The Torch And Pitchfork Club

With the current culture of witch hunting proving such so successful for lawyers, publicity agents, and television stations, I have decided that the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia can benefit from it – we are going to start an on-line Torch and Pitchfork Club.

It will be an opportunity for Guild members to savage public figures and personal enemies without fear of reprisal. I have negotiated a free pass from the Commonwealth Director of Prosecutions that will allow personal defamation and lewd slander without fear of reprisal. The major networks have come on board upon the promise that they can be seen to be virtuous and moral.

Of course this is not without danger. Some of the people who we attack may turn out to be innocent, despite our best efforts. We can strive but we may not succeed. The only comfort in these cases will be to remember the general fallibility of Man and hope that our victims will do something bad eventually. Even if we do not see it, there will be a Higher Power that can mete out punishment upon our behalf. I mean, we spend a fortune on candles and incense – we should at least get some return for the money, eh? Else what’s a temple for?

The Torch and Pitchfork will also be a chance for a social outing for Guild members. Who doesn’t like marching and chanting? You get few enough chances to get out of an evening, and if you can go out with like-minded friends, storm a bastille or burn down a castle, and home again in time for a nice cup of tea, well—it’s got to do you good, innit?

I plan to rage against Aldi supermarkets and Chinese people. And then go out for a good pint and a chicken fried rice at the Golden Dragon.

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Going Thump In The Night

I often wonder about the societies that still believe in ghosts, spirits, demons, angels, and local council politicians. Do they sit in fear in the dark whenever the trees rustle or the roof timbers contract? Are they scattering talismans around their beds to keep the monsters at bay? If that’s the case, what sort of talismans would sell best, and can we get them wholesale from China?

For that matter, are the Chinese sitting up in bed clutching the covers, and staring into the darkness?

I have my moments, but most of them are related to where the darned cat is at any one time – ready to jump on my middle parts or already on the bed with its bum an inch from my face? I have taken to keeping a small torch by the bedside. If I see the bum one more time I am going poke it with the torch…

For the most part the house is quiet after midnight, except on late soccer nights. Then I trust in the football fans to keep the demons away from the door. If they could do it at a lower volume I would appreciate it, but one of them is Italian and there is no lower volume  on an Italian football fan. I have come to accept this and will hope for increased deafness in old age.

There are few external disturbances in the neighbourhood – we’re a middle-class suburb and have learned not to leave loose change visible in the consoles of our cars. I leave overdue bills there, hoping that if someone breaks in they’ll rush away with them and pay them for me.

T’was not always thus, as we had several years of mad motorcar chases in our suburb when we first moved here in the 1980’s. These seem to have died down – the miscreants growing up to be about 50 now and younger ones not replacing them. It may have been the hoon laws that stopped this – laws that confiscate and crush cars used by dangerous drivers. Or maybe it has moved out to wilder outer suburbs. We still get overflights to our local light plane airport at all hours, but these are mercy flights by the Royal Flying Doctor aircraft and are really a matter of civic pride.

We’re in the middle of time as far as our houses go – too early to have holes in the eaves that would let possums or rats in and too late to have much native fauna about. The cat doesn’t count as native or fauna.

At least we don’t have the same lives as Mr Lucien – the Moldavian cray fisherman I met some 30 years ago. He was working in Australia to get money for his family back home and before he returned he got me to make up dentistry kits so that they could get their teeth repaired. He also took back drums of Arlec electrical cable, weatherproof work lights, and motion-detecting sensors that turned them on at night.

When I asked about them he said it was to protect the family’s fish farm ponds. When thieves were trying to break in, the lights would illuminate them. I asked what happened then…

” We shoot them with Kalashnikov. Is good and work every time…”

He was completely serious…

 

 

” We’re Out Of Canned Snake “

Well, damn. And I had my heart set on a big plate of dugite in gravy. I’ll have to make do with bread and butter.

I admire the cuisines beloved of many different ethnic groups. Likewise I recognise the artistry inherent in their dances, clothing, and literature…albeit I have no idea what they are saying or doing and the clothing they wear looks as if it was stitched together with brass wire. I figure it is their hides, slides, and insides and not for me to criticise.

