242’2021 (2021-08-30) – Monday

Today, I learned about:

It is always interesting to see photos from the same place during different seasons. You may remember that in my post of 120’2021 (2021-04-30), I showed a photo from Hundfjället (“Dog mountain”) when there was a ski season. Now it is Summer and of course nature looks very different.

That’s what I learned in school today!

Ref.:

*: What did you learn in school today ?

212’2021 (2021-07-31) – Saturday

Today, I learned about:

We are half-way through the Summer Olympics and if you thought that Beijing would be the first city to host games of both the Summer and Winter Olympics, when they will take on the Winter games in 2022, then you are WRONG!

The fact is that the Northern Japanese city of Sapporo already held the Winter games in 1972, only eight years after Tokyo had arranged the memorable Summer games in 1964, and now Sapporo is back again. As everone knows, Tokyo is the main city of the games, but some sports are organized in different cities around the Japanese islands. In fact, Sapporo organized an olympic football match already two days ahead of the official opening ceremony this year. On July 21, 2021, Great Britain beat Chile by 2-0 in a female football match in the Sapporo dome, and other examples of events to be held in Sapporo involve the marathon road races and the race walk events. The reason is that these time-consuming events should be kept away from the normally hot Tokyo streets in summer and permit better conditions for the athletes further north in Japan.

If you are interested in more about the Sapporo Winter Olympics in 1972, see reference #1 below.

As I mentioned above, Tokyo was already the host of the Summer Olympic games in 1964 and the plans were to come back with the games in July and August of 2020. But as everyone knows, the on-going pandemic postponed the games one year. Tokyo had been awarded the organization of the 1940 Summer Olympics, but that honor was subsequently passed on to Helsinki due to Japan’s invasion of China, before ultimately being cancelled due to World War II.

More about the Tokyo Summer Olympics of 1964 can be found in reference #2 below.

As always, watching the Olympic Games on TV is a fantastic show. I particularly like the Augmented Reality, which permits e.g. to show how far the leader in a race is from breaking the current world record. The top picture shows the final in the men’s 50 m freestyle swimming, where the leader Caeleb Dressel is chasing not only the gold medal, but also the almost 12-year old world record. However, the two lower pictures show examples of how ancient technology is still used in the games. In the left photo, the holder of the current world record of 400 m hurdles, Karsten Warholm is struggling to fix his number sign with old-style security pins. In the right photo can be seen how bad it can look, besides probably being a nuisance for the athletes, in this case Warholm’s competitor, Alison dos Santos. The French are known to invent crazy things, how about a novel number sign for the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024?

I had the pleasure of visiting my sister-in-law and her family in Tokyo in April of 2005 and I must admit it was one of the busiest cities I have ever known. More about that visit can be found in my post of 108’2016 (2016-04-17).

That’s what I learned in school today!

Ref.:

1: Sapporo Winter Olympics 1972

2: Tokyo Summer Olympics 1964

*: What did you learn in school today ?

181’2021 (2021-06-30) – End of first half!

Today, I learned about:

So we have come to the end of the first half of year 2021 AD. The last month has been quite exciting with all the thrilling matches in the UEFA European Championships in football for national teams. That competition has now arrived at the quarter-final stage and is taking a break until Friday 183’2021 (2021-07-02) before its four games will be played on that and the following day.

I am also taking a small break in my blog posting, but promise to be back very soon with new, interesting topics.

See you again on the other side of 2021!

That’s what I learned in school today!

Ref.:

*: What did you learn in school today ?

151’2021 (2021-05-31) – … or is it still 2020?

Today, I learned about:

In a society that does not seem to be interested in protecting their citizens against lethal dangers, which is the new trend? Instead of using the year 2021, they keep on insisting to still use 2020, as if it did not already exist. Currently, there are at least three big sporting events that were cancelled in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that just happened or are about to happen, and which keep 2020 in the name.

Please look at the following image. More information about the events can be found in references # 1, 2, and 3 below.

Three sporting events held in 2021, all with 2020 in their names, from left to right: The first one is from the European Aquatics Championships, which were held in Budapest earlier this month. The second one is the European Championships in Football, to be held in June and July in various countries over Europe, and the last one is from the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, scheduled to start on July 23, 2021.

That’s what I learned in school today!

Ref.:

1: European Aquatics Championships

2: UEFA EURO 2020

3: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2019-04-01 (April Fool’s Day!)

Today, I learned that:

Very recently, I received two pieces of sport news from Sweden which really made me both laugh and admire the initiative force of Swedish female athletes of all ages.

The first one is about curling. One week ago, Switzerland beat Sweden in the final of the women’s world championships, held in Silkeborg, Denmark, situated close to what was once considered to be highest point in Denmark. As you can see from this slogan, Danish mountain climbers have a blast there:

By the way, the highest peak here, called Himmelbjerget (which means the mountain of heaven) reaches impressive 147 m! See also reference #1 below.

