On Ne Passe Pas

I just read several new posts on Facebook telling of incredible incidents…and I realised that I have been a Facebook criminal for many years.

The posts were from someone repeating posts from a third person, and were so vague as to be untraceable. That didn’t stop them from being sensational reading, mind – they spoke of stirring world events and social mores and the call to virtue and vice. All the good stuff.

The trouble was, they were very likely apocryphal. Legendary. Those are intellectual words for lies. Good lies, entertaining lies, educational lies – lies repeated by a person who is a very good person in other respects…but lies nevertheless. I’ve been seeing these lies for years – as long as I have subscribed to the main Facebook feed – and I’ve been complicit all that time.

Complicit? Why? Because I have just let them pass – pass along to the next person. Pass along to someone who might believe them and then pass them further. Some of the lies won’t do much harm or much good, but the constant stream of them must wear away any support for truth on the internet and eventually for truth in general society.

I repent of my crime. I shall reform. I will adopt the motto of Robert Nivelle. In the future the lies shall not pass.

Heading Image: A fine painted model French Poilu from the 2017 plastic model exhibition.


The Last Half Century On The Road

It is always a shock to the system to realise how old you are. I don’t mean when you are very young – a little kid knows exactly how old they are because they count the time in months and years. They have a great deal more time between the events of their lives – the birthdays, Christmases, and school years – and they feel it acutely.

As a retired coot, I feel it as well, but the sense of disconnection is not present. I go from one year to the next with hardly a blink. I went to a post-Christmas barbeque with three friends…two of whom I had not seen since last Boxing Day, and I could still recall the conversations around the table 2 or three years prior to that on similar occasions.

All this as lead-up to the speculation that I have been driving steadily in a private capacity for over half a century . I started at 17, I’m 69 now. I hope to be competent and licensed for driving for at least another decade, as I have places I want to go and people I want to see. I agree that I will need to stop driving some day, but hope to have gotten all the dirty deeds done by then.

Note that currently I am allowed to use public transport in my home city free of charge on account of age. I’m close to a bus route, and it is close to the train system. I’ve been exploring the use of these facilities in the last two years and am pleased with the efficiency. If you keep out of rush hours and off the lines that run to horrible suburbs it really is pleasant.

On the road, I have long passed the boy racer stage. I also seem to have passed the suburban tank and/or ute stage as well, though I do long for a good old station wagon sometimes. But that longing goes away when I pull up at the petrol pump – my hatchback is just perfect for city travel.

The really interesting thing I note is the disappearance of the need for intensive service and maintenance on the average little car. Mine’s 7 years old now, and bids fair to go another 7 if I am careful. The first five years only saw service for it at the dealer’s once a year. Even now, it is only every 6 months. The constant oil, grease, and fluid maintenance of the 50’s and 60’s cars is now sealed in. Even the battery just sits there for most of its long life and charges and discharges without asking for much.

I wish the laissez-faire attitude to design would come inside the modern car – particularly onto the instrument panel. My car has as much in the way of tits and clocks as I ever want to deal with, but I notice that newer and more prestigious vehicles owned by other members of the family are tricked out with video, LED, screens, sensors, and music players that frankly defy understanding. When I travel with them I keep fingers off the buttons and try to concentrate on the outside world.

I hope that we do not see further silliness on the roads like driverless car stunts and cameras snooping from every vehicle – and that we gain a little relief from the traffic congestion. I suppose my best way of aiding this is to use the bus and train or just stay home. Or take to doing my driving after midnight.

Contempt For Others Is Despise Of Life

Your daily pun. Swallow it quickly and you can have a spoonful of castor oil to take away the nasty taste.

I recently had cause to wonder about the word ” despise “. I encountered it reading Adam Smith’s ” Wealth of Nations ” in a section that dealt with the relationships between idle gentlemen and industrious merchants. It would appear that it is an emotion that flowed in the eighteen century in one direction in London and in exactly the opposite one in Amsterdam. The English gentry looked askance at the London commercials and the Dutch merchants were contemptuous of anyone in their society not bustling with employment.

I daresay there would have been similar circumstances in other European courts and in the various parts of the Americas. He does say that China knew nothing of this at the time – all were expected to be busy about the affairs of life. I think it is so now.

I also wonder at the relationship of regard here in Australia in the twenty-first century. I do recall the comments about ” bludgers ” heard in the 1960’s when I was fresh to the country. I formed the opinion that idleness was looked down upon then – there seemed to be a great deal to do in the development of the place and general work. I did not want to be seen in that light – fortunately the university course I was engaged in prevented any danger and there were plenty of holiday jobs to fill the year’s gaps.

