Virtuousness Is Its Own Rewardicle

The Australian League Of Virtuousness is going great guns. Enquiries about membership are pouring in from around the nation as do-gooders who are dissatisfied with the current level of exposure that their deeds have attracted seek a new alternative. The ALV is just the chance they want – and cheaper than taking a billboard advertisement on Stirling Highway.

The League directors – oddly enough also the guiding lights of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia – know well the need of the righteous to be seen to be so on a regular basis. We recognise that it is not only good morality but also good business to be in the forefront of charitable works – particularly if you can also be the directors of the charity. Of course there is a time to be modest as well – generally about a week before the auditors enter the office is good – and the timing can be critical. The matter of a few days can be the difference between 3-5 years of porridge or the same time with caviare.

But enough of food. Man does not live by bread alone, nor by rolled oats or fish roe. The food of the soul is charity…and who better to exercise it than the League of Virtuousness. Members will have opportunities to be charitable at very reasonable prices, with full internet coverage and a 24-hour meme service to keep them in front of their Facebook friends.

No disaster or atrocity will occur in the world un-noticed as The League rushes their healing rainbows, hearts, prayers and thoughts to the keyboard. A simple payment to the Treasurer of the League will ensure that your name is emblazoned on the Facebook feed of everyone in your address book. For an extra fee, you can appear in the side bar, and if you would like to make over your estate to the League in toto, we will make an on-line game of you.

No need to hide your light under a bushel. No need to torture yourself with false modesty. We can do it for you with real modesty and real torture. And our racks are dishwasher-safe.

 

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The Authentic Fake News Site Vs The False-Flag Rumour Forum List Meme

If we were asked to characterize the social media that we use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – in terms of food, what would we make it out to be?

a. Facebook: A crusty stew with appetizing aromas at the edges – aromas that never actually seem to be there when you search for them. The occasional bubble in the centre indicating heat. And a roiling mass of unsavoury ingredients just under the crust. Cat hair here and there. And unicorn glitter.

b. Twitter: A Pez dispenser. You poke the ornamental head at the top and a hard pellet of opinion is popped out of the screen. Some of the pellets taste like sugar and some of them taste like horse shit. None of them do you any good at all.

c. Instagram: Magnificently plated, superbly coloured, and unavailable to someone like you at this time. Just look and envy.

d. Pinterest: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and so is the food. The reason is mould. Subscribe now.

e. The personal blog: Someone’s home cooking. Not necessarily bad, but nevertheless someone else’s pots and pans. Taste at your peril. They may not be a good cook. You may not be a good eater.

If we had been presented with today’s social media news in the 1950’s or 1960’s we would likely have recognised it for what it is – propaganda and commercial promotion. The flimsiest of the flam. Those of us who saw the lies when they came on newsprint and left ink stains on the fingers…or who waded through innumerable cigarette advertisements in magazines…react entirely differently to those who have only ever seen a screen. We may not know how to turn that screen on and make it dance, but we know when to turn it off and do our own thinking.

Of course we can be wrong when we do that – original thought can be as bad as the store-bought stuff – but as we use simpler ingredients and have less access to processors, it is likely to be fresher and tastier. It may lack the salt and scandal that is added by unknown hackers but it nourishes us just the same.

Bit riskier when we send it to our friends and neighbours, though. As our own thoughts are unlikely to be covered by the legal indemnities enjoyed by professional liars, we are in danger of being detected and having our opinions challenged. Most of us have no biased reports or dodgy scientific studies to back us up and common sense has long been discredited as a way of living. The best we can do when some other madman challenges our own mania is throw out a smokescreen of kitten and Hitler memes and close the account.

Anyone who either agrees or disagrees with this will be instantly defriended with the prickly end of an emoji.

The Burden Of Genius

How can you sit there at your computer and read a title like that without writhing?

Who the hell is this bird anyway? What makes him think that he has any genius to bear?What the hell has he ever done?

