Before believing a web statement

I guess my English reading friends could benefit from my advice tackling web-nonsense.

The expert, doctor, scientist

Mostly, it is good to remember that it is not important what title someone has who is making a statement, it only matters if that someone can prove that it is valid, preferably through a scientifically valid process.

It can also help to keep in mind that when someone is quoted on something based on his/hers credentials, it might be worth while to check if others with similar or better credentials do agree. It is far too common to see an argument that because someone is a specialist it must be valid, while ignoring the statements of the majority of specialists in the same field. If the argument holds weight because of the credentials, the same logic should apply to those with a different view – and if the credentials are worthless, should the same worthlessness not also apply to everyone.

Then it is a fairly good idea to verify the credentials, far too often someone has picked his doctorial of the back-of-a-cheerios box (perhaps not literally), made it up, purchased from a fake university.

A common ‘trick’ is to say that someone is

  • “well-known” – might be true, but it only shows the ability to be visual
  • “respected” – could be true as well, but often used to cover the fact that the person in question has “questionable” career

Documentaries are a common source of mis information, YouTube probably a common platform.

They rarely are worth the time it takes to watch – and far too often are used to cover the fact that the content does not add up.

Things to look out for when watching a documentary

  • a common practise is to have deep voiced male actor or high pitch woman actor to speak overacting, dramatic music and video effects
  • another tactic is to show a photo, video clip, document or play sound and claim that is verifies something, but a closer look simply does not reveal anything
  • and of course the photoshopped photos, edited video or sound, forged documents are tools of the trade for many

The blogs are probably the most common field for complete nonsense and dangerous claims.

It is always a good idea to keep in mind that

  • referencing other blog is not valid source
  • referenced sources may be valid, but if read, don’t support the claim that they verify something
  • blogs where the writer has difficulty keeping thread is often an indication of blurred mind and inability to process information
  • long winded ramblings are not a sign of education nor a clear mind

And a few “trick of the trade”

  • do you own research ->usually means, “I might have heard it somewhere but I cannot remember where”
  • do you own research -> can also mean “I am so embarrassed by the things I have found”
  • I have read /watched so many books / articles / documentaries -> well of course that can be an asset, but a huge amount of nonsense does not really make more sense – and anyway, if so well informed, it should be easy to make solid argument

Diving, histronics and drugs in football


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The trend that football players turning more and more to diving and histronics / play-acting, like they have been fatally wounded after the slightest touch, is probably the most serious development that the footballing authorities tackle.

Why not tackle in the same way doping? It is cheating.

A player can gain a lot more advantage by diving or pretending to be seriously hurt, than by taking some of the drugs that would cost months, even years, ban from playing football.

The player is gaining advantage by doing something that has nothing to do with the sport in which he (she?) is competing.

And the player is gaining advantage by trying to fool the authorities (referees).

I don’t know any other sport or game that tolerates this level of cheating.

A golfer moving the ball to a better position, a card player with extra card up his/hers sleeve, a marathon running taking a short-cut or a discus thrower using a modify object… no one accepts this.

In case tackling doping was a fresh idea, people would probably say that harsh bans would be an overreaction. It is just a matter of what we see as acceptable. And in this case we need to change what we see as acceptable, fast.

How to fire the appresident



Perhaps there is an easy way to get Trump out of office.

Somehow the attention is not so much on his racist executive orders, the morons he is appointing in key positions, the tax cuts for the filthy rich, the health care hazards, deals with regimes that violate human rights or the cuts to science, only his incompetence trying to revoke healthcare gets some attention.

The attention seems to focus on his random and clumsy insults, non-words, making an ass of himself on video tweets, self-pitying rants, who wants to hold his hand (and who doesn’t), who shakes his hands and how.

Remember this is a guy who made “reality” TV shows featuring himself as a tough business man, when reality suggests that he was an incompetent wimp playing away daddy’s money.

As the presidency increasingly looks like a cheap reality show, perhaps the most effective way is stop watching and stop paying attention to his stupid tweets and speeches. He probably is not looking for power and surely he as no interest in “making America great again” – never sure whether he intended to make El Salvador, Chile, Argentina or Canada great again, or that he doesn’t know that there are more countries in America than the US.

But, perhaps, as soon as he doesn’t get attention he will probably lose interest and walk away like a three-year-old in a tantrum that nobody notices.

Let him fire himself.

Footballing discipline

Probably the most misguided rule in football are the caution / booking (yellow card) and sending off (red card).

Although it is necessary to have measures to deal with unacceptable / dangerous behaviour on the field the methods currently available only serve their purpose in a limited manner.

First there is the booking where a player is shown a yellow card. In many cases after injuring an opponent or robbing the opposing team of half chance or goal scoring opportunity. This has little effect on the player concerned and the team he has offended against gain nothing. Perhaps after a few such incidents, another team benefits.

The second is the sending off or red card. This can drastically change a game, especially early on and can be applied with little intent, for example by a goalkeeper being late for a challenge. Many games have simply been ruined by such incidents, the European Champions League final in 2006 between Arsenal and Barcelona being an example.

It also means that referees can be reluctant to produce a red card, knowing it will change the match dramatically. An example that comes to mind is the 2010 World Cup final between Holland and Spain.

A better way can be found in other similar sports, team handball for example.

These rules could be applied to football so that a yellow cards should include 5 minutes off the field where a team has to play with reduced number of players. After that, the player can be introduced back on the field.

