Tag Archive: TV

(Submitted by TOMBC Team Member John Rael)

The day I went to my bank in order to get a personal loan, I came home, turned on my LCD TV (Westinghouse LVM-47W1), which I’ve owned for six years, and started seeing random ‘snowlike’ pixels on the screen. I turned it off in order to turn it on again… it would not turn on again.

I unplugged it and replugged it. Nothing. It was officially dead. Even though its standby light was on, and it kept making a slightly high pitched hum sound.

Keep in mind, without the loan I had just received (that very day), I would not have been able to afford another television until at least October. Anyways, I’m not sure how relevant any of that is to the coincidence, but there you go. Feel free to incorporate any info you happen to know about me personally (career, lifestyle, etc.). Also, feel free to ask me any questions.

Below are the extended notes for use in Skepticality Episode 241 provided Edward Clint.  Ed Clint produces the Skeptic Ink Network and writes about Evolutionary Psychology, critical thinking and more at his blog Incredulous. He is presently a bioanthropology graduate student at UCLA studying evolutionary psychology.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own hilarious commentary.

TV used to be pejoratively called the “boob tube”, until computer monitors became the rightful heir to that meaning, partly because televisions used to be cathode ray tubes. The cathode tubes of our primitive low-def ancestors were electron guns firing away at the screen one pixel at a time. Today’s liquid crystal display (LCD) TV technology is much more reliable, having fewer moving parts, and no electron gun. Thanks to this tubal migration, today’s tube-less TVs can have a mean-time-between-failure of 100,000 hours. This means that, on average, if you watched 5 hours of TV a day, it would take 54 years for the device to fail. A bit less if you like Peter Jackson movies.

TV failure in general is pretty rare. Then again, John, you’re probably not an average user. I’m told you spend a large amount of time and energy on making and consuming videos for the internets and whatever other media outlets still exist. I assume that means you work with lots of footage of cats and people falling off of things. So maybe you really put that Westinghouse through its paces. Even if you used it 24/7, it would probably take 11 years to reach the statistical breaking point.

What’re the odds you’d just happen to be able to replace a broken set on the day it breaks? A fairer question is, how many different expensive things breaking that day could have seemed like a strange coincidence? I have not been to your house, John, but I know you don’t drive, and I will assume it is populated with a variety of large fancy cameras that aren’t compensating for anything, some high end editing equipment, and at least two fancy blenders with way more settings than anyone could possibly need. I’m not sure why I assume there’re blenders, it just feels right. The breakage or loss of any of these items on a given day still isn’t too likely, but the odds are more moderately unhinged than crazy, which seems about right for John Rael.

One Word: Coincidence

(Submitted by reader Bernhard Liefting)

About 10 years ago, I worked in Germany for a few months (I live in the Netherlands) and I spent weekdays in a hotel. One day I picked up a magazine from the hotel lobby to read in my room.

There was an article in there about the plastic industry, titled “One word, plastics”, a famous quote from the movie “The Graduate”, starring Dustin Hoffman, in which the character he plays is given career advice by his uncle.

After a few minutes, I put down the magazine, and switched on the TV, having no clue what was on. What do I see: the movie “The Graduate”, and which specific scene, well, you probably guessed it, the first thing I hear was “One word, plastics”.

Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 223.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own sarcastic and hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog.

There is no way to quantify this. We’ve had stories like this before, though, so I know that I’ve commented on it.

Things like this happen all the time. For example, last night we were watching “Raising Hope” and Damon said something to the boys about how he wishes they were old enough to see Garret Dillahunt (plays Burt Chance) in “Deadwood”, in which he played two different characters.

A couple of minutes later, Burt (the character) uttered a line from “Deadwood”.

A Question for the Deity

(Submitted by listener Michael Sohns)

Not really a story, but as I’m listening to your theme music, I couldn’t help but think that it sounded familiar. Here’s a link to an old sports program’s theme music that may sound familiar:

Could Mr. Dalton have done a George Harrison?

Below is the response from our good friend Brian Keith Dalton aka Mr. Deity. Also, visit Mr. Deity here.

Hey Wendy!

That’s freaky! Although not that unusual. I think every musician has had this happen to them. My stepson is going to UOP and studying music composition. Last semester, he wrote a piece in which one section was nearly identical to the theme from the movie “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.” I picked up on it and played it for him and he was freaked out.

But there are only twelve notes, and music has been around for a very long time. It’s not all that shocking to find something like this. B

P.S.: My Dad was a big boxing fan. I’d be interested in finding out how long that theme played on TV. There’s the possibility that I heard it when I was very young, and subliminally reproduced it. Not likely, but possible. It’s far more likely that I simply wrote something very similar without ever hearing the original.

Thank you, Michael, for the question. And thank you, B, for the answer!

