Sporadic blogging coming up

I have just received the proofs of my forthcoming book THE GREAT PARADOX OF SCIENCE: Why its conclusions can be relied upon even though they cannot be proven (notice how I manage to insert a plug for it at every opportunity?) and have to meet a tight deadline to check for errors and make corrections as well as create the index.

As a result, I will be posting infrequently during breaks from doing all those things.

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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How to cheat at flipping coins

I had known that some people could call a coin toss correctly far more than was likely by chance alone but thought that they somehow knew how to take advantage of the slight asymmetry between the heads and tails sides in coins. Maybe some do have that skill but others take advantage of an optical illusion as shown in this video.

It looks like it could be easy to learn so beware of betting on coin tosses unless you are the one doing the tossing and thus can be sure that there is no cheating.

The bizarre world of competitive eating

Competitive eating contests, where people try to force as much food as they can into their bodies in a short period of time, has always struck me as a revolting form of entertainment. Current champion Joey Chestnut holds the world record of eating 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Take a look at what what else Chestnut has done.

Since 2005, the 27-year-old construction engineer from San Jose, Calif., has won one eating contest after another, downing “meals” that included 241 wings in 30 minutes, 103 Krystal burgers in eight minutes, 42 bratwursts in 12 minutes and 37 slices of pizza in 10 minutes.

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Get a job, you wastrels!

Once again, we see an example of the British royal family living high off the hog at taxpayer expense.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are under attack for extravagance on Tuesday after the annual publication of the royal accounts showed they have already spent £2.4m ($3m) of public money renovating their new home, Frogmore Cottage—and work on the property is still not complete.

Courtiers have moved to defend the spending, saying that a significant portion of the money would have needed to be spent anyway to preserve what is, they argue, an important part of the country’s built heritage.

However, critics dismissed this argument, saying the house, which was previously divided up into five individual staff flats, was only converted at such huge expense into a single home because Harry and Meghan turned their noses up at the prospect of living in Kate and William’s shadow at Kensington Palace.

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Cat filters

I kept seeing news report headlines that a speech by a leading Pakistani politician Shaukat Yousafzai had been passed through a ‘cat filter’. I was not sure what that was and, because I am an old out-of-touch fogey, had the vague impression that he had used a physical filter like a surgical mask designed to catch cat dander to prevent his allergies triggering. It was only when I saw this video that I learned what this cat filter did.

The filter had apparently been turned on by accident by Yousafzai’s social media team when they live-streamed the event on social media. Yousafzai has apparently taken the mistake with good humor, which is nice to hear in these days when some prominent people are so full of their sense of self-importance and so sensitive to their image that they react furiously against any aide who even inadvertently does something that makes them look foolish.

Incidentally, did anyone else feel that the voiceover for that video sounded like it was computer-generated? It had a curiously flat affect.