The Question

” Can I ask you a question? ”

Sure, go ahead.

” Do you like questions? ”

Ummm. Well, I’ve never really thought about it. I mean – questions just are, if you get what I mean…

” Do you like rhetorical questions? ”

Ah, there I can say a definite No. They always seem such a contrivance. They tend to stop a conversation, rather than start it.

” I knew you would say that, didn’t I? ”

What? If you knew I would say that why did you ask in the first place?

“What would you say if I told you that if you hadn’t answered in the first place you wouldn’t have to ask, now would you? Can’t answer that, can you? ”

My head hurts. Go away.

 

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The Care And Feeding Of Road Rage

People have told me that there is no need to feed road rage – it has its own sources of nourishment. I am astounded by this – when I take my Toyota Crown 2000 along the Old Coast Road at Easter time towing the Blockmore caravan at 35 Km per hour I never see any rage. I’ve taken off the towing mirrors and I never look back.

Recently a person who was a great deal more Asian than I am was behind my little green Suzuki in a grey Subaru – a big one. I suspect I was not going fast enough to satisfy him – though it would have satisfied a magistrate, as it was the legal limit. In the brief glances I took into the rear-view mirror I could see lights flashing and violent gesticulations on his part. This may have been a folk dance, but if it was, the folk were unhappy.

I made sure I kept strictly to the road speed limits and drove safely – using my turn indicators  at the proper distance as required in the Act. My stern companion may not have read the Act, nor approved of it, as he kept repeating his light show. Perhaps there are different rules in the Dutch East Indies or French Indo-China regarding road use, and he has not had time to learn ours. In any case, when he peeled off to do important things elsewhere and I continued on to do trivial things in my part of the world, I reflected upon the lessons:

  1. Road rage sits beneath the surface of many psyches wearing many suits of clothing. You cannot assign it to any one group.
  2. It manifests itself when the practitioner is under stress – they are late – they have had a bad day at work – they are under financial pressure. Stress = rage potential.
  3. The trigger for the rage can be anything that frustrates them. If you drive at the legal speed in a lane within which they wish to break the law, you are target for that rage. They want to gamble with the laws and the Multinova fines. If you prevent this, you are culpable.
  4. The road-rager is better than you. Richer, stronger, handsomer, more powerful, etc. Some of this is in their mind and some of it may, indeed, be true – but if you do not allow them to show it, they are ANGRY. Arrogance only works if it is shared.
  5. You cannot satisfy the road-rager. Not by any means, whether that be defiance, or ignorance, or grovelling apology. The road rage is not directed at you – it is an inward attack that continues until the person has exhausted their fear and sorrow. You cannot make it better.
  6. You can, however, make it worse. If your behaviour has provoked the rage, the best and most sensible thing to do is to intensify it until the emotion rises to the point of psychotic and murderous mania. Until it is fury beyond boundary and stress beyond bearing. Get the road-rager to this stage, judge it accurately, and then slowly motor away. If you can pull into the forecourt of a hospital or police station – both well-provided with security cameras -and quickly go inside, you may be rewarded by the sight of the culprit exploding in the arms of authority. Be kind. Tell them to hold their temper…

Of course it goes without saying that you should make careful note of the licence plates of any offenders – these can be reported to the police or to people who will extract a suitable revenge for a small payment.

 

The Spam Queue

This column attracts spam. As do all the others I write. So, I would imagine, would a note left in a bottle for the milkman – given the ever-reaching greed of internet pests.

Fortunately there is a program that drives away most of this traffic, putting it into a bin for me to empty periodically. I have learned to give the contents only the most cursory glance before flushing it. Once, within a space of a decade, there may be a genuine message leaking into the cesspool. More often the seepage is the other way. I am prepared to lose one real comment amongst the dross.

Like the Indian scam phone callers, I am at a loss to think that anyone could ever be interested enough in these fraudulent pests to ever respond to them…and I imagine that it would only spark a greater onslaught. Yet, the fact remains that they keep coming. This suggests some profit from it for the criminals and therefore some engagement by the unwary. If there is a trail of anything, it will be a trail of money and stupidity.

It is tempting to go on the hike as well. If others can pick an occasional drachma from the pockets of the unwary, surely I can put my hand in there too. I have been able to persuade people to all sorts of folly in the past, and I hope my skills are still with me. It’s just thinking how to do it…

Will they fall for sending me money directly? That’s been tried by everyone from Nigeria to Nunawading, and unless you have  dewy-eyed kittens marching on Parliament House, you are unlikely to access the right level of gullibility. I can be dewy-eyed but kitten suits are hot and itchy.

I could threaten. If they are frightened of the Immigration Department there is a chance that they’ll pay to avoid deportation. If the Taxation Department is their nightmare I can put on my best Jobsworth manner and impose fines left, right, and center. But I have no need of iTunes cards or anything else that might be duped out of them. It’d have to be cash or nothing, and that leaves the operational problem of collecting it. I don’t mind the victims being dumb, but I don’t want to join them.

Perhaps cajoling would work. I could try to shame them for eating meat, or vegetables, or sugar, or really anything…with the absolute certainty that they will feel guilty about something. It’s just finding out that secret shame and whacking it with a mallet.

