Monthly Archives: July 2011

Exertions of English

I recently went into a toy shop that sells a variety of toys from China, I reckon. My assumption came from seeing many good imitations of board games, and plastic toys that you would have also seen in pasar malams.

I even got the shop owner to test out one really nifty looking toy guitar that could apparently help in the development of the child’s ABC prowess through inserting the alphabet shape into the guitar hole slot thingy, and the machine will recognise it and make the sound of the alphabet. Got a shock of my life when the letter I was inserted and the sound that was produced was R… good concept but hazardous in the long run, I think.

Even so, I still ended up buying some cheap toys from there…like this self-make DIY plane and bird series, which was selling at only about Rm1.20 each.

Notice the ‘instructions’ on the packet…really hilarious! hehehe…

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Guess, there ARE some toys that can help us become ‘stronger’! :-)В Ok, excuse me whilst I need to go and err, exert myself…:-P

A Tale of Two Rallies

It has been almost a week after the historic Bersih rally in KL but there is still much abuzz over it.

The more I think about the entire saga of events that led right up to the rally day itself, the more it reminded me about one particular old movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow called Sliding Doors. In the movie, she plays a woman that just got fired from her work and was on the way back home by train. Here is where the movie gets interesting – it splits into twoВ parallels: one where she barely makes it into the train through its sliding doors;В and the other where the she misses the train as the sliding doors shut on her. Two different paths equals two different storylines. So, what happens in the end? :-)

Life is after all, about choices we make and our Govt was caught in a dilemma of of the sliding door kind. Their sliding door moment arrived when Bersih announced it was going to conduct a rally on a designated date or it could even have been after the pivotal meeting between the PM, the Bersih chair and the King.

If the Govt had chosen the path of allowing the Bersih rally to proceed by identifying the stadium, coordinating with the police to map out the streets or roads for the people to travel to the stadium, ensure safety of the people involved in the rally, these are some of the things I thought might have happened:

1. Some thousands will converge inside the stadium without much incident and shout all they want about reformation, clean elections, bla, bla, bla.

2. Minimal roadblocks would result in minimal complaints from the public, especially those who have totally no idea about what is going on.

3. No ridiculous and illogical spot checks on the illegal wearing of the colour of one’s T-shirt that would have caused more awareness, again especially to those who really have no clue what Bersih is.

4. No disruption of train lines heading into the city, thus reducing more complaints from other public who serously do not want to have anything to do with the rally.

5. No unnecessary use of water cannons and tear gases that would have resulted in more panic, chaos and injuries to the public. Certainly less risk of collateral damages and awry canisters sprayed into hospitals…

6. Less highlight on the un-cooperativeness of stadium management, police and other agencies on issuing necessary permits to allow the rally.

7. After the rally, I think all print media will only give so minimal coverage of the rally that it might not even make the headlines of some dailies.

8. The rally would seem so smooth yet insignificant that foreign media would even regard it as a small para in the entertainment news column. The Beckham’s latest addition would have made better news.

9. The Govt would easily have stood out as the GOOD GUYS by making the same noise about traders on the day losing a lot of business and the normal peace on a Malaysian Saturday was compromised, even though they had shown good governance by giving the stadium and all the support – thus concurring with the King’s fears that a rally in the streets would be a hazard.

10. In the eyes of the foreign media, our Govt may have been reported as being very professional and impressive in handling the delicate situation of the rally!

But alas, we all know our Govt chose instead to press the panic button during their sliding door moment – making reckless decisions after decisions that gave new meaning to airing our dirty laundry in public. The majority of the public were already upset at how paranoid our Govt had become. Roadblocks, tear gas, public transport disruptions, etc.?!

If the Malaysian population comprised of an estimated 1/3 who knew about Bersih and wanted to join the rally, and another 1/3 who had no idea what Bersih was, all of a sudden… believe you me, they sure did!

The foreign media sure had a field day in performing post-mortems of the events on that day, still have not stopped buzzing about it worldwide. Videos, blogs, tweets and retweets of how peaceful the rally actually was, some actual brutality of the enforcers at hand, etc. have been circulating online in viral fashion.

The aftermath of 709 was something our Govt certainly didn’t see coming. Considering the digital age that we live in today, it would not have mattered if only 100 or 100,000 showed up on the streets. Their stories and testimonies zoomed without congestion along the information superhighway into the hearts of many, many others who are not aware, are clueless, are undecided…

With 709 is over and done with, it is we, the public that will very soon be presented with our very own sliding door moment – the General Elections. Now, which path would you choose?

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Making Footballing Sense of BERSIH

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So, what has the recently concluded Bersih rally got to do with Football, anyway?В Sure, the typical police road block fence-thingy may look like a goal post, but that’s another story…

When it was announced that the rally had been given the so-called ‘permission’ to be held inside a stadium, I began to see the pieces falling together. There ARE indeed some stark similarities between Bersih and the greatest game on Earth. No kidding.

