Kris an’ Murphy: John James Pokémon

Pokemon BirdKris:Wo-ah! Somebody’s got to tell Brent to take a chill pill or something, before he ruptures an artery!”

Murphy: “Or sets off some freshman’s trigger and gets himself fired.”

Kris: “Word. I mean, I’m not exactly thrilled about this Pokémon Go craze either. It’s not bad enough I got saddled with teaching a summer session class today, it has to be disrupted by seventeen kids barging into the room in mid-lecture, all chasing after the same phantom. And four of them weren’t even students! With all the crap that’s going on in the world these days, I half expect one of these idiots to get pissed off at missing a swipe, yank out an AR-15, and blast anything that moves. But, Brent, geez. The merest mention of Pokémon and he goes ballistic!

Murphy: “Not terribly surprised, really. The irony must be killing him.”

Kris: “How so?”

Murphy: “You kidding, Kris? Brent’s been clawing and scratching to keep the university’s natural history programs alive for years. And every year the fight gets more desperate. ‘You have space’, says the university. ‘You don’t have students. You get piddly grants and contracts, or none at all. Your space needs to be given to programs that matter.’ Just last January, he lost a quarter of the botanical garden to the football program’s condominium expansion project, and counted himself lucky that he kept the loss to a quarter. And all of a sudden, practically everybody with a cell phone is running madly around collecting specimens! People with less provocation have jumped off bridges.”

Kris: “I wouldn’t be saying that anywhere Brent’s around, if I were you. In his current frame of mind, he might well do it.”

Murphy: “At least he’d be doing it intentionally, instead of mindlessly while chasing one of those things. But consider. What are the Pokémon Go peeps doing that John James Audubon wasn’t doing with a shotgun, or Roger Tory Peterson with a camera and a set of paintbrushes?”

Kris: “You don’t have to stuff a Pikachu. Or mount it. Or dust it. Or protect it from bugs, and humidity, and oxidation, and football programs. Besides. Doesn’t collecting specimens with shotguns tend to help species go extinct?

Murphy: “As if that isn’t happening for a million other reasons. Including focusing the attention of kids on fantasy worlds instead of the real world.”

Kris: “Right. This focus on fantasy worlds is different from Brexit and the 2016 Presidential campaign how?

Murphy: “Alright, alright. If you’re going to fix something like this, you’ve got to start somewhere. How many critters in the Pokémon universe? Twenty-five? There are thousands of species of birds. Tens of thousands of species of fish. Insects? There’s a million species just of beetles. The game possibilities are damn near endless!

Kris: “Most of those species are drab brown. Boring! A lot of them live where people mostly don’t, and many of those that live where people do live in disgusting places or do disgusting things. Pokémon critters are colorful and cute and aren’t going to bite or sting or slime you.”

Murphy: “Who said anything about sliming? Surely the app people can figure out a way for you to swipe an image of an actual living creature and match it to a database so you can get it identified and add it to your life list? Maybe even use a laser or something to lift a bit of DNA from the swiped object, to get that sequenced for a positive ID?”

Kris: “Maybe. And maybe not, because the sum total of all the money available to fund this dream project of yours is a small fraction of like what one competent programmer earns to come up with a project that matters. Like Pokémon Go.”

Murphy: “Well, with a potential audience this size, we work to find the money. It will make the natural history programs important again, help keep Brent from jumping off that bridge.”

Kris: “You haven’t even opened the wine bottle yet, and you’ve somehow managed to forget what’s important to our university. The first football game of the season is in a few weeks, right?”

Murphy: “Yeah?”

Kris: “It’s on a weekday, correct? During class time?”

Murphy: “Correct.”

Kris: “Where are you going to park your car so you can get to work?”

Murphy: “[…] Kris?”

Kris: “Yeah?”

Murphy:You open the damned bottle.”

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