The Xbox Series X, Series S, and Sony PS5 have been out for over a year now and at no point during that time has the average consumer been able to purchase one without overpaying or jumping through hoops.
And Microsoft, Sony, and all of the major retailers do not care at all.
Why? They are selling the consoles as fast as they can produce\get them and that’s all they care about: The bottom line.
Shocking? Not really.
What’s really shocking (or should be) is that this has been going on for over a year and not a single gaming news site has kept this story in the forefront of the public’s attention.
Why? Another easy answer; gaming journalism, the kind there used to be, just doesn’t exist.
All have been replaced by click bait crap sites.
Several gaming news sites have recently posted stories on the “surprising” console sales winner of Black Friday: the Xbox Series S. They all refer to the Xbox Series X as being “pretty hard to come by” (quote from Games Radar)
That seems to be true for actual users but why is it that scalpers seem to have no difficulty at all getting systems? Look at Ebay or any of the resale sites. You’ll find plenty of PS5 and Xbox Series X units, ready for immediate shipment. At scalper prices of course.
Of course, this isn’t just true of consoles. Tried to buy a video card lately? Same thing. You’re looking at paying an enormous premium to a scalper to get one.
The handwriting on the wall is very obvious: Unless this is addressed as the serious issue that it is, the problem is only going to get worse.
I’d really like to be wrong about this. Perhaps there is some news site that’s giving serious attention and coverage to this very real and ongoing issue. If so, I’d really like to see it.
It’s hard to look at what happened yesterday, January 6, 2021, with anything less than horror and shock.
And yet there is no surprise. Trump and his supporters have been quite successful in convincing a great number of people, just like you and me, that this election was fraudulent and that “the enemies” were trying to destroy democracy.
So people reacted in what they thought, what they had been told, was a reasonable and necessary act; to take back the government that was being stolen.
We did this. You and I. Because that’s all there is. There’s no “they”.
There’s only us. And we have to figure this out.
If we, as a people, as a nation, can not reach out and find some way to work together, then we are truly lost in every conceivable way.
In the last year or so, I took a solace in thinking that as bad as the divisions among us were, at least we weren’t engaged in a full blown civil shooting war.
Only today have I realized that this country has been at war with itself for many, many years.
The differences are that there are more than two sides and there’s been no formal declaration.
Instead of bullets, cannons, and the like we used something much more insidious and destructive.
We used words.
We used the very things that should help us come together to find some kind of compromise that gives us all something.
Somewhere along the line (and this is true of any political party or movement) the idea of working with the opposition (or whomever we perceive as such) was lost.
We bought into the idea that politics, our prevailing national ideology, is something that could be “won”.
There’s no winning here, unless you’re a politician looking for a few more years of a cushy life for little to no real work.
Yet even the politicians are working within the reality that we’ve all allowed.
We are the problem. All of us. And only by putting aside our differences will we have any hope in making things better.
So here I am in the middle of a life with the dawning understanding that nearly everything I thought to be the cornerstones of acceptable and positive human behavior was bullshit.
Please note that this “enlightenment” did not come all at once. It probably started in my mid 30’s, after I’d been married for nearly 10 years and had three kids. My life was pretty much formed, yet I was forced to accept that I had very little understanding of what it actually meant to be a “good” man or a “good” person. I was still far too self-centered, self-absorbed, and just generally selfish. I had no good friends and honestly had no idea why.
I’ve considered documenting my lame efforts at adopting the Christian faith and living that life. Although my life continues to be shaped and informed by the seminal wisdom and irrefutable cultural truths found in the bible, it’s promised spiritual and actual life benefits evaporated under the brutal scrutiny of real-life trials and the crucible of honest scientific examination.
But I eventually did find a relevant and pragmatic mythology, one that fits perfectly with honest examination, introspection, and observation of my external reality.
In the endless outpouring of the admittedly unreal I found the real. My mythology, the structure, and concepts on which to base a life, a world view, and a complete perspective I found in the words, sounds, and visual imagery of fiction.
My teachers are many and quite varied.
One of the first is the late Kenneth Millar, writing under the name of Ross McDonald. Through his writing I became acquainted with Mr. Lew Archer, a California private investigator. He allowed me to follow him in his long and eternal struggle with a landscape of shallow glitz tinged with human failings and an uncaring system. He taught me that no matter how many times life gangs up and beats you down, you always, failing death, have the strength to get up, brush yourself off, and continue. Mr. Archer was often beaten but never defeated. Not because of his boxing prowess but because he simply would not be defeated.
