Gongol.com Archives: May 2024

Brian Gongol

May 5, 2024

News What do you really believe?

One benefit of the Internet age is that philosophies and perspectives that might have escaped widespread attention before can get a fair chance at exposure. The person who wants to explore ancient philosophies more deeply than the page or two of treatment they might have received in a school textbook can find active (and often passionate) advocates for a variety of worldviews: Twitter streams for Epicureanism, podcasts about Stoicism, and YouTube channels dedicated to Platonism. ■ The existence of modern tools to breathe life into ancient philosophies (and not just the Greek ones) is a net good for society, and quite a large one. But just as is the case with living religions, there are hazards: Hucksters who use the quest for meaning as a vehicle for self-enrichment, and fundamentalists who come to believe that only one way will do. ■ Everyone has to come to their own conclusions about what is meaningful, important, and worth pursuing in life. Even if they make the choice to follow a path charted by others, there is still an element of choice involved in every adult's system of values. ■ A person's formative process -- through both schooling and guidance from their elders -- ought to include a heavy dose of encouragement not to adhere only to one way of thinking, whether it's old or new. We've recorded enough human history to know with high confidence that no one way has a monopoly on answers to how to live the best possible life. An eclectic approach really is the only way. ■ That's where the good fortune of the Internet age comes in. A person doesn't have to spend months exhausting the shelves of a public library to find answers. The choices now come as easily as subscription to a Substack newsletter. The only problem is that nobody really has an incentive to tell people to sample broadly. Hard-line philosophies sell desk calendars. Heterodoxy does not.

Computers and the Internet Retiring with Pac-Man

Video games are now about fifty years old, which means that people now nearing age 60 can plausibly claim to have "grown up with them". Surely anyone whose youth coincided with the 1977 introduction of the Atari 2600 and the 1980-81 launch of Pac-Man may be credibly considered a video-gaming native. ■ Those people are mostly still in the workforce -- but some of the elders of the generation are closing in on retirement. This makes it reasonable to forecast that we are no more than a few years away from the first arcade-themed retirement living communities. ■ Think about it: One of the main complaints lodged against retirement communities today is a shortage of engaging programming and a perception that they are places to slow down. Yet a census of just about any casino floor will reveal an almost limitless supply of retired adults playing video slot machines -- which are nothing more than low-skill video games. ■ Casinos actually furnish a model well worth studying for those who will someday soon try to recruit Generation X retirees: They've developed games, sound effects, lighting, and even fragrances to keep people voluntarily captive for as long as possible. It's a wonder that retirement communities and assisted-living facilities, which often coordinate casino outings, haven't really sprouted any facilities that model themselves on a casino theme. If they take away the winning and losing of actual money, what harm would really be done? ■ Arcade-themed retirement environments are basically an inevitability, even if that hasn't really dawned on anyone yet. Appeals to nostalgia basically ensure that will be the case. But more to the point, it's a great environment in which to put good practices into effect. ■ Arcade gaming is an individual activity, but it takes place in a community environment. It can be done in ways that encourage memory and test reflexes. And all it really has to do is follow a casino-resort model in all but the winning and losing of money. It's an idea whose time has not quite come yet -- but which will be here before you know it.

Recent radio podcasts