Jun 272010

FIFA’s insistence on non-assisted refereeing gets harder and harder to defend.

Both of today’s two playoff games featured gross mistakes by the referees.

England was denied a goal in their loss against Germany. In a curious mirror of the 1966 finals, Frank Lampard’s crossbar-deflected ball clearly crossed the line but was disallowed. With a score drawn before the halftime, it would have been an entirely different game.

Argentina got a goal as a gift to begin their game against Mexico. Either the offside regulations are too complex for today’s referees, or the italian lineman needs new glasses. Either way, Carlos Tevez managed to score from behind the Mexican line.

On account of these, and plenty of other judgmental mishaps, I’d be very surprised if technical assistance would not be experimented with in the next few years.

After all: tennis, a far more stodgy sport has not neglected to use modern technology. The reasoning of the controlling body is something FIFA would be well-advised to learn from: in a multi-million dollar game decisions by the officials should be shielded from human error as much as possible.

Jun 272010

Spent the morning of April tenth (yeah, the reports are rather late) in and around the Tsukiji Fish Market.

Entry was not the most auspicious. Big warning signs along the way from the closest metro station stated that the market was temporarily off limits to “non-business” visitors.

Tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji fish market

Not so easily dissuaded, decided to go and see what was really going on. And it turned out that the warning was only about the tuna auctions held veruy early in the morning, not the whole market.

The first sight in the area was the massive number of ground-hugging transport vehicles zipping around the area. The flatbed cars were transporting the products to the vans of restaurants and shops that are not allowed to enter the halls.

The halls are vast, and absolutely packed with seafood of all descriptions – the selection ranged from the common (tuna) to truly obscure (sea cucumber) via the ugly (some deep sea crustaceans). Apart from the fish most of the wares were alive, so as to provide as fresh a dish as possible. Some critters were numerous (squid, mantis shrimp) whereas some were confined to one or two specimens on a single vendor’s table.

Photographed without aiming the camera much. The corridors were narrow, people were milling everywhere and the rapidly moving vehicles were a constant hazard and thus a free-ranging paparazzi mode was far easier to use.

While there were plenty of sales made in the halls of the market, it was the surrounding area that had the more consumer-friendly shops. And plenty of sushi restaurants.

Sushi platter

Just had to have a breakfast in one – and got treated to likely the freshest sushi dish ever. And one of the cheapest. Close to twenty pieces (both nigiri and maki), a bowl of miso soup (with a bonus shrimp) and an infinite amount of green tea for the equivalent of ten euros is not a typical cost in Finland.

Picked up the second t-shirt of the trip (wrap-around stylized black tuna on white) and some sushi paraphernalia in the barracks next to the market.

A couple of blocks away the market turned a bit more conventional, but still very seafood-related. Ought to have picked up an industrial-sized pack of nori or tasted a proper japanese omelette, but was way too full for the latter and figured that Narita shops would have sources for the former.

Miso with a bonus crustacean

Jun 212010

Spicy octopusA long day had built up quite a hunger, and sadly Akihabara is not exactly packed with quality restaurants. At least ones that project their appeal on the streets.

Finally settled on a chinese restaurant on the top floor of Yodobashi Camera (a tactic that served us well in Osaka), and didn’t come off disappointed at all.

Quite the opposite, the spicy octopus dish (accompanied by an appropriately chilled glass of Ki-Rin) was a gloriously good cap on a day that easily surpassed 20k steps.

Jun 212010

Akihabara street viewIt’s been a long time since the previous entry about the April trip to Japan. Been busy and uninspired. Will try to conclude in decent time.

Akihabara had changed somewhat in six years since the first and thus far the only trip there.

The big stores, even chains have taken root and crowded out the weird small shops.

In 2004 it was easy to discover shops packed with old videogames and game soundtracks. This time they were in minority, superseded by ubiquitous porn-games for windows.

The weird shops were close to the metro station, present either as singular windows in buildings, or rather well-hidden in office blocks that show no signs of their contents outside.

Picked up the first t-shirt of the trip (grey on black, always an exuqisite combo) and cemented my position as the premier gaming geek in Nöykkiö by purchasing a Professor Layton figure. Sadly, the soundtracks of the classically-musiced series were nowhere to be found.

View towards the Akihabara station