Category Archives: Life in General

Are the Political Parties Cults?

I’m probably nowhere close to being the first person to realize this. The problem is, us independents are very definitely a minority, so things we notice like this don’t get bandied about on Facebook and other social media. We’re drowned out by the faithful, yammering as they do about their candidates.

And the majority of them actually do act like they’re in a cult.

donald-trump-is-still-soaring-in-iowa--but-there-are-now-some-clear-warning-signsConsider: you have the Trumpites (Trumpets?), who seem to be the majority on the Republican side of things at the moment. Of course, in political terms, it’s a long, long time till November, so anything can happen by the time the election comes around, but right now he seems to be the one riding the wave. I think it interesting—and a bit disturbing—that the Republican leadership differs with their members on this one, as they don’t like the man. Do they know more than the average Republican voter? Who knows? But one thing is for sure: it’s a disturbing trend—and reflective of a larger issue I see in our government in general—that they are determined not to listen to their constituents on this matter.

Then there are the Cruzerians, following a man many are questioning as they did Obama ted_cruz13before him: as a Canadian born to an American mother, does he have the right to even be president? This has plagued Obama for his entire eight-year stint, and will likely follow him to his grave. I imagine the same will happen to Ted Cruz, should he win. Or, for that matter, should he lose the nomination or bid for the presidency. Talking heads will no doubt point to this as a major factor in his defeat—along with the fact he has the gall to actually be religious.

RubioThe Rubiomites seem to have a hard row to hoe, as Rubio has flip-flopped on some issues—especially illegal immigration—about as much as John Kerry flip-flopped on our Middle Eastern ventures. He seems to have earned his sobriquet of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only), at least if you ask a Trumpite or a Cruzerian.

On the opposite side, you have the Hillaryans, who apparently believe we need to follow upHillary-Clinton-Crazy-Face the first black president with the first woman president, which is fuzzy logic at best. But then, politics and logic rarely coincide. In fact, I was once derided on Facebook for uttering the blasphemous phrase Logic dictates. Apparently the commenter thought making decisions based on knee-jerk reactions (PATRIOT Act, anyone?) and emotions was a much better method than examining facts to make an informed choice. But I digress. Much like the Cruzerians, the Hillaryans have to face the fact their candidate is (yet again) under investigation for something. But hey, since when has a scandal meant anything in American politics?

socialist-bernie-sandersAnd last but not least, there is the Church of Bernie, where any day now, he will usher in a utopia where there’s all kinds of free stuff and the lions will lie down with the lambs and all that. I wouldn’t say they’re any worse than the others—after all, I don’t support any of the current crop—but they do seem the least pragmatic, since it’s pretty easy to see nothing is free. But I’m not here to argue policy, and saying he’s the least pragmatic is like saying his shit stinks less: it really doesn’t matter, cuz it’s all crap.

I realize there are likely sensible people who have decided on one of the above candidates for what to them are sensible reasons. The problem is, they’re not the ones you see commenting and foaming at the mouth on social media. They stay more or less quiet—with a few exceptions—and make their voices heard at the polls. I don’t know if they’re in the minority or not, though I suspect they’re not. After all, there aren’t as many rabid dogs as there are good ones, so I imagine those who spout off about anything and everything and resort to name-calling to make their points are an embarrassment to the rest.

And the thing is, the mouth-foamers are the ones you can’t reason with. I have a man I now consider to be a good friend, Gordon Bonnet, with whom I agree on very little politically. But you know what? We can have intelligent discussions about it without insulting one another, and he’s made me rethink some things, as I hope I have him. I don’t want to bring him over to my way of thinking, and I don’t believe he does me, but we can talk about these things and do it with respect for one another. That’s a rare thing these days, at least on the discussion threads I see online.

As an independent, I tend to like to go onto these threads and be a troll, and it’s amazing to me how alike both sides actually are. Not in what theyposts believe, but in the fervency of that belief. They absolutely refuse to entertain any viewpoint but their own—much like, say, Christians and Muslims, to use just two examples—and if you dare suggest anything different, they yell at you and call you names. And when you point out the fallacy of their argument by stating facts and figures—or simply point out that what they’re spouting is an opinion and they haven’t backed it up with fact—they go silent. I don’t know if they’re pouting or what.

And one last thing to consider: both parties are having something of an identity crisis (I suppose that’s the correct term) at the moment. On the Republican side, you have the schism between the party leadership and the voters, where many of the latter support Trump, mostly as a major sea change in the way the party does things (that in itself isn’t a bad thing), while the leaders themselves threaten to boycott him at their national convention.

