Archive for November, 2004

Oh, we’re sinking like stones, all that we fought for

November 21, 2004  |  Tags: ,   |  

(“Don’t Panic,” by Coldplay)

So in today’s The New Paper, there was an article on how Creative’s Zen Micro stacks up against Apple’s iPod Mini. “Is Creative’s new Micro really better than the iPod Mini?”, blared the title — interesting! Let’s see what this (potentially biased Singaporean) writer has to say about how the Micro compares to the current market leader.

The writer starts off with comments by Sim Wong Hoo — “Prettier than the prettiest… Mini-er than the Mini!” — and then proceeds to describe (quite adequately) the features of the Zen Micro (vertical touch pad, 5GB capacity, size, sound quality, FM radio, battery life), followed by… the conclusion?!

But is it better than the iPod Mini? I am not a sucker for looks or cult appeal, so I will say yes.

Uh. What?!

I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from TNP… for a real comparative review, there’s Walter Mossberg’s [wsj.com] take, after all.

I am not a sucker for reporters acting as promotional mouthpieces for Singaporean companies’ products nor one-dimensional comparative reviews with unsubstantiated conclusions, so… well. Yeesh.

Comics this week (15 – 21 November)

November 20, 2004  |  Tags:   |  

Slow week…

The Originals Written and drawn by Dave Gibbons Published by DC Comics (Vertigo) Expensive little hardcover, but I haven’t read anything from Gibbons in a long time. That, and there was nothing else to buy. Hopefully this will be as good as the reviews say…

Comics this week (8-14 November)

November 15, 2004  |  Tags:   |  

Graphic novels from this past week. Mostly superhero stuff, though Secret Identity is supposed to be all serious and thought-provoking and shit.

The Pulse: Thin Air (Vol 1) Written by Brian Michael Bendis Art by Mark Bagley Published by Marvel Comics The follow-up series to Alias, and also by Bendis. How to resist? Mark Bagley’s rendition of Luke Cage is irksome, though (inconsistent features, mainly — think white man coloured to look like a black man).
She-Hulk: Single Green Female (Vol 1) Written by Dan Slott Art by Juan Bobillo Published by Marvel Comics I’d heard this was good.
Superman: Secret Identity Written by Kurt Busiek Art by Stuart Immonen Published by DC Comics Many, many good reviews about this series — been looking forward to this for a while, but now that I have it, there just isn’t that comicbooktime every week to just sit down, relax and indulge in a good story any more. It’s sad. I blame the SAF. And recently, Halo 2.

It’s always better on holiday, so much better on holiday

November 13, 2004  |  Tags:   |  

(“Jacqueline,” Franz Ferdinand)

Halo 2 + very long weekend == screw blogging.

But, for amusement’s sake:

p-kawkk

That is all.

Cut our bodies free, from the tethers of this scene

November 7, 2004  |  Tags:   |  

(“Brand New Colony,” The Postal Service)

Just when I thought this country had managed to take its first step in cutting itself free from the meaninglessness of educational rankings (see this year’s sufficiently-convincingly-revamped annual secondary school rankings), the moment someone (in this case, the Times) puts forth some kind of meaningless educational ranking, Singapore’s newspeople pounce all over it:

NUS ranked 18th among world’s top 200 universities [channelnewsasia.com, TODAY article] NUS beats top US varsities to rank No.18 [straitstimes.com.sg]

I don’t disagree with the rankings themselves — let the Times [thes.co.uk] place any amount of subjective numerical emphasis on whatever they see fit (apparently in this case these are: amount of cited research, professor-student ratio and “success in attracting international students and academics”); by doing so, they’ll probably be able to successfully represent one facet (maybe more) of an inherently abstract academic pecking order.

How these rankings were reported in the local news, however, irked me enough that I just had stay up a little longer and struggle to fight off the flu medication just to rant about it. I’m a dumbass, I know.

Also, why do I keep getting sick in time for the weekend?

