Tuesday (2017-02-28)

Today, I learned that:

The Nordic people are said to be cold and not very sociable. But that saying is now definitely DEAD ! The reason can be seen in The Guardian. Last week, it presented a survey made in 39 different cities of the world about the social behaviour and attitudes of its residents. And the winner was GÖTEBORG, aka Gothenburg. (And Stockholm ended up in the second place.) Read the whole story in reference #1 below. As a tribute, the following photo was taken at the Gothenburg marina of Långedrag on 2008-07-17.


Photo taken at Långedrag, Göteborg on 2008-07-17

Of course I feel very proud that the city where I got my academic degree was chosen, and I agree that those years I spent there had quite a lot of positive events and people. The locals in Göteborg are considered as funny people, always ready to tell a joke or two. On the day that the survey was presented, the Canadian general governor, David Johnston, visited Göteborg, which generated the following joke:


You can see the answer, in “göteborgska” at the end of this page.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Do you need to TRANSLATE DOCUMENTS between ENGLISH, BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE, and the SCANDINAVIAN (SWEDISH / DANISH / NORWEGIAN) languages? Contact “Byrån / The Taskforce” here !!!

1: Party central: Gothenburg voted world’s most sociable city

*: What did you learn in school today ?


2017-01-14 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

One year passes so fast, and the older one gets, the faster it seems! Someone said that our perception of time is inversely proportional to our physical age, e.g. one month for an 8-year old child seems to last as long as half a year for a person of 48 years. And one year ago, on 2016-01-08, I met with my old friend Tereza, lawyer and university professor, undoubtedly the leading Brazilian expert on the rights of certain minority populations, see reference # 1 below. She suggested to me to start a blog and thus disseminate my knowledge and ideas. I told her that I had no experience in blogs!

But then, during the following night, I had the most vivid dream, when what I believed to be a song by Tom Lehrer played over and over again in my head, ‘What did you in learn school today?’. I took it as a premunition for something special, and once awake I searched for the song on the internet. It proved to have been written by Tom Paxton, and I found the fabulous version interpreted by Pete Seeger, the main reference * below.

My very first, extremely timid post, was about the first podcast I had listened to in the morning of 2016-01-09, from the Science Show by Radio National in Australia, about potatoes and incas. Thank you, Tereza, for your excellent suggestion!

And now to the very best moment of all: Thank you, everyone, who have supported me during this very interesting year. Please bare with me and I will continue to produce also in 2017, when time so permits. And a special thank to all my friends who have sent me such marvellous pictures from their travels and allowed me to publish them.

Here is a partial list of posts with descriptions and photos of cities, as well as other posts with substantial contributions from my friends, from all around the world:

Today is no exception, as you can see further down in this post.

Today’s hint is once more from the Science Show. In 2016 was celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of HG Wells, who most of you know as the author of The Time Machine. But he was so much more, a very prolific author of a multitude of books, articles, etc., mostly science fiction, often with sinister forecasts. Did you know that he coined the term ‘atomic bomb’ and at an early stage warned about the disasterous effects the uncontrolled release of atomic energy could have on human kind. He lived to see the bombs which were thrown over Japan in 1945, and when he died in 1946, he had already written his epitaph. What did he write? Find out by listening to the podcast in reference # 2 below. Reference # 3 also contains plenty of information about him.


Photo taken downtown Havanna on 2016-12-06.

My guests of honor today are my friends Andrea and Carmen, both native from South America, but living in Sweden nowadays. One month ago, they went to visit a friend of theirs in Havana, the capital city of Cuba, and among other things took some amazing photos. One of those is today’s header photo. It was taken downtown old Havana in Parque Central, and it shows a typical scene from current traffic in Cuba, dominated by American cars from the 1950’s. Below are some more photos from their trip:


Photos taken in Havana, Cuba, in December/2016, by Andrea da Silva and Carmen Alarcon. The top row shows typical photos from the streets, including Hotel Sevilla, on the left. In the middle row, we can see American cars from the 1950’s, the middle photo is part of an impressive mural in Calle Mercaderes depicting 67 notable persons in Cuban arts and history, and the rightmost photo also shows the Capitol and El Gran Teatro de La Habana (aka Garcia Lorca). The left and center photos in the bottom row were taken in the Museo de la Revolution, housed in a former presidential palace, and the rightmost photo is of the police headquarters in Havana.

If you want to know more about Havana, one good start is reference # 4 below.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Do you need to TRANSLATE DOCUMENTS between ENGLISH, BRAZILIAN PORTUGUESE, and the SCANDINAVIAN (SWEDISH / DANISH / NORWEGIAN) languages? Contact “Byrån / The Taskforce” here !!!

1: Advogada Especialista em Mudança de Nome e Sexo e Alteração de Nome em geral.

