Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tales of Blackjack Failure and Why No One Should Care about Steroids.

Here's a drawing I did at work today for an article in the Gaming Guide about gambling etiquette. Special thanks to Kevin Necessary for the texturing advice.

I would like gambling a lot more if 1) I had a lot of extra money lying around and 2) I was any good at it. I recently discovered that, while I'm good at blackjack in theory (thanks WiiWare Casino Blackjack), I'm worthless when it comes to clinical trials, to the point of officially declaring myself a financial liability. One year ago this weekend in Vegas, once I actually found a five-dollar table on the strip--which wasn't easy, by the way--I blew through $100 in about twenty minutes. It's not that I don't know how to play blackjack, I do. I just forget everything I know once I sit down at one of the tables. Maybe I'm intimidated by the prospect of gambling with real money. I had a pretty good streak going when I was in Niagara Falls* once, but I was playing with Canadian money, which is so many different colors that I can't help but think of it as Monopoly® money. Maybe I'm preoccupied with trying to act cool sitting next to the bikers and mafia underboss-types that typically haunt five-dollar tables in Vegas. Or maybe I just crack under pressure like balsa wood.

So, I was listening to news radio on the way home yesterday, and one of the more prominent stories was Alex Rodriguez's admission that he had used steroids at one point in his career. While I was kind of glad to hear something that wasn't about our crumbling economy and how screwed we all are, I quickly decided that I didn't care whether or not Alex Rodriguez used steroids six years ago. I really, really don't care, to the point that I would say that I feel fiercely indifferent about it. It's not that I think that professional athletes should cheat; in fact I feel pretty strongly that they shouldn't. It's just that, in Alex Rodriguez's case, I don't care whether or not he doped himself up, because, comparatively, I'm far more concerned about the fact that, despite the fact that we're all doomed financially, people feel that it's perfectly justifiable to pay a guy a quarter of a billion dollars to throw a fucking ball around.

Oh, I know he hits the ball with a fucking stick too, and he's super good at it, but come on. Really? This story came on right after another news story about how Congress is jumping all over Wall Street CEOs for being irresponsible with money, and rightfully so, but we, as a society, feel okay about this? You know what? Maybe we all deserve to be punished for letting things get this unbalanced. How much are we paying the teachers that educate our children every year, or the scientists that are trying to cure deadly diseases? If it's less than a quarter billion dollars each, and it is, then obviously we can do better. It's not even about me hating the Yankees, as I've been brought up to do. Paying anybody that much to play a fucking game, yes, even in front of people, is so hilariously indicative of our social instability and stupidity that I feel dumber living in a world where that seems acceptable. I'm already pretty amazed at reports of the impressive avarice that has led the world to ruin lately; I'm sure that I'm not the only person astounded at the fact that we've been kept so preoccupied with the threat of terrorism for the last decade that we forgot how dangerous stupid people are with money, and how greedy people can be when they already have too much. I don't need to hear about some jackass earning more than the GDP of a third world country because he's good at baseball and we're idiots. Right now, everybody's asking where all the money went. Maybe we actually have to look at what we're spending it on.


Wow, that went from zero to bitter pretty quickly. My apologies; didn't even see that one coming. I'm going to go find a beer somewhere.

* - This streak ended soon after I was accepted by the cigar-chomping middle-aged men sitting in the other seats at the table, when my mom, who had been watching intently from ten yards away, came up to ask me if I was winning. After explaining to the rest of my inquisitive table that, yes, that was my mom, yes, I was 20, and no, I had never played blackjack before, I subsequently lost $120 in ten minutes. After walking away from the table, I left the casino, but not because I was embittered by my experience. I left because my brother, who was 19 at the time, became bored playing slots and decided to drink nothing but whiskey shots and Molson for two hours, resulting in, predictably, his forcible ejection from the casino after showing his ID to a bouncer that didn't ask for it.

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