grudgingly provided, Apple announced their highest ever quarterly revenue, a staggering US$15.7 billion.

Whatever it is, at the rate the Apple juggernaut is steamrolling all before it, it will soon be the company with the highest capitalisation. Apple share prices are set to rise as will its arrogance, they have risen in tandem over the years. The drama of the evil empire of Apple and its servile Macheads will be one of the most interesting to watch in the years to come, especially when it has an iCon at its head. Enjoy the show!

21 July 2010

A Quietness Within

A Quietness Within. My new blog dedicated to drawing. There will be a lot of new drawings as well as older ones from this blog which I will repost there. Do join me there if you should so desire.
Posted by Picasa

Inception

I watched 'Inception' at Lido with James (tentacled Rango) and Siu Hean (Deep One) last night. This big budget action vehicle is the latest brainchild of Christopher Nolan, a creator and crafter of elegant films such as 'Memento', 'The Prestige' and 'Insomnia'. Featuring lots of gunplay, this action film, and I like action films, has a very layered plot involving dreams.Like what Siu Hean was describing, 'Inception was 'linear' and plotted like 'Chinese boxes. This, of course, culminated in a time-pressed and predictable explosive finale, all rather enjoyable.

The last bit of 'Inception', that of a spinning top yet wobbling top, would be a standard operating practice of any good Hollywood movie these days, leaving openings for sequels in the near future.


Three simple possibilities.

  1. He didn't make it out.
  2. It was a dreamword to begin with, there was another layer.
  3. The top will topple. This is the real world. 

In case 1 and 2, there is room for a sequel.

In any case, 'Inception' does resonate with me in that my dreams, being often photorealistic, are of dreamscapes of places and sometimes, I will wake up within another dream... A few nights ago, I had a dream of a sniper rifle being stolen from me in a European coffee house and I had to browbeat in order to get it back. It was strange. There was another that had me waiting in a commercial complex of some sort.

If you do enjoy 'Inception', I should think that the same themes are explored in 'The Thirteenth Floor' and the enigmatic 'eXistenZ' years before. There is, of course, the ubiquitous everyman movie, 'The Matrix', with its gunplay and violence.

19 July 2010

Dreamscapes

Dreams. What is strange about the dreams I have had is that the surreal locales have not resembled any place that I have been to nor any place that I had seen in the printed medium or moving medium. If this were the result of my fevered unconsciousness, how then, were these conjured? These photorealistic locales? Is this unsettling? Yes, it does make one question if there is another reality that is close by... very close by...

A Dream of Canton

One humid night last week, I dreamed of Canton. It was not the Canton or rather, the Guangzhou of the waking world, rather, it was a place in a different reality, a lively city where the broad boulevards were teeming with people, where clean, white concrete blocks soared into the sun, and squealing children played in whirling merry-go-rounds in the playgrounds. I had left a hotel which seemed to have been stuck in the decades past. Leaving the lobby of bronzed granite and golden fixtures and I had embarked on a journey. I was riding an elevated monorail which was threading its way between the highly ordered but anonymous building, their white, gleaming facades, punctured by the numerous windows.

The Canton that I had travelled to had no relation with that of the waking world except in name, it was a reality that did not resemble any place that I had travelled to or seen in any media, be it television or film or the printed medium.

The embrace of the darkness

In with the new! After half a decade of that old green and blue look, I have decided on another template offered by Google, a flat black one! Whee! This new one seems a lot more customisable, that is, one can delve into design rather than tweaking the underlying code which can be problematic. I will see what can be done in the meantime.


I will also be editing the old links. I will be updating them and removing those that I have not been reading. The links section will be a lot more focused in future.

A last look at the old and familiar. Hmm.. It is definitely time for a change. Whee!

18 July 2010

I will be creating a separate blog for drawings. I will repost all my previous drawings to that one which will consist mainly of completed drawings and also the better ones. This blog will still have current work in progress, doodles, mistakes and completed work. I will also re-title my reposted pieces.

I will also, in time to come, create one about military affairs and military history. I learned after five years that a mixed blog with everything does not work at all.

