Tag Archives: imaginary

Did You Declare War?

war-games1In 1983 a movie was released called WarGames. It starred Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, and a host of other good actors. I thought it was a great film, and seeing it years later, I still like it. In the early days of hacking, home computers, and what computers were capable of, it was an excellent film for preying on the fears of those unsure of what this new technology would bring.

All the young man played by Matthew Broderick wants to do is find new games to play, and he enjoys the challenge it takes to find them. As usual with my posts, I had no intention of talking about this movie. I wasn’t even thinking about it. Certain events that happened today encouraged me to do a search with the two words in it, and lo and behold, there was the movie.

Shall We Play a GameOnce he’s hacked into a military computer, the now well known words light up the screen.

A game. Of course!

gamesThere are some interesting choices, and honestly, who wouldn’t want to play Global Thermonuclear War?

The “game” starts to look suspiciously real, and Matthew Broderick’s character asks the computer what the point of the game is.

to win the game

This is the point when he panics and turns the computer off, the computer calls him, and chaos ensues.

It’s also the point where I started making imaginary connections.

n-GOP-CRAZY-large300However, they weren’t playing a game. They were waging war. I don’t think they got congresses’ approval beforehand, either. In their, let’s just be polite and say somewhat delusional minds, they were at war with the President. Congressmen at war with the President? That sounds incredibly iffy to me. I don’t think they had a bottle to stand on.

Yet they had their “tactics” and their “strategy,” and openly said it was a war. Their goal? To win. For who to win? They can feed whatever they want into their gopbabble, it wasn’t for the people of the United States, it was for themselves. They wanted to win.

Apparently, they pay attention to neither the news, nor have they ever seen WarGames.

A lot happens–now that I’ve pulled up a quote from the movie, I see Matthew Broderick’s character is David and his girlfriend, Ally Sheedy, is Jennifer. They go find the reclusive Professer Falken who created Joshua, the computer who is now running on its own, and bring him back the the military base. David finally figures out a way that he thinks the computer will figure things out, while the military commander thinks this is all real, and the nuclear missiles really are preparing to launch at the then Soviet Union. David teaches Joshua how to play tic tac toe, then tells it to play all games.

wargames tic tac toeAll Screens[They are in NORAD, watching the computer WOPR playing Tic-Tac-Toe and Global Thermonuclear War at the same time]

Jennifer: What is it doing?

David Lightman: It’s learning.

That_scene_from_War_Games

Are we still playing

The only winning move is not to play. Exactly. When you are a member of congress, representing the people of the United States of America, you are not there to play. You are not there to wage war. You are there to make arguments and decisions based on facts and truths, not what you want them to be, but what they are. You are there to work for the best interests of the people, the rich (you) and, more importantly, the rest of us, who might not have a “nice home” to make payments on–we have rent to pay. We don’t complain about how dirty our spa is because we’ve furloughed the people who work there. We don’t harass people who work at parks you have closed (are you really that stupid?) and tell them they should be ashamed of themselves. That woman is completely in the right when she says she isn’t ashamed, she shouldn’t be. She is doing her job. She deserves a medal for standing up to insensitive, idiotic representatives. That was despicable behavior. I’m so glad someone actually got a video of it.

But this whole time, while you have been waging war, it’s been against the American people. The women and children who couldn’t get food for themselves and their babies. The veterans who couldn’t get their services. The veterans who did wage war, at congresses’ permission to the President. The hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers who couldn’t pay their bills or buy other necessary items. See, unlike those people in congress who make approximately $174,000 a year, and are already millionaires to boot, many people live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe more congresspeople have advice such as taking out loans?

People need health care. Do you think because people make less money they don’t get sick? They don’t need surgery? I really believe in this case it may be a case of affluency acting as blinders, the “let them eat cake” syndrome. Congresspeople don’t have to worry about health insurance. They need to go to the doctor, they go to the doctor. Many of us, if we need to go to the doctor,  have to find out if they take our insurance, if we have insurance, if they’re an approved provider or an out-of network provider, do we pay a co-pay that is set or a percentage, if we need a prescription, how much is that, is it a drug that’s on the approved list on our insurance, and so on. And then we have bills we have to make payments on stretched out over a year or more. It’s a whole process. So, we have a president who wants to try to provide health care for all Americans: it isn’t going to be perfect, and there are going to be snags and wrinkles that need to be ironed out. However, it is a start, and I don’t care if conservatives and tea partiers think it’s communist, socialist, Marxist or fetishist, it’s the first time it has been done in this country, and it’s about time.

