My twitter Updates

The Apprentice: Season 1 Week 6

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sounds interesting enough. This week, the candidates would need to secure an 'item' from 5 different celebrity. The only catch is that the 'item' must be an expereince and not a physical item. :)

posted by Ivan, 12:15 pm | link | 0 comments |

Pizza War: Man Utd v Arsenal

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The rivalry continues off the pitch with this latest article. The Sun, Britain's biggest-selling newspaper joined forces with Pizza Hut to offer its readers tokens for purchasing the newly created 'Flaming Fergie' and 'Wenger Wobbler' pizzas.

The creation named in honour of the United boss was described as a "fiery feast that will knock your head off," a reference to Ferguson's notoriously short temper. Anyone eating a pizza bearing Wenger's name was assured of an "explosive Mediterranean experience". Meanwhile, a Pizza Hut spokesman said: "Unfortunately, we are not able to supply any sour grapes."

Picture is copyright of

This 'invention' came about after England ace Ashley Cole tried to dish up revenge for being fouled by Ruud van Nistelrooy — only for a pizza he lobbed to hit Sir Alex Ferguson.

The pizza man : Ashley Cole
The 'customer' : van Nistelrooy
The accidental 'customer' : Sir Alex Ferguson
The peacemaker : Thierry Henry
The product : 'Flaming Fergie'
: 'Wenger Wobbler' pizzas
The motto : fiery feast that will knock your head off
: explosive Mediterranean experience
: sour grapes not included
posted by Ivan, 1:53 am | link | 0 comments |

Technology: Cool Clock

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

With a creative mind and the right technology, it's amazing what people can do. Requires Macromedia Shockwave. In another note, Man Utd's van Nistelrooy has accepted a charge of serious foul play from the FA for his challenge on Arsenal's Ashley Cole. Thus, a three-match suspension. No worries, Man Utd still have Saha, Rooney, Smith, Ronaldo or Bellion at disposal. :)

posted by Ivan, 1:48 pm | link | 0 comments |

Interpreting the Da Vinci Code: Perspectives from a Church Historian

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Anyone read Dan Brown's best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code? I reckon this is one of the most controversial novel todate. Anyways for argument purposes, here's a different perspective of the novel.

Interpreting the Da Vinci Code: Perspectives from a Church Historian
By Amanda D. Quantz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, History of World Christianity, Catholic Theological Union

My historical research deals with interdisciplinary studies in a significant way. I felt obligated to read The Da Vinci Code because I had heard bits and pieces about the discoveries in art, architecture, symbols, theology and church history that the novelist Dan Brown had supposedly made. I was especially curious about the book because it has been on the New York Times' Best Seller List for forty-five weeks. Since the task of historians is to chronicle the past in a creative and sound way, I was anxious to see how this novelist unfolded so much "historical" data that was previously unknown to scholars. I had read that Brown is not an academic in this field. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I brought no prejudgments to what I had heard were some clever theories about subjects I have studied my entire adult life. I read his novel bearing in mind that exciting discoveries have been made by pure accident. That is what happened in 1928, when Sir Alexander Flemming noticed an odd-looking substance in one of his studies of a deadly bacterium. What he was looking at turned out to be penicillin. With that in mind, I was optimistic that a creative and intelligent novelist might very well have produced a groundbreaking study in art history and perhaps even, in church history. But it soon became obvious that Brown had simply converted much historical data into a literary distortion.

Perhaps you have read the book and are puzzled about whether to accept the conspiracy theory about the life and nature of Christ that the author attributes to the Catholic Church. If you haven't yet read it, like many, you have probably heard enough intriguing details about the book that you can no longer put it off. If you are about to read it, you might be unclear about how to evaluate The Da Vinci Code in terms of its truth claims. I would like to offer you what I hope you will experience as a bit of relief. As a historian, I can assure you that you are not missing any truth about Christian history or doctrine, art or architecture, for which you will be indebted to The Da Vinci Code. It is a work of fiction that should be read as such. It does not document any historical discoveries, either artistic or theological, and it is not a piece of controversial scholarship with which the academic community is struggling. It is a novel, much like the romances and mysteries that one finds in supermarkets. Here are a few simple facts to help you sort things out as you turn the pages of Brown's awkward but tantalizing conspiracy theories. I hope that they will help you whether you read it in order to be part of the in-crowd or simply just to see what the fuss is all about.

