I Am A Responsible Citizen

I am a responsible citizen.

I am also intelligent. Intelligent enough to be aware that I shouldn’t tell you everything for which I have been responsible. I have no idea how long some warrants are active.

When I reflect upon the things I have done I am neither ashamed nor amazed. The human mind is able to think up extenuating circumstances and external influences enough to excuse nearly anything. I may not be able to justify world history or lines of type, but I can justify myself to me. I am an easy audience.

Betcha it’s the same with you. No, don’t confess your sins to me…I’m not qualified to either hear or forgive them. Only re-broadcast them….that’s what WordPress is all about. It’s like Facebook but with fewer people watching. But think about all the bad you have done to good people and all the good you have done to bad people. It’s not that you were a terrible person when you did this…you just moved your sights over three notches and were shooting at the wrong target. it happens.

So, what to do? How can you make amends for the terrible destruction you have wrought in the lives of innocents? How can you repay the debt you owe to society? The answer is payer.

Not a typo, ” payer ” not “prayer “. You thoughts and prayers can go out as much as you like and good luck with that…particularly if the press are videoing it. What you really need to do is pay up. Pay as in money. Moolah. Cash. Funds. If you want to either bury your past or be publicly forgiven for it, you need to cough up.

No, don’t pay me. I’m not angling for your money in this post. You need to find the people who you made unhappy and pay them until they cheer up. If you pushed an orphan down a well today, fish them out again and dry them off. If it was in 1959 you need not hurry.

In the case of specific groups who claim a specific sum from you for unspecified injuries, you can also assume that there is a lawyer in there somewhere turning the handle. I encountered one some decades ago when I received an invitation to be part of a class action lawsuit. It was to be in the USA against a bank in which my long-dead grandmother had kept some money. The invitation was set out in the ” if you do not reply in 14 days we will include your name in the lawsuit ” form. The letter took 14 days from Washington state to Perth in the first place…

Well, we sent back a blistering reply and then never heard more of it. It was likely a paper version of a Nigerian scam, though it originated in Spokane and not Lagos. I am grateful to Australia for many things and isolation from this sort of thing is one of them. You may not be so lucky.

Click on nothing and never tell the caller anything.


Faint Praise Grows Ever Fainter

My local old-folks radio station has an hourly segment of what they like to call national news. I think it’s probably compiled by students in some eastern-states technical college as a part of their journalism course. The presenters and the material they deliver seems to follow a university pattern – some science, some politics, and some student whining.

I don’t mind – there might be few new insights into the world to be got from it, but it does allow me to hear various university professors try to justify getting their next grant. It makes a nice change from the advertisements for used cars or dental implants. And the student presenters are no worse at it than our local volunteers.

However, I did note a story that flitted through this week that seemed to report the Google search engine company is to be compelled to reveal the source of an anonymous posting on their platform. It was a scathing review of a dental practitioner in regard to tooth-whitening procedures and the fang bosun took exception to being criticised. The whole incident serves as a notice for those of us who write on the internet that money not only talks, but does so urgently when it feels threatened. I shall take note and amend my essays.

I’ll cease calling people monsters of depravity and festering sores on the bottom of humanity. All except for one person. And they know who they are…

Instead, I shall praise all – and praise fulsomely. Compliments and endorsements left, right, and centre. The slightest hint of any public presence will call forth a torrent of worship. It is much the safest form of abuse.

” I Cant Believe It’s Not Butter…”

Be careful. Lack of faith in some cultures leads to being publicly stoned or burnt. If you can’t believe it’s not butter, you may be in danger from a posse of enraged dairy farmers.

Lack of faith in other matters is also serious. We are told constantly on the local old geezer’s radio station that certain advertisers are the most trusted people in their professions – in one case the trade is selling used motor cars and in the other boring holes in jaws and screwing in titanium implants. I note from the advertisements that the catchment area of faith is variable – one claims only Perth as their parish and the other expands the report of their pre-eminence to the whole of the country.

They may well be right, but I have no way of canvassing the entire population to find out if they do, indeed, trust the advertisers. I have to take it on trust…

Note: Didn’t the US government make a concerted effort to bust the trusts in the early part of the 20th century?

The History Shop – Part Four – The Full Bottle

When I was a student we were always being told that it was necessary to be ” a full bottle “. This was a buzz phrase used by Australian academics in much the same way that they used ” at this point in time ” instead of saying ” now “. From what I could see a number of them had a close working relationship with full bottles…

Be that as it may, I have since come to regard historians in general in a similar light – though I would not use the term ” bottle “. I think ” vessel ” would be more appropriate, and has a nicer sound – more dignified. You could have ” full vessels “, ” empty vessels “, ” sounding vessels ” etc. I’d further characterise them as storage vessels, or water tanks – filling from the top and emptying from the bottom, with appropriate lids and valves at either end. But rather than water, they contain knowledge. Or shit.

