The Russians Have Been Influencing The Elections In Moscow

Apparently with the help of Julian Assange, Donald Trump, and Robert Mugabe. Or so the latest sidebar wisdom from Facebook would have us believe.

I’m fully prepared to agree with this – if only in an effort to get away from the arguments about whether vaccines cause football players. I’m waiting until a would-be bestselling children’s author releases a statement clarifying the roll of Bob The Builder, and whether he did, indeed, fix it.

I am always amused when I hear of the secret influences the Russians are said to have on overseas governments. How secret can freighters loaded with Kalashnikovs and RPG’s be? They couldn’t even sneak atomic bombs through the Bosphorus back in Nasser’s day without getting caught at it…and having to beetle round and sail back with them. And how popular could the Russians be in the Muslim world anyway – after Afghanistan they are generally as welcome as a two-tone turd on a toothbrush.

And they have the problem of not only China, but North Korea. Oh, they are meant to be allies of both countries, but being an ally downwind of either of these places is a worrisome matter. Especially if the wind gets lively – they have a choice of 4 billion cases of smoker’s breath or an underground nuclear test site built on the Swiss cheese principle… I have a strong suspicion there’s a growing desire on the part of a number of countries to remove the present ruler in Pyongyang…I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a take-a-ticket machine for the various  Spetsnaz teams so that they all get their chance.

I’m actually privately pleased to see that the Russians are getting their act together…if they could ever be said to do that…and getting more consumer goods. That’s the real ticket to world peace. The Chinese went from being regarded as outer-space alien zombies to world shopkeepers in the space of 30 years and there is nothing to stop the Russians, with all their mineral wealth, from doing the same. Nothing except the Russians, mind…

 

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The Australian League Of Virtuousness

As Right Evil Bastard of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia, I take great pleasure in announcing the formation of the newest of our branches; The Australian League Of Virtuousness.

The League, as a division of The Guild, will be responsible for promoting goodness instead of badness – virtue instead of vice – and justice instead of tyranny. This will take place on alternate fortnights or on occasions when The Guild is absent for holidays.

Of course, revenue generated by the League will revert to The Guild and be distributed accordingly. As it is expected that the customers for this new service will be in a proportion of 1:5 – as per the Barnum ratio – there may be a considerable time before excess profits are available to return to The League. But we have hopes that light will prevail over darkness eventually at a rate higher than C.P.I.

Aspirants to the League will be required to demonstrate their committment to social justice, temperance, and anything else that can attract dollars or attention. At this point of time we do not plan to practice any religious ceremonies beyond passing the plate.

Please note that virtuousness is not connected with virtuosity. Virtuosity plays on the violin – we play on the nerves.

The Return Of The Paper Product

Do you work in a paperless office? A paperless workshop? A paperless house?

I do. Every blessed time I sit down in the toilet and turn to the roll-holder…it is paperless. I have asked for the culprit to come forward so that they may be chastised with the empty tube, but so far no-one has spoken up.

I should welcome a paperless post box out the front of the property… where advertisers did not place their garish pamphlets in the slot at the expense of genuine mail. Of course this is just a fantasy on my part, as paper advertising is a fixed feature of suburbia.

My bank, however, thinks that sending me an electronic signal telling me that another electronic signal is ready to read is the way to go. Then I can print it out on my own paper and show up at their counter to give them money. They are inconsistent – I offered to pay the Mastercard bill for the month with money that I printed myself on the inkjet and they went all cold and stern. I think bank people are all of a type. I am currently taking my revenge by not using the Mastercard and saving my money in my back pocket  – it is a strange feeling of power. Lumpy, but exhilarating.

I am also cozened by the utility companies to stop receiving paper bills and go onto a system that allows them to dip my bank account whenever they feel like it. This is normally the sort of offer that you get from strange Indian people on the telephone – I’m not entirely convinced that giving either of them my credit card numbers is a good idea. They may not agree to help me boycott the bank and it might all turn very petty and vindictive. I have offered to send home-made money to India but they are not as resilient a people as you might think. $ 14 bills make them nervous.

