Tag Archive: 1985

Gamer’s Timed Coincidence

(Submitted by Skepticality listener Lee Christie)

Hi, I listen to your segment on Skepticality and encountered a coincidence today that I felt would be fun to share with you.

After watching a show on TV, I began playing “NES Remix” for Wii U (a new downloadable game which gives you hundreds of mini challenges lasting usually about 10-20 seconds each from 16 classic Nintendo games from the mid ’80s).

I was playing using the portable gamepad screen alone, and left the TV on the same channel I was no longer watching. It was playing a program called “Rude(ish) Tube” with an assortment of amusing clips and at that moment, a series of clips involving cats.

I had been playing the challenge stages of “Donkey Kong Jr.” for a while and then just as I switched to playing the first underground stage challenge of “Super Mario Bros.” remix (which has a 10 second timer on the challenge to collect 4 coins then ends), the TV clip show started showing a clip (lasting about 15 seconds) of an cute ginger cat jumping around, reacting to the unmistakable music and sound effects from an underground level of “Super Mario Bros.”

I don’t recall another instance of hearing the underground-level SMB theme on a TV show, and certainly not coinciding with me playing 10-second underground-level challenge of SMB.

Note: as “NES Remix” was only released 6 days ago and I assume these shows have a longer time between recording and air, I suspect the people who submitted the clip of the cat were playing the original 1985 “Super Mario Bros.” or a re-release of it, not the recent “NES Remix” as I was playing.

The Popes of Finnish Football

(Submitted by reader Brian Pope)

My name is Brian Pope I am an American and I have lived here in Vantaa, Finland for the past 5.5 years. I play football (soccer for my North American brethren) and am a goalkeeper. A few years ago I got a message from a teammate asking if I had given up on our hobby league football team and signed for a pro club in Vaasa, Finland (Vaasan Palloseura VPS).

Now I believe myself to be a decent keeper but by no means pro level. My teammate sent me a link that announced the signing of an American goalkeeper named Brian Pope to VPS.  I thought this was very entertaining. Through Facebook I was able to track down this other American Goalkeeper named Brian Pope and relayed the coincidence. He enjoyed the story as well.

During this same time, my wife’s cousin, who lives in Vaasa, happened by an apartment where the name on the mail slot said “Brian Pope” and snapped a picture. She thought it was pretty amazing to have another Brian Pope in Finland. She did not know that I knew there was another person by the same name living in Vaasa so I relayed the story to her.

What are the odds that there were 2 Brian Popes living in Finland at the same time both being football goalkeepers? Granted at different levels of football. The fact that my wife’s cousin happened by that mail slot is another set of odds all together.

For reference I was born in 78 and the other Brian Pope in 85.

Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 203. Take a look and leave your comments below.

The odds of this are a little more difficult to calculate than most of the other “same name” stories that we get, mostly because the frequencies of names in Finland in past years are not easy to find. Both his first and last names are fairly common in the U.S., but I found myself impressed with the coincidences in the story and it is my own amazement, once again, that I think is interesting.

Soccer is an extremely popular sport, so even the fact that few soccer players are goalkeepers should not make this story so surprising. However, there is an aspect of this story that explains my feelings: distance and familiarity. Familiar settings provide frames of reference to anchor us. We are more confident with our estimates of everything from accident rates to salaries when the context is familiar. Finland is not a familiar place to most Americans. Numbers of Americans living in that part of the world are also not available, but who ever talks about moving to Finland? France, Italy, even Egypt are more likely. There is no Eiffel Tower, no pyramids, and no riviera. Finland does not seem exotic. It just feels foreign, and the
lack of familiar context seems to make the presence of such a common, American-sounding name feel more out of place than it probably was.

Friendly Faces on Foreign Foundation

(Submitted by reader Bruce Albright)

In 1985, probably late March, I was just finishing up a trip that started in Denver (my home), went to  England, then China, 5 weeks in China, 2 weeks in Tibet, then back to Hong Kong for two days before I flew home. I used to travel a lot in my 20s, when I had very little money but a whole lot of time. I was staying in a widely known (by relatively poor young traveler types) and inexpensive hotel near the tip of the Kowloon peninsula, in the ‘Chunking Mansions’ building. I happened to be walking down a street near my hotel when I heard someone call out my name.

I turned and there was a person I recognized, but at first I couldn’t place him. I thought maybe he was someone who stayed in a hotel in Chengdu, or maybe in Guilin. It turns out that he was from Denver – he had worked with a very good friend of mine for years, so I would call him a good acquaintance as opposed to a friend. He had spent the last two years in Japan teaching English.

Periodically (once a year?) he had to leave Japan, stay out for a week or two and renew his visa. The year before he spent his ‘vacation’ in the Philippines. This year, he was in Hong Kong. He had just got there the day before, I was leaving early the next morning, and we ran into each other on a crowded sidewalk in Hong Kong. So, I ask you, what are the odds?

[EDITOR: This fits the emerging pattern we’re picking up (not that we’re surprised) of people running into friends and acquaintances exceptionally far from home. See Two out of Thirty Million as an example, which we even featured on Skepticality. The frequency at which this occurs begins, at a certain point, to reduce its impact a bit and begins to reveal the reality of the situation: these things are guaranteed to happen. With the sheer number of people on this planet, the volume of travel that occurs, the (relatively) limited number of destinations, and the massive number of people one bumps into on a daily basis, a world in which this never occurred would, in fact, be far more indicative of something being manipulated from the outside. Without that, we can expect to hear these stories regularly. And we do. And we’ll keep posting them for as long as they’re interesting. – Jarrett]

Musical Condos

(Submitted by reader Dave R)

In about 1985 I got tired of dealing with the apartment manager where I was living in Santa Ana, and moved into a nicer condo across town.

Shortly after that I was invited to join an organization. I won’t name it because it isn’t important, but it’s a national social organization that has local chapters. I’ll call it the ABC Club. The local chapters often have parties at the members’ homes. So I joined the ABC Club and went to my first event, a party at someone’s house not far from where I lived. At the event I was introduced to several of the local members, including a man who was identified as the President of the local chapter of the ABC Club, I’ll call him Richard Barry (obviously not his real name, but the point is we shared some common feature of our names, a first matching a last, or something similar).

A couple of days went by, and then I received a letter at my new home, addressed to Richard Barry, ABC Club Orange County, (with my address of course). So I looked at this letter, trying to wrap my head around the situation, trying to figure out whether they had sent me some membership materials and perhaps put the wrong name on the envelope, since our names were similar. I think I eventually opened the letter to see if it was for me, and found it was some kind of bank statement, or treasurer’s report, etc.  for the ABC Club, clearly not intended for me.  So I decided to call Richard Barry. As a new member I think I got a roster of all the local members with their contact information, or I may have looked up the number in the phone book. Anyway I called him up and after exchanging hellos, I said “Richard, I think there’s something screwed up in the roster or the addresses for the organization, because I just received some correspondence for the group, with my address but at my condo, but it has your name on it.” He asked me,  “What’s your address?”  I said “110 Brookline.” He said, “Oh, I used to live there, I just moved out last month.”

So yeah, what are the odds? I wouldn’t even know how to begin calculating them for a situation like this!

[EDITOR: The final question seems pretty valid to me. With all the factors of addresses, location, timing, moves, people involved, this one seems all but incalculable. Extremely impressive.]