Thursday, July 10, 2008

Morality Thinkpiece

I was thinking a bit about Waffles' question re: Perticelli's statement re: Mini-donk playing poker (assuming that's what it was about).

I first played poker before I was a teenager. Let's say 11 or 12 years old. Granted, it was on a computer (before there really was an "on-line" beyond 300 baud modems connecting to someone's BBS) and it was terrible. I'd heard of poker before that, but really knew very little.

So, would I teach my kids poker (if I had kids)? Absolutely. Would I let them play online? Yes. But not for money. Let's be realistic here. If I have a computer, and the Full Tilt icon sitting on the desktop, my kids will 100% load that shit up and play, whether I allow it or not. So I might as well allow it and supervise it. Play money only. Could they play in my home game? Nope. They can watch, be there, but nothing bigger than penny-ante for them until they're older. Older being somewhere in their teens.

I MIGHT make an exception with a blogger game though - transfer them a buy-in and then take back any winnings from the account (but I'd give them the actual cash in the real world). We all know too well how slippery that slope is though. Soon enough, my 12 year-old would be schooling Hoy. Of course, with all this would be lessons in bankroll management, appreciation of money, and financial responsibility. Or something.

That was a long-winded way of getting the the point of this post - what do we do or use that we might find unpalatable in other situations?

For these examples, imagine that you've come across a city that is completely isolated from the rest of the world. Be it a lost tribe, or a city on another planet, whatever works for you. They have never before experienced or heard of the things being discussed. You are the first person who could introduce them to it.

Poker/Gambling - They have no concept of putting up a possession or money in the hopes of winning more based on statistics alone. Any games they play are purely for the fun of it. Perhaps the closest they've come is flipping a coin to decide who does what chore - something fair and equitable. Do you teach THEM poker? How about for money? Let's face it, you can't keep score in poker without some sort of token, or chip. Do these necessarily need to have a value associated with them in the real world? What about blackjack? Craps? any other house-favoured game that has the sole purpose of separating people from their possessions? You'd make a killing with these rubes.

Alcohol - Setting up a still is easy - some tubing, heat, containers, and rotting fruit. Some grains and yeast and you can make beer. Grapes for wine. Everyone has rough days and could use something to relax them. Again, you'd make a fortune being the only game in town for booze. But the social ills associated with drunkeness are known. Sure, prohibition doesn't work, but what if booze was unknown? The obvious comparison would be the introduction of "fire-water".

Drugs - See alcohol. Although more difficult to set up, there's doubtless some plants nearby and whatnot that can be refined to a more potent form. Some peyote or morning glory seeds perhaps. The plant over there looks oddly familiar...

Swearing - the f-word flows easily from most of us, but do you teach an entire group of people words that are meant to be "dirty"? Do other ills stem from language?

Lawyers - Disputes are settled through arbitration and common sense. People seem happy with this. Do you introduce the intricacies of law and those whose job it is to interpret and bend these minutae to the will of their client?

Money - It is the root of all evil. Do you replace a system of barter and fair exchange for one of currency and symbolic goods? Let's face it, money is nothing more than a metaphor for something else. Centuries ago, a cow was good for 2 pigs, or room and board could be bought for a some jokes and songs. Nowadays, our skills are unrelated to our goods. In many ways, this is a good thing, but is the darker side of this system enough to make you pause?

Just some examples of things we take for granted here. Some of these we deal with everyday, others are already the cause of social upheaveal. Most of them we don't have a problem with, because we're adults and make our own choices, or they're the norm. But when they become a foreign agent, do their corruptive sides make them unpalatable? Just something to think about.


Unknown said...

I think anything foreign to any species can be constructive or destructive. If the foreign object is stronger than the existing inhabitants then it will thrive. Kudzu anyone?

The strong only survive when they are surrounded by the weak. The strongest of the weak still lose to the weakest of the strong. (See the LA Dodgers as an example of a division leader but still UNDER .500)

Why do people dislike lawyers? We don't but we all know of someone who got screwed by one. So are all all lawyers bad? No (My sister Kiri, and multiple poker friends are examples). But get me to talk about my divorce lawyer who lied, delayed and just screwed up my divorce and I will just give you a face reserved for kids being forced to eat veggies.

Extremes are what kill. Bullets kill people, not guns. It's not the political core that wins elections but the fringe and moderates.

There are two sides to a story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Unknown said...

Last time I got completely beat in live poker, it was by a young kid at a graduation party. With family and friends, and small buy-ins (it was 5-10 I think), I don't see a problem.

It's the question of whether the kid is playing poker for fun, or becoming a poker player. One game here or there, whether money is on the line or not, isn't a problem.

Heck, I bet horses while in grade school. I just had a strict rule of $3 bets, one per race.