Chisel, Chisel, Chisel…BOOM!

Haggling and bargaining is more common in Australia than it was 30 years ago. I won’t say from whence came the practice, nor to where I wish the practitioners would go, but let me record my admiration for Japanese commercial culture – the price stated on their retail goods is the price that is paid. Would that this were the norm for other people.

Haggling is also known in Canada as chiselling – and it has a bad connotation for many of us. We put up with it when necessary, but it is the sort of behaviour that causes us to reconsider whether or not the sale itself is necessary.

I recently put some items up for sale on the Gumtree site. A couple of items sold, a couple of them did not – one piece was offered as a trade or swap and it resulted in a very pleasing bargain for both myself and the other party. I’m delighted with the model airplane I got in the swap.

This cycle of ads brought what I can only describe as an onslaught from another would-be buyer. The price asked in the advertisement was routinely halved by him. And then on each refusal he upped it by $ 5. A final price given from me was underbid by – you guessed it – $ 5. All the while urgent messages came that he would call in in half an hour, etc.

Upon reflection, I went back and scrubbed the price from the advertisements and substituted an offer to trade the goods for unbuilt model airplane kits. It worked a treat before, and it might work again – and no more $ 5 haggling. I added more goods into the offer.

Today I got a message from the chiseller. Was I still interested? He was figuring that I was under some sort of pressure and would cave in overnight. I’m actually curious to see if he reacts at all to the new terms of engagement or whether he realises that he chiselled himself out of a good deal by being greedy for $ 5.

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Shopping For A War – Part Three – Lemme At that Keyboard…

Well, if you have decided not to get physical in your search for a fight, why not pull up the laptop and start being obnoxious. The worst you’ll get is unfriended and you might very well be able to ruin someone’s whole week from the comfort of Mum’s basement.

Note: Mum’s Basement is a cliché. The best work is done from a warm den, surrounded by cups of coffee and plates of chocolate biscuits. It helps to have a pin board up on one wall with lists of victims .

Are you right? Not political Right – I mean are you correct – at least as often as you are wrong? Would you like to improve the score? To be right more and more often? To finally be right all the time? The internet will be your  playground, then, and if you are good at what you do, it can become a killing ground. Literally, if recent news reports are to be believed.

Find a group of people who will read your work. Pick a topic that will arouse them. Choose whether to be righteous or cynical in your posts, but do not switch between the two settings – this will just confuse your audience.* Rouse them to passion with whatever you write, and then note which ones rouse easily. These are your go-to readers when you need a quick fix of righteous indignation or virtue. Don’t be ashamed of this – we all need a shot of caffeine, alcohol, or praise every now and then.

Play on your simpler readers as much as you like – they’ll generally respond predictably and you can keep them going with a very small maintenance dose of smarmy memes. They may not be humourous people in themselves, but they can recognise humour in others and condemn it. Remember that you can always wave a flag, poppy, or cross and get a healthy shout of approval.

Then try for the harder targets – the readers who are more intelligent and/or sophisticated. They will need more careful cozening and subtler stimuli. Do not expect them to boil and explode as easily as the base layer, but you’ll be surprised how rewarding it is when they finally do go off. Then you can chide them for lack of self-control.

*  And confused readers are likely to switch off and go to the refrigerator.

 

Shopping For A War – Part Two – The Pub Fight

Is there a bloodpit pub, tavern, or hotel in your town? Pretty well certain to be one – every settlement has the place that you really don’t want to go to.

Well, go. Go on a Saturday night about 10:30 when the greasy food and stale beer have soaked well into the regulars, the football game has just wound down, and the drunks are looking for a fight. If you are identifiable as any particular social class, colour, or race, choose a place that is packed with people who are not the same as you.

Go in and find a fight about to start. Two yahoos – or stock brokers – weaving and cursing and squaring up to each other. Leap between them and command them to stop. Tell them that you are disappointed in them and that order them to behave themselves. Call them bad names to get their attention.

Do you like grapes? Because they are in season right now and the hospital will let us bring them into the wards when we come visit you.

You may wish to review the situation while you lie there in the bed. Why did you go into that pub ( aside from the fact that I told you to…)? If you were looking for a quiet drink , why did you pick the bloodpit? Every town has a bottle shop and you could have sat at home and drank without getting punched.

Did you want to be a missionary? A martyr to save the souls of the delinquent? Well, most of the delinquents will never be saved and certainly not on Saturday night.

Or did you want to find a fight you could win…and picked the wrong one? Were you planning to be the bully of the schoolyard and found out that you were not? Is the condition of your eye and your teeth a just reward for your own aggressive desires? What the hell did you go to the bloodpit for?

Never mind. Now you can plot revenge upon your assailants. You have enemies that you can be mean to – and your stitches will act as justification in your own mind for any act of nastiness you care to think up. You are good – they are bad. Simple as that, eh?

Tomorrow – carrying this attitude over to the internet.

