Saturday, October 1, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics: A Lesson In Lateral Thinking

I want to relate a true story that I came across recently because, as I see it, it serves as an excellent example of the importance of lateral thinking, or "thinking outside the box" as some put it.

During World War II, the American B17 bomber fleet was suffering heavy losses, on account of all those Luftwaffe pilots who took exception to Americans dropping high explosives on their cities, their families and, potentially, their Führer. 

So, the USAF decided that they needed to beef up the B17's armor in order to improve its survivability.  Trouble is, unlike the knights of old, you can't just encase an airplane in cast iron.  It (the cast iron) tends to weigh a lot,  which negates the aircraft's ability to, you know, fly.  So additional armor had to be applied sparingly, in strategic places. 

The next obvious problem was, how to identify where those "strategic places" were.  Simple.  In order to figure out where the returning bombers are taking the most battle damage, you start keeping detailed records of where on the aircraft you're seeing the most bullet holes.  Those, surely, are the areas that need additional armor protection.  Makes sense, right?

"Wrong", said a mathematician by the name of Abraham Wald.  You want to figure out those places on the aircraft where you never, ever see any bullet holes.  Those are the areas you want to better protect.  Why?  Because the bombers that you're examining did return from their missions, in spite of being bullet-riddled.  The ones that you want to worry about are the ones that don't make it back; the ones whose bullet holes you never get to inspect.  So it follows that, if there are areas where you never see bullet holes, it's not so much because no bombers ever get hit there; rather it's probably because the ones that do get hit there don't come home.

And so it was that additional armor was applied to parts of the B17 that never, or almost never, seemed to show any battle damage, such as certain angles of the cockpit or at the base of the vertical stabilizer.  And in so doing, countless bombers and their crews were likely saved.

Hats off to Abraham Wald.  Now that's thinking outside of the box!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Canadian Values

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch drew wide-spread criticism from political circles, including her own party, when she suggested recently that potential Canadian immigrants should be screened for "anti-Canadian" values before being accepted.  However, as recently reported in The Record, about two-thirds of Canadians seem to share Ms. Leitch's views, according to an even more recent Forum Research poll.

This begs the question, exactly what are "anti-Canadian" values?  For that matter, what are Canadian values?  Who gets to decide?  The Halmanator, that's who!  Having lived in this country since the tender age of three and having grown up here, I think I have a pretty good handle on what it means to be Canadian.  Since such a majority of people appear to favour some sort of screening, and being a patriotic and civic-minded citizen, I have taken it upon myself to get the ball rolling, so to speak, and design the following questionnaire, intended to weed out those of an un-Canadian mindset.  For each of the following questions, respond with a number between 1 and 5, 1 meaning that you strongly disagree and 5 meaning that you strongly agree:

  1. I enjoy watching hockey.

  2. I enjoy watching the Toronto Maple Leafs lose at play hockey.

  3. I pledge my undying fealty to Tim Horton Donuts, regardless of how mediocre and over-priced their food may be.

  4. I buy my breakfast at Tim Horton's because I am incapable of toasting and buttering a bagel at home.

  5. Curling is a riveting spectator sport.

  6. I like to garnish my French fries with
    a) Hummus
    b) Ketchup
    c) Vinegar
    d) Gravy
    e) Gravy with cheese curds

  7. I don't know whether to "strongly agree" or "strongly disagree" with the previous question, as it was more of a multiple choice.

  8. I am sorry for pointing out that Question 6 doesn't fit the format of this questionnaire.

  9. I seek affirmation at the end of every statement that I make, eh?

  10. I am polite.  Always.  To everyone.  Even Americans.

  11. The most important attribute for a national leader is good hair.
    (Note: This question also appeared in the anti-American values screening test ... until recently)

  12. I own every album ever released by:
    a) Neil Young
    b) "Stompin' Tom" Connors
    c) Joni Mitchell
    d) Gordon Lightfoot
    e) All Of The Above

  13. I do not own any records or CDs having left them behind in Syria after they were blown up, along with my house, but, should I be accepted into Canada,  I promise to acquire every album ever released by 12e (above) at the earliest possible opportunity.

