On Simulations

I first learned about the Missouri Ozarks by watching the crime drama television series (Ozark) on Netflix, a show about money laundering. It was a very interesting and entertaining television series. The Ozarks were stamped into my mind. So when I read the book Fear, a book about Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, I was fascinated to learn that from October 17 to 19, 2017, the U.S. Air Force ran an elaborate series of simulated air strikes in the Missouri Ozarks. The region has a similar topography to North Korea [Bob Woodward]. The original release date of season one of Ozark was also in 2017. I found it interesting that as I was watching a series about money laundering in the Ozarks, the Air Force was simulating air strikes in that very same place. I wandered if it was a topic of discussion among the cast during the shooting of the second season, who both happened to be in the Missouri Ozarks for the same reason: run a simulation.

I know that I’m stretching it, just a little, for the purpose of my monologue here. But I’m running my own little simulation here, so I can stretch as much as my flexibility of mind will allow. The power of the simulation is amazing. I learn so much, and get so much, out of simulations because, I am inclined to think, my life is like a simulation.

The supposed disparity between what the television series was doing and what the Air Force was doing is what strikes me. I think that people are going to think that the television series is the fiction and the Air Force simulation is the fact. I’m assuming there, but that is my opinion. And I think that people would be incorrect in thinking there is that disparity between the two. They are both simulations. Which is more of a threat to Americans: drug cartels or North Koreans? Put it this way—do you warn your kids about staying away from nuclear bombs from North Korea, or drugs and gang violence? Which is more real?

Simulations are important, is all I’m saying.

That is not to say that the simulations the Air Force ran are less important. My point is that we need simulations to get us prepared, even if only for other simulations. For when does the simulation become the real thing? I mean, when you run a real simulation, it’s real. Think about Ender Wiggin, in Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. Ender didn’t even know that the final battle was the real one. He thought it was a simulation.

The problem is when we are one-dimensional. We need to stretch out our range of simulations. Television over-glamorizes the characters. Especially the bad guys. One a certain level I’m ok with that. Were it not for the television series Escape at Dannemora on Showtime, I wouldn’t have given that prison escape from Clinton in 2015 a second thought. But after being introduced to the story as portrayed on Showtime, I am doing some follow up. Where is Dannemora? When was the last prison break from Clinton? When I think of the Adirondacks, Clinton Correctional Facility never particularly comes to mind. We have our own Siberia in America… amazing.

What I am finding is an amazing study on human nature and behavior surrounding this prison escape. I already know that Showtime is going to dramatize and sensationalize the show. They have to pull the audience into the story. That’s television. The problem is when we sit through the Showtime simulation, think we learned all there is to know, and don’t follow up with any other simulations, such as, read Chelsia Rose Marcius’s book, Wild Escape, or any other work that has been done to study this great escape. And it’s cool if you don’t want to do the follow up, but know that your perspective is one dimensional.

Television can be a part of the study, but just that: one aspect, one kind of simulation. You’re not going to hear me hating on the TV. But I will question the sincerity of anybody who is one-dimensional concerning their studying material. That goes for all dynamics of the process.

We shouldn’t be critical about particular elements of the studying process. We should encourage expansion, building on what you like to do in the now, but taking on some different kinds of simulations. All too common are the critical remarks about people watching too much TV and not reading, or the person who has book knowledge but no street smarts.

I don’t hold one genre of literature above another. Both fiction and nonfiction are simulations. An imitation of a situation or process. I’m reading a James Lee Burke novel, and Dave Bobicheaux just got jumped in his own home by a masked man with a two-by-four. Irrelevant? No. An important simulation. Life can take a hard turn.

I was driving through the Castle Hill section of the Bronx. It was dark and the traffic was heavy. Police speeding by. I had to pull over for three fire trucks. The train tracks were over my head, pillars making it hard to pull over, vehicles of all kinds darting here and there. I thought of the Super Mario Cart I have been playing with my daughter. I’m always in a simulation. My basketball playing days are over, but I’m still playing 2K on the PS4.

I’m sure the analogies are endless.

Especially for the purpose of study, is an aspect of simulation. Everything we do is for the purpose of study, and is preparing us for something else. It ought to be. We have to constantly rethink what the word study means and how to grow into, what a preacher I know has said, the best version of ourselves. Make it pliable to everything we do.

Get involved in the simulation.

D. F. Wharton.