If you subscribe to the view that this was an act of God then this must have been God's view of it.
Waveofdestruction.org has more photos and videos.
The death toll now exceeds 120,000.
Remarkable stories of survival are still emerging, though. The elderly man seen swept away by a sea surge in Phuket is alive. However, he's in a coma and his wife is still missing.
Meanwhile, a MeFi poster shares a gripping personal account.
Dry factual accounts of tsunamis and sea surges don't come close to conveying human helplessness in the face of nature's power and fury the way these videos do (1, 2, 3).
The latest reports put the death toll at 76,700 and that means 76,700 devastating scenes like this one.
The news just gets worse. The death toll is now apparently 44,000 with children making up a large percentage of that number.
The scope of this is staggering. Wikipedia notes the earthquake and the resulting tsunamis claimed lives in 12 countries spanning 7 different time-zones with tourists from 37 countries among those dead or missing.
Locally, the number of dead stands at 63 with 26 missing. (The Star only lists 60 victims as of writing.) The country is coping, though.
Stories are emerging -- uplifting, bittersweet, heart-breaking.
More personal accounts: 1, 2, 3.
Scroll half-way down this page and click on the "Se Videoen" link for distressing amateur footage of a sea surge. (Link obtained from the Qt3 forums.)
There were concerns the political situation in Aceh and Sri Lanka might affect aid distribution but warring parties in both areas are setting aside their differences for now. Dangers still remain, though. Survivors and rescuers in Sri Lanka now have to worry about landmines dislodged by the killer waves.
Yet more quotes:
The death toll from the devastating series of tsunamis that hit southeast Asian coastlines is rising steadily. The most recent number touted is 23,000.
The Star has a list of the dead in the northern region of Malaysia. It currently stands at 52 (excluding a victim from Selangor) but the number could rise since there are 22 people reported missing.
It's hard watching the footage on the satellite news networks. So many heart-rending scenes from so many different countries. Women and children desperately trying to hold on to a building only to be swept away by the raging waters ... men standing on the side of an upturned bus as water slowly but inexorably rises around their feet ... bloated bodies lying on the ground unnaturally coloured with rigor mortis causing their hands to reach skywards as if asking for divine aid ... a weeping man wipes away dirt from a dead woman's face ... a woman screaming at the dead child cradled in her arms as though trying to wake her up ...
Have you heard that business mantra "Think global, execute locally"?
Well, Mother Nature took that to heart yesterday morning and claimed several thousand lives in several countries. (Reports: BBC, AP, CNN, Guardian, Metafilter, Slashdot.)
A massive quake off the Sumatran coast measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale -- the largest in 40 years -- caused a series of tsunamis which devastated coastlines of southeast Asian nations and triggered extreme tides as far away as east Africa.
I felt nothing. The first I knew about this was when I read Drudge around lunchtime. However, tremors were felt by Malaysians in high-rise buildings and there were evacuations.
This really comes as a complete shock. I think it's fair to say "death by tsunami" would only be one rank higher than "attack by giant space lizard" on a list of things most Malaysians would fear so you can understand why the Deputy Prime Minister was moved to state the country had never experienced such a disaster before. We've only had to contend with seasonal floods prior to this.
The local death toll is 53 as of writing. While that number may be low compared to the thousands killed in other countries, officials here are describing this as "the worst natural disaster in Malaysia’s history."
Peter Parker: I was bitten by a radioactive spider and now have the proportionate strength of a spider as well as a spider-sense that warns me of danger.
Bruce Banner: I was caught in the blast of a gamma bomb and I now turn into green juggernaut of destruction whenever I get angry.
P. Muthusamy: My father was using a Nokia N-Gage ...
Click on the thumbnail for a photo of Kamen Rider Ryuga from Bandai's SIC volume 25 set.
United missed a golden opportunity to close in on Chelsea and Arsenal after only managing a 1-1 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage earlier in the week. (Reports: BBC, Soccernet, Guardian, ManUtd.com.)
The Red Devils were in control for the most of that match but once again struggled to convert possession into goals. United took the lead thanks to Smith's determination and persistence but it became clear Ferguson's team missed van Nistelrooy's single-mindedness and ruthlessness as they fluffed chance after chance later. They were ultimately punished for their profligacy in the 87th minute when Boubba Diop beat Carroll with a stunning shot to equalise.