  14. I know the entire lyrics to "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" by heart.

  15. "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" is an appropriate song to play as the father-daughter dance at weddings.

  16. Logs are useful for:
    a) Making telephone poles
    b) Sitting on when there are no benches available
    c) Making fires
    d) Making paper
    e) Transportation along rivers

  17. This questionnaire is flawed because it doesn't include both English and French text.
    Ce questionnaire est viciée parce qu'elle ne comprend pas l'anglais et le texte français.

  18. The term "American beer" is an oxymoron.

  19. A sixteen-hour wait is not unreasonable in a hospital emergency ward.

  20. Plaid goes with everything.
Scoring: For every question, the number of points you get is the number with which you responded.  For the multiple choice questions, score 1 to 5 for answers a through e respectively.  Add up your points:

20 -   50: Take off you Daesh terrorist swine!  We don't like your kind, eh?  Just sayin'.
51 -   79: Have you considered immigrating to the U.S.?
80 - 100: Welcome aboard eh?  Have a cold one!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Joe Versus the Volcano

I don't normally do movie reviews on this blog.  I figure there are plenty of web sites that do those.  Up until now, I've only done one review, of sorts, of a Darren Aronofsky movie called The Fountain, and I only did that one because I was struck by its surrealism and inscrutability.  I found The Fountain in a bargain bin at my local grocery store.  I had never seen it, nor really even heard of it when I purchased it.  The cover just piqued my interest.

Unlike The Fountain, I did not get the movie Joe Versus the Volcano out of a bargain bin, although it might well be found in one of those.  No, I actively sought it out, having seen it on TV and having been completely won over by it.  Joe Versus the Volcano was released in 1990 and directed by John Patrick Shanley, of Moonstruck fame.  It stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who plays three different roles, but it is probably not one of either actors' more memorable movies, as it did not do well at the box office when it was released.

Joe Versus the Volcano is a modern fable about a guy named Joe Banks (played by Tom Hanks).  Joe is an ex-firefighter who somehow wound up in a dead-end job managing the catalog department (a single room full of mostly empty shelves) for a medical supply company from Hell.  Like the buildings that he formerly helped to extinguish, the fire has gone out of Joe.  He hates his job and his life in general.  He is a hopeless hypochondriac who`s afraid of everyone and everything.  The emptiness of his life would make a vacant 747 hangar seem like a subway car at rush hour in comparison.  Early in the movie, the office secretary, DeDe (the first of Meg Ryan`s three personas) notices Joe examining his shoe and asks him what the problem is.  Joe responds, "I think I'm losing my sole".  The movie is full of double-entendre dialog of that sort.

One of the things that amuses me about this movie is that there is a lot of seemingly irrelevant stuff happening in the background which is often a subtle message or commentary on modern life if you're paying attention.  As an example, when Joe first enters the office in which he works, his boss is engaged in a phone conversation in the background.  Although the camera focuses on Joe and what he is doing (which involves pouring himself a particularly unappealing cup of coffee under a continuously buzzing fluorescent light), the boss's conversation is loud enough to be overhead, and goes like this:

"Harry..." (pause)
"Yeah Harry, but can he do the job?" (sigh)
"I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?" (pause)
"I'm not arguing that with you." (pause)
"I'm not arguing that with you." (pause)
"I'm not arguing that with you!" (pause)
"I'm not arguing that with you, Harry!" (pause)
"Harry... Harry..." (pause)
"Yeah, Harry, but can he do the job?  I know he can get the job.  But can he do the job?" (pause)
"I'm not arguing that with you." (pause)
"Harry, I am not arguing that with you!" (pause)
"Who said that?" (pause)
"I didn't say that!" (pause)
"If I said that, I would have been wrong." (pause)
"Maybe." (pause)
"Maybe.: (pause)
"I'm not arguing that with you!" (pause)
"Yeah Harry, I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?"

How many times, especially in working environments, do we hear circular conversations of this type?  One can't help but wonder what Joe's boss thinks that he's accomplishing.  To me, it's a wink at the sheer pointlessness that so many engage in and endure while doing what's supposed to be their life's work.

