bottleneck analysis

Fresh insights about energy, politics, travels, sports, music…

Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Brain and the Ball #WC2014

Almaty, Kazakhstan 

The World Cup is over. The German perfect machine won, the pretentious teams that thought their name would win for them lost, and teams who bet on their country’s youth fared well. But here I briefly look at my favorite players. 

I wasn’t that good at playing football/soccer/calcio: not so fast, not so good at handling the ball, with bad eyesight… what made me almost a provincial champion half-my-age ago, then? Apart from my monstrous team, my brain. I knew where to be in the pitch, read my opponents well, and loved to break their game, get the ball and pass it to my more talented teammates. That’s why I can get excited for Argentina-Netherlands 0-0, a semifinal that excited 1% of the watchers, while the other 99% complained it didn’t show as many goals as Brazil-Germany 1-7.”Boring” they say, I say “genius”. If three players aren’t that good for one night (Van Persie, Higuaín, Agüero, I’m talking to you), it doesn’t mean that the other 19 on the pitch didn’t play well or weren’t exciting.

What  fascinates me is their ability to read the game and to change it through their intelligence, rather than their talent. That’s why in this list you will not see Messi, Robben, James Rodriguez, Ochoa, Götze, Neymar, Sanchez, or Di María (the latest being the best player I’ve seen in 2014) – all of them are intelligent players, but their skills are disproportionate with respect. You will see through Benzema‘s short hair which were made stand on hand by Neuer, look into Mascherano‘s wide eyes, get scared by Vlaar and Lahm‘s eyebrows, and get yelled at by Müller. The formation I created represents my selection of players who would play for a sort of “Clever FC”, which could not be beaten by a corresponding selection of the most-valued players in activity today. Germany demonstrated it: whatever name is on your jersey, you will be destroyed by our team’s football intelligence. Rojo and Darmian‘s great performances demonstrated that even young players can be tidy and cunning. Pirlo is probably growing so much hair because he wants to hide all the cerebral matter that is overflowing his cranium. Hummels is one of the best defenders of our time, Kuyt and Shaqiri run more than is humanly possible, but don’t get tired because they run with a clear idea in mind. Lavezzi is above Di María in this one because the latter needs to learn from the former about teamwork. A special mention goes to Argentina’s Perez, you’ll see what I mean in the nearest future.

Enjoy!

My very own "Clever FC" for the 2014 World Cup

My very own “Clever FC” for the 2014 World Cup

Advertisements

Скоро кончится лето – Кино

Almaty, Kazakhstan 

I’m writing my dissertation, that’s why I’ve been so proficient in procrastinating. But it’s crunch time, so I promise this will be my last post until I’m done with my academic writing.

When Viktor Tsoi died at 28 in a car accident in Latvia, the Baltic country had just declared its independence from the USSR. It was June of 1990, a time of change, or “перемен” as Tsoi would have sung it if he had lived to see it. A truly Soviet character, Tsoi was a Korean-Russian with some roots in Kazakhstan’s former sleepy capital of Kyzylorda (his father was born there). A profoundly uneasy artist, who even sounded dark when he sung his less-than-happy songs with his band, Kino.

Every 21st of June, the former Soviet youth celebrates its own Christmas. The birthday of Tsoi revives the Soviet rock scene from Almaty to St. Petersburg. Even a street artist was able to get away with painting a mural in his honor in Almaty, avoiding the ever strict Kazakh police. But I digress. I conducted a very quick analysis of the lyrics sung in the most famous songs by Kino. As I casually listened to the words used, it became clear that the choice made by Tsoi in the 80s was more original than many other songs that usually play in my iTunes.

A mural for Viktor Tsoi - Almaty (Arbat) 2014

A mural for Viktor Tsoi – Almaty (Arbat) 2014

Next to very Soviet words like звезда (star), война (war), земля (land), вперёд (forward), город (city), there are several ones related to natural phenomena – солнце (sun), трава (grass), снег (snow), огонь (fire). Other recurrent words reference the body: кровь (blood) and глаза (eyes). The choice of verbs is also interesting: молчить (to be silent), спать (to sleep), встать (to wake/stand up), остаться (to stay/be left). One very peculiar word that comes up often is брод (ford, “a shallow place in a river or stream allowing one to walk or drive across” tells me the dictionary).

Often, Kino’s songs address uncomfortable situations that disturb the “normal” living experience. When Tsoi talks about being stuck in either an Elektrichka (“Suburban Electric Train”) or on a Trolleibus going East, you can feel the problems that the singer was facing within. You won’t find любовь (love) or сердце (heart), except in their un-romantic meanings. “Love” is used in the locution я не люблю to say “I don’t like”, whereas “heart” is more often the source of pain than excitement.

There is so much sub-text in Kino’s songs that I should dedicate a month to it, not 30 minutes. But time flies, so I’d better go back to my dissertation, listening to Tsoi’s tunes, of course.