Don’t believe me? Here, let me try to provide my nonsensical analysis of what Bersih achieved through the eyes of a football fan…

In football, teams are required to wear a standard or uniformed jersey that would distinguish themselves from the opposing team. Similarly in Bersih, a standard colour – YELLOW – was chosen to represent the people who would be taking to the streets that day.

Having said that, I believe that Bersih is not about one particular team playing in a football match. Considering its objectives, Bersih is merely a strategy, tactic or even formation in football lingo. I say this because it is the strategy that is deployed so that the spectators can be aware and enjoy the flow of the beautiful game. Bersih is not about cheering on a team to score goals. It is more about the game itself – the playmaking, passing, movement, etc.

In football, the game time is fixed at 90 minutes (+ any injury time). In the Bersih rally, it was observed that the people involved kept their word and quietly dispersed at around 4.00pm. Nice timekeeping! :-)

In football, I would likened our ruling Government to be the footballing body of the country FAM, who has deployed the men in blue, ie. the police to be the men in black, ie. the referee to be the lawmaker or authority of the game. So, whilst we do not get to see much of FAM in action during an actual football match, it is usually the referee who gets most of the flak for blowing the whistle and dictating play, flashing out cards, stopping play, etc.

Now that we have the roles clearly defined, let’s see what happened…

FAM branded Bersih’s type of football as illegal or hazardous to the country for whatever reason. This prompted a session with FIFA (or the King), who told everyone that the type of football wanted to be displayed by Bersih might be disruptive to peace if played on the streets. FAM jumped in quickly to say they can play their football inside a stadium. Just as quickly, the referee was placed in charge to ensure the game wouldn’t be played at all! So, at the end of the day, the people still had to resort to kick-off and play their game on the streets as the stadium was cordoned off.

In football, the term ‘own goal’ is usually used to describe a situation when the team makes a blunder and puts the ball into their own net. Throughout the entire events leading up to the Bersih rally, these were the numerous own goals by our Government:

  • Failure to handle the situation with sincerity and honesty after the meeting with the King. A stadium should have been specifically mentioned and steps taken to ensure the Bersih rally got to ‘shout all they wanted’ inside the stadium
  • Inappropriate closing down of public transportation systems leading into the city
  • Unnecessary firing of tear gas and water cannons as the rally was a peaceful one till then
  • Conveniently pushing the buck to the police who were then uncooperative with rally organisers concerning getting the permit
  • Inconveniencing public by setting up road blocks some 3 days prior to rally date – complemented with ridiculous reasons to justify the move
In football, I believe that fans already know which team they are cheering for. Just like in the elections, most of us already know who we are going to vote for. The purpose of the Bersih rally is simply a push for awareness and a fight for electoral reforms so it might not be influential enough to swing the minds of a voter to another party. However, with all the drama minggu ini that has surrounded the rally, I believe that many people who do not watch football have started to wake up and take notice. Some may even have started to enjoy the game and is beginning to understand it a little better. And it is because of this that I feel the goal of Bersih has been achieved.

And what of the name the rally has chosen – BERSIH? Well, I don’t think any other sport in the world passionately promotes ‘fair play’ more than football, don’t you think? 😉

 

Roadblock 101

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One would have thought the police force would have been more than familiar in handling basic police stuff like road blocks, but apparently in some countries they are NOT!В So what does a roadblock mean to the typical man on the street?

Here is my take on Roadblock 101:

By definition, a ROADBLOCK is..

1. barrier across road to stop traffic:В a temporary barrier used to stop vehicles on a road, so they can be checked or their drivers questioned by authorities
2.В obstacle:В a hindrance or obstacle to something
(Source: Encarta Word English Dictionary)

So, basically, a roadblock is set-up when there is an objective or purpose in mind – whether to check for false driving licences, smuggled drugs, dangerous weapons, stolen goods, etc. Vehicles are temporarily blocked as a means to achieve this purpose.

For example, В if there was a tip off that a lot of illegal weapons and firearms would be making its way into the city, thereby creating a potentially dangerous situation, В it would make good sense to set up these roadblocks to ensure no such weapons are brought into the city.

Therefore, a roadblock

1. Is a strategic and structured set up where cars are thoroughly checked and drivers questioned.

2. Is proven effective when results of what was found is reported.
3. Should be sustained throughout the day or until the objective is achieved.

It is definitely NOT a roadblock if the police set up some mini barricade, and stand around waving cars to pass by. That would better fit the description of a PARADE.

It is definitely NOT a roadblock if no outcome or findings is reported at the end of it. It’s almost like washing clothes in the washing machine and not taking them out to dry..

It is definitely NOT a roadblock if it is set-up only for certain times of the day. Unless of course the tip-off included the time-frame as well.

So, like in all basic education, if the so-called roadblock missed it’s definition by a couple of miles, please do not have it AT ALL!

Sigh.

