The Eco-Friendly Claymore Mine

Every time I turn to the social media pages, there seems to be something that is eco-friendly – whether it is eye makeup or a motor car. And oddly enough, each mention of this wonderful property seems to be connected with an offer to sell me that product. I am starting to see a pattern.

I wonder if it would be a good thing to extend this to items – like the standard claymore mine or phosgene artillery shells – that are normally looked upon with horror. They need a better press and perhaps the idea of making them green is a good one.

Of course pedants will point out that claymores and gas shells are already green in colour, but this is merely playing with words. We want to make them desirable on an environmental basis. Given the fact that they are designed to kill, this may be a hard thing to do, but spin doctoring is a skilled profession – just ask the practitioners who attend the American president.

Let’s start with the phosgene gas shells. Okay, they have been estimated to have caused 65,000 casualties in WWI, but that was 100 years ago and surely no-one would remember that now…In any case, it was used by the French and we could always show pictures of a girl in a french maid’s uniform to make it seem a lot nicer. And remember that it is a valued industrial compound for other chemical manufacture. The fact that it is sitting in artillery shell…in some cases very old artillery shells…is just incidental. If we paint them pink we can probably sell them as sex toys.

The claymore mines are another thing entirely. They’re pretty new and much more likely to find their way into the hands of school children and people at senior citizen centers. Indeed, there are few better ways of clearing pesky teenagers off your lawn if yelling at them from the porch doesn’t work. They also keep your walkway free of religious callers and pizza delivery people.

What the manufacturers want to do is develop a claymore that does not spit out steel balls when fired – just a humongous blast of flame. These could be supplied in packs of ten at the local Home Depot store for use as snow clearing devices in northern cities. You open the front door on a snow day when a drift has buried your walkway, place the mine on the doormat, and squeeze the clicker. WHOOMP! Clean sidewalk. Think of the number of heart attacks this would prevent in middle-aged people.

Also on the cards would be a festive claymore for the Latin countries. Brightly decorated  and filled with Jaffas and Skittles instead of the steel balls, they could be hung in the trees and detonated during the fiesta instead of a pinata, No more danger of blindfolded little children swinging bats. Might be a good idea to reduce the charge in the candy ones to prevent melting the chocolate…Olé!

 

 

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Le Coup – Quatrième Colonne

The social cut is so long-standing as to have gathered a set of rules governing its use. They are as useful today as they were in the 18th and 19th century – people may have cars, computers, and cash these days but they are basically the same inside as they always were. If you doubt this get an old copy of Gray’s Anatomy and a scalpel, but don’t blame me if the police intervene.

a. Le coup absolu is a direct confrontation between two people where one does not acknowledge the other in any way. It can be devastatingly insulting and if seen by others, socially demeaning.

b. This form of cut must be deliberate and obvious to the victim.

c. Gentlemen must never cut a lady.

d. Unmarried ladies are not to cut married ladies.

e. The social cut cannot be employed within military or naval circles. While this is not a rule adhered to entirely, the good of the service requires that all instances of it are either suppressed or addressed.

f. Hosts cannot cut their guests.

g. Cuts cannot be done indiscriminately or for light purpose. They could have serious consequences for both parties – if between equals the cut may provoke a challenge and if between disparate classes it might redound badly. Some social cuts destroy careers and marriages.

There is little enough general society these days – the class system having realigned itself around money rather than birth – and the population having grown so much as to diffuse contact and/or interest. People can get fame or notoriety, but it is rare that enough people focus upon them long enough to grant them real respectability. To get this, one must go into the smaller divisions of organisation – the social club, the hobby group, the sporting association. You might even need to go down as close as the family before you find respect or notice.

Thus the loss of social status that someone who was snubbed might have felt in 1850 does not generally exist now. It might still be operating for someone who has been suspected of a major crime but has escaped conviction – they may find themselves refused entry to the social scene they once frequented. People might avoid them in public. They might find that their careers are blighted. The curse of widespread modern communication and the free interchange of information might also mean that they cannot find rest or respect elsewhere. Mind you, Cain had his problems too…

But snubbing, cutting, and general exercise of hubris may backfire. The story of Beau Brummel’s snubbing by the Prince Regent is well documented in Wikipedia. It notes the reasons why it was done and his rather foolish reaction – judge for yourself when you read it. The Prince Regent was seen as abusing his power and Brummel had enough social steam to ride it out. Of course Brummel’s own lifestyle could never be sustained and he was lost to France and debt…but take it as a lesson to be careful who you cut and why. If you do it unnecessarily you do it wrong.