There was hell to pay and United took their frustrations out on Crystal Palace when they beat them 5-2 at Old Trafford yesterday. (Reports: BBC, Soccernet, Guardian, ManUtd.com.)
The first half saw three goals scored as United took a 2-1 lead but the turning point of the match occurred in the opening minutes of the second half which saw three goals scored in as many minutes. Palace did well to level but were left stunned by an own goal and they were completely broken when Scholes scored his second of the match.
It was almost all United after that as Giggs turned on the style down the left flank. O'Shea scored with his shin to make it five after stellar work by the Welshman but United could have easily reached double figures were it not for some superb saves by the Palace keeper.
The result means United remain nine points behind league leaders Chelsea.
Takara CEO Satoh Keita talks about his challenges in a rather downbeat Japan Times article. Unfortunately, there's nothing exciting to report.
The CEO does explain his risky "what do you really, really want to do" strategy circa 2000 was aimed at boosting employee morale. (He didn't elaborate but Takara watchers will know employee morale was at a low following the unsuccessful tenure of Satoh's by-the-book older brother, Hirohisa.)
Kudos to Zinc Panic for their recent coverage (1, 2, 3) of Takara's reaction to disappointing earnings.
It's worth noting, though, the company was making similar noises about restructuring and focus-shifting in its 2004 annual report after its financial results for the fiscal year ending March 2004 fell short of expectations as well.
The company's move to merge and sell off portions of its business in order to become a lean, mean profit-making machine is probably a painful one for Satoh Keita. The CEO had previously based his corporate strategy on asking employers what they really, really wanted to do and this resulted in some oddball products -- some hot, some not.
For toy fans, however, this restructuring and refocussing is going to be a welcome development indeed. The big news for fans of Takara's older hits is the company's interest in reviving and exploiting those hits. (This blast from the past focus is fitting considering Takara will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next September.) Anyway, properties cited include Diaclone, Dougram, Votoms and Jeeg, and I'm guessing the company is going to use the same approach it used with Transformers and Microman i.e. begin with repros before producing new designs inspired by the vintage ones.
Transformers fans will no doubt be heartened by the company's strong focus on the line. This is hardly surprising since Transformers racked up 2,338 million yen in sales for the six months ending September 2004 making it Takara's second-biggest hit in the Boys' Toys Division after Duel Masters.
In one little-reported move, Takara is also working with Micott and Basara, Inc to produce a CG Transformers movie for Japan and abroad in 2006. This is apparently a separate project from the Dreamworks-helmed movie. However, I couldn't find additional details on the web aside from the mention in Takara's 2004 annual report and there's no mention of it on Micott and Basara's web site.
In another surprising move, Takara is preparing a sentai show to be aired next January. This will not be Takara's first foray into the sentai genre. Cybercop gets little attention these days but the toys look to be absolutely brilliant (for that time period anyway).
However, it's a competitive market these days. Konami/Toho currently have Justirisers and Bandai/Toei's Magiranger will no doubt be the 800-pound gorilla 8000 tonne daikaiju of the genre. I'm not sure how Takara is going to differentiate itself from its competitors but I'm confident in Takara's ability to produce fantastic action figures. I'm expecting some detailed figures with articulation comparable (if not superior) to Konami's Justirisers figures and hopefully, Takara's designers will also incorporate 5mm pegs and ports into the line for compatibility with the company's other action figure offerings.
One final note about the Japanese toy market in general: It's generally assumed the Japanese toy market is heading for bad times due to the declining birth rate but that may not necessarily be the case. From Takara's 2004 annual report:
According to data from The Japan Toy Association, the value of Japan’s toyrelated market (excluding videogames and related merchandise) in fiscal 2004, ended March 31, 2004, was ¥703.1 billion, around the same level as the previous year. Indications are that the composition of the market is changing. Despite a declining population due to Japan’s low birthrate, the amount spent on toy purchases per person is climbing, and a toy market targeting adults has also begun to emerge.
You can take your Big Macs, Whoppers and White Castle square burgers and shove them where the sun don't shine. (Hint: Not under Ronald McDonald's hairpiece.)
Any Malaysian with functioning tastebuds will tell you that Ramly burgers (1, 2, 3, 4) are by far the best around.
