Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The newest bad kid on the block, beer has long been overshadowed by its healthier alcoholic cousins. While no one's suggesting you switch that glass of antioxidant-rich Pinot Noir for a tall glass of lager there's still that beer gut to worry about new research has suggested that moderate beer intake can actually improve cardiovascular function. Now if only a scientist will discover the health benefits of ballpark franks and chicken wings. Heaven.
No.9 - Anger
If you're one of those people who tends to bottle things up, only to explode ... don't hold it in so long. Studies show that bursts of anger here and there are good for the health, and can be an even more effective coping mechanism than becoming afraid, irritated or disgusted. Anger, like the consumables in this list, however, is best in moderation: stay angry for long periods of time and you'll be plagued with a host of health issues, like blood pressure, sleep disorders and lung damage.
No.8 - Coffee
Java is one of the most debated substances around. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? Both? The consensus, now anyways, seems to favor those who enjoy their morning jolt unrelated studies claim coffee is a major source of antioxidants in our diet and can help lower your risk of diabetes. Something in the beans is also thought to ease the onset of cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatitis, good news for those who like to party hard all night before their morning caffeine boost.
No.7 - LSD
We're definitely not in the business of advocating drug use. But check out this interesting science: In heavy drinkers, small doses of LSD have been thought to help bypass the rock-bottom stage of alcoholism and prevent relapses. These studies some decades old were done in closely monitored, clinical settings; many patients haven't had a drink in the many years since. It's an interesting finding that needs a lot more investigation, and not a remedy that should ever be tried at home. Meantimeeand this may come as no surpriseea recent study of 36 volunteers who took an LSD-like drug in a lab setting had them reporting mystical experiences and behavior changes that lasted for weeks.
No.6 - Sunlight
Exposure to the sun's rays is necessary to survive, but can also kill you in gross, cancerous quantities. Asthmatics, at least, could benefit from measured doses of ultraviolet rays, according to scientists. Sunlight suppressed the immune reactions that cause asthma in some lab studies with mice and could be used to treat humans afflicted with the disease in the future. And sunlight even if indirect, such as on a shaded porcheis known to boost the mood. Extra sunlight can help office workers avoid afternoon drowsiness, a recent study found. There's still no excuse to head outside and bake, however.
No.5 - Maggots
They're creepy, slimy and altogether ooky, but maggots can save your life. These squirmy larvae are science's newest wonder-cure and were approved in 2003 as the Food & Drug Administration's only live medical device. Placed on serious wounds, maggots mimic their "wild" lifestyle and munch on bacteria and dead tissue, stimulating healing and helping to prevent infection.
No.4 - Marijuana
It's medicinal, we swear! Marijuana, often associated with memory loss, is ironically now being hyped as a way to stave off the ultimate form of memory loss Alzheimer's. Recent studies on mice suggest that anti-inflammatories found in the drug prevent the clumping of brain proteins, one major cause of the disease. So when should you start preventative therapy? We suggest waiting for the human studies to wrap up.
No.3 - Red Wine
A crucial ingredient in the diets of the world's heart-healthiest populations like those Bordeaux-guzzling Frenchered wine has long been known to have potent anti-cancer and artery-protecting benefits. The key, some studies indicate, is an antioxidant found specifically in the skin of red wine grapes, called resveratrol. The latest studies even link resveratrol to greater endurance, a reduction in gum disease and Alzheimer's. White wine, which is fermented after the skins are removed, is less beneficial according to some studies.
No.2 - Chocolate
Chocolate lovers rejoice: study after study lately has touted the magical benefits of the indulgent treat, which is packed with the antioxidant flavonols that prevent certain cancers and keep your arteries from clogging. The most recent news? These powerful chemicals may even increase blood flow to the brain, warding off dementia. Just stick to the highest cocoa content possible the bars packed with sugar don't help your health one bit.
No.1 - Sex (Yeah baby, yeah!)
Scientists have found that the benefits of sex go beyond immediate, ahem, gratification and satisfying the goal of procreation. Besides the obvious evolutionary purposes, we can all take pleasure in the news that having sex is an easy way to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and improve circulation throughout the body. As if you needed another excuse.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
AckAck Ack Ack Ack Ack!
Sleeping here, my chin on your foot — no greater bliss — well,
Monday, February 25, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Nursing a newborn is no "small" feat for the whale, whose calf emerges, after 10 to 12 months in the womb, about a third the mother's length (that's a 30-foot baby for the Blue whale). The mother squirts milk into the newborn's mouth using muscles around the mammary gland while the baby holds tight to a nipple (yes, whales have them). At nearly 50 percent fat, whale milk has around 10 times the fat content of human milk, which helps calves achieve some serious growth spurtseas much as 200 pounds per day.