The fourth century Vatican cover-up that Brown discusses at some length (see, for example, pages 37, 159 and 234) is impossible for some very simple reasons. I say this not because I am concerned about safeguarding the good reputation of the Vatican but because there was no Vatican in the fourth century. The papal residence from about 311-1305 was indeed in Rome. It was the Lateran palace, which was a gift from Emperor Constantine to the bishop of Rome. Constantine's wife Fausta had received it as part of her dowry. The Lateran palace's first resident was Pope Melchiades. There was not another pope in Rome, living at the same time, occupying a place called the Vatican. From 1305-1376, the popes lived in Avignon (France), where they could keep an eye on the activities of the independent-minded French rulers. A change in the political climate in France led to the papacy's return to Rome in 1377. Gregory XI was the first pope to live and work in a place known in ancient Rome as Vatican Hill, where a new residence was built. This is the building, many renovations later, that is part of what we know today as Vatican City. Thus, the eleventh century knights to whom Brown refers on p.158, could not possibly have been blackmailed by the Vatican. In this very basic example, getting a simple set of dates right tells the reader that what follows might be fun to think about, but is also flatly untrue. The confusion, I think, lies in the fact that Brown never notes that he is using historical names and places in order to create a work of fiction. On the contrary, he wants you to believe that he has his facts straight.

Another reason to read with caution is that Brown alludes throughout the book to a conspiracy by the Roman Catholic Church. Again, timing is everything: until the sixteenth century Protestant Reformations (there was more than one), the Roman Catholic Church did not exist. The most obvious question here is Roman Catholic as opposed to what? The Catholic Church (not Roman) certainly existed in various places such as Greece, Armenia, Italy, Ethiopia and North Africa. Today some of these Catholic churches (which are still Catholic) call themselves Orthodox. Brown is correct in noting that, in the first few centuries, there were groups that consciously separated from mainline (Catholic but not Roman) Christianity. This usually happened when a group wanted to express its moral offense over sinful or embarrassing events in the Catholic Church. For numerous, complex and, most Christian theologians agree, legitimate reasons, they are what their Catholic contemporaries considered to be heretics. They include several distinct groups such as the Gnostics (more on them in a moment), the Donatists (3rd century) and the Cathars (13th century). The Catholic Church was simply the mainline church until the Reformations, and includes such well-known members as St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasius, Sts. Francis and Clare, and St. Anthony. Catholic simply means universal and it was certainly that from the days of the earliest church. All of the mainline churches were Catholic and the Pope in Rome (not the Vatican) was just one of several bishops called pope. Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch and Constantinople also had popes. The early Roman popes had nothing resembling the powerful position that Brown describes. Rather, Christians recognized Rome as an important city because it was the site of Peter's martyrdom. They invested the bishop of Rome with special spiritual status because he was Peter's successor, but it was many centuries before this translated into the form of power that Brown describes. Of course, people also had great love for Jerusalem, because of its association with Jesus. However, you won't find that in The Da Vinci Code because the book emphasizes the factoids that sell.

The Roman Catholic Church grew out of the sixteenth century Catholic Counter-Reformation, which was a response to the Protestant Reformations. It was led by the Roman pope but was not limited to his participation. Catholics in Germany, England and elsewhere also supported the Counter-Reformation. In the modern sense of the term "Roman Catholic", the church "emerged" at a particularly painful moment in history. However, it was more of a metamorphosis, as are most historical events. Dan Brown collapses the modern structure of the Roman Catholic Church into the early church in Rome. The former has a political, theological, social and spiritual history that is related to the early church, especially through the continuous chain of bishops and some core beliefs about Christ. However, they are as different in structure, worldview and process as any two institutions could be.

These are just two examples of why The Da Vinci Code cannot be read as a theory that "fits" within the real history of the Catholic Church, Roman or otherwise. From the questions I have been asked, I realize that many readers are unclear about what to take seriously since the publication information is at odds with Brown's claims. That is, on the fly leaf, where the publication information is printed, the publisher acknowledges that "All of the characters and events in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental." Publishers print these disclaimers in order to protect themselves from lawsuits. If Dan Brown had let that statement stand alone, as do most fiction writers, there would probably be little confusion about the historical truthfulness of the book. But a statement he makes on the page prior to the prologue is misleading. He writes: "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." Long before Brown's book hit the market, I spent many hours studying the Last Supper. I have only one noteworthy observation about the author's conclusion that John the Evangelist is actually Mary Magdalen: Brown does a stylistic reading of the picture. If you follow his logic, you will notice something that would seem important, especially to Brown, which he does not mention. According to his criteria for what constitutes a female figure, Jesus must be a woman, as well. Given some of the book's other pointless descriptions and embarrassing clichés, I am somewhat surprised that he did not suggest this. I wonder whether the sequel will depict Jesus and Mary as a lesbian couple.

