JACKPOT

Old as that word is, I’d never really given it much thought.

“The ultimate prize.”

Had you asked me, I’d have described it as just that.

But, hearing it spoken aloud yesterday on the phone, I immediately found myself wondering where it’d originated.

According to Wikipedia, this is the definition:

“A progressive jackpot is a jackpot which increases each time the game is played but the jackpot is not won. When the progressive jackpot is won, the jackpot for the next play is reset to a predetermined value, and resumes increasing under the same rule.”

Okay. Interesting.

And the origins?

I dug a bit further.

jackpot (n.)

…also jack-pot, “big prize,” 1944, from slot machine sense (1932), from now-obsolete poker sense (1881) in reference to antes that begin when no player has a pair of jacks or better; from jack (n.) in the card-playing sense + pot (n.1). Earlier, in criminal slang, it meant “trouble,” especially “an arrest” (1902).

The regular Draw-Poker game is usually varied by occasional Jack-Pots, which are played once in so many deals, or when all have refused to play, or when the player deals who holds the buck, a marker placed in the pool with every jack-pot. In a jack-pot each player puts up an equal stake and receives a hand. The pot must then be opened by a player holding a hand of the value of a pair of knaves (jacks) or better. If no player holds so valuable a hand the deal passes and each player adds a small sum to the pot or pool. When the pot is opened the opener does so by putting up any sum he chooses, within the limit, and his companions must pay in the same amount or “drop.” They also possess the right to raise the opener. The new cards called for are then dealt and the opener starts the betting, the play proceeding as in the regular game. [“Encyclopaedia Britannica,” 11th ed., 1911, “Poker.” The article notes “Jack-Pots were introduced about 1870.”]

To hit the jackpot “be very successful” is from 1938.

Alright. That’s better. Somewhat interesting history, I suppose?

Yesterday I stumbled across an article which explained that NASA finally got around to developing a specific website for showcasing all the photos they’ve taken of the cosmos through the years. As I understand it, prior to the site, they simply had an online directory with a couple hundreds thousand images mashed together without thumbnails. Now, though, they’ve provided a simple and direct interface for searching for any number of heavenly bodies and stellar phenomenon.

As soon as I saw, I immediately though: “Oh FUCK I hit the jackpot.”

Because it’s hella fucking inspiring.

There are, truly, no words to describe the beauty of some of those photos. Just do an image search for “nebula”, if you don’t believe me.

As someone with a brain heavily, heavily, slanted towards the visual spectrum, it almost broke me.

I stared, clicked, and rarely blinked for at least an hour, until my eyes were dry and red in their whithered sockets.

I had never seen such things. What a great-goddamned-treat to discover.

As the high subsided though, I realized that, very likely much of what I saw has been available for years; and in some cases, even decades.

Such wonderous sights.

Colors beyond description, views utterly distant, and views I can only compare to spider webs, ocean waves at dusk and my own childhood memories of diving into water for the first time.

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