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Bots take over the world

Internet poker, Big Brother, chess and bots

Big Brother Strikes Again

Now that the United States government has shut down on-line poker – in their noble effort to guard morality by preventing innocent Americans from gambling away their government-sponsored lottery winnings – I am thoroughly confused. Why, I wonder, is gambling by playing poker, which at least involves a degree of skill and provides one with decent odds, wrong, while taking a one-in-million blind shot on a lottery jackpot with astronomical odds against you okay? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the government controls all the revenue from lotteries while private businesses control on-line poker? Or, perhaps, the United States government – when not busy running TV ads in a attempt to entice the multitudes to take a chance on a ‘ghetto pension,’ (you think I’m kidding? Just look who’s in the line at the lottery register at the Seven Eleven next time you buy gas) — is just concerned about the morality of gambling? Okay, you can quit laughing now. We all know they’re not-so-pious hypocrites and that there is nothing the least bit moral about our elected representatives. That’s something every American can agree on. But surely, with all the on-line poker revenue out there, suitable bribes (perhaps in the guise of campaign contributions or devastating taxation, which can be channeled back to them) will eventually make their way to congressional pockets and I will be able to wile away the hours trying to get that 11 to 1 inside straight draw on the river.

First They Changed It

Meanwhile, all I have left to play on my computer is Internet chess.

The site I like best is Yahoo Chess. I can sit for hours and chat and play with people in Australia, Germany, Russia, or wherever, in real time. I still haven’t gotten over the neatness of that. And I love it when I win and someone accuses me of cheating at chess or makes a summary judgment about the marital status of my parents and the circumstances surrounding my birth – or when I lose and they gloat and do the Internet version of a victory dance, telling me what a worthless loser I am. Chess, particularly the speed version I like to play, is action-filled, bloody, and frequently filled with nasty invective. Poker, by comparison, is like a Sunday school class.

But recently, the ruling elite at Yahoo, the best chess site on the web, made a disastrous decision (A “Disastrous decision”, according to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, is a decision that is most likely to be either the product of a committee, a new management team, or possibly a new CEO who formerly worked for MTV): they decided that the best site for on-line chess on the web needed improving.

Heedless of the axiom “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!” they proceeded to remake Yahoo Chess. The improvements were, they assured us, in response to a survey of consumer desires.

Apparently, this was in response to demographic surreys conducted among six to eleven-year males with severe Attention Deficit Disorder, since the “improvements” consist of things like the sound of an explosion when you take an opponent’s piece and a flashing neon sign in the middle of the board saying “CHECK!” “CHECK!” “CHECK!” when you check your opponent’s king. (Tell me, if you don’t know when you are in check, what the hell are you doing on a chess site?) Everything about the All-New Yahoo Chess sucked a big one, but the explosions and the flashes on the board were the worse. Chess, even when bratty kids, or mean old coots like me, play it, is a little more cerebral than that.

Quickly, this proved to be a marketing decision equivalent to the introduction of New Coke. Naturally, after a couple of months of protest, Yahoo, like Coke, yielded to popular pressure and brought back the original product, Yahoo chess, now calling it, ah-hem, ‘standard’ Yahoo Chess. There are a few more hoops you have to jump through to get to the actual chess site (a ‘Click here to continue to Yahoo Standard Chess’ page that you pause on long enough for an advertisement to load, and obstacles once you do – ads can suddenly run at the top of the chess board, breaking concentration a bit) but, otherwise, it’s the regular Yahoo Chess.

And Then The Bots Came

What are bots? Bots are computer programs designed to entice boys and men to porn web sites by pretending to be girls chatting on line. They are automated programs with the barest semblance to thinking beings. Think of them as digital blondes. However, being designed to appeal to the libidos of young sexually hyper-active males, they don’t need much intelligence, do they? And like real blondes, they’re not even virtually intelligent. Not that it matters: If memory serves, it doesn’t take much to stimulate the sexual imagination of a young male.

Bots always have screen names like: A sexy girl; a sweet girl; a passionate girl, and say things like:

“Hi. I’m twenty. How old are you?”

“My boyfriend left me!”

“Would you teach me how to play?”

“My cat is walking across my keyboard.” (My personal favorite).

And the kicker:

“I have some neat new pictures on my web site.”

Once upon a time, bots were a rarity. In a central chess chat site you’d come across one now and then, and they were pretty much ignored by the veteran players; however, you would occasionally get some newbie who would, to the amusement of many, try to engage a bot in conversation. (Not really so stupid I guess: every one of you who as a youth made love to a Playboy foldout raise your hands now.) The newbie would be exchanging vital stats (such as A & L) and witticisms with the bot until some avuncular soul such as myself gently clued them in;

Mahone: “Hey, dude, what are you? An idiot? That’s a bot you’re trying to knock boots with.”

Newbie: “A what?”

Mahone: “A bot.”

Then you explain that his lust has been stimulated by a very simple program generating useless drivel, which info, more than likely, causes him to shrivel.

But then, all the porn sites saw that the bots were a good thing. Now, on a Yahoo Chess chat site, there is usually nobody chatting – only various bots, each uttering their inanities in an attempt to lure males to their respective porn sites. They’ve run everyone off the chat site; a pond so full of lures that the fish have fled. Now, the Yahoo chat rooms are usually empty, like a virtual ghost town. Like tumble weeds, the bots are the only semblance of life. It’s eerily like a Twilight Zone episode, one of those where all the people are gone but the machines go on ad infinitum, mindlessly performing their assigned tasks as if everything were normal. Each bot speaks its meaningless drivel in turn, but they exist in a virtual vacuum, where no one hears them.

And thus it will remain until Yahoo’s Central Committee comes up with a bot-killer program, which I suppose would work something like this:

A Cute Girl: “Hello, I’m twenty and I love to pose for . . . ARRRRGGGGGG!”

Maybe they could have explosions and flashing lights on the chat site every time they offed a bot? That would save the chat rooms and keep the MTV generation interested.

Well, since I can’t play poker, and I’m a little tired of chess for today, what can I do? What? Your cat is walking across your keyboard? Your boyfriend has left you and you have some fascinating new pictures? . . . Hold on a minute. Where is the location of your web site again?

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