Wednesday, May 27, 2009

American Idol is like IRV - which is like Fizzbin!

After I got done with my recent posting slamming Rob Richie for comparing American Idol to IRV (on how AT&T possibly gamed the American Idol elections), I noticed that Joyce McCloy created an amusing post using a clip from "Star Trek" on the game of "fizzbin" - an game that Kirk pulled out of his "Asspen" to provide a distraction. Here is a good description of the game from the wiki article:

Fizzbin is a fictional card game created by Kirk in the Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action". While being held hostage on Sigma Iotia II with Spock and McCoy, he spontaneously invented a confusing card game to distract the henchmen guarding them.

The rules were intentionally very complex. Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven. The second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays. Kirk dealt the henchman two jacks, which are a "half-fizzbin." When the henchman said he needs another jack, Kirk warned that a third jack is a "shralk" and is grounds for disqualification. With two jacks, one wants a king and a deuce, except at night, when one wants a queen and a four.

At this point, Kirk dealt a third jack, but to keep the ruse going, he ignored the disqualification rule he had just made up. He explained that, had a king been dealt instead of a jack, the player would get another card, except when it's dark, in which case he'd have to give it back. The top hand is a "royal fizzbin," but the odds of getting one are "astronomical": when Kirk asked Spock what the odds are, Spock truthfully replied that he had never computed them.

Kirk called the last card a "kronk" and then purposely dealt a card such that it fell on the floor. As the henchman being taught reached down, Spock nerve-pinched him while Kirk and McCoy attacked the other guards, allowing the three to escape.

Once in Deep Space Nine, Quark mentioned the game as a way for him and Odo to while away the time while traveling on a runabout;[7] whether it had become a real game or if it had been a reference was never explained. Playable versions of the game have been invented, and it featured in the episode "Nantucket Sleighride" of the animated series Starcom.

I admit that when I first started to read the complicated Aspen IRV rules, I felt a lot like the henchmen in the clip when they were trying to understand Kirk's explanation of "fizzbin". Should anyone have to work that hard to understand how to vote, or how the votes are counted?

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