I do welcome the idea of paperless packaging, though. With our new council plans for collecting the rubbish on the years that Halley’s Comet returns, I can see the bin getting fuller than before. Of course some paper will compost down to become sludge and filth, and one cannot have too much good sludge in your life. In the long intervals between GOT seasons it proves mental stimulation.

Note: I am not against direct deposit per se…as long as they leave some paper on the roll.

 

 

 

The Right Wrong Right Side Of The Road

Which side of the road do you drive on where you live? if you’re in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaya, Siam, South India, North India, East North India, South Africa, Rhodesia, and Japan, you drive on the left hand side of the road. If you are elsewhere you drive on the right.

The chief need, whether on left or right, is to do it well. With dignity. With foresight. With accuracy. All concepts that I am desperate to introduce to the residents of our street.

We are a mixed lot here in Dreyer Way, and generally benefit from it. All races, all nationalities, all ages. We do not hold wild parties and we keep our lawns mowed. We do not break into each other’s houses. We pick up litter after bin night. But we also do not know how to park in the street to save our lives. If we do not learn, some of us will risk losing them.

The convention in Western Australia – at one time enforced by the police – was that you had to park your car as close to the curb as practicable. It had to be in a place that did not obstruct other road users or the driveways and pathways that served the street. The car had to be parked on the left of the street. This seems to have changed.

On days that see tradesmen working in the street – house repairers or lawn mowing men, etc. there is no problem – they follow the old rules and you can navigate around them as you go along. They are never loud or unruly and do not speed in the street. They may be different when they get out on the open highway, but at least they are exemplary here. The residents, however, have taken to parking every which way on both sides of the street – even when their own driveways are unoccupied. Their travelling guests follow suit, and often will stop opposite a car that is properly parked on the left hand side. This narrows the street’s passageway to door-wrenching size.

Please note that our house is base to four cars – Two big ones, one medium-sized sporter, and my little Suzuki. We park on our own drive and lawn and do not encumber the rest of the way.

The bottleneck is next door, and I am starting to think that there might have to be some creative thinking to solve it. I do not want to make enemies of the neighbours but I also do not want be barricaded into my yard. It might be too much to hope that a Sherman tank with a mine plow will come down the street and shove the Mazdas aside, but I may have to resort to driving over the next door’s council nature strip to bypass their visitor’s bus. Perhaps the council garbage truck will loosen their doors a little at about 5:00 AM. I’ll listen out…

Note: Apparently they also drive on the left side of the road in England, North England, West England, and Even Further West England. I’m glad they have followed our lead.

How Would Sir Like His Communication This Morning?

Please place the letters on the silver tray in the hall, Jenkins. Printed pamphlets, flyers, advertising catalogues, and real estate notices may be dropped unread into the recycling bin on the way into the house.

Please route the electronic letters to one of my two accounts. The commercial ones may be sent through to the studio address – the personal ones into the private address. The writers will know which to use from the email communications I have sent them originally. Unfortunately there will be a modicum of unwanted commercial material mixed in as well, but I shall institute means by which it can be held at bay.

I do not think I shall be taking the Facebook this morning. Perhaps later in the week, if there is no other pressing matter. Or later in the month.

Likewise, you need not switch on the television apparatus in the sitting room today. I have several books open on my side table in the library and I do not wish to be distracted by the sight of murders or gasoline explosions.

Do dust the wireless, however, as I shall be using it today as I write. I find the old-time radio station and the ABC classical music a soothing way to screen out other background sounds. And I do feel it a good idea to listen to the ABC news at least once a day. Not that the news is all that good, all that often, and the ABC has a decided political bias, but it is as well to know what the weather will be for the coming few days.

Should there be a call on the telephone, please listen carefully to the first few seconds of it. If there is silence, then a hiss, then a confused gabble of sounds in the background, you might be connected to a steam room in Bengal, Manila, or Mysore. The person who tells you their name – invariably a staunchly Anglo-Saxon one given in a strong subcontinental or islands accent – will be from a technical department of Microsoft. They wish you to give them code numbers for bank accounts and credit cards. Please feel free to replace the receiver on the cradle at any time.

The mobile telephone will be another matter. It will ring for only a very short period of time and then go silent. The call will be recorded as missed or the caller will try to leave a message, which will be next to impossible to retrieve. This is normal and desirable.