Yet this is what this imaginary “war” was against. Sort of. It was the excuse John Boehner used to wage his war against President Obama, a personal, ideological war, in a situation that should never have arisen, should never have taken place at the expense of the public Rep. Boehner pledged to serve, and should never have resulted in a shutdown of the government while you were still paid. It was a grudge match carried out in full sight of the entire world, who we at least managed to amuse, and I’m sure now we appear much less threatening. An entire country held hostage by a small bunch of right wing conservative extremists? Hell, Boehner probably has fan clubs in some parts of the world. And the tea party? They should cringe every time they think of the name they chose for themselves and truly be ashamed. This is not the American Revolution, and they are not the self-modeled heroes they purport themselves to be. The American Revolution was fought by people willing to die for their country, to fight for was was really freedom. They denigrate the purpose of the Boston Tea Party as the truly revolutionary act it was by claiming any association with it whatsoever. They are not of that caliber. What gives them the right to usurp the name of an incident of far greater import, consequence, and reckoning than they will ever accomplish through misinformation and distortion of the truth?

War as Boehner and his cronies see it is an odd thing again. As Joshua the computer says, “What a strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” It wasn’t a game, and Boehner sulks that he didn’t win, but says the fight isn’t over. Did he learn nothing from this? Did any of them? What fight? No, he didn’t learn anything. If only when he heard “Shall we play a game?” it meant sticking him in a room with a game console to fight his imaginary wars there. Where no one gets hurt. In the movie, the world is saved because Joshua learns through playing all the scenarios in his “head.”

John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Maybe Rep. John Boehner needs a processor. I think there’s a place to go for those. All he needs is a companion…

jackalope copy.jpg.2013_10_05_21_49_23.0

And he’s all set. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Meanwhile, we can finally go back to government pages without getting stuck here:

government-shutdown---murica-404_o_2293279

I want to thank all of those who made the use of these pictures possible, including MGM, United Artists, and Sherwood Productions for making such an awesome movie. The Jackalope is mine. And I found another picture while looking for these I found particularly funny:

government-shutdown-034-10022013

Enough said.

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What happens When Virtual Friends are Imaginary?

Imaginary FriendWhen I started this blog I was stuck at home on medical leave for my elbow, doing a lot of writing, and talking a lot to my characters. Luckily they didn’t talk back too often and we rarely argued. But what I wrote as the subheading, Keeping my Imaginary Friends Imaginary, was slightly true. I needed to keep the line between what was real and what wasn’t defined, because I can easily get lost in my imaginary world, call my SO or the cat one of the character’s names (the cat didn’t care, my SO, a different matter). I needed a connection to the outside world. I think that may have been about the same time I started joining groups online, to at least talk to other people I assumed  were real.

Now, as anyone knows who has watched Silence of the Lambs or heard the saying elsewhere, it’s never good to assume because it makes an ass out of you and me. I innocently clip-clopped my way along the virtual super-highways, not looking for the roads that had trolls under them. See, that gets confusing when it coms to the fairy tale, because there are the toll trolls, and then the internet trolls, and they are different. The toll trolls are scandinavian in origin, I believe. Internet trolls are ruder and nastier than toll trolls–you at least know what their terms are. Internet trolls are simply there to make trouble and stir people up like a nest of hornets. I don’t mean Internet trolls, although you have to watch out for them too, I mean the toll trolls. These have grown more sophisticated in the age of technology. They sit outside the doors of forums and groups, and those of us who are naive and innocent (the big billy goat gruff is still playing Bejeweled, can’t get him away from it) fall for the lure and promise of friends who understand us. And, amazingly, as promised, they do. The world opens up and everyone speaks your language.

You meet people, start to find out who you like the hang out with the most. If you’re feeling a little in need of extra attention, there are people there to give it, perk you up.

This is my cautionary tale to myself. There are people I have met online that I trust–I trust their advice, when I’m unsure of something I go to them. There are, however, only a couple of these, and only one I would tell the most embarrassing situations I’d created for myself. That’s out of all the people I talk to, most of whom I’m mostly sure are real. If you’re wondering if this goes back to the When Groups go Wrong post, yes, it does.

