Lex Petros

Sunday, March 20, 2011

World Invasion:Battle Los Angeles (2011)

I was a fan of ID4 (1996). The movie blew me away when I was still in college...

District 9 (2009) was remarkably brilliant and caught me off guard...

Skyline (2010) was promising but utterly ruined by bad acting and a poor ending....

So, understandably Battle LA trailers and sneak peaks did not peak my interest. Unless it was Roland Emmerich or Steven Spielberg at the helm and producing the movie, I was skeptical to say the least. As Forrest Gump would say, "life is like a box of chocolates..."; you know the takes guts and lots of imagination to make an earth-invasion movie to suit the palate of audiences. Cliched scenes and predictable outcomes always make it an uphill task.

Jonathan Liebesman directed this 116-minute flick with Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez starring. Liebesman, I remember from Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A New Beginning. The theme was laid on the USMC (United States Marine Corp). For me, that was a good way to do things. After all, most situations calling for the defence of the nation would befall the USMC. Regular army will pound, but the USMC are designated for special operations and specific mission parameters. Think about this movie as a sci-fi version of Blackhawk Down (2001).

Needless to say, the premise was not original - CNN reports imminent meteor strikes, but turns out that the projectiles coming from the heavens appears to have mechanical structures and moving at slower speeds as they near - it's always the eastern seaboard which gets it- you see loads of terrified citizen being evacuated but which good invasion movie won't see the brutal deaths of a few dozens or hundreds to make a point? Aliens? Well, what else? Immense ships, superior firepower and ugly forms. Action and ammo always sell. These things crashes into the water just off the coast of 16-17 countries and make their way inland, blasting all and sundry in their wake.

The movie progressed to focus on a unit led by Lt. Willam Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) with the more senior Staff Seargent Michael Nanz (Eckhart) shadowing and counselling the young Lieutenant. Their mission was to secure an overrun police prescient, rescue any civilians and get out before an aerial bombing commences to "drive the infestation back to the ocean". Along their way, they pick up Rincon and his children at the police prescient and a separated USAF Tech Sergeant Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez). The suspense ala Blackhawk Down starts from here- fighting out of alien territory to make it to an FOB (forward operating base), the next safest place to be when the Air Force commences their assault.

The entourage knows how to kill the aliens more effectively when they dissected one alive to find out where its heart is. The aliens incidentally run on water and so, they bleed water. They invasion force has come to drink us dry. The engagement of a freeway between the Marines and an alien party seems to mirror the final show down in Saving Private Ryan. The aliens in this movie control un-manned drones to kill and maim humans from command ships placed in major cities and locations.

Just the luck they needed when the Marines come across an RF distortion which hints the presence of a command ship. It was underground. I liked this part of the movie - the infiltration battle scene and the final show down when they laser-in guided missiles into the command ships. Much like how they do it in ID4 after they discover how to down a mother ship effectively. Once the command units are down, all drones drop like flies and the foot soldiers retreat.

The action packed movie certainly was worth the time and money. After being disappointed by Skyline, Battle LA is certainly a refreshing invasion movie.

I'd give this one a 7.5 out of a possible 10.


After the great quake...

I remember only a few weeks before the 9.0 Richter scale Tohoku quake just off the east coast of the Oshika Peninsula, Christchurch, New Zealand was shook by a big one, although paling in comparison with the recent quake in Japan.
It seems like the Pacific Ring of Fire's tempest is brewing deep within the bowels of the earth and with greater frequency than ever observed. Japan always had to be wary of quakes. In 1923, the Great Kanto quake almost levelled most of Tokyo and was the impetus for developing advance warning sensors and quake-resistant buildings and technologies.
The death toll now is between 2,000 to 5,000 with the number growing as many bodies are discovered in rubbles and hard-hit areas near the epicentre.
It was not so long ago when great Indonesian quake resulted in a tsunami which hit Indonesia, and ripple all over the Indian Ocean striking Sri Lanka, India and even Malaysia on December 26, 2004, Thank God my friends in the Maldives were spared of any serious damage or worse, injury or death. Ironically, the salvation was through an immense sea-wall system which the Japanese had built for the Maldivians in 2002 as a gesture of bilateral goodwill- probably anticipated the off chance a giant quake off the Indonesia coasts could be powerful enough to send waves of destruction to the Maldivian archipelago.
What's unnerving for me about these disasters is that the fact my mum can sense what she describes as "a sort of uncomfortable buzzing in my head" just days before the quake. Perhaps she has the gift of clairvoyance or perhaps some sort of premonition. For me, sometimes I perceive momentary lapses into what I can describe it as "spinning around" before something happens. The Friday quake however was not caught by any "psychic senses" (if any).
The Japanese are struggling to prevent a nuclear event at the Fukushima Daishi reactor facilities, tirelessly attacking the burning or overheated nuclear rods with sea water from air and land. The ionizing radiation has probably sealed some of the workers' doom despite what local news agencies say about the radiation levels. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster comes to mind. Many were exposed to radiation doses which were 100 times more than Fukushima and many died to prevent radioactive particles from reaching the nearby towns and cities in Russia and parts of Europe.
Back in Japan, news agencies reported recently that radiation has been found in food, and the mostly likely iodine-131 which is absorbed by your thyroid glands. Having done some reading on the subject, apparently the best way to avoid its absorption is to ingest iodine pills (the one with the non-lethal isotopes) to saturate your thyroid glands so that the radioactive iodine will just pass through your system with minimal retention.
I admire the people and governments whose relief efforts are pouring in to Japan.
What I find completely revolting is some first lady making mindless statements; implying that the recent quake was a result of Japan's lack of studies in environmental factors and go-green technologies. Just days after our local news agency Berita Harian apologizes for publishing an-insensitive caricature of Ultraman running away from Tokyo with a giant wave closing in, our premier's wife had to embarrass the lights of the nation.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Libyan conflict intensifies

