What Do You Do When The Hero Is A Zero?

We are in an age that presses awkward revelation upon us every day – secrets are laid bare for all to see about our favourite political and cultural figures.

Not a month passes when another icon is not clasted good and proper. And once this is done, they are blasted forevermore – or until someone else wants to sell books praising them at $ 39.95. That’s about the only chance of rehabilitation possible. Forgiveness is only offered when it makes for good press.

I don’t mind the blasting and clasting, as long as there is a shred of truth in it. I do get annoyed when the Russian, Iranian, Korean, or Nazi propaganda machines start to work and grind out endless reams of lies in an effort to swamp our consciousness. And I am rather puzzled as to what to do with the opposite to the blast and clast – if a noted figure is presented to us as a saint, martyr, or popular god – when normal observation would show us that they are not.

No names, no pack drill…but I would include nearly all the rock music, motion picture, and popular culture idols who overdosed on drugs and alcohol, committed suicide in bizarre fashion, or otherwise behaved like fools and morons. They may have been entertaining, if you are entertained by that sort of thing, but their demise seems to rather cancel out all the respect you once showed them. You need not hate them, but equally you need not worship them.

I would also include political idols who prove to be foul beyond recall. Of course you need to be able to judge whether they are so and you’ll need to do so from public record and private revelation, but do make such judgement on real court evidence – not tweets or scandal sheet bleats. A reliance upon hard court decisions and legally-verifiable published record is essential if we are not to be just a baying mob driven by other people’s agendas.

Can you make a moral judgement? You can if you know the difference between good and bad…and I credit most of my readers with being able to do that. If you do know and do judge, have the courage to stand by your convictions – at least while you have evidence that support them. If new evidence is presented and proved to be true, then you may freely change your mind. Just have the honesty to state your new opinion.

Note: I have made bad judgements in the past and need to revise them. I have also made good ones, and need to affirm them.

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Do You High Five The Computer?

No. I point at it and yell ” Bumpah ! ” when I finish writing a knockout column.

Then I put it in the draft section and let it sit for at least a couple of days before I re-read it. If it is still ” Bumpah! ” I can post it. The two days lets me see the typos, and introduces a certain degree of calm into the thing. It also means that sometimes the exclamation is changed to”

” Trasho! ”

Thanks to Mr. W. Rogers, I am taking more of the opportunities to shut up that are presented to me. I hope silence will smooth relations with people in the future and serve as an elegant setting to the occasional flash of diamond-like wit.

Would that world leaders who resort to the mobile phone keypad whenever stressed to send out tweets were as cautious. It might prevent a great deal of angst in the rest of us.

Let Me Tell You…

a. What is wrong with you.

I know what it is, because it is the same thing wrong with me.

b. ANYTHING.

I have a Facebook account and so do you. I can post either the most outrageously false material or provable scientific truths and it’ll pop through on your screen just the same.

c. Everything. About my life, my lunch, and my love affairs. All the little intimate details that I dare not breathe for fear of scandal. I’ll just post them on social media.

You don’t want to know? But, Darling, you don’t understand. This is me I’m writing about…

d. Nothing.

e. Something to your advantage.

This is the classic phrase used in 18th century advertisements in the broadsheets when wicked lawyers wish to find victims for their plots. I know, because I have read novels written in that period. The advantage generally concerns a legacy or a mansion somewhere in the mist.

f. A story.

Once upon a time there was this columnist who reviewed social media every day. One of his late friends was a doctor in a VD clinic and he reviewed social connections every day too – long before the internet existed – and from a different angle. He had the advantage that they issued free rubber gloves.

From conversations with him many years ago I gathered that his opinion of the social behaviours he was called upon to peer at were much the same as the Facebook posts I read. They seemed, sometimes, to ooze…and not with life, either…

g. Goodbye. And a good day to you. I shall have one, in as far as it is in my power to make it for myself. You may choose to do likewise. It will only require a cheerful thought that rewards you or an evil one that succeeds undetected. I shall go cut fuses now…

The Obscene Joy Of Politeness

I used to own about eleven different firearms – from rifled muskets to revolvers to shotguns. There were bayonets and swords and spears and bows and arrows enough in the house to hold a regular historical reign of terror. Yet I never did – I found that none of the weapons ( and that is exactly what they were, despite the mealy-mouthing of the Sporting Shooters Association ) could cause as much accurate destruction as my books of etiquette.

Emily Post can hit harder than a 17 pounder gun. And you can turn her onto anyone – young, old, rich, or poor. She comes with impenetrable armour as well – you fight from a secure position.

Our nation has many rude people. Many crude people. Many people who use obscenity and bluster to dominate all conversations and exchanges. Yet none of them can do the slightest damage to a person who behaves in a gentlemanly or ladylike fashion consistently. Good form and good behaviour is a position from which one never need never resile. They carry the day.