Admiration, however, does not mean emulation. In the case of exotic cuisine I am more than happy for it to remain so. If they have shops that cater for their own palates, well and good. I have mine. They include Elmar’s, IGA, and Aldi, and if I cannot suit myself there I can always haunt Coles or Woolies. I wouldn’t think of depriving them of canned insects or vermin in oil. Indeed, come high summer, between myself and the cat, we could probably provide them with all the skittering protein they could handle.

I did try to adapt myself to the influx of Asian grocery shops here in our suburb. Close as we are to an Asian dormitory suburb and a south Asian subdivision, it’s not surprising that there has been a burgeoning in the specialty grocery market. I went to my local one and did my best to understand the items on offer – eventually settling on Yeo’s curry sauce from Singapore as the easiest thing to incorporate in the family menu. It’s never failed, and I always grab a can when I see it.

But when I tried to decipher all the other curry offerings I was stumped – so many canneries, so many flavours, so many different bits of advice on the can. I took a selection of them to the chap at the counter but he said he doesn’t eat that stuff…Hmmm…

I must screw up my courage and go to the Indian grocery next. Surely, if anyone, they will be able to advise me.

PS: Don’t try to con me and make me eat some awful offal to amuse your mates. I won’t do it, no matter what the social circumstance. I won’t be rude – ” Thank you. No. ” is perfectly civil.

” Will You Ever Shut Up? “

When people ask you this assure them that there will come a time, when you do, indeed, shut up. No life goes on forever and even if you leave behind video tapes and recordings of yourself scolding your neighbours and relatives, eventually the recordings will wear out and a blessed silence will descend.

Writers have a better chance of pressing their opinions on others long after they are dead. These may be good things, like P.G. Wodehouse novels or rubbish like Samuel Johnson’s writings. The only real end to a writer’s influence comes when they go out of print and out of circulation – Voltaire is still going and Euclid shows little sign of ceasing any time soon as long as there are parallel lines or right angles.

We might grant some eternal influence to politicians and statesmen but these reputations tend to tarnish and rot more readily than those of the writers. Territories and resources are much more desirable than ideas, and new people will always arrive trying to acquire them. In the process they remove the old rulers, then their remains, and finally their history and their names. The unlucky ones are kept round as curiosities in museums or powdered for Chinese medicines. At least the mummies that may be ground up for this sort of thing have the satisfaction of being able to make some modern Asian fool sicker than when they started out.

I am grateful for the internet as it allows me to monopolise people’s attention for five or ten minutes every morning and no talking back. I suppose one day it will disappear in an EMP but until then I have an extremely small portion of the public eye or ear to remember what I said.

And to ignore it.

 

Australian Cynicism

We have often been accused of being cynics in Australia. This underestimates the citizens of this wonderful nation. We are greater than this – we are perfectly capable of being cynical in every country on Earth…with the possible exception of New Zealand. No-one is cynical in New Zealand, though they have been trying to establish a program to breed it for years.

Some have looked to climate, ancestry, ethnicity, history, and any number of other reasons for the national characteristic. It is all very well to score a PhD or a publisher’s advance upon this sort of speculation but the truth is that it is none of these things. The reason Australians are cynical is geography – we are far enough away from the rest of the world that we figure we can get away with it. We cock a snook at the various Kims, Vlads, Donalds, and Angelas…as well as the unpronounceable leaders of Africa, South America, and Canada and it is rarely sheeted home to us.

Oh, mind you, if we are of certain ethnicities that maintain spy networks here and dungeons back home into which our relatives can be thrust, we tend to be a bit quieter…but there are still pictures of Winnie the Pooh and copies of Charley Hebdo magneted onto the refrigerator in spite of official disapproval. They probably get whisked away when a national festival dinner party is held, but they come back afterwards.

Be fair to us – we are cynical about ourselves as much as we are about people overseas. Indeed, there is no topic more dear to the hearts or the sphincters of the Australians than our own national and state governments. Oh, and the local government, too. We’ll cheerfully discuss how much we despise our fearless leaders at the drop of a beer bottle cap. Our leaders hold us in similar affection.

