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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Eden park massacre ~ Indian men and Women win at South Africa

Long long ago ! ~ the game of Cricket was a match between bowlers and batsmen and bowlers did have an upperhand ??  I have not heard much of ~  D'Arcy John Matthew Short ~ the left handed opener for Hobart Hurricanes who can bowl slow spin too.  He was the man of the match at Auckland. 

The iconic ground's straight boundaries are among the shortest in world cricket, making it sorely tempting for batsmen to attempt belting a six over the bowler's head.  In 1902, Harry Ryan, a young, passionate cricketer, stood on Kingsland Road which strewn with stones, rocky outcrops and cowpats with a low-lying swamp at the bottom.  He saw a cricket ground. This was to become Eden Park.  In 1910 the Park became the home of Auckland Cricket.  Eden Park is New Zealand's largest stadium, located in central Auckland. 

Remember those good olden days when India won a Test in New Zealand in Auckland ~  Test no. 769 in Jan 1976.  Remember reading about the Test in ‘The Hindu’ and partially hearing commentary in the mornings of January 1976 –Kiwis were led by Glenn Turner, a legend those times.  Playing first they were all out for 266 with Chandrasekhar taking 6/94. Sunil Gavaskar led India in the absence of an injured Bishan Bedi.  Gavaskar made a patient 116 and was over taken by Surinder Amarnath who made a fine 124 with 16 fours and 1 six.   It was a time when it was  8 balls per over.   Alongside Surinder – Kirmani and Dilip Vengsarkar were to make their debuts and went on to play much longer than Surinder did.  

First, the happy news ~ India won the ODI series rather easily (5 – 1) – I had never imagined such a result.  The summary reads India 206 for 2 (Kohli 129*, Rahane 34*) beat South Africa 204 (Zondo 54, Thakur 4-52) by eight wickets.  Confidence and form are two of the most influential factors in batting. They often dictate timing and placement - requisites for scoring runs. South Africa have lacked both after their sub-par performances this series.  In  good batting conditions in Centurion, South Africa's batsmen grappled with their own lack of confidence and India's disciplined bowling, resulting in another mediocre total. Shardul Thakur, playing his first match of the series, led another clinical display from India with figures of 4 for 52 as South Africa were bowled out for 204.   On the other end of that form spectrum lies Virat Kohli. With 429 runs in five games prior to the final ODI, Kohli was oozing confidence. Against a jaded bowling attack, and with all that belief, his 35th  ODI hundred was almost a formality. It helped India coast to an eight-wicket win, and take the six-match series 5-1. Kohli finished with 558 runs in six matches, the most by a batsman in a bilateral series.

Away in Eden Park, in Newzealand it was a massacre – in 38.5 overs,  New Zealand and Australia pillaged a phenomenal 488 runs, with Australia  setting a new record by pulling off the highest successful T20 chase.  488 The run aggregate in this match - the second-highest ever in T20Is. The overall record, which this match missed by one run, was set in the India-West Indies clash in Lauderhill in 2016. 32 Number of sixes in the match - the joint-highest in a T20I, equaling the 32 struck by West Indies and India in Lauderhill in 2016. New Zealand's 18 sixes were also their highest in an innings.

The scorecard would never reveal the deathknell of the bowlers .. Australia 245 for 5 (Short 76, Warner 59) beat New Zealand 243 for 6 (Guptill 105, Munro 76) by five wickets.   Martin Guptill's 49-ball hundred - and a host of other records were rendered useless by  D'Arcy Short and David Warner hammering aggressive fifties to set the tone of the reply and Australia's middle order kept the pedal to the metal at a stage where New Zealand had stuttered to seal victory with more than an over to spare. The stands were peppered for 32 sixes -  the sufferers were the bowlers.   AJ Tye conceded 64 from his four overs, soothed a modicum by two wickets, but he could probably spare some sympathy for New Zealand's Wheeler, who was left with 0 for 64 from just 3.1. Perversely, the most economical bowler on either side - Ashton Agar - did not deliver his full quota.

I cannot comprehend how Short was given the man of the match.  Martin Guptill made 105 off just 54 balls with 9 sixers; while Short made 76 off 44 with 3 sixers – Aussie won and Short was the man !!  ~ it is stated that a strong 33692 spectators watched the match at venue.  There were some catches – made as also put down -  Mitchell Grimstone, a 20-year-old student, earned himself NZD50,000 courtesy of a local drinks sponsor when he leaned over the railing at deep midwicket to pluck Ross Taylor's penultimate-ball six out of the air with his left hand. His reaction was priceless (or, well, worth 50K) as he was mobbed by those next to him in the stands. "I'm not left-handed," he said. "But somehow I put it there and it stuck, and then everyone was jumping over me."