But how can you do this in the face of rude behaviour? By behaving in precisely the same fashion as if the behaviour is polite. Or at least subject each circumstance, person, or conversation to a graded response:

a. If all is well, and the other people are polite, be cheerful, gracious, and friendly.

b. If the situation is well, but the others are cool or standoffish, still be polite. You need not strain cheer past the limits of grace.

c. If the encounter is rude, be civil. Civility is the bottom line of behaviour and can not be criticised later. Keep your responses and actions to those of a reasonable person – as defined in law – and you are safe from the law.

In all these three cases, you hold the upper hand with your response – you give or withhold as the circumstances demand, and if you always treat others better than they treat you, you are the moral victor.

” Guide To Australian Social Interaction “

Or, ” How To Slag, Sledge, And Slur Like A Professional “.

If you are of a delicate constitution, stop reading now, go make a pot of camomile tea, and light an incense candle. If you’re a hardier sort, welcome to the column. Your Australian host will be with you shortly – they’re just whetting the knife at present.

Overseas visitors to Australia are very often treated with deference, kindness, and polite language. We’re cruel that way. It is our method of seeming to conform to standards of gentlemanly or ladylike behaviour while trampling you underfoot. The fact that you never know it makes it even better.

I have seen someone treated this way – indeed I was tempted to be join in and be polite myself, and it is only my better nature that drew forth a vile curse from my lips. The occasion was one that saw a number of Australians and New Zealanders meet and greet in their normal style. Bastards and buggers and shitheads were everywhere, and pleased to be so called. Sheep shagging was mentioned and a person from Queensland was advised on where the pineapple could be inserted and in what orientation.

And in the midst was a person who was not liked at all. It was not that he was not respectable, or rich, or glorious, or famous…he was indeed all these things…it was because he knew it and had mentioned it publicly on a previous occasion. So he was given respectful, formal, lawful greetings whenever anyone had occsion to speak to him. He was ” Mr. So and So “, and ” Sir “, and any number of similar insults. The thing started small but eventually everyone was engaging him in conversation in a similar formal vein – then turning to someone else and calling them an ” Old Bastard “. If he knew what was happening, he never said, but I suspect he did, as he left in a short period of time.

And was never seen in the same company again.

 

” I’m Not Happy…”

Once upon a time my father put a set of plans for his new house in to the local shire for approval. It was a good design and quite legal – though it was an unusual configuration for the time. The clerk behind the desk shook his head and said he wasn’t happy about the ideas he saw on paper.

My father wasn’t offended. He asked the clerk to show him the local building statute that referred to the clerk’s happiness…There was a the sound of growling and rubber stamping and the house is standing and serving me 44 years later. I cannot say what the state of mind of the clerk is – perhaps he cheered up in retirement.

Similarly, I have noted that many people behind counters are not happy. Some, because they are there, and some because I am there. I have learned to do my best to alleviate their gloom by smiling and making whatever request I have small and easy to accomplish. This works well in delis and banks – a simple request for a pie and sauce in the one or a small note demanding cash for the other is all that’s needed. And keep your finger pointed in your coat pocket when you ask.

If you are not happy at home, the onus is generally on you to remedy this. The way you do that can be manyfold – study, work, singing, hobbies, thinking – they’ll all serve to lift your gloom. If your unhappiness is due to another, simply remove them from the home and have the locks changed. If all else fails paint them a bright colour and decorate their edges with chrome trim.

Well, Chicken Little…

You can take the helmet off. The sky has not fallen.

We’re well into the first week of the election that wasn’t won by your party ( and by that I don’t mean a party that you actually belong to. Not a party where you join and pay and do work. I mean one that you thought would be handing out the free stuff. ). And we’ve looked outside and the sky has not fallen.

China has not forced sanctions on Queensland. New Zealand has not stopped taking tourists on trips to see where LOTR was filmed. You can still get spicy tucker in Singapore and pirate DVDs in Bali. And your dole payment.

Things have not changed.

There are some fools gone from the Senate, and new ones substituted. Ditto House of Representatives. There will still be cross-bench members trying to pull the strings in both directions as hard as they can. There will still be witless xenophobic morons holding rallies. There will still be hippie apologists trying to buy an electorate with government grant money.

Things will not change.

Had your favoured party gotten into power, there would have been a little flurry of preening and appointing of party members to special positions. Ambassadorships would have been handed out in exchange for past favours. And then it would have gone on quite the same as before.

Console yourself with your paroxysm of outrage and share a dozen vulgar memes. Vow revenge on the winners. Howl to the moon – it’s good for the lungs. And next week is coming.