The “Digging for the Truth” cover-up

Recently, the History Channel has carried out some sort of a cover-up with regards to one of its popular documentary series “Digging for the Truth”. As you might recall from one of my earlier postings, “Digging for the Truth” ran for three seasons hosted by Josh Bernstein, and in the forth season the host duties were taken over by another History Channel host Hunter Ellis. Unfortunately, the lacklusture performance of the new host, coupled with the change to a more action-orientated method of presentation, disappointed many fans. And as yet, no new episode of DFT has been announced since season 4 ended.

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While I was browsing the official DFT website and reading through its discussion board, I learnt that DFT season 4 was originally planned to have two hosts, Hunter Ellis, and Zay Harding, who is famous for hosting several episodes of the traveling show “Globe Trekker”. Many of Zay’s fans as well as fans of DFT were enthusiastic about the new energy and drive Zay would bring onto the show. Indeed, promos of DFT featuring both Zay and Hunter Ellis were released ahead of the premiere of season 4, as well as upcoming episode schedules indicating which episodes would be hosted by whom. [UPDATE: The two links no longer work as the History Channel had revamped its website.]
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However, just as DFT season 4 was about to premiere, all DFT promos which featured Zay were pulled off air, and all references to Zay on the DFT website were deleted. And the premiere episode, initially scheduled to have been an episode hosted by Zay, was instead replaced by a Hunter Ellis episode. No official explanation was given by the History Channel for the abrupt changes, and the discussion board was rife with questions on why Zay was missing from the show, until some insiders revealed that Zay Harding had been released from his contract, apparently because of a small acting role that he played in a film over ten years ago, which made the History Channel deem that Zay was unsuitable to host this educational documentary series. Another post suggested that Zay left the show because of ‘creative differences’ with the History Channel.
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Most DFT fans regard Zay’s removal from the show to be unfortunate, a loss for History Channel itself, as Zay was considered by many to be an amazing host on “Globe Trekker”, with his great personality and hot looks, and having an ability to breathe life into the topics that he presents. Indeed, many viewers planned to watch DFT just because they heard that Zay Harding would be hosting.
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And as a result of Zay Harding’s removal, nearly all the DFT episodes hosted by Zay were either reshot with host Hunter Ellis, or simply left unaired or unproduced. A previously released episode schedule indicated that there would have been 13 episodes, just as in previous seasons. But DFT season 4 eventually aired only 8 episodes. Among the episodes that were either unaired or unproduced featured topics such as the Neanderthal Men, King Midas, Hawaiian Surfer Kings, and the Great Wall of China. A two-hour episode on the Mediterranean Pirates originally supposed to feature both hosts was cut down to one hour, and with Zay’s scenes reshot with Hunter Ellis. It can almost be certain that the Neanderthal Men episode was produced, since that was initially scheduled to be the premiere episode. And some footage I believe to have been shot for the Hawaiian Surfer Kings episode has surfaced on Youtube.
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I should say that I was rather intrigued by the extent of the cover-up that History Channel has undertaken, to make it look as if Zay Harding has never existed, at least where DFT is concerned. Nevertheless, History Channel did not do a perfect job, as when I was watching the channel the other day, a promo of DFT showed Zay Harding walking around Angkor Wat and explaining about the ancient ruins, and I found this very surprising as I know for a fact that the Angkor Wat episode was hosted by Hunter Ellis since that episode had been aired before. Obviously, all of Zay’s scenes has been reshot with Hunter Ellis, and nearly scene for scene.
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On the left is Zay Harding, a still from the DFT promo. And on the right is Hunter Ellis, who is redoing the same scene in the actual episode aired. In both scenes, they were explaining that there were many possible reasons that caused the fall of the Angkor Empire, using the same words: “Like in any great murder mystery, the list of suspects here is long…”
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Here’s another comparison, with Hunter Ellis on the right redoing Zay Harding’s scene, probably standing in the exact same spot.
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And in this comparison, we have Hunter Ellis walking down the same stretch that Zay Harding had threaded previously.
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I am rather convinced that these two scenes come from the unaired Neanderthal Men episode hosted by Zay Harding, with Zay exploring the caves and trying emulate the Neanderthals by spearing a deer.
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This could be a Zay Harding swimming scene from the unaired Hawaiian Surfer King episode.
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Obviously, much has been lost when the History Channel decided not to air the DFT episodes hosted by Zay Harding but still not reshot with Hunter Ellis, but apparently this is standard practice in TV production under such circumstances. Strangely enough, the History Channel has made available the DFT Angkor Wat episode on DVD for sale from its website, and it is the version hosted by Zay Harding.
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“Digging for the Truth” season 4 now airs on the History Channel on Wednesday nights 10pm, with repeats on Thursday and Saturday. Catch host Hunter Ellis performance on the show, and maybe I’ll blog about that subject one day.
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Far East Square Flea Market Closes

The Far East Square Flea Market has held its last day of business on Sunday, January 18, 2009. The flea market had been in operation since 1998, and among the stuff on sale there were second-hand books, toys, clothes, and various other trinklets. After the Clarke Quay Flea Market closed in 2007, most of its vendors moved to China Square Central Flea Market, while some moved to the nearby Far East Square Flea Market, both of which I frequent almost every Sundays.
 