At South Africa Indian women too are making merry ~ after the great show in ODIs – they beat SA again in T20.  India women 144 for 1 (Raj 76*, Mandhana 57, Daniels 1-21) beat South Africa women 142 for 7 (Luus 33, de Klerk 26, Poonam 2-18, Anuja 2-37) by nine wickets.  A century opening stand, underpinned by fifties from Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana, handed South Africa a nine-wicket drubbing in East London and helped India go 2-0 up in the five-match T20I series with five balls to spare. Steering the 143 chase, Raj became the first woman to score four consecutive T20I half-centuries. 

Smaller grounds, like in Auckland, Napier and Christchurch at present, mean bigger totals as teams struggle to defend the boundaries.  In grounds like Eden Park, bowlers would only run in trepidation as even a mishit could soar beyond the boundary !  ~  the boundary at one part of the oval measured only 51 metres.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Feb 2018.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

brave soldiers risk lives to carry injured to safety & treated ~ not humans but ants ! story..

Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae;  along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. More than 12,500 out of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals.   Fire ants are a variety of stinging ants with over 285 species worldwide. They have several common names, including ginger ants, tropical fire ants and red ants.

Set in the modern times, an elderly veteran visits the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial with his family. Upon seeing one particular grave, he falls to his knees overcome with emotion. The scene then shifts to the morning of June 6, 1944, as American soldiers land on Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy Invasion. They suffer heavy losses in assaulting German positions defended by artillery and machine guns. Captain John H. Miller of the 2nd Ranger Battalion assembles a group to penetrate the German defenses, leading to a breakout from the beach. Elsewhere on the beach, a dead soldier is face down in the bloody surf; his pack is stenciled Ryan, S.

In Washington, D.C., at the U.S. War Department, General George Marshall learns that three of the four brothers of the Ryan family were killed in action and that the fourth son, James, has been parachuted somewhere in Normandy. After reading Abraham Lincoln's Bixby letter aloud for his staff, he orders that James Ryan be found and returned home immediately. Three days after D-Day, Miller receives orders to find Ryan and bring him back from the front. He assembles six men from his company— they  move out to Neuville, where they meet a squad from the 101st Airborne Division,  in pursuit,  they eventually encounter a friend of James Ryan, who tells them that he is defending an important bridge in the town of Ramelle.

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic war drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. M Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is notable for its graphic portrayal of war, and for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which includes a depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings.  The film received widespread critical acclaim, winning several awards for film, cast, and crew, as well as earning significant returns at the box office.

It's a scene familiar from countless war films — the brave soldiers risking their lives to carry an injured comrade to safety, the noble casualty insisting they go on and leave him to die.    But it’s not  human warriors who act so selflessly.  A study has shown that ants do exactly the same in battle.  Live Science has this interesting article that a species of warmongering sub-Saharan ant not only rescues its battle-wounded soldiers but also treats their injuries.

This strikingly unusual behavior raises the survival rate for injured ants from a mere 20 percent to 90 percent, according to new research published Feb. 13 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  These same ants, a species called Megaponera analis, were observed last year bringing their injured back to the nest, but no one knew what happened to the wounded ants after that, said study leader Erik Frank, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Now, it's clear that the ants get extra TLC after being saved from the battlefield.

M. analis is a nondescript-looking species that lives in colonies of several hundred to over a thousand ants. They're skilled raiders, sending out columns of several hundred ants to attack termite nests and drag termite corpses back to their own nests for a feast. These raids, however, often come with a cost: ants with lost or crushed limbs, or even ants limping home with tenacious termites clinging to their bodies.  To find out the real happening, the  researchers  staged raids between the ants and captive termites, observing how the ants responded to heavily injured ants with five limbs crushed or amputated versus lightly injured ants with only two lost or damaged limbs.  They found that in the vast majority of cases, severely injured ants were left to die on the battlefield. This version of ant triage wasn't at the behest of the rescuers, Frank said; instead, ants with five missing limbs flailed, rotated and generally refused to cooperate with their rescuers. Ants with two lost limbs, on the other hand, curled up into easy-to-carry balls and let themselves be taken home.

"If you're able to stand up, you're very likely not too injured and you are still useful to the colony, so you should be able to call for help and be rescued," Frank said. Once back at the nest, healthy ants would attend to the wounded, licking their injuries for sometimes up to minutes at a time. Ants that were prevented from getting this treatment had an 80-percent chance of dying within 24 hours, the researchers found, whereas ants that were cared for had only a 10-percent chance of death. To find out what was killing the injured, untreated ants, the researchers relocated some to a sterile environment and found that only 20 percent died, indicating that infections are probably the biggest risk for injured ants.

