Cul-de-sac

"And it was just there, stood just inside the door."
“A bucket?” Nick asked. “In your house?”
“Yeah, a metal bucket. And it had these things in it, some kind of insect.”
“Wait,” Nick said. “Long worm things, lots of little legs? And sort of yellowish, it had some sort of skin?”
“Well yeah, you seen these things?”
“Terry, it’s so weird. We had one of those in our garage just the other day. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Maybe it got out of the bucket,” said Stewart. “Maybe someone was collecting them.”
“No, I mean the bucket. There was a metal bucket in my garage too, those things were swimming around in it.”
“When?” asked Terry.
“I just got home dropping off the kids, so it must have been Sunday.”
“That’s the same day.”
The sprinklers on Henderson’s lawn turned on. Terry spat on the sidewalk.
“So who the hell put these things in our homes?” he demanded. “What the fuck even are they, if I hadn’t seen them first the kids or the dog could have got in there, they would’ve been all over the house.”
“What’d you do with it?” Nick asked.
“I just dumped Drano in it till they were dead. Then I dumped them in the trash. What’d you do?”
“I poured gasoline in it. That seemed to kill them. Then I lit them up to make sure and threw them out.”
“Good. Glad that’s taken care of.” Terry sighed. “I don’t know about you, but the whole thing had me kinda shaken. I had nightmares. I got kids in that house.”
“Yeah I don’t blame you. Those things could’ve had some sort of disease.”
The sprinklers stopped. Stewart cleared his throat.
“You know, Henderson put in cameras last week,” he said. “Been trying to catch the kids that keep smashing up his gnomes. His house is right across from yours, maybe he got the bucket guy on tape?”

"OK, let’s see. Not sure I got the– oh, there it goes." Henderson settled down in his chair, remote steadfastly aimed at the TV set.
“Can you go back three days?” Terry asked.
“Sunday,” Nick offered.
“Yeah.”
The tape reversed, and they saw the past three days of their lives flicker by. There was Martha with the dog, there were Terry’s kids, Terry’s car. Nick blinked past, probably getting the paper. The weekday, imprinted on the video in white blocky letters in the lower right corner, flipped to “SUN”.
“Stop. Play it from here.”
On the screen, Nick’s car left the cul-de-sac. Moments later, the video showed someone approaching his house. Nick leaned in closer.
“I can’t see what he looks like, he’s too far away.”
“Yeah, it’s not really set up to see your yard. Sorry.”
“Looks like a green sweater, and probably jeans.”
The figure opened Nick’s garage door, set something down inside, closed the door and left.
“I can’t even make out his hair color.”
“We’ll get him,” said Terry. “He was in my kitchen too. We’ll get a better look, there’s a good view of my door there.”
They watched and waited.

After several minutes and no movement, Nick’s car pulled back into the driveway. The garage door opened, the car eased in and stopped. On-screen Nick got out of the car and seemed to spot the bucket almost immediately. The bucket itself was out of view, but they could see Nick warily approaching something and bending down to take a look. Then he too was out of view.
“OK,” Terry said, after almost a minute had passed with no change on screen. “Now what?”
“This is when I get the gas.”
“I’ll take your word for it then, I don’t see shit.”
“I don’t know. I feel like we should at least see the flames. Right? Wait, here we go, I’m throwing it out, see?”
Nick emerged from the garage, bucket in hand. They watched in silence as Nick walked over to his neighbor’s house, opened the kitchen door and placed the bucket inside. He then returned to his house and closed the garage door. Henderson raised his eyebrows, clasped his hands and looked quietly at the floor.
“Nick, what the fuck!”
“Terry, wait! Wait a second, I didn’t do that!”
“It’s right there on the screen, man! What the fuck were you thinking?!”
“No, that’s not me, it can’t be! You know I wouldn’t do that!”
“Then who did, huh? He looked an awful lot like you, Nick!”
“Let go, what are you doing? Stop! Look! Look at the screen!”
“Fuck you!”
“Look! It’s you!”
On the screen, Terry was carrying the bucket across his own yard.
“See?”
“Yeah, I’m throwing that shit away!”
“That’s not what it looks like.”
Instead, the Terry on screen walked calmly past the garbage cans and across the cul-de-sac. To Henderson’s house. Terry’s face, clear as day.
“I…”
“Jim, did you find a bucket somewhere in here?” Nick turned to Henderson, who still had his eyes fixed firmly on the floor. “Jim. Jim? Terry, help. I don’t think he’s breathing. Call 911.”
“Wait, I think I remember something.”
“Terry, call 911 now!”
“Before you went to get the gas, did any of those insect things kind of jump at you?”
“At my face? Yes.” Nick stopped trying to rouse Henderson. “You?”
“Yeah. I think… I remember my nose hurting.”
“You do? I don’t… remember. Ow, what the fuck.” Nick collapsed.