Later on, Joe visits his doctor (played by Robert Stack) to find the result of some medical tests that were run after Joe complained of feeling "blotchy" and the doctor informs him that he has a rare condition known as a "brain cloud"; a black fog of tissue that runs down the center of his brain.  It's spreading, it's incurable and it's terminal.  Joe has about six months of life left to him and can expect to experience no pain or, indeed, any other symptoms, until right at the end.  Cue another beautiful exchange of dialog:

Joe: What are you talking about, doctor, I don't feel good right now!

Dr. Ellison: That's the ironic part, Mr. Banks.  You're a hypochondriac.  There's nothing wrong that has anything to do with your symptoms...

Joe: I'm not sick except for this terminal disease?

Dr. Ellison: Which has no symptoms.  That's right.

Doc Ellison goes on to explain that it was only because of Joe's insistence on having so many tests done that he caught the problem at all.

Ironically, Joe finds his death sentence a liberating experience.  Having nothing left to lose, he finally gets up the courage to tell off his boss, quit his job and ask DeDe out for dinner.

Sometime later, Joe is sitting alone in his run-down little apartment strumming on a ukulele (hey, I couldn't think of a better way to live out my last six months) when there is a rap at the door.  The rapper turns out to be a cheery but eccentric old millionaire named Samuel Graynamore (played by Lloyd Bridges), who has a proposition for Joe.  He knows that Joe is dying and he needs someone who is willing to jump into the mouth of an active volcano in order to appease the volcano god and, more importantly, appease the natives who live near the volcano so that they will be amenable to supplying Mr. Graynamore with bubero, a rare mineral that's only found on their island and that his company needs for making superconductors.

So here's the deal.  If Joe, who is dying anyway, is willing leap into the mouth of the volcano in order to appease both the volcano god and the natives, Graynamore will arrange his passage to the exotic south sea island on which the volcano is located as well as supply him with enough money to live out his last days like a king before dying like a hero.  After a surprisingly brief consideration, Joe agrees to do it.

Thus begins the strangest (and likely last) adventure of Joe's life, during the course of which he will befriend a fatherly limousine driver, purchase four high-end steamer trunks that appear more luxurious than some trailers that I've seen from a luggage salesman who lives for his work, and meet Graynamore's two daughters (both played by Meg Ryan), Angelica and Patricia who, in spite of being semi-related (they're only half-sisters) couldn't be any more opposite.  The movie, of course, culminates on the island of Waponi Woo, home of the dreaded volcano into which Joe has promised to jump.

One of the things that I like about this movie is its penchant for understatement and subtlety.  There are all sorts of recurring themes and foreshadowing for the observant viewer.  Near the beginning of the movie, long before any talk of volcanoes, Joe kills the fluorescent lights over his desk and sets a small musical lamp in their place.  The lamp's stand is a native dancing girl, and the lamp's shade depicts what appears to be a volcano on an exotic island.

Later, after Joe and DeDe leave the restaurant where they had dinner, we see a nearby poster depicting another south sea island with a volcano with the words "Fire in Paradise".

One of the first things that we see when the movie starts is a grimy sign featuring the logo of the company for which Joe works.

It is, perhaps, not entirely surprising that the path leading from the front gate to the factory entrance looks like this (although I do find it amusing that everyone obediently follows it and nobody seems to think to just cut straight across the rocks).

It's somewhat more surprising that the crack in the right wall of Joe's seedy apartment happens to resemble the same design.

And then there's the lightning bolt that hits that yacht on which Joe is sailing to the island of Waponi Woo.

And, finally, there is the procession of torches, carried by the islanders, as they take Joe to the mouth of the volcano.

What do I read into this?  For me, the cracked pyramid/lightning bolt symbol represents the forces in Joe's life that try to drag him down.  It symbolizes his fear and insecurity and it's not easily left behind.  It keeps recurring everywhere, right up until the end, and Joe has to keep overcoming it.

