Monday, August 30, 2010

Three Typhoons At Once?!

There are currently 3 typhoons hovering around Taiwan. This morning, there were only two, one each on either side of the island. However, a massive tropical depression system was also detected hanging just over Taiwan. Within a few hours, that changed into another typhoon.

It isn't the first time this has ever happened, but it is a rather rare, and quite a worrying occurrence. The weather services are predicting buckets of rain to chuck down very soon and all typhoon alerts have gone off to warn everyone on the sea and on land.

Quite scary...

Image source: Central Weather Bureau Taiwan

Belgian GP

Today's F1 race was definitely quite fun. The micro-climate at Spa once again threw everything up in the air and let a lot more luck into the equation than you would normally expect in F1.

The Mercedes GP cars of Schumi and Rosberg did well to come back from their respective penalties to claim 6th and 7th places. And inspiring start for Schumi saw him jump something like 6 people before Eau Rouge. He kept his nose clean and showed what he can really do in the wet and given the chance.

What was quite interesting is that, while fighting for track position, Vettel planted his nose right into the side pod of reigning Champion Button. Vettel had to limp back into the pits to repair his nose whereas Button was out completely.

Replay showed Vettel trying to pass Button changing direction more than once, ending up losing control and slamming right into Button. What was the penalty? A drive through for causing an avoidable accident.

I seem to recall Schumi getting a massive 10-place drop for "nearly causing an accident" when he fought with former team mate Rubens Barrichello on track and seemingly pressured him very close to the pit wall. No accident, both drivers finished the race. All that happened was an extra element of excitement was chucked into the race.

The FIA needs to review their system of stewardship and make it consistent and fair!

Still... Very much lamenting not being there like last year. Two years, in the paddocks. Last year, in the Toyota F1 motor home and meeting more than half the field, especially Bernie. First time in 6-years I've been in Belgium and not being at Spa for the F1 weekend! So annoying!

Friday, August 13, 2010

US$ 1,000,000 Speeding Fine

The previous record holder of speeding fines was set in January this year by a Swiss citizen who drove his Ferrari Testarossa through a Swiss village at 137km/h, caught and landed with a $290,000 fine set by a Swiss court. The reason why the speeding fines are so high in Switzerland is because they take into account, not just the recorded speed, but also the personal wealth of the driver (in this case, around $22.7m).

A Swedish driver has now smashed the record when he took his Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG onto the Swiss roads and was picked up at 290km/h, just shy of the 317km/h top speed (by the way, it was 170km/h over the speed limit). He basically maxed out the 563 hp, 6-litre V8 SLS AMG on Swiss roads. Either he didn't know that the Swiss are a bit anal about speeding on their roads, or he really just couldn't care less.

But you know what? Not to make fun out of the dude with a $1m fine - which I'm assuming he can afford since his personal wealth is taken into account - but what an amazing bit of news to wake me up this morning! Good job!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vindication for Toyota... at last!

"A preliminary investigation into accidents involving Toyota cars has suggested driver error may have played a part in many of the incidents."

What a fantastic bit of news finally for the world's leading auto manufacturer after months of allegations and sour media coverage mostly originating from the United States. More than a handful of cars made by the iconic marque were recalled due to safety concerns, with every single recall activity making headlines with major news outlets - even though other marques, such as Honda, recalled dangerous and deadly vehicles with little making into the news feeds.

I think the following YouTube video by gasitman gives you a pretty accurate account of all this media furore about nothing.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, justice is served to the righteous!

Could It Be... The End?

There seems to be an increase in both the number of natural disasters and their severity recently. I don't know if you've noticed, but it's just been bad news after bad news every single day...