Perhaps the most disappointing perspective that Brown portrays as accurate is his view of the Church as a violent, characteristically exclusive, power-hungry institution that was practically dreamed up by a few patriarchs in order to sustain their own privileged positions. Such a view is divorced from the historical evidence on many, many levels. For one, it ignores the fact that the earliest church was comprised of what biblical scholars call the am-haretz (people of the land), who were the poor, forgotten and outcast. This is true of the apostles as well as the majority of Jesus' followers. This matter is not a biblical problem that scholars debate. As I was reading one of Brown's accounts of the allegedly power hungry early church leaders, I suddenly remembered a story told by a priest about his missionary days in China. He had just arrived in a small farming village and was introduced to several members of the parish. The leader of the community was named Peter and he said to my friend: "I am Peter and these are my brothers James and John and we are fishermen." They all burst out laughing because of the obvious parallel between their names and occupations and those of the Gospel characters. Yet with the stroke of a pen Brown carelessly recasts simple farmers and fishermen as CEOs.

There is plenty of historical evidence that reveals that the early church leaders sometimes had to give their lives while proclaiming the Gospel. This was especially true in the third century when the worst persecutions occurred under the emperor Decius. Brown's view of early church power structures does not and cannot account for the martyrs' willingness to die for the one in whom God's very self was revealed. Nor does it recognize what was really happening: that it took several centuries for the church to develop a vocabulary to describe Jesus as fully God and fully human. This is to be expected when trying to express something for the first time. God had never become human before and yet the earliest followers of Jesus suddenly had to some to terms with their experience of the risen Lord. Brown's account also ignores the evidence that suggests that decisions about the nature of Christ did not come primarily from the top down, but rather, grew up out of the soil of the church, where the experience of the risen Jesus was tried, tested, and lived. Here is the basic situation: the bishops were educated to greater or lesser degrees, and spoke and wrote any number of different languages. The church as a whole went from being a renewal movement within Judaism in the first century to a community of gentiles from all walks of life by the fourth century. With all of these changes and variables, communication was difficult. Is it any wonder that it took several hundred years for the church to develop a theological statement that could make some linguistic sense of the miraculous manifestation of God in Christ?

The final theological and historical difficulty with Brown's book that I would like to mention (although there are countless others that I could discuss) is its overarching Gnostic bent. Very briefly, Gnosticism is a bastardized version of Christianity that has been around since almost the very beginning of the church. Its fundamental principle is that the mainstream (again, Catholic) church misinterpreted the message of Jesus and that there is, at any given time, only a select few who have the secret knowledge (gnosis = knowledge in Greek) about Jesus' "true" message. Basically, each of the Gnostic attacks against the mainline church was met by the majority of Christians with arguments from logic as well as from scripture and the Tradition. By the time Constantine arrived on the scene (c.313), Gnosticism had been stamped out and condemned as a paranoid, puritanical sect and one that was ultimately unrecognizable as Christian teaching. This is simply a historical fact, which is one of the reasons that the Catholic church, as well as the Anglican, Orthodox and mainline Protestant churches have been able to say with confidence throughout history, which teachings are true to the ministry and message of Christ, and which are not. Basically, it boils down to love, expressed through compassion, service and authenticity. The Da Vinci Code takes these principles and banishes them, presenting an overly simplistic, conspiratorial version of mainline (Catholic) Christianity that is foreign to the shape of the actual early church. It depicts a stale, masculine, uninspired corporation with a business plan that, in the end, was about as successful as Enron's. Brown portrays authentic Christianity as that which Langdon, Sophie, Sauniére and Teabing are seeking. Ironically, the version he presents is Gnostic through and through.