 
I decided to pay a visit to the Far East Square Flea Market on its last day, and take some snapshots for rememberance.
 
      
   

Awesome Toy Collection – I’ve been shopping

I’ve been shopping around for action figures, and among one of my rather bad habits is to chase toy waves several years late, meaning that I would suddenly become interested in collecting certain particular figures, only that those figures were released years ago and may be difficult, or even expensive, to track down. In most cases, I would just come across the loose figures on sale, and buy them up cheaply. Especially now that I am earning my own money, I think that I can now afford the collection that I wanted to have years ago.
  
From the Marvel Universe, this is Super Skrull, a warrior from the Skrull Empire. When Earth’s heroes, the Fantastic Four, thwarted the Skrull Empire’s numerous attempts at conquest of Earth, the Skrulls decided to strike back. Their best warrior was selected, and bionically enhanced with the powers of the Fantastic Four themselves. And thus, Super Skrull was created. He possesses Mr. Fantastic’s stretchability, the Thing’s rock strength, Human Torch’s flame powers, and Invisible Woman’s invisibility, all four powers in one package. Super Skrull is a formidable foe, but the Fantastic Four continues to defeat him in every of their encounters.
  
This is Modok, another Marvel villian. When a technological terrorist group called AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) decided to create their ultimate computer, one of their agents was subjected to radioactive mutation and bioengineering, transforming him into a massive-headed being with superhuman intellignce and psionic powers. Enraged by his hideous appearance, Modok slayed his creators, and took over control of AIM for himself. Now as the head of AIM, Modok leads the AIM’s attempts at world conquest.
 
 
It’s the amazing Swamp Thing! Swamp Thing was originally a Human who was betrayed by his co-workers, and was left for dead in an explosion in the swamp. However, chemicals in the explosions, along with mysterious forces within the swamp, physically transformed him into a vegetable-like creature. He is now Swamp Thing, possessing monstrous strength, and the ability to talk to plants. Swamp Thing now serves as the protector of the environment, defending the swamp against evil business corporations, even as he seeks revenge against those who had attempted to kill him.
 
From the first “Batman” movie, here on the left is another Joker that I had acquired. Apparently, several versions of Joker from the movie were produced. And this latest Joker that I’ve bought has its face sculpted more to the likeness of Jack Nicholson as compared to the one on the right. The smile is unmistakable. Although in the movie, the Joker wears a more purple outfit than this pinky version.
 
When the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin needs additional help, they can count on the assistance of Batgirl! In “Batman and Robin”, Batgirl joined forces with Batman and Robin as they battled Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy. Batgirl looks real stylo in her costume. Check out those heels.
 
And what happens when Batman takes a break from his crime-fighting? He becomes Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy and CEO of Wayne Enterprises. This is Bruce Wayne as seen “Batman Forever”, sculpted in the likeness of Val Kilmer. And below is a picture of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman.
 

My Digital Cameras

My friends and I often talk about what cameras we have, and compare between ourselves the cameras’ specifications and functionalities. And it is amazing just how much a person would want to remember how good his or her camera is, whereas for me, I just take photos with the camera. More often when friends ask me what’s my camera’s power or functions are, I simply don’t know since I never read up about it. And so, for my own reference, and for all who are interested, this blog entry details my digital cameras and their specifications, functionalities, described in the most simplistic terms.
 
Here’s my the first digital camera. A Nikon Coolpix 775. It is 2 megapixel, and the storage media is a flashcard. The lens is a 3X Zoom Nikkor, it consist of seven elements in six groups. The video recording is pathetic, it can only record a maximum 15-second segments of Quicktime movie with no sound.
[UPDATE 2nd January 2012: The Nikon camera has been dead for years, one of its button is stuck, making the camera unusable.]
 
This is an Olympus Stylus 750. It is 7.1 megapixel, the storage media is a xD-Picture Card. Its manual only desctibes the lens as an Olympus lens 6.4 to 32.0 mm, with its focal ranges. The video recording also records sound, there’s no maximum limit of video that can be recorded. But if I’m taking pictures under bright sunlight, the digital display is literally black and cannot be seen.
 