2: HG Wells: author who imaged a future based on scientific achievement

3: HG Wells

4: Havana

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-10-02 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

Once more, it is municipal election day in the pseudo democracy called Brazil. I say so, because voting is not only a right for Brazilian citizens, but also a duty! The result is obvious beforehand: A conservation of the ruling class, which has the financial means to control the situation. Everyone declared capable, aged from 18 to 70 years, must vote. Although there are some other democracies in the world where it is also mandatory to vote, what comes to my mind right now is Belgium, a country that stayed without a government during almost three years after a general election. My conviction is that elections should be open to everyone who is qualified to vote, but nobody should be obligated to do so! But since it is the proper politicians who must decide on such a measure which would go against their interests, unfortunately I do not see such a change coming ever.


Two opposite sides of the Brazilian society: To the left, the well-off citizen with all his titles and investment bonds, and to the right, the poor person, whose only right (and obligation!) is the document which identifies him as an elector. Drawn by Jean Galvão and published in Folha de S. Paulo today.

I feel very honored to have so many friends spread out all over the world, and when they travel they often send me pictures to show their destinations, and today is not at all different. My friend Barbara, who has lived in Sweden for decades, went back home to her native city, Świnoujście in Poland, last month for an important family celebration. And here you can see some of the pictures she sent me. Dzięki, Barbara!

Below are some more pictures from this sea-side city in the extreme north-west corner of Poland, bordering Germany and with a daily ferry to Ystad in Sweden. See also reference # 1 below.


Six photos from Świnoujście, all taken by Barbara Sigurdsson in September, 2016. The main photo shows the post office to the left, and the two photos in landscape mode of the next front row show scenes from the seaside promenade. The leftmost one pictures the German town Ahlbeck in the distance and the second one is a typical one from this neighborhood. In the second row, to the left, is a former Soviet military base that now has been transformed into a civic center, including sports arena, theater, tax authority and a music school. The next photo shows typical residental buildings today, in bright contrast to the rightmost photo of a skyscraper built during the communist regime.

Last Friday, 2016-09-30, was International Translation Day. When I was a teenager, I did not know which career I would follow, since I liked both technology and languages. My uncle, who had a high position in Ericsson, advised me to study technology and include as many languages as possible in my curriculum. Of course, I followed his advice, and today I am proud to say that I am very fond of making translations, in particular those involving technology, in the language pairs SwedishEnglish, SwedishPortuguese, and EnglishPortuguese. If you need to have any document translated in those languages, or including Danish and Norwegian, contact me or my fellow translators of the Taskforce, see link in reference # 2 below, and click on the appropriate flag in the upper right corner.

Finally, if you live close to an airport and are disturbed by the noise of aircraft while arriving at the airport, here comes good news for you. A study performed at KTH in Stockholm, confirmed at Heathrow airport, shows that if the landing aircraft forms an angle of 3,5 degrees to the ground instead of the current 3 degrees, then the generated noise can be reduced by 2 decibel, which is quite a lot! See references #3 and 4 below.

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Świnoujście

2: Do you need to TRANSLATE DOCUMENTS between ENGLISH, PORTUGUESE and the SCANDINAVIAN (SWEDISH, DANISH, NORWEGIAN) languages? Contact “Byrån / The Taskforce” through this link !!!

3: Brantare landning minskar bullret

4: Slutrapport Förstudie Brantare

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-09-29 (Thursday)

Today, I learned that:

The internet of today is very different from what it was 40 years ago. And at that time it did not even have that name, it was ARPANET. I found a literature review which I made for a university course called Computer Networks in October, 1976. The whole document, including all articles, is a heavy book, but I do not want to scare you so in reference # 1 below you can find a resume in 14 pages. However, in order for you to get complete satisfaction from the contents, you have to learn Swedish. But there are quite some figures and graphs as well, and you know what they say, a picture is worth more than a thousand words! I already commented about the creation of e-mail on 2016-03-07, when its inventor, Ray Tomlinson, died.

And another fantastic feat was reported 2 days ago. Due to a genetic flaw, a woman could not be sure to give birth to a sound baby, so a new technique was employed to let another woman with normal genes participate in the process, thus generating the first human being with three biological parents. See more in the figure below, and complete coverage in English and Portuguese in references #2 and 3 below.


The five phases in the process for a child to have three biological parents. 1: A non-fertilized egg with abnormal mitochondria (colored red) from the patient and another one with normal mitochondria (colored green) from the donor are selected. 2: Both cores (colored blue) are removed and only the core of the patient is maintained, the core of the donor is discarded. 3: This core is then inserted into the egg without core of the donor, with contains normal mitochondria. 4: The reconstituted egg is fertilized with the sperm of the patient’s male partner. 5: The fertilized embryo, with normal mitochondria and maternal and paternal genomes can now be transferred into the uterus of the patient. Images and text provided by Folha de S. Paulo, see also reference # 3 below.

