Month: March 2014

Are Mondays Really That Bad?

TIME

Bad stuff does consistently happen on Mondays. Stock market returns are lower, suicides are higher and more people call sexually transmitted disease hotlines:

The so-called ‘‘weekend effect’’is a well-known phenomenon in the stock market (Keim & Stambaugh, 1984). This relates to significantly lower stock returns on Monday in comparison with other days of the week. It is suggested that this effect could be a result of traders’ fading optimism between Friday and Monday. Interestingly, similar ‘‘weekend effects’’ can also be found in health-related matters. The number of suicides, for example, is higher on Monday in comparison with other days (McCleary, Chew, Hellsten, & Flynn-Bransford, 1991). In addition, calls to the AIDS-STI telephone hotline, an information helpline that people call mainly when they are concerned about their personal risk on having contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) (Mevissen et al., 2011a), also peak on Monday (M. Mientjes, STI AIDS Netherlands, personal…

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Liverpool vs. Tottenham 30/03/14

First Half

What a half! We completely tore Spurs to shreds. They actually thought the way to go was a high line against us. Tore through their backline within the first minute and Kaboul scored an own goal from a Johnson cross. From then on, they only had sporadic attacks that all petered out when Skrtel/Agger strode forward to intercept the through-balls. The team was epic as a whole, and Vertonghen went off for Dawson, who proceeded to mess up with Kaboul and set up Suarez for a great finish.

We keep attacking their flanks with pace and diagonal balls, and it’s been effective as hell. Instead of dropping deep to limit the space we can run into, Spurs continue to suicidally keep that high line. We had 3 free kicks at the edge of the area, but missed all of them. A lot of long balls turn into chances, and really, we should have been 5-0 up. We kept them quiet with our pressing, and everyone has been exceptional.

Oh, and there was another Kaboul mistake, Sterling stole the ball and sent in a beautiful floating cross for Suarez to cross. Somehow Lloris saves it; he’s a really good goalie when on song.

If Spurs keeps this up, they’ll be slaughtered.

Second Half

There’s nothing much to say except that Spurs didn’t even play in the 2nd half. Sure, they pressed a bit more, but it was all Liverpool. We had plenty more chances, and should have scored more. It’s amazing to always be able to say that despite thrashings of upwards of 3 goals. Football is supposed to be a low-scoring game; we took that notion and crushed it under our heels with glee.

Coutinho scored a lovely drive right into the bottom corner, after Flanni Alves/RedCafu (as the REAL Cafu calls him) dummies Lennon and we countered. Then we even took off Gerrard to keep him from getting a card, took off Coutinho, and put on Lucas and Allen for them. Then Henderson stepped up for a free-kick, which bounced and evaded everyone, and went into the net.

4-0.

We even put Moses on for Sterling, who left the field to a standing ovation. Seriously, how are Spurs even competing for the CL spots with this sort of awful performances? I guess the early 1-0s with cheap penalties gave them a ton of points, but I really expected them to fall away much quicker. So much for spending $100m of that Bale money on midfielders that aren’t even played. Can’t believe Paulinho was dropped from the squad altogether. That’s a Brazilian international going to WC ’14.

Ah well, it’s great to see Spurs crumbling under Tim ‘I-like-to-sit-in-the-stands-instead’ Sherwood. At one point he was shown being on the phone. Not sure if issuing instructions, but it still looks like pretty terrible management to me. In contrast, Rodgers was beside the pitch screaming instructions the whole game.

So, we’re on an 8-game winning streak, we’re top of the table by 2 points, and welcome our fellow title challengers to Anfield. Of course, I forget to give thanks to Crystal Palace and Arsenal, for beating and drawing with Chelsea and City yesterday. You’ve done us a great service 😉

Oh, and if people actually believed we would crumble under the pressure (like Sherwood tried to imply), well then, that’s their prerogative. Me? I’m going to keep believing that we can win the league.

Procrastination

It’s what I’ve been doing for years now, and it’s not a surprise to see myself procrastinating on my essay worth 35% of my grade. I’m taking it to new levels by trying to upload some of my previous fanfictions onto the blog for no one to read, and it’s eating up big chunks of my time. Despite the job of fixing the formatting being boring as hell, I’m still choosing to do it over my work.

I’m nuts.

