It can really depend a lot on your size of your projects and how much binary data you want to keep.
Note that you mentioned a Filemaker database- you usually don't get databases under control, just "code". Not sure if Filemaker separates data from code (e.g. Access databases mix data and code in the same file by default. Not a great thing).
But I'd start with your Synology's built in Git server, and research a Git client that you like. Git is a powerful tool, so creating a good GUI is difficult. IMHO, it's really worth it to learn to use it in the command-line; some day you'll want to reach for a powerful feature that is not in the GUI, or have a problem, and you'll have a steep learning curve. A bad GUI also has bad consequences.
The Git CLI is famously unintuitive, but they're making a reasonable effort at improving messages and providing commands with better names.
Hardly anyone reckoned that struggling in high school to calculate the area of a triangle or the volume of a prism could be used one day to influence the outcome of an election. Geometry, however, can be a powerful tool in shaping results of an electoral contest—at least in plurality voting systems.
Designing a perfect election system for multiple parties is impossible, even with mathematical tools. But if, by and large, there are only two dominant parties, as in the U.S., things should be fairly clear-cut. The party candidate with the most votes wins, right? Anyone who has followed U.S. presidential elections in accurate years knows that the reality is different. One important factor is the genuine shape of the voting districts. If cleverly designed, a party that is actually losing can still gain the majority of representatives—an issue that was by no means absent in the U.S. midterm elections.
Math plays an important role in determining election outcomes, particularly for the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. By cleverly choosing the boundaries of a congressional district, a party can enable its candidate to win even if the vote count does not fairly represent the sentiment of the voters.
Here’s a highly simplified example: suppose a state consists of 50 voters, 20 of whom vote for a blue party and 30 for a red party. Voters might live in a grid pattern, as in, say, some sections of Manhattan. Suppose there are 10 north-south avenues and five east-west streets. All the red voters live on the first two avenues, the ones furthest west. The blue voters reside on the other three avenues. Now the task is to divide the voters into five electoral districts of equal size.
One could draw five vertical boundaries: Then there would be two election districts with only red voters and three with only blue voters. So the votes in that district would produce three blue party representatives and two red party ones, an accurate reflection of voters’ opinions.
But if the blue party were to get its way in drawing district boundaries, they might be inclined to draw the boundaries horizontally. Then all the districts would look the same, with four red voters and six blue voters each. In this case, the blue party wins in each district, and gets all five representatives. Something similar happened in New York state in 2012: 58 percent of people there voted for the Democrats, but the party got 21 of 27 seats (five more than would have been justified if the election districts had been drawn equitably).
State legislatures and the commissions that redraw district lines, on the other hand, might make a very different (somewhat more complicated) partitioning. To do this, they could pack almost all blue voters into two districts, giving the red party a majority in the three remaining districts in which there would be three red congressmen and two blue congresswomen— although more voters gave their votes to the blue party. There are numerous examples of this in U.S. congressional races. For example, in Pennsylvania in 2012, Democrats received 51 percent of the vote, but only five of 18 seats.
The deliberate redrawing of districts to gain a majority goes by the name of gerrymandering, a portmanteau of “gerry” and “salamander.” The former refers to Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts in the early 19th century, who approved extremely odd-shaped voting districts that gave his party an advantage.
Even today, in most U.S. states, legislatures decide on the division of electoral districts about every 10 years (with the appearance of the new census). Time and again, the incumbent parties are suspected of using redistricting to their advantage. This can often be seen in strange-shaped electoral districts, similar to the one in Massachusetts at the beginning of the 19th century. A cartoonist at the time noticed that one of the districts resembled a salamander and thus coined the expression gerrymandering.
Redistricting has provoked numerous legal challenges. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court even ruled that intentional gerrymandering is illegal. But since then, it has barely touched an election district. As it turns out, setting rules for fair districting is not so easy. Even mathematicians are racking their brains over the question—and arming themselves with enormous computer power to deal with the problem.
How can you find gerrymandering? Observing the Maryland district pictured above, you might suspect the designers had certain ulterior motives. What is particularly striking is that it is extremely jagged. One assertion is that district borders should be “compact”— but without defining what “compact” means exactly.
One possible clue that gerrymandering may be present is the length of the outer boundary: the more jagged a district, the larger the perimeter. The literature related to redistricting sometimes advocates drawing the smallest possible circle to include the area within a district and comparing it to the area of existing boundaries. The more the district’s borders deviate from a circle, the greater the possibility that the district has been redrawn to suit partisan ends. The average distance between residents of a precinct may also indicate gerrymandering.