I wish I was better at begging in rags. I’ve got the rags, all right, courtesy of a lifetime of never cleaning the wardrobe out, but the thought of panhandling in shopping centres leaves me cold. I don’t like the places all that much when I’ve got money, so doing the urban poor act would be even worse.  I suppose I could send out invitations for people to visit me here at home and I could do it in the lounge room, but somehow it doesn’t sound all that promising.

 

I Wish To Buy Some Malware Please…

Good morning. I wonder if your could help me. I want to buy some malware, please.

My in-law’s birthday is coming up and he’s a big fan of computers and video games and mobile phones. I want to get him something that he’ll appreciate and that he can use for years to come.

I’m not worried about the cost, as long as it doesn’t go over the top. I’ve got a budget of $ 200 as this is a significant birthday and we want to make it memorable.  I looked in JB HiFi and the Apple store but all they seem to have is headphones or Bluetooth speakers – I want something a bit more high-tech. I’ve read that malware can reduce unwary people to financial ruin and gibbering madness, and I thought that this would be nice.

Actually, I have no idea what it actually is. Is it a book or something or a tape that you play?  Can you get it on vinyl, because I know he has a record player…I’m sorry if I seem a bit vague, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much to the lady from India who said she was the Technical Department of Microsoft when she rang the other week. After I could not find the thing on the computer that she wanted me to press she just started crying and rang off. I would like a second chance to make her day.

 

 

To A Club Bore

I do not call thee fool or knave, yet you I’d shun as shun a grave.

For in thy head sit thoughts unknown: I speak to brain – I’m dumb to bone.

Your plaints and pleas no fire hath lit – I’ve long despaired of sharing wit.

I long to leave, yet always stay – the clubman’s life is sad that way…

We spend our gold on yearly fee and put in pawn our liberty.

Oh, for the courage to depart – before you break our very heart –

A club’s a fine thing wielded well – but in your hand’s a stroke from Hell.

The bestest hope’s to turn your gaze to other victims – other days –

And slink away despite the taunt – relinquish gold and suffer want.

Find other clubs and other sports – and leave you to your rants and rorts.

I do not mind your sneer or spurn – but Oh, Dear Lord, please let me learn…

 

Your Real Look – Part Three – Colour Or Not

Are you condemned to live your life in greys and blacks? Well, move out of Melbourne…

But seriously – your palette of colour when dressing for your real look can be everything from the grim Collins Street banker’s uniform all the way to the calypso bongo drummer tiki shirt and white slacks – and as long as the thing resonates with your psyche, all is well.

Modern fabrics and tailoring can provide the entire gamut and as long as you do not fall foul of the worst excesses of the fashion runway, you can be happy. As your real look is something you control, you are allowed to make it what you will.

I cannot wear the brightest of the fashion clothing comfortably – it has been bought for me occasionally but in many cases I have carefully routed those garments to the Goodwill without ever donning them, and with no regrets. Equally, I deplore the dead black of the Melbourne winter uniform as tending to make the wearers more miserable in bad weather than they need be.

I have hit upon a brown/green palette for myself and have pursued this for years. I do maintain a couple of grey pinstripes or checks of varying luminosity for formal occasions but these often give way to a deep brown stripe that my father bought in 1960 – it is a comfortable garment if you combine the obviously retro look with suitable shirt, shoes, and hat. I am of an age that can wear this.

Equally, I can wear plaid shirts and straight jeans in brown and green for daily wear and get the benefit of comfort and quiet appearance. I can add braces and not feel out of place. A cap or hat is entirely appropriate – even to a straw hat in summer.

And a man of my age can wear a sweater -sleeved or sleeveless as the occasion might be – with dignity. The only thing one must do is be ruthless and discard or repair sweaters so that they do not look holed or baggy. If you are Einstein you can get away with it but the rest of us have to look better, not smarter.

 

The Boot On The Neck

How many of us have a boot on our necks? I would say most of us – at least most of us within Western society. And in many cases we have paid the cobbler’s bill.

Consider – here, right now, as I type this in Perth, Western Australia – I have the following overlords:

  1. The Australian Federal Government – who will prevent me from selling my land to overseas buyers without scrutiny, from importing cigars without a tax, and divulging military and naval codes. They may also prevent me from tearing a tag off a mattress, for all I know…
  2. The Western Australian State Government – who will regulate my ability to make liquor from toenails and to sell it to prospective clients, and who will also want a tax for every piece of paper I touch. I am not sure if they tax toilet paper, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
  3. The Melville City Council who demand obeisance for every bit of building I wish to do on my lot and who send snoopers with cameras to make sure that what eventuates is to their taste. I look forward to my encounter with the next snooper – I have a camera too and a website that can mock him.
  4. Every trade and professional guild and self-interest group that have gotten a charter from the state government to fix prices and exclude foreigners from their specialty. They have immense and frightening powers – and I am free of them all…having retired.
  5.  The Cat. There is no appeal against the judgement of Cat Meow. If he decides that you will sleep rigid for 8 hours to provide a convenient resting place you must resign yourself to it. So far there has been no demand for human sacrifice but it is early days…
  6. My hobby club. I don’t know yet the extent of the control it will exercise – but there is a constitution with numerous clauses on discipline. Only hobbies could engender such control…

Note that there are no secret societies, religious organisations, or ex-service clubs included in this list. I do not think I could bear the burden if there were. As it is I am doing research to see how I may free myself from passwords or other forms of electronic pavlovism.

Stay calm. I intend to keep my clothes on…