Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rampant Stupidities

We live in an imperfect world. Many stupid things still running despite the obvious stupidity. Blame it on inertia. Blame it on pride. Blame it on chauvinism. Whatever. These are some of those stupidities:

QWERTY Keyboard
Have you ever wonder why our keyboard has QWERTY layout? Answer: it is a legacy layout from our typewriter. Basically, they designed this layout to handicap you, to make sure you never type too fast. With a good reason. At that time, you may not type too fast, since the ancient typewriter typebars could tangled with each others.

Enter modern keyboard ... the typebars problem is not relevant anymore, but we still use the QWERTY layout. Actually, we already have a SUPERIOR layout: the Dvorak layout. Unlike the QWERTY, the Dvorak layout was designed to make typing as easy and as fast as possible. I assure you, all typist who broke world record of typing used Dvorak layout. Another big bonus: changing to Dvorak keyboard eliminate "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome."

There is one important note. Since Dvorak designed based on English, it won't be that effective if you are typing in other language. You have to re-arrange every keys.

So, if Dvorak is so superior, why only few people used them? Simple: because we are heavily invested in QWERTY. All standard keyboards are QWERTY keyboards. Computer shortcuts was designed with QWERTY keyboard in mind, etc. This is what I call INERTIA. It is hard to change, even when change is superior, when the inferior status quo is so deeply rooted.

Internet Ads
Advertising is not really stupid per se. But some internet advertisers decided that their adverts has to obstruct the material that bring people to that particular site. You know what I mean. An ad in front of a picture! An ad that make sure that you can't read the article! Sometimes they even have the nerve to make the obstructing ads BLINKING and JUMPING! Nobody likes an obstruction. No, that is not strong enough. Everyone hates obstruction. That is more appropriate. Hated ads won't be as effective as non-intrusive ads. But millions of internet advertisers haven't figure that one.

Family Name Position
Some language, e.g.: Chinese & Japanese, put family name first. Some other language, e.g.: English & Spanish, put family name last. Both location are valid. What I don't get is, why in English writing sometimes they wrote a Japanese or Chinese name with family name LAST. So looks like they really thought that putting your family name is the superior method right? WRONG!! When they write a bibliography, they suddenly they put the family name first. MAKE UP YOUR MIND for heaven's sake ...

American Date
The Japanese put theirs in this order: YYYY/MM/DD. The Germans wrote their date like this: DD.MM.YYYY. So does most other people in the world. They put it in sequential way, from the largest denominator to the smallest or vice versa. Quite logical. The Japanese way make it easier to arrange your file chronologically. Although the German way doesn't have that advantage, it is still a sequence. So everybody doing it like that, right? WRONG. The Americans write their date like: MM/DD/YYYY. It is stupid. Very stupid. I can't think any advantage or logical explanation for this stupid method.

Imperial Units
Pop Quiz: please convert 100 kilometers into meters. Easy right? Just add 3 more zeroes and you got 100 km = 100.000 m.
Now, please convert 100 miles into feet. Go on ... you need some time? Take your time. I'm waiting. Okay, here it is if you give up: 100 miles = 528.000 feet.
How about converting that 100.000 meter into hectometer? Yup, just substract 2 zeroes, and you got 100.000 m = 1000 hm.
Now, please convert that 528.000 feet into yards. Hmm, that takes time ... ok ... found it? Yup, 528.000 feet = 176.000 yard.
See how easy it is conversion between metric units? See how idiotic the conversion between imperial units? So why the hell the Americans & British still sticks to the Imperial Units? My guess, this is because of their pride. They are too proud to admit that their units sucks while the European units kickass.

Chinese alphabets/Kanji
Okay, enough pointing out the stupidity of the Americans. Time to point out the stupidity in the Orient. I save this for the last because arguably it is the biggest one.

Basically, Chinese hieroglyphic alphabets take LONGER to master, and it make typing & sorting far more difficult. To overcome this problem, the Chinese government create "simplified Chinese" characters AND "Hanyu Pinyin" (The official rule how to write your Chinese words with Latin alphabet.). Despite that objective fact, most Chinese are proud of their alphabet.

Here is a funny fact: everybody's ancestors wrote like that. Long time ago, all of them draw a picture to represent each word. But somewhere in the past, one of them said "Hey, I have a better idea, how if we draw a picture to represent each sound instead of each word?" and they left their hieroglyphic alphabets.

You know why when other people already got rid of their stupid hieroglyphic alphabets the Chinese stick to theirs? Because they are proud that this method is several millenniums old. They also sure that they are the center of the universe. Oh yeah, for them other cultures are barbarism and other peoples are barbarians. They still have tons of arguments, but you got their basic point: CHAUVINISM. Read John T Reed article on this for more detail.

Unlike when I pointed out the stupidity of Americans, I EXPERIENCED this stupidity first hand for some years since I am genetically a Chinese who grow up reading Chinese literatures that brags how great their civilization, while most "Chinese" nods in unison, agreeing with this ancient chauvinism.

BTW, I have to put emphasis on the word "genetically" because many "Chinese" consider people who can't speak Chinese is not a true Chinese. Even worse, many "Chinese" consider every people WITHOUT Chinese blood is always a barbarian, even when they managed to speak and write in Chinese. My suggestion to my genetic brothers: stop your chauvinism and realize that you are not the center of the world. Be humble for Heaven's sake! The Hanyu Pinyin is already pointing to that direction. FINALLY!! It is around 3000 years late, but better late than never!

That's it from me. Did I miss anything? Probably. Too many stupid things went rampant in this imperfect world.

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