Who amongst us has not enjoyed strapping explosives to the rails of the local transport system, leading the detonating wires back to a hillside, and then calmly turning the handle just as the 5:32 Express roared over the viaduct. For myself, I like nothing more than this and a warm dinner to follow – cooked if possible over the flames of the sleeping carriages.
Of course you can only do this sort of thing a half-dozen times before you get something of a reputation. That, and you run out of viaducts. You need to do something different for a thrill. This is where writing vicious little pieces for the internet comes in handy. You may choose social media memes and posts, savage websites, or…and this is the one I like…a daily web column.
You can be as cheerful bright, kindly, vitriolic, cynical, or vague as you like. You are without an editor, but are honour-bound to perform that function before you publish. And as editor/publisher you can as readily bin your material as you can broadcast it. Therein lies the salvation of the sanity.
I regularly write what you don’t read. It is sometimes maudlin, sometimes horrific. Sometimes very funny. The pieces that make their way to the billboard are good, but the tatters in the bin can sometimes be better. They are never discarded for being boring – rather they are suppressed for being hurtful. Oddly enough, I do consider the emotions of others and spare them if it can be decently done.
It was not always so. I have published and been damned before and felt bad for it. No-one died from my wit but no happiness sprang from it, either. So now I make it a habit to write scathingly salty criticisms and biting little essays and send them to the trash. I can vent steam without scalding the thin-skinned.
One vital precaution: I always empty the electronic trash and make sure no-one paws through it. In the old days of crumpled paper letters left unattended, neglect of this simple precaution cost me dearly. I’ve learned.
It’s the new password for social media posting. You make sure that your jeering reference to Donald Trump or Scott Morrison contains the word ” ikewl2 ” and your Facebook or Twitter friends know that you’re cutting edge sophisticated and on-trend.
The need to be accepted is always with us – from the kindergarten class to the nursing home, we want to be part of the group – and if possible one of the cool kids in the lunchroom. We want people to want to sit with us, as much for the opportunity to see as to be seen. Unfortunately, too often we fail in this. Lunchrooms are big places and there can only be one cool table.
Now the internet has provided us with more space – and more tables. We can be the autocrats of whatever special-interest group we care to create. Forums exist for every possible subject., and the nature of these is such that one can be as critical and nasty as one likes with no fear of being ousted…as long as one is critical of someone else outside the group. It is precisely an electronic version of the cool table.
I sit on one, by virtue of a stock of photographs that I can trail through the Facebook page with funny captions. In another I am the head of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia and encourage appalling behaviour. But I still need the key to general social acceptance in the room – hence ” ikewl2 “.
It s a universal magic word – please feel free to use it yourself when you wish to oyster-knife a conversation. No need for facts or sensible behaviour. Just share some hacker’s meme, append ” ikewl2 ” and sit right down at the table.
You’ll be amazed at what’s for lunch…
We are being cautioned to be careful of what we write on social media these days – the anonymity we thought we had is non-existent. We are see-able from both sides of the screen every time we press a key. This is frightening for some…but I think it’s a great idea.
You see, these essays ( blogs, quips, whatever ) are written in a style that suggests they are hyperbolic humour. Satirical material not to be taken seriously. And in truth, many of them are…all except the ones that are deadly serious and clinically accurate. The active ingredient is slipped inside a sugar coating, which in turn is covered in salty sarcasm and then dipped in bright kindliness. By the time all the layers have dissolved and the real message is plain, the reader has forgotten the entire thing. In this way I have been able to reveal the alien chem-trailing, ethnically-cleansed, truth about the printing on the 1959 Tootsie Roll wrapper without fear of Big-Confectionary’s hitmen. So far they are busy with US politicians in a glucose-fuelled orgy of destruction.
I would probably be nervous about what I’ve written over the past 7 years if it were hauled up in a Magistrate’s court. Very little of it would stand as evidence of a reasonable person passing and re-passing upon their lawful occasions. The saving grace is any beak who looked at a brief against me would be so disheartened about the amount of reading and deciphering that they’d have to do that they’d throw the case into the backlog for decades.
I am careful not to mock the judiciary. I actually believe that the Australian ones do a good job for the most part, and the odd rogue is quickly picked up by peer attention and suppressed. That’s a sensible response in a powerful profession.
May I go now, Your Worship?
Is as boring as making a film about film making or reciting poetry about reciting poetry. It is the classic stuff for people who have word processors but no words to process. Think of a story teller who gathers an audience but then doesn’t tell a story.
It’s not just the literary who do this – no end of photographers use their cameras to take pictures of other cameras. This is understandable if you are trying to sell these devices – after all that is what I do in a commercial column five days a week. It becomes tedious if you are just expressing your desire to operate and camera by focusing on the rest of your equipment.
You can also liken it to the Sunday driver who travels slowly to the beach and then slowly back again without getting out in the meantime. ” Just seeing how far it was. ” is their classic excuse, but the sad fact is they had no business at the beach nor on the road to and from it. Possibly no business at home, either.
It is the equivalent to eating plastic packaging beads that look like breakfast cereal. Admittedly they have more actual nutrition than the average packaged cereal and don’t make unattractive noises when you pour the milk on…but the idea lacks some sort of cultural validity.