Any uninjured ant seems capable of providing the licking treatment — there's no indication of dedicated ant "medics," Frank said — but it's not yet clear whether the treatment prevents infections or actively treats them. Either way, the behavior is exciting to see because it's extremely rare to observe any individual animal treating another's wounds in any species, Frank said. It's especially counterintuitive in ants, because the tendency is to think that ant individuals are easily replaced cogs in the machinery of the colony, he said. But in M. analis, colonies aren't that large, and only a dozen or so baby ants are born each day, Frank said.

Interesting !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Risk ~ insurance - and the ones photographers take !!!

Photographer’s enthusiasm knows no bounds when they are trying to take pictures – and I was more than a bit worried in the two photos that I am posting here.

Risk is the potential of gaining or losing something of value. Values (such as physical health, social status, emotional well-being, or financial wealth) can be gained or lost when taking risk resulting from a given action or inaction, foreseen or unforeseen (planned or not planned). Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty.   Every  human endeavour carries some risk, but some are much riskier than others.  There are many risk classifications such as :  Pure, Speculative, Particular, Fundamental, Static, Dynamic, Financial and more .. ‘not all risks are insurable’ – though the fundamental of insurance is risk coverage !

The Winter Olympics is on – and its concluding smoothly without a hitch will provide the Organisers a toast of success and Insurers would be celebrating with profit.   The Games are being staged about two hours' drive from one of the world's most heavily militarised borders, in a host country that is technically at war with its neighbor (yet participating as one Unit !!)  and with teams that include two nations -- the United States and North Korea -- which have swapped nuclear threats. There are also concerns among Olympic organisers and sponsors that the Games, at the ski resort of Pyeongchang, could become a target of cyber hacking, a threat that could disrupt competition in the event of a major cyber attack.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reportedly taken insurance  protection for around $800 million at each Games, which covers the vast majority of the roughly $1 billion investment it makes in each of the host cities.  The coverage includes  pay out for a range of mishaps, ranging up to declarations of war, actual war, or acts of war.   The IOC declined to reveal the premium it has paid for the Pyeongchang, but insurers said it was likely to be around 2-3 percent of the total cover.   At the IOC's coverage of about $800 million, this would represent a cost of around $16-24 million. One underwriter said this would be relatively high and could reflect the greater security risks surrounding the Pyeongchang event. At the summer Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, when worries were centred on an outbreak of Zika virus, and at London in 2012, the IOC paid premiums of about $13 million.

Getting back, there are moments whence photographers break conventional methods, trying for great angles and rare photos.  First is to get out of their comfortable zone ! trying out something new, warding off stagnation.  Though having a good mentor helps in having your basics right, there is no stopping when it comes to innovation

in the first friend Rajagopal Madhavan standing on a truck covering purappadu at Thiruneermalai  (Pic Keshav Rajagopalan)
~ the one above was taken from mid sea in a catamaran during masimagam by Thirumalai Vinjamoor Venkatesh.

Elsewhere in UK, MailOnline reports of the  moment a driver risked his life and stood in the middle of a busy motorway so he could take some photos.  It appears that the man had just been involved in a collision and had decided to risk traffic for some photographic evidence.  The footage, filmed on the A45 near Northampton, shows the brazen man standing in the middle of three lanes of traffic and almost getting hit by two cars before having to jog away. In what could be termed as negligence, the man in the video looks to be in danger of being hit from two sides as he plants himself in the centre of the road to snap the photo.  Video of the incident also shows that one of the motorists involved in the collision stopped in the fast lane of the 70mph dual carriageway in Northampton without his hazard lights on. It describes the scene as  the shocking moment a man was almost hit by two cars as he stood in the middle of a busy road in order to take a photo - the one who uploaded captioned the clip: 'It's not a good idea to stand in a live lane to take a photo.'

