Brief Blog Hiatus: Family Matters and Travel

I had to fly home last Thursday due to an expected, yet unfortunate death in the family. As a result, I have been visiting with family and friends, with very little time to devote to writing blog posts.

By Wednesday, I hope to get back to publishing posts, although I will not be returning to my apartment or regular routine until after July 3rd. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience and understanding during this unexpected pause.

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The ATM “Reverse PIN Panic Code” Rumor and Predatory “Talent Agency” ExploreTalent.com

A couple of people in my Facebook circle shared this meme around the same time as each other yesterday afternoon. Within an hour, each of these separate posts already had someone posting a Snopes article debunking the “reverse PIN panic code” delusion.

This rumor, meme is 100% BS:

“If a thief forces you to take money out of an ATM, do not argue or resist. What you do is punch in your pin # backwards. EX: if its 1234, you’ll type 4321. When you do that, the money will come out but will be stuck in the slot. The machine will immediately alert the local police without the robbers knowledge & begin taking photos of the suspect. Every ATM has the feature. Stay Safe.”

First off, every ATM does not have this feature. Second, ATM cameras are recording 24/7. Finally, notice how this message completely glosses over what to do if your pin code is a number that reads the same backwards as it does forwards (a palindrome)?

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On Writing: Decision Fatigue and the “Flow State”

Writers are a notoriously vulnerable group and because of this are often the target of online confidence scams, author mills, and nefarious types who are all to willing to sell writing advice or productivity “training” for exorbitant fees.

Obviously people are free to spend their time and money however they want, but taking advantage of the gullible has always been a pet peeve of mine. Not to mention, a lot of the information these people try to profit off of is already available for free online.

Whether or not the “Flow Genome Project” is pseudoscience is up for debate, however given the direct-to-consumer marketing of their ideas it’s impossible to classify this project as legitimate science. While there appears to be some truth to the concept of a “flow state” for increasing productivity, the explanations of how or why this works are more straight forward than the Flow Genome Project would have you believe.

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A Short History of Coffee and Café Culture in Europe

For most writers the legal drug of choice is caffeine and it is often administered through a hot cup of coffee. Because of this, it’s no wonder why so many writers fall in love with Viennese coffee houses; so much so that it even spawned a genre of writing called “coffee house literature.” In addition to coffee houses being a place to read, write and unwind, café culture can also foster wide range of valuable social interaction that only costs the price of a cup of coffee to participate in.

In February of 2016, a “Starbucks on the go,” opened in the newly renovated train station in Graz, Austria. This coffee stand sits lonely, unstaffed in a book and magazine shop in the center of a city in a country that is obsessed with its café culture; it is not hard to see how little a brand-name stand has to offer the coffee house scene in Austria.

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The Tactics of Pseudoscientists and Cranks: From Language Misusage to “Just Asking Questions”

Pseudoscientists are a dime-a-dozen, which is ironic because most of them are fixated on trying to take your last dime.

In November of 1908, the scientific journal Nature defined a “crank” as “a man who cannot be turned.” This is fitting as both pseudoscientists and cranks are unwavering in their fringe beliefs even when met with insurmountable evidence that they are wrong.

Reading legitimate articles about science can reveal just how little pseudoscience peddlers, and their audiences, know about actual science and its terminology. Nonetheless, this does not stop them from pontificating on concepts that they have little knowledge of or from misleading anyone who’s gullible enough to mistake them for a competent authority figure.

It’s important to note that there’s a big difference between being an “authority on science” and “speaking authoritatively on science,” the latter of which anyone can do to varying degrees of believability, however, only qualified, educated and experienced experts are capable of being authorities on science. This is the inherent difference between a scientist and a pseudoscientist: one has scientific know-how and the other just knows how to blow hot air.

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On Writing: WordPress and the Hashtag “#amwriting”

As an active member of WordPress for a little over a month now, there are a few idiosyncratic things that I’ve noticed while perusing through the content of various blogs.

First of all, there’s a lot of writing about “writing,” but this writing isn’t actually about anything. That kind of bums me out, because there’s nothing that I enjoy more than reading a well-written article that is about something.

While it can be difficult to come up with interesting topics to write about, this is why it’s so important to read the work of other authors so that you can allow some new ideas to percolate in your brain before you crap them out on the page. But this is only the first step, because the real key to writing well is editing that crap into food for thought that a total stranger would actually want to consume.

Empty platitudes about writing adorned with the hashtag “#amwriting,” are some of the most common posts I’ve seen writers making across social media. More often than not, this hashtag seems to be a way for some writers to stay relevant than it is to share an interesting piece of writing.

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The Dark Side of the New Age “Love and Light”

To my knowledge, the guys over at The Spirit Science never addressed the death of rapper Courtney Jamal Dewar (aka Capital Steez) who was a big fan of their videos. This is most likely because this young man took his own life when he leapt off a building in New York City in the late hours of December 23rd, 2012. Capital Steez was often vocal about his “new age” belief system and his music, art reflected his troubled view of reality.

The song “Like Water,” sounds good until Steez drops a reference to the pineal gland or “third eye” in only the third line, Common Intro: They say signs of the end is near. 1st Verse: And I quote, we came like them niggas in boats. Still think it’s a joke? Your third eye vision is broke” (Pro Era 2012).

The common intro, “They say signs of the end is near,” is a lyric that the reader of this blog post should keep in mind going forward. Because, not only did Capital Steez believe in the new age nonsense surrounding the “December 21st, 2012” doomsday phenomenon, but he was living proof of the negative impact that the paranoid hell of conspiracy theories can have on your life, relationships and work opportunities.

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