The Icono-c/b-last

The English language has this thing for making things seem more important than they really are. ” Iconoclast ” for instance. Look up the definition in whatever dictionary you possess, but the essential thing revolves around the destruction of cherished religious institutions.

Yet no-one goes further – and takes the language of science to construct a word: ” Iconoblast “. The person who sets up or builds these structures. Martin Luther was both clast and blast and probably a hell of a lot of fun at a petting party, as well.

I refuse to destroy people’s faith in established religion. It is cute and colourful and very useful in getting them to give away their money. I support all established religions  – particularly those who collect weekly dues and are prepared to invest that money in Guild activities.

I would, however, like to be a successful iconoblast. If I could set up faithful religious worship of myself – open to all people of good, but dim, character – I could build up a real bank balance. If you look at the current religious societies you’ll see that they possess land, business assets, and treasuries that are rarely accessed and never depleted. I am not greedy – several millions squirrelled away in a secure Swiss bank would do me – and I am more than prepared to dispense salvation, approval, or any other nebulous benefit to get it. If you want to be forgiven, I forgive readily, and issue receipts.

Suppose your crime of sin is so bad – so heinous – so vile as to surpass the limits of human or divine comprehension. Yet you still want to be free of any blame. Let me introduce you the Ye Premium Service…

 

The Short Road Between Disappointment And Despair

Let’s get hypothetical here.

Suppose you learned that a friend had troubles in their life and had decided to address these by going on a wild rampage of senseless violence and bloodlust. And that they had equipped themselves with knives, pistols, bombs, and poisons to do so. And they had stripped themselves of all identity, greased themselves with rancid fat, and donned a Mexican wrestler’s Hello Kitty mask.

Would you be disapproving? Which part of the scenario would call this forth; the trouble, the bloodlust, or the mask? Because this says a great deal about you and your appreciation of life. Early sadness would indicate compassion, in the middle it would be civic virtue, and the last named would be the triumph of good taste over popular culture.

But that was hypothetical. Let’s get down to real life. Other people have troubles all the time, and unless we can end them, we are better off not starting in to interfere. Well-intentioned meddling is still meddling, and rarely comes out well. Though it is often a comfort if you are prepared to go round their house and slip on a banana peel to amuse them. Note: it’s not considered a friendly act to sue them for the peel and the injuries.

The principle of counter irritation is also a good idea. In the old days of medicine a pain was treated by rubbing another portion of the patient with acid or a hot pepper mix – this drawing off the humours and giving them something new to concentrate upon. You can apply this now – when a friend is unhappy go visit them and irritate them beyond endurance on another topic. They’ll forget the original problem in an effort to get at your throat with a pair of scissors, and the time will pass blithely. Try to be close to the door when you do this.

Now we’ve all seen the memes on Facebook that show cats frowning and looking judgemental. Try to pattern yourself accordingly. Do not purr unless absolutely necessary and remember to show people your bum.

 

As Opposed To What?

I shall set up my small wood lathe and turn a truncheon out of hardwood. Sanded, sealed, and polished, with a small brass plaque bearing the title of this essay; ” As Opposed To What? “. I shall carry it with me wherever i go. And when someone tries to tell me, sell me, or smell me, I shall strike them with it.

The number of times I do this will depend on how repetitive they are in their plaint.

All day long I read advertisements from people outside my reach. The newspaper, computer screen, and social media are always telling me what to think or what to buy. I can do nothing about this save binning the rags, blocking the posts, and snoozing the monomaniacs. But when they approach me in person I will have my trusty truncheon o’ cynicism handy in my pocket. As Mae West might have put it…it isn’t a pistol but I’m still glad to see you.

Every shill who wants to extract a shilling – every zealot who wants me as an acolyte – every fellow traveller who wants me as a useful idiot – will be fair game for the T 0′ C. I shall invite them to join the club by the most direct means…

Now, what was it you wanted to tell me?

” I Don’t Have Enough Money “

Well let’s address that problem, shall we?

a. Make some. Get access to a computer with Photoshop Elements, an inkjet printer, and a ream of good quality double-sided matte paper.