On the Democrat side of things, the contentions between followers of Hillary and Bernie also seem to threaten to tear the party apart, with supporters on both sides saying if the other candidate wins the nomination, they’ll vote Republican. Or stay home.

genetic ignoranceThe bottom line is, the hate and vitriol I see both sides spewing is very much reminiscent of religion. I saw a meme on Facebook positing that anyone who is against Obama is not only a racist, but also a victim of genetically inherited ignorance. This was put out by Occupy Democrats. I have no idea how radical they may be, but if this is one of their beliefs, I’d say fairly radical. My first thought on reading this was to wonder if they were going to start espousing their own form of eugenics at some point in the future. You know, instead of eliminating “inferior” races, just eliminate those with genetically inherited ignorance, or at least decide they can’t vote.

Cult, indeed.

Later,
Gil

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The New Western

the-revenant-compA little over a week ago, I went to see The Revenant, the fictionalized version of the Hugh Glass story, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, and I have to say it was a great movie. Unlike most movies today, they eschewed the use of CGI, even when filming the bear attack that is the pivotal event of the story. And they filmed only in natural light, so the scenery is spectacular, and you can practically feel the cold seeping into your bones. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and correct that discrepancy.

The Revenant is among a crop of recent westerns, including the direct-to-DVD Bone Tomahawk, The Hateful Eight, and Jane Got a Gun, none of which I have seen. But I did read an article about how the newer westerns, while a welcome sight, were much more violent than westerns of yore.

Of course, one of them is a Quentin Tarantino movie, so you can expect it’ll be violent. A Tarantino movie without violence would be like Star Wars without spaceships: it just ain’t happenin. Obviously, not having seen any of these other movies, all I have to go on is what the article said, but I have to wonder about the author’s motivations (and I can’t seem to find the article now, or I’d link to it).

The west was a violent place, though that violence was probably not as prevalent as the movies would have us believe. After all, take people who really don’t fit in in the first place, put them in an area where the law doesn’t exist and there’s no one to curb their antisocial tendencies, and you’re gonna have violence. It’s just human nature.

However, I would guess that, based on what I’ve read, the violence was about like becoming a tornado victim in Tornado Alley: it’s very much a possibility, but if you look atThe-Hateful-Eight-banner-620x467 the statistics, actually not as likely as urban legend would have us believe. The period we call the Wild West didn’t last very long, in fact. The vast majority who traveled west were settlers, men with families in tow who were seeking a better life, something they simply couldn’t find in the stratified east. They were chasing a dream of having their own land. They formed towns and quickly hired law enforcement officers of various types. The Texas Rangers patrolled that huge area under the motto One riot, one Ranger. The US Marshals were also present throughout this period. And that doesn’t even include the town sheriffs and marshals populating the landscape.

That’s why there were places like Robber’s Roost and Hole-in-the-Wall. The bad guys needed places to hide out because, in all honesty, the vast majority of people in the west were against them. And they were armed.

What we read when we pick up a Dusty Richards or a Louis L’Amour novel is a romanticized version of the west, where the good guys were gooder and the bad guys were badder, and the honest citizens were often caught in between. Call it a nineteenth century version of The Avengers. Yes, there were the larger than life figures, some of which switched sides, like Bat Masterson.

When it comes to movies, the classics have actors like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Randolph Scott, and so on. More recent stars would include Sam Elliot, Tom Selleck, and Jeff Bridges. When we pick up a movie with one of these actors in it, we expect more or less classic western action, where the good guys win and the bad guys get their comeuppance.

High_Plains_Drifter_posterThe 1960s saw a different type of movie come along, though, the fabled spaghetti western. Made with low budgets, they generally featured up and coming actors such as Clint Eastwood (who has also starred in more classic western movies), strident music, and lots of close-ups of actors making various noises in reaction to horrible deeds and a more violent, less idealized version of the west.

And now we have the more modern, more violent western, where the characters aren’t so clean cut, and they get dirty, and tired, and the action is more in touch with reality—albeit still a somewhat romanticized reality—than the classic westerns. There’s more grit and fewer Guys in White Hats who always get the girl.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I can’t see how it would hurt to have a modern western made in the classic way. At the same time, I enjoy the grit and dirt I see, because, as much as we idealize those who settled the west, it wasn’t a clean or easy job. It was backbreaking labor, whether you were a cowboy or a sodbuster. Taming a frontier isn’t for the faint of heart or the spoiled. You gotta get your hands dirty to get anywhere.