Terry reached halfway across the street before he lost control of his legs. All of his senses were numbing. He could barely see his front lawn through the blood and the tears. He was thankful that he could no longer see the crumpled bodies of his family, that he was spared from bearing witness to his loved ones being torn apart by the birth of those parasites. He could only pray that his wife and children were unconscious. His temples pulsed with raw pain. Terry wanted to scream with guilt and anguish, but there was no voice, no energy left. There was nothing left to do now but clench his teeth and wait for the inevitable. And on the edge of his consciousness, a soothing otherness vied for ownership of his last thoughts.

Behind him, Henderson’s sprinklers turned on.

US Pressure on India Threatens Access to Medicines

Pharmaceutical companies are aggressively lobbying congress and the Obama administration in a broad campaign to press India into changing its intellectual property laws. India is a critical producer of affordable medicines, and competition among generic drug manufacturers there has brought down the price of medicines for HIV, TB, and cancer by more than 90 percent.

“Every country has the right to take steps to increase access to medicines and implement a patent system in line with its public health needs,” said Leena Menghaney, manager of MSF’s Access Campaign in India. “Even though India is acting completely within its rights, the country must now deal with unrelenting, unwarranted, and deliberately misleading attacks from the multinational pharmaceutical industry and US government officials.”

The pharmaceutical lobby, led by Pfizer, is currently engaged in a concerted effort to pressure India to change its intellectual property laws. In June, 170 members of US congress wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to send a “strong signal” to India’s high-level officials about its intellectual property policies, and numerous congressional hearings have been held in the past year designed in part to criticize India’s robust defense of public health. Several interest groups have been created to lobby the US government about India’s policies and in early September, US congressional trade leaders requested that the US International Trade Commission initiate an official investigation on India’s intellectual property laws.

doctorswithoutborders.org

US Pressure on India Threatens Access to Medicines

Pharmaceutical companies are aggressively lobbying congress and the Obama administration in a broad campaign to press India into changing its intellectual property laws. India is a critical producer of affordable medicines, and competition among generic drug manufacturers there has brought down the price of medicines for HIV, TB, and cancer by more than 90 percent.

“Every country has the right to take steps to increase access to medicines and implement a patent system in line with its public health needs,” said Leena Menghaney, manager of MSF’s Access Campaign in India. “Even though India is acting completely within its rights, the country must now deal with unrelenting, unwarranted, and deliberately misleading attacks from the multinational pharmaceutical industry and US government officials.”

The pharmaceutical lobby, led by Pfizer, is currently engaged in a concerted effort to pressure India to change its intellectual property laws. In June, 170 members of US congress wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to send a “strong signal” to India’s high-level officials about its intellectual property policies, and numerous congressional hearings have been held in the past year designed in part to criticize India’s robust defense of public health. Several interest groups have been created to lobby the US government about India’s policies and in early September, US congressional trade leaders requested that the US International Trade Commission initiate an official investigation on India’s intellectual property laws.

doctorswithoutborders.org

"Were you looking at that girl’s ass?"

"Yeah, what do you think?"

"I think you’re a disgusting pig!"

"No, I mean, what did you think of that girl’s ass?"

"What? What makes you think I would even look at her ass?"

"If you didn’t, that’s fine, but if you did, I’m interested in your opinion, that’s all."

"No you’re not, you’re interested in looking at girl’s behinds."

"OK, I’ll be honest, it’s eye candy, but what fun is just looking?"

"I can’t believe I’m hearing this. Now you wanna fondle random girls you see in the streets?"

"No! Geez, I’m not some kind of creep. You know me!"

"I’m starting to wonder."

"I’m sorry, I think I started from the wrong end here."

"Yeah, maybe start looking people in the eye instead."

"That’s a really good burn, touché. I meant, let’s back up. Why do people check each other out?"

"Because they’re sexually attracted."

"What? No. What? So if you check some guy out..?"

"Yeah, if I do, that means I’d like a piece of that."

"No, come on, not necessarily. I’ve seen you check guys out. You were out with me and we walked past the veggie shop and there was this one lean blonde guy, basically what I imagine a dolphin would look like if it was in human form, and you couldn’t take your eyes off him."

