This blog posting represents the views of the author, David Fosberry. Those opinions may change over time. They do not constitute an expert legal or financial opinion.

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Stupidity About A Solar Flare.

Posted on 29th May 2022

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Despite the stupidity, this article on The Mirror was interesting. It was a warning about possible effects of a near miss by a solar flare, forecast for yesterday. One of the possible results of solar flares is disruption to telecommunications, and is the likely reason why none of our local shops were able to accept card payments on Saturday.

The stupidity was in relation to the acronym CME, which the author, Alice Peacock, translated (twice!) as "Coronal Mass Injection", whereas it stands for Coronal Mass Ejection (ejection being the complete opposite of injection). This is clearly more than simple ignorance (I would not expect the term Coronal Mass Ejection to be part of most people's knowledge); the fact that the acronym is CME, rather than CMI, should have given the game away.

Stupidity About Starlink Satellites.

Posted on 17th April 2022

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I am not sure who is stupider: the authors of this article on "The Edge Markets", or the Russian government.

If the report is to be believed, the Russian government is angry with Elon Musk's Starlink because "the Starlink satellite constellation was used to guide and modify fire on the Black Sea Fleet's flagship, the cruiser Moskva". The thing is, Starlink satellites provide Internet connection; they have no capability for providing images of earth, whether optical, thermal, radar, lidar or whatever. The only assistance that they could provide in targeting the Moskva is an Internet access service. Blaming Starlink for the sinking of the Moskva is like blaming AT&T because someone used their Internet access service to read a press statement issued by the US government which was critical of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The statement in the article that Dmitry Medvedev has ordered, as punishment for their actions, the destruction of the Starlink satellite constellation located over Russian Federation territory, the special military operation zone (i.e. Ukraine) and the Black Sea basin is pure nonsense. Whilst there are geostationary satellites (which are above that same part of the earth all the time), these are necessarily above the equator (none of the territories listed by Russia lie on the equator); Starlink satellites are all in low-earth orbit, which means they cover different parts of the planet in each orbit. Destroying the Starlink satellites which at some time pass over Russia, Ukraine and the Black Sea would essentially mean destroying every single Starlink satellite. That would keep the Russians busy for some time.

Stupid Promotional Article About Montserrat.

Posted on 6th April 2022

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This article on the BBC is a promotional piece, pure and simple. It describes the idyllic-sounding island of Montserrat, and talks about how the island's government is now promoting the British overseas territory as a destination for so-called digital nomads, on the basis that it is a beautiful and cheap place to work remotely.

Given their target audience, I was somewhat surprised to find absolutely no mention of their telecoms infrastructure. Phones and fast and reliable Internet are absolutely essential for any digital nomads, but the author didn't think to cover this subject.

A wasted read, written by someone stupid.

Is The Internet American?

Posted on 27th February 2022

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I found this article on "The Daddest" recently while browsing Facebook. It contains some hilarious examples of ignorance and stupidity by Americans.

The author's position seems to be that, yes, some Americans are stupid, but that he himself is not; sadly not true.

Internet

This is a copy from the article of a social media conversation between an ignorant American and a better informed person from somewhere else (unspecified). The American states, correctly, that the Internet is an American invention; the final posting states, also correctly, that the World Wide Web is a European invention.

The author of the article demonstrates that he doesn't know the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web (the Internet is a communication network between computers, and the World Wide Web is a method of sharing and presenting information on those computers, which uses the Internet to access that information). The Internet was an invention of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense; the World Wide Web was developed by Tim Berners-Lee for CERN, so a European invention. The author "clarifies" that Tim Berners-Lee is an American, whereas as, in fact, he is British.

The idea that the units that one uses (in this case MPH) should be dictated by the inventor of the medium is laughable. That would mean that I should use KPH if writing something on Facebook using a browser (i.e. using the World Wide Web), but MPH if writing it using an App.

Optional Mandates?

Posted on 27th February 2022

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Although I find the content of this BBC article ("US Supreme Court blocks Biden's workplace vaccine mandate") sad, I had to laugh at the sign being held by the African-American gentleman in the photo at the start of the article, which says "Make Mandates Optional".

That would be a good trick, but the very nature of a mandate is that it is not optional; if something is optional, it is not mandated.