As I have said in my model airplane column ( yes, I write one daily at :
and you are welcome to read it and see what I have said about you…) if you are going to build a model, build a model all the time. Every subassembly should be a faithful evocation of the original, or whatever you conceive it to be. A modeller should not just cut and glue plastic for the feel of the thing – there must be an end in sight.
Likewise if you are writing or photographing. Do it to tell a story to someone who will read it through. Shoot the picture to show beauty or ugliness. Do it well if you can – poorly if you must – but do it to a purpose. Do not drive slowly down a printed screen or sheet of paper just to see how far it is to the end. Get out and do something when you get there.
I don’t hear you say…and I am fully prepared to deny you an answer. Thank you for not asking.
I realise this reticence to tell you or sell you will make me unwelcome in pubs and economy airline seating. The local Boosters club meeting will look at me askance as I fail to tell them every thought in my head. My Facebook account will be suspended and not with the raunchy suspenders, either. I may be refused entry to the United States on the grounds that I have not written a $ 39.95 book on how to jump-start your aura with a paradigm, and do not have a vaguely biblical name.
This may seem a little at variance with the fact that I blast away at the world from the prepared position of an armoured blog. Surely I reveal more of myself day by day. So I do, but much of what I show is false and designed to conceal troop movements. Plus I like loud noises.
On the other hand, I seem to have become somewhat of a bookshop browser in the last few years upon my interstate trips and much of that time is spent looking over the philosophy and thought shelves. I avoid the $ 39.95 self-help books, regarding the saving of nearly $ 40 as a good deal of help in itself. Most of my purchases have been classical works of philosophy and supporting works that explain them in simple terms.
I try the main book and see if I can plough though it. Frequently not, and I can come back out and see if the analysis book helps any. In some cases it allows me to hit the mental snow face again and advance a few more yards. In a lot of my reading I apply the principle of taking what I can out of it, remembering whatever seems clear to me, and not grieving for the rest. As I do not throw books away, I can try again later.
I do not say that it is always a success. I tried Kant and Hegel and found them quite incomprehensible. But Adam Smith and Ton Paine were like a feast of reason. I’ve even enjoyed Hume to some extent.
However, as far as expounding my own philosophy or pressing those of others onto unsuspecting people…no. Those wishing to educate themselves will do so and those who do not desire it will be grateful for my silence.
I wish to address my readership; friends, acquaintances, clients, and others who have been following my columns over the years. We have just survived a holiday period and entered into a new decade – the 2020’s – and I’d like to set matters straight at the beginning.
Firstly – if there is anyone who has been offended by anything I have written in the past decade – either here or in the commercial column I write – could they please contact me with details of the piece that caused the problem. Whatever it was – outrage, grief, melancholy, or a vague sense of unease – just give me a brief analysis of the thing.
It is very valuable to know when a raw point has been touched – a nerve pinched or a powder magazine exploded. It allows for repeated and accurate targeting and really efficient destruction. Rest assured that any information is kept in the strictest confidence until it has been on-sold and a receipt given. The BGA is nothing if not professional.
Likewise, there are going to be topics which the users of this column long to read about. We’re not going to provide the winners of the 3:40 from Kempton, obviously. But we may do so for a cut of the profits. And it will be just the same with other things – if you want to read about something, just let me know. Any information will be gratefully received. If there is any story you wish me to suppress, just see appendix A. for the price list. Silence is golden, but misleading statements and rumours can be had for silver and copper.
Finally, some politicians have been concerned that they have been represented in a bad light throughout the last decade – made to look foolish or criminal or tawdry. They feel that their reputations have been tarnished here in the column by the inference that they are vile.
Rest assured that is not the case – they are vile because of their behaviour and their reputations are non-existent. If anything, we’ve made them look better…refuting that old adage about not being able to polish a turd. You can indeed do it, but it’s still hard to find buyers…
Every so often the internet gives us a simple lesson in life.
Either it shows us simpletons at large – like the current crop of cultists – or it reminds us of the basic principles of social commerce.
I’ve been watching a website for a year now – an advertising vlog produced by a very pleasant fellow in the UK. He deals in the hobby of building plastic models and has done so on a professional basis for decades. He’s part of a small company that manufactures accessories for the hobby and is part owner of a hobby shop. He’s also a very entertaining and knowledgable speaker – his daily shows are a lot of fun to see.
However, he’s adopted the business model of a subscription for the show – some 40 British Pounds per annum. I daresay it is a small fee for some in the UK, but amounts to the same price here in Western Australia as the annual fee for our own modelling club. That’s a hands-on social group that can entertain us 3 days out of 7 every week. Real participation without advertising.
This last year has seen innumerable changes in the presentation of the English chap’s vlog programs, but the latest one is to remove most of them to a paid-only status…leaving just a few crumbs of free viewing. He wishes us to subscribe, and probably needs the money from the subscriptions. But most of us also need it, and simply won’t pay.
It means we won’t be watching…and over time we will forget that we wanted to. We will go off to other – free – experts on the internet for our entertainment. Or we will entertain ourselves in our local clubs.
Monetising something is a temptation for every internet presenter. You see it with news services and the internet versions of some prestigious journals. But it don’t work. We can get much the same for free, and we go for that.
Entice us with bargains for actual goods. Sell hobby supplies, books, decals, or anything else you make. If the goods are valuable we’ll pay to have ’em shipped. But don’t provide free tasters and then a bill for something that is just talk – we can talk amongst ourselves.
Sad to think that we might have become such misers, but there it is.