The footage begins with Karl's vehicle in the middle lane as he approaches a busy roundabout. As he gets closer to the roundabout, two black vehicles in front of him have slowed down - and a man wearing a black jacket can be seen standing in the middle of the road taking a picture.  This forces the first car to swerve to the right to avoid the man while the second vehicle has to weave around him too.  The footage, captured on a dashcam, shows the man standing brazenly in the middle of three lanes of traffic on a busy motorway.  The man finally gets himself off the road realizing the danger , and approaches another man wearing a white shirt and tie, who appears to be the other motorist involved in the collision.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Feb 2018.
Tailpiece :  Risk is a 2017 American documentary film written and directed by Laura Poitras about the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  The film's original premise was to address the life of Julian Assange, documenting scenes showing "motives and contradictions of Assange and his inner circle, focusing on the risks taken by persons involved in the well-known Wikileaks website, the most notable risk being taken by Assange himself. The film then presents documentation of Assange's asylum claim, and the disguising of himself to sneak into the Embassy of Ecuador in London for refuge.  Originally titled "Asylum", the film becomes a journey into the perception of Poitras, who, in the re-cut of the film, altered the film's focus on the experience of risk-taking left-leaning media work, towards a critique of Assange as a flawed character under attack, including for his alleged mistreatment of women.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Samsung giveaway phones spark controversy at Pyeongchang Olympics 2018

Snowboarder Redmond Gerard — more commonly known as simply "Red" —  won the first U.S. medal in Pyeongchang, taking a gold medal at the Winter Olympics with a stunning comeback win in the men's slopestyle final.  Gerard, who at 17 was the youngest competitor in the field, had been sitting in last place after his first two runs. He needed a phenomenal final run to reach the podium — and the Colorado native delivered, posting a best score of 87.16 to rewrite the leader board and vault past Canadians Max Parrot (86.00) and Mark McMorris (85.20), who won silver and bronze.   Gerard is the youngest American male athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics since 1928.

Winter Olympics is on at Pyeongchang ~  nearly 3,000 of the world’s best athletes took to the slopes, rinks, and half pipes in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the Winter Olympics. The images beamed to televisions in the 92 countries with athletes competing and beyond will create new sporting heroes for hundreds of millions of children of the World.  The Olympic stories written over the next weeks will inspire many of those kids to put on their first pair of skates or skis.

Whatever you see these days on Television are always interrupted every other minute by advertisements from official sponsors like Coca-Cola and partners like McDonalds, the very companies that provide the food products that could be the biggest obstacle not only to becoming an Olympic athlete, but also to living a healthy and happy life. According to a 2014 McKinsey study, the cost of obesity on GDP was a whopping $2tn and at the heart of the problem are Olympic sponsors like Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Only smoking and war negatively impacted the world’s finances more.  There were times when Cigarette and tobacco advertisements ruled the roost, now they are banned in most events; yet many other Companies including Food companies that can alarm a   major risk factor are the sponsors and hog the limelight. 

A very popular and most unlikely one in the list of harming (though millions get addicted) is phone !!  ~ the  company’s association with the Olympics started as a local sponsor of the Games in Seoul back in 1988. It extended its commitment as the Worldwide Olympic Partner in the Wireless Communications Equipment category beginning with the Olympic Winter Games Nagano 1998. It has been providing its proprietary wireless communications platform and mobile devices since then.  It Samsung, which is set to  deliver more than 4,000 units of  limited edition device to the entire PyeongChang 2018 Olympic family, including the International Olympic Committee and the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games. The company will also provide a Galaxy Note 8 to all Paralympians at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018  ~ and the Samsung smartphones became the centre of a diplomatic spat between Iran and South Korea that erupted ahead of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The Iranian Olympic Committee said its athletes were initially excluded from a giveaway of special edition Galaxy Note 8 phones that was arranged by the organizers of the games. "The athletes didn't receive phones when they arrived in [South] Korea. The reason given was because of sanctions," said   spokesman for the Iranian Olympic Committee. Iran reportedly summoned South Korea's ambassador over the incident and demanded an apology, Iranian state media reported. ISNA, a semi-official Iranian news agency, said the South Korean official was warned that the episode could have "dire negative consequences" for Samsung's (SSNLF)business in Iran ~ subsequent reports confirm that Iran’s four athletes were later handed the gifts,  which made their spokesperson state that  Iranian athletes were not treated equally and this goes against the spirit of the games !

Samsung Electronics had offered approximately 4,000 units of the Galaxy Note 8 Olympic Edition to athletes and International Olympic Committee officials visiting PyeongChang. The phones cost around $1000 each.  The 22 North Korean and four Iranian athletes missed out as organisers believe that could “violate United Nations’ sanctions that ban providing the countries with luxury goods and products that can potentially be used for military purposes,” the committee said.  Now the head of the Pyeongchang Olympics' organising committee has apologised to Iran after a diplomatic row broke out over commemorative Olympic smartphones.  Reports of the snub have resulted in the South Korean ambassador to Tehran being summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry. The Iranian prosecutor-general has also ordered that Samsung's boss in Iran be summoned for questioning, and on social media many tech-loving Iranians are now calling for a boycott of Samsung products.   It was also widely reported in the Iranian media that Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, was considering changing his own Samsung Galaxy S8 handset for a different model.

