It took me a while to find it, but I loved reading this article in the New Yorker about a pickpocket - goes great with this one!
>“Come on,” Jillette said. “Steal something from me.”
Again, Robbins begged off, but he offered to do a trick instead. He instructed Jillette to place a ring that he was wearing on a piece of paper and trace its outline with a pen. By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale.
“Fuck. You,” he said, and slumped into a chair.
Robbins held up a thin, cylindrical object: the cartridge from Jillette’s pen.
"He is probably best known for an encounter with Jimmy Carter’s Secret Service detail in 2001. While Carter was at dinner, Robbins struck up a conversation with several of his Secret Service men. Within a few minutes, he had emptied the agents’ pockets of pretty much everything but their guns. Robbins brandished a copy of Carter’s itinerary, and when an agent snatched it back he said, “You don’t have the authorization to see that!” When the agent felt for his badge, Robbins produced it and handed it back. Then he turned to the head of the detail and handed him his watch, his badge, and the keys to the Carter motorcade. "
Like the article stated, it feels like he can freeze time at will.
Edit: If you're going to downvote facts please explain why.
Ever see his show where over weeks he hypnotized and conditioned normal people to rob a bank (The Heist)? They were actors. :(
Paid subscription to HN curated pay walled content.
This by no means has to dilute the HN culture or forum, because you can handle a separate discussion system around the curated content, to keep a clear water between HN proper, and HNdigest/talk.
I think the "brand" can handle it, out there in the wild world.
My background is in magazine publishing, incidentally. I'm professionally confident could brand and sell a glossy tech + curated digest of the MSM. Even newsstand.
I would gladly pay say twice or thrice what a newsstand glossy magazine costs, so ten to fifteen pounds a month is not unreasonable.
Cannot someone figure out a deal WSJ, Conde Nast, Murdoch et.al, will accept?
Practically just how hard is it to have a different referrer and link to paid articles, and authenticate against a HN login?
If anyone is doing this or similar, please please also develop a pdf bundle delivery / digest I can read on my ride home from work. I cant help thinking how easy if would be to pitch the adverts in that.
(sorry again for edits, phone not helping)
HN is, like it or not, a sketchpad for me when it comes to thoughts and ideas to test on a specific market. That's why my original comment went 80+ up.
Wise man once say, people read things and invest when they believe they can learn something. Trust is earned.
True, I enjoy the openness combined with conciceness / on topic habits, especially here at HN. My idea was not to reprint HN save as a cutaway box, maybe with 2d barcode links, to provide context for the written article that takes survey of, e.g. HN as a measure.
The value to the reader, is that by showing the original thoughts & debate, the reader can clearly see they are not receiving stale material, bounded by the three to six months print magazine lead time.
My editorial approach is to build ground up. Top down is the publishing (and programming) tradition: Plan, project, design, assign, assemble. But HackerDigest's approach i would be a clean slate, monthly: Follow discussions, cross reference trends, back check technical factors in the debates, especially not overlooking edge cases; compile overview; write synopsis; commission to journalists who can turn around fast, alongside seeking major vendor comment (something that would help drive advertising pitches) and publish.
I'd love to read your work, but I'm on mobile this holiday weekend so will probably have to wait until I'm home. However you seem to have simply stated how it can be hard, to become a paid writer, especially off your own bat.
That's a truism, I'm afraid. I've been frequently published, but under the unnamed title imprint (like The Economist, not yet unfortunately The Economist, a good school friend eventually strained at that limit with them, and his next told was surprisingly public. I don't know how hard it is to get good writers to forgo byline at least..but certainly that newspaper can.) Or as a ghost, more frequently for advertorials under a CxO's name.
I think my proximity to the profit centers in publishing, helps massively. I started in publishing, because in 1993, a fast growing stock market darling, had no sales who understood what multimedia was, so I got hired with almost a "start now" exhortation. I started next working day.