Now I have arrived at an age of decent retirement. ( Though I hope I don’t have to be too decent withal…) I am not debarred from seeking employment again but….

a. I doubt employers want 70-year old people as regular workers. Our capacity to stand on our feet for 12 hours is limited – by our feet and our temperament.

b. Speaking of which, at 70 you have either got the soul of a saint or a savage. The employer may hope for one but encounter the other…We may like cats and dogs but we are not at all patient with corporate puppies, business bitches, or catty co-workers.

c. We need something that is engaging to do – we are not going to look to a slow steady progress up any corporate ladder and meteoric rises make our head spin – indeed we can get dizzy standing up quickly. We want short-term success.

d. We want that short term success in something that we are good at. Fortunately, at our age we are good at a lot of stuff, but a lot of the stuff we are good at is not done anymore.

So I think retirement will be the go. But, like the idle gentleman in Holland, I am daily cheek-by-jowl with those in paid employment – sometimes in the old trades that I followed – and the current practitioners can treat me as if I am despised. It bothered me a couple of years ago.

I am also bothered by the thought that I may risk this with people during out-of-business hours. People who have been working all day need relaxation to recruit themselves for what may be an equally hard day to come. I can see that entertaining me during the evening may not be welcome…yet there is little opportunity to meet them during the day. It is a difficult schedule to work out.

Does there necessarily have to be a barrier between the workers and the non-workers? Are those not earning debarred from contact? Is their contact merely tolerated, rather than welcomed?

I must be careful – having realised my altered relationship with the representatives of some firms, I need to stop myself from despising them in turn. You never can tell when and where you will meet – you need your emotions about you, even if your wits are scattered.


The New Automatic Checkout Vs The Old Manual Customer

It’s fair to guess that if you eat cereal for breakfast you bought it in a grocery store. If it was a standard supermarket like Aldi where you pick it off the rack and throw it into your trolley with the washing detergent, sausages, and arc welder ( Ask me about Wednesday at Aldi…) you put it on the conveyor, paid the checkout person for it, and lugged it home.

If you went to one of the bigger retail supermarkets, however, you might have been tempted or forced to try checking the stuff through yourself on a robot section. You pass things over or under a scanner – under the cold eye of a suspicious staff member – and then pay for what seems to be the total with your credit card. Then you bag it and lug it away. You also take away other things:

a. The thought that you have been forced to do the work of the normal staff in the store. For free, but under the suspicion of that staff member.

b. The thought that the total may not have been correct – and you’ve not had time or wit enough to detect it.

c. The thought that you have, yet again, given the supermarket chain and anyone to whom they wish to show the data a record of your purchases and your money.

d. The thought that the robot checkout cheats an Australian out of a job.

Any wonder why I deal mostly with my local IGA -a smaller chain that has slightly higher prices but employs three good checkout people at the front of the store to do the actual business. And I’ll be dealing more with Aldi  in the future too – if I can figure out what it is that they actually sell…

I also noted on a visit to IKEA that the robot section was empty while we all waited patiently to go through the regular tills. The people operating them are cheerful and highly efficient and the process goes smoothly. Indeed the lady at the food counter is  always happy and her mood is infectious.



Pull Up A Plymouth And Sit Down…

The recent Hyde Park holiday show turned up something I have never seen before in one of the intriguing details of a 50’s motor car.

The car is a 1955 Plymouth station sedan – apparent from the licence plate though in this case it may have been imported to Australia a year later. They were like that – you can never tell whether a car style that you knew in North America is really the same year here. I have my suspicions that the major makers whacked out all the panels they could in their own model year and by the time this was finished they shipped the worn dies to whoever would pay for them…Australian divisions might have been glad to get them or might have taken them on sufferance – but that is a speculation I’ll leave for the crusty old motorfarts.

In any case, this Plymouth’s appearance matches Google images of the US production year pretty well. The outside is nice, but a bit staid. It has plenty of hauling space in the back. And it has a surprise on the dashboard.

No, not the fact that it’s RHD – at that time a car couldn’t get a licence for LHD unless it was restricted to one of the American communications bases – as soon as it came down to the metro area it had to have a conversion within a specified number of months. It might have been factory, but it might also have been a factory kit sent out and installed here.

