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  • Win, Lose, Banana – The Best $1 You’ve Ever Spent

    Posted on November 29th, 2012 Brian No comments

    Win, Lose, Banana CardsLittle pockets of downtime pepper our lives: waiting for the bus, waiting at a crosswalk, waiting for that one person in the group to come back from the bathroom again. We make smalltalk, we look at our watches, we check our phones. These moments flit away like a mote of dust passing through a sunbeam, a few seconds at at time.

    Win, Lose, Banana is a game for these moments. A typical game lasts less than ten seconds, turning that awkward silence where everyone would normally be feigning sudden extreme interest in the patterns on the tin ceiling into an awkward argument over which player has the banana.

    Win, Lose, Banana is a so-called convincing game for three players. It consists of merely three cards: Win, Lose, and Banana. Each player randomly choses a card, and the player with the Win card simply shows it and announces victory. Congratulations! The winner is then entitled to the banana.

    Ah, but who has it? The two remaining players must then convince the winner that they have the banana – and that the other player is the loser. If the winner chooses correctly, both she and the banana may smugly gloat over the loser. But if the loser  manages to be more convincing, he must mercilessly mock the other two players. The only real rule is that you may not simply show the winner your card; everything else is fair game. The lengths to which players can go to be convincing are otherwise bounded only by decorum and your imagination. And perhaps the length of time it takes that one friend to pee.

    It’s hard to describe how much fun I’ve had with this game. Passing moments on the street with friends would sudden turn rowdy as we argued over possession of the banana. And at only $1, it’s a no-brainer that you ought to buy it. In fact, buy a dozen and give them away to friends. This may be the single best value in gaming – ever – and quite possibly the best $1 you’ve ever spent.

    Publisher: Asmadi Games
    Price: $1
    Rating: 5 Tacos
    Available in DC at: Labyrinth Game Shop, 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

  • That Song From The Commercial For Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

    Posted on January 5th, 2012 Brian No comments

    Album Art from Ma Fleur by The Cinematic OrchestraIt’s always cool when music you’ve liked for a really long time hits mainstream. It gets used on a commercial or in a movie trailer or played at a sporting event, and when the person next to you says, “Wow! What is that song?” you can just tell them. That happened several times with E.S. Posthumus, and every time it was awesome introducing somebody to new music. (And if you are a fan of grand, cinematic-style music and haven’t checked out E.S. Posthumus yet – well, you’re missing out.)

    I don’t have a whole lot of interest in seeing the new movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but the commercials playing on TV are playing a great track off The Cinematic Orchestra’s album Ma Fleur called To Build A Home. You should probably just go ahead and buy it now.

  • Oswald Cobblepot For Mayor

    Posted on July 14th, 2011 Brian No comments

    While attempting to avoid exposure to the 103º heat index the other day, I was flipping through some channels and stumbled across the campy sequel Batman Returns, starring Danny Devito as The Penguin. The movie is downright awful, and I would have flipped past it, except the scene caught me.

    Max Shreck (played by Christopher Walken – how did this terrible movie attact so much talent?!) was convincing the Penguin to run for Mayor of Gotham City. The Penguin is not really sure this is a good idea, but then inspiration strikes: He needs a platform!

    Stop global warming. Start global cooling. Make the world an icebox.

    PENGUIN: A platform?

    PENGUIN (framing the space in front of him with his flippers): Stop global warming. Start global cooling. Make the world an ice box.

    SHRECK: I like it!

    Think about this for a moment: This was a joke line in a major summer action movie nearly twenty years ago. The idea of Global Warming was mainstream enough that the writers could a) assume their audience was familiar with it, and b) understand the situation well enough to know that the Penguin’s proposed solution was clearly ridiculous.

    So here we are, nearly twenty years later: We have progressed from Batman Returns through Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight. How far have we progressed dealing with Global Warming?

    It’s time to vote for somebody who will make a real difference on Global Warming: Oswald Cobblepot for Mayor!

  • Exit Through The Gift Shop

    Posted on January 23rd, 2011 Brian No comments

    Instead of football tonight, I watched Exit Through The Gift Shop. I’m a bit of a Banksy fan, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this foray into film. I was not disappointed. Banksy’s talent really isn’t with spray paint and stencils, though he drips with natural ability there, but rather with his eye for taking something ordinary and expected and twisting it into something wholly and unexpectedly beautiful. What starts out as a documentary of a non-documentary on street art turns instead into a question of what art means to its creators, how it’s valued by its consumers, and whether or not an artist can sell out and still be an artist.

    Speculation as to whether the film was a “hoax” or not seems to miss the point to me. Rather, I see this project as an attempt for Banksy to tease out his own personal understanding as to the definition of art, and to maybe teach us something about it at the same time – a reasonable goal for someone whose most acclaimed work typically involves the willful destruction of other peoples’ property! And maybe that very introspection – arriving at understanding of creation through creation – that’s what it means to be an artist?

  • Update Flash Without Adobe’s Crappy Download Manager

    Posted on February 16th, 2010 Brian No comments

    Recently, Adobe has pulled a hall-of-shame move and began trying to sneak in the installation of a craptacular background program called the “Adobe Download Manager” when updating Flash.  That’s just great, you know, since there are security updates for Flash almost every month.  So how do you get your required security update without Adobe’s bullshit download manager?

    It’s a fairly simple process, and actually takes advantage of the generally-hated-by-most-people User Account Control (UAC) in Vista and 7 to block an unwanted action by a program.  And people say it’s nothing but annoying.

