In the long history of pinball machines, a new golden age of pinball was started with the introduction of player-controlled electronic flippers, first seen in 1947 in D. Gottlieb & Co's Humpty Dumpty. Unfortunately, this was five years after the start of the War on Pinball, ushered in by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and others who saw pinball machines simply as another form of coin-machine gambling (PDF) and source of moral decline. Following New York, pinball bans spread throughout the United States (PDF) and Canada, with fears escalating to the point that some in criminal law looked to alternative solutions to the Pinball Problem (PDF). Even though a bold "Babe Ruth" move by Roger Sharpe in New York City in May of 1976 overturned the local ban and other cities again followed suit, some local pinball bans have only recently recently been lifted, after people discovered such laws were still in place. See also: Pinball: From Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (VICE short documentary).
Jackson Lears is interviewd by Public Books on The Confidence Economy
Absolutely, the confidence games take the form of their setting. In capitalist settings, it’s multivalent. Not only does one need confidence to trust the merchant who’s selling you an item, but the merchant needs confidence to start his own business, he needs it to invest, and the market needs it to be propelled forward. Of course we’re sitting here talking about this in the shadow of the banking crisis and recession! The cultural feature we’re talking about may be common to human interaction, no matter the specific setting, but those specific settings—a Mississippi River steamboat in the the mid-nineteenth century, or Catholic Italy a half millennium before—give form to its expression.[more inside]
Today sees the start of the final round of group games in the 2014 World Cup. Each day, there are 4 games, the final 2 games from each group. Both matches in each group will be played simultaneously, after a scheduling rule change by FIFA after an infamous 1982 World Cup Finals match. But last night, Algeria qualified for the knockout stages after beating South Korea 4-2. This is the first time in history an African team has scored 4 goals at the World Cup Finals.
The Year of the Crush: How the Radically Unfair Candy Crush Saga Took Over Our Lives We are clearly drawn to structured entanglements with chance. We use rules and money to define the stakes, and we use cards or dice or candies not as generators but as channelers — mediums — of the chance we believe is already out there, secretly running the show. Despite whatever other beliefs we have about fate or God or a deterministic universe, we often act as if luck is quite real in our daily lives. Candy Crush Saga has capitalized on this to become the mobile game of the year. Not the best, nor the worst, but the mobile game that dominated the charts, that succeeded at free-to-play in a way that will be studied for years, that penetrated the wider culture and came to stand in for all of addictive, time-wasting mobile gaming in 2013. And yet Candy Crush is not simply game of the year in the way that Stalin was once Time’s Person of the Year. It’s a genuinely compelling game that fully commits to radical unfairness. In fact, this is the primary source of its appeal.
"My friend Nick and I planned another prank. We thought it would be funny to scare a couple of friends while they were hanging out with some girls. We drove over to their house and crept up to the living room window with ski masks pulled down over our faces and realistic-looking water guns in our hands..." Participants in We Are All Criminals tell stories of crimes they got away with. via [more inside]
Animals Were Harmed On the American Humane Association's relationship with Hollywood.
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
The thrill and rush of possibly winning started to wear off after about the twentieth losing ticket. Each card had a couple of “Life” symbols on them, and every time you got a second you just dreamed of seeing the third one under the remaining graphite. However it never appeared and never will and it just kind of turned depressing. How could people put themselves through this humiliation and teasing every day of their lives?
The classic criticism of the lottery is that the people who play are the ones who can least afford to lose; that the lottery is a sink of money, draining wealth from those who most need it. Some lottery advocates . . . have tried to defend lottery-ticket buying as a rational purchase of fantasy—paying a dollar for a day's worth of pleasant anticipation, imagining yourself as a millionaire. But consider exactly what this implies. It would mean that you're occupying your valuable brain with a fantasy whose real probability is nearly zero—a tiny line of likelihood which you, yourself, can do nothing to realize. . . . Which makes the lottery another kind of sink: a sink of emotional energy. [via]
Luck was a David Milch-created show on HBO last year. It was cancelled after one season. Some of you might have dug it. If so, you might also dig Out of Luck: "The following blog is the writer’s depiction of an imagined racetrack-based story, an ongoing saga, which includes some of the characters depicted in the ill-fated Luck series." It's written by John Perrotta who was a writer/producer/story editor on the show.
