Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Agony of Defeat

The worst times in Europe since Joe Fagan and Gerrard Houllier

Defeat is not that difficult to accept when you never look to be in a winning position. I have never felt any sympathy to a losing team when they play in horrendous manner. But after watching last night's dramatic semifinal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, when Liverpool finally broke the goal scoring jinx at Chelsea's home, it was really very frustrating to watch them lose in such a manner. Moreover it was their first semifinal defeat in any competition under Rafa Benitez, and their first in European Competition after 43 years. They had never lost a Semi ever since Bob Paisley took over the management.

The reason I can't help sympathizing with players is because the clubs problems run deeper, from management to the board. Since the last 16 years, despite delivering few world class performances, the most successful club in Europe had achieved a little silverware. This year was supposed to be the year for Liverpool. Everything looked perfect at the beginning. With new owners investing over 100 million pounds, and Fernando Torres' arrival, Benitez had planned it perfectly. And then problems started emerging. First with Daniel Agger, the key central defender grabbing up a long term injury, and 34 year old Sami Hyppia was the only choice left for his replacement. Then Andriy Voronin joining the list of injured players. Just when the club finally adjusted to these hurdles, Dirk Kuyt's father expired, and the striker lost his form, and killer instinct. The public spat with owners and Benitez added fuel to the fire. To make matters worse in the next year, DIC made an unsolicited bid to buy the club, resulting in complete breakdown of unity in the Liverpool board room. Fans accuse Tom Hicks of mishandling the club.

People see Hicks as the person who brought down the club. The latest uproar among Liverpool fans was when he asked Rick Parry, the club president to resign. This enraged the fans. Hicks also put the club in heavy debts for construction of the stadium. All these moves clearly made him unpopular, especially with the House of Lords interfering in club affairs.

But in my opinion Tom Hicks has been quite reasonable in his approach to the club. He couldn't possibly have sanctioned more transfer expenditure for the club, when Liverpool was on the brink of being knocked out in the group stages. The new stadium is a necessity. The current capacity is around 40,000 as compared to the Emirates Stadium of Arsenal which can hold over 80,000. This itself justifies the debt on the club. Moreover Hicks has been quite credible to ask Rick Parry for resignation. Ever since Parry has been at the helm of the club, Liverpool haven't achieved any significant victory. Parry's relations with Rafa Benitez are marked with consistent ups and downs. The club has only 4 major sponsors, where they should have had around 15. And despite having millions of fans in Asia, the club has no activity in the region. The share prices of Liverpool on stock market listings is quite average compared to other European clubs like Internazionale and Real Madrid. Unless these things are resolved it is quite difficult to return to the winning ways.
Tom Hicks - Liverpool co-owner

Even Rafael Benitez can't escape from the blame game. Benitez has hit out against a lot of players this year. The video he compiled involving Didier Droga and his gimmicks, did in fact enrage players in EPL. Not to mention his loathing for Ex-Chelsea boss Jose Murinho, which ran so deep that he couldn't help the abusive press conference when Murinho resigned. Benitez sure has a big mouth. While it may be true that he is a great tactician when it comes to European football, his attitude and reluctance to abandon his controversial 'Rotation policy' has cost the club over five seasons without a league win despite having a top notch squad. The 'rotation policy' has worked for him in Spain when he won two La Liga titles with Valencia. But he is too stubborn to adapted to the English game.

Though it should be noted that his record in EPL is quite remarkable compared to many other successful managers. The UCL in his first year, the FA cup in second year, and the League cup in third year, with this season to be the first trophyless year at Liverpool under Benitez's management, his record, speaks for itself. In fact, taking in account his past in La Liga, it will be after seven long years that he is finishing the season without any silverware. It is an illustrative record, for any football manager.

But after all, as the captain Steven Gerrard had said earlier this season, for a club like Liverpool, winning UCL and FA cup is definitely insatiable. With the future of the club heading into the unknown, it is difficult to predict where Liverpool is headed. Fans can't do more for the club apart from watching, as the American sporting giants and Sultan Makhtoum's men battle for power in the boardroom.

Yet the club has improved hundred folds since previous 14 years. Lately the club was a one-man team, with Steve McManhamon, and later Steven Gerrard doing the job of several players on field. Now there are two players doing that with Fernando Torres joining the ranks. The fans do hope young guns like Alex Cooper and Stephen Darby make it into the first team, next season. The predicted arrival of Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry will promisingly strengthen the midfield, along with Daniel Agger returning to the defensive department.

As said in the true-story based classic novel by Alexandre Dumas,

"Entire human wisdom can be summed up in three words, 'Wait and hope'."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Eight Pass Charlie

In my opinion, there can be no peace between India and Pakistan unless the Kashmir issue is settled. For either of the countries, giving up hold over Kashmir would mean a colossal political defeat. And neither will be satisfied with shared pieces. To win the territory by force would involve a leviathan toll over human lives as well as economy, which at the moment neither country looks capable of sustaining. Even if in future we manage to actually empower our economy to buoy such a move, it is obvious that superpowers will interfere and pressurize us to bring about an entente. That goes to say that the debate over Kashmir, the militancy and the struggle will go on for decades, unless of course some 'Gorbachev' gets himself at the helm of political machinery of either of the nations, and compromises the pride of his country for sake of a larger picture, destroying his popularity along with it.

