Crackers Don't Matter

"Great liars are also great magicians."
- Adolf Hitler

When I qualified as a teacher, I was told schools all over the world would be desperate to have me. And to an extent they are. But in the wrong way.

Some schools in the far east are so desperate for teachers, they're sending me unsolicited emails and even phoning me up. Of course, the reason they're so desperate is no one wants to work for them. And the reasons no one wants to work for them...

(1) The pay sucks
(2) The resources suck
(3) The contract sucks
(4) The hours suck
(5) The perks...aren't.

And that's why the majority (80% or more) of EFL teachers in Southeast Asia are backpackers with no teaching qualifications. And although regulations about qualifications in the EFL world are being tightened up worldwide, I don't imagine they'll be tightened much there. Not unless they want to close down most of the schools.

I'm a snacker. When I'm bored, or depressed, or too tired to think but too awake to sleep, my first instinct is the head for the kitchen. That, combined with a fondness for large conventional meals, is not good for my general health.

The thing is, the presence of something abundant and munchable seems to be more important than the actual flavour or experience of eating. So I'm trying an experiment.

If it doesn't really matter what I nibble, why don't I try having some packets of cheese crackers handy instead of biscuits and cake? And no cheese on them. Or anything else.

Well, aren't you supposed to have crackers at christmas?

There are seven kinds of move in slight-of-hand manipulation:

(1) Palm - to hold an object in your hand, shaped and positioned to make it look empty.
(2) Ditch - to dispose of or store an object, disguising the action as a natural but functionless gesture, or as a different gesture.
(3) Steal - to retrieve an object from its hiding place, likewise disguised.
(4) Load - to move an object from one place to another, similarly disguised.
(5) Simulation - to pretend to perform an action, while actually not.
(6) Misdirection - any action which distracts attention away from another.
(7) Switch - to transpose two objects.

Any given trick will probably use more than one of these simultaneously. For instance, in a "vanish take" the magician appears to take a small object from between the thumb and forefinger of one hand with the other hand, which is then shown to be empty. This involves pretending to grab the object (simulation), while dropping the object from the fingers into the hand (load) and concealing that it's there (palm).

Yes, I'm reading about magic. There's a number of professions that involve deception as an integral part of themselves - politician, prostitute, police officer, door-to-door seller - but magicians are probably the only people who have to lie openly to do their job.

However, there's also those magicians who do pretty much the same tricks, but claim they're doing it for real, with supernatural assistance. Victorian spiritualist mediums, witchdoctors and shamans in Africa and India, Edgar Cayce, Sylvia Browne and Helena Blavatski.

To my knowledge, Uri Geller is unique in having been both kinds of magician - he made the transition from stage magician ("honest liar") to huckster thirty five years ago, and maybe his career hangs on people not knowing that. I think there's a good reason why debunkers of these people are often stage magicians - Harry Houdini, James Randi, Penn and Teller.

Anyway, my current reading matter is "The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading" by Ian Rowland - possibly the world's foremost authority on how to get people to tell you things by pretending you already know. He lists thirty eight ways to do it, thirteen ways to avoid getting caught out, and ten ways to cover up when you do.

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