Can you imagine a road trip vacation without missed exits, stubborn drivers or map-folding disasters? Of course noteyou're not a bird. Pigeons can fly thousands of miles to find the same roosting spot with no navigational difficulties. Some species of birds, like the Arctic tern, make a 25,000 mile round-trip journey every year. Many species use built-in ferromagnets to detect their orientation with respect to the Earth's magnetic field. A November 2006 study published in Animal Behaviour suggests that pigeons also use familiar landmarks on the ground below to help find their way home.
Beavers become near shut-ins during winter, living off of previously stored food or the deposits of fat in their distinctive tails. They conserve energy by avoiding the cold outdoors, opting instead to remain in dark lodgings inside their pile of wood and mud. As a result these rodents, which normally emerge at sunset and turn in at sunrise, have no light cues to entrain their sleep cycle. The beaver's biological sense of time shifts, and she develops a "free running circadian rhythm" of 29-hour days.
With their puny eyes and underground lifestyle, African mole-rats have long been considered the Mr. Magoos of rodents, detecting little light and, it has been suggested, using their eyes more for sensing changes in air currents than for actual vision. But findings of the past few years have shown that African mole-rats have a keen, if limited, sense of sight. And they don't like what they see, according to a report in the November 2006 Animal Behaviour. Light may suggest that a predator has broken into a tunnel, which could explain why subterranean diggers developed sight in the first place.
Elephants have the largest brain nearly 11 pounds on average of any mammal that ever walked the earth. Do they use that gray matter to the fullest? Intelligence is hard to quantify in humans or animals, but the encephalization quotient (EQ), a ratio of an animal's observed brain size to the expected brain size given the animal's mass, correlates well with an ability to navigate novel challenges and obstacles. The average elephant EQ is 1.88. (Humans range from 7.33 to 7.69, chimpanzees average 2.45, pigs 0.27.) Intelligence and memory are thought to go hand in hand, suggesting that elephant memories, while not infallible, are quite good.
Parrot speech is commonly regarded as the brainless squawking of a feathered voice recorder. But studies over the past 30 years continually show that parrots engage in much more than mere mimicry. Our avian friends can solve certain linguistic processing tasks as deftly as 4-6 year-old children. Parrots appear to grasp concepts like "same" and "different", "bigger" and "smaller", "none" and numbers. Perhaps most interestingly, they can combine labels and phrases in novel ways. A January 2007 study in Language Sciences suggests using patterns of parrot speech learning to develop artificial speech skills in robots.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father asked me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced.
When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, "I will meet you here at 5:00 pm, and we will go home together."
After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
How many of history’s great leaders can claim to have had one of the great philosophers as their personal tutor? Out of all the intellectuals at the prestigious Academy in Athens, Alexander’s father, Philip, chose Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) to instruct his 13-year-old son. Aristotle, who had been the student of Plato, was offered a handsome salary to move to the town of Mieza, deep in the Macedonian countryside. In the nearby Temple of the Nymphs, Aristotle taught the young prince geography, zoology, politics and medicine. Alexander was greatly influenced by the philosopher’s teachings. On later military campaigns, Alexander brought scientists with him and sent plant and animal specimens back to his former mentor.
9. Tamed The Horse Bucephalus
Philip, Alexander's father, bought a horse called Bucephalus for the exorbitant price of 13 talents (1 talent = 27 kg of gold), but the rambunctious animal bucked all comers. Watching the futile attempts, Alexander noticed that the animal was frightened by its own shadow. He bet his father that he could mount the horse. By turning Bucephalus toward the sun so its shadow was behind it, Alexander was able to climb into the saddle and gallop around triumphantly. To which his father said: ‘My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedonia is too small for you.’ Bucephalus remained Alexander’s faithful steed until it died in what is now present-day Pakistan, fighting elephant-mounted brigades.
8. Assumed Father's Throne In Timely, But Ruthless, Manner
Alexander’s father, Philip, was stabbed by one of his bodyguards in 336 B.C. at a wedding banquet. Although few scholars think that Alexander was directly involved in the assassination, he wasted no time dispatching any possible rivals even instructing his mother, Olympias, to execute the infant son of Philip’s last wife. Alexander spent the next two years quelling rebellions in the lands conquered by his father. Thebes revolted on a false rumor that Alexander was dead. Showing no mercy, Alexander slaughtered or sold into slavery 30,000 inhabitants before leveling the city to the ground. By setting such an example, there were no significant uprisings in Greece during Alexander’s 12-year Asia campaign.