Another is Sue Grafton. She introduced me to Kinsey Millhone. Referring to her as another southern Californian private investigator simply does not do her justice. Hanging around her gave me some small insight into the subtle yet profound differences life forces on women, in particular women who attempt to invade the unspoken but rigidly protected universe of the male hero. In her I could see the inviolable steel will of a woman who does what she must for no other reason than it is what she knows to be right. She allowed me to recognize (or at least to begin to) the strength and determination I’d seen in my mother, some of my schoolteachers, and the various remarkable women I encountered.
I watched Jonathan E. explode with lethally focused violence in 1975’s “Rollerball”. Through his pain and determination, I learned that sometimes the significance of the single, unwavering unit, the person, nameless to the thoughtless, corrupted, and never-fulfilled maw of the human monster’s appetite for violence, sexuality, anger, and mindless desire to WIN, is and always be, important, for no other reason than one individual believed in it.
Through the incomparably beautiful prose of Walter Mosely I met Easy Rawlins. Mr. Rawlins’ adventures as a black man in late 40’s Los Angeles gave me a protected peek into the racial barriers thrown up by fearful whites. He gave me just a taste of raw bigotry and hatred for no more reason than a darker shade of skin. I do not and never will know completely what it’s like to be black, (or female, or any other identity that we call “minority”) but I have some small idea.
But by far my greatest teacher has been the late Robert B Parker. He introduced me to his friend Spenser (like the poet). First name unknown (perhaps even to Mr. Parker) he works as a private investigator in Boston. He’s taught me about love, being true to yourself, sometimes cruel and brutal honesty, friendship, and what it really means to be a man, in almost every context. Not being married, he taught me that eternal and unchanging love is not a feeling but a decision, made every moment of every day to fulfill a promise made to oneself and to another.
Not being a father, he taught me that the greatest instruction one can offer a child is unwavering and unconditional love.
Not being some perfect icon, he taught me that failure is inevitable and certain. That to fail spectacularly in private or in public, is to take one significant step towards the best we can ever hope to attain: simply being able to honestly say: “I did my best.”
Mr. Spenser was none of those things but one thing he was in spades: a good friend. And that, perhaps, is the greatest lesson of all.
As he moves through his violent and ever changing landscape, struggling against a faceless, nameless foe as determined to corrupt and destroy as he is to support, aid, and perhaps to redeem, he meets other heroes. Some help him once and are forgotten. Others are drawn to him, recognizing in him the same burning desire to help, to make right those few wrongs that can be made right. He makes and keeps friends. These are true friends, not momentary images or words with nothing more than a virtual existence. Although they are no more real than the words and phrases that manifest their entire reality, they are more real to me than almost everything I see.
They are real because they represent that which means everything to me. The truth, the truth about everything and everyone that is, so much today, cast aside for material stuff, meaningless and unfulfilling as empty space, the cynical illusions of friendship, promoted by a virtual market no more real and relevant than the virtual space it inhabits. The ridiculous concept of falling “in love”. As if a lifelong commitment to care for and be cared for by another could in some bizarre universe, be equated to some intoxicating but well-understood biochemical process doomed to evaporate in time.
These are my teachers and I will never ever learn all they have to share. But I am listening, and I am, despite all my weaknesses and personal failures, learning.
I watched a lot of tv as a kid, mostly the meaningless pablum of daytime programming. Most of it was from the late 50’s and early 60’s. It had little or nothing in common with real life, certainly not my life.
My family was poor, my father farming cotton on someone else’s land, spending what money he had to raise a crop, selling it for what he could and having to pay a significant portion of those proceeds to the landowner. There was never much left for him or us.
Our house was on the edge of town, small and spare, heated by three gas stoves, one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and the smallest in the single bathroom. In the summer it was “cooled” (and I am using that term in its most generous sense) by a large evaporative cooler, blowing somewhat cooler air through a living room window. It had a bad bearing, causing it to screech loudly on long, hot summer nights.
This was my real world and it was made nearly unbearable by what I saw and understood as “normal” on the various TV shows I watched. The characters that lived inside that small simulated wooden box were sometimes so much more real to me than the real people in my life and nearly always preferable.
I am the youngest of five and by the time I was born my parents were both in their early 40’s. They’d both been born into large, depression-era families, sharing only the life crushing poverty common in those times. They spoke little of their childhood (to me) and as far as I was concerned the history of my family’s existence began (and perhaps ended) with me.
