The Morality Machine – Part Two – My Favourite Vice

My absolutely favourite vice is a 3″ Record located in my Little Workshop. I inherited it from my father’s workshop some 36 years ago and there isn’t a week goes by that it doesn’t make my life easier.

As far as moral failings go, I treasure some of these too. I am not religious and so am rather denied the pleasures of sinning, but I can still have flaws – and some of these can be considered vices. This is by people who don’t want to do them or who do rather fancy them but have never succeeded. There is a great deal of jealousy in the assignment of terms like vice and virtue and whenever anyone essays to do it, they reveal more about themselves than those they judge.

I’m happy to say that none of my vices seem to do much harm. No-one has fallen ill or dead from mine and the occasional bruise or loss of skin is no more than you would get from an ice hockey match. I do not frequent dens of iniquity – but equally I do not enter bastions of righteousness. I have to be satisfied with small vices and limited consequences.

As far as eradicating vice, I am all for it – provided it is someone else’s and major enough to be worth the outrage. I look closely at the causes I am asked to espouse and the height of the moral horse I am expected to ride. I’ve been known to choose the Shetland rather than the Percheron. Do not expect me to be much of a knight in shining armour for any but the foulest of dragons or fairest of maiden. The middling ones can get on with it between themselves and good luck to ’em.

Will I be a BETTER PERSON if I eliminate vice from my life? Possibly, but who could tell – they don’t know from what horrid depths I spring. Drenched in blood, stark naked, and chasing the Lord Mayor up the High Street with an tomahawk may indeed be a vast improvement from what I was a week ago, and thereby deserve your praise. Likewise my appearing in vestments singing a prayer may be the sign of a drop into deep depravity. You need some accurate foreknowledge to calibrate your judgement.

And I’m not going to give you a chance to form one – I’m vicious that way.

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The Morality Machine – Part One – A Self-Help Book For The Vicious

In case that sounds like I am advocating a Necronomicon that you get at Dymocks for $ 39.95, I must reassure you. The self help advocated is not to make the user worse, but better. Vice is to be abhorred and virtue upheld – if only on the point of a pike.

The self-help books that are commonly found in bookshops and libraries come in many forms – but they all have a common theme; the reader must absorb what they have to say and then practice it to become a better person. The betterment can be of many types – richer, calmer, wiser, thinner, happier, or more virtuous are some of the popular ones. Less common, but still useful are the books that will make you a better golfer, fisherman, skier, etc. There are even a few slim volumes that will make you a better stamp collector or photographer of fungi.

Still- they are all ex auctoritate sententia – you read and obey the authority of the author. They point and you follow.

I propose that the best self-help article or book is one that proceeds from the person themselves – they do the work and reap the benefit. Thus even if the reader desiring advancement can only write or say one thing to assist themselves, that one thing comes from a better source than any $ 39.95 paperback.

Of course you often can’t really say anything new to yourself – it has all been said before by someone else – but you can repeat it in your own voice, and that is frequently the only one you hear anyway. In this case you are doing nothing more than you might normally do – talking to yourself – but you can add something fresh; you can listen to yourself.

I’m trying it these next few months. First one I’m doing is Will Rogers’ line about never passing up a chance to shut up. The good effect of this might be negative, as I won’t know what trouble I’ve avoided if I’ve been successful…but maybe that’s the best form of self-help.

What Do You Do When The Hero Is A Zero?

We are in an age that presses awkward revelation upon us every day – secrets are laid bare for all to see about our favourite political and cultural figures.

Not a month passes when another icon is not clasted good and proper. And once this is done, they are blasted forevermore – or until someone else wants to sell books praising them at $ 39.95. That’s about the only chance of rehabilitation possible. Forgiveness is only offered when it makes for good press.

I don’t mind the blasting and clasting, as long as there is a shred of truth in it. I do get annoyed when the Russian, Iranian, Korean, or Nazi propaganda machines start to work and grind out endless reams of lies in an effort to swamp our consciousness. And I am rather puzzled as to what to do with the opposite to the blast and clast – if a noted figure is presented to us as a saint, martyr, or popular god – when normal observation would show us that they are not.

No names, no pack drill…but I would include nearly all the rock music, motion picture, and popular culture idols who overdosed on drugs and alcohol, committed suicide in bizarre fashion, or otherwise behaved like fools and morons. They may have been entertaining, if you are entertained by that sort of thing, but their demise seems to rather cancel out all the respect you once showed them. You need not hate them, but equally you need not worship them.

I would also include political idols who prove to be foul beyond recall. Of course you need to be able to judge whether they are so and you’ll need to do so from public record and private revelation, but do make such judgement on real court evidence – not tweets or scandal sheet bleats. A reliance upon hard court decisions and legally-verifiable published record is essential if we are not to be just a baying mob driven by other people’s agendas.

Can you make a moral judgement? You can if you know the difference between good and bad…and I credit most of my readers with being able to do that. If you do know and do judge, have the courage to stand by your convictions – at least while you have evidence that support them. If new evidence is presented and proved to be true, then you may freely change your mind. Just have the honesty to state your new opinion.

