Apollo Robbins Picks All Of The Pockets


Something I’ve always been a bit dubious of in the movies is pickpocketing. We’ve all seen it: a scene where a guy bumps into someone and steals their wallet or keys while the person is distracted by being bumped. It’s just a little hard to accept that a simple jostle would be enough of a distraction to not notice someone reaching into your pocket and removing something.

After reading this fascinating profile of Apollo Robbins in the New Yorker, and watching videos of his work on YouTube, it’s a lot easier to accept. Granted, Robbins is a performer and magician, allowing him to engage in far more complicated distractions than simply bumping into someone on the street, but it’s still pretty jaw-dropping to see him work. Or to try to see him work. He removes people’s watches and puts them on his own wrist without them noticing. He lifts wallets and removes or adds things to them. In just a few seconds of work he can pilfer phones, keys, scarves, even, in one case, taking one woman’s eyeglasses off her face without her noticing.

Here’s some videos. It’s neat that even once he’s explained some of his tricks, and you can see them happening, it’s still extremely hard to see everything that’s happening.

On the Today Show, he gives items to Matt Lauer, Ryan Seacrest, and whoever the third guy is, then steals them back, while performing a magic trick with a $100 bill.

Starting about a minute in to this next video, Robbins performs some neat coin tricks while simultaneously stealing watches from a group of women.

Here he is demonstrating and explaining his talents on the author of the New Yorker piece.

And below is portion from a National Geographic show Test Your Brain (called Brain Games in the U.S.) where Robbins pilfers a number of items from one hapless participant, with some explanation on how and why your brain allows him to so mercilessly strip you of your belongings. Here’s the full episode of the U.S. version (includes a glimpse of him stealing glasses off a woman’s face.)


Gaming | Internet

We Are So Close To Rapture I Can Almost Taste The Bees

Remember that great game, Bioshock, where billionaire libertarian Andrew Ryan built an underwater city because he was tired of government interference, and it worked out really well for him, and it totally didn’t turn into a nightmarish leaking hellpit filled with screeching, drug-addled lunatics?

Well, we’re inching closer to that beautiful reality, as billionaire PayPal founder and libertarian Peter Thiel has given  $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, a group determined to build their own underwater city! (Technically, they plan to build their city above the ocean, but since they’ll be operating in international waters, free from the pesky, invasive government building codes, their city will be at the bottom of the ocean soon enough.)

[Read more…]

Internet | Lady Business | Video Games

Lady Business: Apptastic

Now that TV is in re-run mode, I’ve started relying on the internet and my iPod touch for entertainment. I have a few categories that I like to cover on a daily basis.

Money App: Smarty Pig – This doesn’t actually do anything fancy. In fact, it doesn’t do much at all other than track the money I’m saving up for various goals. You can set up an account on the web for as little as $25, and then choose to automatically deduct whatever amount you choose for however long you choose to save up for whatever the heck you want. Admittedly, the interest on these accounts used to be much higher. However, it’s better than stuffing it in your mattress. Plus, they have a cute little piggy bank that tells you how far along you are with your goals.

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Which Bite Wins?

For humans and animals, the best way to make more humans or animals is through sex, or, if you’re really kinky, through cloning. For the undead creatures of horror movies and fiction, the best way to reproduce is through biting. If a zombie bites someone, it makes a another zombie. If a vampire bites someone, you get another a vampire. If a werewolf bites someone, you’ve got a brand new werewolf.

A question that’s been on my mind recently (if recently means the past 16 years) is what happens if a human is bitten by a vampire, a werewolf, and a zombie all at the same time. I tried asking this on Metafilter, and a rousing discussion began but the topic was closed by a moderator before it could really get underway (you can see the deleted thread here.) Since that thread was closed, I’d like to see if I can renew the discussion here, because (I thought) it was fun and interesting.

I know there’s lots of variables to consider, because depending on which movie you watch or which book you read, the undead can follow different rules. There’s also the question of how this could possibly happen in the first place.

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There’s a huge cavern complex and his head fell off.

That can be my next tweet! is a site that will predict what your (or anyone’s) next twitter entry will be. Here are some of my results:

“I’ve done zero journalism, just the class not finished and other obstacles, climbed ropes…”
“Cut The Death! will be entirely new. Games thing has been playing Cut The Dwarf.”
“TWICE. Huh. I could tell me, and endless yelling, for more old copy of it for Sam Worthington, who will!”
“Okay, think Minecraft update is very slow, but slow-motion thug-kicking.”
“Anyone played it here: My FC2 buddy had set the works for geriatric kobalds.”
“Finally ran into learning something about nothing but you can shoot up your pocket is getting prettier!”
“There’s a huge cavern complex and his head fell off.”
“FNV: Sort of people’s heads to feel left out. Don’t Tell Mom The Dwarf. I’ll have 45 cents.”

Definitely sounds like my work.


From “Beautiful Screaming Lady” to “Cat In Danger”

This is a neat Flickr series showing some of the differences between the 1963 version of Richard Scarry’s “Best Word Book Ever” and the 1991 edition.

If you look through the images, you’ll see some forward progress: Dad has been added into the kitchen along with Mom, there are more female animals sharing jobs with the males, and all of the stereotypical Native American references have been removed.

For further reading, here’s a nice analysis of Scarry’s “What Do People Do All Day?” I loved these books as a kid.

Internet | Movies | Netflix | Television

Stream Cuisine: The Best Stuff on Netflix Instant

Mitchell & Webb

Netflix, I’m convinced, is the greatest invention of all time. It took a tedious, nigh-impossible chore — going to a video store, picking out a movie, coming home, watching it, and then going back to the store to return it — and made it as easy as ticking a box on the internet and opening and closing an envelope.

Naturally, opening and closing that envelope become too much goddamn work, so Netflix quickly reinvented the greatest invention of all time, and came up with Netflix Instant, which lets you strean movies and TV shows on your PC and TV just moments after you decide you want to watch them.

The catalog of streaming entertainment isn’t entirely fantastic, but it’s constantly growing and changing, so from time to time I’ll post about the better stuff I’m watching, so you can watch it (in the U.S., at least) if you haven’t already.

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Internet | Video Games

Four Letter Words

I’m currently addicted to Swipe Four, an iPod/iPhone game. You can try it in your brower for free here, and it’s on sale in the App Store for $1.99, easily worth it if you like word games.

Make four letter words until you’ve filled the four by four grid, then move on to progressively harder levels (seriously, what am I supposed to do with three Y’s and a K?) I made it to 40th on the leaderboard one day, but it’s not unusual I get the message “You’ve placed 1,855th!” Like I’m supposed to be proud of that.