  • Flooding in Pakistan sees nearly 2000 deaths and more than 14 million people affected. The UN has called for help from other nations for this massive disaster.
  • Landslides in China killed more than 700 people with 1000 people still missing. Further tropical storm acitivity is predicted which would heavily disrupt the rescue efforts. In Zhouqu, 45000 people have been evacuated.
  • Superbug discovered in UK hospitals linked to South East Asia which is resistent to the strongest antibiotics. Scientists fear this bug will be unstoppable especially if it mutates to survive in other bacteria and gets passed along from person to person.
  • Massive heatwave in Russia causing runaway wild fires. A dense smog has descended on Moscow from the fires, and with the heat not lifting at all, some residents compare living in the city to be similar to either "an oven" or "in hell."
  • The unseasonally cold winter in Europe has affected produce such as potatoes. A sharp rise in prices for vegetables is expected due to poor harvests. The same is happening in Southern Africa. Food shortages are now being predicted due to the unseasonal conditions.
  • Don't forget we had a massive volcano attack earlier this year which grounded flights in Europe for weeks. Of course, the ban could have been a bit exaggerated by the authorities, but still.

More to come until it all just ends in 2012? Seems likely, especially if the weather shifts are as big as the past 12 months.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dirty Diamonds - Part 2

So now Mia Farrow has directly contradicted Naomi Campbell on her testimony about those "dirty stones" Charles Taylor was supposed to have given her (although where those stones come from is still a mystery based on Campbell's statement).

Still with all this furore... An inevitable questions comes into mind: So what if Charles Taylor gave diamond, or diamonds, to Campbell? It neither proves, nor does it disprove that Taylor was using conflict diamonds to fund wars in Sierra Leone.

If it can be proven that Charles Taylor used diamonds mined from conflict zones to purchase arms, and that those arms were used to support the continuation of the conflict, then we have a case. Proving that he gave diamonds to a model, conflict or not, does not prove anything in this war crimes tribunal. Hence my question: So what?

I honestly think they've gone completely insane in the Hague.

Dirty Diamonds

It's been all over the news recently that Naomi Campbell was asked to testify in the Hague against Charles Taylor in a war crimes tribunal run by the UN. Now they plan to bring in Mia Farrow and her former agent to give further testimony against the former ruthless dictator and to support Campbell's statements.

What I don't understand is that apparently Campbell was brought to testify based on some comment given by Farrow quite a long time ago. For the former model, this whole debacle was a huge inconvenience, as she said in her statement. She is also afraid of implications afterwards in the case that this trial results to nothing and Taylor is somehow released.

Campbell said that she was at an event in South Africa many years ago when she was awoken in her hotel room by two strangers at the door. They gave her a pouch with some "dirty stones" inside and said that this was a present for her. She had no idea what it was or who it came from, and promptly handed it over to someone from the Nelson Mandela Children's Foundation.

Without looking deeper into what she said, which was very strange, the world's press jumped onto the bandwagon and started putting out headlines like "Mandela charity received blood diamonds." How dare Campbell and the world's press try to drag Nelson Mandela's image into this mud. Do none of you have any respect for this man who is commonly agreed as the shining beacon of human goodness?

What did Campbell actually say? She said she received some dirty stones which she couldn't tell from normal stones to uncut diamonds. She received them from two men, two strangers at her hotel door. Neither of the men said who they were or for whom they were running this errand for. It could have been Bill Clinton for all we know.

In case you don't know what blood diamond's are, they are diamonds mined in conflict zones in Africa by rebels and governments alike to fund their weapons and war on each other. These diamonds don't have any identifiable traces on them that it is a conflict diamond so they can easily make their way into the open market. However, with detailed composition analysis of the diamonds, their origins can be distinguished based on geological evidence.

I really hope the world's press can stop with all this nonsense. If the UN wants to hold a war crimes trial and immediately discredit itself by associating this trial with a former model, someone who has fallen from grace, someone who also faces anger management issues, then so be it. None of us are interested in this case at all, since all war crimes tribunals are for show and it never really has any results.

Most importantly... Naomi Campbell is not interesting. She was when she was a model and good looking. Now she just looks like a completely fool and exceedingly ugly. Stop putting her picture in the news!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pointlessly Underwater

Well, this was a completely pointless bit of information...

