It’s Tuesday, August 27, 2019, and the dreaded September is drawing near. It’s National Burger Day (yay!), as well as Kiss Me Day (celebrating Popeye’s first kiss with Olive Oyl, which “occurred in a comic strip on August 27, 1929, and was followed by Olive Oyl exclaiming, “Oh. Excuse me Popeye—I imagined you were my lover.” Here’s that first kiss (I wonder if Popeye tasted like spinach):
The 1980 movie starred Robin Williams as Popeye, but the best casting was Shelley Duvall—a perfect Olive Oyl:
In Texas it’s an official state holiday: Lyndon Baines Johnson Day (he was born on August 27, 1908). It’s also National Banana Lovers Day, National Petroleum Day, and World Rock Paper Scissors Day I wondered if there’s an optimal strategy for winning that game, and I found a paper on the issue, taking advantage of human psychology deduced from observing 360 students each playing 300 games. Click on the screenshot to see the paper; I’ve put the strategy below that:
Your strategy from Ars Technica; which assumes repeated games. If you’re playing only once, it’s 50/50, I guess (my emphasis):
What they found was that “if a player wins over her opponent in one play, her probability of repeating the same action in the next play is considerably higher than her probabilities of shifting actions.” If a player has lost two or more times, she is likely to shift her play, and more likely to shift to the play that will beat the one that has just beaten her than the same one her opponent just used to beat her. For instance, if Megan loses by playing scissors to Casey’s rock, Megan is most likely to switch to paper, which would beat Casey’s rock. Per the research, this is a sound strategy, since Casey is likely to keep playing the hand that has been winning. The authors refer to this as the “win-stay, lose-shift” strategy.
Therefore, this is the best way to win at rock-paper-scissors: if you lose the first round, switch to the thing that beats the thing your opponent just played. If you win, don’t keep playing the same thing, but instead switch to the thing that would beat the thing that you just played. In other words, play the hand your losing opponent just played. To wit: you win a round with rock against someone else’s scissors. They are about to switch to paper. You should switch to scissors. Got it? Good.]
But this doesn’t make sense. If you win with rock against scissors, the formula above implies that YOU should switch to paper, because you won and paper beats “the thing you just played” (rock). Why should you switch to scissors? Where have I gone wrong here? Are the instructions contradictory?
Stuff that happened on August 27 include:
- 410 – The sacking of Rome by the Visigoths ends after three days.
- 1859 – Petroleum is discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania leading to the world’s first commercially successful oil well.
- 1883 – Eruption of Krakatoa: Four enormous explosions destroy the island of Krakatoa and cause years of climate change.
- 1896 – Anglo-Zanzibar War: The shortest war in world history (09:02 to 09:40), between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar.
- 1927 – Five Canadian women file a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, asking, “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?”
- 1928 – The Kellogg–Briand Pact outlawing war is signed by fifteen nations. Ultimately sixty-one nations will sign it.
- 1979 – The Troubles: Eighteen British soldiers are killed in an ambush by the Provisional Irish Republican Army near Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, in the deadliest attack on British forces during Operation Banner. An IRA bomb also kills British royal family member Lord Mountbatten and three others on his boat at Mullaghmore, Republic of Ireland.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1865 – Charles G. Dawes, American general and politician, 30th Vice President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1951)
- 1871 – Theodore Dreiser, American novelist and journalist (d. 1945)
- 1874 – Carl Bosch, German chemist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1940)
- 1890 – Man Ray, American-French photographer and painter (d. 1976)
- 1906 – Ed Gein, American murderer and body snatcher, The Butcher of Plainfield (d. 1982)
- 1908 – Don Bradman, Australian cricketer and manager (d. 2001)
- 1909 – Lester Young, American saxophonist and clarinet player (d. 1959)
- 1939 – William Least Heat-Moon, American travel writer and historian
- 1952 – Paul Reubens, American actor and comedian
Young is one of my favorite jazz musicians. His sax tone was light, but his improvisations incredibly inventive. Here’s Prez playing “Mean to Me”, a year before he died:
Oh hell, let’s hear some more jazz. Here’s a famous session described by Wikipedia this way:
On December 8, 1957, Young appeared with Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, and Gerry Mulligan in the CBS television special The Sound of Jazz, performing Holiday’s tune “Fine and Mellow.” It was a reunion with Holiday, with whom he had lost contact over the years. She was also in physical decline, near the end of her career, yet they both gave moving performances. Young’s solo was brilliant, acclaimed by some observers as an unparalleled marvel of economy, phrasing and extraordinarily moving emotion; Nat Hentoff, one of the show’s producers, later commented, “Lester got up, and he played the purest blues I have ever heard…in the control room we were all crying.”
Young’s solo is from 1:30 to 2:03; he and Holiday (who nods during his playing) were an incomparable. What they forgot to mention above is that Roy Eldridge and Doc Cheatam were on trumpet and Milt Hinton on bass (Eldridge form 5:06 to 6:17). This was truly a gathering of the greats. Don’t miss it!
Those who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on this day include:
- 1576 – Titian, Italian painter and educator (b. 1488)
- 1931 – Frank Harris, Irish-American journalist and author (b. 1856)
- 1963 – W. E. B. Du Bois, American sociologist, historian, and activist (b. 1868)
- 1965 – Le Corbusier, Swiss-French architect and urban planner, designed the Philips Pavilion (b. 1887)
- 1967 – Brian Epstein, English businessman and manager (b. 1934)
- 1971 – Margaret Bourke-White, American photographer and journalist (b. 1906)
- 1975 – Haile Selassie, Ethiopian emperor (b. 1892)
- 1990 – Stevie Ray Vaughan, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1954) (Double Trouble)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is climbing again:
A: What are you doing so high up?Hili: I’m looking at the world from a different perspective.
Ja: Co ty robisz tak wysoko?
Hili: Patrzę na świat z innej perspektywy.
A cartoon from Stash Krod. Many people would benefit considerably by becoming a mallard:
A tweet sent by Grania on February 4 of this year.
Brachiopod fossil or alien head? You decide👽
Seriously, imagine finding something like this pre- 19th Century & having no idea about fossils. It also reminds me of a character from star wars.
— Dr Dean Lomax (@Dean_R_Lomax) February 1, 2019
The guy whose genes are crossing the road protects them:
Silverback gorilla stands guard as his family crosses the road pic.twitter.com/SbpKWbTitE
— Steve Stewart-Williams (@SteveStuWill) August 22, 2019
A beautiful photo sent by Heather Hastie:
From reader AWS, a straightforward answer to an inquiring mind:
The lack of any gods 🙏 https://t.co/ubzNMkAhZp
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) August 25, 2019
Two videos of animals leaping objects that aren’t obstacles. First, cows from reader Barry:
And from Nilou, who says, “I see your cows jumping over the white line and I’ll raise you guinea pigs jumping over rug gaps.”
Two tweets from Matthew Cobb. In the first, a lizard runs for its life, but you can’t see that until it’s slowed down, and then you see the bird. As Matthew calls it: “Reptile on reptile on reptile.”
— Melissa Crytzer Fry (@CrytzerFry) August 25, 2019
Be sure to look at the other excerpts in this thread:
I'm reading "The life of Jonathan Martin, Written by Himself" (1829) for a thing. This is my favourite bit so far. pic.twitter.com/kk9OASkDqn
— Adam Roberts (@arrroberts) August 26, 2019