But getting back to curling, one of the members of the Swedish team is called Agnes Knochenhauer. She won a gold medal in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in 2018, and after that, she and her team mates have won the European Championships and twice been runner up at the World Championships. In January this year, the same team from Sundbybergs CK also played in the Swedish Championships, held in Jönköping. Agnes let her 7-year old daughter, Tilda, visit the games together with her mother. Tilda has already started her own career and when the team skip, Anna Hasselborg, got sick, Tilda jumped in and replaced Anna, not as a skip, but as one of the other players. The result was beyond expectation, the team won the championships and little Tilda can now put Swedish adult champion on her business card! See also reference #2 below.

The Swedish champions 2019, from left to right: Anna Hasselborg, Agnes Knochenhauer, Tilda Knochenbahuer, Sara McManaus, and Sofia Mabergs. Photo taken on 2019-01-06 by Svenska Curlingförbundet.

And yesterday happened another interesting fact. During the last day of the Swedish Championships in biathlon, which had relay races on the program, another Olympic champion from PyeongChang, Hanna Öberg, also got sick and could not participate together with her teams mates in the women’s team event. That meant that her club, Piteå SSK, had to withdraw from the competition. But one of the two other team mates, Anna Magnusson, won a bronze medal nevertheless! She participated in the men’s (!) relay race with two male colleagues. See also reference #3 below.

The Swedish female biathlon athlete Anna Magnusson, now historic Swedish male champion, in a photo taken in Oberhof on 2018-01-04 by Christian Bier

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Silkeborg

2: 7-åriga Tilda ersatte OS-ettan och vann SM-guld

3: Anna Magnusson tog stafettmedalj – för herrar

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-10-20 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

Continuing the post from 2018-09-29, here are two more interesting British facts from the world of Sports:

Wimbledon surrenders to John Isner

The American tennis player John Isner is, among other things, well known for having participated in the two longest fifth sets in the history of the Wimbledon tournament. In 2010, he beat the Frenchman Nicholas Mahut after winning the fifth set by 70-68, after three calendar days and 8 h 11 min of playing time. Then in this year’s tournament, in the semifinals, he lost to the South African player Kevin Anderson by 26-24 in the fifth set.

But that is the end of such marathon games, because as of 2019, Wimbledon has decided to introduce a tie-breaker at 12-12 in the fifth set.

See also references # 1 and 2 below.

Scotswoman breaks record for touring the world on a bicycle

In Britain, there are not only wonder women in golf. The Scottish cyclist Jenny Graham just arrived in Berlin after having gone on a tour around the world. You may remember that in the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty days, her compatriot Phileas Fogg made it, using trains and steamer ships on 80 days. Jenny did not totally get there, but nevertheless her record is an amazing 124  days! (Another Brit, Mark Beaumont, holds the male record, set in September 2017, with 78 days 14 h 14 min., thus beating Phileas Fogg.)

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham stops for a selfie while passing the Russian city of Pskov, close to the borders with Estonia and Latvia. Courtesy of Jenny Graham/The Adventure Syndicate/PA.

See also references # 3, 4, and 5 below.

Donkey steps

On various occasions, I have referenced material from Sveriges Radio (the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation), and here is yet another one:

Yesterday, their correspondent at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Andreas Liljeheden, published a chronicle about the particular construction of the stair case between the two main buildings of the European Parliament. The following photo shows exactly that view.

EU steps

The court yard in the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, highlighting the donkey steps between the two main buildings. Photo taken by Andreas Liljeheden on 2018-10-18.

As you can see, the vertical displacement from one step to another is small, but the horizontal one is much greater, exactly 1,16 m according to Andreas’ measurement. This makes walking up and down the stairs a complicated task. He investigated the origins of that crazy stair case, and found that in some countries of the European continent, such as Austria and Germany, there is a tradition of using deeper steps, whereas the Belgians and Dutch normally, due to the higher population density, have to settle with a different project, with a higher vertical-to-horizontal ratio. Sweden is, as always, “lagom”, i.e. mid-way.

Here are two more photos of donkey steps, the first one being a close-up of the EU Parliament steps, and the second one a typical scene of donkeys climbing the steps in Fira, the capital of the island of Santorini in the Greek Aegean Sea.

Belgium&Greece

Two examples of donkey steps: To the left, a visitor to the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium (photo by Andreas Liljeheden, 2018-10-18). To the right, real donkeys in Fira, Santorini, Greece (photo by Liz Stark, 2016-04-06).

But why is Andreas emphasising this stair case? In no way, he implies that hard working politicians are donkeys, but he thinks it is a symbol for the difficulties encountered by the EU members. If you cannot have a unanimous decision on something by all its 28 member countries (soon to be 27?), then there has to be a compromise, such is life! Thanks Andreas for your valuable contribution!

