Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Whorled Of Wharfcraft

I spent the last week or two playing a lot of WoW. Pretty dorky, I know, but I got hooked back in after quitting for a few months. I’ve finally got to level eighty where they have all this nice stuff for max level players to do so they don’t get bored and quit. Very cool. They’ve got this “emblem” system that doles out emblems for every boss kill in heroic or “hard” dungeons, or two for completing one entire dungeon. The thing is, you need like 40-60 of the easy to get kind to get anything cool with them, like better armor and stuff. And then there’s the best tier armor that you need to collect at least 60 for the cheapest parts of it, but you can only get two of those a day, and like another 9ish per week. Plus some more in Icecrown Citadel, the final final boss zone. More or less. Vance once told me that he didn’t like WoW because he felt like it was too artificially paced, intentionally made that way to keep people playing for longer periods of time. It was too obvious and fake to him. I can totally get where he is coming from, actually. It is pretty fucking annoying that end-game gear is set up precisely that you’d need to make multiple runs of raids that you can literally only do once a week to get any really decent stuff. It’s pretty messed up.

Of course the difference between him and me is that I am totally hooked. I have a totally different perspective on it, I think, because I do dumb things like collect Jarritos bottle caps. I only buy them maybe three or four at a time, and most of the lids are only one point (unos puntos) so it has taken me quite a while to collect them. I still don’t have enough for the awesome our lady of Guadalupe bottle cap earrings that I want because it so perfectly iconizes the commercialization of Mexican culture into a form acceptable to the American model of capitalism. I collect them anyway, even though I only get one maybe every week on average because that is what I do. I suppose the difference is that I am paying fifteen bucks a month for the privilege of collecting virtual bottle caps. It really could be worse. I could play Magic: The Gathering Online and pay real money for packs of virtual cards. Man, that just bugs the bejeezus out of me. On the other hand, I do pay four bucks for tiny packages of art printed on worthless paper. Haha. I guess I’m just doomed to frivolously spend money on things that tangentially make me feel happy or accomplished. It’s the curse of the consumer. This might be a nice launching point for some anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist invective. Nah, I don’t really want to talk about that.

I am not a big fan of American culture. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I hate American culture. I hate the culture of competition. I hate the idea that in order to get anywhere I am supposed to stab my brother in the eye and step on the backs of everyone else. It’s just dumb. I hate the concept that we must be vigilant for every other nation or obscure terrorist cell is out to steal our freedoms. This constant war, this constant masculinity wears on me. It really does. I dunno, I guess it’s just cause I am lazy. I don’t want to compete. Too hard. Maybe I don’t think I will do a great job. Maybe it’s my lack of self-esteem that keeps me from going out there and batting all comers off with my huge dick. Maybe I am just too much of a pussy to appreciate the eternal struggle that is America. I just don’t accept the popularity of sports. They reinforce the constant conflict that America is in. I should be contributing to the conflict. I need to be fighting. I need to be throwing my money at American produced products and supporting our soldiers in times of war and peace and so on and so forth. I need to do it, because America is always at the edge of the precipice of disaster. We’re always about to collapse forever. We need to be. If we weren’t so busy trying to prop up America from its perceived dangers, we might become complacent and learn to forget the meaning of America, the purpose of a national boundary. We might lose pride in being American. We might figure out that our borders are just invisible lines that mean nothing to anyone outside of the government. We might forget that we’re better and different than everyone else because we have more guns. Heaven forbid we might lay down those guns and forget that we have enemies and remember that first and foremost, we are brothers and sisters. We might remember that all of us are human and this is to be celebrated.

No, I’m pretty much an idiot. We Americans love peace. We would gladly share our peace with everyone, but they don’t want it, the ingrates. That is why we have to go over there and enforce peace. It is our job to keep the peace, by shooting anyone who disagrees with us. Peace in the majority, friend.