 

 

 

Le Coup – Troisième Colonne

This column should really be subtitled ” Le Coup Numerique ” as it deals with the social cut on digital media. This was not an option in the 19th century, but I’ll bet they would have had a ball with it…

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al – seems to be an electric slate onto which nearly anything can be written. Better still – anything can be drawn, cut, or pasted. The sources of the postings can be as truthful as mathematics or as false as marketing. It is all grist for the mill and the mill is speeding up.

If you wish to cut someone publicly on Facebook, you can. The vilest insults and coldest sneers can be typed out and sent with one press of a button. The fact that you may get a reputation as a troll is neither here nor there – you might live under a bridge and welcome any notice taken of you…

But this is not the most sophisticated use of the medium for the coupeur…the best tool is found in the settings that decide who remains within your electronic circle of friends. It has always been possible to de-friend people on your list – and to block approaches from others. It’s now possible to ” snooze ” contacts for 30 days, though this is more a cooling-off mechanism for you than for them.

Perhaps the best analogy for the social media site is that of a cocktail party. You would do best to be bright and cheerful whilst attending – not to cut people dead when there – and not to start awkward discussions about sex, politics, or religion. That makes you a welcome guest, and one who gets more invitations.

If you wish to be a curmudgeon, backstabber, or villain, get yourself a WordPress page and start writing a regular column…

Note: I have used the Facebook de-friend option five times myself. To some extent it was an over-reaction and a misunderstanding of the mechanism. In the future, I think I’ll just use the ” block ” option for this social platform. It will do the business more politely.

 

Le Coup – Deuxième Colonne

The written coup is a more interesting intellectual exercise than the spoken one – requiring as it does the same motif but adding the need for writing ability, opportunity, and method of delivery. It can be a rarer and more dangerous thing.

a. Direct letters from you to the person you wish to cut are not very common. Few people choose to send a direct confrontation that brooks no misunderstanding. Letters expose your intention, and can be kept for evidence. They invite return communication in a way that a spoken cut does not.

They have the advantage of being private if you so direct them – registered mail to be signed for with an external note that it is private and confidential usually succeeds in this. Placing a sealed envelope directly into the hand of the victim is even surer.

Any disclosure of the contents is then for the recipient – they may wish to explode publicly or privately. But they cannot accuse you of defamatory publication.

b. Public posting is much more dangerous, as it can lead to legal action. If you make your cut public knowledge you cannot retract it or hide it – the best you can do is make it vague. This is the basis of any number of social media posts.

Some people do need public posting, particularly if the public needs protection from them. This is rarely the job of a private person, though, as they generally do not have all the facts of a case, and in any case do not have the authority of police or court to back them up. In all instances it is best to discuss it with the staff at the police station desk and be guided by their advice.

c. Official complaint is not really within the purview of this column’s subject, but if you need to make one, make it through the correct channels if possible. Start low and polite and if you are taken notice of – be satisfied with that. Quit there. If you are ignored, go one step higher, but still be polite. Arm yourself with the name and rank of whoever failed to address your first approach. You may find that you have to climb many administrative steps to get to a real response, but remember that in Australia a real response is possible.

If you are a crank, ignore the above advice.

 

Moving On With Life

Recently I met someone who told me that they were moving on with their life. They’d gotten to a point where the older associations and interests no longer satisfied them. They were going to seek new things.

I recognised the feeling – it has happened to me on a number of occasions in the past and I suspect it will happen again in the future. I am not sure if this means life for me will be better or worse, but in any case it will be different.