Life had not been kind to them. Whatever hopes and dreams they might have had, were almost completely dead and gone before I was born. They did the best they could. It has taken me long years of hurt, disappointment, sometimes hate, and longing to understand that. All of that was displaced, directed mostly towards my father. My mother tried, in her own way to make me happy. My father spent all his time simply trying to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads, and shoes on our feet. He had no time or energy for the kind, generous fatherly relationships that was common on the insipid and fanciful TV shows that informed me as to what a father should be like. I still don’t and probably can never understand the soul-wringing hardships he suffered.
Against this seemingly grim background of my childhood was projected the insubstantial and unreal black and white moving pictures of completely unrealistic fictions. “Father Knows Best”, “Leave It To Beaver”, “Make Room For Daddy”, “Ozzie & Harriet”, etc were my windows to a world that was so much more real and preferable to the crude outlines of my actual existence. I lived in those shows, spoke with the voices of the two-dimensional children therein, listened to the calm, measured, and loving voices of the fathers and mothers, and dreamed of someday living in a house where patience, love, material plenty, and an easy, totally fictional and perfect life was offered to all who would take the time to sit, watch, listen, and believe.
Sure, I watched the other shows, “Superman”, “The Wild, Wild West”, “The Twilight Zone”, “The Outer Limits”, etc. The difference being that I completely recognized those for what they were; fanciful and fantastic visions with little or no connection to the real world.
I didn’t understand then that the family shows were no more accurate or relevant than these fanciful tales. To me they were what real life was or perhaps what it should be. They shaped my dreams and expectations as much as any accurate history or memories shared by my siblings, friends, or parents.
They were my mythology, even though at the time, I did not recognize them as such.
But a life built on the foundations of ephemeral and never existing shadows can only eventually dissolve under the simple and unrelenting pressures of what happens during normal human existence. The dreams and visions collapsed with no more substance than the light from which they were constructed. Life, rich and full of the ugly, insistent, and intense barrage attacks of real consequences, was always so much less and so much more than the shadows of those false teachers. Their truths and lessons, based on nothing more that some overworked and hasty TV writer’s hurried scratches, evaporated as the steam from water, boiled too long and too hot.
My life was almost always a huge disappointment, delivering none of the expected perfection, richness, and promised material wealth.
I don’t know when, but eventually I came to understand that the things on which I had built my life were baseless and simply put, bullshit.
Here’s something you may or may not know and\or understand: For the most part, people serving in political office at any level (but particularly at the federal level) have one, and only one priority: keeping their job. This isn’t surprising as that’s essentially the desire of anyone who has a job. The primary difference being most people try to keep their job by actually performing the work for which they were hired.
Not politicians. The work they should be doing is hard, and fraught with difficulty. So long ago, they learned the easy way to keep their job; convince the voters that someone else is actively preventing them from doing their job. They are most excellent at this.
So now, we have a divided country where both sides are completely sure that all the problems they face in life is someone else’s fault and thank heaven for my tireless senator\congressman fighting the good fight to make sure we get everything we want, desire, and need.
What a load of bullshit.
Let’s face the ugly fact and those are that our country was founded by rich and powerful white men who were mostly interested in providing a legal and political structure that mostly looked after the interests of rich and powerful white men. Sure, they paid lip service to the rest of us, but that was NEVER anything but an afterthought. The rest of us were simply mindless drones, fit for nothing more than mindless drone labor and other meaningless activities. But even they, in their relentless pursuit of a system designed to promote rich and powerful white men, saw political office as public service and NOT A FREAKING LIFETIME JOB!
But we, the people, have been lazy. (and frankly far too busy trying to overcome the endless barriers put up by rich and powerful white men to our very existence to do much about it) We believed them when they said they were doing this for the good of all. (Of course, to them that meant for the good of rich and powerful white men.)
So now the most prominent leaders of our nation are rich and powerful white men (and a few rich and powerful women) who are FAR too old and out of touch to really understand the majority of the people they are paid to represent.
This is not some radically outrageous proclamation, made by me in a pathetic attempt to get attention. (Unlike practically everything I post) I believe this will all my heart. If you can provide solid evidence to the contrary, I’d be happy to see it.
Perfect Illustration of the currant state of the USA.
Sad but true. This country, the one we’ve been crowing about for nearly 250 years as the shining example of the triumph of democratic achievement has one, tiny, little secret:
It was all a big fat fucking lie.
Created by rich white men, most of whom either owned slaves, had owned slaves, or would own slaves. They were almost certainly not the enlightened and completely altruistic heroes we’ve been told about. They regarded most women as property. Sure, some allowed themselves to lower themselves to the level of women and were duly rewarded when such women seemed to bloom under their care, guidance, and tutelage. (Of course, what was really happening was they were allowing themselves to recognize the skills, value, and abilities that had always existed in these and all women.)