The partitioning into electoral districts is anything but simple. Each state follows its own rules in doing so. The ideal goal is for a district to contain roughly equal numbers of voters, be contiguous, not discriminate against ethnic groups, not cross county lines, and follow natural boundary lines, such as rivers. Such restrictions by themselves result in fractured districts—without even considering the voting behavior of residents.
A compact voting district does not necessarily lead to equitable representation, as a 2013 study found. The study paid particular attention to the 2000 presidential election in Florida, in which about as many people voted for Democrats as Republicans, but the latter accounted for 68 percent of the votes in Florida’s congressional districts. The researchers used a nonpartisan algorithm designed to draw the most “compact” districts possible while adhering to the state’s established rules.
Surprisingly, the computer also produced skewed results, in which Republicans would mostly have an advantage. And experts quickly realized the reason: most Democrats live in Florida cities. This means they win urban districts overwhelmingly, while narrowly losing in rural areas in each case. Because of this “natural gerrymandering,” more Republicans inevitably take seats in the House of Representatives.
Florida is not an isolated case, as political scientist Jonathan A. Rodden noted. The main problem is not a district's lack of “compactness.” If you want to prove that a boundary was deliberately drawn to supply one party an advantage, you need more evidence than the mere shape of a district.The goal in an unbiased system is to find electoral districts so that each party has an equal chance of converting its votes into electoral seats. But how can we measure that? In 2014, University of Chicago legal scholar Nicholas Stephanopoulos and Public Policy Institute of California political scientist Eric McGhee developed a metric for the problem, the efficiency gap. It is calculated by subtracting the “wasted” votes of two parties from each other and then dividing by the total number of all votes. A wasted vote for any party, in this example, is one that ends up in a losing district that went to the opposite party or that is above the margin needed to win. The smaller the efficiency gap, the more impartial is the result.
To visualize this, we can again use the initial example with the 50 voters (20 for red, 30 for blue) and calculate the efficiency gap for the different divisions. In the first case, when all boundaries were drawn vertically, the first and second districts (from the left) each have 10 red votes, wasting four each. The third, fourth and fifth districts, on the other hand, each have 10 blue votes, four of which are also wasted. Thus, the efficiency gap is as follows (the vertical bars indicate absolute value): |(2 x 4) – (3 x 4)|/50 = 2/25 = 0.08.
In the second division, each district is equal: blue always wins by six votes out of 10. Thus, none of blue's votes are wasted—whereas all of red's are. The efficiency gap is 20/50 = 0.4, which is significantly higher than in the first division.
The third example is the most intriguing: the two districts in which blue wins 9 to 1 each have a blue surplus of three. In the three winning red districts, four blue votes each are wasted—so in total, (2 x 3) + (3 x 4) = 18 blue votes that are surplus ones. In contrast, there are only two red votes that were wasted. This results in an efficiency gap of (18 – 2)/50 = 8/25 = 0.32.
The efficiency gap is useful as an indicator that pins down partisanship in voting districts. But sometimes natural conditions, such as when almost all voters of a party live in the same city, make it hard to find better possibilities. To investigate these possibilities, statistician Wendy Cho, along with computer scientist Yan Liu and geographer Shaowen Wang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, designed an algorithm that divides maps into districts—based on the rules set by the state in question.
Finding the best possible division of districts so that each party has the same probability of converting a vote into a seat is extremely difficult. The task falls into the class of so-called NP problems, which computer scientists and mathematicians have suspected for decades cannot be solved efficiently with ordinary computers. That doesn't mean you can't find a solution—just that it may take a very, very long time. So Cho and her co-authors decided to let the computer construct an extremely large number of splits that are not necessarily perfect.
For example, when they applied their program to the state of Maryland in 2011, they realized that almost all of the 250 million results gave an advantage to Democrats. Apparently, the natural conditions, along with the requirements for voting districts, are such that Republicans are automatically at a disadvantage. Cho and her colleagues compared Maryland's genuine apportionment with the computer's output and were able to show that the official voting districts favored Democrats in more than 99.79 percent of the 250 million computer-generated results.