Security forces have tried to retake the eastern town of Al-Zawiyah where the oil refineries are situated. Right now, Libyan authorities are said to be assuming that they have control of the West. Rebel fighters are armed no less.
Whilst the world superpowers condemn the use of force by Libyan security forces on civilians, Gaddafi has some allies who will not take a hard stand against the embattled leader.

Former Cuban president, Fidel Castro opines that there will be a US-backed invasion lead by NATO to take the country's oil. Venezuela and Zimbabwe has not publicly criticized Libya. Venezuela in particular, has close links to Iran and have made somewhat a tepid offer to mediate. Last week, the UN Security unanimously passed a resolution to impose several embargoes to Gaddafi, his family and assets.

The Libyan Transitional Council chair and spokesperson are contradicting each other on talks with the current regime in what appears to be a framework to waive criminal prosecution in exchange for stepping down and making a departure. Liberty for relinquishing power. Somehow the proposed trade off probably would not sit well for a lot of people. The war crimes against his people, against humanity will not blow away with the wind.

Security forces are stepping up the assaults and the casualties are mounting by the day. Benghazi correspondents have reported sporadic gun fire whilst the eastern Libya is raining bullets. Looks like a civil war is inevitable, or rather, this is a civil war in infancy. The east is in the grasp of the opposition and some western parts are reported to be under rebel controls. Intense fighting is reported in Zuwiyah and there is practically no way in, even a communications blackout.
Anti-rebel forces have amassed and surrounded Ras Lanuf which was taken by anti-Gaddafi rebels a few days ago. It only stands to reason that this is a matter of time. The rebel forces will not be able to hold out for long without aid. They are close to being outgunned and out numbered.

What the UN Security Council has to do is decide on the no-fly zone which was been talked about. Military force would be hard to push up with Russian and China possessing veto power in the Council. The no-fly zone may not be feasable as current tactical assessment places Gaddafi ground forces as the real threat and jets would have difficult targeting Libya's fleet of attack choppers at low altitudes. Of course, imposing a no-fly zone may tantamount to an act of war.

More than three quarters of a million civilians have sought asylum from neighbor Tunisia and Egypt. More are still leaving the country for fear of a full blow civil war so long as Gaddafi refuses to relent and continues his onslaught.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