Is it any surprise then, that at the end of the day, this country, every scrap of it, has an incredible bias towards white men and rich white men in particular. This bias is so very fundamental as to be nearly invisible.
Make no mistake. These men created this country for the benefit of all. No doubt about that.
But in their hearts, the word “all” was synonymous with “white men” first and foremost. All others came a very distant second.
This is the unspoken fundamental truth that we’ve been in denial about since forever.
Not surprising, considering white men had been pretty much running things forever. There was no reason to change.
Think about that.
Re-read all of the great, glorious, magical, documents associated with the birth of our country. See all the references to “men”. We’ve culture-corrected those references, in our own heads, to mean “people”. (After not a little pushing, shoving, bleeding, dying, killing, etc.)
But this does not change the intent and underlying world view shared by these great men. They envisioned a country filled with all sorts of entities; men, women, and others. That’s how they saw people. Anyone not white belonged to the “other” category. These were entities that were “almost” people.
The simple and somewhat ugly truth, the truth that we’ve been denying, is that these men, the founders of our country, created a world where they, as the destined ruling class (that being white men) would thrive and prosper.
And they (most of them anyway) gave absolutely zero thought to anyone outside themselves.
Don’t misunderstand, they wanted only the very best for everyone. (Provided the quality and opportunities of their own personal lives were never impacted negatively.)
This is why our country is broken. It was broken from the beginning.
Can it be fixed?
There was a time when the answer was “Of course! The US can do anything!”
But that’s a lie. We’ve clearly demonstrated the profound ability to NOT be able to do anything, other than to make rich white men richer and more powerful.
We make it through the so-called civil rights movement. We thought gains were made. We thought the country was moving forward.
We thought it was working.
And at some levels, town, city, and state, it might have been.
But at the federal level, the rules still give all the power and opportunities to rich white men. Others need not apply.
The civil rights movement did nothing to eradicate the underlying hate, resentment, and outrage that afflicted so many white people. When they no longer felt welcome in the national conversation, they didn’t go away. They went silent and underground.
And they grew. Initially, via word of mouth and personal relationships. The internet age brought them all the tools they needed to connect, thrive, and most importantly, influence.
Still doubt the idea?
Take a look at the baby-man Cheeto “running” the country.
All of his perceived faults, the thinly veiled hate, the ignorance, the lies, the denial, the seemingly endless list of character flaws, are perfectly representative of the kind of person our founding fathers saw as the perfect leader: A rich white man.
They would have seen no problem with the Cheeto. They would have clucked their tongues at his boorishness and ignorance. But his fundamental right to be a leader would be a given.
And there’s obviously a great number of people who still feel that way. They see him as a leader…a great one.
We are truly and profoundly fucked as a country.
Until a majority of the people of this country understand the fundamental shortcomings of our leaders, how can we possibly begin to effect real change?
The only way forward is to fix everything from the ground up.
Not amendments, not presidential edicts, not shaming, not focus groups, not anything like that.
We have to start with one simple shared and committed concept: every human alive in this country has all the rights, opportunities, and responsibilities of every other human.
For real this time.
Once that is done, we get really radical.
We level the playing field for real.
We perform the herculean task of equally redistributing all real wealth.
All of it.
There’s about $98 trillion owned by US citizens.
There’s about 208 million adults in the US.
$98,000,000,000,000/ 208,000,000 = (roughly) $471,000 per adult.
That’s right, that’s how screwed up this whole thing is.
We start by taking it all away and actually distributing it evenly.
That’s where we start.
And if we actually do that, it will solve most, if not all of our countries issues.
The existential dumpster fire that is the current reality in the US is most frightening not because it represents some sort of bizarre action movie whereby a crack team of heroes must make superhuman efforts to overcome a monstrous, invisible, and insidious enemy, all while having little or no chance at survival, much less success.
It is frightening because we know exactly how to overcome this crisis, but because of the very thing that allowed us to get to this place in our existence, our fervent, fundamental, and immutable tribalism.
Tribalism allowed us to pull together as small groups to survive a practically impossible beginning; animals that were weak, slow, vulnerable, and most of all, tasty.
Left as individuals, humanity would certainly have died out millennia ago.
But we were given one great gift: a brain far more advanced then most. This gave us relative superpowers respective to the animals around us. This great gift allowed us to not only survive, but to flourish.
Ultimately, it also gave us biases.
We learned to fear the unknown and the different. We clung to our beliefs and distrusted any deviation. We decided was TRUE and based our thinking and behavior around that, regardless of its actual veracity. Remembering and thinking of what specific behavior or thinking was correct took time and effort. Our ever-helpful brains eventually made this easier for us by making all that TRUTH part of the very makeup of our identity.