It is known technically as a Mudgee Standoff – we don’t get to keep machine guns in our houses but Bunnings sells rope and there are trees aplenty  with stout limbs, so the checks and balances of the Westminster government are still in force. We were once told by one politician that ” We’ll keep the bastards honest. ” Actually I think that was just a case of someone making a mistake with the punctuation when they reported it. What he really  said was:

” We’ll keep the bastards. Honest… ”

But that’s just me being cynical.

 

 

A Traditional Russian Easter

Well I am glad to see that traditions have finally returned to the modern political world. And our fearless leaders have finally realise that they must give people what they want.

Recently Emperor Xi of China took steps to correct the unfortunate mistake in the Chinese constitution that might have removed the Mandate Of Heaven from him before he was quite ready to relinquish it. This must give great comfort to his subjects who will now go back to their labours uncomplaining, if they know what is good for them.

And just yesterday His Majesty Czar Vladimir granted an interview to a foreigner in which he reassured her that he was not concerned about Russians interfering in the American elections. Apparently it was the work of Tatars, Ukrainians, and Jews.

Coming as it does at this time in the spring, it means that we can look forward to a real good old-fashioned Russian Easter. There will be masses thronging the cathedrals, incense rising in the air, and the sound of Cossacks riding through the stetls sabreing the Jews. There’ll be something for everyone – either booty, blood, or prime-time television coverage. Who knows what will happen – with the Russian imperial aristocracy you can never entirely rule out miracles or the use of poison gas.

Myself, I just like the decorated eggs.

Your Job Has Been Replaced By A Robot

What is the next thing you do?

Why you go out and attack someone. If you are a low-level employee of a small business, you will have only a few local options – the firm that lately employed you, the bank that loaned them the money for the robots, and Chinese people. This last on the irrational basis that the robots were probably built in China* and they’re all supposed to all look alike anyway…

The fact that the person with the Asian appearance might be a citizen of your own country, born there, and of longer residence than you, may make this seem awkward. Plus if they are not Chinese you look like a fool. It’s even more difficult if you are Chinese yourself and the robots put you out of a job as well. Then you don’t exactly know who to tackle…

Well, here’s a suggestion: whoever you are, wherever you are, tackle yourself. Look carefully at what education you’ve got, whether it can be used to go get another job, or whether it needs to be boosted or replaced. Be honest with yourself, without being brutal. Tell yourself the truth, even if you need to start off whispering it. If you can eventually say it right out loud, you’ll be making progress.

This isn’t just a retiree’s twaddle – I faced business failure in 2007 squarely and had to take stock of myself. I had to think why I’d failed and what resources I still had to start again. I was fortunate in that I had some secondary skill that an employer was willing to take a punt on, but I found out that I had to increase my technical and trade training while on the job to make myself a useful part of the organisation. Thank goodness I read and retained and I could spend spare time out of work testing out the things I needed to know in the day. Thank goodness there were enough sources of information to supply the answers. Thank goodness it worked for 8 years.

The only twaddle advice I can give is to keep yourself lean. I don’t mean physically lean – you can sort out for yourself what sort of body you want to have. I mean fiscally lean. Whatever you do, even in a time of full and fat employment, do not take on debt that is unavoidable. Particularly do not take on big debt. It may seem bearable while you have a steady income, but it’ll bear you to the ground if that income support falls away.

When anyone offers you credit, say thank you, but pay cash. If it hurts to pay cash, it will hurt more to pay credit. If paying cash means you have to go light on possessions and status symbols, take this as a wonderful opportunity to own a good character instead of a shed full of stuff.

And don’t help the robots. Shop at a real physical store that has a real human doing the checkout. Go to the counter and order your burger – don’t punch in an app on your phone that talks to a robot menu. Better yet, ditch the phone, shop at the greengrocer, and do your own cooking.

PS: Better not to attack a Chinese person. They watch Kung Fu videos too, practice all the moves, and they don’t need the subtitles…

*  And then again they probably weren’t. There are a lot of robots coming out of Europe right now. Most of them watch soccer.