Saturday, February 10, 2007

Game theory

Spent part of the day on my Social Studies assignment. This was to design and construct a game that helped students learn about any area of social studies in an engaging way. This kind of thing is gravy to me, as I used to make board games and such for my own amusement as a young (and very probably maladjusted) child. I designed a board game with trivia questions on cards; I drew a freehand outline of the United States and put a series of squares more or less within those parameters. All the questions had to do with the expansion of the United States, from the 1600s to about 1890 or so. And because this is Texas and I geared it to fourth grade, I weighed the deck heavily with questions on Texas history.

I didn't do any deep research for the questions, but I did look up (on the web) specific dates, names of battles and treaties, and so forth for every question. And I've got to say this about American expansion: the United States broke treaties with everyone. We made solemn agreements with, and then stabbed in the back, not just all the Indian tribes, but the French, the British, Spain, Mexico.

And here's the big lesson, which Texans in particular, with the skewed "history" they force feed their children, seem completely oblivious to. Aside from Alaska and the Louisiana Purchase, which was a criminally good bargain made at war-weary Napoleon's expense, pretty much all of our expansion came from unprovoked wars, land-grabs and violent border disputes. We sure showed Mexico good at San Jacinto, huh? That taught them a lesson! Namely, not to welcome American settlers onto their land. Hey, maybe we Texians as a people have a sort of atavistic memory of this perfidy, and that's why we're so afraid to open this land back to them again. The thief, that is, thinks everyone is a thief.


In the evening, I went to my parents' house and my dad and I watched my main man Sugar Shane make a big comeback. Yes, while I've barely ever mentioned it here, professional boxing is a lifelong passion for me. I've been a big fan of this guy for years, and while at 35 he's not quite as fast and agile as I remember, he completely dominated Luis Collazo. Last year, Collazo showed himself to be a tough contender against another favorite of mine, Ricky Hatton. So it was pleasing to see Shane knocking his guy around with consummate skill, knowing that Collazo was no powderpuff. In addition to being one of the finest practitioners of the sweet science ever, Shane's always been great that way: immediate rematches to those who beat him, and seeking out opponents that will give him a challenge rather than an easy win and a payday.

But watching Shane did also remind me of J, my sweet, grumpy roommate of six years ago now. She died at far too young an age, after an operation on her spine led to infection. She lingered for a while, probably not in pain but totally unresponsive, and died at the house that she shared with Deep Blue and me, with her mother by her side. I introduced J to boxing, and the first match she ever saw was with us, at that house, and it was Sugar Shane at his peak, kicking someone's ass so handily, and so beautifully, that we all shouted for joy.

And believe me, most people --- especially girls --- watching their first boxing match ever don't shout with joy when someone goes down.

So I thought of J, who had a lot of health problems and needed a brace to walk, and how she was a well-known figure in the local music scene, and how beloved she was by local bands and promoters and fans. Despite her physical limitations, she went out and kicked society's ass and enjoyed everything that she wanted to experience.

Six years ago.

And I'm still here, tears welling up just a bit.

I need to stop this negativity shit. Life's too short.

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