15 July 2010

Subterranean dreams

The dreams had come in the early hours of dawn, stealing in and filling my subconsciousness with fresh tales. The story this time was strangely about the design of a game where the protagonist venturing as a slave-miner within in a dim, subterranean world, had discovered a violent calling or as that of a gladiator who had embarked on a quest of vengeance and blood.

This was the only fragment that I had remembered.

M-346 Trainers for Singapore?

StrategyPage has announced that Singapore will be buying 48 Aermacchi M-346 trainers. 48? Really?

I wonder as to the reliability of this article. I checked the Ministry of Defence website but saw nothing mentioned there.

Has there been a leak?

Addendum

I did more checking and found that piece of news on Wikipedia and upi. Upi.com's source is apparently from an article from Defense News. Hmm.. The upi article quoted an unidentified source as did the Defense News article.



Addendum II

This is open news. Every media in the world except the local media had reported on it. On the 12th of July, in Jane's, it is stated:

"The Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has selected Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 aircraft ahead of Korea Aerospace Industries' (KAI's) T-50 Golden Eagle to meet its advanced jet trainer (AJT) requirement, a MINDEF official revealed to Jane's on 7 July.

Colonel Darius Lim, the director of public affairs, said that MINDEF is currently seeking to enter discussions with Alenia Aermacchi about the purchase of the aircraft, although he gave no indication as to when these negotiations might commence."


In an article in Flight Global on the 8th of July:

" "The South Koreans have been informed that the T-50 is no longer in contention, even though Singapore has not yet signed a contract with Aermacchi," says an industry source familiar with the discussions."


And in an entry in a blog about Korea:

"Official announcement won’t come until mid-July, but top industry sources indicate that an agreement is pretty much a done deal."


" July 8, 2010: Singapore has reportedly shot down Korea Aerospace Industries and chosen Alenia Aermacchi for military jet trainer aircraft, DefenseNews reports from Seoul."

""I've been told that the T-50 suffered another defeat apparently, as the M-346 has been picked up as the preferred bidder for the trainer jet contest in Singapore," the report quoted an unidentified industry source. "The Singapore government has yet to make public the result of its decision … and is expected to announce it soon."
The report said KAI spokesmen were unavailable for comment and an Aermacchi spokesman offered no information. A spokesman for Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration couldn't confirm the report."


The local media has absolutely nothing on it. There was hardly any mention of a competition of for a trainer. Given that this is a major purchase and a major use of the taxpayers' money, one would think that there would be more coverage.

Oh well. I know why one can't rely only on the local media.

Relegation candidates

The new season is almost upon us. Which teams do you think will be relegated in 2011?

  • Arsenal
  • Aston Villa
  • Birmingham
  • Blackburn Rovers
  • Blackpool
  • Bolton Wanderers
  • Chelsea
  • Everton
  • Fulham
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester City
  • Manchester United
  • Newcastle United
  • Stoke City
  • Sunderland
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • West Bromwich Albion
  • West Ham United
  • Wigan Athletic
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers

My 2009 prediction had two teams correctly picked.

This time, I think it will be the following:

  • Blackpool
  • West Bromwich Albion
  • Wigan

What do you think? Which teams do you think will get relegated?

My fondest hope will be that Manure (Manchester United) get relegated but you know it won't happen. If there is any danger, Manure will buy its way out of trouble, much like how they bought their titles over the last two decades.

14 July 2010

Dreaming of the city

Dreaming. When dreams intruded upon reality. It was disorientating when your dreams could appear more real than waking reality.

My interminable dreams last night was a poignant case in point, being a long series of enigmatic narratives, set in a vast city of labyrinthine streets, enclosed by silent buildings of three stories, basking in the glow of blue sodium lights.

In this quiet city bathed by surreal colours of lights and shadows, I had wandered through the empty rooms, climbed crumbling ladders of iron, and clambered through hatchways with elaborately cast hatches. I had found myself in the midst of many people, some of whom were dancing wildly in strange concentric formations and I made my way through these multitudes, driven towards some mysterious destination.

I found myself at the foot of an old stately bungalow, forlorn in its wasted state, formerly, being the India House. This abandoned white-washed structure, now stained with dirt, had seemed to have been slated for hasty demolition and then whimsically forgotten. Within the heart, I was directed by an old, wizened Indian jaga to the upper reaches of the spacious bungalow.

