An 80's glimpse into the future

We got a Wii machine as a gift for our wedding a few months back, and I've been having fun tinkering with it and playing all sorts of games on it. Just read about how to play the original Duck Hunt on the Wii, so I was giving that the old college try. It's fun, but definitely not the same.

I have fond memories of playing Duck Hunt and holding the gun right up against the TV to "cheat," and still not being able to get past level 10 or so when grandpa, who hunts real ducks with real guns, came along, grabbed the gun, and wasted ducks like he was Rambo and killing was going out of style.

However, something occurred to me while playing this new version on the Wii... How the heck did the original Duck Hunt work?

This was the early 80s, before the iPod, before the World Wide Web, and before Jamaica had a bobsled team. We didn't have the cool techno-craziness we do now where we can push a button on our phones and cook dinner, mow the lawn and flush the toilet at the same time. We just had a big gray box called a Nintendo Entertainment System and an orange gun that looked like it belonged in a cartoon version of "Star Wars."

Well, apparently I'm not the only one who has wondered this. A quick Google search led me to my answer:
You think you're using the gun to shoot at the TV, right? But really the TV is shooting the gun.
Here's what happens. You shoot at a duck, which appears on an ordinary TV screen. The gun is connected to the game console; pressing the trigger blackens the screen, then causes a duck-shaped white target to appear momentarily. If your aim is true, a photo sensor in the gun detects the shift from dark to light, and bingo--dead duck. In short, the TV emits the light pulse and the gun detects it, not the other way around. [via The Straight Dope] 
It's when I find out about something like this -- a simple, yet ingenious trick that provided endless entertainment throughout my childhood and adult life -- that I wonder to myself if we as a species just aren't as creative as we used to be.

Important information for world travelers!

Stay away from Britain if you're afraid of uggos. According to a dating website called, the British are some of the ugliest people in the world. Scandinavians, on the other hand, are some of the most attractive. From the Reuters news article:

Photo from user Ayla87
Fewer than one in eight British men and just three in 20 women who have applied to have been accepted, an emailed statement from the website showed.
Swedish men have proved the most successful, with 65 percent being accepted, while Norwegian women are considered the most beautiful with 76 percent accepted, the website said.
I wrote a similar news article back in 2004 without any concrete sources and entirely based on anecdotal experience from studying abroad in Spain and traveling around Europe. However, my conclusion was as follows:
German chicks are cute. British chicks are attractive. Italian chicks are hot. Spanish chicks are hotter. Swedish chicks are hottest. And Scottish chicks are downright ugly.
Based on this information, one of two conclusions can be drawn.
     A. I must have seen a disproportionate number of attractive British women during my brief passes through.
     B. British women has devolved and become less attractive in the last 5 years.

I'm not sure which would be sadder. If 'A' is accurate, then British women have always been unattractive and I just got lucky with the visuals. However, 'B' does not bode well for the future, because we can reasonably assume that they will continue to become less attractive over time, as illustrated in the graph below:

In conclusion, it's not a good time to be British.

Greetings from 11-year-old Mark J. Lehman!

I've been doing a lot of packing, moving, organizing, and going through old stuff lately because I've had a few life changes (more on that in later posts). However, I came upon a gem when I was cleaning out my closet: an old journal from 6th grade. My 6th grade teacher use to schedule journaling sessions every so often, and being a 6th grade boy, it seems my journaling was only used as a channel to air my grievances about the unfairness of life.

It starts innocently enough, but quickly devolves into madness. Here's the first entry:

Sept 11
I like hamsters because they’re cute and furry. Whenever you get bored you can hold them and pet them. Most of them are really nice. I had two but they both died of the same disease.
I think the technical medical term for that disease was the "silent killer."

For the record, I still agree with all of those points, but through life experience, I've learned that when it come to animals, nothing quite beats the turtle -- they're just so wise. I learned that from the Tootsie Roll Pop commercials of yesteryear:

Of course, every time you think you know something with any degree of certainty, life turns it on its head. Example:

Just goes to show, I suppose.

Stay tuned for more entries from my 6th grade journal.
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