A weekend at the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur

Whether really worth it or not, I decided to sign up for MO's Elite Club membership for a year. The salesperson really had a good telephone voice who sounds like a middle-aged mother with a few kids. I reckon she's doing this part time. First thing she told me about the package was a complimentary deluxe room with a view of the city or KLCC Park, vouchers for hi-tea and dinner free; in my mind, nothing comes free, but she was candid about the package.
What really convinced me was her motherly persistence. She was a nice lady, calling me even after I had signed up to make sure everything was in order. Thinking about my own mother, I thought perhaps she would deserve a weekend with her best friends, having hi-tea and to the SPA. Rooms would be 50% off, 20-30% ff on dining, 23% off on SPA (I still have one voucher for a complimentary hour at the SPA). What's more, my friends can enjoy the same privileges- the membership is transferable, but only valid up to March 2012. All they have to do is pick up the membership card from me.
I checked in about 2pm on Saturday and went straight to the lounge of the 1st floor. The hi-tea was a delightful fulfillment of palates. A delectable selection of pastries and sweets. Devonshire tea (citrus infused early grey with scones, served with cream, marmalade and jam), cheesecakes, mini-chocolate cakes, sandwiches, mini-burgers and turkish delights! All brought to you in a decked-tray. Tea is kept hot by a pot-sleeve.
I spent an hour plus; taking my time savoring the spread and reading a graphic-version of Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Decartes and the greatest astronomers, physicists and scientists humanity has ever seen. For once, i can understand how the Pythagoras theorem came about and how it was Copernicus, not Einstein who first described (although he didn't realise it), the theory of relativity...
After hi-tea, I relegated to my weekend crib, complete with a workstation, Internet connection and a nice hi-back chair for me to catch up on some work. I got a deluxe suite facing the city with a king-sized bed and a 2-seater couch, over and above the workstation. The sun was glistening, but I was comfortably nestled in my huge bed, with a pile of pillows, tea or coffee and fresh pears. The room comes with a 42-inch plasma TV, complete with 30 channels and a DVD player!
Most important of all is my bath tub! Next to it, a shower stall and a separate compartment for the toilet. The bathroom is almost fully-mirror giving the illusion of size and grandeur. The doors are folding as opposed to conventional-hinged door and from the bathtub, I can still watch TV (with speakers routed to the bathroom; adjustable volume) and read my novel at the same time. When I spend time at hotels, it's no less than 3 times per day in the bath tub! Morning, after lunch and after dinner!
I got up this morning and went to KLCC Park for a stroll. The restaurants rimming the park were mostly opened. I was thinking of some Eggs Benedict at Dome, but decided to get a Sausage McMuffin at McDs. I went down to Cold Storage to get some springrolls and onion rings after breakfast for a TV snack after that. Yes, I headed to the bath tub again to finish my book and to watch TV. I checked out at 2pm after a long, well deserved break.
What a treat after a long week. I shall look forward to coming back here again from some "Peter time". Next time, I'll certainly try the SPA and use the gym. Since it's 50% off for rooms and suites, I'll take 2 nights for the price of 1...


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Getting Killed For Having An Opinion

Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian cabinet minister was shot for taking a stance against Pakistan's blasphemy laws. He had prepared to die for his principles against what he perceived as a law which is subject to abuse and purely to protect Islamic authority. The Taliban has claimed responsibility.

What sort of religion would prescribed killing to go to heaven? I guess the Taliban can tell us the answer to that. I am fed up with hearing of persecutions of Christians across the world, especially by the ones who would do it for the sake of their faith. The price to pay for freedom of religion is getting far too much for Christians.

Everything has its place in time. After all, observe the turmoil happening on the Arab nations and the Muslim world. Some say it's the demise of an old regime consisting of dictators, cronies and Islamist fundamentalist, thralled with destruction at the hands of self-fulfilling events. Others will say is the hands of God rebuking the ones who profess everything in the name of god to loot, plunder and murder.

It is foretold that the end is near. Christians must ever be more vigilant and look out for signs of the Second Coming. The rife in the Middle East was prophesied. The uncanny development of events lend so much credence that biblical events are unfolding throughout the world. The weather shifts, the rising seas and even the rise of China and Russia. It is undeniably true.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Have a Break, Have a...

one of the world's most favorite foods....the famous KitKat tag line came to mind whilst having tea with Ezral and Cheryl at Mano's Mega Curry House in Kota Damansara...
God knows, I have the most insatiable lust for a sinful brown. As a matter of fact, my favorite treat is a bar of "Crunchie", a Cadbury made, chocolate-covered honeycomb bar...the first bite is heavenly. The trick about enjoying a Crunchie bar is not to have more than one bar at any one time. Too much of a good thing dilutes the satisfaction, hence why I call it a 'treat'. But the coat on the Crunchie bar is milk chocolate. Studies have shown that dark chocolates are beneficial once eaten.
Chocolate is not necessarily bad for your teeth or health. Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids which acts as antioxidants- protecting your body from aging caused by free radicals - which can cause damage leading up to heart diseases. A study in Holland shows that dark chocolates have 4 times the amount of antioxidants than green tea...
Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure via the production of nitric oxide and can balance hormonal fluxes in your body.
Of course, like the adage goes, "everything in moderation". We are all concerned about the calories and saturated fats in chocolate products...
While both cocoa and chocolate contain sugar, they also have properties that work against sugar's tendency to produce the oral bacteria that eventually leads to dental decay. Ironically, studies have shown that milk chocolates is least likely to contribute to tooth decay, since it contains phosphate, vitamins B1, B2, D and E as well as potassium and magnesium.
The level of saturated fat in chocolate is due to the presence of cocoa butter, which increases blood cholesterol levels. On the other hand, it also contains a high level of phenolen and that lowers the risk of heart disease. A regular cup of coffee contains 130-150 mg of caffeine whereas a one ounce piece of chocolate contains only 60mg.
At this rate, it's better to give up coffee than chocolate, don't you think?


