Lifting The Veil of the Universe

You go ahead. Lift away. I’ll just be over here cringing away from the blast…

When things are veiled, there’s generally a good reason. Nuns have veils so that the lustful eyes of men cannot see them. The veils also prevent the lustful eyes of the nuns from seeing men. I’ve read a number of medieval and renaissance tales that deal with this and it seems that veils are not actually proof positive against weapons-grade lust but in our days they do better.

Veils are also used to cover brides. In the old days this was to prevent the bridegroom from seeing the bargain he was about to get. Nowadays the bridegoom has probably seen every inch of the bride, including her X-rays and Wassermann test results. So the veil is really only functional if the church is filled with cynics..

Scientific veils are another thing – many processes, methods, and secrets are veiled – and for damned good reasons. A lot of that stuff’ll kill you. Blast, radiation, and Facebook memes are nothing to play with if you’re not trained. Look upon it as entering into the field of bomb disposal with a screwdriver and a hammer. As careful as you might be…

Political veils are also known as conspiracies – even if there is only one person in the cabal. Whatever you’re going to do is best veiled until you’ve done it, and then the veil should be drawn over the horrid results. The sole exceptions are if kittens are involved – you can sell nearly anything with kittens. Pol Pot should have had his picture taken with cats – he might have survived.

Drawing a veil over financial affairs is actually a job for professionals. Whether they are gangsters, blackmailers, or school administrators, they have a technical knowledge to which we lay-people would be hard-pressed ( as well as ashamed ) to admit. Relax and let the hooks do their work. The worst-case scenario would be you end up broke and dead, and this is generally the plan of Federal government anyway.

If you must draw a veil, draw it over food on a picnic table. There are fewer bush flies than in former years but you still don’t want the potato salad to be moving when you eat it.


The Past Can Pay – Part Two – Research and Rescue

The Royal Canadian Air Force used to use old Lancaster bombers for search and rescue aircraft. They were chiefly used over water, though you have to remember that anything north of Edmonton is all water anyway…frozen and dotted with moose and missionaries, but that’s another story. The Lancasters were not armed while searching and rescuing, but  we’re not so sure about the moose or the missionaries*.

The history retailer can also use this idea to gain material for sale. The trick is to fly out over the vast frozen wastes of the past and look for SOS signs in the snow. When you spot someone who was in trouble or had a grievance you can fly over to them and circle low until you can see whether there is any sign of life. If anything is moving, there is likely a dollar to be made.

Incidents, individuals, and group occurrences in the last few centuries can be very profitable if there is any echo from then until now. The actual thing that happened will not yield anything…unless it was the discovery of a gold-encrusted tomb of the someone…but if you can find survivors, relatives, acquaintances, or debtors of the dead, you can present a bill  and demand payment. In some cases you’ll need to play to the desires and prejudices of the current generation regarding their ancestors, but as long as the originals are dead and gone, it doesn’t really matter too much what you say now – they rarely rise out of their graves and stalk you.

Beware, however, those descendants. If you say what they consider the wrong thing about great-great-Grandad they’ll fee a lawyer to sue you and then the shoe, sabot, or jackboot may well be on the other foot. It is always safest and most profitable to purvey and pander rather than expose and excoriate.

*  There are reports of planes being lost over Edmonton but this is probably not true. The reputation of the place would have served to warn them off.

How Did You Know?

At the local post office I fell into conversation with the lady behind the counter as she clerked through a power bill. We have arrangements here in Australia to pay a lot of our things through the local Post Office and it’s a real time-saver, I can tell you.

Well, being the 2nd of January at the time, we wished each other a Happy New Year and agreed that we had survived the holiday season. We both looked tired. But then I told her not to get too comfortable, as Chinese New Year was coming at the end of the month – the 25th.

She is of Chinese ancestry so I reminded her that it’ll be two more weeks of family celebrations, preparations, food, expense, parties, having to stay up late wishing that everyone would just go home…while smiling brightly. And that she doesn’t qualify for the red envelopes any more because she’s too old – now she has to hand them out…

She laughed, but then looked concerned. How did I know all this? I’m not even vaguely Chinese…

Kid, we all have this sort  of thing – no matter what our ethnicity or culture. 8 days of Hanukkah, 10 days of Rosh Hoshanah, 12 days of Christmas, Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Christmas and New Years slightly offset from all the rest of the country…The poor old Mussies have to go hungry all day for a month and the Hindus and Buddhists probably have something similar somewhere in their own calendars. We all get a season to be ever so jolly and I suspect we all enjoy the first couple of days but then sit smiling grimly until the thing finishes.

One thing to brighten our day, though. You might be sleep-deprived at the end of the fortnight here in Australia, but you’re not stuck on the platform of a Chinese railway station waiting to get home after it.

The Haunting

Forget spirits. Forget vampires. Forget werewolves.