I keep telling people that money doesn’t exist. I will keep telling them this and I will shout it at them until I am blue in the face, because so many people live their lives focused on money. Their existence depends on it. Their very self-worth is attached to the cash they make. In an Asian or other traditionalist cultures, your very worth to your family is how much money you make. I can’t tell you how messed up this is. It’s worship. It’s a distorted sort of secular worship, but it’s still worship all the same. We pray at the altar of mammon, and the douchebags up in Wall Street who generate money from thin air are our priests. We watch crap like Jim Cramer’s Mad Money because we need someone to interpret the market for us. He’s a modern diviner, coming down from the mount to tell us to buy, sell, or hold. It’s absurd. I don’t care about money. I am a jerk for this, I suppose, but really it has long lost its original point and become a farcical tool of social demarcation. It’s no different from pretty much every society since we discovered crop rotation. At least one family gets really lucky and really rich and dictates the activities of everyone else because they seem more valuable than anyone else. It really hasn’t changed. I am so dull. Look at me complaining about the same thing people have complained about for thousands of years.

The problem is that our competitive nation is tied to its money. We need to be more financially active. We need more guns and more peril, we need to be leaning on the red button at any given time. Why? So we can justify our money. Money as it is today is essentially based on the idea that the American government won’t fail. That’s about it. Money has even less meaning than when it was tied to shiny bricks of metal. It’s laughable. Money has exactly as much value as we believe it has. Maybe more appropriate, money has exactly as much value as we can be convinced it has. Money in the real world has literally no more value than money in WoW. They even translate. About 1k gold is $2 according to gold-sellers. Maybe a better analogy is EVE online. You can convert about $15 into an in-game item that lets you play for another month. This item is worth about 300 million Isk, the in-game currency. So voila. Money is getting translated back and forth (well, money is mostly being putting in, as the company is understandably reluctant to hand out money, though I am sure plenty of player-to-player interactions exist) from a virtual space to a real one. Clearly it doesn’t have any legitimate physical worth. But we keep it up anyway, because money really is the best tool we have for measuring what other people think of us, more or less. Our value to society, supposedly. This idea too falls apart before the absurd billions made by companies that produce nothing but ways to kill us or rot out our teeth or waste our time. I don’t find Blizzard a particularly necessary company, especially since they’ve been bought out by those douchebags at Activision. I don’t consider WoW much of a contribution to society. I enjoy their drug, however, so I send them money. Rather, Visa sends them money and then breathes down my neck for me to give them money back for it. It’s a very neat system. I am not really against it. It really is a fantastic tool. I don’t really think we need to get rid of it or anything. I just want a re-evaluation of the current model of fiscal purpose. I want to see money being used in a realistic and reasonable fashion. No one needs billions of dollars. Hardly anyone needs more than a few million dollars. I expect such largesse to be matched by an equally amazing contribution to society, such as solving overpopulation or discovering a new and more efficient process for generating nutritious and plentiful food for the exploding population that hasn't been solved. Perhaps money could go to the people who successfully find a way to mediate conflict between two societies with conflicting views and conflicting homesteads. Maybe I sound a bit retarded, but I really think a Nobel Prize model of payout is vastly more effective than rewarding people who cut costs by refusing safety checks and allowing bullshit like the Deepwater oil volcano happen.

But, no, the people demand oil and cars and such, so they can set what prices they like. People demand cool movies and neat cell phones that do all sorts of stuff. People demand cosmetic surgery and 3d TVs. People demand the latest shiny crap and they’re willing to pay whatever they can to get it. Maybe what I’m asking for is not to trust the people to get money where it needs to go. Maybe I am asking for income redistribution by the government. I suppose I am asking for socialism (since communism is… you know… dead.) to take away those darn rich people’s monies and give them to the poor. Really, I just can’t help but think that there must be a better way than this. And by George, I’m an American. I demand only the best in governing practices.

My net worth is in the negative, by the way. Therefore I am an active detriment to society and everyone hates me. I would make a terrible Asian. However, I have a level 80 druid healer in WoW that is fully geared in T9 stuffs and will be getting her first t10 piece before the week is out. This is quite a feat of dedication and I am very proud of my virtual accomplishment.

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