Friday, November 14, 2008


This makes me think of Elex.

Psychology of the Con

Here is a nice piece about the psychological dynamics of con games, including the author's account of falling for a classic pigeon drop:
Here's what happened to me. One slow Sunday afternoon, a man comes out of the restroom with a pearl necklace in his hand. "Found it on the bathroom floor" he says. He followed with "Geez, looks nice-I wonder who lost it?" Just then, the gas station's phone rings and a man asked if anyone found a pearl necklace that he had purchased as a gift for his wife. He offers a $200 reward for the necklace's return. I tell him that a customer found it. "OK" he says, "I'll be there in 30 minutes." I give him the ARCO address and he gives me his phone number. The man who found the necklace hears all this but tells me he is running late for a job interview and cannot wait for the other man to arrive.
Here is a video of the pigeon drop in action:

While were on the subject, here is the classic Three-card Monte/Matchbox Shuffle games:

I have see Three-card Monte live on Venice beach, along with other scams and it amazed me that people fall for them. Many years and psychology classes later I understand the simple truth: people are consistently, in some simple ways, suckers.

Google and Prediction on Search

Google has a site devoted to displaying predicted flue occurrence in the US that outperforms the CDC:
We've found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional systems.
This is a great application of prediction and trend analysis that is open to the benevolent(ish) dictators at Google. They have terabyte upon terabyte of our search data that analysts, marketers and many others put to less humane ends, so it nice to see something like this once and a while.

Fortress of Solitude

Click for embiggening. Ok, it's really a gypsum formation in a Mexican lead mine, but hey it sure looks like it.


From this Economist's View post.

The Bush Legacy

That sums it up America America-- two in the Bush, one in the tush.

: For the curious, here is the context.

If Cute Could Kill

This French kid is so damned cute, this video could be dangerous to your health!