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…



Dancing The Facebook Hornpipe

Yesterday I got a message from the WordPress people saying that the current links between the weblog columns I write and Facebook was in peril – FB apparently change their play today for some arcane reason. The explanation was suitably vague, but the end result was another three hours of computer churning to create a ” page ” as well as a ” profile “.

Well, the electrons flowed back and forth and eventually it settled into the new pattern – but with all the old people and pictures. I suspect it is a ploy to make another platform to sell advertising in sidebars and pop “suggested posts ” into my stream of consciousness. As long as I can throw ’em out as fast as they appear, I’m happy. I need all the consciousness I can get here at home.

The all-pervasive nature of FB and the sudden peremptory announcements – caged sometimes in gobbledygook – are starting to make me nervous. I recognise the follies of some of my friends on the service by the memes and propaganda they push – they can recognise mine by the weblog posts that drift over. As long as we do not engage in arguments, all is well.

But must everything be the province of Facebook?

Creative Heckling In The Digital Age

Once upon a time a heckler had only two weapons – their voice and a basket full of over-ripe tomatoes. Both might come arching out of the darkness to disrupt a speech, play, poetry reading, or political speech, and it was as well to have a washable costume as a resilient mind. Both of these forms of heckling were possible only if the person being bothered had no way of retaliation.

But time and again, the heckler may have found out they bit off more than they could chew. Ragging a first-time open mike comic at a pub might send them off in tears, but trying the same thing on a first-line comic in a closed venue – particularly if it was in a crowd of fans – could prove costly. In some cases the comic was well enough in with the staff – or owned the club themselves – and could have a portable spot turned on the loudmouth. And then let fly with whatever would best shut them up.

Heckling at a political rally might even do more good than harm for the candidate. Several presidential candidates and many parliamentary ones have benefitted from being quicker-witted than their detractors and with the benefit of national press coverage have spurted ahead in popularity on the basis of a put-down.

Note: Heckling in a courtroom is technically known as contempt of court and is generally rewarded with time in the Coldwater Hotel. Shout if you must, but you will get thrown into the street or a cell…

Well, that’s the old days – now we have the internet, the social media site, and the fake news phenomenon to play with. Heckling can be referred to as trolling, pranking, and any number of other fashionable words – and can be indulged in from the comfort of Mom’s basement. No need to go out in the cold and be unpleasant when you can do so from home. You can also do so from someone else’s home or home-site if you are clever enough. It almost seems that the possibilities are endless. Who can stop you?

a. The police: You leave a finger, foot, or other part of the body print every time you hit a keyboard. If you are illegally obnoxious, they are sometimes forced to become legally so.

b. The FBI/KGB/ ASIO/ Mossad/Deuxieme Bureau/MI5,6,7,and 8: They have minds even more devious than the local cops and a bigger budget. Piss on them and they have the resources to wring you out like a dishcloth.

c. The faceless Facebook: If you cost them money, they will stop you from costing them money. They can do it by pressing a switch.

d. Mrs. Mulcahey: Donny’s mother. If you give Donny a bad time she also has a switch. It is about a half-inch thick and made of hickory and she’ll apply it to your ass until she gets tired of hitting you…and Mrs. Mulcahey is a woman of stamina…

The Smoking Hole

Or, ” How I Learned The Art of Munitions Defusing From Facebook “.

I don’t blame the manufacturer of the torpedo. They were acting to a government contract and it was wartime and they made a first-class job of the casing and the warhead and the motors. The Navy was a tough customer and they had to satisfy them.

I don’t blame Facebook. After all, that is just a channel. And you have to remember that a  channel can transport shit as well as Shinola, and it is your responsibility to tell the difference.

And really, I cannot blame the people who said to cut the blue wire. They are fine folks, and the fact that none of them have ever defused a Mk 31 is the only thing that disqualifies them from giving advice. If I were to ask them how to fry an egg or chart an aura or howl at the moon I am sure they would be able to help me no end. It is just a case of adjusting the question to the understanding of the listener.

I think, in the end, I must blame myself. I asked people who had no idea what they were talking about to talk, and they did, and I was fool enough to listen. I accepted their bland assurances without checking on whether they were qualified to give them. I’ll just have to backfill the hole, get another workshop, and ask the right people next time.

The Standard Bearer Is The One Who Gets The Bullets

The heading image of this column is the rootin’ tootin’ flutin’ King of Prussia, supposedly striding out ahead of his loyal troops to inspire them. It may have been drawn from fact, or it may just be a German propaganda construct, but it points out the title of our piece admirably. The individual who makes a flag bearer of themselves can attract far more than applause – they can attract lead.

I don’t suppose many of us march into enemy guns these days with flags flying and bayonets charged – though I did just that a couple of decades ago – but we do tend to climb the Facebook ramparts and wave our opinions to attract attention. And in most cases we don’t even have a kingdom to defend by doing it. We appear to be attacking public figures for the sheer joy of it. Fortunately the public figures never notice us and most of the people who do would have no idea how to fire a spud gun, let alone a musket.

The only wounds we suffer are to the ego and the reputation. Grievous hurts, of course, but mostly non-fatal. Friendships crumple up and fall over, and that is perhaps the saddest part of it.

So what to do? I’m sure if you look far enough into Roman and Greek history you’ll find advice to keep yourself from party, as well as from lust or gluttony. If you pay me $200 I’ll tell you what they say about avarice.

I don’t tell people what to think or do – apart from this hectoring column. It is safer not to, and even better if I do not tell them what I think or do either. If it is necessary to throw rocks through their windows after dark it is best not to tell them who is doing the throwing.

Flags do need flying, and causes championed, and virtue signalled – and we can see it every day on our social media feed. But we should glance up at them carefully before we raise the pole. Fred’s got his family and the state on the stick there, and a good many armed Germans behind him – he’ll be fine as long as the French don’t spot him and lay a double canister round his way. Not so our Facebook warriors, who may be flying the flag of many foreign parties – replete with vulgarity and foolish appearance. ” Sharing ” the antics of idiots is allying yourself to them…and sometimes the flag that you think you are hoisting is a disgrace to all.

Note: I could be wrong. Friedrich might have just have taken a snout against his generals and is taking his flag and going home.

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?





It Must Be True – Because I Read It

A. And if it wasn’t true they wouldn’t have printed it…

B. Because I read it. Me. Not some other unimportant person. Me.

C. And anyway, if it wasn’t true, it ought to be true.

D. Because I want it to be true.

F. No, I don’t remember where I read it. I just did. Somewhere.

G. And why are you asking all these questions? Are you a communist? You sound like a communist…

H. Because you’re asking all these questions, that’s why.

I. Go on – prove you’re not a communist.

J. That’s not proof. Anyone can belong to the Republican party and be a Catholic and a Knight of Columbus. You probably have DAS KAPITAL in your bookcase.

K. I’ll bet you voted for Trump. Or Putin. Or Clinton. Go-on. Try to weasel out of that one.

L. Well you would have if you were a citizen. That just goes to show you.