Meanwhile, some U.S. states (mainly those where Democrats are in the majority) use independent commissions that redraw voting districts. These panels often resort to computer programs to find the fairest possible apportionment. In general, the apportionment of electoral districts this year appears to be the fairest in 40 years, as reported by the New York Times. When advantageous or detrimental districting decisions for both parties in all U.S. states are netted against one another, gerrymandering should result in only three extra seats for Republicans— down from 23 seats in 2012. But even three seats could be decisive in a close election. And news stories before the midterms depicted how gerrymandering is still very much a matter of public debate: Alabama’s state legislature redistricted to put many of the Black voters in the state into just one district, decreasing their electoral power, and resulting in a case that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP 27, is currently underway. Preliminary reports already suggest a deep strain of pessimism among attendees about the world’s efforts to avert a catastrophe and limit the rise in global temperatures to a manageable threshold. The United States itself is doing much less than necessary to avert a climate crisis. Half of Congress—the Republican half—is still not convinced that burning fossil fuels warms the planet. If this political impediment to effective climate action is to be overcome, it must be understood and addressed.
As a psychologist, I think I have identified one important factor that encourages climate change denial. As a therapist, I think I know what to do about it.
Motives for climate science denial are easy to identify. The fossil fuel industry has a lot to lose in this debate, and it has funded disinformation campaigns to convince the public that the science is not settled, so we have no solid knowledge about global warming and therefore no basis for action.
But motives are not enough—how do disinformation campaigns succeed if the science is so clear? If we delve into the psychology underlying climate change denial, part of the answer becomes apparent: the form of cognitive distortion we call black-and-white thinking. Concepts and issues that are complex and contain a spectrum of possibilities are simplified and polarized into stark binaries—pairs of opposites. Shades of gray are missed; everything appears to be either black or white, true or false, right or wrong.
Climate science deniers make this thinking error over and over again in their objections to climate research. If we could correct this error, it would accomplish a lot.
Black-and-white thinking is heavily characterized by asymmetrical ways of making sense of the world. For example, perfectionists categorize their work as either perfect or unsatisfactory; good and very good outcomes are lumped together with poor ones in the unsatisfactory category.
It’s like a pass/fail grading system in which 100 percent earns a passing grade, and everything else gets an F. With this grading system, it’s not surprising that opponents of climate action have found a way to supply global warming research an F.
Cognitive interventions for dismantling black-and-white thinking have one big thing going for them: Once people realize what they’re doing, they usually stop, because they know most realities exist as spectrums, not binaries. Cognitive therapists help clients see the complexities that exist underneath the simplified dichotomies they have formed. Learning how our thinking goes wrong and learning how to set it right are two aspects of one process.
“Cognitive interventions for dismantling black-and-white thinking have one big thing going for them: Once people realize what they’re doing, they usually stop.”
Something like this needs to happen on a macro, political level for our country to take strong action against global warming. Climate change deniers need to understand how they are misunderstanding the science so they can grasp it accurately and use it as a basis for action.
The familiar idea of a 10-point scale is a handy tool for unpacking binaries into spectrums. In my book Finding Goldilocks, this tool is applied to both mental health problems and political issues.
For example, here is a spectrum for treating perfectionism:
Climate change deniers apply unrealistic, perfectionistic standards to research. They view the spectrum of possible scientific agreement as either 100 percent consensus, or inconclusive controversy. If it’s not one, it’s the other.
A 2021 review of climate change research concluded that 99.9 percent of studies have found that human activities are warming the planet. That’s not good enough for the deniers. If they can find one contrarian scientist somewhere, like the late Freeman Dyson, they quote him or her, categorize the state of the field as inconclusive, shrug their shoulders, and say that no one really knows whether burning fossil fuels warms the planet.
In their evaluations of climate research, climate skeptics divide the spectrum of possibilities into two categories: perfect understanding and no understanding at all. As a result, they misinterpret minor departures from scientists’ predictions as evidence their entire models are invalid. Because former President Trump confused short-term fluctuations in the weather with long-term trends in the climate, he misinterpreted every winter cold snap as a refutation of global warming. Deniers also misunderstand minor differences between analyses to mean that “the scientists disagree with each other” about the fundamental question of whether fossil fuels warm the planet. They do not.
As increases in global temperatures have become obvious, some climate science deniers have given up on refuting them and switched to reframing them. Their oft-repeated line is that the climate has always been changing, typically delivered with an air of patient wisdom, based on a striking lack of knowledge about climate science. Do they imagine researchers have not thought of this?