Breaking ties to the past can be problematical – it’s not just the mafia that is hard to leave – many innocent social groups are just the same. We need to observe some niceties when we do:

a. Do your changing for yourself – not for someone else. By this I mean do not leave friends or family because someone else tells you to. Whether your departure is a good idea or a bad idea, it must come from you alone.

b. Do not leave mad. Even if you are angry, repress this so that no-one is subject to it. You can discharge it elsewhere another time. If there is to be any leave-taking do it upon friendly grounds if at all possible. At least try for civility.

c. Do not announce your leave-taking generally. There may be some people to whom it is politic to make your congé, but these are generally very few these days. There is no nobility any more, and the people you need to deal with are officials or employers. There are accepted forms of severance and you would do well to observe them.

d. Do not expect mourning or great consternation. That might be evidenced if you were to die tragically but then you’d never see it. If you angle for it to gratify your ego while you are still here, you’ll be horrified to find it does not exist. The world turns without you very well.

e. Make no explanations, provide no justification. If there are reasons, they can remain within you and make you a stronger, better person in the future. You really only need to account to courts and the ATO, and if they are not involved, the rest is a private matter.

f. Leave no debts. If anything is demanded of you, consider whether it is justified. Whatever you honourably owe, pay. If you do not owe anything, smile and decline.

g. Do not return. If you think yourself improved by leaving a social circle, consider that you may also have improved that circle by your decision. Don’t go back and spoil the thing.

h. Go out and begin afresh in the social scene. You have learned a great deal about other people and, hopefully, something about yourself. Make use of the knowledge.

i. If you meet old companions, partners, acquaintances, group members in the future…and you will… be gracious. They’ll think better of you, and so will you.

 

BGAcoin – The Crypto Currency That’s Gentle On The Stomach

Are you ready to become rich? Are you ready to become famous? Are you ready to become legendary?

Are you ready to lose your shirt?

Well, now is your time. The Backstabbers Guild of Australia has just prepared its first $ 500,000,000 of BGAcoin and it is ready to be mined. And the good news is you do not need to understand economics, bitcoins, cryptocurrencies, or bunko games to join right in. The BGA is ready on the line to take your money right now…no questions asked.

You may be a little wary of the whole cryptocurrency thing…though if you are like most middle-class people you would be loath to admit it. After all, who wants to be Left Out – or worse – left out of the barbecue conversation when crypto currency conversation starts up. Fear not – the only thing you will be left out on with BGAcoin is a limb…to dry.

You may have heard a great deal about how secure cryptocurrency is because it used a block chain. The people who invented this will tell you how good it is. No problemos. They will be able to explain how secure it is until you lose interest in the question and go into a daze. The BGAcoin designers are ready on the other side of the daze to assist you to spend.

Now about when you will be getting that million. As Joh Bjelke-Petersen used to say ” Don’t you worry about that, Girlie…” and wasn’t he always right in the end? The BGA will see you right. She’ll be apples. No worries, mate. Bewdy. Bonza. Coo-ee.

And finally, remember that you will be taking your place in history with all the investors who speculated in tulip bulbs in Holland, in ventures with the South Sea Company, or in basketball cards. It’ll be a cheap enough way to ensure that you are remembered far into the future, even after you are forgotten. People may point at you and laugh, but at least they will notice you for a short time.

And isn’t that what money is all about?

 

The Valley Of The Shadow Of Debt

I am astounded at the literature that floods into our mail box that promotes and endorses indebtedness. It seems as though it is written in English, but is entirely divorced from the roots of the culture.

I look back at the folk sayings and aphorisms of earlier times:

Franklin:           ” A penny saved is a penny earned “.

” Rather go to bed without dinner than rise in debt “.

Folk saying:       ” Out of debt, out of danger “.

Emerson:             ” A man in debt is so far a slave “.

The pamphlets and letters would have me borrow money from powerful institutions so that I might possess a boat, or a luxury car, or go on holidays to Europe. I should borrow this, incurring a solemn legal debt, and then be required to give them guarantee of my house or other possessions against a repayment – a repayment that would command a fee that is 20 times the interest rates paid on bank savings.

I have been sent a plastic card that allows me to run up a debt that is equivalent to half my annual income – upon much the same basis. It is tough plastic but fortunately you can cut it into pieces with tin snips.

I am immensely lucky in several things; a loving family, a secure house, a modest capital. I am also lucky in the fact that as I get older the desires for debt-trap goods has reduced to practically zero. I regard boats with no interest, I have an adequate little car, and I can see all the Europeans I want in Melbourne, the city of Stirling, or the Swan Valley. Fine dining for me is my own cooking and as I am retired, every day is a holiday. I should not flaunt smug in the face of my friends, but I will certainly do so in the face of financial institutions that wish to enslave me.