For this reason, we Indians can be forgiven for recognizing Pakistanis as our enemies. But one of my favourite generals Julius Caesar had said in his time, 'Respect your enemies, and you will be respected'. For this reason I feel proud to post about my favourite Pakistani war hero. Ironically I learned about him from officers of Indian Air Force. His tale is quite popular among our air force lads. We don't know his real name since it is a secret shared only by the Pakistanis. But here in India everyone refers to him by his codename, 'Eight Pass Charlie'.

During Lal Bahadur Shastri's era, although we celebrated victory after reaching Rawalpindi(then the capital of Pakistan), it may not be told in the books, but is a fact that Pakistanis dominated the air battle. To be better acquainted with air battles, it is well to know that there are three kinds of planes:

Fighter aircraft for air-to-air combat.

Bomber aircraft for air-to-round combat.

Cargo Airplanes for transportation.

Most of the ace pilots work with fighter airplanes. While bomber planes are used along with heavy cover of fighter jets. The bomber planes are heavier than fighter jets and have less maneuverability than fighter jets, along with large wing span, and less speed. This makes them soft targets of anti-aircraft guns. This is one of the reasons that they fly at a great height. In those days when our enemy had to attack our airbases, flying at a great height would reduce the accuracy of bombing to 0%. Hence they had no choice but to fly low.

For that reason, in order to avoid getting blown out of the sky by Indian ground defenses, they generally carried only eight bombs in each flight, which would reduce their weight and increase their speed. Many enemy pilots were dead scared of our anti aircraft defense, and hence probably pissing in their pants, they had to fly over our airbase for once and they would most often drop all eight bombs in a single pass, in a very erratic manner, resulting in a very inconsequential damage for us. After having done, they would return home to fill in another eight bombs.

However, when the 'Eight pass Charlie' would arrive in his bomber plane, it would be without any cover of fighter jets. He would fly close to the ground, and would make eight consecutive passes over our airbase, and drop one bomb in each pass, amid heavy barrage of anti aircraft fire. His aim was accurate and his single flight would inflict the heaviest damage on out troops, more than what the all other planes would collectively do in an entire day. Later on by the end of the war, every officer in Indian ground defense team was able to recognize his familiar engine noise and style of flight. All of them held great admiration for him in their heart for displaying such valour, when attempting to knock him out of air.

He remained unbeaten till the end of the war. Such was his skill and bravery that is quite hard to come buy, even among pilots. While Arun Lal might opine that discretion be the better part of courage, this guy must have definitely thought otherwise. His remarkable courage is what makes him stand out among other Pakistanis. He certainly cannot be called a terrorist for fighting against us.

I believe such a courage should be appreciated by us, despite being enemies. He is probably one of the elements Pakistan can be proud of, if not all the other bloodthirsty jihadis.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Serene verses

I am not such a big fan of Robert Frost's poems. But I read his masterpiece, the "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening" long back when I was in school. Today I remember every single word of that poem verbatim. It is said to have inspired many people.

The true brilliance in the poem lies in a way that Mr. Frost has described one of the most indisputable morals in life in the most simplistic manner. Whenever I recall these words, I somehow grieve over my lethargy and irresponsible behavior.

The poem is quite famous among all other poems by Robert Frost, and I am sure lots of people might already be familiar with the lines. But still I am posting it for all those, from whom these lines escaped earlier.

Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening

Whose woods are these I think I know
His house is in the village though
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow

My little horse must think it's queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound, the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake

These woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep

- Robert Frost

This second one is not as popular as the above poem. But I liked it nevertheless. It is a mere two lines poem. But again I am awestruck by the simplistic composition.

The Secret Sits

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

P53 enzyme

It really annoys me that lots of people are under the impression that alcohol is largely responsible for the disease of cancer.

When you ask them about their idea of Cancer, many of them say that a body cell suddenly goes bad due to the intoxicants and multiplies like hell, in the end killing you. It is really sad to say that though they are entirely right about that part, they still hardly know what Cancer exactly is and what contributes to it. Let me assure you guys that the much celebrated devil of alcohol actually has zero contribution in the disease. To make everyone familiar with what exactly happens when Cancer develops into your body, lets us get into the details...

In a way the real culprit in the Cancer disease is the P53 enzyme. Ironically, P53 is one of the most essential elements of our body.P53 or Protein 53 enzyme is responsible for the production of P53 gene. This gene is really vital.

The fuction of P53 gene is that of a designer. When a new cell is created in our body, the P53 gene actually builds up the nucleus. I wont go into the complicated DNA structures, but just mention that P53 instructs the cell about its functions and the way it should work. And this process goes on for every kind of cell in our body.

The obvious question is 'what does this have to do with cancer?'... The answer is sometimes the P53 gene turns out to be an abnormal one, or to be more precise, it is a mutated gene. When this gene structures the DNA in nucleus the cell 'goes bad' and doesn't know what to do. In other words it goes on into uncontrollable mitosis. And that is how a Cancer develops. Thus Cancer can develop in any kind of body cell(there are few exception though).