As far as personal callers, please ask them to state their business before admitting them to the house. Those canvassing for solar power panels may be referred to the roof, which they will then observe is covered in the things already. Those who press for my attention upon spiritual matters may be referred to my religious adviser,  Mr. Thomas Paine. Anyone selling raffle tickets, clothespegs, or books of discount vouchers should be addressed though first the locked screen door and then through the firmly closed main door. ” Goodbye ” is a useful word.

Telegrams? I have not seen one for three decades. I doubt they still exist, though I would welcome one just out of nostalgia. Not a sad one – perhaps one announcing a win in the Irish Sweepstakes. I miss those.

Now, I must to my desk. I have an essay to write: ” Have We Lost Touch With Ourselves? “.  A catchy title, I think, what…?

 

 

A Very Slightly Grand Tour – Part One

We have all read of the Grand Tour – the coming-of-age tradition for those of the wealthy classes from Western Europe in the 18th and 19th century. France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and then back again over several months. Sometimes it extended to years if side trips could be made to the Ottoman empire or to eastern Europe. Tourists came back with a wealth of art, impressions, and diseases.

Of course it can all be done very much more rapidly these days, and from anywhere in the world. A quick whisk through all the capitals is no more than a Eurail pass away, and you can cram several cathedrals and palazzi in a day – with time to spare for the bar and the duty-free on the way home. If I wish to meet foreigners and hear the exotic patois of their languages I need not leave the comfort of my own city – they’ve come here these days. A smart-card bus ticket and a day will let me see Europe, Asia, Africa, and parts of South America all spread out over Perth.

But where can I go to tour grandly? If not in culture, and not in pure distance travelled, I think the southwest of my own state is a very good place to start.

It is possible, by dint of grind and caffeine, to use the modern freeway and highway system to circle the southwest from Perth to Bunbury, Busselton, Dunsborough, Augusta, Walpole, Albany, then back to Perth in a day. You won’t get to see all the sights and you won’t have fun, but you can do it. But if you add a few days to experience all the stops the tension goes and the fun seeps back in. Food, drink, trinkets, art, scenery, yokels, it’s all there. And I am looking very hard at adding another factor to the equation: theatre…the theatre of living history.

It won’t be public theatre – so much of the best living history is played to an audience of the actors alone. It won’t be dramatic theatre – because the WA southwest is not the cockpit of anything. But if it can be done right, it may prove to be as delightful an experience as anything that 18th century Europe could throw up. More plans to come…

A Happy Bin Of Kitchen Scraps To You

This is the BIG WEEK round our house.

The council has distributed the four rubbish containers that they want us to use and a colour-coded schedule for which bin goes out on the verge which week. We have been having nightly debates as to the exact things to put in each bin…not an easy decision when packers mix up the materials in their designs.

Case in point – the recyclable bin takes cardboard containers and some plastics. But the local recycle works man said at the dump tour that plastic spouts on the cardboard containers prevent them from being recycled. So we are trying to think of a way of safely cutting off the spout.

That doesn’t sound like much, but if you have ever seen some people wield a knife, you know that it is only a matter of time before they are going to be sitting in the ER with their hand wrapped in a red tea towel. My solution is to quietly confiscate said containers and hacksaw off the spouts in my workshop.

The other item of contention is used paper – the garbage man says there is a fine point at which it goes from compost to landfill and we are to judge that to a hair. The old document shredder may need to be searched out to give the compost digesters a fighting chance. I’m not sure if the tip will appreciate the first organic bin this week as we have had heavy colds for three weeks and the used tissues are starting to form revolutionary battalions in the bin.

The nicest point is the new kitchen caddy – it carries the pure food scraps to the organic bin by means of compostable organic plastic bags – which the council has promised to supply for a year. The caddy is actually a good thing as it gets smelly stuff out of the kitchen each day before it has time to build up pressure and as it is a bucket with a handle, there is less likelihood of the whole thing taking a dump on the hall carpet as you head for the bin.

Can you tell that we are retired here? But it is still more fun than Facebook at present. At least old orange peels and onion skins don’t try to scold you or change your politics.