Along with countless other scholars, as well as pastors and discerning readers, in the end I am left with a lingering question: Why is The Da Vinci Code so popular? There are other novels of the same genre that are much more appealing, especially in terms of imagery and the quality of writing. Robert Hellenga's The Sixteen Pleasures is a prime example. It is about a forbidden text called the Aretino that reveals the secrets of sexual pleasure. Hellenga writes convincingly in the voice of a young woman and the story is set in the breathtaking city of Florence, Italy. The narrative is intriguing, the characters have depth and the plot is clever. And yet The Sixteen Pleasures did not achieve anything remotely comparable to Brown's success in terms of the sheer number of readers. My sense is that people are reading The Da Vinci Code because of the title and its agenda, which is to misrepresent both church history and art history in the name of pop fiction.

The internet has put information at our fingertips which, on the one hand, is wonderful, and yet, it also breeds ignorance. Cautious teachers of all levels warn their students about taking information for research from the internet at face value. There is, quite simply, a great deal of garbage posted on countless websites and my sense is that the availability of knowledge has created an appetite for it. The problem is that, left to their own devices, many people do not know how to discern between fact and fiction on topics foreign to them, especially when the two are carelessly interwoven. Brown has provided his readers with a great deal of "information" about Leonardo and his works and it doesn't seem to matter to many whether or not it is true, which leaves me wondering why his readers want the information at all. My sense is that the book's success has to do with something very simple: it reduces a set of very complex questions to very simple, pat answers that also stir up very strong emotions about the church. Catholics are not pleased with the book because it misrepresents Christianity and paints the church in a very negative light. What is even more disturbing is the fact that it intentionally trivializes the mystery of Christ while misrepresenting church history. On page 233 Brown writes: "Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea." By taking the Council of Nicaea out of context Brown makes the divinity of Christ seem like the random claim of a few bishops rather than the result of the whole church's effort to articulate the ineffable experience of God in human history.

In the end Brown paints a historically and theologically inaccurate and simplistic explanation of Christianity. Those who accept his fictional rendition of Christianity do not have to grapple with the mystery of faith in Jesus. The book provides one-dimensional answers to difficult questions. Perhaps that is what some people want. But as believers will confirm, no novel ever reaches the bottom of the Jesus mystery. The church itself has never attempted to do so and it would never succeed if it did. That is part of what makes Christianity so fascinating. The other part is that Christians believe that their story they claim for their own is true. Sometimes that requires wrestling with mystery and non-literal truths. My sense is that those who accept Brown's version of things are not engaged in an authentic search for Christ. If that is the case, it probably doesn't matter to them that Brown has created an inauthentic representation of Christian faith. While that is a topic for another article and a different moment, I hope this piece has increased your awareness of some of the historical reasons that Brown's fictional story should not be read as if it were factual.

© Amanda D. Quantz, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, History of World Christianity

posted by Ivan, 12:44 pm | link | 0 comments |

Man Utd ends Arsenal's unbeaten run

Monday, October 25, 2004

Finally! Arsenal's phenomenal unbeaten run in the English Premier League ended in the pouring rain of Old Trafford. It was an exciting match with many 'incidents' along the way, namely high tackles and rough challenges. This is reflected with 5 yellow cards given during the game.

This highly charged game was goalless until the 73rd minute when Rooney received a pass from Giggs on the right side of Arsenal box and was tackled by Sol Campbell. Rooney fell on the ground and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Deja Vu! Another penalty! However this time round, van Nistelrooy kept his cool and struck to the bottom right corner of the net sending Lehmann in the opposite direction.

1-0 to Man Utd.

Arsenal fought back valiantly but to no avail. Henry, Ljungberg and Bergkamp missed critical passes in front of the goal. Then, almost three minutes into injury time, Saha, who had replaced van Nistelrooy seconds before, found Smith on the right side of the Arsenal box. Smith without hesitation passed the ball across the penalty area to the unmarked Rooney who tapped the ball beyond Lehmann and into the net from ten yards.

2-0 to Man Utd.

What an exciting match! Hopefully, this match will inspire Man Utd and turn their game around for the rest of the season. Rematch? wait till the second half of the season.
posted by Ivan, 1:01 pm | link | 0 comments |

This week on, The Apprentice (Season 1, week 5)

Friday, October 22, 2004

I am hooked to this reality TV series. :P It's on every Sunday on tv3 at 10:30pm and repeats on 8tv, Saturday 2pm. In this reality series, Donald Trump has divided a team of 16 job candidates into two teams of eight--men against women--think of Survivor + job inteview. The only difference is that the tribe doesn't vote you off the island. If you mess up The Donald simply fires your ass!

The first four episodes saw the men's team lose four straight times partly because of their inability to work as a team and partly because the women have been able to use sex appeal in their challenges. The challenges so far are selling lemonade, ad designing, procurement and restaurant management.

