Don’t Shoot The Wireless Broadcaster…

Because we aren’t playing the piano. We’re just the guys with the microphones and the transmitter.

The best of us plug the set in, turn it on, and stand back as the world makes its own noise. We pause every now and then to sell soap flakes or water pumps but even these are pre-made lies supplied to us by advertising agencies. We don’t add anything ourselves.

Of course the worst of us try to be the power behind the throne…to tell you who to vote for and scold you if you didn’t obey us. We’ve got a great deal of scolding power, as we are the ones with the microphones and the transmitters…as mentioned before.

But have a little sympathy here – The space behind the throne is rather crowded – we’re elbowing away university professors, multi-billionaires, and dubious reverend activists. Some of them have brought their followers with them and the sight is not pretty…neither are many of the followers. We are constantly bombarded with offers to buy our good opinion, but no-one seems to offer cash.

At least we have the Freedom Of The Press to protect us from the Freedom To Suppress . This latter freedom is most often exercised in Asian, African, and latin countries, as well as Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and it is exercised by the people who are in power there.

Some say it makes a broadcaster’s job harder, but we find it can be soothing in many cases. It’s a lot easier to read a daily bulletin from The Ministry in a clean studio than to go out and ask awkward questions in a dirty street. Around about election/coup/succession time it can get a little iffy when you have to guess who will be holding the keys to the manacles for the next few years, but we find canned music and talk shows about preserving jams to be a great filler during the interim. ” A Walk In The Black Forest ” is a great tune to play at this time.

We have also been asked when we are going to bring back the good old serials to the air – those multi-part thrillers that depended upon great acting and superb sound effects to rivet the listener to the wireless at the same time each day for months. Actually we have been doing this for years, but disguising the things as news broadcasts. You thought those politicians you love or hate were real? Ha ha.

Advertisements

When You Have To Be Honest…

When you have to be honest about some particular thing, you might just as well surrender yourself to the whole vile experience and be honest about everything. You’ll be cleaning up a damned mess, of course, but the thing won’t be any different than if you just told a little bit of the truth and clammed up about the other things you know.

Not that honesty is required all the time, mind. If you are dealing with magistrates and police officers and coroners and such you’ll have to be completely truthful, of course. Likewise you are going to want to be open and forthright with your physician, dentist, optometrist, etc – otherwise your own body will betray you. But there are other places in society where you can get a rest from being honest:

a. Facebook. No-one really expects to see a 100% honest day on Facebook. There are so many political, religious, and social memes out there just waiting for shares, and most of them are either too good to be true or too true to be good – the former ones outnumber the latter…

b. Instagram. You are encouraged to make things look better than they really are to attract the interest of people who want to attract your interest with their visual lies. Fortunately it makes a nice change from Pokemon and people are less likely to step into traffic while looking at Instagram. Unless it makes them really depressed.

c. The pub. Well, if you can’t tell lies in a place that serves diluted alcohol, what’s the point of going there?

d. Political rallies. Whichever side you are on and whomever you are against, you are never expected to be unbiased and fair at a political rally. You are there to root for your side and howl the rest down. You are often allowed to hold up offensive signs. You are never required to dress well. You are permitted to espouse the foulest creeds and howl the vilest insults. If it had nap time, it would be like kindergarten.

e. Religious meetings. You are required to be honest to God and honest to yourself, but everyone else there can be played like a harmonica. Profess anything that they want you to profess and damn anything that they demand you to damn. Recite creeds, prayers, anthems, and shopping lists if that is the custom of the place. Bob, weave, dance, sing, and perform any gestures that seem to be required.

It’ll all be the same thing. Would I lie to you?

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Throwing Up On Facebook

I have friends who throw up on Facebook. It is possible that they also throw up on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram – users of social media often have multiple receptacles available to them. This is a great convenience – they might not be at home or near a work computer when something overcomes them.

Of course, no one has ever solved the age-old mystery of where the tomatoes and sweet corn come from ( I didn’t eat either of those – I only had 14 pints of ale…) but that is rarely a problem on social media. The really peculiar thing is where people get the stuff they do ” share “…

Oh, wait. I may have given you the wrong impression. I wasn’t talking about emesis. I was talking about the racist, nationalist, sexist, and political material that is posted daily. The half thought half-thought-through that nevertheless  appears repeatedly. Talk about things coming up again…

I’d normally just step round the stuff if it was on the footpath in front of the kebab shop. As it is I can make it go away with two clicks of the computer mouse…and I am starting to realise that I can do that a lot these days. Suggested posts that are thinly veilled information fishing exercises are one thing that go out immediately. I know nothing and tell less.