Now our problem lies in the fact that how does a P53 gene get mutated. Mutation is not really a rare phenomenon. The biggest reason for mutation is the progressing human generation. Yes guys, it is exactly as the 'Professor' says in the movie 'X-men'(don't be so pleased, cause you're not really going to have any superpowers). It should be noted that everyone of us has over millions of mutated p53 genes in our body right now. The reason that we don't catch the dreadful disease is because our body generates enough 'normal' p53 genes to completely nullify the effect of mutated genes.

However sometimes due to our misfortune, the normal p53 just aren't there when a cell is created or they fail to work. In that case, mutated p53 drive the new cell to a Cancer(if again by coincidence it happens to be around). This is solely because of luck guys. The only contribution
that the carcinogenic substances have in this whole process is that they are capable of bringing about mutation in normal p53 genes. Alcohol doesn't cause any mutation. There are other substances in your drinks like nitrosomines which are capable of mutating a p53 gene. Remember again guys that being capable of mutating doesn't mean that it surely will mutate the gene. The possibility of mutation is more unlikely. And even if it does, the mutated genes so created form just a minor fraction of the million mutated genes already present in our body.

It means there is absolutely no possibility of completely avoiding Cancer. In fact Cancer is 99 % bad luck. A man who never touched an intoxicant for all his life can catch the disease just like that. On the other hand if I were to inject even 10 ml of liquid containing mutated p53 genes in your body, there still a chance that you'll have a perfect health.

So guys enjoy Vodka!.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Read before you speak...

That name is known by almost every educated person in the world, because of reason you very well know(assuming that you're educated). Surprisingly he is despised by many Indians today, especially the youngsters.

I feel like kicking balls of every single person who has a go at him.
(and his has nothing to do with Munnabhai). The reason for this is when I ask people about him, they reply with all kinds of expletives they could think of. And more annoyingly they make so many ridiculous allegations against him. A few of them are, 'He was a coward not to use weapons', and 'suppressed great leaders like Subhas Chandra Bose and etc.', and the biggest and the most common one of them all is 'was responsible for partition of India' and the most disgruntling 'He paid 80 crore to Pakistan'.

Well as far as being a coward is concerned, I must say even a fraction of the courage he possessed would be more than enough for a common man to brave all disasters today. Suppressing leaders is out of questions because great leaders cannot be suppressed in any case.

I will forgive those who think that non-violence or satyagraha was a bad idea. Yeah maybe with violence things might have turned out differently for India, perhaps better or worse, which cannot be said. But that was his way of doing things, like every great leader has his own philosophy, and it wasn't totally futile either.

But what I cannot excuse is when people blame him for partition. I mean these people are the ones who hear stories from other friends and make up their opinion. Partition of India was much of an incident engineered by the ever lousy British lads, and in my opinion Gandhiji like every other Indian just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Of all the things that happened during the violence and partitioning I don't really suppose that even for one moment did the thought of splitting up appealed to a leader of his eminence. As far as Godse is concerned he was a maniac. After all he didn't really achieve anything by the assassination. If he were really concerned about the revenge he so boasted, he would have rather gone to Pakistan and killed Jinnah, which would have taken immense efforts and courage, rather than shooting an unarmed man without any security cover. Yeah I'll might be willing to accept that the words "HEY RAM" didn't really escape Ghandiji's tongue.

But the biggest misunderstandings among everyone was over that '80 crore to Pakistan' crap. If people would really be so sentimental and patriotic towards their country, and boast about so called values possessed by Indians, of what they call "Sankar' in hindi films, perhaps if they would have bothered to read all the historic books, which describe the incidents that happened during that era, they would have learned that India was indebted to Pakistan for about 150 to 200 crore rupees and that we great Indians as good as swindled Pakistanis in terms of fair business.

Before the Congress agreed to partition it was agreed among the two nations to pay the other, the difference in asset values at that time, which will be generated as a result of large 'shift of population'. In that event all the people abandoning their estates here in India were to get compensation in Pakistan in terms of incentives and other things. India had hence, agreed to pay Pakistan approximately 200 crore(as stated in Gen. Mushraff's autobiography), which after the British left, we never paid. This fact is never stated in any school history textbook here in India, and I don't think any history teacher is aware of it either. Because of Gandhiji, we at least paid Pakistan those 80 crore. Pakistan does have enough reasons to despise us. In my opinion this was cheating. And remember that these events happened before the Kashmir war, so we didn't have any dispute against them at that time, when we proudly claimed that we were a secular state.

This maybe a debate, but in my opinion Mahatma Gandhi did the right thing, since he so believed in not cheating anyone. There is one thing you cannot deny, that Gandhiji persisted till the end, against every odds, and that is what makes him one of the greatest leaders in the world. Today if you ask any foreigner about the first Indian face that comes into his mind, I am sure he would be anyone other than Gandhiji. And to bring about such result it takes an entire life of hard work, persistence and struggle, along with immense courage. So before you have a go at the Mahatma again you might want to ask yourself, 'to question his greatness, do you even possess a single attribute of his?'