"We have little trouble recognizing that a chess grandmaster’s victory over a novice is skill, as well as assuming that Paul the octopus’s ability to predict World Cup games is due to chance. But what about everything else?" [Luck and Skill Untangled: The Science of Success]
10 bets that you will always win is a video collection of clever tricks (& science) from Richard Wiseman's Quirkology YouTube channel; see also top 10 quirky science tricks for parties, 10 more science stunts for parties, another 10 quirky science stunts, and 5 amazing mind tricks (previously: 10 practical jokes). Wiseman is a psychologist, magician, and author who created LaughLab: the scientific search for the world's funniest joke; the final report & top jokes* are available here (PDF) and over 1000 LaughLab jokes (all clean!) here (also PDF). Previously: his research on luck. (via voices + gizmodo)
"My case illustrates how success is always rationalized. People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck—especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don’t want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either." Michael Lewis's address to the Princeton Class of 2012.
After three horses used in the production of Luck had to be euthanized due to injury, HBO decided to pull the plug on the horse racing drama. Perhaps for the first time since Eight Belles broke down following the running of the Kentucky Derby in 2008, the deaths and subsequent decision to cancel the show have again cast a national spotlight on the darker side of the US horse racing industry, a business “still mired in a culture of drugs and lax regulation and a fatal breakdown rate that remains far worse than in most of the world.”
David Milch, creator of Deadwood, John From Cincinnati, and NYPD Blue reads from Luck, his Michael Mann-directed upcoming show for HBO. Following the reading there's a Q&A. (mp3)
Lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good Those who think they're unlucky should change their outlook and discover how to generate good fortune, says Richard Wiseman (Via Lisa Hoover at Lifehacker) [more inside]
The stranger asked to see the shoe; The farmer brought it into view; But when the old man raised his head, He laughed outright and quickly said: "No wonder skies upon you frown, You've nailed the horse-shoe upside down; Just turn it round, and soon you'll see How you and Fortune will agree. In some cultures, the horseshoe is hung points down (so the luck pours onto you); in others, it is hung points up (so the luck doesn't fall out). Some think this controversy has precedes superstitious Pennsylvanian farmers. And lets not get started with hex signs.
The most expensive record in the world! Another music post for today's MusicFilter. The true story of a yard sale, a couple of quarters, and one happy lad's good fortune. Velvet Underground included.
Luck Chain Letters Predecessors: Ancient documents that advocate their own perpetuation. The Letters from Heaven. Transitions to chain letters.--from Chain Letter Evolution, which is part of the Paper Chain Letter Archive via History News Network's Cliopatria
Charges of racism have been leveled against this president in the past. But this stunt even surprised me. Then I remembered a similar scene on the Capital steps. There hasn't been much media about it, so I'm wondering...is this a regional racism, such that it slid under the radar of the east and west coast news machines, or has the myth of rubbing the head of a black man for luck thankfully faded from the cultural unconscious?
Want to get lucky? Just start thinking like you already are.
Maneki Neko is a cat figurine, sits and has it's front paw raised as if it is calling for luck, fortune and customers to your store, and invites happiness to your home.
Intacto - An interesting foreign language film about the mechanics of luck as a commodity. I just wanted this film last night and am trying to understand all of the possible permutations of how luck worked in this movie. Anyone interested in discussing it is encouraged to do so.
Is he the world's unluckiest man or the luckiest? Either way, Croatia's Frane Selak, who had already gained attention for escaping death seven times, has just hit the jackpot with his first lottery ticket in forty years. How can we normal mortals compete?
God did it? I'm not usually one to accredit daily occurrences to the whim of the Almighty, but in this case, one has to wonder. A young man is thrown from his vehicle in a rollover crash, ejected, and saves himself from impact by catching the telephone lines 25 feet overhead.
Just another nail in the head Don't mind me. I will just be posting sites that are really crazy for the next month.
I bought 3 Quick Picks for the Lottery this week, thinking that if there were any balance in the universe I'd be due for a big payoff... If SuperLotto was High/Low, I'd have nailed it. I got one number. ONE. 5 number for lotto x 3 quick picks = 15 potential correct numbers. I got ONE. On the upside, I'm still due. Touch me now, I'm jam packed full of luck potentiality...