Be Kind To The Indian Scammer

I might not have written this a year ago, but this has been an unusual time for us all.

Much more for the Indian population than for the Australian one – and particularly for the people of Western Australia. Sealed away from most of the infection as we are, we can afford to be kind to those who are more exposed…as long as that sealed border exists.

The Indian call scammers are always going to be with us in some form or other. Amazon, Telstra, ATO, DHL…all these names have been used as ploys for scam calls. There will be many more as local business changes. The one constant in the calls seems to be the steam-room noise behind the caller’s voice, the South Asian accent, and the false name given. It is always vaguely European in nature but pronounced so quickly that you cannot be sure you heard it.

The calls dropped dramatically as the Covid 19 virus hit India and some form of quarantine or lockdown happened there. They have now started again, and I fielded my second one just recently. I was not angry at receiving it, nor did I treat the caller with derision. Their plight is bad enough without me adding scorn to it.

Perhaps they will get angry – if they can recover from the Chinese biological weapon that hit them. I suspect they were one of the main targets for this virus, and I cannot imagine that they do not feel the same way. I wonder what the travel time for an IRBM would be over the Himalayas?

Whoops

Whoops. Or whoopsie-daisy for the more formal amongst us. I seem to have made an error.

I was able to recognise it because I remember making one once before – 1959, I think. The things crop up every so often. In this case it was a mistaken coat of paint on a model airplane.

The plane was fine to begin with and so was the paint in the jar, but the application was done thoughtlessly – and the result showed it. A botched piece of art, without even the saving grace of a high price tag.

Mistakes are one thing, mistakes when you know the proper thing to do are another- and I did know what to do because I’d read the proper procedure and had done it before. This was careless error.

I paid for it – with a couple of hours of gnawing dissatisfaction and then a further hour of hard work scrubbing the whole mess off the model with methylated spirits. Yesterday I spent more time carefully re-coating the plane with the undercoat and then carefully spraying layer after layer of thin paint with plenty of drying time between coats. Today there will be further masking and detail painting, and tomorrow I’ll be where I could have been two days ago.

Moral? And it’s one that you can apply to every facet of life:  Do it right the first time or the last time. If you’re smart these can be the same occasion, and then you’ll have more time to do more fun things.

Please Undress In The Cubicle

And present yourself once you are ready.

There seems to be a great deal of fuss made about romance, love, and sex these days that is somewhat superfluous. Not that the subject is not delightful and horrid in equal parts, but the set of rituals that have developed around it are becoming increasingly strange.

Once it was simple. Arrive at puberty, find someone else also at that stage and contract a marriage. Gain permission to live together from whatever relatives were handy, pay a small fee to the local priest for magic words, and start living together. Some societies just did the pairing up for you – you were married to whoever the relatives or ruler said you would marry and that was the end of it.

Now you need to meet, fall in love, romance each other, inspect the goods, try the mechanism, and get a lawyer to draw up deeds specifying who gets the cat if you divorce. This is time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and no-one ever asks the cats’ opinion.

If you decide to skip the legal bit you’ll be presented with it later – and neither side will be happy with the division of anything. Dividing the cat will be the most distressing aspect, not least to the cat.

There must be an easier way. Of course fundamentalist societies revert to Plan A and then fight it out from there on. Hippy societies have no plan, and still fight it out, but with a messier result. We need the intervention of the Vulcans and their logic to solve the problems.

I propose that before the ship of eternal marriage sets sail, the local authorities inspect the lifeboats. There must be an adequate provision for alternate lovers and/or spouses before the first lot are wed. It should be simple to draw up a list of secondary and tertiary partners to whom the prospective lovers will be sent in case of a breakup. If these individuals are taken up in the meantime suitable alternatives must be inserted into their planned marriage contracts. That way there is no uncertainty about where the affections will be directed or the infections  contracted.

 

What Is The Difference Between A Harpoon And A Lampoon?

The latter hurts far more than the former and its effects can last for centuries. If it is well done, you can bleed for 400 years – well after you are dead.

Making fun of – or mocking – someone is a very serious business. Far too serious a matter for laughter. In many cases any attempt at fun merely obstructs the process.

We all learn it early on – the schoolyard bully’s taunt is the first intimation that all will not be well in life. If we are lucky, we can throw it off as mere noise – if we are less fortunate it may colour our days far longer than anything else. Some people carry this sound with them well into adulthood and it can either cripple or energise them.

The adult mockery we encounter may be much more subtle – the slight, the sneer, the show of status. These can all tell upon a sensitive soul – as they are meant to –  and give a feeling of gloom and despair to any social occasion. But what is one to do? What to do..what to do…?

a. Fight fire with fire.

Mock back. Every person has a sensitive spot that will send a pain to their brain. Find it and press it.