Anyways with 12 candidates left, I reckon there will be a merge pretty soon. Here's the challenge faced by the candidates this week.

posted by Ivan, 12:30 pm | link | 0 comments |

Movie review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Watched the movie yesterday and I don't quite know what to say about it. It's the kind of movie where either you like it or you don't. The retro-styled movie is set in the late 1930s environment in which technological advancements are greater than you'd ever imagine. We are introduced to an ambitious reporter, Polly Perkins, who is investigating a series of missing scientists, which lead to mysterious giant robots invading New York city. Our hero Joe “Sky Captain” Sullivan came in the nick of time and saved the city from the giant menace. Now Joe and Polly must team up with each other, in hopes of finding out who is behind this robotic menace, and where the missing scientists have been taken. To make things interesting, there are unresolved feelings between these two, and some questionable past experiences to deal with.

The movie has quite an interesting feel to it. It's like you're watching a 70's movie with the grainy kind of picture and the orchestra played music in the background. Even the sound effects reminds me of the 70s TV shows. The environment in the movie was done very well, giving you the feel of post WW1 era. From my observation, it would seem that the entire movie was filmed in front of the blue screen as the backdrop looks as if it were computer generated. Overall, the director successfully blend the actors in this massive CGI generated world.

The only let down, was that the pace of the movie was too fast. If the director would take the time to elaborate more on the post ww1 city and character development, it would give the story a more solid foundation. Nevertheless, the movie has a fair share of excitement, adventure and romance. From streets of New York to the Tibetan mountains, the audience will be entertained with aerial dogfights, mountain adventure and underwater fight scenes.

The main actors, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow was just ok with Jude giving better performance. The chemistry of these two was quite good and cute at times but somehow does not quite click. There was also Angelina Jolie who just turn up for 10 minutes. I guess producers want to add star power to the show.

Overall, an interesting movie (think of Star Wars + Indian Jones). If you're a retro adventure sci-fi fan, you'll enjoy this movie. However, give it a miss if you're not into sci-fi.

Ratings (Scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest)

Cast : 2.5
Sound : 3
Picture : 4
Storyline: 2

posted by Ivan, 12:07 pm | link | 0 comments |

Lesson for the day: The Intelligent Riddle

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The US Presidential Election is just around the corner, here's a something to lighten everyone up.

George Bush meets with the Queen of England. He asks her, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you can give to me?"

"Well," says the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people."

Bush frowns. "But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?"

The Queen takes a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy. You just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle. " The Queen pushes a button on her intercom. "Please send Tony Blair in here, would you?"

Tony Blair walks into the room. "Yes, my Queen?"

The Queen smiles. "Answer me this, please, Tony. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?"

Without pausing for a moment, Tony Blair answers, "That would be me."

"Yes! Very good," says the Queen.

Bush goes back home to ask Dick Cheney, his vice presidential choice the same question.

"Dick. Answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," says Dick Cheney. "Let me get back to you on that one."

Cheney goes to his advisors and asks every one, but none can give him an answer. Finally, he ends up in the men's room and recognizes Colin Powell's shoes in the next stall. Cheney shouts, "Colin! Can you answer this for me?

Your mother and father have a child and it's not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"

Colin Powell yells back, "That's easy. It's me!"

Cheney smiles, and says, "Thanks!" Then, Cheney goes back to speak with Bush. "Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Colin Powell."

Bush gets up, stomps over to Dick Cheney, and angrily yells into his face, "No, you idiot! It's Tony Blair!"

posted by Ivan, 1:21 pm | link | 2 comments |

Photo Quiz 3

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Wow..! I've finally found the Alias: Season 3 DVD box set. No more waiting for 8tv every Monday nights. The thing about Alias is that every episode has a connecting story-arc and the writers enjoy putting in new plots at the end of each episode (arrghh!) to get viewers hooked. Thanks to the wonders of DVD, I'll get to watch at my own leisure. Anyways, here's the picure quiz for today.

These guys are:
a) in a cyber cafe.
b) playing the popular on-line game, Ragnorak.
c) applying for an on-line university degree.
posted by Ivan, 1:08 pm | link | 3 comments |

Movie review: The New Police Story

Monday, October 18, 2004

The show’s been out almost 3 weeks and I’ve just got around watching it. Surprisingly, there is still a large crowd watching this show after 3 weeks. Looks like Jackie is still very popular in this region.