The trick of being a successful academic, historian, or academic historian*, would be in balancing the input of shit with the output of shit. Papers in, papers out – lectures in, lectures out. It would not do to tell more than you know because eventually you would have no more shit to sell. Likewise, if you never let any shit out when it flows in, you would soon be overflowing with it. Many academics are in this situation but there are only a few places left in political life to absorb them. And it’s no good sending them off to other countries – they’d send theirs to us in revenge.

* Becoming a historic academic means outliving the rest of the faculty. Wear an armoured back-plate.



Being A Historian – Part Three – Once Upon A Time…

We’ve all seen the Facebook meme that says those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it – a somber thought. It is only when you look deeper into the matter that you discover there is a parallel Facebook post. It says that those who learn from historians are condemned to listen to them repeat it…in book after book after book.

There are many degrees of history:

  1. The stuff that really happened.
  2. The stuff that didn’t happen.
  3. The stuff that could have happened.
  4. The stuff that couldn’t have happened.
  5. The stuff you can get a doctorate and a series of grants for.
  6. The stuff that you can sell ever after to the right customers.

Note that for the right history salesman, these different departments can all be rolled into one. This is known as the Brothers Grimm school of history and can be very well paid if you and your brother can be grim enough and then get Disney to make an animated cartoon about it. Note: try to get Morgan Freeman to voice over your part. He’s terrific. If you can’t get him try for Judy Dench or Spongebob Squarepants.

History happening is generally a series of horrors, but as it ages it can be converted to something rather sweet. It’s almost like a fermentation process. If you let your re-telling of history sit long enough in a vat, you can get quite an intoxicating brew out of it. Heroes can be manufactured, as well as villains, and it doesn’t really matter which one triumphs in the end as long as you are telling the tale and someone is paying to listen. You can be paid for truth, lies, imagination, or anything in between.

Ask for cash…folding money. Tell ’em you’ll give them a receipt next time you see them and then leg it.

The Perth Retail Experience

A note before I write: I was a staff member in the Perth retail experience for 8 years…well actually a lot longer if you consider the work done in my student days. I can speak from both sides of the counter.

This last week has seen the real gamut of retail – in my case I was a customer in two big retail shops dealing with hardware and stationery – and two small shops that trade upon their own. None of them shared common stock – I needed different things in each place.

The process of finding and selecting the goods was similar – go and look and take it to the counter for payment. In two cases I looked at the store’s catalogue online to make sure they had it – and in two instances rang ahead to confirm.

Little shop A had 7 or of 8 items I went for- being out of stock of one paint colour. No biggie – I’ll be there again many times. The checkout was done in 3 minutes and was very pleasant. I had a credit for past purchases and the computer dealt with that brilliantly. Couldn’t be happier.

Little shop B had foam-core board and kneadable erasers. Again, they answered the phone faultlessly and the checkout went like clockwork. Good visit.

Big Shop C had what I needed – toilet washers to fix a leaking cistern, but there was only one staff member on duty at one till out of 5…and a line of disgruntled customers who waited as the computer ground slowly through the entire warehouse stock chain to ensure that the trading statistics would be done. I pitied the staff member who was taking the brunt of complaint for the store’s inefficiency and foolish policies. I’ve been that person…

Big Shop D had the plastic sheet I wanted on their website, but not in the first mega-store I went to. Even with a visit to the front desk, there was no sign of it. Well, that happens. I thought, on reaching home, to re-check the website and to ring another of their branches to see if it was in stock there.

I ended up ringing 3 branches and getting a automatic menu but no answer to the phone at all. I was left wondering if their office works…

Will I rant? Rave? Howl at the moon? No…I’ll try ringing again tomorrow to save petrol. Frustration is no help to a project.



Making A Living From The Dead – Part One – Cash And Carry

No, it’s not about embalming or other mortuary subjects – it’s about how to get your eating money by being a purveyor of history. A commodity that you did not make and cannot buy.

Every industry, trade, or occupation needs raw materials to begin with. Farmers need seed, land, sun, and water. Shopkeepers need stock. Coal miners need coal and desperation. Once the various parties secure their kit, they can start to make use of it…eventually turning out food, profits, or contributions to political parties.* The trick to making a success of the thing is to get the starting stuff cheap, economise on the making or handling, and sell the finished product dear. If you can find a market that simply must have what you produce no matter what, you can pinch the margins and raise the prices and do very well indeed.

There is no cheaper raw material than history. It may have cost the people who made it very dearly indeed, but by the time we get it, there is generally no more to pay – particularly if the old stock is well past the date. Time is not the enemy of the history salesman – it is the wonderful unpaid finishing process that coats the dull and disastrous with a golden layer of ” Respect “. If it is recent, the history clerk can flog it as nostalgia and if it is 200 years old it can be sold as heritage. The point of it all is that it can be sold.

The buyers of history are numerous; people who want to push a current political barrow and need some baggage to put in it – the idle rich who need amusement – and the idle poor who need amusement until the next dole cheque arrives – the student who needs something to get their next certificate. They’ll all pay for history, though in many cases they’ll tell you that they forgot their wallet and that they’ll settle up with you next time.

One of the secrets of successful history selling is to give credit where it is due, but never to  customers. Cash now and they can have the receipt next time…

*   I could use a million, Clive. Just sayin’…