” Do I Look Like An Idiot? “

This is one of those questions – like ” Do I look fat in this? ” – that is a test of many things.

Your sense of honesty…your timing ability…your commitment to a relationship… There are just so many things that you need to do, that you you need to consider and plan for, long before you hear it.

To start out…the answer that the person asking the question wants to hear is ” No ” – and then as many supporting statements as can be drawn from you. They want to hear that answer in very quick time, accompanied by the feeling that you are admiring, apologetic, appalled, and anxious  – all at the same time. They want to own your mind, for free, and have you provide a 2-year warranty with the transaction.

Do this if you wish. If you can see trouble looming on the horizon; dismissal from employment or withdrawal of conjugal conjuggling, and want to avoid it, say no and then squirm around in the mud as hard as you can. You might avert a fight, or only postpone it. You’ll find out eventually…

Or tell the truth. Say ” Yes “. And then be prepared to say either nothing, or a very great deal more. You will suffer for your honesty – make no mistake about that. And it may be more suffering than you really want to do at any given time, but you will at least have had the pleasure of speaking your mind.

Note: the consequences of saying your mind in a court of law may be more than you would wish to bear. If a legal tormentor succeeds in cowing you through threat of sanction, you can console yourself with the thought that even the highest of High Court judges is eventually removed.

Note: ” Heretofore, no. ” is not really going to work. It may be correct and literate, but still…no…

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Broadcast Live From Your House

When you watch the news about the US president Donald Trump – or click the Facebook side panel – or listen to your friends deride him based upon what they have read on the internet…have you ever stopped to consider what YOU might look like if you were subject to the minute scrutiny that attends him?

I ask this as I remember being afflicted with similar scrutiny when a child in school – I was the fat, new, frightened kid…and was fair game for all the bullies and smart arses in every school I attended. As my detractors wanted to belittle me, they watched every single thing I did and found fault. The simplest action was cause for howls of contempt. Nothing was private, sacred, or approved. President Trump seems to be in the same position vis-a-vis the people who supported the other side of politics – and lost – and who now want their revenge.

So let’s imagine you – if you’re a Trump detractor – going about your daily routine. Let’s see if the treatment works on you.

You get out of bed in time for breakfast: ” Lazy swine lolls in bed while others slave to prepare feast. ” Not sounding too good.

So you get up earlier next day : ” Can’t sleep. Guilty conscience. Snoops on cooks behind the scenes. ” Still not good publicity. And who is feeding these stories to the press?

Okay, this time you’ll please someone…you’ll do without breakfast: ” Too good to eat like a normal person. No pleasing some people. ” Well, what the actual…

And we haven’t even started on your bathroom routine, your clothes for the day, or whatever it is you’re going to be doing for a living – never mind your religion, family, or politics. These topics will be covered by your enemies and will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are evil incarnate, totally incompetent, and in collusion with the Russians, the French, the Tongans, and the firm that makes Cheezils. Every single action that you undertake, all day, all week, all year, will be wrong. The press and your detractors will be free to lie about you, to you, and because of you. No-one will hold them accountable.

Feeling the love yet? Feeling the burn yet? Feeling the bigotry and pettiness yet? Want to do something about it? Here’s what you do.

Nothing. Not a damn thing. Do not take the slightest notice of your detractors. Do not reward them with anger, or distress, or recognition. Take note of the fashionable meme that started up a few years ago: ” Keep calm and carry on. “. By all means use social media but do not use it to vent frustrations or angst. Be benign, vague, and cheerful. Send kitten videos. And do what you were going to do regardless.

Don’t be too sanguine about the results. You won’t reap any better opinion of yourself from the people who are determined to hate you; they have invested to much of their time in speech and writing to resile their position. Many of them hope for benefit from your opponents*. The best you can hope for is a better judgement of history.

* And if, in a few years, they present their intellectual bill to the other side of politics – and it is not paid – they have a ready-made supply of protest that they can direct to them.

