Odds and Ends: 29 February, Unofficial Football World Championship

Today is 29 February, the extra day that occurs in the calendar every four years as well all know. But, did you know that there was actually a time and place where 30 February occurred on the calendar? The Spanish geoblog Fronteras has a nice article documenting just how it came to be (I won’t ruin the surprise): the original article is here and a Google-translated version for non-Spanish readers is here. Another interesting 29 February fact: James Wilson, the eighth premier of Tasmania, ‘achieved’ the rare feat of both being born on 29 February (1812) and also dying on 29 February (1880, his 17th‘birthday’). From a geographic perspective, 29 February was the day of the signing of the Jay Treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States, the return of Helgoland to Germany by the United Kingdom in 1952, the Agadir, Morocco earthquake of 1960 that killed over 3 000 people, the Bosnia and Herzegovina independence referendum of 1994, and the ouster of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

Welcome to new readers who arrived here over the past couple of days from the always-fantastic Uni Watch. Having one of this site’s articles (last week’s post on the geography of curling stones) linked from one of my favourite sporting sites was quite a treat.

Speaking of sport, did you know that the true world champions of football are from North Korea? Well, unofficially, anyway. The Unofficial Football World Championship traces the ‘linear world championship’ of association football/soccer all the way from the first international match held between Scotland and England in 1872. When one looks at the national team that beat the team that beat the team, etc., somehow that honour has actually fallen to North Korea (who drew 1-1 earlier today with another unlikely challenger, Tajikistan) – you see, World Cup champions Spain lost in September 2010 to Argentina, who then lost to Japan, whose next loss was to North Korea. Over the years, 49 different countries have held this unofficial title, including such powerhouses as Zimbabwe, Angola, and the defunct Netherlands Antilles. From a geographic standpoint, it’s a fun concept that allows even the smallest country to compete for a world title, even if it is unofficial.

Finally, you may have noticed that in addition to the infinitely-scrolling sidebar on the left-hand side of the page (where you can scroll through literally all 378 articles published to this site over the past 18 months) and the top bar underneath the title, there is now a third collapsible bar poking out of the right-hand side (just move your cursor over that thin black rectangle and it should pop out); another gadget Blogger has added to the Dynamic Views template employed by this site. Some of you may find it easier to navigate using this bar; some of you might prefer sticking with one of the other two; either way, you’ve got plenty of options to find what you’re looking for!

Thanks for reading, and of course the usual twice-per-week updates will be up on the site tomorrow at their usual time.

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