austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

No one gets away until they whip it

So we puttered around, waiting for the State Pinball Championship to find its state pinball champion, a while with nothing to play except Freddy. And it struck everyone that the bowling alley was not as crazy as we expected. It was a Saturday, and there was some sort of kids league event that would bring kids to bowl. That's fine for them, but kids who are there to bowl and who aren't bowling will wander into the alcove with the (few) video games and (many) pinball machines and start pressing buttons and pulling plungers and bumping into people who are trying to play. We'd been at a Saturday event here before and the kids were distracting although probably not game-ruining for anyone. The alley wasn't willing to close off the pinball alcove to just the main or side tournament champions.

This part was not the mess we expected. There were fewer kids than we anticipated, for a start. The kids who were there, mostly, stayed out of the alcove. There were a couple games placed, of necessity, outside the alcove. Kids came closer to them. One I saw drop to all fours and crawl between a player and his game. It wasn't a game that counted just then, but it could've been irritating. That was about the worst, though. During the finals of the side tournament, a woman and a couple kids did walk into the alcove and up to one of the older machines. Then they noticed three people standing, intensely watching, the Addams Family pinball another person was playing. And they noticed a ring of several dozen people intensely watching that group of people watching. The woman gathered the kids and took them the other direction. I wonder what they imagined was going on. Well, I wonder if they imagined there were such things as pinball tournaments before they stumbled into one.

As the day wore into evening, and into night, the kids finished up whatever they were doing and left. Though there was one kid who didn't leave; he had no bowling business. He and his father were there as players in the side tournament. They might make the main tournament next year.

bunny_hugger has played against the kid repeatedly. He annoys her. Some of it is harmless. He tends to jump with every shot made. I write it off as juvenile enthusiasm, and she can see that too, but it's a bit much to take. But he's also at that age where he's just aware enough to spot when someone's left a credit or two on a machine and not possessed of enough self-restraint not to grab it. During the side tournament I had to fend him off of Tron, when bunny_hugger and I had put credits in and she'd gone to the bathroom before starting. (More on this anon.) In past tournaments he's done small things to annoy people, such as plunging another person's extra balls. In most tournaments extra balls can't be played, but people are allowed to set them up for skill shots, which can be worth --- well, maybe not much, but every little bit helps. It's small things and he might outgrow them, but, for the moment, he quite annoys my bride.

The kid might be nothing more than annoying. His father seems more problematic. There are rumors of unsportsmanlike behavior on his part. I have not witnessed him actually cheating. But I do hear what seem reliable reports of him, at least, probing what he can get away with. At one point in the day CST came over to bunny_hugger, who'd played a quartet with the kid, and asked if she was absolutely certain his score was recorded correctly. This is a difficult thing for a philosopher to answer, because a person who trains in studying how we can know a thing understands how hard it is to tell what we do know. If that weren't enough, a class she'd taught in human cognition has made her aware of some of the many ways humans are awful witnesses. But she was as confident as could be in the circumstance, and CST accepted her recollection. He accepted another of the players' also, and later acknowledged the problems of asking a philosopher to be absolutely certain about a thing of the mere phenomenological world.

The kid's score was not increased the five million points (from something-three million to something-eight million) on the father's appeal. This may be a father doing his honest best to be sure his son does not unjustly lose credit for his score. But then --- since all that matters in an Amazing Race tournament (at that stage) is that you not have one of the two lowest scores, why press to make sure a passing score is higher? But why take an inaccurate recording? It's so hard to know what to make of people. As I say, I haven't seen the kid, or his father, do anything wrong besides be a bit standoffish and, on the kid's part, a little kiasu about grabbing free credits. But then people are better when they know they're being watched. And I am a large presence who, when watching, is obviously watching.

The kid would, ultimately, go on to sixth place in the side tournament. The father would win it. And as for us ---

Trivia: There were twelve varieties of money among the 61 gold coins collected in church donations in Haarlem around 1480, from as far off as Bavaria, Aragon, and Venice. Several coins were thought to be obsolete, such as a circa 1426 kinkaert écu, from Flanders. Source: Gold and Spices: The Rise of Commerce in the Middle Ages, Jean Favier.

Currently Reading: The Punic Wars, Adrian Goldsworthy.

PS: A Leap Day 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Dedekind Domain, which is a thing you see in abstract algebra. Well, I asked for requests and someone took me up on a particularly challenging one.

Tags: michigan state pinball championship, pinball

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