Earlier today, I took the day off from my daily chores and invited my wife to celebrate my birthday in the neighboring city, Maringá. First we visited Parque do Japão, a marvelous creation close to the Maringá airport, and which was inaugurated on 2014-05-12. Maybe you already knew that over 1 million Japanese descendants live in Brazil? The state of São Paulo is most popular among them, but Paraná, the state immediately south of São Paulo, is also very popular. And Maringá is definitely such a place.

Below you can see some images from the park and also Maringás landmark, the Cathedral, the tallest church in South America. More information can be seen in references # 4 and 5 below.


Parque do Japão in Maringá, Paraná, Brazil. Photo taken on 2016-09-29


Photos from the city of Maringá, state of Paraná, Brazil. The four photos in landscape mode show different aspects of the “Park of Japan”. The cathedral to the right is considered as Maringá’s landmark. All photos were taken by me on 2016-09-29.

Finally, tomorrow, September 30 is the International Translation Day, yet another subject that is very dear to me. See my next post on Sunday, 2016-10-02, for more about that fascinating topic.

… That’s what I learned in school !



2: World’s first baby born with new “3 parent” technique

3: Primeiro bebê com DNA de três progenitores nasceu no México

4: Maringá

5: Parque do Japão

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-05-08 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

Exactly 71 years ago, the World War II ended in Europe. And on the 25-year celebrations on 1970-05-08, I was in Berlin for the first time, together with colleagues and teachers in the final month of elementary school.

It was a fascinating journey, with ferry from Trelleborg to Sassnitz, and from there train through East Germany to West Berlin. One day, we took the S-Bahn into East Berlin and transposed the Berlin Wall. Once there, a colleague and I interviewed people on the streets about life in the East! And on the very day of the war end anniversary, there were of course heavy demonstrations about the current state of division of the German peoples. The following day, we also visited the Olympiastadion, where the West German football squad played against Ireland, resulting in a 2-1 win. Although the German team, coached by Helmut Schön, had top players such as Berti Vogts, Jürgen Grabowski, Wolfgang Overath, Gerd Müller, Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler, the game was a tough fight. Full details can be found in reference # 1 below.

Then it would take 37 years until I returned to Berlin. The Wall was gone, although quite some things reminded me of what had been. I went on a very interesting sightseeing tour, with guide on foot. The whole event was scheduled to take 4 hours, but we had so many interesting questions that it was prolonged for 2 more hours! Today’s header image shows Berlin’s #1 symbol, Brandenburger Tor, and below are some other photos I took that day. The memorial of the holocaust is located close to there, and just beside the place where Hitler had his ultimate bunker. Seeing those stones, to signify all the people exterminated in the concentration camps, made a deep and very distressing impression on me. See also the other references below for more details about the most interesting city, and I dare to say, Europe´s de facto capital, Berlin.


4 photos I took on 2007-06-09. In the left column, from top to bottom: – The holocaust memorial; – A plate showing where the Berlin Wall used to divide the West and the East during more than 28 years; – Part of the original Berlin Wall. In the right column: Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing between West and East Berlin.

Finally, although I am not very fond of the American way of life, I must admit there are many interesting, creative people there. The web site CreativeLive is paying a tribute to some of them, through a series of video interviews, during the month of May, called 30 days of Genius. See reference # 6 below with a link to a subscription to the series, free of charge.

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: West German football team defeated Republic of Ireland 2:1, 9 May 1970

2: Brandenburger Tor

3: Holocaust memorial

4: Berlin Wall

5: Checkpoint Charlie

6: 30 days of Genius

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-26 (Tuesday)

Today, I learned that:

The custom of numbering the houses on a street, in order to facilitate visits, delivery of mail and parcels, etc., is said to have started in 1512, when there was built a new bridge in Paris, Pont Notre-Dame. On the bridge were built 68 equal houses and in order to distinguish one from another, they were given golden numbers on the outside, with odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the other side of the bridge. Initially, the purpose of this numbering was not so much to find the house for a visit, but sort of registration of property.

Pont Notre-Dame

La Joute des mariniers entre le Pont-Notre-Dame et le Pont-au-Change, painted by Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet in 1752.

Today, practically all towns and cities have a numbering system, although there are differences. The article in Wikipedia, referenced below, deals with the numbering in most parts of the world, so I will not repeat it, but recommend it if you are interested in knowing further details. Here, I will only give some bullet points and also complement that article with some interesting pieces of information.

The basic rule is that the numbering starts in some place with high importance to the city, e.g. City hall, Main cathedral, etc. So the point of the street that is closest to this reference point receives the lowest number and the numbering then increases when you move away from the reference point. It is also very common that one side of the street, normally the left side, receives odd numbers and the other (right) side gets even numbers, just like in Paris in 1512. However, there are exceptions, where the odd numbers are used on the right side and even numbers on the left side.