For Samsung, this was clearly worrying news.  Iran, which has a huge population of young people, is the biggest smartphone market in the Middle East. It is estimated that some 48 million people in Iran own the devices. And crucially, it's a market that is still growing. Possibly sensing a business opportunity, Samsung's South Korean rival, LG, was quick to intervene in the row, announcing it would give every Iranian athlete competing in the Winter Olympics a top-end smartphone as well as a 55-inch (140cm) TV.  There is more to be read as North Korea's Olympic athletes have refused to accept special edition Samsung Galaxy Note 8 smartphones that have been handed out to competitors from other countries.  While there were concerns that the free phones could   violate strict UN Security Council sanctions punishing Kim Jong-un's regime for his nuclear weapons programme, there is a  ban on exporting luxury goods to the North and on goods that could be used for military purposes too.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Feb 2018.

Indian challenge in luge ends ~ Loch loses and Gleirscher takes Gold

Its’ all happening in Winter Olympics - Loch does not make it three in a row and that costly error will undoubtedly dominate the fallout of day two. Loch’s father raced on to the course to console his son, who looks absolutely devastated. ~ not sure whether many would be following this result in Luge !!

Luge at the 2018 Winter Olympics is being  held at the Alpensia Sliding Centre near Pyeongchang, South Korea. The events are held between 10 and 15 February 2018. A total of four luge events are to be  held.  The qualification is based on the cumulative world ranking points from the first five world cup events of the 2017–18 season. In Winter Olympics, a  total of 110 quota spots are available to athletes to compete at the games. A maximum 37 men, 27 women, and 17 doubles teams will initially qualify. Each NOC can enter a maximum of three men, three women, and two doubles. The host then has the right to enter a competitor in the men's, doubles, and women's competitions provided they meet minimum standards. Then eight athletes will be added, first to fill the highest ranked relay teams who did not qualify individuals in all three disciplines, then the remaining quotas will be distributed equally among the three disciplines.

The breaking news is that ~ Felix Loch has blown it on his final run! A solitary mistake saw him finish not even on the podium after three previous flawless runs. The German was reduced to tears and there will be no third title for the two-time champion. Instead, Loch has to settle for fifth, behind Italy’s Domink Fischnaller.

It is Gleirscher, the Austrian who impressed ultimately taking the top prize. United States earned their first ever medal in the men’s singles luge. USA’s Chris Mazdzer took  silver and Johannes Ludwig, also of Germany took  bronze.   David Gleirscher struggled to make Austria’s Olympic team and Chris Mazdzer’s season hit rock-bottom less than a month ago. In the end it didn’t matter: they finished with gold and silver medals respectively as the Olympic reign of Germany’s Felix Loch came to a stunning and sudden end.

Gleirscher was the surprise first-run leader and a bigger surprise as the leader when it was all over. He finished his four runs at the Alpensia Sliding Center in 3 minutes, 10.702 seconds for the gold, Austria’s first in men’s luge in 50 years. Mazdzer made history for the US, giving the Americans their first men’s singles medal by finishing second in 3:10.728. Germany’s Johannes Ludwig took third in 3:10.932.

Loch was supposed to be the champion, the one who would tie Georg Hackl’s record as only the second person to win Olympic luge gold three consecutive times. But as snow began to fall, his reign came to an end when he skidded during his final run and lost time. He crossed the finish line fifth, sitting for several seconds on his sled in disbelief and anguish as Gleirscher celebrated his upset win. Gleirscher has never finished better than fourth in a World Cup event. On the biggest stage, he delivered the race of his life. And Mazdzer did the same.

India's winter sports poster boy Shiva Keshavan on Sunday brought the curtains down to his Olympic career with a 34th-place finish in the men's luge singles event of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.  Taking part in his sixth and last Olympics, the 36-year-old Keshavan produced the best timing of his campaign as he covered the 1,344 metre track at the Olympic Sliding Center in 48.900 seconds in his third round heat. The effort put him at 30th in the third heat among 40 competitors and 34th overall after three rounds. Since Keshavan finished outside the top 20 after three runs, he did not get to compete in the fourth and final run, which decided the medals.

As soon as Keshavan crossed the finishing line, he made a broad smile towards the seizable Indian supporters, including his family members. He lifted his sled over his head and waved to the crowd for one last time. The Indian supporters were holding the national flags and placards which had 'Go Shiva' and 'Nothing can stop the fire' written on them. The man from Vashisht near Manali has been the face of winter sports in the country for more than two decades, and had said just before the Pyeongchang Games that this Winter Olympics will be the last international event of his career. This was not though his best ever performance in a Winter Olympics. His best was the 25th place finish in the 2006 edition in Turin, Italy.

