Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 5, 2009


The bent goal

By S. N. Rasul

Last week, a weird thing happened: Liverpool won. That, too, against Manchester United. Now, I am no Red Devils supporter, but it did come as a surprise when the team with (what seems to be) the worst form in the English Premier League wins against the defending champions.

So, I guess, it was some consolation when they did win, having suffered back to back defeats against half of Europe. I do not mean to exaggerate. It's just really hard not to.

The highlight of the week would have to be Darrent Bent's 'bent' goal (yes, yes, pun intended) which rocketed into a very vulnerable Liverpool net. Bent played in the shot, only for it to meet a red beach ball halfway, and deflect in. Liverpool keeper Reina was in a dilemma: go after the ball or the big red thing…

Nothing much happened apart from that. Except maybe, Darrent Bent almost scored three times, and Rafa Benitez and Steve Bruce bickering because Rafa's feelings were hurt his team was losing.

Liverpool fans were outraged. Blaming it all on the 'Bent' (I know I'm unoriginal) goal for their unfortunate demise. That would hold some water if they weren't playing, as most non-Liverpool supporters put it, 'really, really bad.'

Ironically, enough, it was a fellow Scouser who had thrown that balloon into that Stadium of Light field. When the video of that oh-so-terrible act was revealed, his face was blotched out and blurred, so as to save his life. It is just a rumour, but I've heard many Liverpool supporters have spoken out against this saving-of-the-butt move made by Sky Sports and the other networks. The litigation, I hear, is still under progress.

Liverpool's run had been anything short of appalling before their Manchester United win, losing to Fiorentina (2-1), Chelsea (2-0), Sunderland (1-0) and Lyon (2-0). So this victory was seen as nothing sort of a change of pace by the fans, an assured sign of a change of fate. Logging into your Facebook account would have been enough to prove that fact. You could see the status of every Liverpool fan lit up with words like 'Hell yeah! Liverpool beat Manchester (censored) United” or “In your face, ManU fans!” Well, not exactly, but thereabouts. You get my drift.

But, then, what happens? Arsenal. And then? Fulham. Two more losses: one in the Carling Cup, the other in the Premier League. They were, once again, tumbling down tables and getting knocked out of competitions (if not yet, then eventually).

And to make matters worse, Torres and Gerrard (basically, the whole of the quality side of the Liverpool team) are out with injuries and now, a lot of people are calling out for the immediate dismissal of Rafa Benitez. I doubt that would do any good. Liverpool will always walk out defeated. Just never alone.

Rafa Benitez was last reported in as being apoplectic.
I have attached their standings at the bottom of this article. What? I can be cruel.
Team Played Won Lost GD
Arsenal 10 7 2 19
Tottenham 11 6 4 4
Liverpool 11 6 5 9
Man City 9 5 1 7


Numbers kill me!

By M H Haider

The way I see it, numbers are ugly, crazy little monsters. These tricky and naughty bugs add up together to form, well… mathematics the most troublesome, mysterious thing I ever came across in my life!

Math has always brought me trouble. But I'm not a hopeless fool, a 'quitter', that you may imagine me to be. Back in the early days of my life, I comforted myself with the fact that many great minds in history were initially idiots who flunked exams regularly. Keeping the records of those idiots in mind, I courageously fought numbers.

If little Edison was said to be 'too stupid to learn anything' by his teachers, and later could become one of the greatest inventors ever, then I shouldn't be that far behind, right? Wrong!

As it turns out, I didn't grow up to be cool dudes like Edison or Einstein. Calculations scare me even today. I have never solved the problem; maybe because I find the whole subject a bit boring. “But math is so fun! Remember when your answers match after you worked through a whole problem?” a friend once asked enthusiastically. No, I don't remember. That's because my answers don't match…ever!

The amazing (and for me, saddening) thing about numbers is that they never leave you alone. Math is indeed a powerful tool with applications all over. At first when I completed my Advanced Levels, I sang “free as a bird …” in my head and enrolled to study business because I thought it would have relatively little math. But alas! Now I understand how wrong I was!

My troubles do not end here. Numbers are greedy monsters: apart from ruining my academic life, they have an interest in my social life as well. Every now and then, you have these conversations that require you to do calculations. Many times, people stir the conversation to a topic relating to numbers. Often, they try to estimate many figures- from the income of a particular person in a year to making money in the share market to how many litres of water we could save if we avoid wastage- anything goes.

Example: the other day, I was sitting in a café peacefully and innocently eating my tandoori chicken, until the person opposite to me started a conversation. Initially it was fine. But then he started explaining with amazing gusto how much all the students of Bangladesh can collectively save on phone bills if we chat just a little less. “Just imagine, there are X (he blurted out some numbers here, I forgot how much) teenagers, at least talking so and so minutes each day… if each of you can reduce the time spent by Y minutes, then…are you following me?” I gave him a blank and confused look. I was stunned and embarrassed.

These types of conversations require frequent feedbacks from the listener, and to give the feedbacks, the listener has to work out mathematical problems mentally. If you can't calculate them, you will be considered to be either a fool or an inattentive listener!

Sorry, I'm not a very bright person. I always need a calculator. I love calculators. My view of numbers as monsters makes calculators angels in this equation. And I thank my heroes who kindly thought of putting calculators on mobile phones. They are a great help when you are shopping: if a transaction gets tricky, you could smartly take out your mobile phone and pretend to read an SMS that you just received, while you secretly do the calculations!

Perhaps I don't know how to overcome this math problem, but I surely know what has actually caused it. I have always feared Mathematics; numbers, therefore, have always been something to fear, something to escape from…


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