7. Perfected Macedonian Military Style, The Phalanx
The most distinctive element of the Macedonian war machine was the phalanx. Developed by Alexander’s father, the phalanx was a tight formation of soldiers usually 16 by 16 carrying shields and sarisses, which were 20-foot-long spears made of cornel-wood. The back rows of the phalanx held their sarisses upright, hiding the movement of forces behind the lines, while the front rows kept the enemy at bay with an impenetrable wall of sharp pikes. On flat terrain, the phalanx proved unbeatable. Alexander also had at his disposal light auxiliaries, archers, a siege train, and a cavalry. Thanks to his father, Alexander’s army was largely a professional one. In earlier times, Macedonians would stop fighting during the harvest, but Philip and Alexander paid the men enough that they could afford to be soldiers full-time. This meant they were often better trained than their adversaries.
6. Crossed The Hellespont
After solidifying his rule of Macedonia and Greece, Alexander looked east to Asia and the Persian Empire, which was led by Darius III. Alexander assembled an allied Greek army of 5,000 cavalry and 32,000 infantry to avenge the Persian invasion of Greece in 490 B.C. With 60 naval vessels, Alexander crossed the Hellespont (a narrow strait separating Europe and Asia - now called the Dardanelles) in 334 B.C. From his ship, Alexander threw his spear onto the shore. As he took his first steps in Asia, he pulled his weapon from the sand and declared that these lands would be won by the spear. But the first order of business was a little tourism! Being quite fond of the Trojan War story -- even keeping a copy of Homer’s Iliad tucked under his pillow, Alexander made a special trip to Troy to perform several sacrifices and to trade some of his armor for a sacred shield in the Temple of Athena.
5. Untied Gordian Knot, Loosed Metaphor For The Ages
According to legend, the Phrygians, who lived in what is now central Turkey, were told by an oracle to make king the first man to ride into town in an oxcart. As luck would have it, this man was Gordius, a poor peasant. After his coronation, Gordius dedicated his cart to the god Zeus and tied it to a pole outside the temple. The knot was made of cornel bark, which hardened over time. It was said that whoever untied this intricate knot would conquer all of Asia. Alexander could not pass up such an opportunity, but there were no ends to the knot for him to even get started. In frustration, he sliced it in half with his sword, proclaiming, "I have loosed it!" The Gordian Knot has since become synonymous with an intractable problem that requires an unconventional solution.
4. Simply Divine: Declared Son of A God
After defeating the Persians at the Battle of Issus, Alexander decided to enter Egypt, which had been under Persian rule for almost 200 years. The Egyptians despised the Persians for their heavy taxes and religious intolerance. They gladly anointed Alexander as pharaoh, initiating a cultural exchange between Greece and Egypt that lasted for the next three hundred years. While in Egypt, Alexander also made the dangerous journey across the desert to the shrine of Zeus Ammon. It is said that he was guided by ravens and blessed with rain. Upon his arrival, the priest apparently told him he was the son of Zeus. Whether or not Alexander believed in his own divinity, he played it up to his own advantage.
3. Founded Alexandria; Became Poster Child for Librarians
Besides razing cities, Alexander also founded about 20 new ones, naming most of them after himself. The most enduring of these is Alexandria on the coast of the Nile delta. In a superb natural harbor where the Persians had once erected a fortress, Alexander had his architects build a grand city along Greek lines. Alexandria later developed into a cosmopolitan port, with schools, theater, and one of the greatest libraries of antiquity. Greeks ran the city’s administration, but Egyptians were allowed to keep their customs and religion. Egyptians could only become citizens if they learned Greek and accepted Greek traditions.
2. Defeated The Persians
After less than a year in Egypt, Alexander resumed to chasing after the Persian emperor, Darius III. At the plains of Gaugamela, Darius assembled an army of 200,000, which included cavalry wearing chain mail and chariots with blades spinning out of the wheels. Alexander’s 47,000 men attacked Darius? flanks, splitting the Persian forces, while Alexander charged into the center. The Persians broke ranks and were routed. Darius escaped by horseback, only to be later killed by one of his own men. Having conquered the Persians, Alexander was named King of Asia. He took Babylon and Persepolis, the Persian capital. In an attempt to solidify his rule, he began to dress like a Persian, and married a Persian dancer named Roxanne. His men found it unbecoming of their king that he thought it necessary to please a defeated enemy.