As much and as little as anyone else. And I hasten to add that very little of it gave any evidence of genius. There was the average number of childs’ and youth’s successes and a hope of greatness that may have been held by my parents, but eventually they probably had to accept that I was just an ordinary Joe. I discovered it in my teens – and I can’t say that I was unhappy to do so…though I think I would have appreciated more brain power as a university student and more business acumen as a practitioner.

Probably the only real genius I have ever exhibited occurred when I discovered I could draw things in the margins of my school books and on pads of yellow paper. This went on to the ability to remember and reproduce line diagrams seen in textbooks, and this in turn to passing examinations based on the false assumption that anyone who could draw well knew the subject.

No. I knew the drawing. Later on in my career I would have to try to translate the drawing – that perfect clinical diagram – to the actual teeth, gums, cheeks, lips, blood vessels, and noses of the patients. Did you know that a high-speed drill will go through all of the above?

One day I was sitting at the dining room table with a pad of yellow paper and decided to test out my childhood ability to draw a circle freehand. After a few goes I got it. Then I decided to put two Disney eyes on it. And a hat. And from there it all took off. I found my own style of cartoon drawing – very crude by the standards of others – but made it serve me as a vehicle satire and jokes. I learned early on to draw myself in cartoon style and then used that as the basis for all the send-ups and pratfalls that poked fun at others.

It was profitable. I drew cartoons for my own profession’s gazette, then for hobby clubs, and eventually for a European toy manufacturer – they paid me handsomely in toys!

I have used the style here in this weblog column as Brother Stein, the sanctimonious Quaker and again for the commemoration of the start of WW1. It is still useful whenever I want to zing one past the censors here or on Facebook.

And the nice part of it – the simple Photoshop Elements drawing section contains most of the raw form shapes I need to continue the style long after my own hands go shaky. All I need to find is a suitable topic and away we go.

You Won’t Believe What They Found When…

When they clicked on the next 15 links after the original bait. At least we hope you won’t believe it. Because if you do we’re all screwed.

If you really are as stupid as this we have been wasting half our time here in Macedonia. Not that we haven’t been paid  – a bit of money, a bit of hash, a few drinks, etc. No, that’s fine. We are happy to make up bullshit for the rest of the world on that basis. It saves us from trying to go out and rescue the country from our parents.

What we are really worried about is whether we have spent too much time with well crafted semi-plausible come-ons and conspiracy stories when we could have just thrown out memes with cats and bat children in caves. Have we spent our time making good-quality bullshit when we could have gotten the same pay with poor-quality stuff? It’s a maddening thought.

Fake news and propaganda is not as easy to concoct as you might think – particularly when government agencies are engaged in the very same process. They have access to actual fresh facts, which they can distort in a far more convincing fashion. We’re limited to wild stories and bigotry, and while this is good reliable stuff, it lacks the finish and detail of the official lies. You can’t fake fake.

Of course we are grateful to the Weather Bureau for delivering a hot end to summer in the northern hemisphere. And with the bonus of a hurricane through a heavily armed section of North America. We are hoping that the Texans do not disappoint us in regards to shooting looters on sight. In fact, we count upon it, and have prepared the outrage vats in anticipation. Let ‘er pour, Baby.

Likewise we would like to express our deep appreciation to the under 30’s of the western world who raise howls of protest against anything that they do not understand or have experience of. It is heartening to have such a resource on hand to offer to our backers. We need quality raw material to do good work. And we have some of the stupidest and easily led resources since the 16th century.

Watch this space.

How I Cleared A Social Media Memefield

Well, for a start, I got a meme detector and learned how to operate it. The modern ones have a battery pack that you wear and an electronic probe on the end of a frame that you hold up close to the screen. The meme detector has a small suction motor that draws the air in from around a Facebook posting and sends signals to its computer for analysis. Once the signal is processed the meme detector notifies you via headphones whether the sample is bullshit or not.

The detector is connected via a WiFi transmitter to the snopes.com website and can access all their recent data. If something has been rehashed and presented to the gullible public as a true image or real thing that happened…but is not…this information is sent back to the meme detector and I can be warned. Usually it is done by a discrete red light on the side of the casing, though the new model Fraudbuster 800 will play the sound of a cynical raspberry into the headphones.