 

 

 

I Need A Scold

I’m sorry to be bothering you…but could you please tell me off? I need to be criticized as soon as possible.

It’s after 6:00 AM and no-one has told me that I am wrong for voting for someone who they do not like. No-one has suggested that I am a bad, bad person for thinking different thoughts from them, eating what I like, and living my own life. I am starting to get very nervous.

I tried self-criticism, like they did in the cultural revolution, but all I go was an earnest encouragement to smelt more pig-iron and march for total electrification of the Ukraine. It’s just not the same as someone browbeating me on social media – I miss the memes.

Of course I can always get a sort of low-grade fix by going down to the local train station dressed in a kilt or a Marie Antoinette dress. People will stare and snigger, and as long as I’m prepared to imagine them making cutting remarks, I can sustain quite a decent level of self-hatred. It gets a little fraught in Pride Week when they start to applaud and/or hit on me.

The dog is no help. Dogs always wag their tails and want to be patted. The cat is a bit better because cats can sneer…but the smell of a can of tuna buys their affection and I’m left bobbing about in a sea of self-congratulation…and what good is that to me when I have a full Goth wardrobe and a poisoned dagger.

I’m hoping for a toothache or boil on the neck next week to cheer me up. Or down.

 

Burning Through The Books Is Not Book-Burning

Book-burning is a crime and a sin. I have long held to this belief and every occasion in history when it has been done seems to me to re-enforce it. I do not wish to be guilty of it at all.

Yet.

Yet, I am awash in books and I have been brought to the realisation that some of them are not good books. Not readable books, not rewarding books, not happy books. Books that perpetuate horrible philosophies and celebrate terrible deeds. Books that encourage the worst follies of humanity. The actual objects are just collections of paper and pasteboard but the possession of them seems somehow wrong.

On the other hand, there are books that are very good – enlightening books, entertaining books, helpful books, beautiful books…that sit on my shelves unread or read only once, long ago, and mostly forgotten. Books that have formed my mind, such as it is, and deserve to be seen again. Sometimes they are buried behind two layers of other books.

What to do…what to do…How to remove the mental weeds and encourage the good thoughts. How to dispose of the unwanted carriers of the former and catalogue the books that have formed the latter. A serious undertaking and one that should not be undertaken seriously…

I shall not burn the bad books. I would not do so to heretics or blasphemers or sorcerers, though bidden to it. I shall exile them. I will carefully separate them from the rest of the library and take them to places of public refuge…and leave them there. Doctor’s waiting rooms, barber shops, train stations, etc. It is the literary version of exposing unwanted infants on a Greek hillside but I shall be ruthless.

The books that are good, but dealing with topics that I no longer wish to explore, will be bundled up and given away to friends who could be reasonably expected to share an interest in their contents. This is not a kind act – God forbid I should be guilty of kindness – as it tasks them with reading, storage, and possible disposal. On each occasion I will be given coffee and biscuits by the friends I visit and will thus have made an overall gain. Mind you, eventually they will realise what I am doing and refuse to answer the doorbell when I call. The ones with big letter slots will still be vulnerable, mind…

The books that are very good I shall re-read and re-shelve as valuable friends. By the time I get to this point there should be space on the bookshelves for them, and the discipline of cataloging them can only be good for my mind.

Combatting Evil, One Tin Of Caviar At A Time

Here at the headquarters of The Australian League Of Virtuousness we have a motto:

” One Born Every Minute, And Five Born To Administer Them ”

It is engraved on the doorpost of the entrance*, and again on the lintel across the entrance. It is embossed on every chair in the visitor’s lounge, every place at the director’s 20 metre mahogany dining table, and every stall in the Executive Washroom. Nothing will wash it away, though, God knows, we’ve tried. Especially after Champagne Night.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not decrying the basic sentiment – it is just that it limits the number of divisions into which the contributions might be made. What do we do if we engage more staff members. The motto specifies five, but there is room in the stretch limo for more…and Bubbles, Brandi, and Trixie promise to be tireless workers in the cause.

