Tag: Trouble

Day 994: The Game Of Milton Bradley’s Life

Header

I confess: I am but one week away from commemorating my 40th year on this planet, and I have yet to ever play The Game of Life. This is not due to some ethical or existential objection to simulating the course of one’s existence upon a square slab of cardboard, but rather due to my friends and I having spent our youthful recreation time with Star Wars toys and kindly ol’ Super Mario. I never got around to playing Candyland either.

As beloved as this board game may be, with its plastic minivans, its cruel cash-drains and generous paydays, buried deep within its roots is a transformative story. The original version of the game, concocted by Mr. Milton Bradley himself, elevated the concept of gaming from prescriptive quests for moral elevation to a more practical and modernized measure of success. More importantly, it came packaged with choice.

The Game of Life as we know it (well, as you probably know it, since I’ve never played the thing) features one early decision: go to school or get a job. After that, each soul is subjected to the whim of the spiteful spinner, suggesting that life is but a cavalcade of random collisions, and that we are always at the mercy of the fickle flick of fate. Mr. Bradley’s outlook on destiny was far more empowering.

Milton Bradley, 1860s

Tracing the Bradley lineage would suggest that a rather dreary definition of “life” could have taken center-stage in his outlook. The family tree was planted in America in 1635, and since then its bark shows the hatchet-marks of murder, Indian attack, kidnapping, and at one point hot embers being poured into an infant’s mouth. When Milton finally squeezed his way onto the planet in 1836, the Bradleys were a little less prone to being butchered, but far from being economic titans. Read more…

Day 612: Big Brother Wants You To Come To The Principal’s Office

Header

On the morning of November 11, 2009, Blake Robbins, a high school sophomore at Harriton High in the suburbs of Philadelphia, was called in to the vice-principal’s office. This is never something good – no one gets called in to the vice-principal’s office for a complimentary brownie or to play a quick game of Uno. No, Blake probably knew he was in trouble for something.

What he didn’t expect was for vice-principal Lindy Matsko to show him a photograph of Blake in his own bedroom, violating the school’s ethical code on drug use during off-school hours.

Okay, Blake shouldn’t have been popping back illegal narcotics, but he was more awestruck by the fact that the photo existed to begin with. He was in his bedroom. There had been no adults in there with him, and certainly no one snapping a Bond-esque lapel-button camera shot to rat him out. No, it was Blake’s laptop that finked on him, specifically the webcam – the one that the school had set up for just this purpose.

Yes, this actually happened.

WebcamSpy

At the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, every high school student in the Lower Marion School District in Pennsylvania was issued an Apple MacBook to use throughout the year. With some school districts lacking the funds to buy textbooks or offer a half-decent drama and music program to give their kids a real education, this was a pretty awesome statement of the region’s relative affluence. Read more…