    (Note: These instructions are for Firefox on Windows 7 or Vista; anything else and you’re on your own.)

    1. Download the Flash updater directly from here.
    2. Close all browser windows (including any opened by Prism).
    3. Run the updater.
    4. Start your browser back up.  Adobe will now sneakily try to install their awful download manager on your system.  This will generate a UAC prompt asking for administrative permissions to install.
    5. Click “No” on the UAC prompt to stop the installation in its tracks.

    Screw you, Adobe.  You’re in the Hall of Shame for trying to install backdoor software with critical security updates to a ubiquitous web technology.  And win one for UAC!

  • Web Hall Of Shame: Wired News Hijacks Your Clipboard

    Posted on February 12th, 2010 Brian No comments

    It’s a given that you can’t trust the Internet.  I mean, you’re connecting to random strangers’ computers, downloading code and data, running some of that code (usually in a sandbox of some sort), and then hoping nothing bad happens.  For that reason, I use the NoScript add-on to Firefox, which aggressively blocks scripts (especially third-party scripts) from running – unless I whitelist them.

    Despite my general distrust, though, I still harbor a hope that most of the sites I regularly visit aren’t bad actors.  When it turns out they are, it’s a bit of a shock.  When it turns out to be one of the oldest names in net publishing, it’s really disheartening.

    Wired News has a really cool article on lasers blasting mosquitoes out of the sky.  When you copy-and-paste from that article, it hijacks your clipboard and changes what you copied.  Try it yourself!  (Of course, if you’re running NoScript, you’ll need to temporarily allow all scripts on the page.)

    From the article, copy:

    The laser lights quickly located the mosquitoes in flight.

    And then paste:

    The laser lights quickly located the mosquitoes in flight.

    Read More

    Yup, they hijacked your clipboard, and added a tracking link.  Who the hell does that?

    Wired, you’re officially in the Hall of Shame.

  • A Law & Order Episode in the Making

    Posted on August 6th, 2008 Brian No comments

    Ever wonder where Law & Order episodes come from? If you’ve ever watched the show, you know that they often scrape the headlines, sometimes mix-and-match style, throw in a homicide, and set Jack McCoy and the Good Cop/Bad Cop on the case. So when I was reading this article about the drug raid on the home of a Maryland mayor, I couldn’t help wondering how long it will be until we see the episode on this one. Except for the lack of a murder – easily written in by even a semi-accomplished screenwriter – this one seems to be cake-in-a-box for prime time television.

    And now, here are the plot points of my imaginary episode. Determining which are real and which are fake is left as an exercise to the reader.

    1. A small-town mayor is suspected of having a lot of drugs.
    2. The jurisdiction of the police is fuzzy, overlapping with several neighboring towns.
    3. The police are issued a warrant.
    4. The police execute the warrant, knocking down the door, shooting two dogs, and discovering an unopened package containing 32 pounds of marijuana.
    5. While recovering the body of one of the dogs, which escaped out back, the police also discover a dead body in the back yard. It is identified as a big-city lawyer with 2.5 kids all in an expensive prep school.
    6. The police uncover an elaborate plot involving the mayor, the dead lawyer and a big-city drug dealer to use the mayor’s house as an exchange location. Police arrest the drug dealer.
    7. It turns out that the warrant was a standard search warrant, and not for a no-knock warrant, thus making the search illegal. The mayor’s attorney gets the drug charges (32 pounds!!) thrown out, and the murder rap is also teetering, and Jack McCoy the district attorney gets to say “fruits of the poison tree” like six times.
    8. The DA figures out how to put everyone away, using a clever legal tactic and impeccable oratorical skills. Everybody gets 25-to-life, and the DA rubs it in their faces with a semi-smug, semi-stoic head wobble. The end.
  • Best APOD Ever

    Posted on July 23rd, 2008 Brian No comments

    Do you know about the Astronomy Picture of the Day? It’s a site, courtesy of NASA, that showcases a cool, interesting, or sometimes funny picture that comes out of the world of space exploration, astronomy, and cosmology.

    For those of us too lazy to go to the site every day, there’s even a nice RSS feed to stick into your favorite reader.

    Anyway, yesterday’s APOD was, I think, the best one ever. Courtesy of that dancing guy, the July 22nd picture is actually a movie; and rather than being about astronomy, it’s about things closer to home.

    Take five minutes, and check it out. Totally worth it.

  • The Other Thirty Percent

    Posted on March 16th, 2008 Brian No comments

    I’m watching the Cubs – Zambrano just had a nice 1-2-3 inning – and in between the top and bottom of the first inning is a commercial for a drug for genital herpes.

    One study found that up to 70% of people who had genital herpes got it from their partner when they had no signs of an outbreak.

    So, what I want to know is: What about that other 30%? Did they just not notice? Were they drunk? Or is there some sort of oozing-sore fetish I haven’t heard about?

  • Sans Garfield

    Posted on March 13th, 2008 Brian No comments

    I used to really enjoy reading Garfield as a kid, at least partially because we had a big cat that looked quite similar to the lasagna-loving feline. As I got older, I realized that, though funny to an eight-year-old kid with an orange tabby cat, like most of the comics on the funny pages, it was long past its prime.

    Amusingly, the tubes have breathed new life into Garfield – by removing Garfield from them. Now, I know that this old meme is old, but my mom hasn’t heard about it yet, and the only way she’s going to is by reading it on my lame-ass blog.

    Also, today’s posting particularly good.