And I’m sure the violent western is a reflection of our times, as so many movies are. It’s escapism, plain and simple. So while the author of the article I mentioned above seemed to deplore the violence in the new westerns, I’d say it’s here to stay, in all likelihood, and the best we can do is enjoy the stories. Or not. After all, no one is forcing you to go to these movies, or read the books.

Having grown up reading westerns, I think I’ll give them a chance. After all, the only constant we have in life is change, so this too shall pass.

Later,
Gil

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Long Ago Spring

7022544797_ba8bdde317We’ve had a few nice days here in Northwest Arkansas. Temperatures in the sixties, warm sunshine, pleasant southerly breeze, birds singing, water sparkling so bright it blinds you. Spring in the middle of winter.

In some ways, I hate it, because I know winter isn’t over and this is like Nature teasing us before slamming the lid down again. On the other hand, it’s a bit like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Any break from winter is a welcome one.

Driving home from grocery shopping with the windows down, having a hard time paying attention to the road because it was so pleasant, I got to thinking. For some reason, the pleasant weather put me in mind of spring when I was young. The winters were harsher then, and lasted longer. More snow, more cold, and spring was definitely a welcome occurrence.

I grew up out in the country, and it didn’t matter what the weather was, my friends and I tromped all over. We had some favorite places we like to go, but pretty much everything was fair game. I lived not far from Glade Creek in Madison County, and I couldn’t tell you how many trips we made up and down that creek bed, in all kinds of weather. Hot, cold, snowy, icy, it didn’t matter. If we got it in our head to do it, we did it. I’ve walked miles of it on ice, stumbled along the banks in summer trying to keep my feet dry, made our way to some select pools to go swimming… the adventures were endless.

In the spring, though, there was something special about exploring the countryside after a long, cold winter. The creek beds had great piles of debris washed up from winter rains, and there was no telling what you’d find. The days were warm and pleasant, birds sang everywhere, and even the sparkles off the water seemed brighter, as if the water was laughing at being cut loose for another warm season.

All our familiar haunts looked strangely new, and the urge to explore them all again and again grew as the grass became greener and the trees leafed out. Birds were131 - Castle media (2) everywhere, building nests, singing in the trees. I grew up on a farm, so we’d see calves playing in the fields, get to watch hawks soaring overhead. Going to school was torture. Why be cooped up in a classroom when there was so much to do outside?

This was before gaming consoles turned into babysitters. My friends had an Atari (I don’t know which one, wasn’t aware there was more than one model), and I can remember us playing Pong on it at times. There were other games as well, but I can’t recall them. But our time on the console was rationed. And we’d grow tired of it eventually anyway. It wasn’t quite the same as playing games in the arcade, for one, and for another… well, there were things to do outside. We’d already spent too many days cooped up due to nasty weather. Sure, we went out in it a lot, but you can only take so much of that bone-shaking cold and wet feet before you figure it’s time to go back in and do something where it’s warm.

Remembering all this made me want to get out and tromp around again, maybe recapture some of the feeling I had when I was a kid. Unfortunately, that was almost forty years ago. I’m older, more jaded and, unfortunately, fatter and lazier. Of course, maybe if I tromped around out there, I’d not feel so fat and lazy, and maybe even not so old anymore. It’s something to think about.

But I’ve got the memories, memories from a time before cell phones and internet, GPS and Facebook. I don’t know that we actually had it better than the kids do today, but it sure feels like we did.

I’m glad I got to grow up like that.

Later,
Gil

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Apps Apps Everywhere

I was doing laundry the other day when I happened to glance over at the box of Purex detergent setting on the dryer. Just a casual glance, but down at the bottom was an invitation for me to download the Purex app. To the left of that was a link to subscribe to their eNewsletter.

A newsletter about laundry detergent?

Happy happy, joy joy.happy-happy-joy-joy-r-s-o

I guess I’m an old fogey, because I don’t see the need for all these apps. Everywhere you look, someone has one. I realize it’s part of promoting your product these days. Apparently, the Purex app has tips on doing your laundry, money-saving deals, stuff like that. I guess my real question is, is there really anyone out there who downloaded this thing?

Well, people believed in Bat Boy, that character the now-defunct Weekly World News came up with, so I guess anything’s possible.

