2017-01-29 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

In the wake of recent movements for independence of states from superior associations, time has come to the US. Now it is California, “As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland. Point by point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states.”, that is getting fed up about being treated as inferior in the federation and there is already a campaign for a referendum, which has the objective of voting about a detachment of the state of California (“Calexit”) from the USA in 2019. I am sure you will be hearing a lot about it in the future, but if you cannot wait, have a look at reference # 1 below.


This is also California, palm trees, mountains, freeways, cars, hamburgers … Photo taken in the parking lot of In & Out Burger in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, on 2009-03-29.

The photo above was taken in the parking lot of In & Out Burger in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, on 2009-03-29. I think it gives a perfect idea of what California also is, far away from the big cities and beaches, showing palm trees, mountains, freeways, cars, and (implicitly) hamburgers.

Do you remember my post from 2016-01-30 ? One of the subjects was the idea about paying people without demanding anything in return,  a sort of guaranteed citizen’s salary. Reference #2 mentions a Swedish radio program, where it was announced that a selection of 2 000 unemployed Finns would receive € 560 per month during two years, without having to do anything in return. Further information can also be found in reference # 3 below.


Liisa Ronkainen belongs to the lucky 2 000 who will receive € 560 Euros / month during 2 years. Photo: Thella Johnson/SR

… 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: Yes California Independence Campaign

2: Medborgarlön på prov i Finland

3: Finland trials basic income for unemployed

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-06-12 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

June is the best time of the year in Sweden and thus many people go on vacation now. Yesterday, Radio Sweden’s programme “P4 Världen” told us about the conditions to obtain a paid vacation around the world. It was surprising to hear that USA has no law about a paid vacation, and, as one can easily understand, in Greece now everything is upside-down. Until some years ago, the Greeks had vacation every year and elections every four years, but now it is the opposite, elections every year and vacation, at best, every four years. Listen to reference #1 below.

But why do the Swedes use the word “semester” for vacation? The programme gave no hint, and a search on the internet does not reveal any satisfactory explanation.

Do you remember Imelda Marcos, wife of the former Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos? When they opened the presidential closets, they found 5 000 pairs of shoes in her collection! In Brazil, we are now seeing something similar. Cláudia Cruz, wife of the suspended president of the lower house of the Brazilian Parliament, Eduardo Cunha, denies that the money used for shopping shoes in Florida has anything to do with what was extracted from Petrobras in a deal over petrol exploration outside the African coast. Look at the following drawing from yesterday’s edition of Folha de S. Paulo, reference #2 below, about her reaction to answer the incriminatory questions:


“Eduardo, which pair of shoes should I wear on such a special occasion? Running shoes!” Drawn by Jean Galvão and published in Folha de S. Paulo 2016-06-11.

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Vem har rätt till semester?

2: Folha de São Paulo, sábado 11 de junho de 2016

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-07 (Sunday)

Today I learned, that:

There are many ways to enjoy life, and today in Brazil is of course a special Sunday, in the middle of Carnival, when many people forget about their daily chores and go wild to feast during what many of them consider being the most important event of the year.

Besides New Orleans, carnival does not attract so much attention in the USA, and furthermore today is Super Bowl 50, featuring Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. For many people in the USA, this event is as important as any carnival celebration could ever be, with betting, gathering family and friends, and having a party! Let me give you some remarks and opinions about my experience of NFL:


The photo above was taken at Georgia Dome on September 11 (!), 1994, when Atlanta Falcons played their first home game of the season against Los Angeles Rams and won the game with 31 – 11. I was accompanied by two fellow Brazilians, Claudeir and Keiser, and of course we had a good time.

I have not been in the US during a Super Bowl game, so I cannot give personal reflections about that party, but I left Atlanta two days before Super Bowl XXXIII in January, 1999, when the same Atlanta Falcons ended up losing to Denver Broncos (already a team in the finals back then), much to the disappointment of my colleagues at Philips in Norcross. So far, it has been the Falcons’ only participation in a Super Bowl game, let us hope they will come back and win some time in the future.

All Super Bowl games are using Roman numbers, last year was XLIX and in 2017 it will be LI, but today it is 50 in Arabic numbers, how come?

Despite being considered underdogs, I believe that Denver Broncos will raise their third Super Bowl trophy tonight, leaving Carolina Panthers still without any championship title, but in sports anything can happen, so let us see…

Update 2016-02-08: Life is wonderful, Denver Broncos won against all odds, as I had anticipated above, inverting the old saying ‘the best defense is a good offense’ to ‘the best offense is a good defense’ !