Then the Trump posts. None of the people I know  who throw up anti-Trump memes have any connection to the United States, to the Presidency, or to Mr. Trump. Their shared memes and snarky comments are irrelevant. Gone.

Then the vagaries. I am bad at guessing games and worse when the games are psychological. I cannot imagine what some of the posters are on about – the only clear message that comes through is that there is no clear message. I can get that by turning the radio dial a quarter inch to the left off-station.

I do pause at cats and dogs. They can stay, as can hot rod cars and panda bears. I do also study semi-official posts that ask me to look out for a missing person – though I do wish that when a person is found that someone will also notify us of that.

And I am a sucker for domino races or improbable collections of mechanical operations that eventually turn on a popcorn maker. The engineering students with nothing to do for three days are always good for a laugh.

Secede From Success

I suppose I should be grateful to the people of Quebec. I might not have felt so in 1957 when I lived in Montreal and had to endure the indignities of Grade 5. The school system was split between English-speaking teachers and French-speaking ones and there were times when the kids were the football between the teams. Thankfully they had to teach English literature in English and mathematics in numbers and the odd intrusion en Francais could be endured.

Later, the pressure to teach every school child in Canada some French extended out as far as Alberta and British Columbia and I got at least two years of basic grammar in the early 60’s. I can fumble my way through a French magazine if there are pictures with short captions. If there are girlie pictures I fumble slower.

But they did contribute enough political whining and pressure to raise a great debate about ” Bi-culturalism ” and we school kids got onto the gravy train. We wrote essays, made speeches, and in some cases collected free trips to Ottawa to pretend that we were the future of the country. We were overwhelmingly snot-nosed, mealy-mouthed, and cynical, and I guess that if we had pursued that course over the time one of us could be Prime Minister of Canada right now. Come to think of it…

I didn’t win the Ottawa trip on the strength of my speech, but I won a job at the local newspaper doing anything that no-one else wanted to do. I loved it, and it has given me a taste for writing, photography, and cynicism ever since.

Secede? Oh the political pundits sometimes come out with the business of Quebec seceding from Canada and becoming an independent nation. They toy with it every few years…just long enough to get more federal money. The awkward thing is that the rest of Canada may see it as a good idea one day and take them up on it.

On one condition. Quebec gets Trudeau. All the Trudeaus…

I Was Memeing To Tell You Something…

But I forgot what it was when I saw the picture of the cat and Donald Trump.

I did not used to be so easily distracted by political propaganda or sentimental eyewash. I could open a magazine and go straight to the comics or the centerfold and needed only the briefest interval to take in the advertisements and support articles. I was even better with a hard-cover book, particularly if it had pictures of airplanes.

The thing about the olden days ( Elvis, dinosaurs…) was that we had to wait longer periods to get our commercial pressure up – the newspaper came out once a day and the big glossy magazines once a month. None us up in Alberta could get Radio Moscow until the 1960’s  and the hey-day of the cruder Soviet propaganda had passed by then – plus the local reds had been rooted out and either jailed or elected. We just did not have access to the wealth of top-quality lies that the internet provides. And the ones we did get were crude things… three-four colours at the most and on really poor paper.

We could, of course, still get lies, innuendo, bias,bigotry, and political pressure from our friends, but we got that face-to-face. This made it fresher but surprisingly toned it down somewhat. You can’t really get into someone’s face if their fist gets in the way.

We were somewhat susceptible to kitties and puppies. But most of us had kitties or puppies ( or their older variations; the damned cat and the smelly dog) and we were less likely to associate them with the coming teenage rebellion against the patriarchal-hegemony of the neo-conservative leftist centralists of June 17th. We mostly associated them with playing with string or tennis balls. We were politically inexperienced children.

I think it will be a case of reforming my character in the future. I will take the oath not to pass on memes or scarlet fever. I will pledge to limit my protest marching upon the barricades to the times when I can actually find a barricade. I will speak severely to Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, and Vladimir Putin the next time they are in my living room in person. Oh, they’ll still get the cup of tea and slice of orange poppy-seed cake, but the atmosphere may be frosting.

I meant frosty. I was distracted by cake.

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.