The Statue In The Park

I have said before that my flabber is rarely ghasted, but this last week has more than made up for it. Leaving aside the North Korean foolishness, and the predictable nature of the unpredictable, we came to the hot summer rioting in the CSA and the subsequent reactions by various authorities.

This sort of clash is nothing new for the place – I can remember it back in the 1960’s, when the temperature rose and some clash set off a riot. I even seem to recall Baltimore losing a couple of whole city blocks to fire in the middle of one of them….though that may have been Philadelphia or Newark. In any case, late summer, before the kids get back to school, is the traditional time for rioting and looting. If you haven’t got a television by August it is your chance to bring one home before the football starts…

The thought of incipient riots has also proved useful for the Baltimore city administration – allowing them an excuse to edit out any of the civic statues that they don’t like on a prophylactic basis. Fair enough, though given what modern sculpture looks like these days, one could wish that they would widen the scope of their concern and pay for the cranes to take away some of the grottier pieces of new scrap iron art.

As it is, I think they could have saved a lot of work and expense by just hiring a signwriter to re-name the existing statues. Unbolt the bronze plaque that says ” General Lee ” and attach a plate that reads ” Malcom X “. Just scrub out ” Stonewall ” on the Jackson statue and write ” Samuel L. ” in its’ stead. Any one else who might be less recognisable could be tagged as Patrice Lumumba or O.J. Simpson, and everyone would be happy.

Not the rioters, mind. You don’t get a free Motorola by renaming statues…

Here in Australia we have seen a most amazing piece of theatre by Senator Pauline Hanson. For overseas readers, she is a politician from Queensland ( and that is fruitful ground for many, many posts…) who rose to fame by hating Asians* professionally. Now that she has achieved a seat in the Senate, she hates Muslims professionally. To express her dislike for them she paraded into our federal Senate chamber wearing a full-coverage burka garment – then tried to argue that she wants it to be banned.

No, I’m not making this up. It really happened. I don’t have that much imagination.

I do not know whether she has any shares in a restaurant, or owns a pick handle, or plans to change her name to Lester. I don’t really want to think about it. I have an old flabber and if it is ghasted beyond its’ rated pressure anything could blow.

I also don’t want to think about who her next professional hate is going to be. I’m not sure if she has done with the Asians, though she’s gone somewhat quiet about them. The Muslim seam will eventually play out, and she may still be digging.

Perhaps we could get her busy removing statues…

*Mostly to the Chinese, though she was prepared to be unpleasant to Japanese and Thais as well.

The Rivals

I am generally out of touch with social networks in my town – and with business affairs, cultural groups, and academic circles. I can be said to pretty much live in an intellectual bubble that is insulated from the rest of Western Australia. I have never been happier.

It is not that I do not welcome social interaction on a personal level – a conversation, a joke, a shared cup of vitriol. It livens up a day that might otherwise be given over to dragging a plough through flinty soil then falling exhausted into a ditch at nightfall. Retail trade was like that…

But being unaware of the world has the delightful advantage of rendering me neutral, by virtue of ignorance, in most of the deadly competitions and rivalries of the day. I can be in the company of people in my old trades – dentistry and retail photography – while they are frostily ignoring each other or cattily circling for commercial information…and I am unconcerned. If I occasionally ask one about the affairs of the other, casually revealing the extent of their spy network and causing alarm bells to go off in the mind of the listeners, it is all innocent. Perfectly innocent.

And then there are the firms that rep for other firms – the agency men. I’m old and I forget things and I cannot be held responsible if I blurt out secrets of the delivery date of a product to someone else in the mistaken belief that they are the firm handling the account. One lens can look very much like another when it is top secret and hush hush.

Likewise, I can hardly be expected to be up to date with all the staff hirings and firings unless someone tells me and generally they tell me only when a coroner’s report is delivered or a trial date is set.

Of course, once I have been entrusted with a secret I am the soul of discretion. Wild horses could not drag the parlous financial situation of ———- from my lips. Who knows, they may trade out of it.