Bat BoyI just have trouble picturing putting a laundry detergent app on my phone. Heck, I’ve got Twitter and next to never look at it. My Facebook usage is steadily going down because I’m getting tired of all the political rhetoric all over my wall. How anyone could fall for the likes of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders is beyond me. One will lead us into something I can’t even imagine, and the other will take us more toward the socialist side of things. And everyone in between is insane in some way that should knock them out of the running, but we get what we pay for.

And none of that is germane to what I’m talking about, though I have to wonder: if politicians had apps, would they crash all the time?

All of this is to say that, though being something of a tech geek, I feel increasingly bewildered at the things I see around me. Sometimes all these apps and websites and smart phones and being connected all the time feels overwhelming. As an author, I have to have things like Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote myself (and that includes this blog, which I doubt I’d devote time to otherwise), but that doesn’t mean I gleefully embrace them. Yeah, I like the jokes I see on FB, and this blog is a good way to talk about various things that interest me (though why I should imagine you want to hear about those things is beyond me, but apparently somebody finds me mildly interesting), but do I need them? Not really.

One of the problems with all this interconnectedness and instant communication is being noticed. It’s hard to make your (website/blog/Facebook page/Twitter… whatever itWoman-overload2 is) stand out among the masses, and standing out among the masses is what so many of us—we writers especially—strive to do. We want to be noticed, and we want to be heard. Us writers have a more practical need: we want to sell books.

But to so many who are growing up in this digital age, getting attention online seems to be the Holy Grail. Does that mean that, in an ever-increasing effort to gain attention, we’ll all have personal apps? “Download my app and I’ll give you exclusive updates on everything from what I have for breakfast to what my dog is doing.”

No thanks.

But, as authors, maybe an app wouldn’t be a bad idea. Fans could have the app and hear of new releases, get our blog posts, maybe hear our thoughts on every subject we think they need to hear our thoughts on, all if you’ll just download our app.

And, of course, we’ll have to hire somebody to design the app and keep it updated for us, because not many of us have programming skills. Writing in our native language is tough enough that we have little desire to learn another language to write in.

too many appsIn the end, the folks who will benefit the most are programmers and content jockeys who’ll tell us what to put in our app. More people to get the little bit of money we earned on our last book.

No thanks.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll go see if my favorite brand of toilet paper has an app. Or maybe not. I’m not sure I really want to know what their, uh, content would consist of.

Later,
Gil

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Parking Garages as Props

garland1

Garland Ave Parking Garage

As I drive around Fayetteville here lately, I’ve noticed parking garages popping up practically overnight, like so many mushrooms. Big mushrooms. Now, for those of you reading this who might be used to big city life, parking garages ain’t no big thing. When I was able to go visit my daughter in Santa Monica, it seemed like they were all over the place, big multistory affairs that held who knew how many cars, the gates busy all day long, digital readouts right beside them telling how many empty spots were available. Handy, that. Keeps you from driving around the thing all day only to discover there’s nowhere to park and now you’re just that much later for your appointment.

Parking garages—I think the call them structures instead of garages—make sense in that kind of setting. Real estate is a limited resource in places like LA. The big sprawling parking lots we have here in Northwest Arkansas just don’t make sense in a crowded city. These towns still have room to grow, so a lot of the businesses buy up a huge lot—or go into a complex put up by a developer—and build asphalt fields that are hot as hell in summer and cold as the Arctic in winter.

Big cities, though, have to stack things because of limited room, and some areas of Fayetteville—where I’m seeing all these things go up—can’t spread out anymore. So they have to go up, too.

As far as I know, it started with the new library building. They’re a LEEDS certified place, though what the parking garage may have to do with that, I have no idea. Then what I believe is a municipal garage—only a couple stories—went in at the site of an old church on Lafayette on the extreme northern edge of the downtown/Dickson Street area.

Walton Art Center Construction

Walton Art Center Construction

Now two more are going up simultaneously, one farther down the street on Lafayette, a multistory affair that I’m guessing is another municipal one, and one attached to the Walton Arts Center just off Dickson. Evidently their parking lot isn’t big enough anymore.

So what’s this got to do with anything? Well, if you pay attention to movies, scores of scenes take place in parking garages from New York to LA and everywhere in between, probably even in cities and towns that really don’t have the things. They’re a great place for shady dealings to take place, everything from murders to drug deals to kidnappings. They’re usually deserted, and those echoes make for some pretty cool ambiance. Add in the risk some unsuspecting walk-on character will appear unexpectedly, then stir in those rousing chase scenes of cars squealing around the ramps, and you got a great setting. Heck, an episode of Miami Vice has a motorcycle race take place in one.

