Archive for the ‘Fighting Stupidity’

Do NOT pay more than $14 for your ESTA Application!

October 01, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Internet, Marketing, Scary, Travel, USA

Department of Homeland SecurityIn preparation for our upcoming trip to the United States, I was double checking that everything is in order. After last year’s ESTA debacle, I want to be 100% sure we have my wife’s immigration approval number before leaving for the airport. So I did an internet search for ESTA to search for her approval number. What I found is a system of websites designed to scam unknowing foreign travelers out of their money.
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Deadly Spanish Air Currents

August 26, 2012 By: erik Category: Fighting Stupidity, Science, Skepticism, Spain, Weird

Curtain in BreezeCultural differences fascinate me, as do superstitions. So naturally I am enthralled by the utter mortal fear Spaniards have for air currents, specifically those running through a house. Every time I open two windows on either side of my house to get a nice current of fresh air running through, I am told to close one of the windows, because air currents (corrientes) are dangerous. When there’s a baby or child in the house – forget about it! – the importance of reducing air pressure differentials goes up by several orders of magnitude. Everyone in Spain knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who died because they had fresh air running through their house.
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Blindfolded Wine Taste Test: Can you distinguish white from red? Cheap from expensive?

June 11, 2012 By: erik Category: Experiments, Fighting Stupidity, Science, Skepticism, Spain, Wine

Blind Wine Taste TestHave you ever heard the claim that some wine experts, when blindfolded, cannot actually tell white wine from red wine? My gut reaction was the same as everyone’s, “That’s ridiculous, they’re so different!!” But I know enough about psychology and illusions to know that the wine industry is mostly bullshit, and it’s very possible that we might be kidding ourselves. Ever since hearing this claim, I’ve been dying to run an experiment on myself. This past weekend, I finally had the time and wine and test subjects… My parents, wife and I drank wine blindfolded to see how good we were at sensing the wine in the glass without our eyes.
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The Golden Age Fallacy and Our Social Decline

April 04, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Geeky, Internet, Science, Videos

thumbnailRemember back when you were a child, and the world wasn’t so complicated and messed up? That was a simpler time, wasn’t it? WRONG. It was a simpler time for you, because you were a child, free to play and almost entirely free from responsibility. We live in the most peaceful time in all of human history. Thinking that things were better in the past is called the Golden Age Fallacy, and it annoys the crap out of me.
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Why WWW is stupid

January 19, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Geeky, Internet

Back when the internet first began way back in yesteryear, there were many protocols (i.e. ways of transferring data). There was telnet for actually logging into command shells on remote servers; there was FTP for transferring files to and from remote servers; there was Gopher, which provided a very user-friendly system of menus to navigate to get to various information; and there was HTTP for requesting these newfangled documents with hyperlinks in them. Because of the interconnectedness of these hypertext documents, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau coined the phrase World Wide Web. There was a previous long-standing practice of naming servers by the internet service they provided, so FTP servers had a “ftp.” prefix, Gopher servers had a “gopher.” prefix, etc. So naturally they started naming these “web” servers with a “www.” prefix.
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SOPA y PIPA

January 18, 2012 By: erik Category: Fighting Stupidity, Funny, Internet, Spanish

Vota contra SOPA y PIPAThe internet has pretty much shut down today. Well, most of the sites that make the internet entertaining, such as Fark, Reddit, The Oatmeal and Wikipedia. They are protesting possible US Congressional legislation that could potentially give the US Government the power to shut down any internet site that any corporation claims is violating copyright laws. This “shoot first, ask questions later” approach is rather ridiculous to anyone that takes even the briefest moment to consider the consequences. Learn more here. Anyway, I thought I’d join in the protest by providing a graphic that uses some images to playfully demonstrate what these acronyms mean in Spanish.
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Friday the 13th is most common 13th

January 13, 2012 By: erik Category: Fighting Stupidity, Geeky, Math, Musings

Friday the 13th Facts and TheoriesI’ve always been fascinated by superstition, and friggatriskaidekaphobia – or, to be more clear, paraskevidekatriaphobia – strikes me as a particularly interesting one. The origin can only be traced back into the 19th century. I am disappointed to discover that experts find little reason to associate it with the slaughter of the Knights Templar on October 13, 1307, exactly seven hundred years before my wedding day. Oh well, something else Dan Brown got wrong. As if to show just how arbitrary the choice of Friday is, the Spanish speaking world fears Tuesday the 13th, and they even have their own tongue-twisting phobia word: trezidavomartiofobia.
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Social Quote Sharing Rant

October 15, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Internet, Politics

Profound QuoteIt has become very popular lately to post photos of people with profound sounding quotations without thinking about what the words actually mean. If you use Facebook or Twitter or other social sharing sites, you will undoubtedly already know what I’m talking about. It’s sort of the visual internet’s version of a soundbite.
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Spaniards Don’t Understand Roundabouts

August 05, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Skepticism, Spain

RoundaboutThis rant has been near the surface for several years now, but a news report on television yesterday set me off, and I need to write it down to get it off my chest. Let me be clear. It’s not that Spaniards are stupid or generally bad drivers, the problem is that they are taught wrong at driving school! Believe me, I know, because I had to go to Spanish driving school to get my Spanish license.
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Be careful what you click on after visiting links on Facebook

March 08, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Internet

Facebook ExclamationSpammers can be really clever sometimes. Apparently there is some way to game the Facebook “Like” button such that any click on a webpage can be sent to Facebook as if you had clicked the “Like” button. So what people do is they bait you with a juicy looking webpage, and then once on the page, when you click to view a video, or sometimes they pop up a dialog saying “To verify that you are human, click here!”, and that click gets registered as you “liking” that webpage. With the change last week where there is now no longer much difference between “liking” and “sharing” in how a web page shows up on your Facebook wall, this technique is gaining even more steam. From what I can tell, they aren’t doing anything particularly malicious other than tricking people into posting salacious looking crap to their wall.
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