Anyway, our reporters were their usual ra-ra patriotic cheerleaders, bringing us an affirmation of our national collective self-worth. Examples: ST describes how NUS has “beaten several reputable institutions, including Cornell and Columbia in the United States, to emerge No. 18,” and TODAY informs us that the rankings “place NUS above renowned names such as Columbia (ranked 19th), Cornell (23rd) and Pennsylvania (28th) in the United States; and the University College London (34th) in the United Kingdom.” Wait, let’s not forget NTU: “Not to be left out, Nanyang Technological University came in a respectable 50th, ahead of Brown (60th) in the US; King’s College, London (97th); and RMIT University (55th) in Australia.” (TODAY)

First off, all those numerical comparisons — a little insecure about how our universities stack up against the rest of the world, maybe?

What’s really annoying — and somewhat scary — is that people sensitive to these results (e.g. parents and He Who Must Not Be Named) might actually take them seriously as the be-all and end-all of university rankings of the entire world. This is possible because (1) the newspapers claim nothing to the contrary, such as how different universities specialise in different areas and how one might not be interested in going to a school purely for the number of cited research publications its faculty produces, and (2) we Singaporeans just absolutely revere rankings of any sort, hooray for ordered lists!

I can just imagine kids’ parents advising them based solely on these rankings not to apply to, say, Carnegie Mellon to do Computer Science — because “it’s ranked number 38, leh! Why don’t you go to Harvard instead?” Just imagine the carnage He Who Must Not Be Named could wreak if he realised his scholars are at universities that are ranked outside of the top 20! Shock! Horror! Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if A*Star adjusts its “acceptable university” list (that its scholarship recipients are allowed to study at) based on these rankings.

They ranked Stanford 6th, by the way. Not that I’d have gone to Berkeley (2nd) having seen these rankings, because Cal Sucks. Ack, I hope they don’t beat us too bad at Big Game this year.

Comics this week (1 – 7 November)

November 6, 2004  |  Tags:   |  

Graphic novels (fine, comicbooks) I bought this week:

Ultimate Spider-Man: Carnage (Vol 11) Written by Brian Michael Bendis Art by Mark Bagley Published by Marvel Comics
Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Vol 4) Written by Bill Willingham Art by Mark Buckingham, Craig Hamilton, Steve Leialoha, P. Craig Russell Published by DC Comics (Vertigo)

Also still reading Joe Sacco’s Palestine, which is taking much longer than usual for a graphic novel (fine, comicbook) because (1) it’s more illustrative journalism than happy fluffy comicbook fiction, (2) I’ve never been exposed to this much detail on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so it’s a lot to digest, and (3) it’s really rather depressing. Damn good, though.

Another diet fed by crippling defeat

November 4, 2004  |  Tags:   |  

(“Expo ’86,” Death Cab for Cutie)

After a couple of rather draining days at work — guard duty; some work-related nonsense; no Scrubs this week; that disheartening Bush victory won through fear and lies and gullibly* stupid Americans — I’ve actually managed to stumble across some good news.

Jon Stewart contract extension [E! Online]

From the site:

Jon Stewart, the star of Comedy Central’s Emmy-winning, headline-skewering The Daily Show, has agreed to a four-year contract extension that will keep him anchoring the mock newscast through the 2008 presidential race, the cable network announced Friday.

THANK FUCKING GOODNESS

  • Other somewhat cheery news: “gullibly” is very fun to say in repetition. Gullibly gullibly gullibly.

Light up, light up, as if you have a choice

November 2, 2004  |  Tags:   |  

(“Run,” Snow Patrol)

I can’t believe I’m actually missing the existence of 24-hour every-major-news-channel coverage of today’s big event. Maybe I should camp in the Ops Room tomorrow to keep up with the numbers like statistics from some inexplicably fascinating sports game. On which the lives of thousands (and gallons of oil!! and billions in rich people’s money! umm, nevermind) depend on.

Aaagh! The waiting!