David Copperfield writes in The Onion

Or so The Onion claims. I've been reading the article almost but not quite entirely sure it's satire. Such is the problem with politics these days. 

Right away there was the issue of accountability. In the aftermath of Trump’s surprise victory, we realized the American people deserved better from their magicians. It didn’t matter if you were working birthday parties or headlining the MGM Grand. You had to take a real honest look at what you did and accept that whether you were making a playing card disappear, pushing a cigarette through a quarter, or levitating over the Grand Canyon, your actions would be judged in the context of an entirely new political climate.

With Trump peddling fear, xenophobia, and outright lies, we could no longer remain silent: We had an obligation, both as illusionists and Americans, not to allow such hateful behavior to become normalized.

One pieces that I found rather interesting:

Though much of what we as Americans hold sacred has come under threat this past year, there has been at least one positive development: Many magicians no longer saw their female assistants in half, having come to realize that there are now consequences for such behavior in the workplace.

Magicians have a history of being not so nice to women (and often our audiences in general), something I've tried very hard to not emulate for my entire career. 

From the history books

Found a fabulous bit of ad copy from the nineteenth century conjurer Ingleby that I'm thinking of stealing:

…in consequence of his superior excellence in the Art of Deception he has had conferred upon him the title of ‘Emperor of all Conjurers’ by a numerous Assemblage of Gentlemen Amateurs, particularly through the Amazing Trick of Cutting the Fowl’s head off and Restoring it to Life and Animation! For no man knows the real way but himself. He is now, therefore, ad the Head of his Profession, and all Competitors remind him only of the following Fables: The Ass in the LIon’s Skin and The Ox and the Frog.
— Ingleby

Put that on a poster in some Comic Sans and my 2018 will be rockin'.

Special thanks to Sidney Clarke and his Annals of Conjuring.

Life, The Universe and Everything (Scientific)

Physicist Sean Carroll is one of my favourite living humans. He currently teaches at CalTech where he has the desk which belonged to (the legendary) Richard Feynman, one of my favourite dead humans. He gave a talk at The Royal Institution in the UK about his latest book, The Big Picture

One of the greatest things to happen in the past ten years was YouTube's removal of the 10-minute time limit on videos. Now entire talks like this one are available to view world-wide for free in quality comparable to your television. The amount of learning that's now possible for people who don't want to spend weeks sitting through courses that aren't connected with their jobs is unbelievable.

I think that's important because the progress of science has been so fast. Many things that are now well-established facts were, a generation ago, unanswerable mysteries. So those subjects needed to be treated with polite agnosticism. I love Sean's ability to gently but firmly articulate what we do and don't know about those deep once-mysterious questions. It turns out we do know how our species got here, what happens when we die and whether or not you can bend spoons with your mind or talk to the dead.  

Enjoy The BIg Picture:


There's also a short Q&A which follows his talk which was posted separately.

And this is not the first time I've shared a talk from The Royal Institution. A pair of free tickets to the first person who can identify the historical significance of that oddly shaped desk Sean is standing behind in the video in the comments.