15-0 Majority Passes Resolution Against Libya & Ghadafi

Yesterday, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to impose arms, asset-freeze and travel embargoes on Libya, her embattled leader and several of his key associates. The resolution seems to give carte blanc for "all necessary measures to enable the return to Libya of humanitarian agencies and to secure the prompt and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need." This seems to suggests military action. I think Russia and China might have something to say about it. Their stake in pipelines means they have their own interests to protect.

This certainly won't be the first time Libya had been imposed sanctions on. After the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, it took Libya almost 15 years to claim responsibility. The bombing of the Boeing 747-121 also known as "the Clipper of the Maiden Seas" were probably as a result of confrontations with the US Navy in the 1980s in the Gulf of Sidra, a body of water was under dispute on which Libya claimed territory. Suffice to say, despite the then sanctions, Libya could still muster up a USD2.7 billion compensation for the victims' families. Probably the first time sponsored terrorism had offered compensation to terror victims.
In Bahrain, her King has reorganized the cabinet and cut government housing loans by 25% in what is supposed to be a bargaining chip to entertain reforms and start dialogues for its implementation. This is probably in reacting to the return of Hassan Mushaiman, the opposition leader of the Haq Movement, a major Shite group to deliver his speech on regime change. So far, the casualties are far less compared to Libya. The dialogue proposing sovereignty has issued orders for the mortal harm of civilians; not just, but its people.
The clashes in Yemen have apparently has no effect on President Salleh's resolute. His security forces are starting to show brazen disregard for safety and life and the anti-government protesters were hit by gunfire when they shot into crowds, just like Libya. These demonstrators, mostly students have lined the streets outside Sanna University and are still taking flack from pro-government supporters. Yemen is probably "knackered", wracked by Shite Muslims, an American aided crackdown of Al-Qaeda operatives and shortage of water.
Mostly, cries for the ouster of the current government and the end of political and economical woes and the end of corrupt government officials rings through-out the Arab nations in these recent times. I am utterly perplexed by the apparent inequality of the distribution of wealth. At one time, deposed Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak's total wealth was said to have exceeeded USD70billion.
An interesting book I came across scouring the Internet for more reading material on Middle East socio-economical related problems. A Duke University professor of Islamic studies, economics and political science by the name of Timur Kuran authored this book, titled "The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East"- which is essentially the decline of the Arab nations and the Middle Eastern economies at the hands of Muslim based economies which are incompatible with capitalism. Various laws in Islamic societies were not conducive to large-scale economic structures, at precisely the time when such structures were becoming profitable and are drivers of economic growth - whether it is on inheritance law, contracts, forming corporations, etc. I reckon a book by a Muslim and an insider will be a good read, lest a non-Muslim writer would probably be accused of being biased and western in thought.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Libyan Bloodshed

The clashes have not escalated to Tripoli where embattled Ghaddafi is situated. His interior minister has resigned and members of the armed forces and air force have defected in defiance to orders to open fire on civilians. Benghazi and smaller eastern towns are no longer under Ghadaffi's control. The plan is now to take down the western bloc.
Forty over years is a long time to hold the reigns, history has taught us that the declaration of "long live the king" does not hold for long in less than a Utopian administration. Power and money corrupts and resounding Lord Herschell, "absolute power corrupts absolutely". In a world of capitalism-fueled economies, it is almost impossible to find equal or seeming equal distribution of wealth. Cheap loans and good tax levies are justifications of the now challenged leader, but the cry for reforms go beyond these very fringe benefits.
The military is under the control of the executive, unlike Egypt where they have a stake in the economy and their interests underscores the preservation of a government who would be willing to allow these policies to remain. The brutal tactics of using military and security forces to quell civilian uprising has drawn tremendous flack from international communities, especially the Western bloc.
The Libyan ambassador in the USA even has called for Moammar Ghaddafi & sons end to the senseless rampage which has so far resulted in more than a thousand deaths. Perceivable act of heinous crimes against his own people.
So now the opposition is growing in force from defections which borders on treason I am sure. A civil war, so it seems. On state tv, the Ghaddafi has threatened to escalate the violence: ""We can destroy any assault with the people's will, with the armed people," he said. "And when it is necessary, the weapons depots will be open to all the Libyan people to be armed."
The Al-Qaeda has been one of those blamed, to wit, supplying the youths with hallucinogenic drugs. An offer has been made to increase state salaries by 150% and the premier's son assuring that things will get better BUT making it clear that the embattled leader will not step down.
The UN Supreme Council has proposed a resolution to impose new sanctions to Libya; arms, assets and travel. But military intervention is unlikely to accompany if Russia and China does not back the use of force.
These unfolding events frightfully points to Biblical prophecies coming to life. It is foretold that there will be unrest in the Middle East and later, Libya, Iran, Turkey, the Arab world generally, will eventually descend upon Israel to destroy the nation of God's chosen people but just before she falls, it is also foretold that Christ (God) and his army will descend and wipe out the "unholy army"off the face of the earth.