Monday, August 05, 2013

steer clear

so lately my son has taken to going for a walk with me, and this means a few times around this big wide park that is very grassy and pretty, very peaceful at night with a nice sky above. it's dry here, but there were lots of stars out so i tried to show him what i know, which actually isn't much. there's the big dipper, and the north star, so that's how you tell which way is north, any time that it's night. the problem is, what about day? you have to watch the sun to be sure it's going west. if it's just standing there above you, you have no idea where it's been. this brought up the question of the moon, which was inexplicably invisible. why, because it's not full, so it took its good old time coming out tonight? i have no idea. but i couldn't find it.

so he tells me about these kids that get on minecraft, or similar games, and have plenty of money, so they make donations and get lots of kits or armor or enchanted tools in return. and, if you don't have money, sometimes you don't have access to this kind of stuff and you feel like you're tearing around fighting losing battles with these well-armed wealthy brats. (welcome to life, i felt like saying, though i didn't, i decided to just listen). but then he tells me more, about these kids who make youtubes about this stuff, and crank out youtubes at the rate of one, two three or four per day, all about how you'd cruise around this virtual territory, and trick people, or kill them, all in a virtual kind of way of course, but these people get lots of "hits" or "likes" or "subs" on their videos, subs being subscribers, those who wait breathlessly for your next video and then, of course, watch it, after you've produced it. in fact he makes a few of these, but readily admits to being an amateur, but perhaps getting a little better with the online moviemaking software...he's eleven.

but then, in the annals of people taking these games way too seriously, is the story of kids deleting each other's videos, or changing the passwords on their youtube channel, or reporting each other to the admins. and he flings these words around, like admins, subs, etc. as if everyone were supposed to know them. but the scariest story of all, in my opinion, is that of the austin kid who made a reckless but still deadly threat as related to his league of legends game, though he put lol and j/k (just kidding) on his post somebody apparently took it quite seriously and turned him in. my guess was that it was a gamer who was taking it all too seriously. the kid spent a few months in jail before his parents got their doctor or an anonymous donor to come up with half a million for bail. his case will probably disappear into obscurity, when it is proven beyond a doubt that lol and j/k meant he wasn't serious, but what was serious is that if you make an enemy on one of these games, they aren't about to just go away. online there is no away. you're stuck with 'em, baby.

the world is small and getting smaller. sometimes i used to point out to my students that americans could be blunt and direct, probably because there was, originally, hundreds of miles of wilderness to disappear into, and nobody was forced to live with each other even a minute longer than they had to, one could just go a ways west and find a bit more land and set up a little wood box with a single door, and make sure that all the bears had better ideas than stopping by for some peanut butter. out here, in texas, people have two or three hundred acre parcels and they use them purely, solely for hunting, sometimes merely quail, nothing else, there isn't a darn thing out there worth dragging home though you could probably eat the wild pigs if you had to. so they got used to this idea that the horizon goes on forever, and you can see somebody coming for miles, and if all you wanted to do with your land was to go out there and shoot your gun up into its sky, then you might as well go on and do it because who else would even hear it, let alone care? this kind of wide-open mentality is now kind of ridiculed in the rest of the world which even makes websites whose sole purpose is to give the state of texas the long digit. but i don't think anyone is truly ready for what the new crowded world really brings us. the actual number of people on earth may decline; it already is in the developing world, the west and asia. but the delicacy required to live shoulder-to-shoulder with seven billion, five bilion of whom are hungry, all the time, may be a little different from what we thought when we were thinking "egalitarian," or, "democratic," or "one world"...

then there's the story of a-rod, who i've suddenly taken an interest in, for what reason my other son cannot fathom, since i've explained that he was a yankee, so i should at the very least not even care about him. but he is an intense competitor, one who would yell right before someone would catch the ball, hoping to rattle them and gunning for any edge that could turn a game. and we saw that once, on television, on one of the few games i've ever watched the indians play (this time against texas), at a friend's house one year. he rattled some pitcher who balked and that cost the indians something, i can't remember what, but earned a-rod my lifelong antagonism as his kind of mocking competitive laugh would get under your skin and stay there. but his association with the whole steroid thing will apparently cost him all his records, his reputation, his everything, all because what, he didn't know better than to steer clear of that kind of stuff? the new york times keeps mentioning how influenced he was by the fact that his father, at some point, maybe when he was eight, just walked away. no one to tell him to steer clear.

makes me wonder, when i'm the kind of guy who, if my dad told me to go west, i'd go east. so where did i end up, but texas.


Anonymous Hugh said...

This is great!

1:17 AM  

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