He is the reigning Asian champion in luge and the speed record holder. He has won Asian Luge Championships in 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Feb 2018.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pyeongchang Weather troubles ! ~ first Gold in Winter Olympics 2018

Pyeongchang has already carved out a name with the ongoing Winter Olympics 2018.  At the opening ceremony, one thousand residents of Gangwon Province entered the stage, before standing in the formation in dove, holding lit candles. The enthusiasm of these particular individuals  was very impressive.  One of the biggest surprises of the night was the identity of the roster of famous faces that would sing in the centre of the Dove ~ who would alight the cauldron was also kept a secret.

As the games progressed, Lim Hyo-jun gave hosts South Korea their first gold at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with victory in the 1500m short-track speed skating event. The 21-year-old went to the head of the field halfway through and stayed out of trouble in the closing stages. He finished 0.070 seconds clear of Dutch world record holder Sjinkie Knegt.  The Olympic Athletes from Russia earned their first medal when Semen Elistratov took bronze.

Proverbially, it is always the first that matters most and the first gold went to Sweden.  Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla upset a record-breaking Marit Bjoergen as she won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the women’s 7.5km + 7.5km skiathlon  In the first medal event of the Winter Olympics on Saturday, Kalla won the women's 15-kilometer skiathlon by more than seven seconds. Later in the day, Lim crossed the finish line first in the men's 1,500-meter short-track speedskating event, setting off a huge roar from a capacity crowd at Gangneung Ice Arena.

Then there was the  most highly anticipated hockey match in the nation’s history – the first time an ‘All Korean’ team  competing in an international event.  Made up of players from the pariah communist North and the Olympic-host South, the women of the ‘unified’ team took their places in the record books as they stepped out on to the ice.  The rink roared as the All Korea team took to the ice. Glamorous North Korean cheer-leaders packed the front row of the stand and chanted in unison as the game against firm favourites Switzerland began.
unified Korean flag

They shouted: ‘Win, win, our players win!’ Families with children filled the other seats, with kids waving ‘All Korea’ flags and bursting into raptures whenever the ‘national’ team took possession of the puck.  While Olympic organisers have tried to separate politics from sport over the years, the team has been put together under the ‘All Korea’ flag between the rival states to promote peace and reconciliation. South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in had invited North Korea’s ceremonial leader Kim Yong-nam to watch the match together, following a landmark meeting.  In return North Korea’s dear leader invited President Moon to talks in Pyongyang, in a hand-written leader delivered by his sister. This would be the first summit between the two Koreas in over a decade. Kim Yo-jung, the North Korean leader’s sister, sat with the South Korean president, in the stand to watch the match. The powerful pair watched intently throughout the game – rising from their seats when it appeared the All Korean team had a chance on goal.   Unfortunately for the team, Switzerland beat them 8-0.

There are many aspirants hoping for medals ~ racing at 35mph on blades 1mm thick, Britain's best hope for gold will begin her bid for Winter Olympic glory  in a blur of flying blonde hair and Lycra-clad limbs.  Elise Christie, 27, the triple world champion at short-track speed skating, is a star in the most adrenaline-fuelled events of the Games, which opened in South Korea yesterday.  She has a big point to prove, after crashing out of all her three disciplines the last time around in 2014.  That disaster led to online death threats, but there is steel in the 5ft 3in Scot, who says: 'You have to be odd to be number one.' Elise won the 1,000m, 1,500m and overall world titles last year, and is the world record holder over 500m.

It is not tough for the athletes alone ~ the harsh temperatures at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics have left BBC presenters struggling to talk as make-up freezes to their faces. As the mercury dipped down to -23C in South Korea the broadcaster's electronic equipment has also been packing in. The freezing conditions prompted BBC presenter Amy Williams, the former skeleton racer and Olympic gold medallist, to tweet: 'So anyone know of good make up that is oil based?  The BBC have presenters Eilidh Barbour, 35, and Radzi Chinyanganya, 31, to report live from the action at the side of slopes and tracks.

Barbour too complained about the conditions, tweeting: 'Will PyeongChang be too cold even for a Winter Olympics? It's not just me looking for the blankets. 'Even the skis are struggling to cope. My Samsung dies too. And my wireless headphones. It's a clear indication we should be inside rather than outside.' It is reported that  make-up artists have struggled dealing with the extreme cold and have been frantically searching for alternative make-up solutions so the talent can still look good on camera as well as getting their words out without their teeth chattering.