And similarly, a red card would mean 15 minutes suspension where the player’s team plays with fewer players, but after that a substitute can replace the red-carded player.

In extreme cases, for excessive violence, a no-substitutable red card could be used, but this should be rare enough to happen only once in two or three seasons for all teams and leagues.

Windows Phone problesm



I was practically forced to move to a Windows 7 phone a year ago, as my company changed an Exchange host and my BlackBerry was no longer an option.

At first it was awful, no Icelandic characters, no copy / paste. Then Mango came along with some improvement.

My phone is an LG, probably with a better screen and keyboard then most, but again it seems that Nokia have added a few features.

What makes the Windows 7 Phone frustrating are, at least, the following issues. Perhaps version 8 has some improvement, but there is a lot to be done before Windows is practical on a phone.

So what are the problems I am hoping will be fixed?

Here are a few examples:

  1. It is impossible to group apps, they are either pinned to the start page or alphabetalized. No arranging, sub folders or groups.
  2. My BlackBerry would light a small red LED light when I have a message, No bugging sound and no need to constantly open my phone to check for messages.
  3. There is no way to copy regular files, you need to use e-mail or SkyDrive or an 3rd party app.
  4. You cannot copy/paste (or directly) call a number from a message, or other applications.
  5. Zune only syncs predefined document types.
  6. The back button is like an eccentric cat, you never know what it brings up. Sometimes is backs within an application, sometimes it switches application.
  7. Messages cannot be zoomed in (or out).
  8. Making a phone call takes too many steps.
  9. When you turn on the phone the screen saver jumps up partly and back down. Three times. This design team must have been up very late at night.
  10. The keyboard is of course far slower than a real keyboard.
  11. The screen goes blank during a call.
  12. There is no way to use a presentable e-mail signature, no font changes, not to mention small graphics. Another probably-very-very-late-at-night design decision to default to “Sent from my ..”. Who really thought that it was important for the receiver of a message to know what equipment was used to send the message?
  13. IE favourites are too far-fetched.
  14. Flash pages are not available, but I guess that can be forgiven.
  15. Occasionally a single page is stuck as my “default” page in IE.
  16. Notes from Outlook are not accessible.
  17. Only basic tasks from Outlook are accessible.
  18. The maps have a problem with locarl characters, making local addresses almost impossible.
  19. No, or poor, Google Maps access.
  20. Multitasking is incomprehensible. Sometimes apps seem to be sitting in the background, draining my battery, when I thought I had turned it off.
  21. SugarSync is not available. All right, not Microsoft’s or LG’s fault.
  22. Most icons are small, and no help available.
  23. As the number of applications grow, an alphabetical grouping appears. And this feature is turned on without asking me if I want this. And once in, there is no way to get rid of it.
  24. You cannot see the total length of a phone call.
  25. You cannot group phone calls into threads.
  26. If I miss a phone call from a person with more than one of home, work and or mobile number – it does not suggest to call the number last call. I have to guess (or read a small print before returning the call).
  27. The system is constantly rearranging my main menu. Without asking. Adding shortcut and deleting as well. I asked about this and was told that my only option was to return to factory settings, losing all my data.
  28. You cannot send contact information / card.
  29. You cannot correct one single character in a message. I do understand Nokia has fixed this.
  30. You cannot store locations in the map system.
  31. You cannot prepare your travel from your laptop / home computer and access places in maps.
  32. A document received by e-mail cannot be edited.
  33. When I connect my phone to charge it plays an annoying tune.

I have a feeling that the whole thing is designed for people who actually like the “cute” search puppy in Windows

Can we now start using video replays in football, please?


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I have never understood the arguments against using video replays to assist the referee in the European Cup, World Cup or any other major tournament.

Perhaps because the arguements against this additional technology do not really “hold water”.

The arguments against video replays are mainly (a) it is wrong to change the game and (b) that the game should be the same all over the world.

Let’s have a closer look.

(a) “It is wrong to change the game” fallacy:

  1. Video replays do not change the game in any way, the rules are the same, it is only to help the judges to enforce the rules. The referee occasionaly consults his assistant referees and the referee should have the option of consulting the fourth official which could have the aid of TV replay.
  2. Secondly, the game has often been changed. Remember the offside rule, the interpretation of hand-to-ball, passing the ball back to the goalkeeper? The ball is changed without notice and rules for substitution has been changed as well quite frequently. And the firth official was introduced only a few years ago. And now two more.

(B) “The game should be the same everywhere” fallacy:

  1. There’s more at stake than the major tournament than in junior leagues, it is watched world wide, the game is faster and harder to referee.
  2. There are a lot of things that are different at different stages of playing football. Just take the ball for an example. Or, again, the fourth referee. The two extra referees. In junior leagues the referees do not communicate through radio. Talk about using technology for the referees.

Using video replays would have help avoid the embarrassment of adding sixty-two end-line officials to the Euro 2012 – only to fail when needed.

– originally posted after England – Ukraina match

Tax on the naive


As the saying goes, lottery and gambling is just taxation on people who cannot do simple math. Fine, I admit that I sometimes play, but only for small sums, knowing that I probably will lose and realising this is a small price to pay for entertainment.

There is another heavy tax on the naive and gullible. The booming homeopathic, detox, supernatural, miraculous, psychic, spiritual remedies, you-name-it industry. They all have one thing in common, people pay good money for something that no one has been able to proof that works.

If it cannot be demonstrated by objective experiment that something does work, the most likely explanation is that it simply doesn’t.