Shopping For A War – Part One – The Battleground

Nothing to do with politics or the military here, folks. Everything to do with human relations on the internet.

I count 224 souls on my Facebook list but have no idea whether some of them are really still there. There are a couple of greyed-out profiles that may indicate that they have signed themselves off – one hopes only from the social site. A few more are on semi-permanent do-not-follow status that is only breached when I get bored and curious. In some cases they have always rewarded me with the same behaviour that got them unfollowed in the first place and have been hung back on the rack.

Several more are popped into snooze mode during special occasions like the current federal election. Once this is over and their sense of electoral outrage simmers down they will be worth looking at again.

Note: I have no idea how many people have locked me in the social media bathroom at any one time. I just write and broadcast these little essays and hope for the best. If I get the worst it is just part of the game. If I get the wurst I make sauerkraut and boiled potatoes.

The social media site is a wonderful thing – there is such falsity and barnumistic advertising on it as to suggest that it has no value whatsoever. Yet every day someone makes a valuable contact or comment somewhere and it doesn’t do to remain completely ignorant about what is going over the net. You can ignore Harry Potter and the Game Of Thrones and benefit greatly but you still need your daily kitten fix on Facebook.

Unfortunately for the more modest of us ( And I am always making Modest Proposals. I’m swift with that. ..) there are people who deliberately bait, goad, and entrap on even the kindest of social sites. And we do well to realise it and shape our actions accordingly.

Tomorrow: Picking sides is like picking noses…

 

Bait

Bait is there for a reason.

It is to lure you to bite. Whether you are a fish looking at a tempting worm with a line attached, or a yokel looking at the sheriff’s 14-year-old daughter in a miniskirt, the bait is being presented to lead you to destruction. But these are easy examples – here’s more sophisticated ones.

a. Free Stuff One – ” The 45th click on this website will win a holiday or a caravan or a blender. ” In reality, the click will be collated and sold to advertisers who want to know what your email address is and how to get through it to your bank account.

You click, you lose.

b. Free Stuff two  – If you vote for the Star Spangled Green Social People’s Love And Fairness Party they might get a seat in Parliament. They’ll try to get your vote by promising you free stuff. And then they'[ll try to stay in that seat long enough to qualify for the Parliamentary pension scheme while collecting contributions from the faithful. All the while brating at you to give more.

You vote, you lose.

c. Outrage – you are presented with some dreadful images and tales of outrageous behaviour and are invited to react in a similar fashion. If the post succeeds you identify yourself to the watchers and they watch more closely. And they send ever more outrageous images to either lure you or drive you. Ultimately they look for money from you.

You react – you lose.

The best thing you can do with any of these fishing situations is do nothing at all. Time will reveal whether or not they have ever had any validity – in most cases the bait will shrivel up and disappear. Presumably jerked away by the person or organisation that dangled it, to be replaced by the next thing calculated to sucker you in.

The bait tin is full of worms…

The Ten Commandments – Canadian Style

  1. Thou shalt refer to ice hockey as hockey. Thou shalt keep the festival of the Stanley Cup holy and undefiled.
  2. Thou shalt refer to gridiron football as football and to round ball football as soccer. Thou shalt keep the festival of the Grey Cup holy and undefiled.
  3. Thou shalt revere the salmon.
  4. Thou shalt revere maple syrup and not scream when thou dost see the price that they are trying to gouge for it.
  5. Thou shalt hate the American President and love the Canadian Prime Minister, no matter who they are and what they do, lest they become one and the same person.
  6. Thou shalt revere the CBC and revile the CBS, even if the shows are much the same.
  7. Thou shalt honour the memory of Ypres and Dieppe but not think  too carefully  about what actually happened – nor why.
  8. Thou shalt quake and tremble before the Lord, thy God, or if the Lord is busy at the time, before his deputies – the politicians of Quebec.
  9. Thou shalt apologise.
  10. Thou shalt glory in being right when that occurs and in being wrong when that occurs and film a documentary on both occasions with harmonica or accordion music.

Take these two tablets and if thy people will not heed, come back up the mountain, eh?

Saturday Night Vile

Oops. Darn that Autocorrect.

Oh, well, now that we’ve been committed to it we might as well do the show as advertised.

Our first act will be a chorus of school children who have been bussed in from schools where the teachers want more pay and less singing. They will present a song and interpretive dance for goodness and against badness entitled ” We Are Right And You Are Wrong, So Nya Nya Nya Nya Nya…”. They have the full support of the Nya Nya party, who otherwise would go unnoticed.

After that we’ll be playing our interview with the Prime Minister of Canada who will sing ” Why Is Everyone So Mean To Me? ” and then we’ll be crossing live to Kamahl who will tell him exactly why.

Don’t think that we’ll be ignoring the football panel, though. We have 15 minutes of flashing lights, fast cutaways, and grunting by a stage full of hearty backslappers, so stay tuned.

Now back to the comedy of Boris ” All my friends are dead ” Krapotkin. You’ll die laughing. All his friends did.