None of this will stop well-meaning people from lighting upon something that triggers them off, being taken in, and then re-broadcasting the original meme. But it may prevent me from being taken in far enough to react to the thing, or to cast it further over the heads of the populace. To paraphrase Harry Truman, ” The fuck stops here. “.

It Is No Good Crying Now – The Fuse Has Already Been Lit

I often wonder why we do the things we do. Oh, I’m pretty clear about why we use the toilet and the wash basin for their separate functions – a few experiments in reversing the process cleared that up. But why we quietly accede to the things that the world throws at us is still a mystery. Take my bank.

I changed to the bank I use now because of their open-door policy on Saturday. I was involved in 9:00 – 5:00 trade all week and Saturday was the only time I had to go and do the necessary banking of paycheques or withdrawal of weekly money. The bank had a branch in the local shopping centre and it all seemed set fair for the future.

The future arrived with me in retirement ( yay!) but still with weekly or monthly transactions to do. The bank suggested that I do everything on-line…then made sure that by ignoring such common financial instruments as cheques, that I was forced to their will. Then they boarded up two of five teller’s windows at the branch. Then they installed an imperious concierge at the branch to tell us that we needed to do all our transactions through the ATM*.

We – and by we I mean the older patrons of the bank – still preferred to wait in line to see a teller to make sense out of the business. The last visit to the place left us standing there – 10 of us – for upward of three-quarters of an hour while the only two tellers in the place worked frantically. I was fortunate – I could peel off out of line after 20 minutes and make use of an ATM to do my job – after it had been refilled. But that left all the other poor ( rich ) old people shuffling forward one at a time…

Time to look at the other firms and forms of cash cacheing. Time to bid the computerbank farewell. The fuse is lit.

* Sometimes it is worthwhile sticking around just to see it get funnier. The imperious concierge was behind the teller’s cage with an ” Employee in training ” badge on while we all waited in line. He was not doing well at all…

The Little World Meets The Little Studio

 

Here’s a cross-over post that is in tune with my other blog. In this case it is about model car photography but Little World citizens can adapt the ideas to model aircraft, doll houses, and gaming tableaux as well.

I am often asked which is the best camera for scale model photography. Leaving aside the  old saw about the best camera being the one that is with you. I will make some concrete recommendations.

  1. Digital. Do not be persuaded that analog photography will serve your purposes these days. Once it would have, now it won’t.
  2. If you have little money and little inclination to pursue the complexities of photography, get one of the compact cameras from Olympus, Nikon, Canon, or Fujifilm. They will be cheaper than the equivalent products from Sony, Leica, or other makers. They will have a simple automatic setting that will allow you to succeed most of the time. If you can take your models out into the sunshine or into a bright open space they will function well. Keep moving back and forth until the camera focuses and then press the shutter button home. Share the results with your Facebook friends.
  3. If you have a great deal of money get an APS-C DSLR from Nikon or Canon and a 40mm or 80mm macro lens. Purchase a speedlight from your preferred maker and a flexible TTL connecting cord to attach it to the camera. Also purchase a Mag Mod Dome or Scoop flash diffuser. You can use all of this gear to take magnificent pictures of whatever model setup you have, but you will need to learn how to use it – and you will need to learn how to do post-processing with one of the image editing software programs like Photoshop Elements or Adobe Lightroom.

4. If you have a middling amount purchase a micro 4/3 camera from Olympus or an X-series camera from Fujifilm. You can also get a speedlight and TTL cord or you can opt for a set of reading lights from IKEA to illuminate the scenes. The lenses you need to look for are the 12-50 macro for the Olympus or the 18-55 for the Fujifilm – they will return superb results.

The road to success is not that long with cameras of this nature as they are generally more competent at shooting than you are at seeing. As you get better you will understand light better and be able to start applying it to your models – in any case you may be able to default to having natural light on your models outside, which means the cameras can perform at their best. Look upon it as a learning opportunity, just as your first models were training for your later ones.