Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Disparity of Wealth on Christmas

A time for family, gift giving, and feeling the true weight of how poor you actually are. Well, for me anyways. And for a lot of other people in this country during this recession. This holiday season, while walking home from work past brand new cars and homeless men, I got to thinking about the people that Have and the people that Have Not. Particularly, I was thinking about the all-too-common theory that poor people are poor because they way to be.

What is that? Who would ever want to be poor? It's hard as shit to be poor. It's stressful and depressing and every financial decision, no matter how small, is a painstaking decision. Furthermore, the poor are surrounded by the judging eyes of the Haves.

I don't understand how we came to worship money so feverishly in this country, but that appears to be the situation. At times it seems to me that we live in some sort of bizarre nightmare reality in which the most important thing in your life is supposed to be your job. Does that give you chills or what? The thing that gives your life meaning is the way you make money? That sounds awful.

A lot of different philosophies speculate at the true meaning of life. It might be to find happiness, it might be to find peace, it might be to help others and it might be 42. All of these seem valid to me. What does not seem plausible is that the ultimate goal of one's life should be to have a solid financial foundation, with good investments and low interest rates. I mean, have I watched too much Bill Hicks and read too much Palahniuk? Do I just have an especially strong distaste for bullshit? Am I wrong? Is life really about mortgages and nice cars and all the boring percentages? Because I would prefer my life to be a little more interesting than that.

You know, when you think about it that way, it makes perfect sense that the Haves would see the Have Nots as enemies. The Haves are all cooped up in their offices, stuck in neck ties, tricking themselves into believing that work matters. Paperwork matters. Deadlines matter. Business is important, damnit. And if they have to waste the only lives they have to live on making money, why should anyone else get any of it, whether it be a quarter to a homeless man or taxes that pay for public services?

And that's why I continue to be unsurprised about the failure of the health care reform. No one should get anything for free in this country. The only problem is that people just aren't working hard enough. And that's the kind of short-sighted, uncomplicated thinking that you develop when you start to define your worth by the money you make. You start to judge everyone else by the money they don't make. That's called The Process of Othering and it makes things less complicated. By thinking of the poor as others, they aren't really people.
"They" are all too lazy to work.
"They" are all just drug addicts and alcoholics.
"They" lie and cheat to get food stamps and medicaid.
"They" are immoral. Automatically. Because they don't make enough money.

It is so acceptable to hate and resent the poor. It's so easy to imagine that they are constantly scheming up ways to get the money that you have worked so hard for. Democracy was built to protect the rich from the poor, because "they" are the enemy.
But we're all human beings, and that should matter more than what's in your bank account.

Merry fucking Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Let me be very clear about this: Fuck the Blue version. Red is where it's at.

Within the last few days I decided to fire up the old Pokemon cartridge. It's a game I come back to every now and then, just like all the games of my early adolescence (like Super Mario 64, Final Fantasy 7, Ocarina of Time, etc...) I think of that time in my life as a sort of golden age of video games, when I wasn't distracted by things like work, or a social life, or the desire to create and achieve.
Coming back to these games is like coming back to my own bed after a long trip away from home. It's always nice to be back in a familiar universe.
Now I'm back into Pokemon like I haven't been in years, and an idea has been forming in my mind since I started the new file. I wasn't certain that I could be right at first. I was sure that I would be proven wrong, but I must say that now I am confident of my new opinion, and want to share it with the world:

Pokemon proves that all this ADHD, hyperactive-kid epidemic talk of the last decade is just absolute, flat-out bullshit.
Why? Because Pokemon is an INCREDIBLY slow game. Difficult, one might say, to even get through.

You start off with one Pokemon of your choosing. Now, training one pokemon wouldn't be so tiresome, but you can carry six pokemon at a time. Now, tell me, who isn't going to want to carry six? So, you go through the game, fighting and capturing the low-level pokemon that you come across and building them up as well. The thing is, these new pokemon you capture (and even the ones you start with, originally) are just as weak as the pokemon they're fighting. So that means your Pidgey and your Rattata are good for maybe one or two fights before you have to take them back to the Pokecenter in town to heal.
And hey, you're not a psychic. You're no Alakazam. So you're gonna want to build up all the new pokemon you come across (especially in the beginning) in case they have any sweet moves or evolve into something cooler. So you spend hours of gameplay walking around grass and caves, fighting little fights for measley amounts of experience, and as the game progresses you stay forever locked into a losing battle to make your little animals stronger.
Most games that are released nowadays can be beaten in about 10 hours. There's no real reason to buy games anymore, because you can run through them no problem in two or three days. But in Pokemon, the game has only just begun at the 10 hour mark. I JUST got the ability to move quickly in the game. My pokemon are JUST beginning to get all four of their moves. I've caught 27 out of 150, and all I see are fucking oddishes, which are basically radishes with feet.
I mean, I read for fun, and this game is trying my patience.
How could a country full of little hyperactive kids sit through this entire game, content only to move their thumbs and watch a little cartoon kid walk in circles in the grass? I submit that they could not.