The Australian League Of Virtuousness

As Right Evil Bastard of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia, I take great pleasure in announcing the formation of the newest of our branches; The Australian League Of Virtuousness.

The League, as a division of The Guild, will be responsible for promoting goodness instead of badness – virtue instead of vice – and justice instead of tyranny. This will take place on alternate fortnights or on occasions when The Guild is absent for holidays.

Of course, revenue generated by the League will revert to The Guild and be distributed accordingly. As it is expected that the customers for this new service will be in a proportion of 1:5 – as per the Barnum ratio – there may be a considerable time before excess profits are available to return to The League. But we have hopes that light will prevail over darkness eventually at a rate higher than C.P.I.

Aspirants to the League will be required to demonstrate their committment to social justice, temperance, and anything else that can attract dollars or attention. At this point of time we do not plan to practice any religious ceremonies beyond passing the plate.

Please note that virtuousness is not connected with virtuosity. Virtuosity plays on the violin – we play on the nerves.

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The Mobile Phone As An Aid To Backstabbers Guild Activities

Up until the advent of the small mobile phone, recording embarrassing conversations for later use by the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia was a complex task. Tape recorders – at first the reel-to-reel style and later the cassette type – were employed to gather marketable admissions and defamatory statements but it meant that you had to set things up quite a bit in advance.

Cafe and bar meetings were pretty much out, as the necessary collusion with the owners of the premises was an expensive thing to purchase. And you had to be there hours beforehand to set up microphones and a recording room. It was a bit easier if you could lure your victim to a prepared apartment, but it still meant having an operative sitting there with headphones on listening to all that went on. Some of the BGA monitors were fine, but some got sloppy about it all. Worst of all were the ones who got allergies – it was impossible to do any serious blackmail in spring as they would sneeze at the worst possible moment.

All that has changed with the mobile phone. It need not be the latest iPhone 8 or any other sophisticated device – they all have a voice recorder in them. You just scroll though the menu, choose the appropriate app and press the red record button. The microphone gain is somewhat automatic and there is enough battery in there to go for hours. And generally it does not make any noise as it works – vital if it is concealed inside a pillow or under the bed.

There have been a number of challenges put forward as to the legal use of information gathered by these means – some sort of footling sentiment about warning the person that they were being recorded. This, of course, is nothing but naive humour to the BGA. We do not record anything for training purposes…unless you count pushing people onto the rails on the Mandurah line as training them. We record to despoil, dismay, and damage, and I am proud to say that the Guild does a workmanlike job whenever we bend our minds to it. If we decide that we are going to make you pay for your sins, you will pay the correct market price and we are professional enough to issue a receipt.

Note: Current mobile phone technology is not really effective in providing full stereophonic or wrap-around sound recording from the small devices. If you are aiming for a theatre-filling experience you still need to book our professional crew. It will all depend upon the depth of your wallet and your sense of malice.

The Rivals

I am generally out of touch with social networks in my town – and with business affairs, cultural groups, and academic circles. I can be said to pretty much live in an intellectual bubble that is insulated from the rest of Western Australia. I have never been happier.

It is not that I do not welcome social interaction on a personal level – a conversation, a joke, a shared cup of vitriol. It livens up a day that might otherwise be given over to dragging a plough through flinty soil then falling exhausted into a ditch at nightfall. Retail trade was like that…

But being unaware of the world has the delightful advantage of rendering me neutral, by virtue of ignorance, in most of the deadly competitions and rivalries of the day. I can be in the company of people in my old trades – dentistry and retail photography – while they are frostily ignoring each other or cattily circling for commercial information…and I am unconcerned. If I occasionally ask one about the affairs of the other, casually revealing the extent of their spy network and causing alarm bells to go off in the mind of the listeners, it is all innocent. Perfectly innocent.

And then there are the firms that rep for other firms – the agency men. I’m old and I forget things and I cannot be held responsible if I blurt out secrets of the delivery date of a product to someone else in the mistaken belief that they are the firm handling the account. One lens can look very much like another when it is top secret and hush hush.

Likewise, I can hardly be expected to be up to date with all the staff hirings and firings unless someone tells me and generally they tell me only when a coroner’s report is delivered or a trial date is set.