It’s been awhile since Jackie made any Hong Kong movie. He’s recent ones were mostly disastrous Hollywood movies that made him look more like a kung-fu pumped Charlie Chaplin. This movie is the 5th installment of the successful Police Story franchise. The story begins when a well-armed group of robbers knock over a bank and slaughters a gaggle of cops for kicks, Wing, now veteran detective, a promises on TV that he'll capture the gang in 3 hours. The vain thieves take exception, and set a trap for Wing and his squad. After a brutal encounter, Wing emerges as the only survivor, leaving him physically and mentally broken.

A year later finds Wing, who still can’t forgive himself for what happened to his team, now a drunkard, is forced back onto the case when young police, Frank, charmingly played Nicholas Tse comes into his life. Their investigations lead them into the world of cyberpunk where money and power has the last say.

It’s a refreshing turn by Jackie Chan as he show’s more of his real ‘acting’ skills. He shows more of his emotional side and the burden he bore after his team was massacred. I reckon it’s something different from Jackie but somehow, I felt he was over doing it to make it believable (it’s not often you see the fragile side of Jackie’s character). This time round, the comic relief is not from Jackie but surprisingly from Nicholas, who played the role really well and got to show some of his ‘fighting’ skills as well.

This time, instead of exotic locations, this film is solely based in Hong Kong. This, like any other Jackie’s Hong Kong movie, the budget for this movie is HUGE, US$ 12.9 million. The most prominent part of the budget went to the runaway double-decker bus that demolishes one of Hong Kong’s popular shopping strip. What’s a Jackie story without explosions? There are tones of destruction in this movie and it’s enough to keep you at the edge of your seats without overdoing it. However, the fight scenes by Jackie are toned down this time round. The stunts are as usual breathtakingly choreographed. Importantly, the plot was simple but the storytelling expanded nicely without giving out too much at once. Overall a refreshing outing by Jackie and a very entertaining movie which is enough to make you remember why you love the Jackie’s old movie.

Ratings (Scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest)

Cast : 4.5
Sound : 4
Picture : 4.5
Storyline: 4

posted by Ivan, 12:16 pm | link | 2 comments |

More alternate Google sites

Friday, October 15, 2004

I’ve previously posted alternate Google here. Here are more sites that I’ve uncovered while surfing the net.

elgoog: Mirror Google

Fallen Google

Klingon Google

I wonder if there are more?
posted by Ivan, 1:30 pm | link | 2 comments |

Movie review: The Bourne Supremacy

Thursday, October 14, 2004

It's been awhile since I've been to the movies. The last one was Alien vs Predator, which was way below my expectation. Anyways, here's my take on The Bourne Supremacy.

This movie is the sequel to the successful, 2002's The Bourne Identity. Matt Damon returns as trained assassin Jason Bourne. The story begins when Bourne is drawn back into the operative's world of turncoats after being attacked by a no-nonsense assassin and framed for the murder of two men who were under the surveillance of the CIA in Berlin. Playing cat-and-mouse with agents, Bourne races to work out what connects him to a long-dead Russian reformist politician named Neski.

The plot can be quite confusing in the begining, but as the movie progress, the pieces of the jigsaw falls into place. The thing is, this sequel ties in close with the first movie, names of characters and events which are rather essential to the plot of this movie. I had a hard time trying to remember who is who and what happened when. The director should have slot in some flashbacks to bring the audience up to speed.

This espionage thriller has a fair bit of everything, from romance to betrayal to car chase scenes. Damon potrays his character well, very intense and yet giving an impression that he is full of remorse from his dark past that he's trying to remember. This movie has a compelling use of exotic worldwide locations from Goa to Berlin, Naples to London, Langley to Amsterdam and to New York. Cool!!

Overall, an entertaining movies with an interesting plot and scenic locations.

Ratings (Scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest)

Cast : 4 (oooh, it has Julia Stiles!)
Sound : 3.5
Picture : 4
Storyline: 3.5

posted by Ivan, 12:37 am | link | 3 comments |

Photo Quiz of the Day

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How nice, it's been raining the whole morning. hahaha.. wish I am back at home sleeping. :D Anyways, here's the photo quiz for today.

a) That looks like a satellite shot of Dubai..
b) That's Burj Al Arab!
c) Call Tony, I've found the WMD!!
posted by Ivan, 2:11 pm | link | 0 comments |

Lesson for the day: How to stay awake during meetings

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I got this via email. This is for you guys who attend lotsa meetings, seminars and conference calls and keep falling asleep. This is a little something that will keep you occupied and thus, staying awake during those boring meetings.