I think that we need to take a broader view…and I have a black book full of broads’ names to hand. There is no sense restricting our activities to just the poor or downtrodden. The rich and arrogant are also in need of virtuousness and can afford to purchase a better quality product – or at least a lot more of it. We have contacted Kargotich transport for a quote on their high-capacity dumper trailer to haul more virtuousness as there is bound to be a saving in bulk. As yet the council has not replied to our enquiry about whether it is legal to dump it on the verge.

Goodness and mercy have often been said to follow the virtuous and this may very well be so. To that end we are suggesting that members of The League take sensible precautions and change their mode of transport and route frequently to elude pursuit. It is no good getting complacent about this sort of thing – if you are always kind and helpful you are one day going to be caught out at it and then where are you. Canonized, most likely. And some of those canons have a fierce recoil.

*   At an angle of 45º.

 

Fixing Facebook Vs Fixating On Facebook

Well, the two week’s experiment is proceeding pretty well. I am avoiding Facebook for the better part of the day, and just dealing with it in a set period of time in the evening.

It is working out well, on the whole. I am less distracted when it comes to household tasks and can concentrate on my other writing and upon hobby matters.  And I have isolated the two things that most bother me about the social media giant:

a. The fact that people who I quite like to talk to in real life are menaces on the screen. I realise that people will always have different political, religious, moral , and cultural opinions that I may not agree with. I accept that – I know that some of my thoughts may make them quail.

But for the most part when we are face to face we do not trot these out…certainly we do not lambaste each other with them. The conventions of polite society seem to keep us in check.

Not so on the screen. Even though they are not anonymous – I can read who has posted something – my Facebook friends grab some of the most annoying and irksome posts from others and plaster them in my face. It does me no good to click the button stopping these – they are carried to me by the friend, rather than the Facebook service itself.

I am left with only three options; hide all from the friend, unfriend the friend, or grit my teeth and bear it.

b. The vortex of stupid click-bait posts that is any venture off the main page. I’ve learned to avoid any of them. Part of me admires the skill of the shill, but they are still demeaning.

As for the first section, part of me wants to collect a series of appalling memes and inflammatory pages and scatter them out onto the screen myself, with particular references and calls to individual people…but part of me knows that this is not funny – just bad manners. I prefer to be bad-mannered in person.

Heading Image: Lakanuki Atoll 1944

Our Prayers And Thoughts Are With The People Of…

Of wherever the latest horror has surfaced.

The Australian League Of Virtuousness scans the world’s press daily looking for the worst atrocities, natural disasters, repressions, tyrannies, scandals, and sports results. We have teams of dedicated memeists ready 24/7 to rush a soothing coloured filter or image of a candle onto the pages of social media as soon as the debris stops falling from the smoke cloud.

Note: We do regret posting the candle and picture of a guiding lantern as a response to the great Fire of Chicago. Also the photo of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was a mistake.

We are also ready to collect canned goods, canned money, blankets, woolen money, old clothes, old money, and any other money needful for these occasions. The fact that we then distribute it to the members of The League for their use at the beach house over the holidays is neither here nor there. We give the public a chance to be charitable and a place to be charitable at. And beach houses can be desolate places at times.

We are not judgemental about the amount of charity that people can give is – we are as happy to take the widow’s mite as we are to take the iron-ore mining tycoon’s million dollars. We just adjust the difference by calling round the widow’s place a little more often with a little more forceful approach. It all adds up to the same in the end.

Don’t let yourself be fooled that all of the money goes in administrative costs, either. A lot of it goes on liquor and paid companions, and this has nothing at all to do with administration. We also maintain strong presents in the United Nations to ensure the smooth running of the political machinery. And we wrap those presents, too.

Remember that now is the time to give, and give again. Give until it hurts. We feel your pain, and we will think of you and pray that it continues.