Note: I have made bad judgements in the past and need to revise them. I have also made good ones, and need to affirm them.

Let Me Tell You…

a. What is wrong with you.

I know what it is, because it is the same thing wrong with me.

b. ANYTHING.

I have a Facebook account and so do you. I can post either the most outrageously false material or provable scientific truths and it’ll pop through on your screen just the same.

c. Everything. About my life, my lunch, and my love affairs. All the little intimate details that I dare not breathe for fear of scandal. I’ll just post them on social media.

You don’t want to know? But, Darling, you don’t understand. This is me I’m writing about…

d. Nothing.

e. Something to your advantage.

This is the classic phrase used in 18th century advertisements in the broadsheets when wicked lawyers wish to find victims for their plots. I know, because I have read novels written in that period. The advantage generally concerns a legacy or a mansion somewhere in the mist.

f. A story.

Once upon a time there was this columnist who reviewed social media every day. One of his late friends was a doctor in a VD clinic and he reviewed social connections every day too – long before the internet existed – and from a different angle. He had the advantage that they issued free rubber gloves.

From conversations with him many years ago I gathered that his opinion of the social behaviours he was called upon to peer at were much the same as the Facebook posts I read. They seemed, sometimes, to ooze…and not with life, either…

g. Goodbye. And a good day to you. I shall have one, in as far as it is in my power to make it for myself. You may choose to do likewise. It will only require a cheerful thought that rewards you or an evil one that succeeds undetected. I shall go cut fuses now…

Climb Down Or Fall Down

Gravity has been good to me – whenever I have climbed upon a high horse, it has pulled me to the ground. The ground has not been as kind – it hurt whenever I hit it. However, I’m still here typing with a cup of coffee and the heater on ( winter in Australia ).

Sometimes it has been a physical thing – I’ve fallen off of winch trucks and shop ladders and been bruised, bleeding, and in one case unconscious for a short time. But all the wounds have healed and I am wiser about heights.

Sometimes it has been financial. My dental practice failed one year and was sold away. But then I took up a new trade that sustained and lifted me for the following 8 years. The finances recovered and so did my health.

Sometimes there has been a fall from pretence – I used to pretend to be a British officer or a Scot for my re-enactment hobby until circumstances and two realistic gentlemen – an old Jewish cloth merchant and a dour Scottish minister – told me how foolish I was. Bang, down on the ground.

I’ve had social falls, too, when I found things which removed the pleasure of society. But I learned eventually to recognise this as part of every diverse group, and to avoid the fall by carefully climbing down myself. In doing so I retain friendships and can carry on to the next venture.

 

A Pot To Pee In

I see that one of our local theatres has put up a sign that identifies their toilet as one that can be welcoming and friendly to people of all sexes. This us as it should be, but opens the door to a new question…who left the seat up?

I’m sometimes amused by the business of mens and women’s toilets in public venues. Not laughing out loud amused, but slightly puzzled as to why they should be such a battleground. The ones here at home aren’t – if you discount the anguished cries when someone sits down without determining whether there is enough paper. We are a mixed group in this house and so far no-one has fenced off either of the loos or put up pictograms to define who gets to use them.

There is the occasional bout of door-hammering and demands for a speeding-up of the process. But it is a religious time and shows that we really care for each other: ” Jesus Christ, are you dead in there? Hurry up! ”

But we are not in the midst of gender wars here at home. And I don’t participate in them when I go out – though there are those who would try to lure me into the traps of the meme-field and the shambush. I try to have an unkind word for all I meet and that seems to satisfy …well, if not them, at least it satisfies me. The sexists are sometimes very eager to be virtuous and angry but often nonplussed when their virtue is laughed at.

They sometimes stomp off  to the restroom mad – let us hope if they do that the facilities are clean and the seat is warm and down. Or up.

 

Well, Chicken Little…

You can take the helmet off. The sky has not fallen.

We’re well into the first week of the election that wasn’t won by your party ( and by that I don’t mean a party that you actually belong to. Not a party where you join and pay and do work. I mean one that you thought would be handing out the free stuff. ). And we’ve looked outside and the sky has not fallen.

China has not forced sanctions on Queensland. New Zealand has not stopped taking tourists on trips to see where LOTR was filmed. You can still get spicy tucker in Singapore and pirate DVDs in Bali. And your dole payment.

Things have not changed.

There are some fools gone from the Senate, and new ones substituted. Ditto House of Representatives. There will still be cross-bench members trying to pull the strings in both directions as hard as they can. There will still be witless xenophobic morons holding rallies. There will still be hippie apologists trying to buy an electorate with government grant money.

Things will not change.

Had your favoured party gotten into power, there would have been a little flurry of preening and appointing of party members to special positions. Ambassadorships would have been handed out in exchange for past favours. And then it would have gone on quite the same as before.

Console yourself with your paroxysm of outrage and share a dozen vulgar memes. Vow revenge on the winners. Howl to the moon – it’s good for the lungs. And next week is coming.