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Friday, July 29, 2005

Owls! Splendid Fowl ! 

Hello Will,

Thanks for the welcome, mate.Its good to be debating with you somewhere other that the corridors of Anderson.

It is somewhat curious that you contrast athletes with “those who Nintendo”, as if the two might be mutually exclusive breeds, acquiring the values of “discipline, respect and self-respect” via markedly sundered paths. Your choice to compare active participation in high school American football to enjoying the benefits of legalized prostitution in the Netherlands—citing the lowered rates of rape, intrigues me. Certainly, acquiring the veritable qualities listed above is not a mere side-effect of being involved in (worthwhile, well-taught )Amer. ft ball--ofcourse, I agree--- but with what particular nuance of being part of the Netherlands’ managed red-light district’s clientele does “butting heads” on the field compare with?

The use of tolerance zones in the Netherlands allows for better drug control and increased accessibility to the workers for the social services. However, they constantly run the risk of alienating workers who leave these drug dry zones and go to other non-monitored areas, including other residential areas. There has also been evidence that the licensing requirement for brothels or houses that allow the workers to become their own managers (in lieu of male-owners/pimps—in theory creating a safer workplace) have led to the industry being controlled by organized crime groups. Controlled zones also are in-effect aiding the country to wean the workers out of business through other means. However, yes, the rape-crime rates have dropped in residential areas--- making it safer for the residents, not necessarily the workers themselves. Thus, my question remains—what exactly is the connection between sex-workers, and Amer. football training/field? To say that they function towards similar ends (tempering aggression) is perhaps dangerous, no?

I do, on the other hand agree with your criticism of Johnson’s article. The man’s argument seems a little addled. Johnson, makes the very larval connection between children acting out real-life aggression and them playing what are thought to be conventionally violent video games, by citing “The last 10 years have seen the release of many popular violent games, including "Quake" and "Grand Theft Auto"; that period has also seen the most dramatic drop in violent crime in recent memory.” He goes on to suggest that Sen. Clinton look into the role of violent video-games as “safety valves”, that allow for the tempering that you also mention (but through different medium, to be sure). Johnson also appears to be of the mindset that “kids” do not need real world environs to explore aggressions, social ‘rules of combat’ so to speak, or resort to “thrill-seeking” activities--- he asks quite innocently if it isn’t at all possible that they can exhaust themselves in a virtual, simulated and perfectly artificial realm. This seems to me the most problematic blemish in his argument.

Although several studies have indeed shown that problem solving skills, interface management and multi-tasking skills are better among “those who Nintendo”, what Johnson appears to have forgotten is that actively managing simulated characters’ lives (given even the severely complex constitution of video games) does not carry the same stakes that actual participation (active, not passive) in American football does. And this is not only a difference of degree but, clearly the nature of the stakes—bodily, psychological, sweat-and-blood stakes.

The gross employment of statistical comparisons further annoys the buttons off my shoes--- he uses improved SAT scores to bolster his case for the playing of video-games, despite the glaring evidence that American students have been performing relatively poorly in more specific exams concerning World History, Geography, Western Lit etc. Neither does he consider the variety of changes that have been made (since 1971) in the process of coaching students for the SATs and the undercurrent of myriad social factors that allow/disallow for the accessibility to improved SAT scores.

O, Mr Johnson--- quite embarrassing, all this dabbling with Excel charts.

Divya

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