What makes Ramly Burger so delicious? No one seems to know for certain. Will we be in for a Soylent Green-type revelation in the near future? "Ramly Burgers are people named Ramly! Ramly!" The really scary part is we might not care.
Just how good are these burgers? They're so good that one Singaporean guy was jailed for smuggling Ramly burger patties.
Akiyama Ren was a belligerent punk with a chip on his shoulder until he met a woman who made a better man of him. She urged him to stop fighting but in one of life's bitter ironies, she ended up being the reason Akiyama is locked in mortal combat. As Kamen Rider Knight, Akiyama will battle 12 other Riders to the death for the ultimate prize -- one reality-altering wish -- because it's the only chance he has of reviving his now-comatose love.
Bandai's R&M2 Kamen Rider Knight set is the second in the Rider & Monster action figure series based on the Kamen Rider Ryuki show. The set was originally released in 2002 for 2500 yen and it was released locally a few months ago for RM99.90.
The set comes in a box with an inner plastic tray containing:
This is hands-down my favourite Kamen Rider design even though the only traditional element retained is the belt. It just looks so damned classy. Broadly, Kamen Rider Knight is a delightful blend of Batman and a chivalric knight.
The figure is a good representation of the character though the show costume is a much darker shade of blue.
The only thing I don't care for is the "fangs" on the helmet. I can understand the designer's attempt to incorporate some bat element into the helmet design but it didn't really work for me.
The articulation is similar to the Ryuki figure reviewed earlier with 24 points of articulation altogether. It's certainly nothing to sneer at but some joints are impeded or have a disappointing range of motion. For instance, the shoulder armour hinders the shoulder posability in some directions and the ball-jointed head is limited by the collar. I would have also liked a greater range of motion for the hips but the figure is posable enough.
Knight's contracted monster is a giant bat which looks ... okay. It's just not as impressive on its own as Dragreder or Magnagiga.
Dark Wing is nicely articulated, though. The wings have three joints each, the tail has a hinge joint and the head and feet are ball-jointed.
The best thing about Dark Wing is it attaches to Knight's back to provide either flight or protection and manages to look good in either mode.
Dark this, wing that
Knight's Dark Visor, the card-reader device that allows him to initiate his special attacks, comes in the form of a sword. This would have been a nice accessory if it weren't for the fact the blade of the sword is made of easily warped PVC. Pre-warped in the package itself, it defied my attempts to straighten it and it now exudes all the menace of a wet noodle.
A separate holster piece is provided so the sword can be sheathed but it does look awkward since the hilt practically sticks into his armpit.
Knight's Wing Lancer, a lance formed from Dark Wing's tail, is much better executed. One might point out the hilt is much shorter than it should be but one would be a nitpicky bastard indeed.
The final accessory is the mantle and it's the weakest of the lot. It's supposed to make Knight look noble and stately but unfortunately, Dark Wing's prominent head makes Knight look like he's carrying a bat papoose-style.
The bottom line
The set is retailing locally for the same price as the Ryuki and Zolda sets which might make it seem like less of a bargain but I just love this design and as such it gets thumbs-up from me.
United's second eleven got hit for three by Fenerbahce in their final Champions League Group D match. (Reports: BBC, Soccernet, Guardian, ManUtd.com.)
The li'l Devils did well enough to contain the Turkish side in the first half but they succumbed to a second half hattrick by Tuncay. Judging from the performances they put in, I doubt we'll be seeing the likes of O'Shea, Djemba-Djemba, Miller and Phil Neville in the starting eleven again soon.
Toho/Konami's follow-up to Gransazer, Justirisers, has begun airing and naturally, the figures have been released as well.
I'm not sure what "Justirisers" means but I'm guessing it's something along the lines of "peculiar fashion sense." I simply don't understand why they have to go around wearing cloaks. Why would someone who regularly engages in melee combat want to wear something from Hamid Karzai's wardrobe?
By day, they're the Microman Military Force, a heavily armed, er, military force.
By night, they're a rocking band.
From Wired News' review of Pirates!:
... Sid Meier -- whose name is spoken in the same breath as Will Wright and John Carmack as being among those who literally invented the computer-gaming medium -- ...
Globalisation means having a Japanese tokusatsu character named after an Australian aboriginal weapon.