Once again, their reasoning is based on an invalid binary: Either the climate is changing or it’s not; and since it’s always been changing, there is nothing new here and no reason for concern. That’s in spite of the fact that the data shows us not all climate change is the same or driven by the same factors. The current rate of warming is much faster than almost all past episodes, and the few exceptions were planet-wide disasters that caused massive extinctions. Here is a diagram of the invalid binary on which this thinking error is based:
Another objection to climate science, also typically delivered with a world-weary sigh, is, “They think they can control the climate” or “only God can control the climate.” In this false dichotomy, control is viewed as an all-or-none phenomenon, and since it’s obvious that we cannot command the climate to do what we want, the conclusion is that it’s futile to try to reduce global warming. However, there is a gray area between total control and no control, which is called “influence.” This is what climate scientists actually think people can do: reduce burning of fossil fuels to decrease global warming. No scientist has ever said that people can “control” the climate; this is an exaggerated, satiric caricature and a straw man.
Something analogous to cognitive therapy on a political scale is needed to correct the thinking errors currently impeding strong climate action. If public advocates of climate science denial cannot be persuaded to change their minds, at least the public can learn to see through their tricks.
In debates around the dinner table and in the media, political campaigns, and the halls of Congress, the fallacious dichotomies underlying climate change denial can be exposed and refuted by comparing them to an accurate picture of the science. These efforts are most effective when they are guided by the psychology of persuasion, and research in this area demonstrates that interpersonal skills are at least as important as knowledge of the facts. Research shows people resist persuasion when they feel their opinions are being trashed. In fact, the most effective way to get people to agree with us is to start out by agreeing with them—at least partially. This establishes common ground and helps people open up to influence.
“If public advocates of climate science denial cannot be persuaded to change their minds, at least the public can learn to see through their tricks.”
This isn’t a difficult tactic at all. There are plenty of scripts you can use to get started and work to dismantle black-and-white thinking in those who are buying into climate change denial:
We’re always ready to talk about how much we like Sonos speakers. From their excellent audio quality and multiroom playback to their support for multiple voice assistants, Sonos is one of the best speaker brands you can buy for your home theater — or anywhere else, for that matter.
One of our favorite things about Sonos speakers is just how many features are packed into them. That means new users don’t always know what they’re capable of. We’re helping out by sharing some of our favorite tricks for Sonos speakers. Take a look and see what you can do!
Whether you’re bringing multiple Sonos speakers into your home or adding an additional Sonos device, you should know that they are very easy to link together. The Sonos app natively supports linking Sonos brand speakers together, and most are compatible with one another. Head into the Sonos app and add your new speaker to enable linking capabilities. This is useful for multiroom sound, stereo sound with two speakers, and other arrangements where your speakers can play simultaneously.
Trueplay tuning is Sonos’ proprietary system that allows you to use your smartphone and the Sonos app to tune your Sonos speaker setup by listening to the sound in the room and adjusting the audio for the best effect in the space. It’s available on newer Sonos speakers, like the latest Sonos Plays. Sonos may suggest doing this during setup, but you can tune it at any time with the Sonos app. Go to Settings > Select Room > Trueplay, and Trueplay tuning to start the process. This may be useful if you move your Sonos speaker to a different position or to a new room.
Do you want to keep your speaker from going above a certain volume to avoid annoying the neighbors or preventing little ones from accidentally cranking things up? Sonos speakers allow you to set a volume limit for each room that you have set up. Just go to Settings, select System, choose Select Room, and go to Volume limit. This will allow you to set an upper threshold for the volume so things don’t get too crazy for that particular room.
If you have two of the same kind of Sonos speaker, like two, you can set them as rear wireless speakers in a Sonos-based surround sound setup. For example, if you have a Sonos soundbar, like an Arc, Beam, or Ray, plus a Sonos Sub or Sub Mini, you can add a pair of Sonos Ones or even Fives as rear surround speakers that sound awesome.
Sonos offers some of the best compatibility with other services that we’ve seen, so a vital part of setting up is connecting your preferred music services. However, we suggest connecting all your music services if possible. Sonos works with Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, and much more. Once you have all your services on the Sonos app, you can build playlists by pulling songs from any of them into one list managed by Sonos, combining music from different sources as you want. If you have a subscription that supports high-res music on a service like Tidal or Amazon Music, then your Sonos speaker may be compatible with high-res audio too.
Many Sonos speakers come with an LED indicator light to let you know that it’s on and working. If this light becomes annoying at night (or is attracting too much attention from pets or toddlers), then you can easily turn it off. Head into the Settings on your Sonos app, and look for the section that says Status Indicator. There should be an option here to disable it.
If you open the Sonos app and head to Services & voice, you will see a number of ideas on how to do more with your Sonos device. Here’s a good example: Head to Music & content in Settings, and choose Add a service. Here, you can add a ton of popular apps like Pocket Casts, radio stations from around the world, and the meditation app Calm, so you can start a meditation routine whenever you want on your Sonos speaker.