So, of course, I drew on this for one of my books. In the climax of Franchise, Lyle Villines helps capture a major crime figure in the parking structure on Fourth Street in

Fourth Street Santa Monica

Fourth Street Santa Monica

Santa Monica. It was a parking structure I’d at least seen from the outside, and I simply relied on another structure we parked in to go to a movie for interior description, plus a bit of my own imagination. A foot chase begins at street level at the southern end of Third Street Promenade, with the action taking place among Lyle, some DEA agents, some local cops—two of them useless deputies from Lyle’s home county in Arkansas—and their quarry, a man who heads up security for the Sinaloa Cartel.

I used it because I’d walked by it several times accompanying my daughter to work at the Santa Monica Place mall, where she was employed at a Ritz Camera & Image store. I didn’t use it so much because I’d seen them used in so many movies and shows as because it was something I was familiar with, and I love putting real locations in my stories. To me, it lends authenticity. The idea of using a fictional city and/or county just doesn’t appeal to me. It also means I don’t have to figure out how a location looks, don’t have to fabricate it whole cloth. I can just tell you what’s there and keep right on moving.

Another reason I used this location is that it somewhat brought my story around full circle. At the end of Startup, Lyle meets with Joaquín Guzmán in Santa Monica, and they discuss his employment opportunities while strolling down Third Street Promenade. So when Lyle has to call El Chapo to inform him of the mole in his organization

Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica

Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica

and suggest a way to take care of said mole, it just naturally occurred to him to have it take place there.

I think now I need to explore the parking garages going up here at home and see if they might make cameos in future stories. Those echoes make for great ambiance….

Later,
Gil

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Singing Along With Freebird

Sometime in late 1983 or early 1984—the chronology is a bit fuzzy these days—I walked into the Enlisted Man’s Club at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and saw, for the first time in my life, an entire crowd singing along—somewhat drunkenly, it must be admitted—to the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Freebird.”

Back in those days, the Enlisted Man’s Club—or EM Club, and I make no apology for the “sexist” term, since most soldiers in those days were men—was a big, wooden box, two stories, if I remember correctly, with white clapboard-style siding. It was one big room inside, for the most part. I wasn’t a drinker (yet), so I don’t remember where the bar itself was, but I think it was opposite the door, which, following military SOP, was in the center of the front wall.

To even so much as go to the EM Club, we had to don up in our dress uniforms, so when I walked in, all I saw were guys in Class A’s, jackets off, ties loosened, bellowing the lyrics at the top of their lungs.

I grew up sheltered, so seeing this phenomenon stuck with me. For one, I came of age in a dry county, so there weren’t any clubs to go to and see this kind of thing happening. And while I listened to rock music—I was a huge fan of Styx, followed closely by Kansas and some Journey (are you seeing a prog rock trend there?)—and no doubt had heard “Freebird” at some point—I know I was at least aware of Lynyrd Skynyrd at least peripherally because of older cousins and uncles who listened to them—I don’t consciously remember hearing the song before that time. I do remember feeling unfamiliar with it, so perhaps that was my first time.

Of course, it wasn’t the last, and it wouldn’t be just that song. By summer of ’84, I also went to my first concert—Night Ranger, with Tony Carey (“It’s a Fine Find Day (For a Reunion))—and had my first taste of beer in Germany that October—in Nuremberg, at Oktoberfest, of course.

Curiously enough, right at ten years later, July of 1993, I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd live (not the original band, of course, but close) and when they did “Freebird” as their encore, the crowd was dead silent, partly, I think, out of respect for Ronnie Van Zant, and partly out of reverence for the song. A good three-quarters of the crowd were bikers, though how much that had to do with it I have no idea. It was one of the best behaved crowds I’ve ever seen at a concert.

And while seeing Skynyrd perform the song live was a treat, and I still remember it, I have to say that first experience of seeing the way music bonds people, even if it’s only temporarily (I’m thinking of the fight I saw going on after seeing Iron Maiden in Providence, Rhode Island), has stuck with me as few other memories have. I can still remember looking around in wonder as who knew how many guys belted out those words at the tops of their voices, beers held high (for those who could drink them; we couldn’t being still in training), sleeves rolled up, ties loosened, competing quite handily with the club’s sound system.