I say that, because -- at least in print -- I learned the financial constraints quickly (befriended by a ex PwC fellow who quit partner track off a first class math degree, because he rightly identified the optimization opportunity in print media, set against internet threat)
So I was first published when the pagination left space spare, and a advertiser who I had sold by comparing how their tech worked vs a forthcoming competitor ipo, and got their ceo to take the space if we could turn around advertorial fast enough to meet copy date. They already had display adverts, so this was the only thing that made sense.
As you know, highlighted even, possibly, by Medium, the economics of writing for online journals, is radically different.
Despite this, print has not - trade journal claims are misleading - fallen as significantly as you may believe. Traded forward, print ads in magazines, discounts to a $TLN market. I help super verticals,and trade association titles, discover sell side alpha. Why the trade press dismisses the print market, is a combination of traditional buy side monopolism, and the online advertising business lately being described by the outgoing CEO of Mediacom, as "criminal", no qualifications of that word.
Oh wow, maybe Donald Trump is a pickpocket!
- Monty Python
Absolutely astonishing when he's in full flow.
I did ask him if he ever saw a trick that he didn't immediately know how it was pulled off, and he said yes: the first time he saw David Copperfield's circular saw trick. Then apparently Penn Jillette got Copperfield so trashed that he eventually gave the game away.
Although maybe that just makes for better television... ;)
He's also moving a card from one side of his body to another. Later he's moving a card back the other way. My bet is that his vest has some sort of mechanism for moving cards. He moves very awkwardly while doing it, so he's certainly doing some complicated procedure we can't see. He could of course be throwing the card, deflecting it with the insides of his hands or otherwise creating a very curved path, but that's just barely plausible.
Anyway, this guy's Dex score is insane.
He did a demo of his skills at TED: https://www.ted.com/talks/lennart_green_does_close_up_card_m...
For impressive street magic performance, there's Cyril Takayama.
I have been watching a lot of his videos since then. I doubt I'll ever learn to do any of his tricks 100% but I find his commentary on the social aspect of magic very interesting.
The backstory is that the magician in question (Kostya Kimlat) did a trick that Penn & Teller also do, and he did it more or less the same way they do it - except that at the end, at the part where P&T do the sleights that make the trick work, in Kimlat's version the effect was already done because he'd done a different sleight, earlier, about five inches under P&T's noses. It was pretty glorious.
The trick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCFXV6o7cro
Penn talking about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuKail7Jwwg
Edit: I think the actual trick starts at 3:49, when he asks Teller to insert his card, either face up or face down. The move at 4:04 finishes the trick and it's done.
1. a few face-down cards on top to make it look like it's still mixed,
2. all the face-up cards plus Penn's card, which went in face-down,
3. all the face-down cards plus Teller's card, which went in face-up.
That plus they only get half a minute (usually less) of discussion time to figure it out.
Have a trick that could be done in several different ways. P&T propose one method, and if that wasn't the way you did it, then you win.
When P&T actually make a guess about an original mechanism, sadly Teller either whispers it or draws it on some paper that they then dispose of in some suitably flashy way. (He's usually right of course!)
The winners are most often low-profile professional magicians who make a significant income consulting for the famous ones. Inventing and selling tricks is an important revenue stream for many magicians.
So they come on, do some trick that they invented in secret and worked on for years, and give P&T that same childlike sense of awe and amazement that the rest of us experience almost all the time. It's the best part of the show.
Like this guy:
Given that these exist, I wonder how many magicians with a signature trick got it from a consultant instead of inventing it. Are a few people creating all the world's magic acts?
I've watched the show a few times and I don't know how carefully detailed the rules of success vs failure are, but on a few instances, Penn and Teller announced they had a fair idea of what tricks were being done but couldn't really place it in an acceptable order or say the how/when.
So even if Teller is the magic encyclopedia, he can be fooled, it seems.
He talked about how he had to constantly work to stay ahead of the audience, to recreate and create new concepts and tricks, and how to continue to appeal to groups as the technology available and interests changed. Some of it was marketing 101 but the vast majority was someone who was truly dedicated to mastering his craft and making it "look easy" while making it incomprehensible to everyone watching.