For me, the climax, and the central message behind this movie, come during the scene when Joe is adrift in the south seas on the steamer trunks that he bought, which he has fashioned into a sort of raft after the yacht that was taking him to the island sank in the storm.  Sun-baked and dehydrated, he is awakened at night by surprisingly bright moonlight, thrown by an enormous full moon as it ascends over the horizon.  Joe staggers to his feet, blinks at the awesome orb, then falls back to his knees and whispers "Dear God, whose name I do not know, Thank you for my life.  I forgot ... how big..."  I don't mind admitting that scene chokes me up every time I see it.

Joe Versus the Volcano is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated movies in recent history.  Unlike so many formulaic movies nowadays, it is completely original.  Its comedic moments evoke laughs and chuckles, but it has enough depth to make the viewer re-examine his or her own life and priorities.  In short, it is Halmanator Approved, and I can't think of a better testimonial than that.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mad As Hell

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a recession. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Jobs are going to India. Cops are being gunned down in the street. Terrorists are running wild and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had three suicide bombers and sixty-three people were gunned down on the street, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. 

We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my smart phone and my reality TV and my Pokémon Go and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' 

Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the recession and the inflation and the ISIS and the terrorists in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!'

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. In November, I want you to go to the polls and tell them: 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!'

I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!...You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the Mexicans and the terrorists and the trade agreements. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore!'

I am, of course, paraphrasing the words of the character Howard Beale; a news announcer from the 1976 movie Network, who was fired because his ratings dwindled, and managed to rebuild his following and keep his job by first announcing that he was going to kill himself on live TV and later giving tirades like the one above.  I am also paraphrasing Donald Trump almost every time he opens his mouth.  Like Howard Beale, Trump has managed to parlay peoples' fear, insecurity and frustration into an unlikely, but surprisingly large, following.  Like Beale, everybody laughed at Trump at first.  They're not laughing anymore.

We do live in troubled times and it is, perhaps, tempting to place our trust in someone who claims that he knows how to fix everything.  It happened in Germany in 1933.  Germany was suffering in the throes of the Great Depression.  Many Germans were unemployed.  The Deutschmark was practically worthless.  A man named Adolph Hitler said that he had the solution to the country's woes.  He promised the people that he would make Germany great again.  "Deutschland muss leben!" he shouted.  And he blamed the economic woes that troubled the land on the "others"; the rich, Jewish bankers who prospered at the expense of the common German people.  His uncommon oratory skills and his fiery, charismatic persona won over much of the German population and propelled him to the head of the Nazi party.  And he did it by playing to peoples' fears and legitimate frustrations.

I am not suggesting that Donald Trump is anything like Adolph Hitler; only that he is borrowing much the same formula that helped Hitler to achieve power.  I do suggest that it behoves those who look on Trump as a straight-talking savior who will make America great again to remember that Howard Beale was indeed "mad as hell".  He was insane.

George Bernard Shaw once quipped that democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve.  American voters may want to keep those words in mind come November.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Tax Man's Salami

Recently, I picked up a few grocery items at my local supermarket.  Now that I have your rapt attention thanks to that riveting opening, I'll proceed to explain that most grocery products aren't taxable in the province of Ontario, where I live, the significance of which will become clear momentarily.

At the checkout, I asked for a plastic bag, as there was too much stuff to carry free-hand.  In Ontario, most grocery stores; in fact, most stores of any kind (though not all) add a small charge for plastic bags.  They pass this off as a "green" initiative, intended to save the environment by encouraging customers to bring along their own re-usable bags rather than accumulating disposable plastic bags which only wind up in landfills, as opposed to calling it an additional cash grab, which is what it is in actuality.  This post, however, is not a rant against stores that charge for plastic bags.  There's been a sufficient number of other writers who have ranted about this practice at least as eloquently as I could hope to.

Looking over my grocery receipt later, I saw the charges for the various grocery items, a five cent charge for the plastic bag, and a one cent charge for H.S.T.; Ontario's harmonized sales tax.  Recall that most grocery items aren't taxable in Ontario, so the item that was being taxed was the five-cent plastic bag.  But there's a problem with this.  You see, Ontario's H.S.T. rate is thirteen percent (which includes 5% G.S.T. plus 8% P.S.T.).  Thirteen percent of a nickel is .0065 cents.  So the tax amount was rounded up to a penny.

