Magic is Fun

facecardsMagic tricks are fun. It could be because it is fun to be deliberately fooled and there’s the bonus we get when we figure out how and why we get fooled. I have spent long hours watching videos of magic tricks. An outstanding show is Penn & Teller’s “Fool Us” series. The format is standardized: magicians do their act, and then Penn & Teller have a shot at figuring out how the trick was done. If they can’t guess — if they get fooled — then the successful magician gets a trophy and gets to appear on P&T’s Las Vegas show.

Some of the acts are truly baffling. I marvel at the range of human creativity, talent and skill. It’s not mere harmless entertainment but it makes you think and learn something about human psychology. The art and science of misdirection is on full display. From it we can learn a lot about how not to get fooled when politicians, faux gurus and other charlatans chuck bullshit at us. Continue reading

Open Thread — Ask me Anything

* Molly’s kitchen garden flowers

Been a few days since the last entry on the blog. To jump start this stalled system here’s an open thread. What’s on your mind?

The purple flowers on the left are from a friend’s kitchen garden in Westmont, IL. Click on the image to embiggen in a new tab. Below, just for fun, I’d like to present two quite unrelated videos. I imply nothing by the conjunction. I hope you get a laugh out of them. Continue reading

Ask me anything – The disclaimers edition

Summary

Sky Map comes with no warranties! If you choose to use it to navigate the high seas and you hit an iceberg, it’s your responsibility. If you tell your kids that the bright thing in the sky is Jupiter and it turns out to be a UFO and you are subsequently kidnapped by aliens – not our responsibility. If your kids subsequently fail their science homework – not our responsibility. If it wipes all the data in your phone, including the photos of the UFO that were going to make you rich – not our responsibility. If it causes your phone to tear a hole in the fabric of space and time, OK – that one is on us. Any other calamities not listed above — not our responsibility. Don’t use it while driving or carrying scissors.

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Ask Me Anything: “The Netherlands welcomes Trump in his own words” Edition

The description of this video says, “The whole world was watching for the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States: Donald J. Trump. Because we realize it’s better for us to get along, we decided to introduce our tiny country to him. In a way that will probably appeal to him the most.” Hilarious.

Now that the humor and silliness is done, it’s time to get serious. What’s on your mind?

Eddie Izzard on Language

Time for a comic relief from all the seriousness this place has descended to. The typewriter monkeys have been complaining. A bit of levity would do them good. So here’s a bit of humor and silliness. It’s one of my favorite stand-up comics, the incomparable Eddie Izzard. Since I mentioned typewriter monkeys, this excerpt from one of his shows is appropriate. To fully appreciate it, it is good to know a bit of French. I understand only a bit — un peu — of French. Mostly safe for work but he does use the occasional 4-letter word.

Contributing for a public good

A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the road near the Parliament building in N Delhi. Nothing was moving. Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”

“Terrorists have kidnapped the politicians. They’re asking for a Rs 1,000 crores ransom. Otherwise, they’re going to douse them all in petrol and set them on fire. We’re going from car to car collecting donations . . .”

“How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks. The man replies, “Roughly two liters.”

Trending: Writing to the White House demanding visa denial to those one dislikes

It had to come to this: people running to Uncle Sam complaining that they have been teased at school by someone they did not like the looks of. Taking a cue from the 65 members of the Indian parliament (what a bunch of retarded wankers) who wrote to the POTUS demanding that Modi be denied a US visa, now 65 members (that’s the whole bunch) of the Sadbhavana Group Housing Society of Rohini, Delhi have brought their complaint to the POTUS as well. Don’t know how the letter they wrote became public; perhaps Snowden or that Assange fellow had something to do with this leak. But anyhow, here’s the full text of the letter presented for your benefit. Please feel free to use it as a template to write your own letter to the POTUS regarding that idiot neighbor who plays his stereo too loud.
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