How Much Is Your Name Worth?

If it is Elon Musk or Richard Branson, apparently quite a lot.

If it is Harvey Weinstein, somewhat less…

And for those of us in the middle? Well, it’s worth just what other people think it is. And therein lies the danger. If you have been a good person forever and are a good person now, your name and reputation will still be available for people to throw darts at as long as you are within range. You are not in control of the darts nor of their throwing arms – you can only control the range.

This is a sad thought if you are a people person. If your life needs human contact and constant approval, you are always going to be within range of the very human trait of animosity. You need not provoke it – it is there all the time ready for use. Sort of the frozen pizza of emotions. Just stand still for long enough, close enough, and there you go.

How to protect yourself from it? Either stay far enough away from others so that you never fall under their notice, or please everyone in every way all the time, or put safeguards in place. Never see anyone alone. Never say anything remotely objectionable to anyone. Never borrow anything , nor lend it. Never win a contest. Never write a book, blog, or laundry ticket. Never ask and never tell. Never know.

For those of you out there contemplating sex, forget it. Cold showers and prayer are your only recourse. Shun dating, marriage, adultery, celibacy, and strip joints. Avoid the movies, particularly if you are producing them. Do not send pictures of any portion of your body to anyone at all, ever. Avoid stimulating foods like lukewarm gruel and dry toast.

As far as finances go, remember about not being a borrower or lender. Also do not spend any money and take particular care that you are not seen to be saving it – you would be a miser.

Of course politics are a minefield of offence. Minefields are also a minefield. In fact just plain fields will get the more committed ecologist quite livid with anger. You may be wise to curl up under your desk and make no sound whatsoever.

But cheer up – do all this and you will have a good name. King Tutankhamen has been quiet for centuries and no-one has a bad word for him.

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Which Is The Organ Of Truth?

And anyone who says ” Wurlitzer ” can leave the room.

No, which of our various parts can be said to be the best suited to determine truth or falsehood.? It’s a good question in an age riddled with fake news, click bait, and product-placement advertising. Here, hold my can of Valley Dew ™ sparkling pea-flavoured, famous throughout the world, beverage and I’ll type out the answer…

Is it the eyes? No, they are transparent structures – designed only to pass information in bulk as it is encountered. They make no judgements, being equally prepared to look at men, women, or Justin Trudeau. You can slip anything past the eyes.

Is it the ears? No again. The ears pick up anything within range – though there is the saving grace that they wear out faster than the eyes. The frequencies of sound that pass through them may stay the same but as people age, they are unable to hear the higher ones. If the makers of pop music and rap could be persuaded to raise their voices three octaves, we oldies would find the world a better place. We are prepared to help them to do this with a pair of bolt cutters.

Is it the sense of touch? Possibly – we can tell a rough surface from a smooth one for the most part, though again as you get older things become much the same. And as you become older, your opportunities to touch soft things diminish. A lot of us have to make do with cardboard cutouts of famous aviators and bagpipe salespeople.

Is it the sense of taste? Taste? That thing with the tongue? Have you ever tried some of the concoctions that a modern cocktail bar serves out? Raspberry Cointreau Rutabaga Surprise? I have no idea whether there was more surprise on the part of myself or the rutabaga. And who would willingly taste a modern politician? Apart, of course, from a White House intern…Ptui…

No, children, the organ of truth is the nose. When something you read, see, hear, or touch has an odour about it…whether it be an odour of fish, horse manure, or sanctity…it is false. Your nose does not lie – it can pick one molecule of rancid oil out of a million clean ones and the same with thoughts. If it stinks, it’s rotten.

Can you smell something? Is it my can of Valley Dew™?

Life Goals For The Cynical

1. To feature as a particularly unsavoury entry in the Urban Dictionary.

2. To win the Oscar Levant Award.

3. To be black-balled simultaneously from entry into the Ku Klux Klan, the Greens, the Black Panthers, and the Myers Christmas Club.

4. To discover a new food ingredient to which people can become intolerant. As discoverer you get to name it. I am going to incorporate Shirley Temple into the name. As people are bring violently ill in the gutter they’ll be crying out ” Shirley Temple ” !

5. To finance a re-make of “ A Night At The Opera ” with a script that makes it into a serious social documentary. But I’ll still keep the stateroom scene.

Now, nearly everyone I know, with one notably cynical exception, will have to go and google at least one of those references to see what the joke is about. Thus I have done my part today for wider education in a post-literate population. It will last no more than the time that it takes for the next mental squirrel to scamper across their vision, but if I do it often enough they will eventually be curious enough to dial up a page on ” Brainy Quotes “.

And then I’ll have em…

 

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.

How To Be Literal Without Being Literate

Go on. Try the experiment. I did, and I’m mopping up the benchtop right now.