La Tormenta – Status Update 30/03/14

Blah. I wanted to release a chapter on the story’s anniversary, but I got caught up doing other stuff. And now, as I try to write the last chapter before Edolas, I find myself struggling to piece together all the different scenes I had planned for this. The scenes themselves had plenty of reiterations, and the order has been shuffled goodness knows how many times. It could well be more than a month before I can upload chapter 22…

Malaysian Grand Prix 2014

Qualifying

Well, that was a bit of an anti-climatic end, with Hamilton bagging pole with his earlier time. Vettel came agonisingly close, but didn’t make the checkered flag for one last flying lap. He was trying to hang back to get some space from Rosberg, who had first backed off him, then came charging up to get track position. Vettel’s fault for misjudging the time? Maybe, but it was by maybe a second or less. Intentional from Rosberg? That’s conspiracy theory stuff, but amusing to consider.

Of course, well done to both Vettel and Hamilton, who showed their class in the wet. The conditions made a great equaliser for Red Bull, who did bring a lot of parts and probably performance too, so it’s probably even closer in the dry now. I still expect the Mercedes to have upwards of 0.5s a lap on Red Bull though, but they look like they are comfortably the 2nd fastest car on the grid. They have the aero and thus the grip; if they had Mercedes engines, they’ll probably be on top again.

Alonso had a coming-together with Kvyat, and I’m amazed Ferrari managed to fix his broken wishbone, which was crucial for steering. And then he went on to get a P4 behind Rosberg with a car that doesn’t steer properly. That’s brilliant from probably the best driver on the grid. And he outqualified Raikkonen again, despite Kimi seemingly having the upper hand in Q1 (as was Rosberg with Hamilton). Well, as they might say, the best drivers shine when the pressure’s on…

McLaren’s gamble, or rather Button’s, to go on inters didn’t pay off, but they didn’t lose that much in the end. Magnussen had a decent qualifying given the speed of the McLaren, as did Hulkenberg who always outperforms his car. Williams was nowhere in the wet, mirroring Melbourne, and if it pours again tomorrow, I don’t expect them anywhere near fighting for the podium as Bottas was in the early parts of the Aussie GP.

Ericsson had a BIG crash in Q1, where he basically spun off and onto the track two corners later, nearly hitting Gutierrez. Every driver had their moments off track, including wet-weather specialists like Hamilton. The torque-y nature of the 2014 cars probably made it even worse.

Can’t wait for the race tomorrow!

Race

The rain threatened to come down, but in the end, it never did, allowing for a good race to unfold. Well, from P2 onwards anyway. Hamilton had a faultless race, hammering out a 17s gap on his own teammate, using less fuel to do so, and avoiding the tyre wear issues that Rosberg seemed to have. That’s mind-bogglingly good, and lays down a huge marker for Rosberg.

Rosberg did a good start to leapfrog Vettel, and from then on was uncomfortably ahead. He pulled out a max of 4s on Vettel in various parts of the race, but it got really close at the pit stops, and it dipped under 1s at points. He just couldn’t seem to pull away from Vettel like Hamilton could pull away from him, but a good race nonetheless.

Vettel outlined the potential in that RB10 with a great race, hanging on to Rosberg all through the race. He dropped to P4 at the start, but managed to get pas Ricciardo again to get P3 and stayed there all the way. Formula 1 is indeed an engine formula now; if that RB10 had a Merc engine, Vettel would probably have been challenging Hamilton for the win.

Ricciardo inherited his Australian predecessor’s bad luck, as crap poured down on him. First it was a poorly fitted front left that cost him a lap, then his wing failed, then he got a drive-through for the bad pitstop. In the end, he had to retire. But he was showing decent pace and was on for a 4th place finish, so Red Bull will be pleased with that.

Alonso drove a typical fighting race in 4th, and Hulkenberg managed a very good 5th on a 2-stop strategy. It’s amazing how his talent can be overlooked for his weight, but all the better for Force India. Perez, his teammate, couldn’t even start due to some issues, which is a pity given the pace of that car.

Button cruised to a 6th for McLaren, probably not where they want to be at the moment. But they managed to keep ahead of the squabbling Williams, who had their own ‘multi-21’ moment, coincidentally at Malaysia as well. Massa was asked to move over for Bottas, and was probably fed up after having to do that at Ferrari more than his fair share. So he kept ahead of Bottas and prevented him from chasing down Button, which is bad for the team but good for him personally.

Behind them was Magnussen, who made a mistake and came into contact with Raikkonen at the start of the race. That damaged his front wing and gave him a 5s stop-go penalty, and he made a great recovery drive for 9th. Raikkonen, sadly due to the puncture from that contact, could only come 12th.