"But of course," you may be thinking, "that seems reasonable since, in North America, a  penny is the smallest possible monetary unit.  Unlike Olde England, we don't have halfpennies.  In fact, technically, we don't even have pennies anymore!  So the amount has to be rounded up.  Still, one cent added to a five-cent charge amounts, in fact, to a 20% tax, not a 13% tax.  I had been over-taxed by 7%.

"Come off it," I hear you chide, "it's only a penny man!"  Maybe so, but how many other people conduct similar transactions during the course of a day, a week, a month and a year?  How much extra money are the Ontario and Canadian governments raking in thanks to this kind of over-taxation?

Many of my readers will have heard the story of a rogue Programmer who apparently worked for a bank, and altered the program which posted bank transactions to divert any rounding differences to his personal bank account.  The story goes that, after initially accumulating a healthy sum, he was eventually found out and jailed for fraud.  While the story itself has become something of an urban legend, given that the specific Programmer and bank in question are either not named or, if they are, there is disagreement about their identities, the common consensus is that the story probably does have some basis in fact.  Even if it doesn't, most authorities agree that this type of activity would definitely be fraudulent and illegal if it did occur.  The practice has even been given a name; "salami slicing".

But if taking the fractions of cents that result from rounding, which don't actually belong to anyone and which no-one is going to miss, is fraudulent, how then can the government justify rounding up a fractional tax amount to a full cent and keeping the difference?  Isn't that the same thing?

As is often the case, it appears that different rules apply to government as opposed to the citizenry.  Ironically, salami, being a grocery item, is not taxable, at least not in Ontario.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Making Gravitational Waves

In the news, an international team of astrophysicists recently managed to detect gravitational waves created by the collision of two black holes.  This has caused quite a lot of excitement within the astrophysicist community, because it confirms something that Albert Einstein first theorized back in 1916.

In my opinion, scientists do tend to get overly worked up about these sorts of things.  You'd think, from the way they carried on about the news, that they'd found a cure for cancer or a cheap, infinitely renewable energy source or an unlimited food supply with which to feed the world or something.  I mean, okay, gravitational waves do sound kind of cool but, really, what do they mean to the average person?

To demonstrate the enormity of their discovery, the scientists converted the gravitational wave that they detected into sound, and played it for the public.  The sound that resulted was a barely-audible "chirp".  Marc Kamionkowski, a physicist at Johns Hopkins University, gushed "It's one thing to know sound waves exist, but it's another to actually hear Beethoven's Fifth Symphony."  Excuse me?  Beethoven's Fifth?  This was a CHIRP man!  Not a symphony, a CHIRP!  A barely-audible chirp at that, even after being enhanced!  Get a grip there, Sheldon!

The gravitational waves were apparently detected by a pair of ultra-sensitive 1,1 billion-dollar observation facilities known as Laser Inteferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories (or LIGO for short).  Now there's a Buck Rogers type gadget name for you!  I can almost hear Ming the Merciless shouting "Activate the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory!  MWAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!"

And, call me a cynic, but I couldn`t help at least briefly pondering the possibility that maybe the scientists just made the whole thing up to justify the funding of their 1.1 billion-dollar LIGO set.  I mean, let`s face it, if they came back completely empty-handed after being handed over a billion dollars, their funding sources might just, you know, re-think giving them another billion and use the money for something productive instead.  So I could see where there might be a strong temptation to record a chirp, using perfectly ordinary sound recording equipment, and then tell the public that it had been picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, not that I`m actually accusing anybody of doing such a thing, of course.

