Don’t believe your lying eyes

In an earlier post I showed what I thought was an impressive video only to be informed by commenters that it was a CGI fake. So once again I had been fooled by a fake video into thinking it was the real thing. The techniques have become so sophisticated that people can now create ‘deep fakes’, where images of one person are superimposed onto videos of someone else. These are done so seamlessly that it is almost impossible for ordinary people casually watching a video to detect that the person they are seeing did not actually say or do the things that we see with our own eyes.

Apparently the software to do this does not require all that much sophistication to use and thus the potential for malicious actors to exploit it is huge. The video below explains what is going on and how some people are trying to find ways to more quickly identify deep fakes, initially focusing on all the candidates for the next presidential election whom mischief makers are most likely to target. (I think this video is real but what do I know?)
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English cricketer Jason Roy behaves badly and stupidly

In the semi-final game against Australia, English batter Jason Roy let loose with a fiery tirade against the umpires when, as was clear from the replay, he was mistakenly given out.

Roy, leading England’s chase of Australia’s 223, was batting on 85 when he attempted to pull Pat Cummins’ short delivery and missed by a fair margin, as replays later confirmed. Alex Carey dived to his left behind the stumps and pulled off an excellent collection and went up in appeal along with the bowler and some of the Australian fielders. Umpire Dharmasena looked uncertain but raised his finger, and with Jonny Bairstow having wasted England’s review earlier in the innings, Roy had to go.

He stood his ground at first and then walked off clearly unhappy, remonstrating with the umpires – Marais Erasmus was the other on-field official – on his way out and making his displeasure obvious. The stump mics even caught a furious Roy yelling “that’s f***ing embarrassing”.

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Explosive theories emerge about Epstein’s money and friends

Readers of this blog may be concerned that it has become all Jeffrey Epstein, all the time. The reason for my spending so much time on it is that the money aspects of this story might blow the lid off the seedy underbelly of the wealthy class in the US who have got so used to thinking of themselves as immune to any consequences of their actions, however awful. Anything that strips the veneer off them and shows them as they really are is something I am going to help move along in any way I can.

Let’s review what we know about the facts of the case. Epstein lived the life of a very wealthy person but it is murky as to exactly how wealthy he is and good reason to suspect that he was exaggerating it. Although he claims to be a hedge fund manager, it is not known how he earned his money and he has only one named client. Celebrities were constantly in his presence and attending his parties and otherwise socializing with him. Epstein is clearly a pervert who preys on young, underage, girls and seems to have them around all the time. And yet, these same celebrities claim to have not been aware of his perversions, with some even claiming not to have noticed any young girls around, despite their constant presence. And even after he was convicted in a sweetheart plea deal in 2008 and the scandal blew wide open recently, many of these celebrity friends not only did not condemn him, they only mildly distanced themselves from him, with some even claiming that they did not believe the charges against him.
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Marching band illusion

Magician Franz Harary demonstrates a fun illusion. As usual, I have no idea how it was done. I am assuming that the illusion is legitimate and this is not some CGI fakery.

I did notice the sudden appearance of shadows under the platform at the 0:38 mark but that still does not explain where the marchers came from.

More evidence of drivers with expensive cars behaving badly

I wrote last month about studies that show that rich people do tend to behave like jerks, supporting a prejudice that I have long held based on personal observations. In particular, people who have expensive cars tend to be rude drivers.

There is an example of this from the UK where the driver of a Mercedes Benz couldn’t be bothered to wait in line at a stop light to make his turn, but instead decided to go into the lane for traffic going in the opposite direction so that he could make the turn immediately.
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Florida county cannot ban invocations by atheists

This was the ruling from an appeals court that was handed down on Monday. Brevard County in Florida had passed a resolution justifying its policies that said that “an ‘invocation’ by atheists, agnostics or other persons represented by or associated with FFRF and [AU] could be viewed as County hostility toward monotheistic religions”” and thus could be barred.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Brevard County violated the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause” by allowing clerics from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other monotheistic religions and denominations deliver invocations at county commissioner meetings, while excluding atheists, secular humanists and others deemed outside the “mainstream.”

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The Epstein dominoes start to fall

The first casualty of the new Jeffrey Epstein prosecution came about when labor secretary Alexander Acosta resigned this morning. The resignation followed the usual pattern in the Donald Trump administration, first of defiance and great expressions of support from Trump, to a resignation a couple of days later. Apparently Trump told Acosta on Tuesday to hold a press conference on Wednesday and get ahead of this story. Acosta duly obliged and gave a conference where he stated that rather than giving Epstein an unbelievably generous sweetheart deal in his earlier prosecution in 2008, he had actually got the severest sentence he thought possible. Trump then expressed his great confidence in Acosta. But that did not end the controversy and this morning, with Acosta at his side, Trump announced his resignation.
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I actually expected Trump to cave today

After blathering on for a few days that, by golly, he was going to get the citizenship question on the census form somehow despite the US Supreme Court ruling that he could not, and that he would announce the method today, he said that he was giving up on the effort and the forms would be printed without asking the question. To save face, he said that he would get the information by other means.
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The UK’s miserable options for who will be the next prime minister

My favorite fake British journalist Jonathan Pie says that after being given an extension by the EU until October 31 and advised not to waste that time but to come up with a workable plan because there would be no more extensions, the country has done nothing really about what to do next on Brexit. Instead they have been spending much of their time choosing between whether foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt or former foreign secretary Boris Johnson will replace Theresa May as Conservative party leader and hence become the next prime minister. (Language advisory because it is after all Jonathan Pie.)


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England beats Australia in second cricket World Cup semi-final

In the second semi-final game played today, England beat Australia. It does not really count as an upset since there is not a whole lot of difference in the skill sets and rankings of the two teams. But England had lost badly to Australia in their first round match and even lost to lowly Sri Lanka. Meanwhile Australia had won seven of their nine matches, most quite easily, losing only to the strong Indian team and to South Africa in their last game when they had already clinched a spot in the semi-final and the pressure was off. Australia was the in-form team and had also never lost a semi-final game in their seven previous appearances in the 11 tournaments held before the current one.

So Australia was favored to win this game but not overwhelmingly so. The real surprise was how easily England won.

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