1. Extended Empire Into India; Partied-and Died-Like a Rockstar
Alexander’s vision of Asia was that it ended just on the other side of India. Wanting to conquer the continent, he persuaded his men to march east. The Indian king Porus and his elephants fell to Alexander, but the weather and the mountains wore out his men. It soon became clear that Asia was larger than had been estimated. With his campaign suffering from mission drift, Alexander succumbed to his men’s pleas and turned back. But he decided on a circuitous route: down India’s rivers to the ocean, then along the coast back to Persia. It was probably Alexander’s greatest mistake, as 15,000 of his men died of starvation or heat in the Gedrosan Desert -- more than all those he lost in battle. The journey may have taken its toll on Alexander as well. At a banquet back in Babylon, he drank excessively -- as usual -- then fell ill of a fever, most likely due to malaria. He died a few days later, just shy of his 33rd birthday.
The Empire of Alexander The Great - btw, the baige coloured portion is the Empire
Monday, February 11, 2008
It was disheartening to watch the loss of Man Utd to Man City at Old Trafford yesterday. A very sad moment for me. Firstly, for the fact that it was the memorial game for the Busby Babes and secondly - we could have gone 1 point above Arsenal on the table.
City, who had not won at the ground since 1974, completed their first double over Manchester United since 1970 with a deserved 2-1 victory. Darius Vassell and new signing Benjani Mwaruwari scored first-half goals for City and United's only reply was in injury-time from Michael Carrick.
From what I saw, the Devils were not even in the Derby. City was running riot all over the pitch. The running saw Vassell and Benjani put 2 goals before the half-time whistle. I do hope the boys will pull up their socks and rise to the occasion when we play Arsenal in the 5th round of the FA Cup on Saturday. Beating Arsenal will cement a place in the quaterfinals of the oldest Cup competition in the world. Do I blame fatigue as an excuse for the loss? Well, not entirely. It could be one of the contributing factors (especially having all the players return from their international friendlies), but also the fact that Man City played awesome football. With the likes of Micah Richards (whom I salute as the future Central Defender of England), Darius Vassell, Benjani and Dunn.
A minute of silence to remember the Munich Air Disaster before the match
Lets pick it up my boys and let us keep pressuring the Gunners as we defend our title.
Glory Glory Man Utd!
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Eight United players were among the 23 people who lost their lives on 6 February 1958, when BEA flight G-ALZU crashed on the third take-off attempt after re-fuelling in Germany on the way back from a European Cup success at Red Star Belgrade.
Sir Matt Busby's side - back-to-back English champions and well positioned for a hat-trick attempt - were arguably on course to become the best-ever United team.
BUSBY JR REVEALS MUNICH MEMORIES
Sandy Busby (hereafter referred to a Busby Jr) has recalled the heartbreak he felt after the Munich air disaster claimed the lives of his friends - and almost his dad - in 1958.
In February 1958, Busby Jr celebrated his 22nd birthday by receiving a telegram from Belgrade, sent by the good friends he had made within the Manchester United squad.
Two days later seven of that team had been killed and Sandy's father, United manager Sir Matt Busby (hereafter referred to a Busby Sr), was lying in intensive care in a Munich hospital after their plane skidded off the runway while making a third attempt to take off in a snowstorm.
Busby Jr recalled: "I was associated with United through my father and I grew up with these lads.
"I used to train on Tuesday and Thursday nights when I was an amateur. We used to socialise - cinemas, dance halls, parties, altogether. They never treated me like the boss' son, they treated me like one of them.
"The team were in Belgrade and they sent me a telegram saying 'Happy Birthday and sorry not to be with you'.
"I took a while to get over the lads that had gone. Little Eddie (Colman) and Big Tommy Taylor were all great lads."
The Munich air disaster - which happened 50 years ago on Wednesday - ultimately claimed the lives of 23 people, either club officials, players or journalists following United, and including the fabulously talented Duncan Edwards, who died of his injuries 15 days after the crash at the age of 21.
"He had the last rites twice," said Busby Jr.
"He was unconscious for four or five days. When he eventually came round he knew it was very, very serious and he turned to my mother and said 'I want to know who has gone and who is all right. You nod your head if they're all right and shake your head if they have died'. She went through the list and he said 'I'm finishing with football'.
"She later said to him 'Look, these players who have gone would want you to carry on and achieve what they would want to achieve'.
