Dark Despair

Why is despair always dark? And why is hope always light? Is this racism on an emotional level?

If these two polar opposites are to be the ends of the spectrum, what shall we do with the rest of the colours? Oh, I know we are supposed  to have the blues when we are unhappy, but what shall we do with the purples? Or the yellows?

And getting more technical – if you go to the paint counter at Bunnings and leaf through the paint swatches youll be staggered at the variety of shades – all of which have evocative names. Andalusian Taupe, for instance – or Violently Jangling Green. Off-Off-Whitishly Beige is a possibility, and makes a statement. Possibly down at the Police Station.

The US military had a good system to specify colours – the FS, or Federal Standard index. FS 65990 is a recognised shade of something or other that may appear on a fighter plane or a Federal toilet. Unfortunately the book for the FS is updated every now and then and old colours deleted. This leads to scale model painting enthusiasts getting into bitter arguments with each other on the internet and probably causes museum curators to tear their hair out.

I favour the computer system of RGB numbers. If you have any sort of an editing program that allows you to post a colour in three numbers, you can have anything you want and know that it is the same everywhere. For example, dial up 132/142/181 on an RGB patch and it becomes RAF Azure Blue. Spray it on the underside of your Spitfire.

 

” This Is Telstra…”

Or Optus, or the Australian Taxation Office, or the Federal Police. And the Indian person on the other end of the scratchy phone line is named Mary Smith.

If she said she was ringing from Icelandtel or the Icelandic Taxation Department  or the Icelandic Police her name would probably be be Mary Svensdottir. The phone line and the accent would be the same.

The Subcontinental Round is starting again. 4 so far this afternoon. You lucky bastards at work are missing out – come be retired and talk to Bombay.

My wife says that her late mother used to get the Indian scam calls all the time and was nervous and frightened by them – she was in her 90’s and had little computer experience. Fortunately we are an IT family and could soothe her but there must be thousands of elderly folk who are badgered  – and some who fall prey to them.

It set me wondering what my own parents would have been like had they lived into our scam age. My mother was raised in New Mexico and Texas and had little time for subcontinentals at the best of times. She also passed her  life in construction camps and mining towns and was not afraid to discuss things on an extremely basic level when required.

My father  – long gone – would have had a ball with them. I think he would have pulled up a chair, reached for the popcorn and an big orange drink, and then attempted to drive the scam artist mad. He was bad enough with Mormons at the door and my mother had to shoo them away before he got fairly started. No bad words from him, but he did have a habit of making people tie themselves up when they started to sell doctrine or junk bonds. He just put his finger in there every now and then to make sure the knots were good and tight…

I find the best way to respond is with friendly politeness and a grasp of the topic that is 270º away from what is on the script. Today I debated the advisability of changing the .50 cal machine guns for a 37mm autocannon. I was worried where the shells would be ejected to. The Indian woman assured me that Telstra would make it work perfectly.

I’m skeptical. Those empty cartridge cases are quite bulky. And hot.

 

The Dating Site

I do not concern myself with dating sites. I am married and have been for 47 years. And 47 years’ll date you, I can tell you now…

But I am acquainted with people who have participated in this sort of electronic crown and anchor wheel. They are the equivalent of optimistic gamblers, right up to the point when they get thrown out into the car park. They bring much the same attitude to the dating site.

Of course this sort of thing is not new – mail order brides and husbands have existed ever since people learned to write lying letters. And in the old days, the process was dead serious. Both parties knew that the business of acquaintance, courtship, love, and marriage was likely to be written in a Sears catalogue – not a romantic novel. They both invested everything they had in whatever they got.

Now it seems a lot lighter in tone – and a lot more automated. I am told there are dating apps for your mobile phone and you peruse a menu or a womenu and take your pick. At the same time, the pick is looking at your picture and trying to see around the Instagram filter to find out if you have both ears on one side of your head. You are allowed to swipe right or left. Presumably the thing is not so advanced that you put coins in and the loved one drops out of a slot on the phone, but designers are always at work…

Is it romantic? In a way, yes…because the amount of footling and distortion that goes on with internet images means that anything you see is about 146% fantasy. You are mooning over pixels.

Is it practical? Possibly…if you advertise the desire for a stinker of a mate, I’ll bet you’ll get one. Can’t complain about the service there.

Is it safe? No. If you wanted safety you could sit at home and read a book about it.

Is it fun? I don’t know. Fun may have changed somewhat in 47 years and I might be using a very old operating system. Don’t ask me to update it.

The Haunting

Forget spirits. Forget vampires. Forget werewolves.

None of them are real. They’re just literary and cinematic devices to get money out of your pocket. But sit and quake with fear about the new haunting. For you will have brought it on yourself…as we all have.

You will have done it when you bought something from eBay. Or used Paypal. Or googled up an online store selling essential oils, crystals, and Krupp artillery fuses.You will have set in train a series of connections that will follow you forever – a ghost train, if you will. The advertisers who lurk in the fetid swamps of the internet will have risen in the miasma and infiltrated your life. They will now pop up everywhere.

You cannot exorcise them. You cannot buy them off. No sacrifice you make will banish them. They are going to pursue you long after the vengeful Furies have let you off the hook. They do not seek your brains, or your soul. They seek your money.

How can you get release? How can you find peace? What can save your sanity?

Just send $ 39.95 to this address in a plain, sealed envelope and the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia will send the envelope straight back to you. It will miraculously be empty, and you can fill it up again. And for a brief period, no-one will try to sell you fidget spinners or pictures of Justin Trudeau in costume. It will be like Heaven, except Heaven is harder to get into than the BGA.

You know it’s the right thing to do.