United made it seven in a row when they beat Southampton 3-0 at Old Trafford yesterday. (Reports: BBC, Soccernet, Guardian, ManUtd.com.)
Southampton defended stoutly to keep the score at nil-nil for the first 45 minutes but the situation changed dramatically in the second half.
Ferdinand's lobbed ball found an unmarked Scholes in the six-yard box and United's number 18 headed the ball in the net for his fourth goal in three Premiership matches. The goal was scrappy but the Premiership doesn't award extra points for style. More importantly, though, the goal broke Southampton's spirit and the visitors just went to pieces as United tore into them again and again. (The Red Devils were so rampant they would register an astonishing 34 attempts on Southampton's goal by the end of the match.)
It was no surprise when United doubled their lead five minutes after getting their first. Giggs produced a perfect chipped pass right where Rooney wanted it and the Boy Wonder not only beat Keller but he made it look easy.
(Remarkably, United had managed that with only ten players as Smith had been taken off for treatment after being injured in the build-up of the first goal.)
Kitaoka Shuichi has everything. Good looks. Money. An outstanding career. A faithful butler cum bodyguard cum cook.
Kitaoka nonetheless takes part in a deadly game as Kamen Rider Zolda because he badly needs the prize -- one reality-altering wish.
The man who has everything also has a terminal illness and he's running out of time.
Bandai's R&M3 Kamen Rider Zolda set is the third in the Rider & Monster action figure series based on the Kamen Rider Ryuki show. It retailed for 3200 yen when it was first released in 2002 but I got it from Jusco Mid Valley early last month for RM79.92 thanks a 20 per cent discount.
The set comes in a box with an inner plastic tray containing the following:
It's been suggested (1, 2) "Zolda" is derived from "soldier" but that doesn't really tie in with Kitaoka's character or motivations.
This is even less of a traditional Kamen Rider design than Ryuki. Indeed, Zolda's cool Cylon eye effect and the rotating gears on his helmet (both were understandably omitted from the action figure) actually suggest cyborg origins.
This is a nice design but the combination of green, black and silver chrome doesn't appeal to me much. A nitpicky bastard (e.g. me) might also fuss over minor missteps (e.g. the slightly miscoloured Magnavisor) but Bandai's action figure is largely faithful to the character.
The figure stands about 13cm tall with the antennae adding a few millimetres to the height. Being all-plastic (with the exception of the screws and rivets), it's solid enough to survive a few falls and the antennae are made of pliable plastic which means they're unlikely to snap off.
R&M Zolda has all the joints and ports of the Ryuki figure reviewed earlier but has an additional hinge joint for each shoulder pad. Despite the presence of those extra joints, the pads do still restrict posability at the shoulders.
"Magna" is Latin for "great" and "giga" comes from the Greek word "gigas" meaning "giant" which means Magnagiga is more or less "one big sumbitch." Appropriately enough, the figure is the reason why the box is twice as thick as R&M1 Kamen Rider Ryuki's box.
Magnagiga stands about 16cm tall with the tips of the horns adding another 2cm to the height. Construction-wise, the figure is all plastic except for the metal screws and rivets.
This is a decent action figure on its own. The articulation low-down:
In addition, the chest opens and cannons lower from the shins in order to reproduce Zolda's final attack, the End of the World.
Annoyingly, some parts are prone to popping off with the shoulder pads being the biggest pains. This is especially exasperating since it's not apparent to me why Magnagiga's shoulder pads have been made removable in the first place.
Zolda's Magnavisor, the card-reader device used to trigger his special attacks, comes in the form of gun which can be holstered at Zolda's hip port.
Additional arms and armour comes from Magnagiga whose entire self can be dismantled for that express purpose.
For starters, Magnagiga's head detaches to become the forearm-mounted Gigahorn.
Magnagiga's arms and back detach and straighten to become the oversized Gigalauncher. (I'm guessing it's called Gigalauncher mainly because "Penis Compensator" didn't pass the copyright search.) The 29.5cm-long weapon attaches to Zolda's hip port and includes handles for the figure to grip but its sheer size makes it difficult to be held without the use of the provided bipod and stand.
The stand (formed from Magnagiga's trunk) also doubles as an oversized shield called Giga Armor.
