Turning down requests for ‘collaborations’

In the past few months I have been getting repeated requests for collaborations on this blog. People send me emails saying that they like what I write (always gratifying to hear!) and that they have interesting content that they could contribute and are willing to pay me for the privilege of doing so. These requests often sound like they are coming from genuine people (except for one feature that I will discuss later) and at the beginning I would write back politely declining the offers. I realized that they may not be real when I would get repeat messages from the same people reminding me of their earlier message and requesting a response. Ever since then, I have treated them as spam and simply deleted the emails without replying
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Why did I suddenly get a lot of pop up ads?

I had never had a serious problem with pop up ads. There would be occasional ones but not so many that they were a nuisance that required action. But suddenly starting with the last week I was flooded with them. They seemed to be mostly from a few legitimate business sites like Hotels.com and another for discounted eyeglasses. I don’t know why they started.

I downloaded AdblockPlus and it has stopped the ads so the problem has gone away. But I am curious why they suddenly exploded. Anyone have any ideas?

One spelling bee mystery solved

I have expressed my puzzlement with several aspects of the national spelling bee competition, especially the fact that the words have become increasingly obscure over time. (For example, in 1932, the winning word was ‘knack’!) One question in my mind is why such a pointless activity as spelling highly esoteric words has become so attractive that young children spend countless hours learning to do so and then subject themselves to sweating it out in front of cameras and large prime time TV audiences in a format that seems to revel in their agony. To win this contest requires knowing the spelling of 150,000 to 200,000 words. This is astonishing when one considers that Shakespeare used only about 33,000 words in his plays and this is considered to be close to the upper limit of most people’s vocabularies, even those who have high levels of formal education. So these competitors are learning to spell a lot of words they will never, ever use.
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Ads, adblockers, and ‘family friendly content’

Some of you use ad blocker software and that may prevent you from seeing some of the content on this page. Part of the problem may be, as Trickster Goddess said in a comment, that the FtB content is not encrypted (as you see since our URL begins with ‘http’ and not ‘https’) and if you are using browsers and settings that allow only encrypted content to get through, it may strip out some content, like images. I suggested a long time ago that FtB join the wave and use encryption for all its content but it did not go anywhere. Part of the problem is that this site is run on a shoestring budget and anything that is not critical to just keep the site running tends to get deferred.
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Going a bit too far?

Pretty much everyone has some relative that they find embarrassing for some reason and on the occasion of getting married may prefer that one’s friends and in-laws not meet them because of the awkwardness that might ensue. The problem that arises during weddings, especially in traditional societies, is that one is obliged to invite relatives and also have less control of who will meet whom.
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Adults behaving badly

At baseball games, spectators seem to be obsessed about catching balls that are hit into the stands or are thrown there by fielders, even to the extent of adults grabbing them away from children. I don’t get it. Why is the appeal of catching a baseball so great that you would deny a child that pleasure? Maybe it’s my background in cricket where the same ball must be used and people in the crowd who catch the ball throw it back onto the field. It would be unthinkable for someone to hold on to the ball.
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Getting rid of the intentional foul in basketball

The NBA basketball championship playoffs are currently underway. Even though the Cleveland home team the Cavaliers are the defending champions, I am not a basketball fan and have not watched any of the games so far. Part of the problem is that it is a very fast moving game (when it is not stopped for timeouts and the like which are the bane of American sports but allow for plenty of commercials) and I do not know the finer points of tactics and strategy to fully appreciate what is going on.
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