See also reference #6 below.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Longest tennis match records

2: Call It the John Isner Rule: Wimbledon Plans to Add a Final-Set Tiebreaker

3: Scottish cyclist smashes round-the world record

4: Around the World in Eighty Days

5: Around the world in 78 days: British cyclist completes record-breaking ride

6: Åsnetrappor typiskt för EU: Ekots Andreas Liljeheden, Bryssel

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-09-29 (When I’m 64)

Today, I learned that:

Once more, I woke up this morning with a tune in my head. And this time it was presented by the Beatles, and they dedicated it to me! Watch and listen to reference # 1 below.

Another extremely skilful Englishwoman is the amateur golf player Ali Gibbs. On 2018-08-17, she defended her club champion title at Croham Hurst Golf Club, South of London, with brilliance. In one of the 18-hole rounds, she hit two hole-in-ones, and in the other round yet another hole-in-one. (She had already scored three hole-in-one shots before in her career, on three earlier, distinct occasions).

Ali Gibbs

Ali Gibbs showing the three lucky balls. Photo by Simon Jacobs/Magnus News

The probability of an average golfer scoring a hole-in-one once in their life is calculated to be 1 : 12 500, for a professional to 1 : 2 500, but to hit three in only 36 holes is more than 1 : 1,9 trillion! Read more in reference # 2 below.

London, UK, River Thames

And while we are still in the London area, why not visit the capital. The photo above shows a beautiful bird’s eye view of River Thames and the Tower Bridge. London has already hosted the Olympic Summer Games on three occasions, in 1908, 1948, and 2012. More about those events can be found in references #3, #4, and #5 below.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: When I’m 64

2: 1.9 Trillion to one – Golfer Ali defies the odds to sink three holes-in-one in a day

3: 1908 Summer Olympics

4: 1948 Summer Olympics

5: 2012 Summer Olympics

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-08-12 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

Although the FIFA World Cup 2018 was really a joyful event, one of the best ever, it is once more evident that the slow pace of changes in the rules of the game are detrimental to the temper of many people. So, as I promised in my post of 2018-07-10, here are my 2 cents to make football an even better game:

A very welcome addition to this year’s edition of the World Cup was the introduction of the video assistant referees (VAR) , which made quite a few games more fair than before. Even though it could have been used more often to decide about the outcome of a certain play, it surely made some important contributions to the justice of the games. Here is one such event:

KOR-GER

While the TV image shows a replay of a questionable first Korean goal scored in the final game of group F between South Korea and Germany, the American referee Mark Greiger has been summoned by the FIFA VAR group to revise the play which would result in a Korean lead against Germany in the 93rd minute of the game. He had previously cancelled the goal due to an alleged offside, but the review made him change his decision and confirm the goal. As a consequence, the reigning champion Germany was sent home after the group matches. See also the official match report in reference #1 below .

So, if the referee of the match is the almighty responsible to judge the outcome, even though he might be shown otherwise and still not change his mind, since we now have VAR, why not institute a system just like in the noble sport of tennis?

Most people are probably unaware that in tennis,  the chair umpire, the person sitting in their high chair proclaiming the score etc., is not the ultimately responsible for the outcome of the game. The highest authority, the referee, is rarely seen by the public, but if the players cannot accept the chair umpire’s decision, then they can appeal to the referee, who then makes the final decision. The article in reference #2 describes very well the ruling system in tennis, if you are interested read it through thoroughly.

As you can see from the match report of reference #1, in total there were 11 officials present in the game. My suggestion is, that in cases where there is a fully functional VAR system installed and working during the game, to change the ultimate decision from the referee to the person named as VAR in the match report, i.e. the responsible VAR person of the four mentioned there, and give them the ultimate authority, just as is the case in tennis. If no VAR is present, then of course the referee will still be the ultimate authority of the game.

Another thing that bothers me and many others is the way the extra time (often also referred to as stoppage time) is awarded. At the end of each half of the football game, it is decided how many minutes should be awarded to compensate for interruptions during the game, a very arbitrary procedure. Look at reference #3 which analysed all the games during the group stage of FIFA World Cup 2018. As you can see there, of all the 32 matches analysed, only one game was compensated sufficiently, even overcompensated. It was the game between Germany and Sweden which was 12 s longer than expected. (Maybe as a result of that, Germany also scored the winning goal in the final seconds of the game!)

The worst example of lack of playing time was in the game between Belgium and Tunisia, which should have been compensated by 21 minutes, but only gained 7 minutes extra. The solution is very simple:

Do like in ice hockey, basketball, etc. Stop the watch when no playful activity is going on. Institute 2 halves of 30 minutes each of effective playing time instead of the current 45 minutes halves and the game will be much more dynamic and fair!

There are more things to suggest, such as a more flexible system of substituting players and other matters, but that I will leave that to a future post.