TV – or Not TV

(Submitted by reader Jason Pope)

I was in college in 2000 or 2001, living in a house with four friends.  We were in the basement one day watching TV as we would do more often that I care to admit. I had the remote control and, as I often did, I would flip through channels at a pretty good clip.  I would assess whether a show was interesting or not in a second or less before flipping to the next channel; a practice which infuriates many people (my wife/former room mate included).

Here is where the oddity occurs.  At one point I flipped past a channel when, for reasons unknown to me, I thought I had recognized actor Kyle MacLachlan talking to somebody. Before changing channels again, I said out loud to my friends, “Is that Twin Peaks?” referring to the TV or movie starring Kyle MacLachlan.

I immediately returned to that channel with the same rapidity as I had skipped it. As soon as I settled on that channel, the character portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan without hesitation said on screen, “Yes, it is” as if answering my previous question.

Though I know he was not talking to me, the fact that I had asked such a specific question, out loud, and immediately been answered correctly by the onscreen character from a strange TV show was bizarre. With that I turned the TV off and told my friends I was going to bed.

My own thought on this is that it chiefly suffers from confirmation bias or selective recall. I have probably flipped through thousands upon thousands of channels and asked myself the exact same type of questions. However, I only remember this occurrence because of the peculiar dialogue.  In addition, it sadly might also be a product of the law of large numbers, with dialogue that was not perfectly responsive being ignored or forgotten. Way too much TV.  🙁

[EDITOR: I’d vote for the Law of Large Numbers. Channel surfing is a direct result of the feeling that there are 57 channels, and there’s nothing on, to paraphrase The Boss. The sane response was to turn the thing off and get some sleep, or listen to a podcast, instead of believing it was possible to have a dialogue with the TV set  🙂 – Wendy]

Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 187. Take a look and leave your comments below.

This a great story and I have to concur with the editor’s note by Wendy Hughes. It is more than simply a large number of channels available, although channel surfing is hard if you only have three. But if you surf through channels the way the author describes on a regular basis, you are bound to have an experience like this. I am actually surprised that the author does not have several stories just like it.

And as these things often do, it sparked a clear memory I have of a similar incident, so rather than a useless analysis, I’ll just add to the drama.

When I was in grade school, the teacher was reading to us for the first time. The story was a little bit creepy and she lowered her voice in a creepy manner to make it more dramatic. She read, “Slowly, the door creaked open and I heard footsteps approaching.”

Just then, the door to the classroom creaked open quite slowly and the principal tiptoed into the classroom.

I think we were all surprised that nobody screamed. The teacher was just as stunned as the rest of us and we had a great laugh about it afterward.

(Submitted by friend of the blog, Brian Hart)

“Oh, well, this would be one of those circumstances that people unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would call a coincidence.”

Coincidence and The Law of Large Numbers

Season1 | Episode 04 The Luminous Fish Effect | Scene 4 The full context:

Leonard: Okay. I’ll let you get back to fixing your eggs. Sheldon: I’m not just fixing my eggs … (waving spoon) … I’m fixing everyone’s eggs. Leonard: (bowing) And we all thank you. (Sheldon gathers his cooked eggs and sits on the couch. He lays out a journal next to him and takes a photograph of the journal before scribbling a note. He tastes the eggs and pauses a moment in contemplation.) Sheldon: (scribbling a new note) Use … new … eggs. Penny: (knocks on door and looks inside) Hi, hey. I’m running out to the market. Do you guys need anything? Sheldon: Oh, well this would be one of those circumstances that people unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would call a coincidence. Penny: I’m sorry? Sheldon: I need eggs. Four dozen should suffice. Penny: (uncertain) Four dozen?

Quote source: SheldonFAN.com

[EDITOR: I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, and particularly the way in which Dr. Cooper continually fights for accuracy, precision, truth, and knowledge, all while ensuring to alienate everyone around him as much as humanly possible, driving away everyone but his closest of friends; friends who remain by his side through thick and thin, but mostly only because of the strict written agreements binding them to do so. In this sense Dr. Cooper serves as a constant, incessant reminder of how NOT to do my job while making me laugh.]

Battlestar Portlandia

(Submitted by friend of the site, Brian Hart)

At a restaurant in Los Angeles one recent Monday, I spotted Battlestar Galactica’s executive producer and writer, Ronald D. Moore, at a nearby table.

It should be noted that the highly acclaimed, re-imagined series went off the air back in 2009, and I saw Moore there in January 2012.

On Friday of the same week, I was watching the show Portlandia on the IFC channel, and one of the comedy pieces revolved around Battlestar Galactica.  Fair enough.

However, the main joke became that the couple watching the show became obsessed with it, and demanded that Ronald D. Moore write new episodes specifically for them.  Several original BSG members appeared on the show, doing a table read, along with Ronald D. Moore himself, playing a local Portland actor, “Kim Reynolds”.

Spin up the FTL drives, and make a Jump into coincidence, these odds are crazy!