If your Sonos speaker is pulling multiple shifts as a digital assistant, music speaker, and alarm clock, help it out a little by setting up a sleep mode. Settings in the Sonos app also have the option to create a Sleep timer that will shut off after a certain amount of playing.
If you like to drift off to some tunes before bed, activate this and set your time. At the same time, visit the Alarm section and set an alarm to help you wake up in the morning. Now your sleep schedule is all managed in one spot!
Yes, you can always use the Sonos app to control your speaker and manage settings. But the latest versions of the Sonos app make this even easier. They have enhanced compatibility with the operating system on your phone, with widget controls that show up on the home or lock screen once you are finished setting up. This works for both iOS and Android and is an easy way to save some time.
There’s no denying how expensive things are right now. Get as many years as possible out of the things that cost a ton to replace. Tap or click for 10 mistakes killing your appliances.
Some wallet drains are more subtle. Leaving your tech plugged in all the time can cost you a decent amount of money. Tap or click here for the most significant energy suckers.
When it comes to holiday gifting, we're all looking for a bargain. Instead of jumping from site to site and hoping you spot the best deal, let tech do the work for you.
You only have to search Google for "coupon codes" once to see how annoying and time-consuming it can be to find one that actually works. Honey is a browser extension that finds coupon codes for 30,000-plus online retailers. It works with Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, and Opera.
Honey connects to coupon databases and checks them against expiration dates and current promotions. When a matching coupon is found, it is automatically applied during checkout. I use it myself and have saved a ton over the years.
Download Honey here.
If you shop on Amazon a lot, you likely have a Prime account. Here are some of my favorite perks included with the subscription. Either way, here are three quick ways to save.
I have more tech smarts to share. Tap or click for even more ways to save on Amazon.
Chances are, your favorite store probably has an app of its own. You may find a few sales or promotional discounts you won’t hear about anywhere else, along with coupons or offers for loyal shoppers.
The same goes for signing up for your favorite shop’s email newsletter or following them on social media.
While you’re logging in to Facebook or Twitter, do yourself a social and check out this quick guide: 5 social media do’s and don'ts to protect your privacy and security.
There are lots of apps out there that will pay you for what you’re already buying. Some pay out in gift cards you can spend anywhere, and others in points or specific credit toward future purchases.
A popular option is Ibotta, which offers cashback in-store and online for purchases from retailers and travel sites like Home Depot, Best Buy, Walmart, Kohl’s, Hotels.com and Priceline.
You can shop with the Ibotta browser extension or app for online purchases. Tap or click here for direct download links. To withdraw your accrued savings, it must be greater than $20. You can also transfer money to your PayPal account or a gift card purchased through the Ibotta app.
Tap or click for 10 apps that pay you for doing almost nothing.
Google Alerts allows you to track keywords across the internet and alert you when they are mentioned. This can come in handy if you have your eye on something specific. For example, you might set one up to track "AirPods sale." You’ll get an alert in your inbox whenever that's mentioned.
Alerts are a great free tool from Google. My favorite, though, is Google Voice. Tap or click here for ways a free number from Google makes life easier.
Apps and extensions that pull coupon codes are great, but CamelCamelCamel goes a step further. It tracks prices on Amazon over time, so you can see if that advertised special is worth it.
Let’s say you’ve had your eye on expensive noise-canceling headphones. You can use the CamelCamelCamel website or browser extension to see how the price has fluctuated. That way, you’re not paying more than they might go on sale for later.
Tap or click here for direct download links and more tricks to get the most out of this handy tool.
Keep your tech-know going
My popular podcast is called "Kim Komando Today." It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a accurate episode.
PODCAST PICK: Facebook's slow death, Twitter competitor, free background check
In this 30-minute podcast, Meta is in steep decline. Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook? Plus, all the changes at Twitter and a look at its newest competitor Mastodon. And a trick to find the best seat on a plane, get reminders from your smart assistant, and how to do a free background check.
Check out my podcast "Kim Komando Today" on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, "Komando."
Get more tech know-how on The Kim Komando Show, broadcast on 425+ radio stations and available as a podcast. Sign up for Kim’s 5-minute free morning roundup for the latest security breaches and tech news. Need help? Drop your question for Kim here.
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Anyone who has attended the Aquadettes’ Aqua Follies over the past five years will remember Jerry Langford, the master of ceremonies, who also happens to be a radio show host, an illusionist and a mentalist.
