Monday, June 6, 2011

X Marks the Spot

Last week was a week of movies in cinemas for me. Thursday was X-Men : First Class and Friday : Kungfu Panda 2.

Though I’m not much of a comic fan, I do enjoy watching movies of comic heroes in the big screen. Bryan Singer is back as Producer with Matthew Vaughn directing this franchise. This time the movie turns back the clock in time and tells the story from the main characters, namely Professor X and Magneto’s younger days. The focus of this movie mainly explored on the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lansherr – how they become friends and later enemies, each working on their own cause and belief.

X-Men started off by introducing Erik Lansherr (later known as “Magneto”) being taken away by the German soldiers during WW2.Young Erik’s anger being separated from his mother saw him bending the wire mesh and the steel gate by staring at the gate itself despite being pulled back by a few soldiers. This has caught the attention of a scientist (Kevin Bacon playing the role) who strongly supports Hitler. Young Erik is then being “persuaded” by the scientist to train and enhance his telekinetic power. Later on, we see Erik (Michael Fassbender – man, this guy really looks cool and has a great physique!) grown up into a young adult who hated Nazi and hunt down those who played a part in his tormenting upbringing. Meanwhile, his main tormentor, the scientist has reinvented himself and took on an identity of Sebastian Shaw who runs a Hellfire Club with hidden agenda (aka causing nuclear conflict between the Yankies and the Moscowites).

On the other hand, our beloved Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) is potrayed as a smooth talking Brit who is making a name for himself in his studies and works on genetic mutation. Charles’ vast knowledge in genetic mutation caught the attention of CIA and is being asked to help the CIA to prevent Shaw and his goons of baddies from instigating another World War off the coast of Cuba. While hunting down Shaw, Erik chanced upon Charles and soon these 2 became ally. Erik found out that Charles also possessed telekinetic power. Erik somehow reluctantly helped Charles in working with the CIA but remained deeply cynical about trusting the “normal” human beings.

X-Men First Class introduced to us a few new young mutants namely Mystique, Raven, Beast, Banshee and Havoc. Though Beast and Mystique have already been introduced in the previous edition of X-Men, the rest are making their maiden appearance in X-Men. Of course, the eye-candy in this X-Men is Emma Frost (Jennifer Jones) who possesses telekinetic power too and with a penchant for tiny clothing ala retro-look. The highlight of the movie I would say is when Charles Xavier uses his telekinetic power to reach out to the other mutants and try to bring them together under his umbrella. In one of the scene, you will see a cameo appearance by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) whose foul-mouthed Charles escaped the Malaysian censorship board.

In all good vs evil stories, you already know who will win the battle. It’s interesting that this time around the plot plays more towards the human mutant’s emotions whereby they each have to decide which faction they want to follow : Professor X or Magneto. It also explained how Charles Xavier became wheelchair bound and we have some light-hearted moments when Charles tried teaching the young mutants how to put their mutants’ abilities to good use and enhancing their powers.

Picture credit to

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Minimal Impact? You Must Be Kidding Sir!

The Government has done it again!

Effective 1st June 2011, the electricity tariff has been increased by 7% from 31.31sen/kWh to 33.54/kWh. According to the Ministry involved, the increased will not result in a massive inflation. FYI, current inflation rate for Malaysia is officially reported at 3.5%. The Minister also added that the increase will not impact 85% of the consumers whose monthly average usage of electricity is below the threshold line. This tariff increase will mainly impact the commercial sector. So, excuse me Sir?! What do you mean consumers will not be impacted. Do u mean that the business sector will quietly absorb the cost of the tariff increase? You think every businessman out there will sit down quietly and absorb their increased operating cost? Surely they will pass down the cost to the consumers. I am sure that restaurant operators will dish out a smaller servings for the same price or increase the selling price to cover the cost.

Already, the Malaysian Retailer-Chains Association has indicated retailers may have to pass on to consumers part of the additional costs incurred following the tariff hike. In computing the price increase, I am sure that businesses like hawker or mamak will increase food price by a fixed amount. Who says a 7% increase in electricity has minimal impact. Can you imagine everything you buy, somewhere or another is produced by something which uses electricity before the final product is served/sold to you? Everyone knows how to “justify” him/herself when a raise is needed. You will just be wasting your energy arguing that the product that you buy does not use energy from raw material to semi-finished goods to finished goods.

A few days ago, a colleague of mine related to me an incident he had at a mamak stall. Many moons ago, the local Ministry announced the price increase of sugar. This was in line with global price increase and to encourage Malaysians to consume less sugar. My colleague went to a Mamak stall and ordered a less sugar tea. When the bill came, he was being charged for the same price as a regular cup of tea. When my colleague asked shouldn’t he be charged a cheaper cup of tea since he ordered a less sugar? The waiter just smiled and said other operating cost has increased like gas etc. “So, sorry Sir, your tea cost as much as the rest”.

So, when someone open his/her mouth, especially someone who holds a Govermental position tells us there is “Minimal Impact”, I think you must be kidding Sir!