Magnagiga's lower half folds up to become the Gigacannon which plugs into Zolda's back ports.
Finally, Magnagiga's kneecaps become armour pieces called Gigatector which attach to Zolda's shoulder pads. Zolda looks well-armoured as it is so I'm not sure why he would need additional armour for the shoulders. Perhaps he's seen what happened to Brawn.
The Souchaku Henshin and SIC lines get more attention from collectors but I really like the R&M series since it scores highly in the value-for-money department. The R&M3 Kamen Rider Zolda set is typical of the series with two nice action figures that are faithful to the source material and as such it gets a thumbs-up from me.
United beat Arsenal 1-0 in a League Cup quaterfinal match at Old Trafford. (Reports: BBC, Soccernet, Guardian, ManUtd.com, pix.) It was United's sixth win in a row.
(United had hit West Brom for three last Saturday in a match that wasn't aired locally. Reports: BBC, Soccernet, Guardian.)
Ferguson fielded a second-string side but United still had 8 full internationals on the pitch. Arsenal, on the other hand, fielded a youthful side -- the average age of their 10 outfield players was apparently only 19 -- but it was their 27-year-old keeper who made a schoolboy error to gift United an early lead.
With less than 20 seconds on the clock, Bellion took advantage of slips by two Arsenal defenders and fired a tame-looking shot straight at the Arsenal keeper who fumbled Taibi-cally.
United had opportunities to increase the lead (with Richardson coming the closest) but the score remain unchanged. Wenger, being Wenger, whined about United's tactics but had to concede United deserved the victory.
United face Chelse in the semifinals and it will be interesting to see if Ferguson sticks with his second eleven. He insists he will but he's likely to be up against a full-strength Chelsea side since Mourinho considers the League Cup "an important trophy."
Jeff Ooi makes some strange assumptions about BitTorrent technology.
Ooi's paranoia over BitTorrent security is misplaced since you're more likely to get malware from an e-mail attachment or surfing the web.
His concerns over copyright infringement, on the other hand, are worth taking seriously.
It's worth pointing out, though, not every file distributed via BitTorrent is illegal. Blizzard, for instance, has been using BitTorrent to distribute World of Warcraft files to gamers.
However, I'm not sure of the legality of BitTorrent-distributed broadcast TV shows. It strikes me as being just as innocuous as taping a show and passing the tape to a friend.
While I haven't read of any action taken by TV networks over free broadcast TV shows distributed via BitTorrent, at least one copyright holder has contacted ISPs and individuals due to copyright infringement of a pay-TV show.
(And lest you think action would threatened only against downloaders in the US, I should point out copyright holders in the US are known to contact foreigners ... though not always with the desired result.)
Thus far, BitTorrent TV seems to have had a negligible impact locally. This isn't surprising since the broadband penetration rate in Malaysia is still unacceptably low at the moment and you would very much want a broadband connection to download TV show episodes since they're typically between 150 and 400MB in size.
Meet Rui and Mao, Takara Hobby's image characters, the Dotcom Girls, who debuted at World Character Con 19 on November 21.
Invincible Robot Laboratory has moved so update those bookmarks. I frequently visit the site because Yone's got great taste in robot action figures and he displays a lot of creativity with them as well.
Current TV shows I'm following via BitTorrent:
You can get the torrents for those shows from the following sources:
Not everyone wants to be famous for 15 minutes.
From Times Online:
By wearing a specially designed electronic badge that jams electronic cameras, they will be able to prevent photographers from taking unwanted pictures.The “privacy protection system” being developed by Hewlett-Packard will allow the publicity-shy to transmit an infrared signal to any nearby compatible camera. Once activated, the camera’s software will automatically blur beyond recognition the face of anybody wearing the badge, New Scientist magazine reports.
By wearing a specially designed electronic badge that jams electronic cameras, they will be able to prevent photographers from taking unwanted pictures.
The “privacy protection system” being developed by Hewlett-Packard will allow the publicity-shy to transmit an infrared signal to any nearby compatible camera. Once activated, the camera’s software will automatically blur beyond recognition the face of anybody wearing the badge, New Scientist magazine reports.
(Sites like this would be one reason why such a feature would be desirable.)
And just to cover all bases, HP is also developing technology that will allow you to take a picture without being detected.
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