Wheel…of…Tax Season!

For most people I know, with myself included in that figure so as to artificially inflate it a teensy bit, it’s getting to be tax season.  This largely means digging up any and every piece of paper that might, oh please dear god, add a little bit more to that oh-so-very-lovely tax return (or, in my case from last year, reminding the government I somehow won $1,000 on a scratch-off lottery ticket, which is so going to bite me in the ass).

Fair Warning brand Disclaimer: this post will get a little on the rantier side of things, as it is well-known by those who are familiar with me that money-related stress is my least favorite kind of stress.  Waking up to an obvious, straight-from-90’s-era-horror-movies standing in my bedroom is a pretty close second.  The point is there are many, many other web sites on the internet, and if you’re not a fan of money-related things, or rants, you may want to go elsewhere.  Then come back here for the other posts, obviously.

So anyway, I’m a huge fan of bitching about money.  It’s something most people want more of, nobody ever seems to have enough of, and not very many people are willing to part with unless they’re damn sure it’s going to something good (read as “it’s got to be for personal gain through material possessions, mostly”).  There’s also a whole lot of people who are very good, apparently, at saying how everyone else should use their money for whatever reason (like, say, I don’t know…politicians, for an example).  I’m not an expert with money, either, nor am I an expert with math, numbers, or people.  I am pretty good at opinions, however, since I’ve been giving mine freely since as long as I can remember.  As an important aside before I continue, however, I would like to point out to any eccentric billionaires who happen to find themselves perusing my blog that I am always willing to accept large donations to the Phil Likes Large Sums of Untaxed Cash Even Though He’ll Never, Ever Get Such Things fund.

Here’s what we do: set up a Hunger Games-style selecting process by which so many people are selected to participate in a game show for their tax returns.  I’m going to pause for a moment to note most of the people who know me even a little bit probably expected me to suggest we start killing people, but that’s totally not where I was going with this and if you thought that you should feel bad (but accept I’d probably have gone there under other circumstances, so you were essentially right).  Each player goes individually, which means television networks get to benefit from it lasting a good while and advertising agencies can give viewers ALL the commercials, and completes some sort of task or another (I never said it was a complete idea, and I’m really loving parenthetical asides in this post so I’m sort of sorry for that but not really).

Now for the important bits, though.  The bits that will really bring in viewers.  Each contestant is given a choice at the end of their run on the show.  They can either accept their tax return, as is, no questions asked, or they can pick from one of three mystery prizes behind a door.  The prizes would range anywhere from various denominations of cash to amazing vacation getaways.  What?  That’s boring, you say?  Because the flip-side to that is there would also be rather unfortunate mystery prizes.  Is it a brand new Ford Mustang behind curtain number three?  Nope.  Sorry, Timmy or Tammy Everyperson, it looks like you just forfeited your tax return for a big old bag of beef jerky.  The money players would have gotten in these situations could go to, say, charities of their choice.  Or the national deficit, I guess.  Whatever.  And, because I’m not an entirely horrible person all of the time, everyone would still get to leave with a little bit of money because, let’s face it, nobody really ever wants to live solely off of ramen noodles boiled in their bitter tears (even if it’s a necessary evil sometimes*).

Ultimately, anything that makes money less horrifying and misery-inducing would be pretty cool by my standards, but I really just thinking about the chance to watch, say, a high-paid politician or some crazy-as-all-hell oil baron risk big and end up with something like a boxful of deep-fried cow hearts or something.

*Spicy Pork cooked in vintage Self-Loathing-filled English Major Tears are a personal favorite of mine, as it was one-stop shopping.

Vidya games are the devil

There’s a number of things that will instantly, undoubtedly, and always piss me off.  People who chew loudly, with their mouths open?  You bet.  Children running amok while their parents maintain a state of blissful ignorance?  Check.  And then there are people who, no matter the type or specific subset mentioned, consistently rail against video games.  There’s always some connection made between video games and deviant behavior, like it’s some completely unnatural form of entertainment that should be evicted from the planet just as violently as some people seem to believe these games play out.  Why, though?

First and foremost, it is necessary to point out I have been fond of video games for as long as I can remember.  Label me a gamer, if you will.  Ever since I was but a small child with my very first Sega Genesis (which, I should add, I still own to this day), I have loved everything video games have to offer.  They provided a social lubricant to an otherwise-awkward child, another fuel for my desire to come up with my own creative content to share with the world, a pick-me-up for those days that really made me feel like the universe was out to get me, and one more leisure activity.  Nice and simple, with no real negative impacts.

Points I am willing to consider are as follows, but may not be limited to these items (I am notoriously forgetful at times).

  • Video games, like any other leisure activity, can be enjoyed to excess.  Yes.  But that’s not necessarily a wide-spread issue so much as an individual-to-individual one, and most people are able to step away from their games and say, “I need to go do something else”.
  • Video games are being used as a substitute for/are taking the place of reading.  To contrast someone’s desire to read with how often, or if, they play video games seems about as meaningful, to me at any rate, as trying to contrast a person’s desire to read with how often they participate in sports.  Or community outreach programs.  Or breathe.  Do you see what I’m getting?  If a person is inclined to read, or desires to read, the consumption of digital media such as video games isn’t likely to impact that.  If they’re disinclined to pick up a book or two, that’s their decision.  I would like to point out I am very much in favor of people reading, but I feel like a few posts could be made entirely on that subject.
  • Video games lead to violent thoughts and behavior.  What I would say is video games, like many aspects of mass media, lend to the further desensitization to violence, but they’re no more or less guilty than movies in this respect.  I also feel like it takes a special mix of conditions to result in a person who thinks a video game with violent actions should be treated as a guide for how to go about life.

Ultimately, there just seems to be something inherently backwards, something that smacks of an older-times-were-better-ones mentality, about people who treat video games as a form of deviance.

I’ve got to excuse myself now, as I’ve just been informed my princess is in another castle.