Once you are sure of it, press it publicly, repeatedly, with plenty of witnesses.

b. Fight fire with oil.

Become smooth and conciliatory. Soothe the taunter with praise for their personality, looks, wealth, and power. Do it so well that people will think you are best friends and then discount all that the taunter says as mere badinage.

c. Fight fire with water.

Burst into tears. Weep at the scorn that is poured on you. Do it well and few spectators suspect the slice of onion in your hand and will look upon your tormentor with contempt. Prepare to be consoled with brandy and sympathy.

d. Fight fire with insulation.

Ignore the taunt. Smile and offer the taunter a slice of bread and butter – or a small pamphlet on monetary reform. Keynesian economics will quell the loudest mouth.

Popping The Question

A quick glance at a Facebook post…a young technically-talented swain proposed marriage to his light-of-love  by making an animation that was played on a large motion picture screen. All went well and she accepted his troth. It made a charming little show.

Consider what would have happened if she had said ” No “. Or turned and popped him one on the beezer in front of the rest of the crowd.

Proposing marriage – like confessing a sin, propositioning for carnal pleasure, or suggesting that someone invest in a time-share apartment in Brisbane – is wiser done as a private thing. The reaction of the other is not guaranteed and if there are people to see and hear it, the situation goes from romance to embarrassment very quickly. It is the sort of thing that marks one indelibly for ever after. And that’s the case with either answer.

I am not an anti-romantic. I love a good bended knee and ring box and gasp of delight. I can freely weep in a cinema when I see someone kneeling and getting boxed in the ring, particularly if it Sylvester Stallone. I gasp in delight.

But I also remember my own proposal of marriage. It was done privately, accepted privately, and announced publicly when we were sure of our own feelings. It seems to have lasted some 48 years so far, so it must have been a good thing to do…

 

Make Small Talk

Being a social creature is hard work for some of us. We dwell largely in isolation – in my case within a loving household – and we encounter others on a more distant basis. Hardly anyone is a mortal enemy, but by the same token, there are few extremely close friends. Most people are one or two steps removed from this core contact.

Do not be sad or disapproving of this…above all don’t regard it as unnatural. Moray eels have few drinking buddies but live perfectly adequate lives. And no-one feels bad about moray eels.

The thing is, we do venture out occasionally and we meet other people. I don’t mean in the wrong lane in the car park – this is not uncommon in a suburb with SUV’s. I mean at parties, meetings, and workplaces. We need to communicate with them but we may have lost the skill of doing it through long inattention. This Covid 19 year is particularly likely to distance us, if we are lucky.

What do we say when we do meet – 6 feet apart? The safest conversation of all is small talk. Here’s a list of topics and intros to get you going:

a. What about the weather, eh?

This will start a banal exchange that can be broken at any point if someone comes in with a plate of snacks. Feel free to ask if it’s hot enough or cold enough for you.

If you are in New Zealand substitute the word “climate ” for “weather “. Mentioning wethers in New Zealand can start a whole different conversation and you may be startled at the turns it can take – particularly if the Kiwi is the romantic type.

b. What about those Knicks, eh?

Apparently there is a basketball team called the Knickerbockers and people are interested in seeing them throw orange balls through hoops. If they were called the G-strings I could pay attention, but as it is I can throw orange balls through a hoop in the back yard myself so watching professionals do it is pointless.

Professionals in G strings would rivet the attention, mind.

c. What about that election, eh?

Well there’s always an election in the offing, no matter where you live. It may be honest and fair or not – it makes no difference  – because whoever you are talking to has the correct political opinion anyway and is either elated or incensed by the whole thing. Just wind them up, let them go, and nod sagely every 30 seconds. You will gain a reputation as an astute political expert.

Don’t get caught turning your hearing aid off.

 

 

Being Fruitful And Multiplying

This is apparently a good thing, and recommended by a number of religious texts. In the nature of religious texts, they are being delicate and trying to mean one thing by saying another. Generally being fruitful means having sex, getting pregnant, and giving birth. Fruit has very little to do with it. A tomato is a fruit and the thought of tomatoes and sex is a little disturbing.

Now multiplying suggests that the sex business causes a numerical increase all out of proportion to the two bits that are put into it at the start. I’m not going to explain the process, but I can assure you it takes more than two bits. For two bits you don’t get any sex at all. Try pricing flowers, dinner, and bottle of wine these days and see what sex costs. And remember that you sometimes need to do sex several times to get a result – It’s like trying to start an old computer or a used car. Press that starter and pump it with your foot…

But you cannot exist on fruit alone. You need vegetables as well. Very few passages in the religious texts deal with vegetables, which I think is a sore failure on the part of the ancients. It leaves vegans sort of out in the cold, sex wise.