Wow! I couldn't figure this out for myself...! Duh!

Image source:

The Founding of a Republic (2009) [建國大業]

I don't know quite what possessed me, but I did take out a copy of "The Founding of a Republic [建國大業]" and managed to watch it from start to finish. When I read about this movie coming out, I was slightly intrigued by two possible points of interest. First is a casts consisting of some of the biggest Mandarin and Cantonese stars in the past decade (non-Taiwanese of course). But you do have the likes of Jet Li and Jackie Chan in the film. The second is a pure academic interest to see how much spin and propaganda this film would actually have since it was made to commemorate the formation of the Communist Government in Mainland China.

The cast was quite disappointing to say the least. Jet Lit and Jackie Chan probably had a combined screen time of about 5 minutes. The rest of the cast were vaguely interesting because they did manage to find some actors who really look like the people they played. But I'm sure that is not very hard to do in a population of over 1 billion people.

I was not entirely sure what the movie was trying to say. I think they did have some kind of communist agenda to start with, but it was gradually toned down to a point when the movie no longer made any sense at all. It kept jumping from one side to the other. At some point it felt like I was being chucked into the movie, along with separate themes and story lines, into a gigantic blender. I actually felt sick watching it. And I still have no idea what the movie was trying to say, nor did I learn any historical knowledge from it.

What a completely pointless endeavour. It wasn't propaganda, it wasn't even slightly watchable... What a complete disaster for a film. And here we come upon the problem with the Chinese people. There is a serious lack of creativity, something which seems to have been lost many centuries ago. The Chinese people are good at taking something that is established and making something that match up to it, but never exceed the establishment. And I'm not talking about size. Making something bigger does not mean it's better (e.g. the Three Gorges Dam, not better, just huge; the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, lots and lots of people, huge spectacle, not better than the arrow fired into the cauldron in Barcelon '92).

It's a pity... Really. But I tend not to expect anything out of a media system completely controlled by the government. It's not good for human evolution.

Image source: China Film Group

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

FBI vs. Wikipedia

The Federal Bureau of INvestigations, or FBI for short, has sent a complaint to Wikipedia to remove the seal of the FBI from its entry on the online encyclopedia. In a brilliant act of defiance, Wikimedia Commons counsel sent a rather sarcastic communiqué back to the FBI stating that they have misinterepereted the law, and are basically incorrect in their statements.

As such, the seal is available all over the internet. I just did a quick Google search and came up with more than 196 000 hits, with the page plastered with the image in various sizes and differing qualities. Wikimedia Commons also stated that Encyclopedia Britannica also has the insignia on their website.

I guess the FBI has enough resources to go chase down every single format of that image throughout the internet. Maybe they plan to take down the biggest organisations out there in the webosphere, and then tackle and shut down smaller sites furhter along. America isn't as free as everyone seems to believe they are, aren't they?

What a load of bollocks! I'm sure the FBI has other more important things to do, right?

Image source: Federal Bureua of Investigations, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Creativity Lost... Down There

Apparently Lady Gaga gave an interview to Vanity Fair recently and claimed that she in afraid of having sex because she fears it will rob her of her creativity. Known to be quite skimpy on dress codes, Lady Gaga is known to be very promiscuous when in public especially by the kind of attire she wears. However, surprisingly she is known to be a strong supporter of abstinence - whether she really does follow it, is a different story.

"I have this weird thing that if I sleep with someone they're going to take my creativity through my vagina."
- Lady Gaga, Vanity Fair magazine

My dear Lady Gaga, that's just a very stupid thing to say. Either you've had sex recently and lost all your creativity because this comment was just plain idiotic. I cannot possibly imagine why you bothered to say something like that. It's a waste of the readers' time, and you look more stupid than you already do.

I think the only reason why Lady Gaga wear such eccentric clothing, especially those head ornaments and masks, is because she is extremely ugly. Recently she has relented in the facial gear and you can quite clearly see that she is terrible looking with a gigantic nose. The ploy worked for some time, but it's now backfired. Since no one really knew what she look like for some time, her face became the center of attention when the veils started to come off.