So say we all!

[EDITOR: Brian seems to have a penchant for running into celebrities right around the time they’re mentioned in podcasts or featured out of place on television. Maybe it’s less coincidence and more that Brian relentlessly stalks them until they happen to line up to make a good story…?]

A Discovery of Friends

(Submitted by friend of the blog, Derek Colanduno)

So, I used to live in Las Vegas when I was a kid. My best friend Tony’s father was a test pilot for the Air Force out of Nellis Air Force Base.

One day, when I was at his house, some important military people showed up at his door to tell the family that his father had died while testing a new fighter jet. Tony later became the lead pilot for the Thunderbirds air squadron.

Fast forward to my life now; I have been good friends with astronomer Phil Plait since about 2005. Phil was able to get a pilot TV Show run on the Discovery Network for his program, “Bad Universe”. I was watching the second episode and in part of the episode Phil went to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas to be in the passenger seat of a fighter jet to show the effects of G-force on the human body. The video cuts to Phil standing near the fighter jet and I get to see a pilot coming out to greet him on the tarmac.

Across the bottom of the screen, “Tony Mulhare”. So, here is one of my newest good friends getting to meet my oldest friend on national television no less.

And, to make it ‘funny’ it centered around Las Vegas, of all places!

[EDITOR: In case you never saw it, Bad Universe was a killer show with a short run. Think Mythbusters, with an astronomy theme and constant use of the phrase, “Holy Haleakala!”]

Seventy-Six Trombone Coincidence

(Submitted by reader Mary B)

My husband and I were just waking up on a Saturday morning. My husband mumbled, “I am so tired, it would take seventy-six trombones to wake me up.” He rolled over, picked up the TV remote, and clicked on the television set at the foot of our bed. Booming out of the TV comes the words and music, “Seventy-six trombones led the big parade…”

Unbelievably, the television happened to be tuned to a station that was airing the the movie, The Music Man, and he had turned it on at the exact moment of the start of the main parade scene.

We both sat bolt upright, looked at each other and gasped. We had each thought that we had temporarily lost our minds. But no, it had really happened. I still can’t believe it, but it happened.

[EDITOR: What are the odds… that people would still be watching that movie after all these years? Actually, I bet pretty high since the licensing costs are probably dirt cheap since nobody knew how to write a good contract back then.]

(Submitted by reader Joey D)

I was working in my yard and I came across several plants that I found very interesting and unusual. I knew they were “weeds” as I hadn’t planted them myself, but I had no idea what they were.

I picked one, roots and all and went into the house to see if I could identify it on Google. I walked in and a woman on the television walked straight toward the camera, holding the exact same plant and said, “This is wild garlic.” I gasped! It wasn’t even a story on gardening, but rather, it was a news piece on how difficult it is for the care-givers taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient.

[EDITOR: All right, all right, this one IS just plain eerie. Even I’d be pretty darn startled by it.]

Slowly I Turned…

(Submitted by reader Anna B)

Last night, Thursday night, I was talking to my friend at work and the subject of “Slowly I Turned” came up.  This being the routine seen on I Love Lucy by most of us as kids where the man remembers “Martha” and flashes back to when he attacks her while pretending to come after Lucy.  She was going to use the routine in an act at the Club.

He asked me where that routine came from.  Neither of us knew. So I looked it up online.  It was originally a Vaudeville routine where a man recounts how he murdered his wife and when retelling it he flashes back and relives the attack and ends up attacking the guy he’s recounting the story to.  This was news to us both, not having seen this anywhere but on I Love Lucy.

Wikipedia says the routine was done by The Three Stooges, but neither of us had seen it, ever.  We are both in our 40’s.

This morning, now early Friday morning (we work graveyard shift) we turn on the Three Stooges, and that very same routine was being played.  We watched them doing “Slowly I Turned” for the first time in both of our lives.  What’s even stranger is when he first turned on the TV and only saw them doing a random Vaudeville show, he said, “hey, it’s The Three Stooges doing Vaudeville…” I responded with a mimic of the routine we talked about the night before by saying “Martha!” And that very second the very same routine began, moments after I began to mock it. We were flabbergasted at the coincidence.

If you’re not familiar with the routine, a key word makes the man retelling the story go crazy and attack.  For Lucy, she used the man’s wife’s name as the trigger, namely Martha.  But the originally routine used “Niagara Falls” and this Three Stooges show did that original skit.

It was an extraordinary coincidence considering how many I have. This show was recorded in the late 1930s, and Lucy in the ’50s.  The sheer number of episodes and chances of coming upon a Three Stooges show (which we NEVER watch) with the routine we had just looked up and mocked was downright breathtaking!

[EDITOR: While it took us a while to post this story, this was actually submitted to us in the SAME WEEK as our last Three Stooges story. The Odds Must Be… something…]