That was the first time I heard Teller speak.
The guy has no problem speaking when he's off stage.
So if you've ever seen a full P&T show, you probably have heard him speak. Just not onstage.
In the talk, Teller walked through the entire history of a single trick from both directions: his history in finding and learning about the trick, and the history of the trick's development and evolution from magician to magician.
An interesting takeaway is the interesting frisson between the need of magicians to be public figures and broadly advertise (and televise) and yet their need for some secrecy in the details of their work. You can often see the evolution of a trick across advertisements and filmed portrayals of a trick: they are open secrets of a sort, because magicians want an audience. Few professions are so deeply secretive and yet so deeply and publicly documented.
The biggest takeaway, though, was a deeper appreciation for the skill often required to learn a trick, the incredible amount of dexterity and practice required until you can make it look easy, until you can make it look magic. That you can know the entire history of a trick and every detail of how it was performed and not accomplish that trick without years and years of practice.
Teller stated his hypothesis of that talk was that for some tricks, knowing how it is accomplished and seeing a trick decomposed into component parts doesn't lose all of the magic from a trick because you get the corresponding magic of that appreciation of the skill and timing and dexterity needed to pull it off, to run through all of the parts in quick enough succession.
That's something that you can see Penn & Teller often play with in their act, revealing the components of an illusion explicitly, just before or just after combining them in thrilling ways at a full pace. That continues to marvel even knowing everything about how it is done.
I often wonder if Penn & Teller sometimes think the magic field is too secretive for its own good. I think it's interesting how much in their act they seem to imply that the best magic is the magic where you know what is going on and it is still magic to watch; that it is not the secrets of magic that make it compelling to watch but the human skills of elocution and drama and timing and dexterity.
ETA: Obviously a lot of the talk I saw is a little more coldly direct in the article here than as I saw it presented, but I felt like waxing poetic on the same subject.
I believe that is this one:
* Before closing the box, his arms look weird (position, but also from his back)
* his fists are always closed
* he can't really move his arms (probably fake arms), the helper take his hands to put them in the handcuffs
* When the box is being closed something weird happens, you can see his hands getting back inside
I also read he was mugged at gunpoint a few years back and used used sleight of hand to save his wallet. I'm both impressed and horrified by that. I don't think antagonizing a armed criminal was within his interest, but at the same time its crazy he pulled that off under that pressure.
I also have a small interest in magic and a little research goes a long way. I recently saw acclaimed Chicago magician Dennis Watkins perform up close and most of those tricks were obvious to me, I mean his showmanship was excellent but once you understand how common magic works, its really hard to be fooled by it anymore. I was stumped by perhaps two or three tricks. If you like magic, don't read about how its done. It completely ruins the experience on a certain level. On a 'enjoying the craft of others' level, Watkins was unbelievably impressive and recommend him to anyone interested in magic.
I agree that learning magic can take away some of the mystique but having practiced it off and on since I was a kid, I can appreciate it for the art form that it is now. Which is why it infuriates me when some loud asshole announces, "It's in his pocket!" when a trick is done. It's everything I can do to keep myself from yelling back, "STFU and let an artist create his art!"
If you find magic interesting, I highly recommend you search YouTube for Penn & Teller's material. There are not only a lot of tricks to be seen, but also plenty of speaking appearances where they talk about their philosophies and their art (and yes, some where Teller speaks!).
One thing that is special about their approach is that they like to make the audience aware that it is a _trick_. In fact, in some instances, they repeat a trick two times, revealing how the trick was done in the second go-around. My very favorite P&T trick actually shows how the trick is done the first time!
What's amazing is, the second time you watch it is no less fun. And they know that. They have the firm belief that magic is entertaining because it is an intellectual exercise. It's not that you think magic is real. Rather, you know you're being tricked, but you can't quite figure out how they've done it. Showing how some tricks are done keeps that awareness alive.
This is in contrast to some magicians--David Blaine being a famous example--who believe it is their job to convince the audience _they are actually doing impossible things_. If you watch some of the P&T talks, you'll see that they discuss that quite often.
