Author Archives: Benjamin White

If you tell a lie, god will strike black spot on your heart

“If you tell a lie, god will strike black spot on your heart”

My informant was first told this by his father when he thought he was telling a lie. It reflects the strong religious beliefs of his father. I asked my informant what would happen if he had a black spot on his heart, and he wasn’t sure. Despite this, this threat succeeded in scaring my informant into telling the truth.

Calculus Joke

“Alcohol and calculus don’t mix, never drink and derive.”

My informant was first told this joke by his high school calculus teacher. It plays off the “Don’t drink and drive” ad campaigns, and adds in a pun for good measure. The result is a highbrid  tragedy-nerdy math joke.

Picture Telephone

Picture telephone is a variation of the classic game telephone usually played with 5-10 players. All of the players are given a pen or pencil and a stack of post its stapled together with 1 page fore each player. Players sit in a circle and in secret everyone writes down a word or phrase on the first sheet of the stack. After 30 seconds, everyone passes their book to the right. At which point players must try and draw the word or phrase from the first page. Then after 30 seconds, they must pass the book to the right. The third player then must try and guess what the phrase that describes the drawing without looking at the original phrase, and writes it on the third page. Play continues until each book has made it all around the circle, with each player alternating drawing what is described or describing what was drawn on the previous page without looking at any other pages. By the time each book has made it all the way around the message has usually been greatly distorted, and all the books are shared.


This game was introduced to my informant at a high school get together. The game is somewhat complicated to explain, but easy to play, making it a game that is good to play repeatedly with friends, and strengthening bonds within the group. It also serves to exclude people who are not normally part of the group as they have to have the rules explained to them, often a couple of times before they understand how to play. This game is similar to telephone as one of the best aspects of game is comparing the resulting message with the original to see how the chain of communication distorted it.


Flashlight Tag

Flashlight tag is a form of hide and seek played at night. Depending on the age of the players it can be played either during a full moon or a new moon for varying levels of difficulty or spookiness. One team is designated “it” and given a flashlights. The others go and hide while the “it” players wait some predetermined amount of time usually measured by counting. Once the game begins the “it” players must turn on their flashlight and leave them on. They must then use their flashlights to find players and get close enough to determine their identity and yell their name, at which point they must go to jail. Other players may tag players who are in jail to “break them out.” The game is over once everyone is in jail.

My informant first played this game in Boy Scouts when his troop was going on a camping trip at a local state park. The boys organized this game to pass the time during an otherwise uneventful evening. Boy Scouts teach children survival and tracking skills so it makes sense that they would be interested in playing games that emphasize those skills. Its also worth noting that originally Boy Scouts was developed as a program for preparing boys for the military. This game is strongly reminiscent of guerrilla warfare, and the skills needed to succeed in surprise attacks are the same skills needed to succeed in this game. Teamwork also plays a big role in the game as players who work together well have a greater chance of winning.

Flashlight Tag by Daniel Christian

A stopped clock is right twice a day, but its still broken

“A stopped clock is right twice a day, but its still broken”

My informant modified the classic fold saying “A stopped clock is still right twice a day” and modified it during a group coding session. One of the members of the group’s portion of code was working about 75% of the time, but could not reproduce the errors on his computer, so he kept claiming the problem was fixed and refused to work on it. After  my informant said the above proverb, he finally gave in and worked on fixing his code. Its interesting to note that by adding the second part of the proverb, my informant completely changed the meaning of the saying. I interpret the original saying as meaning that “even if something is broken, it still has some use”, however by adding the second part of the proverb, the meaning becomes, “If something is broken, it may still has some use, but its still broken”. These sayings can also be applied to people and the meanings remain relatively the same. “Even a stupid person is right sometimes” versus “A stupid person can be right sometimes, but their still stupid.”