It seems that human stupidity knows no bounds.

RPMs Per Minute!?

Posted on 12th September 2021

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Yesterday Sheryl was watching an American TV show on a streaming service. The show is called something like "Metal Shop", and is a competition where contestants make items from metal.

One contestant explained that she was turning a work item slowly, at "5 RPMs per minute". RPM is an acronym for Revolutions Per Minute, so she claimed that she was turning it at 5 revolutions per minute per minute. Also, RPM does not have a plural; one should say "5 RPM".

Of course, there is such a thing as RPM per minute; it is a measure of the rate of change of RPM; after one minute rotation rate would be 5 RPM, and after 2 minutes it would be 10 RPM. That, however, is not what the contestant meant.

I would expect that "RPM" would be part of her expert vocabulary; even if her language skills are not great in all domains, they should be good in her area of expertise.

Stupid Fake Vaccination Card!

Posted on 3rd September 2021

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People's stupidity continues to amaze me.

This article on Gizmodo reports on a woman from Illinois who was arrested trying to enter Hawaii with a fake vaccination card which identified her vaccination as "Maderna"!

If you are going to all the effort of creating fake proof of vaccination, wouldn't you at least check the spelling of the vaccine?

Evolution Deniers Are Finally a Minority in the U.S.!

Posted on 26th August 2021

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Sometimes I despair of people. This report on Gizmodo describes new data that shows that "acceptance of evolution among Americans has increased, even among religious fundamentalists", and that evolution deniers are now a minority in the United States.

Evolution is a well established thing, with many well documented examples of evolution in action in the modern world; so no longer just a theory. Americans, however, have until recently, mostly not believed or accepted it, with many schools banning the teaching of evolution.

I find it very worrying that the USA, the nation with the most powerful military in the world, the powerhouse of technological innovation and the leading Western economy, has only just recently come around to accepting that evolution is real. I guess one doesn't need to be smart and educated to be rich and powerful.

Did He Want To Be Arrested?

Posted on 1st April 2021

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As the FBI continues to track down, arrest and charge people who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol in Washington DC, this news story on Vice shows what incredible idiots many of the rioters are.

'When federal authorities arrested a Capitol rioter who called for the deaths of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a Capitol Police officer, they knew they had their guy, because he was allegedly wearing a shirt bearing the words “I Was There, Washington D.C., January 6, 2021.”'

There are only two possible conclusions: either he wanted them to find and arrest him, or his stupidity beggars belief.

Brexit: safe in their hands?

Posted on 13th January 2021

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This article on the BBC, from late December 2020, reports about the last minute deal on Brexit.

It seems that some of the text of the agreement was simply copied and pasted from previous (and very old) agreements.

The agreement mentions Netscape browser and Mozilla Mail: "modern e-mail software packages including Outlook, Mozilla Mail as well as Netscape Communicator 4.x"; The latter two are now obsolete - the last major release of Netscape Communicator was in 1997. It also recommends using encryption technology which is now vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

It is so good to know that the UK government and the EU Commission are looking after us so well.

Stupid Racism

Posted on 29th March 2019

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This short piece on Raw Story really shows how stupid people can be about their prejudices.

A man in California totally lost it in a Mexican fast food restaurant: Palapas Tacos in Anaheim. He complained (by shouting and gesticulating) about one menu sign which contained something (the day of the week on which a special was available), even though other signs in the restaurant spelled that same information out in English.

My first thought was that it was a Mexican restaurant, and Mexican customers speak Spanish. My second thought, as I read the story while sitting in a restaurant in the Netherlands and perusing an English menu, was "thank goodness that menus in other languages are totally normal and expected here".

Yes, I understand that the USA is an English speaking country (kinda), and that people who live and work there should speak English, but the people at Palapas Tacos do speak English, albeit not well. There is nothing wrong with providing menus and other information in languages that the customers speak, as long as that same information is provided in English, which it was.

Does this racist lunatic really want to stop people (citizens, residents and visitors) speaking other languages in the USA? Would that mean that, if I visited the USA, I would not be allowed to speak my proper English English, and have to use American English instead?