This is my most recent camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3. It is 8.1 megapixels, the storage media is a SD card. The lens is optical 3X zoom, and there’s also video recording with sound. I should mention that I haven’t actually used this camera yet.
 
Okay, technically this is a handphone, not a camera. But I quite often take photos with my Nokia 5310 XpressMusic when I don’t have my camera around. The camera function is not too good, at 2 megapixels the photos only look good when I’m looking at them on my small handphone screen. And in most cases the photos are slightly blurred since nobody is able to keep their hands still while taking photos. There is 4X digital zoom, video recording with sound is also available.
 
None of the above cameras has SLR (single-lens resolution), since there’s no mention of it anywhere.

I give girls too much respect

WARNING: THIS IS A RANT.
 
You know, there was a time when if you ignored a girl too much, she would become seriously offended. In the olden days, at dancing parties, it is expected that guys would ask for the hand of the girls for a dancing opportunity, which are literally a chance for guys and girls to get to know one another better. In fact, on the girls’ wrist would be some sort of tag which lists down the guys’ names, which indicates with whom the girl has had the opportunity to dance with. And, if a guy somehow enters the dancing party but he doesn’t dance with the girls, the girls would be very angry at that guy for giving her the cold shoulder. Something is seriously wrong with him.
 
I have nothing against meeting female friends, in fact I look forward to every such opportunity. But somehow, in this day and age, I cannot help but feel that the attitudes of girls have changed so drastically that it is near impossible for me to know most of them any better.
 
Let me illustrate my point. In order to befriend anybody, you don’t ignore them. Which is why, when I meet female friends, I greet them and engage in friendly conversations with them. I may even try to invite them out for lunch or dinner, or watch movie. Isn’t that what normal friends do? Strangely enough, by this point something is already wrong. So as not to include too many details, I’ll just say that girls would start to avoid me, ignoring my calls or messages. It seems as though my attempts at knowing my friends better are scaring them off instead, and I do not understand why. It’s not as if I am going to eat them or what. And it got to a point whereby I simply had to stop and take a break before I lose anymore friends.
 
I did some evaluation, and figured that perhaps, it was my over-eagerness that had scared off my female friends. Even normal friendships take time to develop, the trust had to be built up first. I cannot just rush a friendship along and expect things to turn my way. And therefore, I decided to change my strategy, one that is based on giving respect to the girls. I can get to know girls, but it is up to them to decide whether they want to develop a friendship with me. I will not assume that I can invite myself to be their friend, and if they do not want my attention, I will respect their decisions and ignore them. Simply put, if I ignored the girls, I cannot possibly offend them since I am doing absolutely nothing towards them, not saying an offending word or even looking at them, least the girls think that I am staring at them with some sinister motives.
 
I should say that, with my new approach, I really managed to stay on talking terms with my female acquintances. But something is missing. Notice that I use the word "acquintances". I may know them as someone that I had met before, but there’s not much friendship involved. How to, when there’s hardly any interaction between me and the girls? Apart from the occasional "Hi", "Bye", and asking of information, I am not getting to know the person any better, and vice versa. This is not a friendship. And given that I can still be on talking terms with them, this is as good as it gets. Sheesh. But out of respect to the girls, I figured that this is the best way forward to making friends, respecting the idea that they may not be interested in me in the first place.
 
Well, there was someone who allowed me to be her friend, and it was quite a while later before I learnt that she was already attached. However, continuing on with my approach, I continued to give her my respects and I am still her friend. But, this has got me into some serious thinking whether there is still something wrong with my approach. And I came to some startling conclusions, which I shall illustrate in the below example.
 
Supposing you meet a girl whom you once had a crush on before. You greet her "Hi". "Hi" she replys. "Hi", "Hi", back and forth, then "Hi, this is my boyfriend". And you say "Hi" to him also. If you even have any human decency left, not only you shouldn’t have said "Hi" to the girl, you should have scolded the girl, and not just scold the girl, but scold the girl AND the boyfriend. But no, you don’t do that, because you give the girl TOO MUCH respect. You give the girl far more respect than she actually deserves, especially when she’s not going to be your girlfriend anymore.
 
After coming to the conclusion that I give girls too much respect, I therefore pledged, not to give the girls any more respect…. than necessary. My female friends will not receive from me more respect than they deserve, and that is dependent on how receptive they are to my friendship. And I can still choose to give them whatever respect that they want, at least this time on my own accord, instead of my wholesale giving away of respect previously. I suppose, extremity on either of my approaches is not going to work, but striking a manageable balance betweeen the two may allow me to, at least, live happier.