“They invited me to their show because of my radio work and my voice,” Langford said in a accurate interview, his voice deep and resonant. “It feels natural for me to speak for the Aquadettes.”
Langford is the morning host at KSDW Radio in San Diego and Riverside County and K-Wave in Orange County. “Radio opened the door for me to do magic because I am also very creative,” he said.
To promote his radio shows, Langford set up booths at concerts, conferences, beach events and county fairs.
“I would stand in our booth and people would walk right by,” he said. “Then I thought of a creative way to make them stop by doing close-up magic (card tricks, sleight-of-hand) and kept expanding my repertoire.”
He learned his craft at online magic shops, hanging out with other magicians, learning and exchanging new tricks and approaches on how to present them.
“It started out as a hobby and is now a bigger business than my radio work,” he said.
Along with emceeing the Aqua Follies, Langford has done magic shows in the Village. His next one is for the Saddleback Church of Laguna Woods on Monday, Nov. 14. He’s up for hire for more events in the Village. Contact him at 949-292-2624 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is jerrydoesmagic.com.
Langford, who can best be described as an extrovert driven by high-octane creativity, was more than happy to show off a few of the tricks up his sleeve at the 19 Restaurant recently.
In one trick – more mentalism than sleight-of-hand – he handed patron Julie Dickman a book of roughly 600 pages (“The End of the Hunt,” by Thomas Flanagan).
“Rifle through the pages randomly, see that it’s a real book, no tricks,” he told her. Then he asked her to pick any word out of the book, write it on a piece of paper and then crumple it up. Dickman watched as Langford did some writing of his own, coming up with the word “lead” – exactly the word she had picked out of the book.
In another trick, Langford asked this reporter some questions about pets – before correctly guessing the name of the reporter’s miniature schnauzer mix.
“This is actually more magical, more mentalist,” he said. “It packs a more powerful punch than pulling a dove out of thin air and requires no equipment.”
Langford starts his shows with stage magic to amp up the crowd and then circulates among the audience. He’s got enough tricks, he said, that he can do two or three shows without repeating any.
His audience has included people from every walk of life and all ages, from kids to seniors, and he tailors his material to keep them all enthralled.
“I’ve performed for groups from 50 to 200, altogether 3,000 to 5,000 people … I’ve lost count,” he said.
Venues are as varied — he’s played at churches, synagogues, corporate events, bank openings, city events in places like Fullerton and Laguna Niguel, everything from nightclub events to kids’ birthday parties.
“I don’t hesitate to include some corny jokes for families or events like Aquadettes,” he said. “I like to leave people smiling and laughing and trying to figure out how I did it.”
At the beginning of his magicianship, Langford traveled throughout California, he said, but found that transporting equipment proved a drawback.
“I do a lot of stuff with fire, and those materials couldn’t be brought on a plane, and it became too big a challenge to get equipment from one place to another intact,” he said.
These days, everything has to fit in his car. That switch, he recalled, led him to perform more mentalist demonstrations such as the book/word trick.
“Mentalism appears simple and straightforward, but it has power,” he said.
Some of his most memorable shows were the ones he performed in Tanzania, where one of his daughters once was a social worker.
“When my wife and I visited her, (the daughter) lined up magic shows in a prison for juveniles, a couple of schools, orphanages and even a village church. I was kept busy for two weeks,” Langford said. “She knew that I enjoy meeting and entertaining people, and she reminded everyone that (my) magic was not witchcraft but illusion. She told them in Swahili that illusion is a trick of the eyes.”
Langford, 63, was not to the manor but to the magic born, so to speak.
“I’ve led a pretty bizarre life. I drove limos and met celebrities and worked as a stand-up comedian,” he said. “I had left home at 16, and when you leave home at an early age, you have to survive.”
He got into the radio/news/talk business inspired by his grandfather, Ernest Bennett, an Associated Press photographer.
“My grandfather took me along to the San Francisco Chronicle building where I got my love for news,” he said, adding that he started his 30-year radio career in Texas and moved back to California in the 1990s.
Langford developed an interest in magic while in his 40s. He attributes his happy 44-year marriage to the fact that his wife is supportive of his many stints on the road and on stage, which has numbered more than 100 shows this year alone.
“My shows are booked into January of next year,” he said.
Father of a son and two daughters and grandfather of four, he’s also an avid poker and blackjack player. Playing poker two or three times a week and trying out new magic tricks on his buddies got him through the pandemic, he said.
“Magic is a device, a means to an end to entertain people, to make them laugh, to connect,” he said.