"I flew out the morning after the crash. I was concerned about my dad of course and the professor came to see us with his assistants and interpreter. He went through a list (of the casualties) and he came to my father and he said 'no, no, no' and my mother nearly fell through the floor.
"We were devastated. He was very strong my dad, mentally and physically. He came through it and then he started thinking about the lads that he would no longer be having fun with."
Jimmy Murphy took temporary charge of team affairs while Busby recovered, and in 1968 United's rebuilt team won the European Cup with a 4-1 victory over Benfica at Wembley.
Asked how much it meant for his father to claim the continent's top club prize, Busby Jr added: "We could see it in his face.
"There's a great photograph of Sir Bobby and my dad, cuddling each other straight after the final whistle. It told you what they wanted for the lads that had gone.
"Bobby's in tears but it was great. My dad was over the moon that they had won it, that was his goal."
This coming Sunday, United's players will wear a one-off 1950s style kit, free from sponsorship and numbered 1-11 for the Manchester derby.
"I wish I had seen those boys become men" - Sir Matt Busby-
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
We had so much of fun. Among the guys who went are: Paul Michael (D'Organiser), Vicky Raja (Co-Organiser), Zack (Official Photographer), Vikhram & Lionel (Birthday Boys), Ramesh, Ram, Veke Rama, Viji, Harith & me'self.
We left KL at about 11.00am and we reached PD at about 1pm. Met up with Vicky who was already in PD, for lunch at this Curry Leaf Restaurant. Very good food I must say. Ate some and then headed straight to the Bayu Beach Resort to collect the keys. Upon doing so, we went to Vicky's house for a drink and then bought all our supplies. Then straight to Bayu Beach Resort.
We started off by getting all the food organised, drinks ready and ice chilled. While we were chilling in the apartment we had some home made mutton perattel prepared by Vikhram's mum. Awesome mutton you'all. Thank you Auntie Krishnan for the lovely mutton. Then, all of us headed to the beach for some exciting Beach Football. It has been a while since I played beach football, so it was fun. The 'Dream Team' of Paul Michael (Captain), Zack, Harith, Viji, Veke and myself soundly beat the 'Other Team' of Ram (Captain), Vikhram, Vicky, Lionel and Ramesh - victory of 3-0. What a game la! Some of the guys wanted to go up and chill, but the others had to go for a swim in the beach. So, we went for a dip. It was nice to cool down after such a long day. Oh yes, did I mention, I have not slept ever since I finished work on Fri as we had a long night out, then got back to prepare all the items and by then Lionel came and we left.
Anyway, after the swim, headed back for a bath, got ready and headed down to the beach for the BBQ. Paul's mum took the trouble to marinate all the lamb and chicken. Thank you very much Auntie Anthonysamy for the ever so lovely marination. While we were starting the fire for the pit, the rain came and went. When we started cooking, again the rain came and went. I was praying that the rain will stop. Well, when we were half way through the BBQ, the rain came again and this time it stopped for good - thank God.
We ate chicken, lamb, sausages and not forgetting drank the bottles and bottles of Chivas Regal that were at the site. At the beach, we finished 1 1/2 bottles, but upon returning to the apartment the other 2 1/2 were finished. While we were drinking at the apartment, I was really feeling too tired, so I retired for the night, while the other boys continued till the wee hours of the morning.
I was only up the next day by 12 noon, had a bath and actually went back to sleep. Very nice sleep I had - hmmmm, nice. The boys were not happy about it as I retired early the night before, well not really early la, I retired about 1am - but remember I have been drinking since 9.30pm. I am merely defending myself here against all the 'verbal assaults' I have been getting ever since Sunday. Anyway, we checked out of the apartment and then headed to Vicky's house for lunch. Uncle and Auntie Rajaswaran were so welcoming. Thank you very much Uncle and Auntie Rajaswaran. Auntie prepared some lovely lunch for us - rice, dhalcha (mutton), chicken perratel, mutton varuvel, cabbage and french beans. Very nice lunch.
After lunch, Auntie insisted that we stayed for tea, had some tit bits and then headed back to KL. It was a nice drive back. Left PD at about 5pm and reached KL at 7pm. It was slightly jammed along the North-South expressway, but it was just along Nilai, after that it was smooth.
All in all an excellent trip. I thank you Paul, Vicky, Vikhram (driving me back), Lionel (driving me to), Veke, Ramesh, Ram, Viji, Zack & Harith for inviting me to join all of you for this ever so memorable trip. It is truly one of the best things that has happened to me this year. Once again, thank you my dear brothers.
All the pics that were taken at PD:-