Follow the steps:

1. Before (or during) your next meeting, seminar, or conference call, prepare for the meeting by drawing a square -- 5"X5" is a good size.

2. Divide the square into columns -- five across and five down. That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

3. In each block, write one of the following words/phrases:

strategic fit
core competencies
best practice
bottom line
take that off-line
out of the loop
value added
think outside the box
fast track
knowledge base
at the end of the day
touch base
client focus(ed)
game plan

4. Whenever you hear any one of those words/phrases, check off the appropriate block.

5. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout BULLSHIT!"

Testimonials from satisfied "Bullshit Bingo" players:

"I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won." -- Jack W., Boston.

"My attention span at meetings has improved drastically." -- David D., Miami

"What a gas! Meetings will never be the same for me after my first win." -- Sue S., NYC

"The atmosphere was tense in our last process meeting as 14 of us waited for the fifth box." -- Joseph R., St. Louis

"The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed BULLSHIT! for the third time in two hours." -- Kathleen L., Atlanta
posted by Ivan, 1:23 pm | link | 4 comments |

Malaysian Idol: Grand Finale Results Show

Monday, October 11, 2004

Wow.. Got the tix last minute and next thing I know, we're (4 of us) on the way up to Genting Highlands. We arrived at the Arena of Stars at about 6:45pm and we managed to get a seat 2 rows behind Jac's mom. :P hahaha.. pretty good seats I would say. The stage looks even more impresive compared to what you can see on TV.

Anyways, the crowd started to pour in around 7:30pm which includes the 8 other finalist and the ever-popular judges who got a big applause when the walked in. The pre-results show kicked off with at 8:15pm with a video presentation of the auditions, the workshop and the spetaculars show. It was very entertaining with the audience laughing at some really bad singing and the judges reaction to that. The video presentation was really really well done!! What's a show without singing? The organizers got some 'failed' contestants from the auditions to sing. The highlight was the red cross guy (forgot his name) who did exactly what he did on auditions. Ouch.. you should see Paul Moss, his head was on the table the whole time.. haha..

The results show started at 9pm with a medley of the 10 finalist followed by a duet by the 2 finalist, Dina and Jac. From my observation, there seem to be more Jac fans in the Arena compared to Dina. The cheers for Jac was just deafening. Wouldn't blame Jac for the superb performance she did the night before. On other things, Jien the host really got the crowd going with his off-the-screen antics. Can't say much about the co-host tough, she's usually not there when the commercial breaks are on.

30 minutes later, the results were announced and Jac, as expected became the first ever Malaysian Idol. She then sang the song, Gemilang, which practically nailed the votes for her the previous night. Overall, the reaults show was highly entertaining and the crowd was great, the lighting was great, the stage looks great, the settings was great and the performance was great. I only had one complain, the sound. :P The band was actually louder than the singer and there was feedback quite a couple of times when Dina was singing. :O

That's it, the end of Malaysian Idol Season 1. It's been a really entertaining series, with a really entertaining Auditions, the top 100 and top 33 show was a little boring and slow, however, it picked up momentum as it geared towards the finale. Very well done show I would say and would be looking forward to the next season.

For the photo album, Click Here!
posted by Ivan, 12:02 pm | link | 0 comments |

Look What I've Got...

Saturday, October 09, 2004

muahaha... look what I've got?

Yeah... Malaysian Idol Grand Finale Result tickets. Will tell you all about it on Monday.

posted by Ivan, 4:55 pm | link | 0 comments |

Making Google Talk

Friday, October 08, 2004

I dunno why, but I like to pick on the popular search engine, Google. Anyways, I stumbled upon this site that makes Google 'talk'. ???

How does it work? Enter three or four words below. The system will search for this sentence at Google, find the next word and print that. Than it will remove the first word of the search string, add the found word and repeat. The result seems to be meaningfull sometimes. Other times it is giblish. But always fun.

Google talk
Google Hack
Douwe Osinga
posted by Ivan, 1:46 pm | link | 0 comments |

Today's Photo Quiz

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I’m trying something new for my blog, which is called Photo Quiz. I’ll post a picture each week and list 3 possible answers pertaining to the photo. Here’s the first one.