I strode through the empty interiors, ascending the floors via a strange circular ramp within the heart of the old bungalow which had seeming want to whisper to one of its myriad, forgotten tales of a glorious past. In a decrepit room, filled with old, faded rosewood furniture, I found Lyn, dressed in a set of burnished cobalt-blue plate armour with highly exaggerated ornate features. I recalled donning a set of the armour and glancing curiously at a full-length standing mirror, amazed and yet delighted at my visage.

I had departed from the bungalow later and was within the metropolis, now, busy with the snarling roar of traffic. Crossing a smog-filled street full of cars, framed by the golden glow of a late afternoon sun, I was in a building, housing well-furnished but seemingly empty offices. There was a gaunt figure in a small room within an office clad in bluish light and shadows. It was Wilfrid, a person who I know on Facebook and in the blogs had never had the pleasure of meeting yet. He was there, listening to a girl singing the eerie Doctor Who theme in Chinese on the radio. Strains of the theremin interspersed with a sultry Chinese voice emanated from an unseen radio.**

It was a mysterious series of experiences and when I woke up, these images had lingered in my mind. I stumbled downstairs, dazed, with my mind filled with images of a stone-hewed metropolis of ornate European buildings from the turn of the century.

Was it only a dream? Fragments of a false reality? A shadow world of Platonic proportions? An echo of my waking reality?

*I had drawn photo-realistic images from my dreams in some instances. This time, this was difficult if not impossible.
** Yes, the theme is instrument but the words had made no sense to me except I had remembered it as Chinese.

12 July 2010

X-Men: The Last Stand

I watched 'X-Men: The Last Stand' on DVD four years after the theatrical release. Wow, this instalment had killed off a lot of the principal cast, leaving little room for a fourth. However, the ending had cleverly left openings for another if great enough commercial success should warrant it.

I was not a reader of the X-Men comics previously and many of the superheroes were unfamiliar. I was never into power fantasies like superheroes, Sandman, vampires, angels and all that anyhow.

Still, I must admit that it took courage to temper with known canon and take great liberties with it, like killing off characters.

World Cup

I didn't stay up to watch the World Cup last night but my father and sister did. Either way, I am pleased that there is a new World Cup winner this time round. Having Spain or the Netherlands win would have been great either way. Heheh. Spain, worthy winners.

The X-Files: I want to believe

'The X-Files: I want to believe' movie was one of the worst that I have seen in years. I watched it on DVD last night. These adjectives come to mind: Boring, predictable, bland, forgettable, tedious...

There was a distinct lack of tension, a rather detached feel regarding the plot and the lives of character involved, a severe lack of pacing and structure. This movie has cured me of whatever nostalgia I may have had for this lousy franchise.

10 July 2010

This looks like a fine day for sketching. After work, I will head out to town to sketch.

Where will I go and have coffee while I sketch? Spinelli's? Charley T's? Decisions, decisions.

The World Cup Final

I am actually indifferent as to who will win the World Cup. I like both teams, Spain and the Netherlands. Both of the teams have not ever won the World Cup before, hence, it is a romance of sorts, a new World Cup winner.

It does seem that Spain has an edge according to most pundits.

2:30 am. Unearthly hour. I will not be staying up. I will need to work on Monday. What about you?

A pile of books

I was at Borders earlier and I ended up with the following:

  • Tacitus 'Histories 4-5', Annals '1-3'.
  • Diamonds are Forever - Ian Flemming
  • The Romance of Tristan - Beroul
  • The Pornography of Power: Why Defence must be cut - Robert Scheer
  • Symposium - Plato
  • Napoleon's Guns 1792-1815 (2): Heavy and Siege Artillery - René Chartrand
  • Rights of Man - Thomas Paine
  • Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta - Gore Vidal
  • The Alexiad - Anna Comnena
  • Incandescence - Greg Egan
  • The Peloponnesian War (Hobbes Translation) - Thucydides
  • For your eyes only - Ian Flemming
  • Double Star - Robert A. Heinlein
  • Italy and its invaders - Girolamo Arnaldi

Phew! I tossed five or six back. Weeded out stuff included a complete book of poems by Blake, a narrative of Joan of Arc by a French historian and more.