Why are Americans so against other languages? I recently read an article about Pete Buttigieg, a mayor who is running for the Democratic nomination for the Presidential elections in 2020. He speaks several languages (Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari, and French) and analysts suggest that this could count against him in his nomination bid, because voters don't really approve. I see and hear a lot of American tourists in Europe, and I know that they are mostly not able to speak other languages, and also totally incompetent in speaking English to non-native-English-speakers (i.e. using different words when you have to repeat yourself, using words that are latin-based which are more likely to exist in the language of your listeners, avoiding colloquial/slang words, using simpler grammar, using redundancy in your sentences, avoiding euphemisms, speaking more slowly, etc.).

I contrast the above with Germany, where people will book a vacation somewhere where they don't speak the language, and promptly sign up for a course in that language, so that they will be able to communicate when they are there; also, people in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where most people are fluent in several languages (ask a Dutch person "Do you speak English?" the answer is always "Yes, of course").

English is, world-wide, the most popular second language to learn. English is spoken in more and more places, and you can get by on a business trip or a vacation totally in English. Many schools across the world have English as a mandatory course. This is, in part because other countries encourage it, as a vital enabler for business, as help for tourists, and other reasons. Don't Americans feel any duty to respond in kind, and encourage the teaching and use of other languages in the USA? After all, the neighbouring countries to the south all speak Spanish, and to the north, part of Canada speaks French. It certainly seems that the ranting customer in this incident does not feel that way.

Pizza Stupidity

Posted on 8th January 2019

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This article on Mashable is so stupid that it is hard to believe someone even wrote it.

I don't need to explain the maths behind the fact that an 18" pizza is bigger than two 12" pizzas, because the article explains it. What bothers me is that the author, Morgan Sung, seems blown away by the facts, and doesn't seem to believe the maths.

This just reminds me of the very funny video about whether to have your pizza cut into 6 or 8 slices (here).

The human race is doomed!

How Not To Drive Away Hurricanes

Posted on 18th September 2017

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The record-breaking hurricane season continues in the Caribbean and Southern USA. Houston is still trying to recover from the floods brought by Harvey. Irma brought enormous destruction to many Caribbean islands, and to the Florida Keys, and millions of people evacuated much of Florida. There are, of course, more storms on the way: Jose is still building in the Atlantic, and Maria, although less powerful, is already in the Caribbean.

Despite all this, the climate-change deniers are still denying, and the Trump administration has been trying to avoid even discussing any possible link between the storm damage and man-made climate change; but more on that in another post.

Disasters always bring out the best and the worst in people. Two examples of the worst are:

How stupid are these people?

How Do Such Stupid People Get Elected?

Posted on 22nd May 2018

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I was totally gob-smacked when I read this Science Mag news item.

Representative Mo Brooks (yes, a US Congressman!) believes that rising sea levels are being caused not by global warming, but by rocks falling into the sea.

The simple application of some common sense, or a bit of trivial mathematics, will tell you that his idea is complete nonsense. The majority of the earth's surface is covered by oceans, and the proportion of the planet's landmass that would need to fall into the ocean to create noticeable sea level rise is truly staggering.

I understand that not everyone understands science, but if you don't, then you should at least have a bit of trust in what scientists tell us. Given that science is not even needed to poke holes in Representative Brooks' ideas, we have to wonder how on earth he managed to get elected. Not only is Mo Brooks arguably stupid, but I wonder about the intelligence of the people who voted him into office; this is probably not the first time that he has publicly humiliated himself in this way, and he has won two elections, so apparently the voters in Alabama don't care that their representative is stupid and ignorant.

After discussing the news story with a friend, I am forced to consider an alternative thesis: that Representative Mo Brooks is actually very clever, in that he understands exactly how much stupidity and ignorance will be tolerated, or even lauded, by his Alabama voters; he knows that the theory about rocks falling into the sea is total nonsense, but is also aware that most of his constituency doesn't see it as nonsense. He is simply playing to the gallery.

This just reinforces my opinion that democracy isn't working, and not only in the USA.

Incompetent Help-Desks

Posted on 15th May 2018

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Why are help-desks always such rubbish?

I tried a few months ago to connect Outlook on my laptop to my employer‘s email system. I crashed my Outlook, and had to build a new profile.

