Jon Stewart’s America (The Book) is @#$% hilarious!

Wow. It was a couple of years ago that I’ve started to be interested in politics, but I’ve finally gotten my hands on America (The Book), A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction. No just the original, but I got the Teacher’s Edition, which contains ‘corrections’ from a professor in the form of handwritten notes on the margins of the text. The notes point out inaccuracies in the original text, sometimes with insight and sometimes with the professor’s informed opinion, almost all with hilarious results.
The book is really laugh out loud funny, and there is this picture of all the 9 Supreme Court Justices naked. Hey it’s crude, but when I looked at the page I laughed so hard!

Samsung UpStage: Man, do we love it when they do a pissing contest

Did I mention I was blown away with the iPhone by Apple? The design was astounding, with functionality in a lovely form factor.
Here comes another upstart to the throne: Upstage by Samsung. Dual sided beauty offering similar features to the iPhone, including the form factor. And it comes earlier too.
We do love it when companies keep one-upping each other to seduce the consumers. It is during times like these that I keep thinking how left out we are over here when the big guns over there flaunt their toys while the rest of us here drool.
Ah well. Good things come to those who wait.
Personally, I’m simply waiting for the same wow-like form factor design applied to a useable PDA phone device. I really really like to do whatever I want with a phone, including email and reading ebooks.

A short thought about Guy Gavriel Kay’s Ysabel

I just finished Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay. Forced to read despite by hellish schedule because the weekend maid forced me out of my office at home with a vacuum cleaner. Ended up getting sucked in (sorry!) the book so hard – frenzied reading in 2 days.
Very different book from GGK this time around – not as deep as a regular historical fantasy that he usually writes, but offers a simple plot and an engaging story. GGK’s trademark thoughtful and evocative ending is back after he decided to let it take a vacation in The Last Light of the Sun.
Readers of GGK will be rewarded with something that will make their eyes widen with surprise at some stage in the book (it depends on whether you cheated or how diehard you are).
Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit – he took it in a different direction from The Last Light of the Sun, but I definitely prefer the Ysabel direction better then the Last Light direction. Lions still tops! 🙂
I will expand on this, and give my thoughts on The Last Light of the Sun as well, since I completed it early this year myself, and hadn’t yet a chance to write down my thoughts.

Can it be true? Consistent national badminton players?

Okay, they won again. I’m a little more impressed. I’m sure others will cover the men’s doubles finals in the Swiss Open, so I’ll be content so simply say that I was cheering for Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong the whole way.
I wanted to talk about yesterday, when I turned on the TV to catch the action, and lo and behold I was surprised to see that their opponents were the formidable Indonesian/US pairing of Chandra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan (whom I think has to be one of the best doubles players ever). Now understand that in the papers yesterday morning KKK-TBH was supposed to meet Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun – a prospect I didn’t want to miss. A rematch so quickly after defeating them in the All England? Mouth-watering.
So imagine my surprise at finding that they are not playing the Chinese world champs. TheStar has never let me down before. Hrmph. Just when I thought of settling down to watch this unexpected matchup, Gillian Clark (who is the best badminton commentator at present, although she does repeat herself quite often) said that KKK-TBH had already beaten the Chinese pair enroute to the semi-fnals.
I wasn’t expecting this news. What, the Chinese were dispatched without much fanfare? What is this? I’m not used to Malaysians beating world champs like they were qualifiers, especially after Malaysians win major tournaments. Their mental strength was never this dependable.
The last Malaysian to win the All England disappeared from the radar – like Chinese metropolis towns disappearing from satellite views because of air pollution.
So anyway, while I sat there stunned that they’ve whacked the Chinese, the game started. The Indonesians were clearly onto their game. Although Wijaya-Gunawan lost the first game, they came back in the second and completely closed the boys out with vicious attacks. Any shuttles lifted were quickly dealt with, especially by Chandra Wijaya who was simply mesmerizing.
I had thought the Malaysians have clearly ridden their luck for as long as they could have hoped, and would fade out as the Indonesians seemed have figured them out. The third game was a washout, but surprisingly it was the Malaysians who did all the washing. Gillian Clark commented at one point in the third game, “What happened to the Indonesians?” Let me enlighten you, Jill. Rexy Mainaiky happened. Even I could tell you what he told the boys in the third game interval: “Keep the bloody shuttle low.”
If anyone had a recording of the match, the second and the third game the Malaysians played were completely different. Gunawan and Wijaya could not smash at all, and they were clearly unstuck at the speeds the shuttles were being sent back just above the net. That was tactical play at its best.
It was a fantastic semi-final, all told. The boys deserved to go to the finals. After Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun and Wijaya-Gunawan, who else could stand up to them? Only themselves – will their mental strength carry them through?
As I said in a post last week after their win at All England, the boys have to keep their heads low. They are clearly a first in Malaysia in that they can continue winning and show no fear at their opponents, whoever they may be. I’d shake their hands and pat their backs if I see them. But please, let’s hope the media plays it straight and keeps it level. They are still young, have a long way to go. I hope they don’t turn into the Cheah Soon Kit-Soo Beng Kiang or Cheah Soon Kit-Chong Tan Fook partnerships.
Well done, Swiss Open men’s doubles champions. Winning 3 out of the 4 Super Series tournaments and being the Asian Games champions – all within 6 months is nothing to be sneezed at.
But let us not feed their egos too much – they have a job to do, which is to keep us smiling and the flag flying high.

GRRM gone on a rampage!

In George RR Martin’s latest post, he talks about the sorts of licensing deals he’s putting together with different companies, and is honourably trying to ensure that his fans gets the best they could possible get by being involved in the production process to ensure their quality.
All good. However, I can’t help but feel a little dismayed at the way things are going.
I’ve talked about this scenario once before – about GRRM being involved in so many things that it detracts from his primary job role – which is to complete the Song of Ice and Fire.
Again, I do not think it’s a bad thing that he has so many other interests outside of writing the series. The man needs his distractions – he’s not a machine. But understanding the reasons doesn’t mean I have to like it.
The point of the matter is he has mentioned that because the original Feast for Crows he had intended in his mind would be ‘too big’, he chopped it up, served up the first half, while being quite happy that the other half is more than a good bit completed as The Dance with Dragons. But from the way things are going – the Wild Cards anthology, the licensing agreements, the TV series, the stuff that he’s dying to tell us but can’t, etc, etc – all point to the fact that he probably isn’t focusing on advancing the story at present.
I’d not be half-assed if the bloody series wasn’t so good, but it is, and it would be a shame if it degenerated in quality as the author seemingly being more concerned about the quality of his spinoff merchandise than on finishing the book itself. These series of events, of course, are no indication that it will go downhill, but they do point to the obvious – A Dance with Dragons will probably not come out end of this year, as he had mentioned.
Robert Jordan was able to mess up a completely promising series all on his own, and the only spinoffs he had were “The World of” book and the game using the Unreal engine many years back.
GRRM, your loyal fans are anxiously, patiently waiting, and hoping harder and longer than it takes for sand to form into natural diamonds that you don’t screw it up. There is something called momentum – all the TV series and figurines in the world wouldn’t cut it if the series fade from people’s minds because it took too long to complete.