Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday morning things

* In yesterday's sermon, the minister briefly referred to that old "Footprints" poem (You know: "When you saw only one set of footprints, that's when I carried you"). And I thought, perhaps a bit cynically (then again, perhaps a bit not): there are an awful lot of people who, when they look back on 2016, will be seeing only that one set of footprints. Because it's been a rough year so far, y'all. And I don't think that's just skewed perception on my part.

* Someone I knew slightly from the Ivory Tower Fiber Freaks group passed away a few days ago. It's really strange, in the virtual world, to feel sad over the death of someone you never met in person. But more and more we see that happening....Equestria Daily was memorializing one of its moderators who passed away. 

* One of the "free" stories in this morning's Chronicle of Higher Ed (there are a few Premium ones I want to read from time to time, but not enough to pay for a subscription. It's possible my uni library has a login, I should ask...) was about the Pokemon Go craze: Pokemon Goes to Campus.

I can see the good and the bad in this. The good: people are getting out and are forging funny little communities with each other. People who might otherwise never talk are talking. This is good in the same way that I see Ravelry as good, or the good parts of any fandom as being good: there are supportive people (someone somewhere was talking about how a lot of the Pokemon Go users are exchanging information about where to find "good" Pokemon or how to train them and stuff, and I don't think there's enough of that kind of neutral-good stuff going on in conversations between people). It's an escape, and I think we desperately need little escapes now - so much of the world feels like it's being consumed in a dumpster fire that it makes me happy to think of random people meeting up because they share an interest in these virtual critters. (while I don't QUITE think we will see "Racial/Class/Gender healing through Pokemon!" I'd like to think some degree of it was possible)

There's also the not-so-good: people violating the "sanctity" of some areas by not behaving appropriately, and I do think Niantic should offer an opt-out option for public places like the Holocaust Museum and cemeteries if they find the behavior of Pokemon hunters to be a problem. (I know some have argued, "but it gets 'em in the doors!" but I've seen enough bad human behavior to know I'd be really offended if I were at a museum commemorating some atrocity committed against MY ancestors* and there were people running around and laughing).
(*Not that there really have been any; my Irish ancestors mostly missed the Potato Famine by virtue of (a) probably not actually being Catholic and therefore being allowed to own land and (b) the founders of my particular branch having been cheated out of their inheritance circa 1830 and having to come here BEFORE the famine hit. And my German ancestors seem to have been fairly industrious and lucky, even if that one Walloon lady had to pick up and move to avoid war (and the ones I count as my ancestors left Germany before all the ugliness of the 20th century - in fact, at least one left to avoid conscription into the Kaiser's army - an 1890s draft-dodger!). And on my mom's side, at least as far back as we can see, people were either farmers/shopkeepers of mostly British heritage, or French (later, French-Canadian) "forestiers" (which I presume means like lumberjacks), so I don't really have any "atrocities committed against my people" in my background)

And also to the bad: there will be that one idiot who thinks they can drive a car down the interstate at the same time as they hunt Pokemon. (I wound up, driving down to the train station last week, behind someone who was going at variable speeds and was kind of all over the lane. I admit, I wondered if maybe they were chasing Pokemon.) And there are the people who will use it as a way to lure innocents to somewhere where they can be robbed or whatever. And there will be people violating private property.

 If I could draw comics, I would draw one of a professor working in his or her office, and people randomly stopping by, then leaving, and interrupting the person's work, and in the last panel, the prof is on the phone with some office somewhere, going "Okay, who the H*ll put a Pokestop outside my office?!?!!" Because I'd find that majorly annoying. (And yes, I get that it doesn't QUITE work that way, you can be outside a building, apparently, and still get Pokemon in it.)

I'm also concerned that somehow, someone here will latch on to the thought that it is a Good Idea to gamify things in this way, and then we're all stuck with doing something silly in our classes or our office hours. (I could see someone setting a lure outside their office in the desperate hope to get students to come by). I dislike gamification for the contradictory reasons that (a) it seems silly to me and (b) I never got any "perks" for doing what I was supposed to as a student/employee/general adult and I feel like "why should I go to the effort of offering those 'perks' myself?"

That said: someone on Twitter made the comment that when people tire of Pokemon Go, they can always take up birdwatching with its life lists. (I so, so, so want to say "gotta catch 'em all" to my colleague the ornithologist who is also an avid birder when he talks about adding to his life list but I am not sure he would appreciate the humor).

* There's also a little mention there of the guy who got locked in at the OU stadium while trying to catch a Squirtle. (Isn't that one of the more common ones? At any rate, it's one whose name I know, so I assume it's pretty common). I also heard a bit more of the story on local news: he jokingly tweeted out something about how if he died in there it was because he was hunting Pokemon. Someone DID come and let him out but can you imagine the conversation with the custodian who had to go and do that: "You're waking me up in the middle of the night for what, now?" (Seriously, the guy would not have died having to spend a night in the stadium....)

* Also, my downtown is apparently doing a Pokemon Go night. My church has decided to set up a table and give away cookies and lemonade to Pokemon hunters, and also have the fliers about our church out in case anyone is interested. I am in favor of this; this is the kind of quiet community outreach thing that sometimes leads to someone we would otherwise never expect coming and joining us. And the idea of things like sponsored Pokemon Go nights I am in favor of....I'm just not crazy about the idea of people wandering on to private land or doing it in a place where they would be better off paying attention to their surroundings.

* I wonder if my personal version of the "gotta catch 'em all" mentality manifests more in the sense of learning German via Duolingo or learning to play the piano, things like that. Or wanting to (still) read ALL of Shakespeare's plays in my lifetime (I need to get back on to that). Or wanting to try out the different breed-of-sheep-specific yarns I see. I suspect that a lot of people have that inclination to want to get obsessively deep into something and to learn a bit of "arcane" knowledge.

(Also, Pokemon is a good "gateway drug" for getting people interested in taxonomy and classification, or so it seems. Someone did point out that Pokemon could be good for science by raising that interest - and, heh, someone ELSE pointed out (and I agree) they could do even MORE by renaming "evolutions" as "metamorphoses," which is really what the creatures are doing: individual organisms cannot evolve but they can and do metamorphose)

* That said, I think I need to go back to my German books for a while; I find I am really struggling with mastering sentence structure and noun declensions and Duolingo doesn't teach that as explicitly as I need it taught - I need to know the rules behind it and not just pick it up on the fly through trial and error.

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I went walking with some friends and their daughter this weekend. They showed us how they played pokemon go. the daughter and both parents are playing and comparing their "catches" and it was interesting to see people walking around with their heads in the phone seeing things that I couldn't see. it was actually quite relaxing to just stroll around, even if I wasn't playing the game