I used to scoff at the way old people seemed to live in the past, but now I understand why they do. It’s not so much that they want to go back, but they certainly take comfort in those days. I’ve always loved music, figured I’d always keep up with whatever was the latest thing. But I think you have to be of roughly the same age as the musicians to get what’s current. For me, my best memories are of the eighties and the metal bands I loved. I even find myself listening to bands I wouldn’t have even considered back then, thinking they were too commercial, just because hearing their songs brings back memories. I think the music you listen to as you’re coming of age is the stuff that’s most special to you, so you get hippies who still love the sixties stuff, others who revere the disco era, and so on.

And that coming of age all started for me on that day long ago when I stepped into the EM Club at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and heard probably a hundred guys singing along lustily with Ronnie Van Zant.

And feeling more alive than anyone had ever been.

Later,
Gil

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Civilization

I want you to stop and take a look around yourself for a moment—either mentally or physically (or a bit of both)—and consider all you see: your home, your computer, your cell phone, your car, the electricity running your home, the food in your fridge, the highways you drive on, the job you go to—all of it. Go ahead. Take a minute and really see it. I’ll wait.

All done?

Good. Now think about this: what would it be like if none of that existed? I don’t mean you had it and lost it, maybe you’re homeless, or the zombie apocalypse happened, whatever. I mean it never existed, and a lot of it hasn’t even been imagined yet.

All of that stuff it the result of civilization, and it’s a very tricky thing, a very thin veneer.

Off and on, I play a computer game called Civilization. Or, more properly, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Civ for short. In my case, I’m playing Civ IV, which is far from the latestciv iv version (I think on PC the latest version is V, and there’s Civilization Revolution for the gaming consoles), but I have fun with it anyway.

If you’re not familiar with computer gaming, Civ is what’s called a simulation, or sim game. In other words, it simulates something from real life. In the case of Civ, you run a civilization as its eternal ruler and decision maker. When the game starts, you choose a civilization from among several historical, real-world civs. You’ll also choose the world you play on, its size, composition, etc. You can even pick randomly for all this, let the computer assign your parameters.

The game begins in prehistory, something like 5,000 BC, if I remember right (that could be wrong, so don’t quote me on that), and you generally have two units: a Settler, and something else, depending on what civ you chose. Could be a Warrior, could be a Scout. The screen is divided up into tiles, and you can only see a few adjoining tiles. The rest of the world is literally dark, and as far as you can see, you’re the only people in it.

The first thing you have to do is find a good site for your first city. This city will be your capital, so be sure and pick wisely. You can have the game show you good choices for where to put down roots. You can use your other unit to explore and expand your map, eventually meeting other civs.

s2-81f2f04e647cfdad36ec8c6b96543b6eYou’ll usually start out with a couple of technologies, but everything else you’ll have to research, and you have to budget for it. You’re always given a choice of what technology (the game’s term for every advance your civ makes) to research next. It’s not handed to you. And keep in mind that other civs will be researching as well. There are advantages to finding some technologies first, such as the founding of religions, which can give you at least temporary benefits over the other civs.

I’m not going to describe every facet of the game, because it would be far too complicated for this post. But I will say this: playing the game will give you a whole new outlook on all that stuff I had you look at when we started. In Civ, you as the player at least have the benefit of hindsight. If you’re offered the opportunity to research gunpowder, you know, at least in a vague way, what that will possibly lead to. And as you learn the game, you’ll learn what takes you through what’s called the tech tree faster and gets you to your goals (there are several you can achieve). Through  your research, you’ll learn how one thing led to the discovery of another, and how it’s all intertwined to a great extent.

And you’re left with a sense of wonder that we have all the things we have. You’re playing with foreknowledge. Even if you don’t get into history, you know what we have today. But by playing Civ, you can see how chancy it all was, and it’ll make you wonder how we got this far. This depended on that being discovered, which depended on something else, ad nauseum.

I’m nowhere near being a good player, and I’ve only taken up playing the game again for the first time in four or five years (at a guess). I have to play for fun, since I rarely civilization-4-mac-screenshot-3have good scores at the end of the game. It’s so intricate, and you have to keep track of so many things to score high that I despair of ever being what you’d consider a good player.

But it’s given me an appreciation of everything we’ve achieved as a race. And you can look in the in-game Civilopedia to learn things about the actual civilizations you’re playing, as well as the Wonders you can build and so on.

So if you like a game where you can have fun and learn something at the same time, go out and find a copy of Civ. You might just find yourself looking around in wonder the way I do.

Later,
Gil

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