Archive for the ‘Fighting Stupidity’

No, let me pay!

October 01, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Musings, Spain

Fourteen Thousand EurosThere are many, many social customs that confuse the hell out of me, but one of the most strange is the insistence of adults to pay for each others’ meals. In the US, when I would go out to eat with my coworkers, we’d always split the bill among everyone. Each person would pull out their credit card, and the waiter or waitress would give us each individual bills. Simple and fair.

In Spain, however, there is a big “buying rounds” culture that was very foreign to me at first. While this somewhat extends to meals, in Spain the “no, let me pay!” issue comes up more often with buying rounds of drinks. Due to the geographical layout of towns and the prevalence of bars, there is a big bar-hopping culture. So it’s very common to visit several bars on a midday walk with your friends, and in each bar, only one person in the group pays for the drinks. It rotates at each bar, and if you go an outing or two without paying for any rounds, people notice. I’m fine with this. The drinks are so cheap and the company so good that I rather enjoy it. You pay for a round, and then it feels, emotionally, that you get a bunch of “free” drinks after that.

What I don’t get is when people get insistent, or even angry, about the right to pay. This is not unique to Spaniards. Americans do this too, but mostly over whole meals, which is even stupider.
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Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is Anti-Science

October 05, 2009 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Reviews, Science, Skepticism

The Lost SymbolI started and finished Dan Brown’s new novel, The Lost Symbol this past weekend. While it was a heck of a can’t-put-it-down thrill ride, the overall message and theme of the book was very disturbing to me. It seems like, after pissing off The Church with The Da Vinci Code, Brown has decided to do a 180° and fire in the other direction, at Science.

Spoiler Alert: I will not discuss any aspects of the plot in this post, nor any of the puzzles that are solved along the way. What I will discuss is thematic elements, particularly as they relate to the “science” in the book. If you want to be completely surprised by everything you read in The Lost Symbol, read no further, but I promise you can read this post and still enjoy the exciting twists of the book.

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Will a cactus absorb radiation from your computer?

July 23, 2009 By: erik Category: Fighting Stupidity, Science, Skepticism

Radioactive CactusYesterday I was watching La Ruleta de la Suerte, Spain’s version of Wheel of Fortune. Sometimes they have puzzles in a category called “Did you know that…?” where the answer is some interesting factoid. Unfortunately, their research into these factoids is pretty lax. In this category yesterday the clue was “Anti-radiation” and the answer was “Place a cactus next to your computer”. The host later went on to explain that scientists have shown that placing a cactus next to your computer will absorb, and protect you from, the harmful radiation that your computer gives off. Intuitively this sounded to me to be what the ever-eloquent British call “a load of bollocks.”
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