No More Free Speech

Nope. No more. I have declared that there will be no more free speech permitted by the Backstabbers Guild of Australia.

From here on in, anything we say will have to be paid for according to the price list. No more freebies. You want us to talk, you come out with your wallet. Have no fear – we’ll give receipts and an ABN number and we’ll make sure that you get good value for money. But this Guild is a commercial proposition and you cannot expect the business of destroying civilisation and blighting a generation to be done on a friendly basis.

Or, to put it another way – if you have no mates you need not give mate’s rates.

Of course people can say what they will – we have defamation lawyers on speed dial just hoping that you’ll overstep yourself. And we would not dream of restricting people in the practice of their various religions, political affiliations, or disturbing traditional dances. These are all legitimate activities and can serve as worthy targets of treachery. We also welcome serious-minded souls who are unlikely to laugh even if a bear is biting them.

But as far as denouncing them, betraying them, or otherwise making them the nonny-butt of the Guild humour, you’ll need to put down a deposit and pay regular installments before we let them have it.

Business is business, and we are in the business of giving you the business.

Advertisements

” What, Actually, IS Your Hobby…? “

Darned good question.

I’ve asked it of myself for about 6 decades – ever since I discovered that things you like to do are a hobby and things you don’t like to do are a chore. I’ve tabulated the former and latter and I’m happy to say that the first outnumbers the last – so I have a credit in my fun account.

How do you know when a mere experience or activity becomes a hobby? When you devote more than a half hour a day to it – this can be accumulated over a week to 3.5 hours or more and spent all in one go – attendance at a hobby club or social circle, for instance. The most it can be accumulated is a month –  14 hours  – and then it must be discharged.

Can a chore be a hobby? Only if you are very lucky or very unfortunate. That old saw about doing what you love so that you never work a day is somewhat true, but like all old saws gets rusty and loses teeth eventually. I know people whom I suspect have never worked a day in their lives because the thing the dearly love to do is sponge off others. That’s not a hobby – it’s a crime.

Can hobbies be fluid? Yes, and if the fluid you choose is brandy, don’t expect to get much done in the evening. But you can change from one hobby to another quite legally. It is not so easy in practical terms, however.

Hobbies cost money, time, and social effort. If you design to change, you are going to have to do something about the past expenditure you will be foregoing and the remnants of the thing. You may have left over equipment, projects, and people who are still valuable… And you’ll find it hard to give up valuables.

The thing to do is to meld – make one hobby flow into another. Take some of the gear and investment in whatever you did before and make it do now. Carry people over from one social group to another – the ones you value – and you’ll find that they are still a delight.

And occasionally you can return to an abandoned hobby and take it up again – it will be all the sweeter for the rediscovery.

 

I Become An Influencer*

The cry of the moment is the desirability of becoming an Instagram influencer. But I suspect this – as I suspect most aspects of modern computer life. The suspicion is that the whole circus has passed Instagram by and is way off down the road doing far cooler things to far hotter people. Or vice versa.

I was once accused of being an influencer by a representative of a wholesale camera firm who thought he was not getting enough coverage for his products in my commercial column. He insinuated that another firm had bought me with a free camera. In reality they alerted me to their products with the freebie and I went and spent a vast amount of money on their goods out of my own pocket. Any reports I made were genuine. And as far as pressuring people into following me, the customers have the minds of cats, not sheep. They rarely purr, are not herdable, and occasionally throw up in your shoe.

But back to Instagram. I was cozened into subscribing to it by someone who likes to show off on it and wanted another viewer. I’ve added a few other contacts and a couple of artists and cartoonists and find it a pleasant light browse while dinner is cooking…but not such a vital artistic service as to cause me to allow the soup to boil dry. I do like the colourful art, but I wouldn’t buy anything because of it. And I really don’t think others would either.

Oh, they’ll buy from paper flyers loaded into the post box. They’ll buy from shopping channels that endlessly bombard them with simple instructions. They’ll buy from door-to-door sales cons and Royal Show spruikers. They’ll buy from Harvey Norman. But I don’t think they’ll buy because I’ve posted toy airplane pictures on Instagram.

*  Or should that be an influenza-er. Come here and I’ll sneeze on you.

Author Trees

The author tree is not exactly a distinct botanic species. Author trees can be Elm, Maple, Oak, or any large deciduous variety. In tropic and hot climates Palms and Baobab trees have been very successful author trees. Pine and Fir are less common, though the Giant Redwood of California would be very suitable, if a little deadly.

You see an author tree is a tree which the author of a book that is not selling well will use as a marketing tool. He packs a bag with copies of his book, climbs up the tree, and shinnies out on a limb that hangs over the sidewalk.

When a suitable victim walks under the tree the author drops the book on their head and then pops back into the foliage. The person below suffers a surprising blow on the head and then looks around to see who threw a book at them. Very few ever look up. Then they pick it up and see what it is. In most cases they will start to read it…and if the author has been careful the start it put with a zinger like a murder or a girl taking her clothes off, chances are the sore head will wander off reading the book.

Another fan.

