Amoeba’s Lorica: Solitaire Confinement 2 (Winners Circling)


19th Century: “Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.” – Ambrose Bierce, 1881/1911.

21st Century: “Lose.”

A little over a year ago as this is written, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba refused to disclose to the blogosphere the amount of time that he was spending trying to lose at solitaire.

Because the price of winning was more than he was willing to pay.

He is still spending (alas) an undisclosed amount of time at the game. He did have long stretches where he spent no time on it. Especially after the time he deliberately lost a game to avoid the full-screen, minute-long pop-up ads that routinely appeared, and could not be clicked off or otherwise avoided, on a “win” – and the ad showed up anyway. That’s it, YFNA is outa here.

But, because YFNA is a congenital idiot, he checked back in, an undisclosed amount of time later, and discovered, bit by bit, that things had changed with the game again.

The pop-ups still routinely appeared after a win. And after a loss. But:

  • The pop-ups, now, were simple graphics (often just text boxes), not elaborate come-ons
  • They could be dismissed quickly and easily
  • They appeared with about equal (and less predictable) frequency, win or lose

So there was no longer a penalty to the player for winning a game. And no lengthy interruption to play at any time. And after a long period of suspicion and distrust, YFNA is – for now – relaxed enough about the game to play to win.

For now.

Y’see, YFNA reckons that the game could charge advertisers more for the elaborate pop-up ads than for the simpler, dismissable ones. But the game makers likely discovered that the world is full of friendly neighborhood amoebae (now there’s a scary thought!) that refused to win at, or play, a game at the cost of suffering through those elaborate pop-ups, and that, given that configuration of the world, neither game makers nor advertisers were making any money. The game makers had to adjust their theoretical revenue expectations in order to find an arrangement that would keep players playing the game and viewing some form of advertisement, resulting in a realistic revenue stream.

In other words, they had to find a compromise. One that works.

For now.

“Whaddaya mean ‘for now’? Ya strike a deal, ya stick with it, yeah?”

Yeah. Until the game makers hire some new hotshot ad agent, or accountant, who screams “Why are you settling??“, and pushes the game makers to insert more, and more obtrusive, ads. To make more money.

Until some kind soul posts a truly free game on the various networks, it goes viral, and the game makers find themselves utterly abandoned by players and advertisers alike. None of whom are making any money.

“So, says you, you try to make everybody a little happy, and you wind up with everybody miserable and pissed off at everybody else. I don’t like your world.”

Too bad. It’s the one we live in.

“One that’s all about money.”

Not quite. Money is a token, formerly in gold, now in gold platinum cards. A way for a self to evaluate how well that self is doing:

Self: I want to do anything I want to do, and pay nothing (money, time, work) for it. In fact, I’d be even happier if I could get you to pay for all this!

So here comes a Self, who runs into another Self:

Self: I want to do anything I want to do, and pay nothing (money, time, work) for it. In fact, I’d be even happier if I could get you to pay for all this!

Each Self will do its utmost to achieve its goals in despite of that other Self, unless that other Self makes it impossible to do so. The resulting conflict is irreconcilable, so long as both Selfs live.

Permit YFNA to rephrase that.

The resulting conflict is irreconcilable, so long as both Selfs live. 

Each Self will deal with opposition from other Selfs that cannot be instantly bulldozed, by striking whatever (NB) short-term deals, whatever compromises, are necessary to advance the Self as far as it can be gotten – those compromises to be cancelled at the first perceived opportunity for the self to gain advantage not obtainable under the terms of the previous compromise. Only if the Self’s quest for advantage is consistently met by more forceful opposition from other Selfs than the Self is willing to work to overcome, can a standing compromise remain standing.

“So keep that opposition forceful enough to keep the compromise in place.”

Right. You like the idea of living under the tyranny of a despot?

“Um …”

That’s what it would take. For the dissatisfied Self will work harder and harder to gain the advantage that is being denied to it, and will become more and more emotionally involved in the quest (“I’m being oppressed!“). Meanwhile, the opposition, which is also a Self seeking advantage, recognizes that the work needed to prevent the other Self from achieving its goals is depriving it of its own quest for advantage, or from enjoying such advantage as it already possesses. With that recognition, the opposition’s will to keep up the pressure dissipates – and the dissatisfied Self senses the weakness and acts. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”

And so on … until both Selfs recognize that the only way for either to achieve its goals is to make the other disappear. “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

Winners, circling

This is how amoebae come to accept spending undisclosed amounts of time playing solitaire online in the face of increasing numbers, and intrusiveness, of ads.

This is how come airline passengers accept airline seat spacing that would have caused riots on slave ships.

This is how come we have war in Europe.


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