To Face Or Not To Face…

That is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to shut the thing down and avoid all contact for the obligatory 30-day period or to carry on and slog daily through targeted ads and random memes.

Shall I read everything that goes by and thereby risk viewing mere acquaintances as friends and real friends as mere idiots – based upon their Facebook habits?

Shall I be surgical about it – knifing out and completely expunging Facebook contacts who are a continuous source of annoyance – or shall I take the medicinal route and merely unfollow them. They’ll not be offended and I’ll not be annoyed…

Would I miss an important part of life by doing any of this? Was my life sad before Facebook…or is it sad now? Will it be sadder still, or recover some glee? Hard to say.

This is not because of recent hacking and similar shenanigans that have embarrassed the social platform. ( if anything could actually be said to embarrass an organisation with that much money ) but it is a result of the announcement that this electronic resident in my computer is going to start dealing in the crypto-currency business. That news is like an air attack warning klaxon would be to a U-boat crew – It makes me want to dive immediately and change course underwater.

I have committed myself to a hands-off month observing the thing during July. Then I’ll spend a further month with no contact at all – either Facebook or Instagram – and see what the psyche has to psay at the end of August.

I may sail on as before or I may clap the hatches shut and flood the tanks.

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Marcel Was ‘Ere

In a previous post I declared that I was a friend of Art. And that I was a kindly and  nonjudgemental soul. That I would celebrate all I saw.

I lied.

You have only to place before me some of the most celebrated works of European artists to call forth from me the Canadian version of the Bronx cheer. It has bellowed forth through the art gallery of New South Wales and the NGV many times. This year Marcel Duchamp’s works evoked it. And it was not even because it was a paid exhibition – I’d have laughed it to scorn for free.

There’s Marcel’s pisser, of course…

And the edifying sight of a bus-load of earnest French  high school students worshipping it.

I was taken with the red wooden box in which Marcel established a portable gallery of his works, and with the revolving discs that made optical illusions when placed on a gramophone…and by the portable chess set he carried.

But I cannot bring the same sense of admiration – other than the sort of regard in which I hold P.T. Barnum – for the bicycle wheel, the ball of twine, or the urinal. He said that they were art and got people to agree with him – but people can agree on folly as readily as they can on wisdom.

Facebook’s Community Standards

Or Hold The Stainless Banner High…*

I’ve been scolded by Facebook for posting a story in my column that deals with scale model building – a story in 8 or more parts. It’s the history of the Royal Ruritanian Army Air Force and Facebook thinks it is spam. And says that it contravenes Facebook community standards.

I have to admit, it doesn’t contain:

a. Sneering memes about an American President or Australian Prime Minister.

b. Thoughts and prayers.

c. Sneering references to thoughts and prayers.

d. Cat videos.

e. Advertisements that have been paid for by businesses based upon my browser history.

f. Games that seek to find out people’s preferences so that the information can be sold to advertisers.

So, yes, my columns do not conform to Facebook community standards. If they did I should be deeply ashamed.

I wonder if Facebook is ever deeply ashamed…?

*   I was listening to the old Civil War song of this name…but I can’t be sure if the lyrics mentioned ” stainless ” or ” brainless “… which would explain a great deal about the current problem.

 

 

 

” Guide To Australian Social Interaction “

Or, ” How To Slag, Sledge, And Slur Like A Professional “.

If you are of a delicate constitution, stop reading now, go make a pot of camomile tea, and light an incense candle. If you’re a hardier sort, welcome to the column. Your Australian host will be with you shortly – they’re just whetting the knife at present.

Overseas visitors to Australia are very often treated with deference, kindness, and polite language. We’re cruel that way. It is our method of seeming to conform to standards of gentlemanly or ladylike behaviour while trampling you underfoot. The fact that you never know it makes it even better.

I have seen someone treated this way – indeed I was tempted to be join in and be polite myself, and it is only my better nature that drew forth a vile curse from my lips. The occasion was one that saw a number of Australians and New Zealanders meet and greet in their normal style. Bastards and buggers and shitheads were everywhere, and pleased to be so called. Sheep shagging was mentioned and a person from Queensland was advised on where the pineapple could be inserted and in what orientation.

