The Ides of May

Because today, you need to read something that won’t piss you off or scare you.

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I’ve had ideas for posts to put here for weeks. There’s a rant brewing about the stock market. BORING. Guns and gun violence. OBVIOUS. Just don’t kill anyone today and all will be well. I have about a million words to write on recycling that really distill down to very basic concepts like “stop buying plastic things”. Basic concepts that no one will probably take to heart.

Ideas aplenty, but no motivation. I, dear reader, have been lazy. The weather’s been perfect for idleness and my current work has me awake far earlier than I prefer. Excuses.

So a piece of advice, then. If the wind in the trees is too lovely a sound to ignore while typing a blog post, then go where the wind blows. The prickly pear is getting ready to pop with flamboyant flowers all over the hillsides behind my house. I just can’t be bothered to be bothered today.

Occam’s Razor

Also, the moon landing was faked, 9/11 was an inside job, and herpes was developed by the sadistic leprechauns of Easter Island.

One of these is the actual opinion of a 60-something woman overheard while my wife and I were trying to enjoy vegetable samosas and masala-drenched potatoes and cauliflower. See if you can tell which is the fake!

Option A:

  • The Sandy Hook shooting was faked. Nobody actually died. The school was closed before the “shooting” took place, which made it a great place to stage an event that would fool most people into believing it happened. This hoax was devised as a way to infringe upon the gun-ownership rights of Amercians.
  • In concert with the above, They don’t want you to have guns because it will make it much easier to install New Hitler (who is not similar to Donald Trump). Because old Hitler rounded up everyone’s guns, promising them that they’d be protected and safe.
  • Nobody in Parkland, Florida is actually dead. The people you see ranting about guns and the need for gun reform are paid actors. That one boy is the son of an FBI agent father and CIA mother, an employee directed to speak at the expense of our 2nd Amendment.

Option B:

  • I really like guns and I don’t want to be without them because I am scared shitless of a world I’ve stopped understanding some time ago.

 

 

Gifts

Always remember to graciously accept a Valentine. What happens to it from there is nobody’s business.

The scene opens as I stroll into the library.

I walk in and inhale an odd combination of fragrances that is unique to the building. I can’t really tell you “it smells like _______” because it’s like describing the scent of salt. I walk by a man at the clerk’s podium, a man who has twice interviewed me for a job. We smile and nod in recognition, both genuinely delivering the facial greeting. I haven’t received any job offers from him.

After browsing the new books, I head to the catalog computers to figure out if they have a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which my buddy Casey’s been raving about ever since we started talking about things that involve science fiction. A random dude takes up the keyboard next to me. Cordial greetings are exchanged. I search for the new Pierce Brown novel, having recently worked my way through the Red Rising trilogy, which can now be renamed a series. They don’t have it.

My neighbor offers up a gift to me, for no particular reason. It’s a small, folded piece of paper that looks like he clipped it out of a children’s magazine, the kind that the editors place in the pages to give kids shit to do other than just look at the pictures. Clip n’ Snip Greetings for your friends! Page 50.

Immediately, a series of thoughts stream through my head, brought about by a healthy dose of exposure to transient people and stories of child-poisoners who do things like use a syringe to inject ebola into the safety caps of vitamins and lace postage stamps with LSD. That last in the days when we actually needed to lick stamps. Days when people actually used stamps. Thoughts:

  • Why is this guy giving me this?
  • Is it dangerous or nasty?
  • Preliminary scans reveal that it is not, as I instantly assumed, a flyer for rediscovering Christ or this weekend’s rave.
  • I’ve touched it now, there’s no going back.

A name was written on the card, which I’m now mis-remembering as Ralph. He said something about spreading good will, as if (I hate being this judgemental, but if you don’t find this funny, the rest of the blog probably won’t interest you either.) his AA group had a mission this week that was to do a random good deed. He walks away, and I pry open the tiny square of paper, which has been stickered shut. Inside is what I identify as another small sticker, this one of Goofy. Other Characters are Available!