Interesting challenges ~  ~  however, that  freezing temperatures proved no obstacle to Tongan cross country skier Pita Taufatofua. He appeared topless in his national costume at the opening ceremony with just oil on his torso to keep out the cold, waving the flag of his tiny Polynesian nation. Nor did the conditions stop Team Bermuda from wearing their country's namesake shorts at the ceremony.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Feb 2018.

Fire ~ fire fighting ~ Sand buckets ~ and usage of atta !!! as extinguisher

A very general statement is : South Indians are fond of rice ~ North Indians – of wheat (atta).  

                Atta is wheat flour, used to make food items like chapathi, roti, puri .. then there is ‘maida’ finely milled flour without bran, refined and used to make naan, paratha,  bread and other food items.  In making  atta,  whole grains are ground to convert it into flour – this flour  is further refined to separate the husk and the bran to leave behind a very fine flour, maida. 

                 While atta would be brown, maida is white - the endosperm part of the wheat grain.  Maida is also chemically bleached to leave it super white and very smooth.  I need to stop trying to describe something which is not my domain .. .. ..

Sadly, there are fire accidents – arising out of various causes, most commonly electrical short-circuit.  What be the cause, a fire accident can reduce a property to rubbles in hours  ~ it can cause damage to property, goods and sometimes-   fatalities and bodily injuries to humans too.  A Fire Insurance Policy provides financial compensation for loss or damage arising out of fire.  Negligence and indifference too contribute a big way and there are potential physical hazards of fire.

While elimination of fire hazard entirely may not be possible, fire safety would reduce to a large extent, the potential hazard of loss caused by fire.  Fire safety measures include those that are intended to prevent ignition of an uncontrolled fire, and those that are used to limit the development and effects of a fire after it starts.   Insurers analyse and rate the risks based on risk potential, probability of occurrence, severity of damage and many other factors.  The method of rating special hazards is more complex.  For better managed risks, they do offer discounts and one of the primary questions in any proposal is about the – fire fighting equipments available and the proximity to a Fire station.
forest fire in Portugal - pic credit :,uk

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)in USA  classifies fires into five general categories (U.S.):
Class A fires :   ordinary materials like burning paper, lumber, cardboard, plastics etc.
Class B fires  :   involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, and common organic solvents used in the laboratory.
Class C fires :   involve energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, panel boxes, power tools, hot plates and stirrers. Water can be a dangerous extinguishing medium for class C fires because of the risk of electrical shock unless a specialized water mist extinguisher is used.
Class D fires :   involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium as well as pyrophoric organometallic reagents such as alkyllithiums, Grignards and diethylzinc. These materials burn at high temperatures and will react violently with water, air, and/or other chemicals. Handle with care!!
Class K fires :   are kitchen fires. This class was added to the NFPA portable extinguishers Standard 10 in 1998.

A fire extinguisher, is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. As we all know, Fire needs  “oxygen, heat and fuel” and primarily fire extinguishers put out fire by taking away  one or more elements of the fire triangle.  As stated above, there are  various types of fire – say of wood, cloth, plastics; oil, gas, flammable liquids; electrical and the like.  Depending on the type of fire, the extinguishers also vary – there are : water and foam fire extinguishers; equipments using Carbon Dioxide; dry chemicals; wet chemicals; dry powders and many other agents.

In some industries, hydrant systems are installed, but more simpler are hand appliances.  As a measure of safety, the primary requirement would be at least  two extinguishers in every area/ room, distributed over the entire floor that they are available within 15 meters. One 9 litre water / sand bucket is to be provided for every 100 square meter of floor area and one 9 litre water type extinguisher is to be provided for every six buckets or part thereof with a minimum of one extinguisher and two buckets per compartment of the building.

In old theatres, one would have observed bright  red coloured buckets containing sand and water.  .  a fire bucket is a bucket filled with water or sand which is used to prevent or extinguish fires.  Often they have a convex, protruding bottom. The rounded bottom results in a strong, directed stream of water when the material inside  is thrown at the fire.  Fire buckets are a low-technology method of fighting small fires. Although largely superseded by more modern forms of firefighting equipment, they retain some distinct advantages and remain the preferred method for fighting small fires in certain situations. The main advantages of fire buckets are that they are cheap, reliable, easy to use and can be quickly refilled and reinstated. The fundamental thing is to keep them in reach – and more importantly keep them filled with sand (or water) – with 4 of them hanging in a row, one should remain empty and at a given periodicity, the sand from should be transferred to the next – to ensure that sand is free flowing and is not clogged !