Finally, calling a sport Football, when the only time that the ball is kicked on purpose by a foot are the occasional scrimmage and free kicks, seems to me quite overly exaggerated. The most import actions are of course the ones when the ball is carried by an offensive player inside the opponents’ end zone, thus scoring a touchdown. But that naming occured already 140 years, in 1876, see reference 1 below, so we are stuck with it!

… That’s what I learned in school!


1: American football

2: Atlanta Falcons season 1994-1995

3: Super Bowl champions

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-29 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

There exists one more evidence of the negative consequencies of the American obsession to defend having a firearm for “personal protection”, instigated by the National Rifle Association. Here are excerpts from a podcast by Scientific American early this morning, stated by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center:


David Hemenway, photo by Harvard School of Public Health

“One of the things we know for sure in the United States is that a gun in the home increases the likelihood that someone in the home will die a violent death—from gun accidents, from a woman being murdered by a man in an intimate partner violence situation and particularly by suicide.

The gun violence discussion often seems to give short shrift to suicide, even though more than 60 percent of the approximately 32,000 annual U.S. firearms deaths are suicides.

The evidence is overwhelming, from case control studies and ecological studies. For example, why do we have very different suicide rates across cities, across states, across regions in the United States. To explain the differences in suicide rates across states, turns out it’s not well explained at all by differences in mental health, it’s not well explained at all by differences in the number of psychiatrists, it’s not even explained by differences in suicide ideation among the population or even suicide attempts. What really explains the difference in the United States across the populations is the number of guns. Because it’s gun suicide which is so different.

And someone who commits suicide with a gun very likely would not have either attempted or succeeded if the gun were not available. For example, a 2013 Swiss study tracked men after the size of the army was cut in half, effectively removing guns from half that group. The overall suicide rate went down, and the researchers estimated that only 22 percent of all the men who would have killed themselves with a gun if it had been available wound up committing the act by other means. The presence of the gun just makes it significantly easier to take your own life impulsively.”

Please see references below for complete coverage.

… That’s what I learned in school!


1: http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/suicide-differences-by-region-related-to-gun-availability/

2: https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/preventing-gun-violence/

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

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 ?

2016-01-16 (Lördag)

Idag har jag åter lärt mig, att:

Ishockey är naturligtvis en mycket populär sport i Sverige och intresset för världens bästa hockeyliga, National Hockey League (NHL) i Nordamerika, ökar ständigt. Nu rapporteras det att det aldrig har varit så många svenskar i NHL.

I årets säsong finns 80 svenska spelare registerade, av totalt 872, alltså drygt 9 % av alla spelare. Störst är hemmanationerna Kanada, 49 %, och USA, 24 %. Sverige har alltså en tredjedel av alla spelare som inte är nordamerikaner. De fjärde och femte största nationerna, Ryssland och Finland, har 4 % var.

Mer information finns i referens 1 nedan.

… Slut för idag, tack för idag!

(This post in Swedish deals with the high percentage of Swedish players in National Hockey League.)


1: Nytt rekord för NHL-svenskar

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-14 (Thursday)

Today, I learned that:

There is something new in the world of chemistry, and although I am not very fond of chemistry, this is really thrilling. IUPAC (The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry), announced that four new elements of the periodic table (elements 113, 115, 117, and 118) have been discovered and approved. These elements complete the 7th row of the periodic table of the elements, and the discoverers from Japan, Russia, and the USA will now be invited to suggest permanent names and symbols.


The current Periodic Table of the Elements, Copyright © 2016 IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Also, in the same podcast, The Naked Scientists, where these new elements were discussed, they talked about how the physicists Max von Laue and James Franck, who had won the Nobel Prize in 1914 and 1925, respectively, were able to save their golden medals from falling into Nazi hands during World War II. Their colleague George de Hevesy hid their medals in a bottle in a lab at the Niels Bohr Institute and dissolved them in aqua regia, a concentrated nitrogen hydrochloric acid (‘kungsvatten’ in Swedish). After the war, the gold solution was still there, and then it was transformed back into solid gold and recast to medals by the Nobel authorities in Stockholm. Finally, the scientists received their Nobel medals back.

… That’s what I learned in school!


1: 04:33 – Four new elements discovered

2: Discovery and Assignment of Elements with Atomic Numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118

3: Aqua regia

+: What did you learn in school today ?