Monday, June 28, 2010

England vs. Germany: Comparison of football match and WW-2

The 2010 FIFA World Cup finals have brought out a lot of comparisons and analogies. The most famous one is the comparison with World War II. I would like to jump this bandwagon of comparisons and analyse the game between Germany and England in the knock-out stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup played on 27th June. Just trying to judge the similarities and differences between the game and WW-II.

  1. Blitzkrieg format: Germany relied on the blitzkrieg form of war in WW-II. It was this very tactic that gave it victories in the initial stages. In the game too, the mid-fielders and forwards launched a blitzkrieg and caught the English defence by surprise. Remember, the second goal scored by Klose. This helped them demolish the English defence completely. And Ozil's run from mid-field to the penalty area in the 69th minute, to create a chance for Muller was just too fast for England to realise what is happening.
  2. Germans' initial dominance: Both in the WW, as well as the game, the Germans dominated initially. Although England had more possession of the ball, the German attack was breathing down the English defences' necks.
  3. English rally around one person: In WW-II, the English rallied around one person who inspired them to fight. That was Winston Churchill. In this match, the attack strategy revolved around Wane Rooney. While both names start with a 'W', alas, Rooney couldn't inspire as Churchill did.
  4. Germany's leading men from Munich: In WW-II, the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, made his political career in Munich. Germany's football captain Philip Lahm, too, made his career with Bayern Munich.
  5. Weak neutral authority: The League of Nations was weak to undo any injustice, and the referees in the game had weak eye-sight, thus acting as a morale-booster for Germany.

  1. German dominance continues: Unlike the war, the Germans dominated till the end of the game. The German attacks demolished the English defence. And the German defence managed to cage the attacking Rooney.
  2. English Channel: While the English channel acted as a natural defensive structure in the WW, the channel (gap) between the mid-field and English defence, worked to Germany's advantage in the game.
  3. Role of USA: In the WW, US helped England crush Germany, but in the world cup, US were the reason England faced Germany. If England had emerged victorious against USA, they would have faced Ghana and USA would have faced Germany.
Finally, at the end of the 2010 Football World Cup, there is a great probability that Europe's power will be diminished and the (South) American continent's power would be on the rise.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Junior Sardi-man's unabashed pro-Cong opinion

Ever since the trial court in Bhopal has delivered its judgement on the gas-leak case, everybody has begun writing his or her own opinions about it. And the million dollar question is, "Who was responsible to let Warren Anderson go scot free?" For twenty four odd years, nobody has bothered to ask this question. But now, suddenly, everyone seems to have woken up to the fact that Andersen was whisked away in a government car and taken to Delhi in a government plane.

Fingers are being pointed from then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Arjun Singh, to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and then External Affairs minister P. V. Narasimha Rao. But, the fact is we shall never know who truly helped secure a free passage for Andersen.

One of the conspiracy theories doing the rounds is that Ronald Reagan called up Rajiv Gandhi and pressurised him to release Andersen. Rajiv Gandhi's supporters have come out in his defense stating that such a thing never happened. And those who believe in this conspiracy theory say that Rajiv could have done nothing, except accede to Reagan's demands, because the US was a superpower at that time and the USSR was on the verge of a collapse. One such person, is the ever pro-Congress Rajdeep Sardesai. In his blog titled "Denials, Contradictions and Bhopal tragedy", he says
If the decision was taken by Rajiv Gandhi - and it is impossible to believe that a prime minister would be unaware of it - then it was one of the wiser decisions he took. You can blame Rajiv for opening the Babri Masjid gates, for allegedly conniving in rigging elections in the Kashmir valley in 1987, for his handling of the LTTE problem - all issues which had disastrous consequences - but on the Anderson question in Bhopal, he probably took the right option.