After a while it became urgent to get Outlook working with the company email, because my mailbox was limited to 50MB, meaning that it filled up every few days, and I had to delete important emails to make space. I spent 90 minutes on a call to the company help-desk, trying to get it working, without success.

Today a colleague told me the trick, which took 2 minutes to explain, and I have it working. The same trick works with Skype For Business (Lync).

Why was the help-desk not able to help me? Do companies have special recruitment programmes to ensure that only the most stupid people work on help-desks?

People Who Write “I Hope Your Well”

Posted on 14th September 2017

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I get a surprising number of emails from people who write "I hope your well". I know that what they mean is "I hope you're well", but it happens so often that it is starting to annoy me.

My Well

Many of the people who write these emails are job agents; a profession with a lot of questionably educated people who often sound like London barrow-boys. A very large part of the agency workforce in the UK is now made up of Indians, for many of whom English is a second language, but the Indian agents do not write "I hope your well"; only the Brits. There are also a good number of other non-native English speaker nationalities in the agency, who also don't make this basic grammatical error.

The latest person to send me such an email works for a "management company" (otherwise know as an umbrella company), who handle invoicing and payments for freelance contractors like me (you could call them money-launderers). To do such a job properly (i.e. to ensure that the law is being followed) one needs to be reasonable well educated, and be able to read and understand legalese, so it would be reasonable to expect that they could write grammatically correct English, but apparently this is not universally true.

I think that, in future, I might respond with "Thanks. My well is fine. Here is a photo of it."

Haven’t Rolls Royce Heard Of Currency Hedging?

Posted on 16th February 2017

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While reading this BBC new report, I started off feeling sympathy for Rolls Royce, but then I thought about it for a couple of seconds.

Rolls Royce (the aero-engine manufacturer, not the car maker) has reported a record loss of £4.5bn. Part of this (£671m) was to settle corruption cases with UK and US authorities , but the remainder is due to "currency related contracts".

It is usual in their business for contracts to be agreed in US$, or sometimes even in the currency of the end-customer, which can lead to shortfalls in revenue when the invoices are paid.

Everyone knows that the British pound went into a slide against other currencies, mostly because of the Brexit referendum, but there is a standard financial technique for dealing with this: currency hedging. This involves buying foreign currency, or options on foreign currency, when you agree contracts in those foreign currencies, to protect against exchange rate variations. Companies can either do this themselves, or pay to use a service (provided by banks and other financial institutions). It is not complicated!

So, the real question here is, why didn't Rolls Royce do this? Are the management really that stupid? I think that the £4.4bn loss due to such poor financial management should be, at least in part, recovered from the bonuses and salaries of senior management; then maybe there will be less such stupidity in the next financial year.

Not Feeling Much Sympathy With Tornado Victims

Posted on 9th February 2017

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I am sure that most of my readers will think me heartless, but I am really not feeling much sympathy for the victims in Louisiana who lost their houses in the tornadoes, as described in this BBC report.

I mean, have you seen typical American houses? You can get an idea just from looking at the wreckage of the Chaney family house, pictured in the BBC story. Especially in the warmer parts of the USA, such as Louisiana, so many houses are timber framed with light-weight wooden or metal siding, and sometimes even wooden shingle roofs. What do you think happens to such a house when it gets windy? These people know that they live in areas prone to tornadoes. Haven't they heard the story of the Three Little Pigs?

Judge Blows Up Own Court

Posted on 8th May 2016

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I know we shouldn’t laugh, since people were injured, but it is hard not to.

This BBC story described how a judge in Pakistan asked a police officer to show how an explosive device worked. It is not clear what the device was (either a hand grenade or a detonator), but it was supposed to have been defused.

Whatever criticisms we might level at the Pakistani courts for failing to enforce the rule of law, at least the rules of physics are clearly working fine.

Pilot Shoots At His Own Officers

Posted on 8th May 2016

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Reading this story on The Local (a Norwegian news site) did not make me feel safe.

I am working in Norway at the moment, and now I read that a Norwegian Air Force F-16 has shot up a control tower containing 3 officers, apparently by accident. No-one was injured, but it seems that this is not the first time this control tower has been fired upon by accident during exercises.

I don’t know which is worse:

  • The idea that Norway’s military pilots are so incompetent that they can strafe a control tower by accident,
  • Or the idea that maybe it was no accident, and that he nevertheless missed because he is such a bad shot.

