In the D drive: August games

_FEAR Single Player Demo_. Very seldomly does a game create an exquisitely macabre atmosphere. _Doom 3_ failed in this regard IMHO, because it overrelied on haunted house gimmicks. But FEAR employs creepily intelligent enemies, stark shadows, and scripted events carefully constructed to make you want to cry for your mommy. Unfortunately, it made my poor 9800 Pro cry too: I had to run it at 800×600.

_Mexican Motor Mafia_ Demo. A small shareware game that is basically a sped-up version of the “crossing the T” type of combat that makes _Pirates!_ so gratifying but with tequila, muscle cars and sawed-off shotguns instead of rum, frigates and grapeshot. Check out the description of your player character on the website: “You smoke and wear shirts with cobras on them. You are bad ass.” What could be better than that?

_Zombie Horde_. It’s a Counter-strike: Source server plugin that pits CTs and Ts to fight off an onslaught of knife-wielding zombies. Oh, and did I mention that the zombies have 500 hitpoints, will spontaneously combust, and can only be harmed by precise gunshots to the head? Just join a CS:S server with the ZH plugin activated for some ghoulish fun. Side effect: Makes for great aiming practice!

For richer or poorer

I find that a lot of people do not understand what it truly means to be rich. From googley, on Ask Metafilter:

1) Ability to pay others to perform menial tasks. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving, managing money, lawyering, etc. etc. Almost anything that you think of a necessary inconvenience can be done by someone else.

2) Enough money to live off the interest alone. For most people, the biggest inconvenience in life is having to work full time (or more) and having their livelihood riding on said job(s). The very rich have enough capital accumulated that they can, if they are prudent, simply live off the interest, dividend, and capital gains income that accrues. They can choose to work or not, and in many cases have the opportunity to select a job that they enjoy and could leave at will, rather than something that they have to do.

3) A social network of wealthy and powerful professionsals. In some legal trouble? You have to defend yourself, find a cut-rate (and thus less competent) lawyer, or go into debt to hire a good one. The very rich have access to the best lawyers, or to politically or professionally powerful people who can make problems go away…

4) Cultural capital. When dealing with various institutions that tend to be suspicious of your credentials (banks, government agencies, maitre des), you have to jump through a lot of hoops to prove that you are legitimate and trustworthy. This means lots of time spent assembling records, waiting in line, and so forth. In most case, the rich already have the benefit of the doubt – either because of #3 above, or because said institutions want their money and do not wish to offend. Being rich means that people are afraid of offending you and thus you are seldom kept waiting. And anything that does take time – see #1 above.

5) Education. Perhaps the most important thing, the rich have the benefit of extremely good education. This doesn’t necessarily make them more intelligent, but it does provide the credentials to open doors and make a lot of things in life easier.

However, I also find that a lot of people do not understand what it means to be poor. From John Scalzi, Whatever: Being Poor:

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being rich doesn’t mean owning a bling-ed out sportscar. Being poor doesn’t mean being a criminal or a leech. Silverlotus’s parents, while not well off, are some of the most sensible and warm folk I have ever met. And most people with those sports cars are probably eyeballs in debt paying those sportscars off.

83 miles on a caribou coin

Last Friday, while I was scooping up tokens from the TTC token machine at Dundas, a young girl approached me and begged me for a token.

Apparently, she came by Greyhound from Peterborough to meet a friend downtown, who blew her off and told her to just keep bumming money until she could take the TTC to Royal York station. She couldn’t been more than 14. She told me she’d been trying to panhandle for two hours.

Absolutely no cash? She only had a quarter, she claimed. Did she have a debit card? No money in the bank. How about credit card? All maxed out.

I was completely exasperated by this. First of all, I can’t swallow every cock and bull story every panhandler in downtown TO throws at me. Second of all, it galled me that someone could be so callous to travel 135 kilometres with nothing but two bits on them.

But what if her story was true? I did the only thing I could think of: I traded one of my tokens for her quarter, and gave her an insipid lecture. I then had to guide her to the right trains to get to Royal York, and explain why she should get a transfer.

“What was she waiting for?” I asked rhetorically.
“She was waiting for you,” Silverlotus said simply.

Maybe I feel like I need to save the dreamers. Maybe because I used to dream.