Fantasy Football Tips

I must repeat myself – one of the best apps to be ever developed on FB must the Fantasy Football Premier League App. I only started playing from the previous season, and boy am I hooked to it. Can’t wait for the new season to start over. :-)

When I blogged about this addiction earlier, I was in the top 6% of about 520,000 players. Really proud to say I even stunned myself to end up in the top 0.2% (numerically ranked 1,341) from a total of 624,237 players. Sure is encouraging for this rookie to look ahead for a better outcome next season, don’t you think? :-)

Of course, I have also learnt much over the course of this one season – tactics, strategies, etc. so I thought it would be a nice gesture to share my 10 best tips that helped me score those points last season..

1. Managing Injuries – Before the start of every gameweek, I will always check out who is injured, how long are they out, expected return date, etc. An injured player will most likely drop in value very quickly, and player returning from injury can increase in value just as fast. Knowing when to buy, sell and manage these injured players is crucial in increasing your budget. My favourite site to check out these injuries is physioroom.com Apart from telling you which player is down, they will even explain the intricacies of the injuries, for the more medical-minded ones. Heh.

2. Focus on a set formation – Starting with only $150 million, there’s no way you can build a star-studded team. Trick here is to stick to a certain formation for most gameweeks. For example, if you chose a 3-5-2 lineup, you’d only need to invest more in building a strong midfield, and buy cheaper players for your other position and subs. In due time, you can buy better players when your budget increases.

3. Unheralded Nuggets – Try not to buy too many ‘star-studded’ players from big clubs like Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, etc. Since they have much depth, the chances of rotation is higher than other clubs and hence increase rick of your player being rested, etc.Do look out for ‘superstars’ in mid-table sides who get to play week in week out. Some good examples over the previous season include Villa’s Marc Albrighton, Blackpool’s Charlie Adam, Everton’s Tim Cahill, Blackburn’s Pedersen, etc.

4. The Need to Strike – Players like Tevez, Drogba, etc. will always top the goal-scoring charts. Problem is their fee is usually too high. And if your set formation (no. 2) is not heavy on the strikers, try this tip: buy strikers from clubs found at the mid-bottom of the league. My theory is although they will not score many wins, they need to find their goals from somewhere so their strikers will usually make a name on the charts too. I got quite a few good gameweeks from Dudley Campbell and Andrew Carroll. Other good examples include Peter Odemwingie and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake.

5. Choosing the Skipper – All captains score double so choosing the right captain for every gameweek is rather critical. My tip here is to pick a Superstar who is playing at Home that particular gameweek. it also helps if the superstar’s team has a soft schedule lined up for the next couple of weeks. I remember sticking with Lampard when Chelsea had a soft stretch of games in Mar-Apr 2011. worked out pretty well. :-)

6. Use the Tools – On the top tab of the Fantasy Football home page, there are many useful links you can use to better strategise your game. The link to PLAYERS will take you to the list of all available players. You can sort this list by their points, value, etc. use this to scan for cheap player with high value. Believe you me, there are quite a number of them there. For example, Elmander’s starting price was only $8M, Ben Foster is a steal at $7M, Tim Cahill started with $11M, etc. The system can also tell you which player is more prone to receive yellow/red cards, etc. So, you will never see me buying Balotelli…and check out the upcoming ganes for all the teams. Really powerful stuff if used properly

7. Stay Up to Date – Stay alerted on injury news, transfers, suspensions, external friendly matches, African Cup, Asia Cup, etc. One quick way is to read the news feed from the homepage. many participants will post updates about the current situation from all over. You can usually get the latest key news from here. Forums here can sometimes give you tips on players to buy, sell,etc. too. Of course, I sometimes just google a particular player to get the latest news about him. Having subscribed to RSS feeds from football sites like Goal.com and Soccernet.com will help too. :-)

8. Make a Quick Buck – One of they keys to success in Fantasy Football is increasing the budget. Basic knowledge is buy low, sell high. Now, whilst some smart speculations may land you some cheap gems who will shoot up in value very quickly, do look out for some quick makable bucks when a player strikes a hattrick, for example. When the trading window opens, make a quick grab for him…and watch his value shoot up thereafter. Or quickly sell star players when they are sidelined (value plummets very fast), and target to buy them again when they return.

9. Non-League Matches – Gotta be careful when you see these matches (eg. Champions League, League Cup, FA Cup, friendlies, etc.) looming in between gameweeks. I was caught several times trading players very early on when the window opened, only to find out some players fell to injuries from these non-league matches – costing me positioning problems and drop in player values. Tip would be to hold on to trading until after these non-league matches.

10. Special Gameweeks – Watch out for several gameweeks where some teams play twice (or thrice!). Plan ahead to have many players from such teams to be in action during these special gameweeks. I scored most of my points during these special weeks. I remember there was even one gameweek where 8 of my 11 players actually played twice. Reaped a bountiful of points that week. :-)

Whew. There you have it. Some tips that helped me mast season. Do share if you have any other tips or strategies, OK? My personal goal is to break into the top 999 this coming season. :-)