I find that Anathem is in the building and mock myself for being such a nonfiction reader that I’d forgotten you can just walk up to fiction shelves and browse them by author. I do a quick scan to make sure the gift-giver doesn’t have line-of-sight. Tiny paper square goes into the trash.

I go into the bathroom to wash my hands, thoroughly.

Deindustrialization Simulator

I have an idea! Let’s see if we can turn a general sense of failure and entropy into a game. Go.

I enjoy a voyeur-ish relationship with video games. Have done for some time. It was always a bit more fun watching my buddy Matt play Final Fantasy than actually grabbing a controller and making my own damned decisions. I continue this sort of thing today, watching more YouTube content produced by the Yogscast than I am comfortable admitting. Twitch uses quite a bit of electricity in my house. There’s something really juicy about watching how other people play and the decisions they make.

Alternately, I have very little relationship with the creation of video games. A coworker and I once wrote up a game design document for a railroad-themed multiplayer game, which was fun until I realized that I’m really only good at the brainstorming. This hasn’t stopped me from attempting to come up with an idea for another rip-roaringly good way to spend time: a game based on tearing down a society.

We’ve been through post-apocalyptic and seem to be cresting the zombie outbreak wave in our culture, so the timing might be right for this. It would be a game (although in all honesty, it should probably be written “game”) about taking a civilization from, well, whatever the hell you call ours to something a bit more logical and self-sustaining. The goal? Have a habitable world with enough things alive to habitate in it. Activities would include things like decommissioning power plants and shuttering factories while dealing with civil unrest and acceptable losses.

Too many games are of the expand, expand, keep expanding, build an expansion, then win variety. Due to my penchant for being a bit of a contrarian asshole, I wanted to go the other way. I have absolutely no idea how to make something like this playable, let alone get people to like it. Not that people need to like the game in order for it to be sale-able.

I’m still working on it.

Cancerous Associations

Don’t equate material wealth with virtue. Or at least, consider it safer to make them inversely proportional.

I’ve written about how I feel about luck before. The odd and somewhat repulsive political climate leads me to think about it again.

I can’t be objective here: our president is a horrible person. Even if we were to set aside the overt misogyny, the subliminal racism, and the petulant social media usage, there is still the fact that he has turned into a cutthroat businessman. All of these things were well-known about him before we voted him into office, and yet this didn’t seem to discourage people from giving him keys to the kingdom.

So I begin to question why. The only thing that makes sense to me is that people view his financial wealth and social capital as markers of success. Seeing that success, they automatically assume that the man in possession of it is intelligent, hard working, and worthy of emulation. Who better to run the country? After all, everyone knows that hard work, intelligence, and quality moral fiber are what create success, right?

He owns a gold toilet.

Let that sink in for a bit. What type of person shits into precious metals? Maybe he doesn’t actually shit in it and just likes the form of a toilet. The motives aren’t as important as the fact that it exists because he wanted it to. This is a businessman who loves money and power, proving time and again that he is willing to tell lies to acquire more of it, that there’s never enough.

Yet somehow people still believe that this is a person who will act for their benefit. There was an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette some months ago about two Trump voters who still supported him after one of the dozens of stupid acts for which he is now almost celebrated. One of them related that he voted for Trump because (paraphrasing here) he was so rich that he already had everything and couldn’t be bought.(Note that information about cooperation with Russia was becoming very difficult to refute at this point also.) This voter equated rich with incorruptible, ignoring the fact that wealthy people aren’t wealthy because they have a habit of saying, “You know what? I already have more than I need. Let’s just call this good enough.”

A person doesn’t become wealthy, powerful, successful (whatever that’s defined to be) simply because they’re intelligent, hard working, or virtuous. Some of them legitimately got lucky. Some of them cheated their way to “success”. These are not necessarily people who stick up for the well-being of the millions of others upon which their fortune depends.  The hordes of groping male celebrities are reinforcing this point. Just because a person has a gold toilet doesn’t mean he’s worth the shit it flushes.