Kvyat drove to an impressive 10th, a 2nd consecutive points-scoring race for him. Grosjean actually finished the race, keeping just ahead of Raikkonen and showing that the Lotus has pace despite all their reliability issues. Maldonado had a damaged floor due to contact with Bianchi on the first lap though, and unfortunately had to retire. Bianchi retired too, though I’m not too sure as to why.

Kobayashi drove a fighting race too, and managed a great 13th for Caterham. Behind him was his teammate Ericsson and then Chilton, who finished yet another race and kept up his consecutive finishes. Finally, Sauber had a nightmare race where both cars retired.

That’s race 2 over. Bring on Bahrain!

Year 1 Sem 2 Midterms

Yeehaw.

Well, now that those horrible things called tests are all over, I guess I can reflect on them a little.

Last semester’s midterms were ones that I actually studied a whole lot for, mostly for Anatomy. It was a big break in tradition for me, who had little to no desire to study ever since secondary school. I usually study the day before; I managed to study for the whole of recess week (albeit not very efficiently). I thought I had turned a corner.

Then semester 1’s exams came and went, and as I got dragged into the audio game thanks to copious amounts of research that morphed into an obsession, I went back to old study habits. And so that continued to this semester’s midterms, and I ended up not even studying for LSM1401’s final CA, which I failed, somewhat embarrassingly IMO.

But after that poor grade, I still found myself lacking any sort of desire to study (or do my work, which will probably cost me my elective grades…). I think it’s partly due to how the module was (damn easy, and then a final CA that hurt badly), and partly due to how I hate the meritocratic system that ends up turning everyone against each other.

Cue another angry rant about bell curves.

Yes, I detest the bell curve. Overall, my absolute score for LSM1401 should be at least 75%, which should grant me an A- (based on NUS High’s grading system, which should be a decent reflection of NUS’s system). But, with the bell curve, I’m not expecting anything more than a B+, and I wouldn’t put any money on me getting one of those. It drives students to study, yes, but do they seek to learn or just to score?

It’s a sad indictment of our education system, when people see me as a nerd when I ask questions beyond our curriculum. Is our schooling not about learning, broadening horizons? When did we start getting degrees for jobs? Where did the interest go? When did grades become more important than the content which we are learning?

The irony is that I’m just as concerned about my grades (see: bell curve rant above), because it will ultimately impact on my ability to find a job. Change to a system that is touted as excellent won’t come easy, and probably won’t come at all.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. People will probably think I complain too much, given I score decently despite not studying. Well, that’s because I actually try to learn during lectures instead of dumbly copying notes and trying to figure it out later.

Whatever.

All I know is, I hate exams and bell curves because they put an ungodly amount of emphasis on grades and studying when education should be about developing the mind and learning new things.

Begin Again – Trailer

I admit to having a soft spot for indie films (regardless of how strong the cast is; in this case, it’s pretty darn strong). Indies usually have a bigger focus on the characters, and it’s lovely to see the growth and change of people within the confines of plots that usually put on a cute twist to cliché storylines.

This one looks like a real winner, with great lines, music infused into the film, and a very cheerful way of looking at life and failure. I love watching dramatic films, but sometimes they can really weigh you down with the emotions. It’s good to have a light-hearted film once in a while.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Trailer

With Michael Bay at the helm, it’s no surprise there’s so many explosions and large-scale devastation. The CGI is fantastic though, like Transformers. The turtles (technically, tortoises…) are larger than expected, and Megan Fox is as hot as ever. S’bout it, really. TMNT is a childhood favourite, and I guess this movie, while not being very plot-heavy, will be a nice throw-back to the good ol’ days.

A Danish Zoo Tries To Explain Why It Killed Four Healthy Lions

Them euthanising the lions so soon after doing it to the giraffe was just begging for a backlash. I understand why they would choose to do that, but the world’s a bit less rational when it comes to animal rights these days. I think people should stop getting so hung up over the euthanasia of animals, when there are plenty of other endangered species that need our attention.

TIME

Little more than a month after it caused global dismay by euthanizing a healthy giraffe named Marius, a Danish zoo is again is the spotlight for putting down four healthy lions — a male, female and two cubs.

In a statement on its website, Copenhagen Zoo says that it culled the animals this week to avoid inbreeding, as the euthanized male might have mated with his own offspring if he hadn’t been put down. It added that the killings “had to happen now” to make way for a new male, who would have killed all sexually immature young lions if he were not himself killed by the now euthanized female.

That explanation may prove to be too little and too late. Outrage is once again spreading on the Internet, where more than 87,000 people have signed a petition to tell the zoo to stop killing healthy animals, and close to…

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