Apropos of Rob's post yesterday about the plight of card counters in casinos, Mental Floss has a number other methods for improving your odds at a casino. They interviewed Bill Zender, a former professional card counter, dealer, and casino floor manager. I think Zender's most useful tip is finding a sloppy, drug-addled dealer who regularly flashes their hole card. This probably doesn't happen often, but when it does, you can rake it in.
Zender estimates there are fewer than 100 professional blackjack card counters in the world. If you happen to be one of them, you might nab a 1.5 percent advantage. So save your energy, Zender advises; instead keep an eye out for the sloppy blackjack dealer who will accidentally flash the face-down card. Zender once made a living exploiting this, keeping a notebook of 35 weak dealers from 16 different casinos. The strategy is called “card holing,” and it can give you a 6 to 9 percent edge over the house. (That’s like standing in front of an ATM that spits out twenties!) The best part? “It’s totally legal,” Zender says. “They may throw me out of the casino, but they’re not going to arrest me.”
Image: Daniel J. Prostak
Tim Harford investigates the field of "happynomics" through which economists attempt to devise policies that make people happier, and does an excellent job of sorting the evidence-based approaches from the trendy rubbish that's part ideology and part wishful thinking. Bottom line: beware the "focusing illusion"; count your blessings to reverse your habituation to the good things in life; set things up so that doing the things you want is easier than doing the things that make you unhappy, and, finally, understand that you probably can't be happy all the time.
If this stuff interests you, I strongly recommend Stumbling on Happiness, an excellent book about the state of psychiatric research into happiness by Daniel Gilbert, head of Harvard's psych department.
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Bo Diddley went around the block a few times, so heed this advice.
Bo Diddley's essential guide to drugs, food, health, money, cows, and women
Alcohol and Drugs Only drink Grand Marnier, and that’s to keep the throat from drying up in a place where there’s a lot of smoke. As for drugs: a big NO!
Food Eat anytime, anything you can get your hands on. I mean it!
Health Whenever you get to feeling weird, take Bayer aspirin. I can’t stand taking all that other bullshit.
Money Always take a lawyer with you, and then bring another lawyer to watch him.
Defense I can’t go around slapping people with my hands or else I’d go broke. So I take karate, and kick when I fight. Of course, I got plenty of guns – one real big one. But guns are for people trying to take your home, not some guy who makes you mad. I used to be a sheriff down in New Mexico for two and a half years, so I know not to pull it right away.
Cows If they wanna play, and you don’t wanna make pets out of ‘em, and you can’t eat ‘em – then get rid of ‘em!
Women If you wanna meet a nice young lady, then you try to smell your best. A girl don’t like nobody walking up in her face smelling like a goat. Then, you don’t say crap like “Hey, don’t I know you?” The first thing you ask her is: “Are you alone?” If she tells you that she’s with her boyfriend, then you see if the cat’s as big as you. If you don’t have no money, just smell right. And for God’s sake don’t be pulling on her and slapping on her. You don’t hit the girls! If you do this, you can’t miss.
Hearing Just don’t put your ears in the speakers.
I'm profiled in today's Wall Street Journal, where they asked me about the tools I use to be productive, safe and happy on the road and at home.
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The squishiness of the cork is what makes this work so well.
Quick fix for uneven table legs: cork slices
Josh Kaufman is the author of the new book, The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything... Fast. I interviewed him about the art of rapid skill acquisition.
Do you find yourself staying interested in most of the things you start? If not, what has held your interest for many years?
I'm curious about many – often wildly different – things, so I like to explore new projects and skills as often as I can. I usually find something valuable enough in my early exploration to keep at it: I've been doing research on general business principles for over eight years now. My early interest in the web lead to my first career out of school, as well as my current work as an author / researcher / entrepreneur, which requires me to be a jack-of-all-trades. I just learned how to program in Ruby, so I'm coding quite a bit. I love the process of making something from nothing, and learning as I build.
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tldr; Increase your sense of awe. (Via Dan Pink)
On Reddit, a wonderful thread where redditors detail their favorite "mind tricks." Here's a smattering:
When I walk through large crowds of people, to avoid walking into anyone, I simply stare at my destination. I look no one in the eyes. People actually will watch your eyes and they avoid the direction you are going. If I look into people's eyes as we are walking into each other, we are sure to collide. You have to let people know where you intend to go with your eyes. It always works for me, try it! (Poo_Smudge)
I'm a paramedic. When a patient is possibly faking unconsciousness we have 2 tricks to determine if they're really unconscious or not. First, you can lightly brush their eyelashes with your finger. Their eyes will flutter if they're faking it. Alternatively, if they're on their back you can lift their arm over their face and let it go. A conscious person will drop their arm away from their face. (Monkeybrigade)
If you're trying to find something, try looking right to left as opposed to left to right. Your eyes tend to skim over things if you search in the direction you are used to reading in, so skim the opposite way. It takes me a bit more effort to do this, but I notice more details. (icameintoadarkroom)
If you ask a question, and receive only a partial answer, respond with polite silence. Simply wait. A more complete answer will usually follow. (Kromulent)
What is a "mind trick" you know of? (self.AskReddit)