"That’s… Oh my god, I almost said ‘that’s different’! I hate when people say that! It’s classic knee-jerk lack of self-awareness! Shit, I’m a hypocrite."

"Everyone’s a hypocrite, I wouldn’t worry about it. And checking people out is no big deal either. I don’t think it means anything. I mean, even if it’s mildly titillating — which I’ll admit, come summertime it can be — we don’t suddenly go nuts. If dolphin guy asked if you were DTF, I don’t think you’d magically fall under his spell and hop in the sack with him. We’ve been together almost a year now. This shit is rock solid."

"Well yeah, but even looking is kind of cheating, just in your head. And I feel like, and maybe this sounds like I’m overreacting, but if you keep cheating in your head you start to feel like it’s normal and you can actually consider doing it for real."

"That sounds like a fair point. If someone starts daydreaming about having an affair, that might be a problem. But just looking at someone isn’t dreaming about being with them. If it was, no one could be around other people, everything would just collapse. And cheating is just so stupid. If they really want that other person, they should break off the relationship they’re in!"

"They’re afraid to. Trying to find some way out, but they can’t admit it. Can’t just say ‘hey, this isn’t working and we’re making each other unhappy so let’s quit’."

"It hurts. It’s scary. Easier to just pretend like nothing’s wrong."

"But it’s not though. Being stuck and scared, it kills you."

"I don’t want that. I don’t want to be scared to talk to you, that would be the worst thing in the world. I don’t want that."

"Me neither. So, if you don’t look at girl butts, I won’t look at dolphin guys, deal?"

"No, keep looking! You like that type of guy, and I don’t exactly fit that mold, I get it. It’s pleasing to the eye. Seriously, Legolas is fucking dreamy. And vampire guys? Awesome. So keep looking, all I want is communication."

"So… What, if I look at a guy, I should turn to you and say ‘hey look at that guy’? Why would you even be interested?"

"Because you are! I want to talk to you about the stuff that interests you, I love it. Whenever you look at anything or talk about anything that you love, my brain goes bananas, like I just had ten cups of coffee with a whole bag of sugar. You chose me to share this stuff with! It’s exciting! I’m so into it! That’s why I’m with you. You’re my best friend. I want to share everything with you."

"Even our appreciation of the opposite sex?"

"Even that. Maybe even especially that."

"That’s actually kind of sweet."

"Really? Because I feel like this whole thing came out sounding kind of needy."

"Honey?"

"Yeah?"

"That girl really filled out those jeans."

#TeamAmErika stabbing dragons

#TeamAmErika stabbing dragons

Scrum

There’s a whiteboard on wheels in the entrance to the office landscape. A multitude of post-it notes cling to its surface. Someone has written a short sentence on each note, along the lines of “Store XML in DB” or “DAO façade”. The sentences are tasks referring to a step in a use case.

The notes are organised in columns drawn in whiteboard marker. Most of them have been placed in a column entitled “To do”. Some are in the column “Pending” and roughly the same amount sit under “Done”.

Each developer chooses a note from “To do”, moves it to “Pending” and goes to work on that task. When it’s done, the developer moves the note to “Done” and chooses a new note from “To do”. It’s a simple workflow, designed to promote a sense of self-direction.

Each note in this particular office landscape represents a soul-crushingly boring task. The scrum master might as well have written down every different form of torture he could think up. How could you possibly choose? Why would you make that choice willingly? Couldn’t you just lay your useless husk on the ground and die instead? In fact, wouldn’t it be your duty to burn down the entire office complex and save all involved parties from further torture?

Just write it on a post-it note first.

"Burn"

A former co-worker asked which NIN album is my favourite. He told me his absolute favourite was Pretty Hate Machine, followed by The Fragile and The Downward Spiral.

I think mine is Year Zero, at least currently. It varies. I loved The Fragile when it first came out, but now I feel like it’s too long and kind of meanders and doesn’t have a point. The Downward Spiral is amazing. Broken is short and sweet and noisy.

Year Zero is exciting. The whole concept is cool, and it’s fun to get an album that focuses on society as opposed to Reznor’s personal problems. The sci-fi backdrop is icing on the cake, and the songs are great as usual.

Full disclosure: The fact that it’s currently not available on Spotify might have something to do with it…

A former co-worker asked which NIN album is my favourite. He told me his absolute favourite was Pretty Hate Machine, followed by The Fragile and The Downward Spiral.