And in the midst was a person who was not liked at all. It was not that he was not respectable, or rich, or glorious, or famous…he was indeed all these things…it was because he knew it and had mentioned it publicly on a previous occasion. So he was given respectful, formal, lawful greetings whenever anyone had occsion to speak to him. He was ” Mr. So and So “, and ” Sir “, and any number of similar insults. The thing started small but eventually everyone was engaging him in conversation in a similar formal vein – then turning to someone else and calling them an ” Old Bastard “. If he knew what was happening, he never said, but I suspect he did, as he left in a short period of time.

And was never seen in the same company again.

 

Kindly Point That Meme In Another Direction.

Thank you.

Please do not think that I am unsympathetic to your cause. I’m sure your cause may have true aspects and fine points – I daresay that you can press it with wit and sophistication. And Lord knows, we need goodness, wit, and vitamins every day.

The problem is you are serving up horse manure, and I have long since lost a taste for it.

I would have welcomed your spiel in my 2o’s. I would have agreed readily, nodded vigorously, and subscribed generously. If you were young and attractive I would have gone through hoops to impress you in the hope that you would press yourself to me. Here. And here. And here again…

I have now arrived at the point of time when pressing is optional and it actually is the thought that counts. And if you can’t manage to keep yours in order I am not interested.

If you ask me to believe the unbelievable I shall politely refuse. If you ask me to support the insupportable the answer will be the same. If you wish me to deny the evidence of my own eyes, ears, or other senses, you can launch yourself off a steam catapult and fly away. Keep it up and I won’t rig the arrester wires for your return…

 

The NBN Scam

Here in Australia we are just a phone call away from India. And in the case of our house that phone call is at 4:05 every afternoon.

The amazing part is that it is a different caller each time – apart from the silent ones or the hissers – and there is a slightly different pitch thrown with every one.

Today’s was the ” NBN “-  supposedly our developing national Broadband Network. It’s an ongoing fustercluck from both the federal government and a private quasi-corporation who pretend it is going to replace wires with optical cables and then up the speed of our internet connections. If it promised to connect us to unicorns and Judge Crater I would give it some serious credence, but as it is…

Now the Indian scammers have picked up on it and are ringing with either threats or promises to get us to allow malware to be installed in our computers. Today’s question revolved around technical work that was going on and what download speed we had. I suspect it was a complex shell game to allow some sort of ” test ” that would install a spyware program looking for passwords.

When the confused girl asked what speed we were experiencing I told her that we generally got about 350 MPH but this fell to 320 with drop tanks. Full throttle and water injection could up it to 385 but if you ran the computer too long at this setting the exhaust manifold would burn away. I was dead serious about this.

I’m not sure I cleared up her confusion.

It’s A Fraud, Todd.

It’s a sell, Mel.

It’s a scam, Pam. Oops, sorry, I should have said ” it’s a scamela, Pamela “. Didn’t mean to be overly familiar.

That great business opportunity that you discovered with the other seminar delegates at the holiday resort? That guaranteed opportunity of a lifetime? That golden road to riches, health, and moral re-invigoration? That weekend and an extra day high on marketing?

It’s a con, Don.

Don’t feel bad that you responded as you did. The whole event was structured to make you do so – it was developed as a way to envelope you in a message and to never let you see outside of that indoctrination. You would have had to dive through a window and run away as fast as you could – abandoning dignity, luggage, and any sense of personal worth – to escape it. If they had you on a cruise ship, even that avenue of escape would have been denied.

Whatever money you have given over to the organisers is gone. It will never come back to you. Abandon it to them but do not give them any more – even if they say that you are obliged to do so. Ignore their threats – none of those threateners could stand in front of a magistrate and neither can their demands. Shred anything that you have of their literature and dump it in the compost bin – you may get some value in a few months if it packs down and rots.

Take heart – you have had a valuable lesson. One you need not repeat, but one that you are honour-bound not to inflict upon others. You may not defeat confidence tricksters  by yourself, but you must not strengthen their hand by inadvertently joining them.