When the sand in the bucket is dumped on the fire to starve it of the oxygen it needs to stay alight.  The sand from a fire bucket can also be used to absorb spills of flammable liquids and render them less dangerous, by reducing the risk of ignition and explosion. Fire buckets are often provided at petrol filling stations to absorb any small fuel spills.  Now read this interesting type of fire extinguisher !

Following a major fire at a restaurant in Kamala Mills last December, Mumbai’s hotels have been under pressure from municipal authorities to get their act together with regard to fire safety norms. The Hindu reports that the Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association (AHAR)  requested that it be allowed to use ‘roti atta’ (flour) instead of sand to tackle the initial stages of a kitchen fire.

The Fire Brigade requires restaurants to stock sand in their kitchens to help quell any incidents of fire. But the hoteliers have pointed out that keeping sand in the kitchen is a violation of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) norms. In a letter to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, on January 31, AHAR has requested that they be allowed to use ‘roti atta’ within the kitchen since, under FSSAI rules, sand cannot be stored in the cooking area, ostensibly to avoid food contamination. Also, restaurant kitchens stock up on flour anyway.   The letter states that they have been following the guidelines issued by the civic body, but would like to make certain suggestions with regard to fire safety. AHAR president Santosh Shetty said: “Old methods are okay and we are not against using sand. It is already there. But keeping sand in the kitchen is in violation of food contamination rules. What we are suggesting is an alternative source, since ‘atta’ is available in every kitchen.”

“Using flour to fight a fire is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” said a professor from IIT-Bombay. “Flour becomes a combustible gas.”  However, Sunil Keswani, a plastic surgeon and medical director of the National Burns Center in Airoli, said flour might be a good substitute for sand for curbing kitchen fires induced by oil.

Interesting !!  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Feb 2018.

Economist apologises for his twitter post - Jamaican bobsled in Winter Olympics

Dr. Damien King an expert in Debt Management and Economic modeling is in news; Head of Department of Economics at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, has apologized to people ~ nothing on Economics but on Sports. !

                               Jamaica, is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Previously inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taíno peoples, the island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. Many of the indigenous people died of disease, and the Spanish transplanted African slaves to Jamaica as labourers.  This island reminded under  possession of Spain until 1655, when England (later Great Britain) conquered it and renamed it Jamaica. Under British colonial rule Jamaica became a leading sugar exporter, with its plantation economy highly dependent on slaves forcibly transported from Africa.  Jamaica, now  is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, an office held by Sir Patrick Allen since 2009. Andrew Holness has served as the head of government and Prime Minister of Jamaica from March 2016.

Bobsleigh or bobsled is a winter sport in which teams of two or four teammates make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled. The timed runs are combined to calculate the final score.  International bobsleigh competitions are governed by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, also known as FIBT from the French Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing.

The news is famed in Jamaica, the economist Dr Dr Damien King  has apolovised for his comments made describing the island’s efforts to participate in the Winter Olympics as ‘ridiculous and tokenism’.  King reportedly had uttered in Twitter that bobsledding does not emerge from local capacity, activity or behavior and so does not represent Jamaica… .. .. his comments drew widespread criticism ahead of Jamaican women Bobsled team’s historic appearance in Winter Olympics in South Korea.   The Sports administrator of Jamaica and many others rebutted the economist stating that Jamaica’s participation in Olympics signaled – ‘ we are not limited by geography, weather or race to participate in any sport, educational avenue or career path’. 

A day before the Opening ceremony, King took to twitter to withdraw his earlier comments and apologise ! 

Interestingly, Jamaican women bobsled team’s appearance in Winter Olympics comes 30 years after men team’s first appearance – spawning in the classical film ‘cool runnings’.   

                                   Jamaica has produced some of the world's most famous cricketers, including George Headley, Courtney Walsh, and Michael Holding.  The country was one of the venues of 2007 Cricket World Cup - Chris Gayle  too is a Jamaican.  Since independence Jamaica has consistently produced world class athletes in track and field.   Olympic and World Champion Usain Bolt, world record holder in the 100m for men at 9.58s, and 200m for men at 19.19s hails from Jamaica. Other noteworthy Jamaican sprinters include Arthur Wint, the first Jamaican Olympic gold medalist; Donald Quarrie, Elaine Thompson double Olympic champion from Rio 2016 in the 100m and 200m, Olympic Champion and former 200m world record holder;   Merlene Ottey; Delloreen Ennis-London; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the former World and two time Olympic 100m Champion; Veronica Campbell-Brown; Sherone Simpson; Yohan Blake; Asafa Powell – all hail from the sporting Jamaica.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Feb 2016.