It always pays to play fair.

” If You Don’t Know…”

” I’m not going to tell you.”

How often have we heard that one? It was the constant litany of the Kool Kids at school when the rest of us asked a question. It was used to make us feel left-out…even more so than to begin with. And it worked very well for the first few times that it was employed. We would go off sad and insulted, and there seemed to be no answer to make.

I bring this up because of a Facebook posting recently that floated past my feed line. It was a topic I would normally have taken no interest in, but it appeared because a friend had entered the general discussion. She was interested in one person’s assertions regarding nutrition, and asked very politely for some references that she could pursue in her studies.

Well, she got a sneering version of the standard reply. And then some equally rude passing commentary from other anonymous sources. It was the schoolyard all over on the internet.

I mentioned earlier that this sort of thing worked well for the first few times. My school days were a long while ago, and it has stopped working – indeed it stopped working long ago. But the interesting thing was that it was a standard ploy used in many situations for a very long period of time.

When I encountered this sort of rudeness from people of my own age I was able to dismiss them as fools or braggarts that had no information or knowledge to back up their assertions. When I encountered it from a lecturer in the University of Western Australia’s Dental School I was taken somewhat aback. But it took a further 10 years of solo practice to harden me enough to respond to it when it happened again.

The chap had moved on to be a specialist consultant in a mechanical branch of dentistry. I had a patient who needed the sort of thing he did – and referred the patient by letter to the specialist. Apparently they did not get on well – and I eventually received a high and mighty letter sneering at me for sending that referral and telling me not to do it again. And I never did – I sent the people who needed a prosthedontic specialist’s attention to other practitioners and everyone was happy. I did have the satisfaction of writing a polite note acknowledging the order*.

I suspect that whenever this sort of thing happens it is because of a number of factors:

a. The person being rude does not know what they are talking or writing about .

b. They have no material to which they can refer.

c. They are naturally ill-mannered. Or they have developed ill manners as a cover for worse characteristics.

d. They are writing from Mom’s Basement, with no other connection to social interaction than the reactions to their trolling posts.

I suppose we can be grateful that at least they are not in specialist practice…

* Good manners in the face of bad is always the best answer. Public good manners is even better…

” You’ll Be Sorry… “

” You’ll be sorry…”

a. ” When I’m gone. ”

Yes, probably I will be. There will be things missing and ugly discoveries in the back of cupboards. There will be more work for less reward. But I will see it through.

b. ” If you eat that chocolate cream stuffed lamb chop. ”

Undoubtedly. Pass the maple syrup, eh?

c. ” You ever met me.”

Yes, and I am starting now, while you’re here – so it’s fresh. No good trying to get the same consistency in stale sorrow.

d. ” If you don’t buy it now. ”

Possibly, but I am betting on a greater probability of sorrow if I buy it at all. You own it now and you don’t look any too happy…

e. ” With the fringe on top. ”

NOW I know what happened to my OLKLAHOMA LP! Give it back!

The preceding was brought to you by the National Council For Regret. If the Australian Government cannot make you sorry, then nothing can.

 

Who Do You Trust – Part 2

In the spirit of science, I undertook an experiment today.

You’ll have read earlier in this column that the financial behaviour of our local BP petrol station was slightly odd – that business of pre-pay pumps in the middle of the day…and how the demand for pre-payment seemed to be a variable thing.

Well, today I dressed precisely as I had done on the last visit – a couple of Saturdays ago. I presented to the same pump, with the same car, at the same time. The only variable was the lady behind the service desk – the one who controls the door switch and the petrol pump remotes.

I put the nozzle in the tank, pumped in $ 38 of fuel, and went into the station to pay. The electronic terminal was a little slow but eventually it all worked well. I exchanged a pleasantry with the lady and came home.

It would appear that she is more confident in her position…or less arbitrary in her behaviour…than the other lady who served previously. Bravo. I shall look closely in the future to see who is behind the desk to avoid another affront. And there is always Shell down the street.