I think this is why she hasn't (as she claims) had sex. How could someone do it? Urrrgh... All of it is a fad. Nothing more, nothing less.

Information source: Reuters
Image source:

Inception (2010)

Just came back from Inception. What a movie! Truly mind-blowing (if you understand what I mean). It was one of total psychological twist and turns, yet it wasn't so crazy that you couldn't figure out head to toe.

It's very difficult to explain the movie, but I think by watching the trailer, you already get quite a good idea what it's about. We're talking about dreams and how to infiltrate dreams to gather information. It's quite a far fetched thought, but Chris Nolen did a brilliant job to make it really realistic. Coupled with the newest CG technology, he could make a truly unbelievable world into something that could be possible.

The storyline is based on varying layers of creativity upon each other which does seem a bit confusing and relatively unbelievable, but it didn't turn out that way. There were probably many decision and turns in the story that could have ruined it, but Nolen managed to bring it on track and produce something spectacular. But apart from the layering of stories, I think there was something else, more...

I think there is a serious underlying message to this film. One which says that life is what it is and death will really not be a solution to the problems one faces on a day to day basis. On a slightly higher level, I believe that there is a message to people who prefer to live in dreams that this is also not the point of life at all. Not that I'm saying the movie answers the questions about life, and why we are here, but it does kind of guide you in the right direction: life is for living.

Taking a bit out of my current personal sphere of being, I think this makes perfect sense and it is an extremely positive message. There aren't many people in the world who could say they are completely content with life. Life is full of obstacles and roadblocks that you need to step over or go around to truly learn and develop as a human being. Whether that was created by us into society or not is a different matter. Ending one's life when things become tough is just not the right thing to do. It never is.

I've never been a big fan of Leo Di Caprio, but he did a decent job in this movie. I do think, however, his co-stars did a much better job. Ellen Page in particular was quite outstanding, as she always seems to be.

It's a great movie, and it was made so that it's not too brainy, yet the balance doesn't make it look "duh." Worth a watch definitely. I now know what the hype has all been about!

Image source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hungarian Pit Wall

Rubens Barrichello nearly ended up rammed into the pit straight wall at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon while trying to pass his former team mater Schumacher. In the last corner, Schumi ran slightly wide and started to slide which means loss of grip into the pit straight. Barrichello was on fresh tyres with a better run up after a few laps of trying to pass. But as he came up to make the pass on the right, Schumi drifted towards the right, trapping his former team mate into the wall. Luckily for Rubens, they were at the end of the wall, and he was able to move onto the pit lane exit to avoid wheel bashing with Schumi.

Rubens was adamant that Schumi should have received a black flag for his move across the right. Everyone seems to be up in arms about it. Apparently, BBC Sport reports that Alex Wurz commented that "if there had been a collision it can be fatal."

What do you mean "fatal?" Webber did a 360-degree flip in his car a couple of races back and he was OK. A few cars ended up full speed into the wall, and they were OK too. Fatalities from Formula 1 has being slowly reduced and eliminated in the past few years so that it is virtually impossible to get serious injuries from driving in F1 races anymore. The last serious accident was when a spring from Barrichello's car his Felipe Masa's helmet while going full speed last year in the Hungarian GP and ended up shooting into his helmet and causing serious brain damage.

BBC should really stop interviewing old and unimportant drivers who no longer knows anything about F1!

In the end Schumi was handed a 10-place grid drop for the next race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. This would almost definitely mean that he would be starting from very close to the back of the grid. In this case, I think he should just boycott the entire Qualifying session since he can't possibly go up to take pole from the Red Bulls or Ferraris and get slotted in 11th place.

Racing drivers are on the edge, especially Formula 1. They should be anyways. They were pre-1990 for sure. We've lost some of that now, and the FIA is fighting to keep it away it seems. Poor decision on their part!

Image source: BBC Sport Formula 1