Games of Chance

Driving Maine’s roadways is challenging. With all the bumps in the road and potholes, it’s a bit of an art form avoiding throwing your front-end out, or snapping a tie-rod, while not smashing into one of your fellow travelers passing from the other direction.  Austerity is a beautiful thing.

Bump sign

Speaking of austerity, our allies across the pond have opted for more of it, in resounding fashion, as David Cameron and the Conservatives were victorious in the British general election, securing an overall majority in Parliament. Listening to the BBC, while dodging potholes on my way to the Bath Y for my Friday morning swim, I heard a host of political “experts” prattling on about the vote. Listening to talk about “shy Tories” and confounded pollsters reveals that their pundits are just as clueless as are our own in the U.S. God save the Queen!

I love to swim, which is saying a lot coming from a guy who couldn’t three years ago, and didn’t even like having his face in the water. My 45 minutes in the pool, while providing a total body workout, is also a chance to “get out of my head” for a small part of my day. Of course, there is always the reality of the world waiting for me in the parking lot.

Listening to NPR, it appears that they are really trying to pull in the millennial demographic. Back-to-back stories on Whole Foods opening new stores, featuring lower prices (and aimed at millennials), and that apparently, millennials don’t like slot machines. That latter Planet Money feature was intriguing.

So the younger set likes casinos, but they don’t dig slot machines. Who knew? The things you learn, driving back home from the pool (still dodging potholes and cracks in the pavement).

See, I always thought the places like Hollywood Slots and Oxford Casino were there to cater to the senior population, not millennials. But, what the hell do I know?

David Kestenbaum set me straight. Thank you, NPR. Where would I be without you?

Kestenbaum intimated that millennials are used to playing games on their “Angry Birds’ machine” (wink, wink), aka, their smart phones. Games of chance like slot machines, which casinos have relied on for years, with Kestenbaum mentioning that for casinos, they were a boon in the past, “you line them up on your casino floor, and they vacuum up money all day long.”

Kestenbaum, again: “People spend an extraordinary amount of time playing games on their phones.” Oh, really?

I don’t play games on my phone, go to casinos, or give two shits about video games in general. So this story surprised me, but it really shouldn’t have. I actually know a guy (a millennial at that) who gets a hefty “gambling allowance” from his wife to play online poker. Can anyone say, “bread and circuses”?

So what does all this mean?

Our physical infrastructure continues crumbling—our roadways filled with bumps and potholes. And likewise, our cultural infrastructure is breaking down. While I’m no fan of games of chance, given that we’ve signed on for more austerity, content to transfer even more wealth to the one percent, I guess playing games on our phones and gambling away our nickels and dimes offers a diversion from the harsh reality.

2 thoughts on “Games of Chance

  1. Can you think of an election or two in the USA that predicted the Dems were “neck and neck” with the Republicans, and then were utterly blown out at the polls? Say, Reagan v Carter in 1980, Bush v Dukakis in 1988, Bush v Kerry in 2004? No one pays pollsters to produce objective results, they pay them to show that whatever campaign the buyer is running is working. To the extent there’s a trend, it’s that the left is played up in the polls when it doesn’t stand a chance. Gotta keep eyes glued to the telly, it’s a close one, here’s another message from our sponsor.

    NPR is the most irrelevant thing on the radio.

    The UK story, to me at least, isn’t about Cameron’s mysterious comeback. It’s about Labour’s complete collapse into NPR-levels of irrelevance. Labour is only Conservative-lite. And lo, the Scottish National Party knocked out nearly every single one of labour’s seats in Parliament. What’s at stake right now? England is leading the drive for the TTIP in Europe, the corporation takeover of all our governments and rights. The NHS, labour’s pride and joy, will begin to be sold off wholesale to various corporate interests (we did it backwards here, selling off our health care system from the very beginning to various corporate interests). Labour and the Conservatives were only disagreeing over who got to do the selling.

    So yeah, roads. There’s a reason Italians never drive through puddles. Drive slowly and safely yourself, it’s only going to get worse.

  2. @LP NPR is indeed, irrelevant. These days, I only tune in to see what rubbish they’re peddling.

    Political punditry, whether here, or “across the pond” really doesn’t matter, as it is equally irrelevant, at least to me–but apparently not for those who still bother with it. Keeping “eyes glued to the telly” is what all the bread and circuses are about these days.

    The roads are truly in terrible condition. Route 1, between Bath and Brunswick has large cracks in the pavement, and don’t even get me going about the so-called “back roads.”

    Austerity: the new normal.

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