Detrolling Your Life – Part Two – The BGA Way

The Backstabbers Guild Of Austalia is nothing if not public-spirited. When we see a wrong we right it. No dragon can threaten a fair maiden when The Guild is present. At least not first.

Ignoring and blocking the troll is still the best legal way to cure the problem. Remember that as you read the list of alternatives.

a. Most trolls are misfits. But that having been said, even the least socially active will have some contact with other people. A job, perhaps, or a family. A club or organisation that they belong to. These are known in the general world as “outlets” for them – to a Guild member they become ” inlets “. Places where the armour of trollery is weakest…

b. Find this place. Make friends with the troll’s friends. In sight of the troll. But do not include them in the discussion.

c. Bad language can be a specialty of the troll and a way that they shock and bear down on their victims. But trolls frequently have only one language to use…at most two. There are many more for you to choose from.

Find a teacher or speaker of a language that the troll does not know. Latvian, Urdu, Samoan…whatever you fancy. Pay them well to teach you some choice foul expressions in their tongue. Real corkers. Curses that would make native seamen blanch and lean against walls. Practise these until you can deliver them faultlessly, and then deliver them faultlessly. Your tone of voice will cut as deeply as if you were speaking English, but you cannot be frowned on for bad language. Occasionally you may horrify a tourist, but that is the price you pay for sophistication.

d. On no account go to a furniture auction and purchase a sturdy kitchen table. Do not wrench off one of the legs and then go and beat your tormentor about the head and shoulders with it. This is illegal. And it spoils what may otherwise be a perfectly good table.

e. Even trolls pay tax. But do they pay the correct amount? The ATO has hot lines over which you can raise this very question.

f. If your troll is physically findable, do so, and go to them and forgive them. Do it publicly, and do it sincerely and in detail, with others listening.

Then do it again the next day. At the same time.

Repeat this for a month – day by day. That hour – the Hour Of Apology – will be come an accursèd time for them for the rest of their life. Once a day your ally, the clock, will haunt them.

g. Do you like to eat and drink well? To dress fashionably and in comfort?  Save up some cash and then arrange to do just this within the sight of your troll. You need not acknowledge them, but you might want to listen for the sound of their teeth grinding together.

In all of the above remember that whatever comfort there is in the sight of an enemy discomfited, there is far better enjoyment to be had in actually forgetting about them. They wither and fall away if not attended, and leave the earth clean for better growth.

 

 

Detrolling Your Life – Part One – The Sensible Way

A friend recently had the recurrence of an internet troll, and was somewhat disturbed by it. Fortunately other friends skilled in social media counselled that it was much better to block the nuisance than to react, and this was done. There should be less distress felt in the future.

That advice was good, and has been with me for nearly all my life…but I did not recognise the value of it when young. In those days there was no internet…the only computer we had ever heard of was Univac and it was on television quiz shows. The idea that we would be using a personal one to communicate with people who were going to be unpleasant would have been inconceivable. We got bullied in person, and ignoring the bullies was a physical process. It was probably more effective than I realised at the time against individual offenders, though the fact that there were different cliques and groups of tormentors made it seem as though the business was never-ending.

The current term ” internet trolling ” seems to be a number of aggressive and passive-aggressive behaviours that hearken back to playground bullying. The irritating part for many is the fact that, to the perpetrator, the whole thing is an amusement rather than an offense. It is an important thing for the victim, and they are even more distressed to realise that their plight is belittled. It is never improved when the bully tries the old trick of saying ” Can’t you take a joke? ” because this is just shifting target for another attack.

Blocking or ignoring the troll is the idea, and many do by utilising the social network settings to stop direct contact. Unfortunately there are other pathways for the aggressor to operate through mutual net acquaintances. Unless they are prepared to entirely remove themselves from otherwise useful social communication systems, the victims are still open to attack.

Here is where the advice of The Guild comes in. And tomorrow the second part of this article will detail this. Those of a nervous disposition would do well to read it with the lights on and a strong cup of tea.