These two guys:
a) are mechanical engineering students of UiTM firing a one-metre-long rocket.
b) launched a solid-fuel aided rocket to about 400m in the air.
c) trying to claim the USD$ 10m Ansari X-Prize.


Anyways, my score for the Yahoo! Fantasy Football has jumped tremendously this week after a really bad week. Most importantly, I’ve made it to the top 500 rank!! Haha.. highest ever!

Points: 907.18
Overall Rank: 407
Percentile: 99th Rank
Change: +360
posted by Ivan, 11:19 am | link | 1 comments |

Malaysian Idol by Numbers

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ahh.. it’s down to the Grand Finale this weekend. After almost months of anticipation., it’s between two ladies, Jac and Dina. As I’ve expected since the start of the series, the first Malaysian Idol will be a female.

Anyways, here are the numbers from Malaysian Idol.

2,000,000 Highest viewership
50,000 Malaysian Idol viewership (1/10/2004)
54,000 Malaysian Idol result viewership (3/10/2004)
10,000 attended KL audition
200 Muhammads auditioned for Malaysian Idol
50 cents. Cost of sms to vote
18 Episodes
2 Finalist
1 percent between Dina and Vick

Overheard during the final 3 result show: What? That skinny guy up there is not Andrew?!

posted by Ivan, 4:31 pm | link | 1 comments |

Soccer and the Stock Market

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Have you guys ever wondered if there is a correlation between football and the stock market? Haha.. yeah I know, I am quite free to let my mind wonder about this theory. Anyways, taking my favourite team Man Utd, and using the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLSE) as a reference, I have created a graph to prove to you that there is a correlation between football and the stock market. :)

Click on image to enlarge.

posted by Ivan, 11:49 pm | link | 3 comments |

Finally, the Apprentice is here!

Monday, October 04, 2004

After 6 months of waiting, The Apprentice finally makes its' season premiere on Malaysia's TV3. The Apprentice is a 15-episode unscripted drama in which 16 candidates from all walks of life, including both Ivy League MBA graduates and street entrepreneurs with no college education, will endure rigorous tasks each week while living together. These contestant will face the challenges of living in close quarters and must compete sometimes humorous but always difficult job assignments and will be forced to think outside the box in order to outshine each other to get to the top.

The first episode shows the 16 candidates arrival to New York City and was rushed over to Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump, the driving force of this series. After splitting the group into two teams of 8, Trump then issues the first task. Teams will be given time constraints for each task and they will be observed by either Trump himself or members of his staff at every moment along the way. At the conclusion of each task, the winning team will be granted a lavish reward but the losing team must report immediately to Trump's boardroom where one of them will be fired. Tasks each week will incorporate various aspects of business: sales, marketing, promotions, charities, real estate deals, finance, advertising pitches and facilities management. The big twist is that our teams are thrown out to the wolves of the New York business world with only a few days to complete incredibly difficult tasks, many of which have hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake. This is the ultimate corporate jungle where staying alive means using both street smarts and book smarts.

The winner of the competition, the true "apprentice" will be granted the dream job of a lifetime with The Trump Organization and a salary of $250,000. This reality show looks promising and it's fun to watch 16 smart and highly qualified reality characters match wits amongst themselves for a change. Sighh.. there goes my Saturday. :P Ohh yeah.. the best part of the show is the tag line.. "You're Fired!"


posted by Ivan, 5:19 pm | link | 0 comments |

Technology: QR barcodes

Friday, October 01, 2004

Stumbled upon this new technology by the tech savvy Japanese. It's quite interesting and it might revolutionize the way ppl do advertising.

Anyways, the technology is called QR barcodes. QR Codes are basically 2-dimensional UPC or barcodes. As you can see on the manufacturer's page (click on title above) they're capable of holding quite a bit more data than a standard UPC code. It's an internationally standardized system of encoding information so that it can be read by a visual scanner.

These codes are quite common in Japan and are often seen on flyers and magazine ads. Cellular phone users can scan the code with their built-in camera and immediately have all the contact info they need entered into their camera, sorted appropriately.

These codes are reportedly quite durable, allowing up to 30% of the code to be obscured or removed by dirt, marks or damage and still be completely readable. The can be printed as a regular graphic by any printer, making them very flexible.

Here's the QR code for my blog. To advertise, just attach it to a T-shirt. :)

posted by Ivan, 3:12 pm | link | 0 comments |