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Magicians as victims

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Remember those salad days when we thought we could all be Houdini or, well, Dorothy Dietrich? (there just aren't that many noted female magicians from which to choose; even the ones on display in Vegas seem pressured to veer burlesque). Kid magicians are a dime a dozen. I know I certainly thought I was one--always filching hardboiled eggs and begging my mother to buy me dramatic kerchiefs. The easiest tricks to learn were always thanks to some bullet-pointed recipe, and usually came out with variegated results.

If any of us ever advanced beyond the parlor (and please, please out yourselves if so!), we'd jealously guard our secrets, and anyone who blabbed would be blacklisted. As a recent Slate article revealed, it's not quite the chummy, collaborative world of haute cuisine...

Magic journals images-16.jpgare not available at newsstands, and even Prince Charles had to perform an examination before being accepted as a member of the Magic Circle. A magician who steals from another, or reveals secrets not widely known by nonmagicians, will not be entrusted with new ideas or recommended by other magicians.

Further spurring the IP-rights-for-magicians movement:

In one notorious episode, a series of 1990s television shows with the self-explanatory title Breaking the Magician's Code won big audiences by revealing the secrets behind classic illusions. One magician complained that the shows were "peeing in everybody's cornflakes"; another compared them to destroying Santa Claus. But the magicians' social sanctions were powerless to prevent television executives from exposing their secrets, and legal challenges to the program did not succeed.

I'd never tell a magician's secret; it'd be like refusing to call someone by her stage name. It's just cruel. Have any of you ever culled enough legerdemain to be thusly ripped off? Or, more likely, if you were a kid magician, what was your signature act?

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Space
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

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Art
Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

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