Moreover, 1984 represented the high noon of American 'exceptionalism' - the belief that the United States alone has the right to bring civilization, or democracy to the rest of the world. With Ronald Reagan as President, the US military-industrial complex was dominant and on the verge of winning the Cold War. A country beset with internal strife and a Hindu rate of growth could scarcely have challenged a mighty superpower. If Reagan did ring up Rajiv as has been suggested and ask for Anderson to be released, then letting him go was a pragmatic decision taken in the best national interest at the time.
Well, so junior Sardi-man feels that Rajiv was pragmatic in releasing Andersen, because India was too weak to stand the might of the Americans. Did someone tell him about Cuba and the Bay of Pigs saga? A tiny country beat the hell out of forces trained by the USA. Even Iran, which is facing economic hardships, is resisting the US. Then, why is it that India couldn't bear the brunt of US anger? Are we so weak, to meekly surrender before the US? Sardi-man says that our economy wasn't strong, there was internal strife. I agree to that situation. But then, Rajiv's decision of releasing Andersen, if taken under the above circumstances, is still wrong. Why is he trying to find the "right" things about Rajiv's decision, when it cannot be absolutely justified. And, what was the guarantee, that despite releasing Andersen, the US would not have adversely acted against India? Particularly, when it has a track record of attacking allies after the purpose has been served. After all, Reagan didn't send a written note through official channels. Just an alleged conversation over the phone. But Sardi-man tries to valiantly protect Rajiv Gandhi. And he of course, asks a good question in the end, but not without blaming the BJP
The fact also is that both Congress and BJP have ruled Madhya Pradesh since 1984, the Congress for a lengthy 19 years. If you travel through Bhopal's JP Nagar colony where more than 300 people died and several more were affected by permanent limb and respiratory diseases, its apparent no government has made a serious effort to reach out to the victims. When two years ago, some of them held a dharna outside the prime minister's residence, they were whisked away and spent a week in Tihar jail. Who let Anderson out is a red herring, the real question to ask is: why did it take 26 years for the Indian state to wake up to the plight of Bhopal?
Well, Rajdeep, your intentions are good, but why do you always try to soften the blow on the Congress and more specifically, the Gandhis?
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My 101th post: this one is for Mother Nature

Alright, my blog is 101 posts old. I completed a century with my last post on the Bombay blood group. What began impulsively in 2005, has now become some sort of a passion. My blog allows me to thrash, trash, praise and do all sorts of things without caring too much about the results. That's probably because my blog isn't influential enough to stir some heads.

So, I thought, I should dedicate this post to Mother Nature, who has been unrelentingly providing us with everything we need, asking nothing except to care for her and nurture her, so that she can continue with her largesse. And don't be mistaken. I'm not smitten by the "Go Green" brigade. Rather it is frustrating to hear those guys, who keep on proposing incremental changes but nothing path-breaking.

The inspiration for this post came after hearing and reading all the talk about why bio-fuels are expensive. Most people say that bio-fuels are expensive, because the process of breaking down complex carbohydrate compounds, present in the feed-stock like corn, sugar cane, into smaller alcohols is difficult and contributes significantly towards the final cost of the fuel.

This is what happened with fossil fuels too. Today's petroleum based fuels have come about due to anaerobic decomposition of dead organisms. The process of decomposition has been going on for over hundreds of millions of years and was undertaken by Mother Nature. But, we haven't paid her anything. Instead, we are recklessly consuming these fuels and causing an irreversible harm to Nature. If there was some mechanism, to pay the Nature, the charges of breaking down dead organic matter into fuels, probably we would have seen more sensible use of fossil fuels. We are currently enjoying free fossil fuels, that are provided to us by Nature herself. Perhaps, this cost of conversion should be charged to the user, and the money put to use in environmentally beneficial activities.

Of course, we humans do not have the patience to allow nature to do its job. These fossil fuels have been formed over hundreds of millions of years. But we want to produce maximum amount of fuel in a given time. Therefore, we have to pay the cost of accelerating the decomposition process. This is a water-bed effect. Increase the time of production, cost will reduce and vice-versa.

So, when people talk of costly bio-fuels, remember that we are freeloading on the fuel that Nature has converted for us. She isn't charging us the conversion cost, but, on the contrary, bearing all the collateral damage.
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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bombay Blood Group: A rare and interesting one

Trust me, when I say that tabloid newspapers can throw up interesting pieces of news. Today, I came across this interesting piece of information in Mumbai Mirror.

The Bombay Blood Group is a rare blood group, called so because it was first discovered in Mumbai (then Bombay), by Dr. Y. M. Bhende and his co-workers around the year 1952. This study of theirs has been published in the medical journal Lancet. It is estimated that only 1 in 2,50,000 people are of this blood type. If regular blood testing methods are used, this group type gets classified as belonging to the O-type. That is because they are neutral to reactions related to both, anti-A and anti-B antibodies. This, typically ends up classifying the blood as O-type. However, this category of blood, does not contain or produce the antigen-H, which is found in O-type blood. The blood type gets detected only by cross-matching with other O-type bloods, where blood from the Bombay blood group will show incompatibility to the O-type blood group.

People with such blood can donate blood to anybody (all ABO type), but can receive blood only from their own type. Therefore, if you know anybody who belongs to the Bombay blood group type, ask him/her to contact the NGO, Think Foundation which tries to maintain a database of people of the Bombay blood group.
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