The surprise for me is the transmission selection lever sprouting beside the wheel column. I’d seen them on column and I’d seen the push-buttons of the later Chrysler products in Canada and here. It’s an automatic, so the driver won’t be grabbing at it as they steer along. But what a sensible way to do it! – and why did no-one else at the time get on the bandwagon and make the same design? It is an electro-mechanical control that would have been easy to transpose to the other side of the car with just one special moulded panel. And the dash has a centre panel and two symmetrical side panels so that makes it better.

Well, ergonomics are like that, and Chrysler may have put some sort of patent fence around the idea in the US. I think I’ve seen dash shifts on some French cars, but not as straightforward as this. Almost as much fun as a four on the floor.




The Fraud Guide – Brought To You By The BGA – Part Three

” Oh what a tangled web we weave – when first we practice to deceive… ”

Take heart. if you put in enough dedicated practice, you can straighten out that web and make it tough enough to act as a crash barrier. Lies need not be complex nor involved – they can be simple and straightforward. And people appreciate this – they will reward your efforts to make up things in a way that is easily understood. No-one likes confusion – if you can make falsehoods regular and simple you will be doing a public service.

Lies should not be big to start with – and the best ones need never grow to unmanageable proportions. Take the business of Father Christmas.  Stripped of all the commercial hype and cultural nonsense, Santa Claus becomes a simple cautionary tale that can be used to keep the children quiet for at least one month in the year. You needn’t embellish it with science and computer letters to the North Pole. Elf On The Shelf is seasonal totalitarian oppression, and is not needed. It is far easier to just threaten the tykes early in the piece and let imagination do the rest. If all goes well they will be cowed into obedience for 30 or so days – if it goes badly you can save on the cost of presents.

The really interesting thing is the business we alluded to in the first post – the bit about ” wrongful ” deception. It argues that there is also a  ” righteous ” variety. And the “criminal ” part can also be counterbalanced by the thought of ” legal ” deceit. If something has to be defined carefully as bad, there must be good as well. All we need to do is find it.

I should start looking at the local council level – at the bit on the rates notice you get each year that refers to ” Security “. Have you ever stopped to think about exactly what security your local council provides? These are the people who cannot collect a bin from the verge on time and without spilling the contents. People who are not sworn police officers. People who start at 9:00 and finish at 5:00. They are likely to be kind and decent people, while the criminals who steal and assault you are not. Guess who is more likely to turn up at your door at 2:00 AM…

Yet…we pay the levy for security and we pretend that it exists and that we are reassured by it. Deceit with a receipt.

There are any number of deceptive practices that are served to us as ” services ” by other institutions in our daily lives. We are told of ” products ” that have no more reality than a scheme of words of paper. In some cases they never actually make paper – they are just a series of dots on a phosphor screen. Nearly all of them are sanctioned.

The role of the BGA in these things is not to debunk nor to promote them. It is simply to make the Guild member aware that there is a world of possibility between the dawn and the dusk, and a wise explorer looks carefully before he steps.

Checklist For Anzac Day March

With the recent theatrics of the ” Anti-Australia Day ” march in Melbourne in mind, the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia has prepared a useful checklist for protestors who wish to stage an ” Anti-Anzac Day ” march later in the year. Feel free to download it and add anything that you feel may improve the affair.

a. Remember that it may be a march but it is not in March. Try as you might, you can’t re-write the fact that the assault at Gallipoli really was on April 25. If you come down the main street in town a month early with protest banners and scarves wrapped around your face in anticipation of tear gas, no-one will take any notice of you.

b. When you howl in outrage and curse the 1915 soldiers of the ANZAC you will be safe from retaliation by the original people. They are no more. Their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great etc., are, however, inconveniently alive…in large measure because of the original people’s war service.

That means you are not quite as safe to insult and degrade the memory of old service people as you may think…

c. If you plan to make your protest a step in your political career, be aware that steps can go down as well as up.

d. Likewise, if you plan to make your ” anti ” march a theatre of sexual protest and anti-male propaganda, keep a wary eye out for the ex – servicewomen who are there. If you are too offensive, that eye may collect a fist from one of them…not all aunties are anti.

e. If you plan to complain about the Anzac Day march from the point of view that the Australian forces were harsh to the enemy…well that’s fine. They were, on many occasions, and on a professional basis. That’s why the big chap up the front of the parade is still carrying the Australian flag down the main street of an Australian town a century later…

f. If you plan to protest current wars instead of past ones, remember that you may be seen as espousing the cause of current enemies. If you try to make this clear to all around you with foreign flags and banners, expect unofficial as well as official attention.

g. Don’t wear bogus service medals anywhere on your person during your protest. Not even if you wear them in the correct position. Nothing will earn you more lasting contempt and damaging notoriety.