Of course, once I have been entrusted with a secret I am the soul of discretion. Wild horses could not drag the parlous financial situation of ———- from my lips. Who knows, they may trade out of it.

It always pays to play fair.

The Little World – What Scale Is That?

Why, it’s a different scale from the one you need, of course. That’s how modelling is done. You go to the shop, see a wonderful model product, and then find that it is the wrong size for what you do.

So you change scales. And the next time you go to the hobby shop the best new product is in yet another scale. If you are in luck the shop will be nearby to a liquor store and you can drown your sorrows.

But don’t get too fond of any one particular drink. Because the next time you go to the booze shop they will be out of it and you’ll have to change again…

You have no chance of telling the manufacturers what to do unless they are back-yard resin casters who make limited-run plastic kits for the specialist market. Even then, your influence will be tempered by their market experience and the practicality of the thing. No good asking someone to invest a considerable amount of time and money in master-modelling something that no-one but you will ever want. You stand a far better chance of getting a one-off model by doing scratch-building yourself. The skills involved will do you good, no matter how successful you are in the finished product…and you can at least take heart that whatever you make has real value if it is unique in the world. Others may reel back in horror, but they cannot deny that you are the owner of the only one.

Smart money plays the odds:

a. If you have any particular idea in mind, do some serious thinking beforehand as to the scope of the project. If it is truly a one-off for yourself, and no-one else will ever want or get one, you can make parts by laborious means. If it is the start of a series of models, you’ll want to have more easily repeatable parts to make it up. If it is a commercial venture, the parts that make it up have to be as good as possible for as cheap as they can be made.

b. The fact that it is one-off in itself does not mean that it will always be alone…ie, if you make a 1:29th scale Roto-Rooter truck you can also use it as part of a large-scale railway layout with Bachman trains and bad drainage. An encouragement not to stray too far mathematically from current commercial scales. And be careful what you plant.

c. Smart money also knows its own limitations – particularly in terms of technical skill. If you know you can make buildings but not cars, you choose a scale where someone else makes the cars and you make the buildings. That’s not really as fatuous a statement as you might think…many’s the time when someone has started out with great ability only to foul up the works when they undertake something with which they have no resonance. I cannot make model figures that look good, but I can make buildings to house commercial figures and buy vehicles to display with them. I choose my scale based upon both of those other factors and my dioramas work.

d. Smart money knows other smart money. Using my example, I know that there are figure modellers who can make superb maquettes to people my dioramas – figures with posing, musculature, shading, and painting. Once I conceive of a scene I can measure, sketch, design, and specify in such a way that one of the custom modellers can make exactly what I need. This might also apply to other enthusiasts who are adept at vehicles, landscaping, painting, or weathering. I hope to raise my skill levels, but if they will never be high enough I can employ those who already have them.

e. Smart money knows that it only needs to make so much – a great deal of the realism of a scene is in the mind of the beholder. Michael Paul Smith said as much in his book about Elgin Park – he gets the realism right enough to start the suggestion juices flowing for his audience. They do the rest.

All this having been said, I would be grateful if the die casters and plastic extruders would set to and give us more stock of ordinary goods in the 1:18th scale. Park benches, lamp posts. fire plugs, pillar boxes, wheelie bins and rubbish tins, ordinary motor-car tyres, Belisha beacons, road signs, witches hats, and such. I would love a set of plastic or concrete temporary barriers and a portable light bank. And a complete set of traffic lights and crossing beacons for an intersection would sell like hot cakes!

Trash And Treasure Is Never Treasure

We have all gone to the Trash And Treasure, flea market, retro market, bring and buy, parish jumble sale, or weekend market in our time. Some of us have picked up bargains – the rest have picked up garbage. The really fortunate ones have picked up a bacterial infection and vowed never to do it again.