I think mine is Year Zero, at least currently. It varies. I loved The Fragile when it first came out, but now I feel like it’s too long and kind of meanders and doesn’t have a point. The Downward Spiral is amazing. Broken is short and sweet and noisy.

Year Zero is exciting. The whole concept is cool, and it’s fun to get an album that focuses on society as opposed to Reznor’s personal problems. The sci-fi backdrop is icing on the cake, and the songs are great as usual.

Full disclosure: The fact that it’s currently not available on Spotify might have something to do with it…

As Lun travelled the lightway, she held two thoughts in her mind: Her destination, and the place she had just left. She put the thoughts on a silver scale, weighing them against each other.

In one bowl sat the child, Primatra. He had shown affinity at a young age. He was bright, friendly, and came from a good family. Most importantly, he wanted to learn. However, as of late all signs of talent had disappeared. This didn’t worry Lun. She had seen many children apparently lose the gift only to regain it after years of hard work. In the end they came out more disciplined and with a greater respect for the Energy.

Primatra seemed impatient now, on the verge of giving up hope, but that would change. He just had to see his own potential, and strive to realise it. As long as Lun was there to guide him, offer him glimpses of the world he might join would he put his mind to it, he was bound to keep working and become a Clarion one day.

The problem was, of course, that she was not there to guide him, and could not be there. For the other bowl on the silver scale hung lower, and in it was only darkness.

Traversing the ridges along the massive shell, hopping from one moss covered bone formation to the next, Primatra felt his mind clear. He imagined himself as one of the Clarions, and the small outcroppings were mountains. He soared through the sky, alighting on a snow covered mountaintop, only to set off again, on a journey toward some mysterious and important goal.

In his mind’s eye he could see the Energy trailing behind him, powering his every step. The rush of air past his ears was a roaring wind, a storm in his path that he powered through and overcame with each jump. No force of nature could stand in his way, not with the Energy on his side.

What did the Energy feel like? The sun beat down on his forehead and shoulders as he pondered. He stopped to wipe the sweat from his face and looked up, watching the sunshine filter between his fingers. Energy shone as bright as the sun, so maybe it felt like a hot summer’s day on his skin, he reasoned. Maybe as he tapped into that well it would heat him, keep him warm on the snowy mountains and in the punishing storms. Like having the sun in his pocket. He decided to ask Lun next time.

Except Primatra didn’t know when the next time would be. When he had arrived at the temple that morning, the old man had told him that Lun had been called away, on something mysterious and important across the mountains. No one could tell him when she would return.

Primatra took a deep breath and jumped to the next ridge.

“Higher.”

Primatra stretched his right arm up towards the sky, one finger pointing to the noon sun, his heels resting firmly in the grass.

“Higher,” said Lun.

Again, Primatra redoubled his efforts, feeling the tendons in his arm start to ache and his shoulder tremble with pain.

“Higher.”

His jaw stiffened and he pushed himself further. Primatra’s arm was now a searing torch of agony, his shoulder numb and his back felt like it was going to break. For all his efforts, his finger moved maybe a millimetre.

“Higher.”

Primatra finally let his arm drop, catching and cradling it with the other for fear that it would fall off. He shivered and shook from the exertion.

“Primatra,” said Lun in a soft voice. “This is the easiest form.”

“And yet no one has even shown it to me,” he muttered before he could stop himself.

Lun gave him an impenetrable look. Then she took a sure-footed stance, knees slightly bent, securing her balance. She raised her fist. And yet raised it again. No strain on her back, knees still bent. Primatra became painfully aware how sweaty he was and how serene Lun looked, and how impossibly long her arm seemed. Then she extended one finger, and it shone with a blinding golden light. It was torture to look at, and his eyes hated him for it, but Primatra couldn’t look away. Lun smiled.

“Do you see, Primatra? This is what happens when you push yourself beyond your limits. This is the Energy.”

People have a lot of expectations for what an adventure game is. Some people don’t consider it an adventure game if it’s not point and click, or it’s not an adventure game because you’re direct controlling the characters in The Cave. But the thing is, when I did Maniac Mansion, there were people who did not think Maniac Mansion was an adventure game because it was not a text adventure, it didn’t have static pictures, the characters actually walked around the screen. ‘That was not an adventure game!’

You weren’t typing in a parser because you were pointing at the verbs. So, people did not think Maniac Mansion was an adventure game, but I think adventure gamers today look back on Maniac Mansion as the seminal adventure game, so I think adventure games just evolve and they change, and I think you just need to do what’s right for them.