I do not intend to lower the tone of this column by making zucchini jokes.

When Someone Is Full Of It

You’ll meet people from time to time who are full of it.

The ” it ” may be knowledge, opinion, bullshit, malice, love, or salted caramel ice cream. You can recognise the condition by the sight, sound, and smell of them. The fact that you can see their problem means you have a problem. The problem is problems demand solutions  – and we are fools enough to try to provide them.

In truth, any overweening thing in someone else is still largely in them. The overweening portion is just the foam coming out of the top. You can generally ignore the foam, but if you seek to open up the rest of them you may have more trouble than you can handle.

Someone is arrogant? Well, that’s their character and their problem.

As long as that arrogance does not take money out of your pocket or skin off your nose, you can leave them stuffed with it. If anything, it acts as a good counterpoint to your own gentlemanly or ladylike behaviour. You look good beside them.

Someone is full of political opinion? It doesn’t match your own? Fine.

You can still exercise as much political power as they can every time there is an election and your weapon aon the field of battle is the same as theirs; a pencil stub in a cardboard booth. They may choose to bray their vote but your private one counts just as much  – pencils are silent.

Someone is religious and you’re not…or irreligious and you are? Relax.

Reflect that neither of you know whereof you speak in any real or scientific sense. You both commenced and will eventually both cease…and the sun has risen in the east and set in the west  all that time without your help.

The only time when you might be wise to interfere is when someone is full of sadness. You might not be able to relieve it entirely but it’s a good thing to try a little. Sometimes this is an active thing and sometimes it is passive. Sometimes just leaving makes others feel better…

I Need To Talk To Me

But will I listen?

Taking advice from yourself is not as easy as you might think. Sure, you’re available 24/7 to consult, but by the time you’re an adult, you will have grown accustomed to the sound of your own voice and you might have gotten into the habit of ignoring you.

The best way to break this is to find something that you can deal with that really does benefit you. Then tell yourself to do it, do it, and realise that you were right. Back slapping congratulations might throw out a shoulder, but you can be quietly proud.

My latest revelation to myself is to realise that when someone says or writes something to be annoying…and it succeeds in annoying me…they benefit and I lose. And every recollection of it just renews the distress.

The thing to do is to block the annoyance. You can do this on the crudest level by blocking the pest. Drop their acquaintance, real or electronic. Do it for a day, a month, or forever more. If someone is such a pain as to provoke this, you will not regret their removal.

A more sophisticated method is to let them continue holding forth but cease noticing the attempt. Regard them as you would a maniac howling at the moon. Nearly all comments, however delivered, can be ignored.

If you have time and patience you can respond minutely to each irritation. Do so blandly, politely, and literally. Never ignore them, never ignore their grammar or spelling. Politely correct them, and suggest that they are wrong…but you forgive them. You’d be surprised how fast people flee from you when you forgive them publicly.

Varnish Or Tarnish – A BGA Guide To The Reputation

Your reputation is the opinions or beliefs about you that other people hold.

These are not concrete things, unless you are the head of Holcim. They are someone else’s assessment of you, and can be coloured, changed, influenced, or bought. A wise Guild member knows how to manipulate a reputation from both ends – clean and dirty.

If you have a spotless reputation amongst the respectable people of the town – if you have never been detected in any questionable activity or associated with any unfortunate outcome…congratulations. You have a valuable trading asset. You can spin this carefully to generate a steady income, and if you are not greedy, the lustre of it will only increase as time goes by. Everyone loves a winner, even when he tramples them into the dirt.

If your reputation is spotty – or rather if it is markedly different amongst separate groups of people – you need to step more carefully. You are past the point of being the stainless banner that can float on high. But you can still be Old Glory to selected people. If the people who you wish to respect you are important or rich or good looking, do all you can to preserve their good opinion.

If you are admired by the demimonde or worse, you can also benefit, but remember that they do not have as many assets that you can acquire. Keep their friendship only insofar as they can do good for you – once they prove to be worthless, inform on them to the police. If you can derive no reward even from this, introduce them to noted religious and cultural figures and retire discreetly. You never know when they’ll prove amusing.

If you have what could only be described as a rotten reputation – if no-one has a good word for you, no matter how low they themselves are on the social ladder, rejoice. From here on in you can do no wrong.

Of course, all you do is wrong – that’s what reputation and opinion trade upon; judging you guilty for every word that you utter and every silence you hold. I mean you can do no new wrong. So there is no need to judge yourself at all.

Do what you like. If it is horrible, it is only what was expected. If it is charming, kindly, and good, you are also deeply wrong…but your critics can take no notice of it for fear of having to backtrack. You can make someone happy and the critics will feel worse than before.

It’s worth being nice, just to spite ’em.