200 PINTS NOT QUITE AT HER MAJESTY

An 'artist's' take on what could have happened had the delivery been accepted.

Delivery work can be tough. Fearing repo men or the religious, most people don’t welcome knocks on their doors from strangers, and the ranks of mail carriers are filled with psychopaths driven to it by a combination of bad handwriting and the Zip Code system. So, there it is, sympathy expressed for the challenges of delivery work. Nonetheless, the person responsible for the following blunder still has to put on the pointed dunce cap and sit in the corner (a practice sadly abandoned by all but the very best schools).

The unnamed (a kindness) delivery company received an order for 12 barrels of lager - that’s 2,000 pints for those of you shouting at your monitors that we were off in the headline - to be delivered to Windsor Castle, a pub in Maidenhead, a town about five miles away from the royal digs. Somehow, the delivery guys missed both the address and the word “pub”, following Windsor Castle .

They showed up with the beer haul at the gates of Windsor Castle, but were told that the beer, which could have made for one jubilant jubilee indeed, had not been ordered by Good Queen Bess, and that Prince Philip damned their eyes for having the bloody nerve (In the interest of the historical record, we made that second part up).

The pub-owner, who had been expecting the booze to arrive for England’s football match with Croatia, was concerned that the order wouldn’t arrive before he received a call from an officer who had a confused delivery driver with him.

“I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought it was a hoax but the officer insisted he was genuine and wanted confirmation that we were expecting a delivery,” he said. “We have received mail at http://bola5.net for the royal household here before but I think this is the first time they have received anything meant for us.”

As for the Queen, she was amused, well her spokesman at Windsor Castle was: “It was very funny. But there’s no way the Queen sits down in the evening with a pint.” It should be noted that she prefers a wee nip of whiskey in the evenings, as do her alcoholic corgis, whose exploits we chronicled in The Man Who Scared a Shark to Death: And Other True Tales of Drunken Debauchery.

Online Behavior Study: Racial bias in betting on virtual world go to http://omiqq.com

Virtual worlds like Second Life came with the promise that all of the limitations of this terrestrial sphere would vanish. Sickly hermits desperately in need of the sun’s rays could live their second and better lives in peace and adapt an avatar that reflected the extent of their own imaginations. The ugly could be good looking, and a cyber-race of hobgoblins could lie down in unity with virtual unicorns… or something like that.

But that’s not exactly how it’s turned out according to a recent study conducted by two social psychologists at Northwestern University. They logged on to There.com, which is like Second Life, only apparently not as good at weeding out nosey-Parker social scientists.

They conducted a “door-in-the-face” (DITF) experiment, which surprisingly has nothing to do with the treatment we like to give religious proselytizers and those guys who want to fix the rate on your gas bill for the next 11 millenniums.

A DITF experiment is one in which the experimenter starts by making an unreasonably large request and then follows it up with a more moderate one. Psychology tells us that a person who is first shocked by an unreasonable request will be more likely to comply with the more moderate one. Hence, if you ask a perfect stranger in a restaurant if you can finish her meal for her, she’ll probably say no, but when you follow that up with a request for a bread roll, well Bob’s your uncle.

Online this meant that the researchers (as clipboard toting avatars presumably) went around asking people to do things that were inconvenient or would take a long time (we won’t bore you with the details as we don’t understand them), and followed these up with more moderate requests.

DITF worked as expected, but researchers noted that there was a difference between the success that white avatars had with the technique and that of dark-toned avatars.

“You would think when you’re wandering around this fantasyland, operating outside of the normal laws of time, space and gravity and meeting all types of strange characters, that you might behave differently,” said one of the researchers. “But people exhibited the same type of behavior — and the same type of racial bias — that they show in the real world all the time.”

Psychologists said they look forward to further exploration of the online world in their never-ending quest to confirm all of our worst assumptions about human nature.