Try typing in the good old phrase ” Taking your pigs to a better market “. The sentence that indicates that you are going to seek better recognition for your skills or a better remuneration. A phrase that is as old as the 18th century, if not older…

The first page that Google shows you is exclusively devoted to farming interests and the pork marketing sector. It is possibly of great comfort to rural people, but not to the literate…and I am starting to suspect that a great deal of the internet operates upon the same principles. I’m beginning to see what H.L. Mencken meant by ” Boobocracy “.

In a conversation with friends we reviewed the remarkable recent story of a rescue of trapped boys in a cave in Thailand – the drama and horror of it, the sad death of the Thai navy SEAL, and the sterling part played by the Australian anaesthesiologist in the eventual rescue. We agreed that the chap would make a great choice for the Australian of the Year.

But then we also speculated about the Elon Musk affair in connection with this…the foolish, impolite, and unsavoury publicity. And the likelihood of a Hollywood drama based upon it. I’m afraid we’re all cynics – we imagined the scriptwriters and studios of California turning what is essentially an Asian and Australasian story into something that could appeal to their home audience. Something simplified and nationalised for them…

Mr. Mencken, as you said many times…” You may be right…”.

What Grade Are You In?

One of the primary questions of our childhood. It determined how we were going to be treated by the other kid – if we were a rank up, we had to be deferred to – if a year down we could be dominated. Thank goodness that sort of thing stopped when we entered tertiary education, the military, or a corporate structure and were all mature and kindly adults…

Okay, okay, that was heavy-handed. Not everything can be rapier wit around here. Sometimes the bludgeon is closer to hand.

There were all sorts of rules about school status – and this in North American public education where equality was meant to rule. God knows how it must have been for the post-war British coping with their societal changes. As it is, their adults didn’t manage so well, let alone the kids.

Now, in Australia, there is really only one effective gradation system – money. No matter who or what you are, if you have it, you advance up the ladder. In most cases there is no sense of noblesse oblige so you needn’t be concerned with being seen as good or moral at the same time. All you need is the perceived ability to pay – you’ll generally not be required to do so. That’s how money works – it sticks to the fingers that have it.

But there is one out for this – the power of money and the status it confers can only extend to those who have it and those who want it.  Outside of these two groups, everyone else can see it with a wider vision – they can live life in spite of, and despite it. And none more able than the retiree.

Retirees – as distinct from railway hoboes – are people with enough money for their own purposes, but who may have no actual purpose. They are people freed from the clock. Of course the cosmic one still ticks, and they are a damn sight closer to the alarm going off than their younger counterparts. But until then, they can look at their nominal superiors and inferiors with a mild eye. A mild tongue too, if they are not provoked.

They can converse with the multi-billionaire easily – given that there is no prospect of any of the billions drifting their way. They need pay no lip service. In most cases they have seen it all before, and in many cases it was better done. They can be prevailed upon for advice and give it freely – not having to be responsible for it after it leaves their lips. It is not that they do not care – but they may be opting for a bit of destructive experimentation. Do not ask a retiree which wire to cut…

They can be kind without fear of reprisal. No-one expects them to be competent. No-one suspects them of it either…

It is a delightful time of life, if only people would realise it.

Entertaining Sweet Poison

I have been reading a well-known web comic strip for a number of years – it is delightfully drawn with a number of quirky characters. The Sunday colour is magnificently done – Disney or Pixar at their best could do no better. The story lines some years have been as much fun as a Ghibli movie.

But every strip is attached to the artist’s personal life in some way – and some people’s personal lives take roads that I do not wish to walk. The case of Al Capp and Lil’ Abner is one such. I loved the strip, and still do when I see old repro books of it. So many of its characters are standard figures in my life – I knew the doubles for Mammy Yokum and Marryin’ Sam. I know the double for Joe Blftsxk right now – and I steer clear of him. I am still looking for Moonbeam McSwine…

Pogo by Walt Kelly was another. I collect such examples of his books and strips as I can find as they have a real echo of my childhood and youth about them. Kelly may have had his foibles, but he drew them into delightful creatures and amusing story lines without being crude or derivative. I don’t think anyone pulled or pushed Kelly in the political arena.

The current web comic artist has adopted political attitudes that are being pushed. I don’t think it’s affected his image work, but I do think he has set up a series of straw men and paper tigers to destroy for the benefit of other people’s opinions. In doing so he has lost mine.

I’m a mollusc when it comes to running away – a veritable bivalve. I shall not pull his plug until the end of the year. But if he continues in the way he has trended to…I’ll need to find another strip to replace him.

Breaking news: I have just canned the strip. And searched extensively for another to replace it – webcomics can be a very minimal artistic experience. But I’ve found one. It has a different world in it, but isn’t preachy. It is a funny comic strip.