First of all, however, I think the whole setting of the scene needs to be defined. Basically, in terms of the computer, what is virtual?

According to the Merriam-Webster, the applicable definitions are:

4: Being on or simulated on a computer or computer network <print or virtual books>

a: occurring or existing primarily online <a virtual library><virtual shopping>

b: of, relating to, or existing withint a virtual reality <a virtual world><a virtual tour>

So, then, just by turning on the computer you are letting yourself into a virtual world. I was trying to think of reasons why we trust people we don’t know so easily. It’s not something new. It happened in newspapers before it ever happened on the internet, it (creating false identities) just morphed along with the new technology. And when we accepted the new technology, and our families accepted it, in some cases, even grandparents, and we all emailed each other and sent pictures, etc. we let our guard down. On Facebook we talked to our family and let our friends in. These were all people we knew were real. People with only these experiences went into the world of internet groups and chat rooms with their guard already lowered. After all, the other people they’d talked to were real, right? One possibility. Another is our hope, when someone we meet seems to be someone we want to spend time with and so much in sync with us, we don’t want to think they may not be real.

I should make a differentiation here. I’m not talking about people not what they seem, necessarily, or sock puppets, but people who have been given a personality and voice, a picture of who they are, by someone else, and are controlled by that person. If we are in a group and there’s a moderator, or co-moderators, we are essentially in that virtual world they have created for as long as we stay in their “space”–a little chunk of virtual space with all these virtual identities clinging to it. The closer a group is, I think, the less hard they have to cling, because they have faith in their virtual world, that it is what it seems to be, and isn’t pretending to be what it isn’t. You know your moderator is real, not imaginary. If you lift the mask, there’s a face there. Not so with the virtual imaginary friends.

I should explain myself more clearly. These people have an outside identity, a shell, so that they appear real, but if poked too hard, they collapse in on themselves like an old balloon, the deception of their identity flaking off. They were someone else’s creation. But how could they be, you might protest. You talked to them, had privately messaged conversations that you thought only the two of you shared. But if the person is imaginary, who were you talking to, who were you messaging, and, most importantly, who was reading what you were writing? You have just expressed your innermost thoughts meant for the now very flat person on the ground to someone you don’t know, some other virtual person who isn’t imaginary, but who controlled your “friend” who you thought was real.

It’s such a convoluted world. When we go into a virtual world, we have to remember that everything else, to an extent, is also virtual. At one point in the discussion in the group I’m thinking of, the moderator joked, “What do you want, us to photocopy our driver’s licenses and post them?” in an attempt to make us sound ridiculous. Now I wish I’d responded. “Yes, actually. I do want to see your driver’s license. For all three of you.” If I had called his bluff, which he correctly guessed none of us would do, the whole drama would have been over, although I’m guessing he might have had a back up plan, an excuse why they couldn’t.

I don’t think many people are going to have that situation, where a moderator has created imaginary friends to help run the group.

I suppose it’s not really a problem for anyone unless they have what they thought was a special friendship with one of those friends. Thought that maybe they really could be good friends, although why they’d want to be friends with a prickly hedgehog escaped them. Possibly because they tended to be able to be friends with real people with similar temperaments who had been co-workers, the ones that drove everyone else batty. The ones who were always put on the same shifts with me because the assistant manager knew I didn’t mind said prickly person. He was literally most likely a genius and probably had Asperger’s, hence the total lack of people skills. Why he was in retail I don’t know. His interactions with customers were often very amusing to watch and I kept an eye out to make sure I didn’t have to intervene. Especially as his “inside voice” was quite often his “outside voice.” I would sympathise with him that yes, people were often very stupid. I often wonder what part of the universe he’s ruling now. Why he got along with me but not anyone else. Possibly because I accepted him the way he was. This is who that friend online reminded me of, even down to the Borg.

I wish it didn’t have to be this way. Having a friend suddenly become imaginary is a bit of a shock. More than a bit. Nerve wracking.

I’m open-minded about it should the situation change. The doors aren’t shut, but neither are they flung open wide. I have learned some things.

Maybe I should change my tagline to : “Making sure my imaginary friends are real.”