Sydney, Australia, Harbour Bridge during sunset

Harbour Bridge at sunset in Sydney, Australia

This photo is the first in a series of beautiful, highly defined photos from around the world. In the first round of photos, I will present some of the cities which have hosted the Olympic Games over the years. The first photo shows Sydney, the biggest city in Australia, host of the year 2000 Summer Olympic Games. The photo shows a view of one of its landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. More about Sydney, the Harbour Bridge and the 2000 Olympic Games can be found in references #4, #5, and #6 below.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Match report Korea-Germany

2: Officials in tennis

3: We timed every game, World Cup stoppage time is wildly inaccurate.

4: Sydney

5: Sydney Harbour Bridge

6: 2000 Summer Olympic Games

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-07-10 (Tuesday)

Today, I learned that:

While I was attending the fantastic course about masterpieces of world literature at edX earlier today, you know the big and very elaborate e-learning site for millions of students, one of its videos showed how Alexander the Great spread Greek culture to the countries he had conquered, about 300 years BC. In this particular video, what most attracted my attention was when one of the lecturers, Martin Puchner, on site in Ephesus, on the current Turkey’s western coast, showed the large amphitheater with seating for 25 000 people that the conqueror had erected there. References 1, 2, and 3 give more details about the course, the video in question and also about Ephesus.

Coincidentally, I and my family visited Ephesus exactly 10 years ago today, on 2008-07-10. Besides the photo below of the amphitheater, there are some more pictures I took from this historical site. When we visited it, only 25 % had been excavated so far, hopefully it is more now, because it is really interesting stuff to see and hear about.

efesus1

This ancient amphitheater in Ephesus was erected by Alexander the Great, in his program to spread Greek culture to the world. It holds 25 000 spectators. Photo taken on 2008-07-10.

efesus2-5

Pictures from the ancient city of Ephesus. Besides the amphitheater, the glorious library in the lower right is well known. All photos taken on 2008-07-10.

Later today, our modern day version of popular theater, sports, will see billions of people attending the first of the two semifinals in FIFA World Cup 2018. After the tournament is over, in my next post I will give you my opinion about what needs to be done to improve football further, to make it even more dynamic and joyful.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Masterpieces of World Literature

2: Alexander and the Dissemination of Greek Culture

3: Ephesus

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-06-23 (Midsommardagen)

Today, I learned that:

In the midst of the World Championships in football, which takes place in Russia, today is scheduled the game between Sweden and Germany. If we include the games played between the two countries when the biggest German nation was West Germany, this will be the 37th time the countries meet on the football ground, and the 7th time in official games, such as Olympic Games, World Championships or European Championships.

The last time Sweden beat Germany in an official game was in the World Cup 1958, held in Sweden. Tomorrow, we celebrate that exactly 60 years have gone since that game. For Swedes, it is a game to remember forever, not only because Sweden won the match and advanced to the final game, but also because of the marvellous goal made by the Swedish right wing player, Kurt Hamrin, in the last minute of the game. See reference # 1 for more about that World Cup and reference # 2 for a video clip of Hamrin’s feat.

Kurre

Two photos from Kurt Hamrin’s legendary slalom run against Germany in 1958, see the whole video sequence in reference # 2 below.

At the time of writing this post, the current leader in the chase for the Golden Boot, which is awarded to the player who scores most goals in the World Cup, is the Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Implicitly, he is also the main character in today’s photo. It was taken on 2017-06-07 in the Latvian capital of Riga and shows football fans waiting outside Hotel Radisson Blu Latvija to catch a glimpse (and an autograph?) of the Portuguese squad, and of Ronaldo in particular. Thus the number of fans using shirt # 7! (Two days later, in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup, Portugal beat Latvia with 3-0, with two goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. More about that game can be found in reference #3 below.)

CR7

Football fans outside Hotel Radisson Blu Latvija in Riga waiting to get a glimpse of the Portuguese squad, in particular jersey # 7, the superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, thus the multitude of fans wearing that shirt. This photo was taken on 2017-06-07, two days before the World Cup qualification game Latvia vs Portugal two days later. The result of the match was no surprise, Portugal won by 3-0, Ronaldo made two goals.

But since we are in Latvia now, we should remember that the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) are celebrating their 100 years of the first independent from Russia, which happened at the end of World War I, in 1917-1918, just like Finland, see my post of 2017-12-06. If you became interested in knowing more about the Baltic states, see reference # 4 below. Reference # 5 is an interesting article from the Finnish Broadcasting Co. (in Swedish) about the activities there during this year of celebration.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: 1958 FIFA World Cup

2: Kurt Hamrin scores 3-1 against Germany on June 24, 1958

3: Latvia-Portugal on 2017-06-09

4: Baltic states

5: Baltikum minns hundra år av självständighet

*: What did you learn in school today ?