Democracy (and coffee)

Today, I have some new and exciting statistical research to present: There seems to be a strong correlation between a country’s coffee consumption per capita and its level of democracy. Just look at these lists:

The coffee list
The democracy list

At this point, I offer no possible explanations for this phenomenon. I can only say: Start drinking some coffee!

123 SPAM

“Spam, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3”.

Actually, 123 is the exact number of spam comments that my comment spam-filter (Akismet) had caught for me when I logged on right now. Usually, the number is about 30-40 so some spammer has been very active in the past couple of weeks. The above statement is also true though. Spamming is too easy and there’s not really much we can do about it. Fortunately, Akismet does catch A LOT of spam comments, even ones that “might” look legitimate, like this one:

The writer of davidlebech.dk has written a superior article. I got your point and there is nothing to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not disagree with: People who eat at hotel restaurants, don’t deserve to visit other countries I will be back

Are you laughing? I am :-) If you eat at hotel restaurants, you don’t deserve to visit other countries. That’s a good one. So how did Akismet catch it? Certainly, it cannot be based on the fact the text is slightly odd. Well, the name and email of the person were commercial and it was written for a year-old blog post.

Anyway, I thought it was fun. A spam message made my day. Good stuff.

He wasn’t

Big Brother was not watching or at least he did not feel that I should get denied a Visa.

Anyway, I just wanted to wish everyone (including all you spambots that account for most of my visit counts) a merry Christmas.

I wonder if the spambots picked up on that.

Is Big Brother watching?

I recently (5 minutes ago) started pondering which entity knows more about me: Google or the US government. Certainly, the information that Google gathers from me are mostly related to my personal opinions, social network and lately also my current exact position. But the US government knows everything about my background, Visa status and the like and maybe, just maybe, they have me ranked in a system according to the probability of me being a terrorist. I kind of think they do.

It is interesting that just by writing this, I feel a little nervous. But it is because there is sometimes good reason to be. One of the first things I was told when I came to the US was that I could jeopardize my entire stay if I did some paperwork wrong. Yes, paperwork. I was told this by my Visa sponsors (IIE) who were supposed to be helping me, not make me frustrated and scared (I should note here that it was a mistake of the U of O because they gave me paperwork to fill out that I was supposed to fill out through IIE). Fortunately, I haven’t gotten deported yet but I wonder what happens to all those people who are not as careful about filling out their paperwork as I am.

And now back to the Google and government thing. Google does not care about this blog post. It just indexes it and uses the information to help build their digital network image of my activities so they can better target me with adds. But what about the government. What if, two weeks from now, I’m standing at the embassy in Copenhagen, being asked about  my “terrorist activities” because some fool at the NSA suddenly thinks I’m a threat to the nation. That would, to put it mildly, suck pretty bad. The question now remains whether this will ever happen or has ever happened to anyone. I am sure it has. To put things in perspective:

Do you seek to enter the United States to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purpose? Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization as currently designated by the U.S. Secretary of State? Have you ever participated in persecutions directed by the Nazi government of Germany; or have you ever participated in genocide?

This is a question on the Visa application form. Yes, I am not kidding you. The Visa application form. (By the way, I believe Denmark is not considered a terrorist organization yet so I answered no to the question.) When you have to answer silly questions like this on an application for a US Visa who knows what kind of other means they have to determine if I am a Danish terrorist or not. And I cannot just Google it to find the answer.

The big fish eat the little ones

You can try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough

Yes, I have been optimistic this term. But finals are drawing near, big project deadlines are closing in and stress is slowly building up so the optimism is fading. It is the same every term and I am getting tired of it.

During the first week of the term I set two goals for myself for the rest of year:

  1. Have every evening off from school.
  2. Go out of town or do something non-school related at least one day every week.

Hmm, that is almost audacious, I thought to myself. So how did that go? Pretty well, actually. During the first 8 weeks of the term, I’ve been on two day-hikes and a weekend trip to Seattle along with the essential Halloween weekend of course (some pictures below). There has definitely been a lot of evenings at school but I did not really expect anything else.

Things are different this year. It feels like time is passing faster, my departure is steadily approaching and it is almost Christmas — again. On the other hand, last year’s icicle sword fight, Portland adventures and Northwest blizzard seem ages ago. I never really understood time.

More pictures can be seen on my Flickr page.