CSotD: Assorted Short Subjects

Timing may not be everything, but it’s a lot of things, and today’s The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee (KFS) lands the day after I saw someone observing on social media that the Community Chest card in Monopoly teaches kids to rely on government handouts if they get in trouble.

24 hours later, my response remains true: Monopoly doesn’t teach a whole lot of positive attributes in the first place.

Let me pause here to acknowledge that the history of the game suggests that it was originally intended to teach the evils of landlordism and suchlike, but let me also suggest that the game succeeded despite those rosy intentions.

Board games are competitive, or, at least, the games for people over three years old are. Some people don’t take the competition to heart, but for those who do, Monopoly is pure heroin.

And let me pause again to point out that heroin was originally marketed as an over-the-counter cough remedy. Intentions don’t always carry the day.

But Monopoly is a particularly fine game in over-competitive venues, because it doesn’t end when someone reaches a goal. It ends when everyone else in the game has failed.

It also involves bargaining and begging, which means people not only lose but they lose not by a roll of the dice but because someone else was both mean and clever.

Not saying that’s a bad thing. It does seem to reflect life.

But it’s not for everybody. In my house, the in-laws used to quietly drift out of the room when the Monopoly board appeared.

Samuel Johnson said Lord Chesterfield’s letters to his son taught “the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master.”

But Chesterfield is long dead, so we have Monopoly.

Big Nate (AMS) is, by contrast, on the edge of a positive type of gamesmanship that I used to recommend to my kids about the time they hit middle school: If you have a teacher you can’t get along with, imagine who he or she was at your age.

We can’t tell from here whether Nate is right or wrong about the principal, though it would take a particularly poised administrator to admit it and then explain how the experience shaped his approach.

However, being able to get along with people is kinda how you get into the administration racket anyway, so I’m going to guess that Nate has him pegged wrong.

With practice, however, you can go through the faculty and pick out the former tattletales, the one-time jocks, the fussy ones who had to have their pencils laid out just so, and so forth, including the ones who were picked on or, more likely, ignored.

Once you know the kid, you can figure out how to deal with the adult.

This is not a skill to abandon at the school yard gate.

Think of it, rather, as an example of Life-Long Learning.

Tank McNamara (AMS) was originally depicted as a somewhat thick man-child, but I don’t think the strip would have survived all these years if he hadn’t grown, and this is a good example of his having been around the barn a few times.

Back in the Olden Days, when instant replay was new and there was first a move to allow coaches to challenge calls on the field, legendary NFL Ref Tommy Bell said he’d be willing to take a second look at a pass interference call, as long as he could also penalize all the holding revealed on the tape.

The bottom line is that, even with a dozen camera angles, there will be times when a definitive call simply can’t be made.

Meanwhile, Bell was right: You can’t call everything, and it would bring the game to a screeching halt if you tried.

Relying on the ref’s vision and experience certainly sparked arguments, particularly, as Tank suggests, for the guys with money riding on the outcome. But the current system hasn’t changed it.

At least back then we weren’t fooled into thinking there really was some specific, unquestionable answer.

To anything.

It’s all shadows on the cave wall anyway.

Pardon My Planet (KFS) cuts to the heart of things because those of us who own TVs or go to movies or live in the 21st Century are surrounded by other people’s fanciful visions of how things work.

Owen Wister spent some time out west before writing “The Virginian,” but then everyone who wanted to write a western just riffed on Wister’s characters, plots and language, until the Western became so stylized that nobody who’d ever seen a cow would recognize it.

It happens to science fiction, it happens to cop shows on TV and, however well Mario Puzo reframed the stories he’d heard on the street, every gangster depiction since has been a riff on the Godfather.

If you’re old enough to remember recording on audio tape, you know how dull and distorted each succeeding copy becomes. That’s pretty much the story of prime time television and current movies.

Doesn’t matter. We already accept what the shadows on the wall look like.

I’m taking Rat’s side in this Pearls Before Swine (AMS). Not the part where he proclaims himself a certifiable genius, because it would be more gracious for him to do smart things and hope others draw that conclusion.

But he’s mastered the first step; Block the hatemongers and nitwits so that they can’t fill your social media.

That does not, as Rat suggests, actually change what’s out there, but it does mean that you only get it indirectly in the form of your friends’ horrified retweets.

And most of the time, those will only tell you that such-and-such a person said something hateful and dishonest and stupid, at which point, if you feel you need to roll in the mire, you can track it down and depress yourself.

Which is far better than having your nose rubbed in it.

This is not an argument in favor of apathy or withdrawal or quietude.

You can still uphold justice, protest disinformation and work against false arguments and yet maintain some sort of office hours during which you contemplate it all.

And some personal hours during which you do not.

5 thoughts on “CSotD: Assorted Short Subjects

  1. One of the problems with replay in football is that it mostly depends on camera angles that were designed for a different objective. TV camera men are trained to present the game to the viewer, live. Many camera positions are (necessarily) statiuonary. In contrast, referees are trained to be in position to see what’s going on. Neither is perfect.

    At least replay has improved over the years. In the early years, you’d often have a play starting at the 8 yard line with no camera providing a goal line shot — no anticipation that replay might be needed to decide whether he ball crosses the goal line.

  2. A good ‘un today! You left me with a couple of thoughts that’ll stick, namely the “try to see the child inside the adult” and your shadows-on-the-cave-wall reflections (see what I did there?). The latter reminded me of an article I read during the World Cup, which I won’t look up but maybe anyone interested could find, about soccer players writhing on the ground with fake injuries. It made the point that the performance isn’t even meant to mimic an injury anymore. It has evolved into a *performance* of an injury, and even a stylized performance of somebody else’s performance, meant to draw the officials’ eyes and communicate not “I am hurt,” but “I was fouled.” A copy of a copy of a copy that lost its original meaning.

    1. This also happens in American football. Many years ago Tank McNamara had a weeklong arc about George C. Scott being hired as a punting coach.

      And in yesterday’s Rose Bowl one of the punters seemed to fake an injury. TV replay showed no contact had occurred. But the punter immediately went to the ground, apparently hoping his opponents had been close enough that the ref couldn’t tell. He required help to get up, and hobbled off the field with help from a teammate.

      It is possible he really suffered an injury when landing. But he did return to punt later in the game.

  3. Yes, Monopoly can get mean but the game of Risk is worse with world domination as the goal. Haven’t played it in decades and am not restarting anytime soon

  4. Perhaps because I’m an only child, pretty much raised with only my parents for companions during my early (European) days, but any competitive game is of absolutely no interest to me, be it chasing a ball over a field, or some tokens around a board. Solitaire/Patience . . . competing with myself . . . that I like.

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