It is a basic feature of human psychology – that desire for a good buy. If it can be a swingeing bargain or a criminal rort, so much the better. But it does lead us down some dark passageways of the soul:

a. We seek for these El Dorados of dreck in the worst places. Council car parks on Sunday morning when we otherwise we could be asleep in bed or awake in the arms of a lover. It is the unwashed bottom of the top of the morning – either cold and wet or hot and distressing, and we’re out there looking for bargain clothespegs? Sheesh…

b. We deal with people we would avoid under any other circumstances. To a man, or woman, they have the look of wolves fattened on babies. None of them love us, and we do not love them, and the emotions are entirely justified from either side.

c. We do not need what we seek. We do not seek what we need. It is all greed or grot.

d. Just as Quentin Crisp eventually had to admit that there was no great dark man, we must eventually admit that there is no great dark treasure to be found. We can’t even find Quentin Crisp.

e. We do need the money in our pocket that we think we do not need. Just today a letter arrived from the water supply racket telling me that the state government will remove a subsidy they used to give to old people to help them pay for water. The money will presumably be given to mining magnates or their bankers. I now need to save my money for water. I would like to make water on the state government…

f. The things discarded by others were discarded for a good reason. They are ugly, broken, useless, poisonous, sad, or superfluous. What they are for others they will be for us, but doubly so because we spend real money on them. And if we want to resell them we will have to return to the garbage sale and become the persons we bought it from to get even a pittance back. Do we really want to exchange our souls for that?

g. We can live without it. We lived without it until we arose this morning, and we can make it through to the evening without it.

h. No-one looks cool at a junk market. Sellers, buyers, pickpockets, etc…All have a patina of naff on them, that they could have avoided assuming by staying home and doing something useful.

Well, that should make Sunday morning a lot more fun. See you at the markets?

1440 New Customers For You Each Day

Think of it. Every day there are 1440 new customers available to make your business a success*. And the best part is you do not have to pay marketing research organisations or social-marketing firms to access this bonanza – these people are provided by Heaven for you. We have the solemn word of one of the most successful marketers of the 19th century on this.

You may be thinking that your business might not fit into the demographic, or target planform, or mimeographed list on the local IGA notice board – and that as a consequence you will miss out on connecting. You need have no fear – it does not matter what you are selling, or giving away with a small charge for shipping and handling – with 1440 new clients each day – and that includes Sunday – you cannot fail to make a profit each and every day

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling sanctity or saccharine – whether your scheme involves animal, vegetable, mineral, or morality – you will find a mental string that can be plucked. Once it begins to vibrate, their money loosens and flies out of their purses and wallets. And once it flies your way, all you need is a fish net to scoop it up.

Often, just a simple paragraph will pluck enough of these mental strings to set up the sound of a full orchestra. Try this:

Are you worried about your children being exposed to secret black government helicopters spraying mind-altering GMO gluten trails in the ionosphere? Are your chakras accessing enough ancient vibrational conspiracies by the secret society – and you know who we mean…Are muslim Methodists taking over the air compressor at your local service station? Well, write in NOW for the book that they could not suppress. $ 39.95 plus postage, handling, and taxes ( slightly higher in Washington State and Mississippi ) will free you from your dependency on Big Parsley forever. You owe it to your grandchildren. And they have debt collectors to see that you pay.

Are your strings vibrating? Sounds like Berlioz on speed, doesn’t it? Well we can put you onto this same gravy train of gravitational unified energy fields – and if you build the fields, they will come. Some of them come several times. And you can purchase full HD video of it. Who said marketing couldn’t be fun?

*  One born every minute…

 

 

 

 

The Contented Shopper – Or How I Fed The Family For A Tenner

I am never.

No, never. Never never never.

Never going to go to the local fast food chicken take-out place again. Their rooster can be as red as they like to make it, and it will not attract my money. Not since the local supermarket started to do two full roast chickens for $ 10.

My wife was canny enough to see the bargain and quick enough to snap it up. I immediately froze the two cooked chooks and planned out the campaign.

Day One: unfreeze one chicken. Slice the breast meat and serve it for dinner with $ 7.50 worth of vegetables and fresh bread. Three people fed well for $10

Day Two: soup the remainder of the meat and carcase with leftover vegetables and noodles. Three people fed well for $ 7.00.

Day Three: Leftover soup and bread and cheese. $ 10, perhaps.

And that is how you get Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday  – 6 meals –  for the price of one pub meal…or for the price of two takeout chicken boxes. Admittedly one needs to know how to slice meat and vegetables and how to cook soup, but these things can be learned by attending a $ 500 Jamie Oliver seminar.

And there is still one chicken in the freezer.