The distribution of the numbers can be either sequential or by distance. The traditional, sequential distribution, such as 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, … only indicates the relative position of a certain building compared to the reference point and other buildings on the same side of the street, but does not necessarily include information about the distances involved. This type of distribution is prevalent in Europe and many of its former colonies.

However, a different number distribution is very common in USA and Canada. It is basically the same as for sequential distribution, but usually all numbers are not present. The increase in the number used on a building, when compared to its neighbour located closer to the reference point, signifies roughly the distance (in yards) between the two. This distribution system goes hand in hand with the distribution of houses in blocks, and where each new block starts with a multiple of 100. Of course this means that it is easier to know how big is the distance still to be covered to the desired building, merely subtracting one number from the other.

Yesterday, I wrote about São Paulo, and since Brazil is not covered in this Wikipedia article, let me complement it with some information also from Brazil. The predominant system here is similar to the one used in North America, except that the distance is measured in meters, since Brazil uses the SI system. However, there are some Brazilian cities that use the sequential distribution, e.g. Santos, which celebrates its birthday today, being founded on January 26, 1546. However, the 8-year younger city, São Paulo, uses the distribution by distance, where most of the streets rely on Praça da Sé, the city center, as the reference point. However, in the Southern Zone of São Paulo, that until 1935 was the autonomous city of Santo Amaro, the numbering starts at the Cathedral of Santo Amaro.

… That’s what I learned in school!


1: House numbering

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-25 (Monday)

Today, I learned that:

There may still be hope for humanity. Even if there is big doubt if we will be able to slow down the global warming sufficiently, at least it seems that we are starting to take control over the growth in population. Let me start my reasoning in São Paulo, the biggest city in South America:

São Paulo celebrates it 462nd anniversary today with a local holiday. It was founded on January 25, 1554, under the name of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, by a college of twelve Portuguese jesuit priests, the most well known being Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta. In 1560, It was renamed Vila de São Paulo, belonging to the Captaincy of São Vicente, whose main village was Brazil’s first one, founded in 1532. The coming centuries did not contribute much to history, but in 1711 São Paulo was converted from town to city. However, there were still few people living in the city. In 1872, there is an information that the population amounted to only 31.385 inhabitants. But from that point on has been a steep slope upward, with the current official number being 11.316.149 inhabitants (2011), and an estimate from the national statistics agency IBGE of 11.967.825 inhabitants in 2015.

In order for us to see the evolution of São Paulo from a village to one of the biggest cities in the world, let us look at the following table, which compares the growth of the population of São Paulo and the entirely world:


As you can see, the current population growth rates are the lowest recorded during the last two centuries, so I believe it is a good sign that the world population will be able to take care of itself for quite some time yet.


Avenida Paulista, São Paulo, October 14, 1990

Returning to São Paulo, where I lived during 19 years old, and where both of my children were born: What can be more typical than characterizing them as “paulistas” (from the state of São Paulo), “paulistanos” (from the city of São Paulo), born on the biggest street Avenida Paulista (which also serves as a background to the photo above of my parents, taken in 1990), and, hopefully, also “são paulinos” (fans of São Paulo Football Club).

Finally, today is also the birthday of my sister-in-law Sônia, お誕生日おめでとう!

… That’s what I learned in school.


1: São Paulo on Wikipedia

2: São Paulo no IBGE

3: Population growth

4: World population

5: São Paulo FC

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-20 (Wednesday)


Christ Statue, Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

Today, I learned again, that:

Rio de Janeiro is scheduled to host the 31st Summer Olympic Games later this year. But how was it that the city got its name and what does it mean?

Rio de Janeiro literally means the January River. The reason is that when the Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos discovered the Bay of Guanabara on January 1, 1502, the Portuguese word for both river and bay was ‘rio’, and hence the origin of the name. When the city was founded by Estácio de Sá on March 1, 1565, its name was designated as São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, as a tribute also to the ruling Portuguese king, D. Sebastião.

Every city in Brazil has a day once a year when they pay a tribute to their patron saint, and when there is a local holiday. In the case of Rio de Janeiro, in consequence with what was said above, it is Saint Sebastian, and since his day is January 20, today is a local holiday in Rio de Janeiro, as well as in many other Brazilian cities, that also venerate Saint Sebastian, e.g. São Sebastião (state of São Paulo), Paranavaí (state of Paraná), Paraisópolis (state of Minas Gerais), as well as some other 250 cities all over Brazil.

… That’s what I learned in school!


1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_de_Janeiro

2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Sebastian

3: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/São_Sebastião#Brasil

+: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VucczIg98Gw