So, let`s grant that that the LIGO did actually record a gravitational wave and that Einstein has been proven right exactly a hundred years after predicting that they existed.  Cool.  Good for him.  But, um.... really, so what?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hey, Hey, 16K

Computers have become an integral part of our society.  We communicate with them, keep up on the news with them, find the answers to questions of all kinds with them, view pornography with them and exchange ridiculous quantities of cute cat pictures with them. We use them in our work and in our recreational activities.  They've created a whole new class of time vampire called social media.  I'll bet there are a lot of people who, if they had to go without facebook, twitter or any other form of social media for even just one week, would be at a loss for what to do with themselves and might even begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, not unlike those of my loyal readers who have been checking for a new Halmanator post since last August.

Today, most everybody uses some form of computer on a regular basis; if not an actual laptop or notebook computer, then a tablet or a smart phone.  In fact, it seems to me that desktop computers are on the wane, as opposed to being on the desktop where they belong.  You hardly see them anymore outside of office environments.  Rather, they tend to be inside the office environment, where they do belong.

I personally am still sitting at a desktop computer as I bang out this blog post.  I still prefer desktop computers to laptop or notebook computers or tablets for two basic reasons; for one, I like to play games on my PC (as opposed to using a game console, which I do not own) and, when I play games, I want a full-sized screen and speakers to help immerse me in the experience in a way that a notebook computer or tablet simply cannot do.  The other reason why I prefer desktop computers is because, being a basically introverted personality type, it gives me an excuse to shut myself away from everyone for a while, up in my attic den,  That's where I keep my desktop computer, so that's where I must go when I need to use it for anything.

Getting back to my original point, though, computers today are commonplace and are used by pretty much everybody.  Even my technologically-challenged sister-in-law, who once changed her mind about enrolling in a college program because registration had to be done on-line, (in hindsight, probably just as well) now has a smartphone.  It was not always thus (meaning almost everyone using computers, not my sister-in-law owning a smartphone, although that was not always thus either).  I recall (fondly sometimes, I must admit) the late seventies and early eighties, when the first personal computers, like the Commodore VIC 20 and 64, the Radio Shack Color Computer, the Atari ST or the early Apple and IBM PCs were strictly the domain of geek hobbyists, like myself.

Back in those days, only real geeks used computers!  The personal computer industry saw to that.  To begin with, there were no namby-pamby point-and-click, GUI interfaces!  No-sirree!  Back then, if you wanted to use a computer, you had to type arcane commands like:

DIR C: /S|MORE (meaning "please give me the directions for making s'mores") or...

LOAD "$",8 (load eight dollars into my bank account).

Back then, if you did not know the correct commands to get the computer to do what you wanted, all that you typically got out of the machine was the dreaded SYNTAX ERROR message which was almost always unhelpful except for those rare occasions on which a syntax error was exactly what you were looking for.

Because most people were too busy having actual lives and interacting with members of the opposite sex to bother learning the arcane commands necessary for using a personal computer, those of us who did learn them felt the smug sense of superiority that comes with belonging to an elite secret society, much like the Freemasons only with a dorkier secret handshake.

Of course, even back then, those of us who used computers tended to spend a lot of time playing games on them, and this is another thing that set us apart.  You really needed a strong interest in gaming, of the sort that defies all logical explanation, to enjoy computer gaming back then.  Today's games are multimedia smorgasbords with Hollywood style production values.  I can easily understand why a game like the one below would appeal to a wide audience.

It's a little bit harder, though, for most people to understand what kept us early gamers playing games like the one below for any amount of time.  I should note that the narrator is definitely "one of us" - I can just tell, even without his giving me the dorky secret handshake.

And yet, countless nerds like me spent countless hours tanning their pale complexions by the light of the CRT, late into the night, playing this game for hour upon hour, usually unsuccessfully as it was actually a surprisingly hard game to win at!

Incidentally, the comments following the above video on YouTube included this one:

"I LOVED this game!  I used Norton Tools to hack it and change attributes.  Give myself unlimited armor, strength etc...   I tried to download it for my MAC but it said unsupported CPU :(  I want to play this again!!"

Yup. He's "one of us" too!

I'm most gratified to learn that I am not alone in looking back on those pioneering days of personal computing with a fond sense of nostalgia, as the video below, which celebrates those halcyon days of nerd-dom, aptly illustrates.