Anyway, I certainly won’t be going to an air-show in Norway.

Deported For Dissing Trump

Posted on 4th March 2016

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Emadeldin Elsayed is probably going to be deported from the USA to Egypt, as described in this BBC report. His study visa has already been revoked and he was arrested.

What he did to earn this was to post on FaceBook that "he was willing to serve a life sentence for killing the billionaire [Donald Trump], and the world would thank him", according to his lawyer.

Emadeldin Elsayed apparently regretted the post as soon as he made it. He later said "I don't know why they would think I am a threat to the national security of the United States just because of a stupid post." Well, stupid is the right word. Donald Trump is not a good person, most certainly not a good choice for president of the USA, and every opportunity should be taken to dis him, but to threaten his life in a public forum is the height of idiocy, especially for a non-citizen. What did he think would happen?

Emadeldin Elsayed should be deported for gross stupidity!

They Can't Update My Computer If It's Unplugged?

Posted on 31st July 2015

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Today was the last day of term for Sheryl's kindergarten. In preparation for 4 weeks of downtime, the head of the kindergarten ordered everyone to unplug everything, for safety.

After work many of the staff went for drinks, partly because some of the teachers are leaving. During the celebrations, Sheryl mentioned that she had not unplugged her computer. IT support is done remotely from Berlin, and they tend to schedule major updates for during the summer vacation. One of the teachers expressed shock: "They can't do updates if my computer is unplugged?". It wasn't just that one teacher; the head of the kindergarten had to go back to work and plug in all the computers and smart-boards that had been unplugged on her orders.

An Outbreak Of Stupidity

Posted on 14th July 2015

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There seems to have been a mass outbreak of stupidity. Perhaps people are trying to qualify for a Darwin Award (click here for the official Darwin Awards site).

In this story on the BBC, a singer from the boy-band Rewind collapsed from heat exhaustion (he survived) because he was wearing 12 layers of clothing on a flight, presumably trying to save on luggage costs. Doing this in the winter is one thing, but trying this in the heat of recent days is pure madness.

In this BBC report, a boy in South Africa died after having his face sliced off by a road sign. The minibus in which he was travelling hit a sign while traversing a narrow street. While the bus was still moving, he looked out of a side window to see what had happened, just in time to be hit by the next road sign.

The next story, also on the BBC, describes the death of a 16-year-old boy who climbed on to a freight train and died after touching overhead power lines.

Whilst the stories are sad, and the friends, families and fellow passengers have my sympathies, nevertheless, these people were all being stupid. This kind of thing seems to be becoming more frequent. Are we as a race becoming more stupid?

I don't want to be rescued by these guys!

Posted on 24th August 2014

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This BBC story is rather worrying.

My girlfriend Sheryl is a fan of an American TV show, Chicago Fire, about a fire-brigade house in Chicago. From the show you get a strong impression that fire-fighters are brave, well trained, competent, and clever, and I am sure many of them are, but the above news story, in which two firemen got electric shocks while supporting a charity run (they had to pour ice-cold water from above on the runners as they passed), because the ladder was too close to overhead power cables, paints an altogether different picture.

Your life in their hands? I would rather not.

So, not world peace, then.

Posted on 11th June 2014

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I just had to laugh when I saw this story.

The winner of the recent Miss Universe Thailand competition has resigned her title after a press row over her statement that certain political activists "should be executed".

At least it makes a refreshing change from the usual statements by contestants during beauty competitions that they believe in, or will work for, world peace.

I suppose we shouldn't take her opinions too seriously, as, apparently, she is "too fat". If we have learned anything from Hollywood, it is that only really beautiful people have opinions that we should listened to.

What did you think would happen?

Posted on 27th April 2014

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This story describes the plight of an American tourist visiting North Korea.

He arrived at immigration in North Korea, and tore up his visa while shouting that he had "come to the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) after choosing it as a shelter".

What on earth did you think would happen? Which travel guide told you that North Koreans have a good sense of humour, are cool when you insult their country, and are happy to turn a blind eye to law breaking. Oh yes, and they all speak excellent English, right?

Unless the DPRK are lying through their teeth about what happened, I don't see much basis for sympathy for this idiot's situation.