I think I first heard of the movie from someone here on HN, and I have shared it with all my friends, who all agree it is amazing. Even people who have no (initial) interest in magic are captivated.
Bonus: He speaks!
Subtlety is good here. He's teaching us neuroscience and politics at the same time. :-)
The trick in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhnATlPdG6A
For this trick, Penn tells you at the outset that it's done with thread. Which naturally adds to your belief that it isn't done with thread, especially when combined with the hoop trick. After reading what Teller wrote, part of me is still suspicious that he's lying even there.
This. This and gerrymandering. Politics is run by magicians.
> Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself.
We are still far from a true democracy, yet have told ourselves we are already there.
> When a magician lets you notice something on your own, his lie becomes impenetrable.
Looking grim :(
Ok, so far so good.
> When I cut the cards, I let you glimpse a few different faces. You conclude the deck contains 52 different cards.
Well, you'd have to cut the cards very precisely then, and you can only show three cards. I'd say the subject would sense something is fishy here.
> You think you’ve made a choice, just as when you choose between two candidates preselected by entrenched political parties.
Really? This is getting interesting. But where is this trick explained?
He doesn't mean that he cuts, shows three cards, and says "as you can see, the cards are all different", or anything like that. He means that he handles the cards loosely, as if it doesn't matter whether the spectator sees the faces, and what they do see is enough of a jumble that it doesn't just look like a deck of 52 queens of hearts.
> But where is this trick explained?
That was the whole thing. Note that the spectator reveals their chosen card before he does the mime, so naturally he mimes the card going to wherever their chosen card happens to be.
What is not explained is how the magician determines which of the 3 cards was actually picked.
The first eighteen cards are QH, the next eighteen are AS, the last eighteen are 3C. You only have to be precise enough to cut to to the top third, middle third, bottom third.
Misdirection all the way down...
If you can see them live, I highly recommend it.
What I find fascinating is that it doesn't matter if you know the trick, you will still get fooled.
"The method is not the trick" — Jamy Ian Swiss
This reminds me to finally finish reading "Dark Sun" by Richard Rhodes.
I think "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" was one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read.
Video game designers especially should take note of this one!
(*Regardless of my personal feelings, I'm not even being judgemental. His campaign effectively kept the media and opponents on their heels during his campaign.)
Dan Ariely has a great talk on "decision illusions"(1) that goes into more depth on this topic. He starts off with visual illusion as a metaphor for rationality:
"So if we have these repeatable and predictable mistakes with vision, which we are so good at, what's the chance we don't make even more mistakes with something we're not as good at?"
> You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest.
There's a strong analogy here I think with how computers are essentially magic: CPUs do very simple things just insanely fast, essentially investing way more "time" than you as a human could consider putting into a task.
it is amazing how he can just say "I am picking up X cards" or "you put card in position Y", that must've taken a LOT of time to learn how to do...
After trying to learn this one single trick for so many hours, I have nothing but respect for people who can do it on stage.
I've seen this same trick used a lot, by self-serving people who want to convince others of a lie when it's especially not in their favor. It seems very manipulative and wrong.
I'm heavily interested in trying to 'spot' magic tricks. So I'm always looking for the sleight of hand or what contraption could have been built to 'fake' a trick. P&T are masters of the craft because they really take the "more effort than it would be worth" to heart. The things they do are usually things I'd never have even thought of - or dismissed because I think it would be too difficult!
Which is why some of David Blaine's "tricks" are so amazing to me  . Because there is no trick some of the time. He is actually swallowing frogs and keeping them in his esophagus and then regurgitating them back up. Something I intuitively think is impossible, even if I'm aware of 'regurgitation magic'.
 Explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPE928xUKL4
I once saw a magic show at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, done on their stage in in the sand in brilliant sunlight. The poor guy did a classic levitation, and in that light it was painfully obvious.
Applicable to so many things unrelated to magic.
Also known as the Democracy misdirection.