I Wish To Buy Some Malware Please…

Good morning. I wonder if your could help me. I want to buy some malware, please.

My in-law’s birthday is coming up and he’s a big fan of computers and video games and mobile phones. I want to get him something that he’ll appreciate and that he can use for years to come.

I’m not worried about the cost, as long as it doesn’t go over the top. I’ve got a budget of $ 200 as this is a significant birthday and we want to make it memorable.  I looked in JB HiFi and the Apple store but all they seem to have is headphones or Bluetooth speakers – I want something a bit more high-tech. I’ve read that malware can reduce unwary people to financial ruin and gibbering madness, and I thought that this would be nice.

Actually, I have no idea what it actually is. Is it a book or something or a tape that you play?  Can you get it on vinyl, because I know he has a record player…I’m sorry if I seem a bit vague, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much to the lady from India who said she was the Technical Department of Microsoft when she rang the other week. After I could not find the thing on the computer that she wanted me to press she just started crying and rang off. I would like a second chance to make her day.

 

 

Facing The Book – The Experimental Results

The no-Facebook-feed experiment has been completed. One month of not scrolling down the newsfeed – the only contact being Messenger all through August. Now we’re on the 1st of September and here is what I’ve discovered:

  1. I did not collapse weeping or shivering at any point of the month. The hold that Facebook had on me was not such as to constitute a classical physical addiction. There was no cold turkey – not even a lukewarm chicken.
  2. I was as informed about the general local, state, and federal matters as I would have been had I been reading the feed. Radio and magazines filled the void in the month as far as immediate news is concerned. I did not need to read about the Edict Of Nantes on any medium, so I did not need it on the net.
  3.  I did miss out on news of a more personal nature – people nowadays take to the feed to alert their immediate social group and I very nearly missed out on a very important occasion. Luckily I was alerted and the occasion met…but complete divorce from social sites might be awkward. At the very least one would have to take an old-fashioned newspaper and read it carefully for the hatches, matches, and dispatches.
  4. The amount of time that no-feed freed up for other activities was amazing. This is as much a condemnation of myself before as it was of the internet mechanism. After all, I was the one sitting there wasting time – not the makers of Facebook. They were cramming every minute of every hour with what they hoped would prove productive advertising.
  5. Other activities saw a great deal accomplished – models built, tools cleaned, fences mended, essays written, photos taken. The house looked tidier and was so earlier and earlier in the day.
  6. Visits were made to friends physically, rather than electronically. This cost money, petrol, and time, and was overwhelmingly rewarded with personal happiness.
  7. Visitations from people who annoy me were reduced to a bare minimum. I still got Indian scam calls, of course, as these were inevitable. I got a few pamphlets and shill sheets in the post. And there was always the radio advertisement for a car yard and a dental implant surgery that clog up the old-time radio. But I was not bombarded by politics, propaganda, folly, or fecundity all month. A most refreshing time.
  8. I got to sleep at a decent hour. Or as decent an hour as the bastard cat would permit. I want a cat-proof fence down the middle of the bed.

So…what to do? Now I am free to re-commence my Facebook activity – or curtail it – or close it down entirely. I know the benefits and perils of each course. I think the best decision for me is:

  • Keep the line open. I use the Messenger function and several activities I quite enjoy are carried by Facebook in ancillary groups. No sense cutting my nose off to spite someone else’s face…
  • Open the feed for a limited period of time. And that is an exact use of the language – I shall dedicate a 45-minute period to Facebook during each day. I’ll use that FB-Time to read messages, send out replies, post column links, and read the general feed. But the last-named activity will be kept for the last, after all the others are done. If the earth-shattering news of your lunch is not within the 45 minute limit, I shall never know of it. This last month has shown me that I will never grieve for it.
  • I shall place a number of individuals upon a private notice list. If they break forth into Facebook annoyance again, I shall simply take no further notice of them. They’ll not suffer indignity through this, and neither shall I.

Really, it was so simple – yet it took a month for me to see myself and how foolish I had become with the social media site. Now I can go back to it with pleasure and reserve my folly for other fields.

Either Tell Me The Entire Story Or Keep Silent

This is an essay that will echo instantly with those of you who follow each other on Facebook or other social media sites. Personal, face-to-face, over the dinner table  communicators may also recognise the sentiments expressed.

When someone relates a story, they do so for one of three reasons:

  1. They wish to clearly describe a situation and to obtain a rational response from the listeners.
  2. They wish to instil a sense of sympathy amongst the audience.
  3. They are trying to con someone out of money.

All three of these are valid exercises and we applaud them. What we do not approve of is the vague half-announcement that tells only one DRAMATIC – OMIGOD – OMIGOD part of the story and then leaves the hearers to guess at or plead for the rest. This is known in the advertising and prostitution businesses as the come-on, and it is generally up to no good.

We’ve laughed at the term ” vaguebooking ” for this sort of thing on social media. It can also be done over a dinner table or an office desk. In all cases it is an unfair and unhelpful. But what is one to do about it?

Well, take a leaf from Mr. Literal – the Viz Comic character who takes every single statement at face value…even if it is spoken from the other end of the body.  When someone tells you half the story, accept it and act accordingly.

If they tell you that they are leaving for Peru…because…send them a hasta la vista card. And then wait until you get a postcard in return from Lima. Likely the next message will come from Lismore…

When they post that they just can’t…you quietly accept that they just can’t and move on to talk to someone who just can.

If they cry poor or sad or sick or jailed, do something to help. But let them say it clearly or not say it at all. Social interaction should not be a 19th century guessing game of emotion and sensibilities that’s broadcast to every hacker and hoon on the internet.