None of them are real. They’re just literary and cinematic devices to get money out of your pocket. But sit and quake with fear about the new haunting. For you will have brought it on yourself…as we all have.

You will have done it when you bought something from eBay. Or used Paypal. Or googled up an online store selling essential oils, crystals, and Krupp artillery fuses.You will have set in train a series of connections that will follow you forever – a ghost train, if you will. The advertisers who lurk in the fetid swamps of the internet will have risen in the miasma and infiltrated your life. They will now pop up everywhere.

You cannot exorcise them. You cannot buy them off. No sacrifice you make will banish them. They are going to pursue you long after the vengeful Furies have let you off the hook. They do not seek your brains, or your soul. They seek your money.

How can you get release? How can you find peace? What can save your sanity?

Just send $ 39.95 to this address in a plain, sealed envelope and the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia will send the envelope straight back to you. It will miraculously be empty, and you can fill it up again. And for a brief period, no-one will try to sell you fidget spinners or pictures of Justin Trudeau in costume. It will be like Heaven, except Heaven is harder to get into than the BGA.

You know it’s the right thing to do.

Aluminium Pan Alley

I listen to the old time radio station here in Perth – oddly enough broadcast from a nearby suburb. Apart from the melodrama serial and the advertisements for used cars and dental implants, most of the rest of it is devoted to music from the 40’s to the 80’s.

Many of the singers are definitely dead, singing to listeners who are nearly so. The announcers hover halfway between the two. They are lovely people; volunteers all. They make enough basic broadcasting mistakes to give hope to all the rest of us.

When I’m listening to the pop song lyrics of the period, however, I can’t help but think that they have missed the boat somewhat. Of course most of the presentations are some form of love song – that was the style. Many are in Southern Fried accents – even if the singers have never been there in their lives. Again – the style. The thing becomes thickest in the afternoon cruising program that belts out rock and roll.

But the lyrics. They mostly rhyme, and if you hear enough of them you can predict what is coming by the word association. If there is a June, there will be a moon, and someone is likely to swoon. Love and doves are a given.

But what if the love doesn’t go to plan. Why not add in ” shove it ” if you are not going to love it? Or why not be frank about it if you have already sung about a heart that must part and just mention flatulence and be done with it.

Hit and bit are going to get me into trouble, but only if you have a mind like mine. Likewise Bird, word, and the successor to the British Crown after George II.

I say we take advantage of the ability to overdub and deep-fake things and put words into the mouths of all those rock and roll and country and western singers who died in drug crashes or plane overdoses. They can’t come back to complain and if we’re fast the Broadcasting Commission will miss it as it goes by.


The Childhood Friend

Are you a child? Do you have friends? Are you aware that one of them will become a famous scientist, one a renowned entertainer, and one a serial killer? That’ll dispose of three, and all the rest will be insurance salesmen, cocktail waitresses, and dry-goods clerks. In your case you’ll be lucky to get out of the neighbourhood ahead of the mob armed with the torches and pitchforks.

Childhood friends are a little like childhood cousins. You get to interact with them and have a sort of a family connection for awhile without being required to save them when they fall down the old well. That’s Lassie’s job. You can watch with interest their future progress and you never have to claim any debit for it – only credit. If they make good, you knew ’em when…if not, you didn’t. And you need not worry about what they think of you because chances are they don’t.

Childhood enemies are similar – but you are not required to be pleased for them when they make good nor grieve for them when they finally end up just like you said they would. Being from the long past, anything they do wrong cannot be sheeted home to you – unlike present work colleagues or acquaintances. There is a bigger circle of blast around people you have interacted with as an adult compared to the ones of childhood.

If you meet an old childhood friend on the road take the Buddha advice. If they claim friendship, run away from them. Remember that when you were young it was no great honour to know you and it hasn’t gotten any better.

Has You Been?

No, I’m not talking about today and the All Bran. Your digestive tract is none of my concern. I’m talking about your career and your past successes. Things that you may legitimately cherish.

But a hint: Cherish them to yourself, in private. You’ll do far better in the social scene if you keep up to date with what is going on and don’t hearken to or harp upon the past. Others may know of your history and celebrate it, but as soon as you join in the praise of you there is a danger that they will fall silent. And eventually so will you, in shame.

It will go even worse for you if you come and cry your decline. It may be real, and if so people will perceive it. You need not tell it like a tragic opera.

I was reminded of this at a trade fair where I met several former practitioners of professional photography who have settled into a pattern of retailing their past business history and bewailing their current retirement and/or failures. I feel for them, but if they continue to tell of the woes of getting old I am tempted to feel for a sharp knife to cure that problem.

It was exactly the same for me after my retirement from dentistry – now when I meet an old colleague I try to celebrate our hard-won escape from the profession and I do not go on as if I pine for it. In truth, I do not, and am pleasantly surprised to find that most of my old classmates are of a similar mind.

I find I can bore people wonderfully with new topics and do not need to use the old ammunition. Most of it was duds anyway.