You can’t even sit in a bar and get slowly drunk to the tones of a sad country song. The gambling machines are everywhere, even little monitors set into bars and tables. Who knew that Deadwood was a gambling mecca. All that I knew about it came from the Wild Bill Hickok legends and that series by the same name. I guess that it was a gambling center back then, but I assumed that it evolved.
Gambling, or now they like to call it gaming has become troublingly common. I don’t like it. It is not that I am puritanical. I think “vices” like drinking and card playing are okay. What I object to is the ubiquity and the inane variety.
Wild Bill played poker. Poker is a legitimate occupation. Those who are talented and develop their skill can win more than they lose. And we have to thank gamblers for the science of statistics. It was they (some at least) who cared enough to think through the mechanics of luck. Poker is also a social game. In the Old West it often had anti-social consequences, but at least you were playing with others.
Today’s gambling is mostly a lonely affair with a row of poor suckers growing soft in mind and body as they push a button on a flashing machines decked out in childish, sometimes even cartoon themes. It is a random process. You can never become good enough at pushing those buttons that you will routinely win more than you lose. You interact only with the machine, which has no memory or emotions but is programmed to let you win often enough that you feel you are making progress.
As I wrote above, I object not to gambling but to its ubiquity. And in quantity I think it is corrupting to individuals and society. I emphasize “in quantity” since I think a little is okay and useful fun. But when you get a lot of it, it gets bad. I don’t object so much to the fact that it parts some fools with their money, but rather that too much gambling instills a kind of fatalistic point of view where luck and superstition take on too much of a role in lives. It also fosters an over materialistic view. After all, the goal is the big win, n0t the satisfaction of a job well done to get y0u there.
I suppose my criticisms are those of an old curmudgeon. I just don’t like it and never really have. the hotel gave us $15 worth of credits to play. We lost that very rapidly and fled the frenetic scene.
I hope I have not too much insulted “gamers.” I know lots of people like it. I would just like less of it.
My picture up top shows Deadwood main street. The one below is a walking path. The ponderosa pines are the best part of the city. In the Black Hills, some of the pines are too dense and are being attacked by pine beetles. This is not new. The town of Deadwood got its name from a forest of dead wood that occupied the site way back in 1876. Pine beetles cannot be eradicated, but can be controlled by thinning and other silvicultural methods.