It was not a marketing strategy without risk. Pamphleteers and writers of short stories bombarded the populace with no qualms; their writings were lightweight and safe to drop. Others, like Tolstoy or Zola, caused fractured necks and worse. This explains many of the periods in their lives when they took rapid vacations into the provinces.

Of course you have to make some sacrifices for your art, but these days sacrificing strangers is not viewed well by the authorities. Philistines to a man.

The Chain Of Command

Most armed services have a chain of command.

In the better countries it is connected at the top end to the executive branch of the government but stands free of the electors at the bottom. In less controlled regions it can be intermeshed with the legislative body and exercise considerable influence on them and the people. In the very worst areas it dominates all government and is a ruthless whip for the dictatorship. But we are not in the worst areas – we are in one of the best – so our chain of command is a good, strong, safe one.

The same cannot be said for many civilian organisations – while you might think they would not need to be as rigid as the military, no-one has told their management. They do not wear uniforms with medals, aiguillettes, and gold leaf, but they can sometimes direct their organisations as if they did. And they frequently have no idea of how to structure their command to get the best out of it.

I’m lucky – my working days are now turned into artistic days and I can respond to suggestions rather than orders. But I can still see the corrosive effect of too much or not enough control when it comes to business. It is a good thing to observe from a distance and if I take the advice of Confucius, I can benefit by searching myself to see where I might reform.

A hint: when there are two or more managers to satisfy before you satisfy two directors, it is likely that the only thing that the chain of command is going to do is rattle.

 

The Thing That They Took Away From You…

You know – that…thing. You remember – all those years they took that thing away from you. Your teachers did it using the school system. Then your employers did it. All those years.

” What thing? ” I hear you say? ” What’s missing? I got good marks in school and I got a good job. I’ve been going to it for years. I’m still going to it every morning. ”

And you’re coming home from it every evening, with a bit of luck. You’ll need a fair amount of money to do this – money for bus or train fare or money for the car and all its expenses. And you’ll be busy for a while. If you commute from an outer suburb into a city centre or ravel across town on the freeway, you’ll be spending time waiting on platforms or standing on a crowded vehicle as it grinds between stops. You’ll be banked up at the freeway on-ramp and then again at the off-ramp. If it’s cross town you’ll get to see many lights. Red, green, yellow, and then repeat…

The thing they all took from you was the time of your life. You didn’t have it sailing or fishing or dancing or reading novels. You didn’t have it in your hobby room or in bed with your partner. You didn’t have it in the garden or the library. You had it on the train platform or the bus stop or in the car and then it was gone…

You won’t get back the thing they took. But if you are smart you’ll figure out some way to stop giving them any more of it. Sell from home, write from home, invest from home. Make your food at home. Or do it at such a short distance from your bed that you can walk to where you do it. Then you can use the thing to your own advantage.

I’m being sort of smug about this as I have retired and am in the years of play again. I do have a once-a-week bout with morning traffic when I go to my hobby club but I can avoid it on all other occasions. I am not saving time – I’m spending it in the best way I know how.

How To Foster Disapproval For Fun And Profit

Those of you who have enjoyed our previous BGA How-To entitled ” Treason For Tots ” will particularly enjoy today’s episode. You’ll learn how to turn smiles into frowns and curses into cash. Make sure you have your pencils and notebooks handy!

Disapproval is one of the most valuable of human emotions – it can be used in nearly any social situation to command attention. In the past, however, many people did not realise that it could also make money for them. Fortunately with the advent of the internet and social media this can now be tapped into.

When you disapprove of someone or something, it is a sign that someone is responsible for displeasing you. Oh, you might hear people complaining about the weather or losing at the horse races, but this is just small talk – the real point of any conversation is to disapprove of something concrete and to demand that someone be made to pay for it. The payment need not always be a lot of money – abject apologies and grovelling servility are also acceptable to some extent – provided, of course, that there is some cash on the table. It may be difficult to get an adequate apology from a young person who has no source of income other than a weekly allowance, but they can save up, and it builds their character.

On the other hand, if someone disapproves of you, it is perfectly in order to cry out that you are a victim. You can choose from a wide range of angst these days – racism, sexism, religious bigotry, age discrimination, etc. If you are a champion of fine cuisine, you can complain when your food is not available. If it is provided you can complain that it is not cooked well. If your diet consists of raw things only, you can complain that it is not fresh enough. Eventually you can bring it down to being bitter about the patterns on the china plates. It’s just a case of persistence.

Being a victim means that you can march, carry signs, scuffle with police, and set fire to things while wearing a mask. Those people who have pointed out that this is what arsonists do are just tools of the fascist fire brigades.

The assiduous Guild member will be able to foster disapproval of nearly everything by nearly everyone, and be able to whip the average crowd into a frenzy of mayhem and rage. Really skilled practitioners can work up a crowd of Buddhist monks and Amish Quakers into a knife fight, after which they withdraw and disapprove of the whole procedure.

Remember the Guild motto:

Where there is a wrong , there is a right, and your position is right behind that – picking up banknotes with a grain shovel.

Featured Image: A teenager asked to clean up their room…