We developed unconscious and profoundly effective biases.
Biases push us towards that which is familiar and reassuring and away from anything else. They push us towards and away from people.
Here is the hardest part (for me anyway) to accept: “I am not, and have never been, in complete control of how I think and act.”
The price we must all pay to resolve this crisis is high indeed. It is nothing less than turning our backs on almost everything we believe at a fundamental level.
Many point to racism, ageism, elitism, and a million other “isms” as the culprit. Sadly true but it doesn’t go quite far enough.
The problem is not and has never been them, or them, or them, or them.
The problem has always been and will always be us, until we, as individuals and as a people decide to change.
We Must Change. All of us. Everyone. There are no exceptions and there is no room for equivocation.
We Must Change.
Or we will fail.
Perhaps the perfect expression of the downside to accepting the status quo is from the immortal “Casablaca”: “…If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
Perfect, except that it is not “the rest of your life”. It is the rest of all our lives.
As a nation, as a people, we can endure and prosper during this time. But doing so will require great effort, understanding, empathy, and above all else, sacrifice, from everyone, all of us.
Because this is not about them. It’s never been about them.
This is about us.
We must, somehow, move beyond our fundamental tribalism and come to understand that we have a great and terrible choice: We can continue on our current path and pay a terrible price measured in human pain, financial loss, and even greater tribal divisions.
Or we can pay a potentially even higher price, at least in the short term; rip away the world views, concepts, and ideas that keep us, as a people, apart. Commit to do whatever it takes to make sure every person has the same rights, opportunities, and protection.
For real this time. Not just words on a page.
We’re lucky in that agreeing to one simple concept will get us very far down that path:
Every human being, regardless of race, color, wealth, education, residence, occupation, etc, is just as valuable, relevant, and important as every other person.
Irrespective of the flowery elegance of our national documents, this has never been true. We must make it true now.
Parents Rejoice! The PERFECT role model for your children has arrived!
Making sure your children have an edge in this world is more important than ever. Choosing a role model for your kids is critical to giving them this edge. How lucky we are that we now have the absolutely perfect role model for your young leader, regardless of Sex! Let’s take a look at our glorious leader’s PERFECT behavioral patterns:
Pathological Liar\Delusional – In today’s world the truth is determined by who can yell the loudest and the longest. Don’t let your kids get held back by “bad grades” and “irresponsible behavior”. We know these are libtard words for “Creative Thinking” and “Working Outside The Box”. These are the cornerstones on which your child can build a future. There’s no need to worry about good grades, indeed, education is the least important thing in the development of a future leader. Make sure your young leader can convincingly lie and you’re halfway there! Encourage your child to think of themselves as better than others, even if the “facts” would suggest otherwise. Make sure your child knows that all reality bends to their desires and always will.
Thin Skinned\Profound Insensitivity – Teach your little leader that they should expect nothing less than exceptional praise and outright adoration from everyone they meet (regardless of that “person’s” value.) Anything less should be met with the most scathing and brutal of attacks. Anyone exhibiting such dangerous opinions will respond positively to the most aggressive and hostile personal attacks. Teach them that others will appreciate the hate and vitriol they use to bring them back in line. Remind your Caesar\Cleopatra that other “people” aren’t like them and don’t really have feelings.
Narcissism is Neat! – Remind your future king\queen that image is everything and nothing else matters. Your future God\Goddess will be the Perfect Example of the pinnacle of physical, mental, and emotional development. (This is fundamentally true regardless of any outdated standards to which others may adhere.) Your child is far too elite to accept the outdated standards of others. Your child is the very MANIFESTATION of perfection! Anyone who does not immediately recognize this should be corrected swiftly and appropriately.
Fairness, competency, and integrity, are concepts to be left in the dust by the leaders of tomorrow – Make sure your young Lord\Lady knows that what they want at any given moment is the most important issue in the universe This may confuse “others” and they may even show some resistance to this fundamental concept. Again, sub-persons such as this must be attacked and corrected using whatever means necessary. Your child has no need for the outdated concept of “fair”. Fair can only be defined as what is best for your child. No other definition is appropriate. “Competency” is an idea for sub-persons as your child is fundamentally competent, as everything they do is perfect in every way. Integrity is of course, irrelevant as your little leader exudes the actual manifestation of truth with every word, action, or deed. Everything they do is, by definition, Absolutely True and Perfect.
Using these guidelines will ensure that your little Tyrant will be well on their way to becoming our next Perfect Dictator Of All Time!