Design suitable bills in denominations that you can conveniently spend. Don’t be greedy – few people will have change in the till for a $ 10,000 note and you’ll be standing there forever while they send out for it. Choose smaller numbers -the $ 7.00 bill covers most fast food burgers and you can get a good goon for $ 19.95, so print a bill for that. No need to make the money even-numbered – 5¢ saved is 5¢ earned.

As you are designing your own currency, you get to choose who you feature on the front and what landmark you’d like on the back. There are plenty of politicians in history who have never made it to the money and lots of places that would pay you to illustrate them.

As for whether this is legal tender…well, it certainly is tender…if you can find anyone tender enough to take it in exchange for goods or services. A good money designer who is also a good salesperson will be able to pay for anything based upon the attractiveness of the bill and their own charms. When in doubt, show cleavage.

b. Steal some. This is marginally less legal than ( a. ) above, but can result in coins as well as bills. Church poor boxes, passengers on railway trains, and convenience stores are all traditional sources of ready money – but beware of the church that is more desperate than you are, the railway coach packed with smelly customers, or the corner grocery store run by an old Korean ex-marine who can knock you into next week with a stick. You may well end up paying them to let you loose.

c. Beg some. This is degrading only until you have your first $ 1000 in the bank. Then it becomes a valid form of theatre played to a gullible audience. Hint: don’t have yourself incorporated as a proprietary company and don’t give receipts. It’s efficient but you’d be surprised how the pennies dry up.

d. Inherit some. Those of you with rich old uncles will have this one sussed out already, but  there is still hope for the lonely souls as well. No matter how big you are you can still dress yourself in a nappy, lay down in a basket on the doorstep, and ring the bell. A tearful note pinned to your diaper asking that you be taken in and made prosperous completes the outfit.

It doesn’t work every time. It doesn’t work most of the time. But all it needs to do is work once and you are made. Hint: James Packer’s doorstep is currently unattended. Wait until the light goes on before you wail piteously.

e. Marry some. Go down to the station, early in the morning. See the little gravy trains, all in a row. See the stationmaster pull the little handle. Chug chug, glug glug. Off you go.

 

The WordPress Gang

That joke works on several levels.

If you didn’t get it, here’s a tankard of ale and don’t forget to look into the bottom and see what’s down there… pick it up and peer at it…God Bless The King, and stand up straight, you horrible little man…

The WordPress organisation is a marvellous thing. I wish to praise them unreservedly. Before their activity commenced I would have been stifled. Silenced. Prevented from publishing every stray thought that enters my head and leaves by my fingertips. You would have never known how clever I think myself, and neither would I.

As it is, I can launch these guided missives every day at no cost. Few will see them, fewer care – but the very act of putting the ideas down on the screen does good. In these viral lockdown times, more good than you would think.

I live in a bubble of self. You may do too, and I do not judge you for it. But we need to contact other bubbles. In some case we can pop and merge – in others just bounce off each other. No matter which…as long as we can say our piece, state our case, tell our truth…we can stay sane. Others who read what we write may be pitched over the brink of madness, but you get that with most hobbies.

Settling An Argument

If you wish to settle an argument between two people in a most positive fashion, get yourself a venomous snake…a Taipan or a King Brown for preference…and coil it about the open bung of a full gunpowder barrel. Then hand each of the contenders a lighted taper and tell them that the first person to put their hand in the barrel is the winner of the argument.

It is best to wander away while they puzzle out their response.

This may seem a little dramatic, but no less so than any public row over private matters. Since the advent of the internet, I can’t even be sure that there are private arguments any more – we’re pretty well prepared to wash every bit of our dirty linen in the Facebook front-loader. And we don’t even use soap suds to hide things…

I’ve decided to give it a rest. I’ll be sending out a list in the post to my friends – all their sins –  and let it go at that. There’ll be a space down the bottom which will allow the recipient to add any new occurrences that may have escaped me, but really the resources of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia are equal to most things.

Look out for the postman in the coming weeks…

I See Bad People

Can you see them too? Whew…I was getting worried there for a while. So they really are real.

What I can’t figure out is what I’ve done to deserve them. I’m not a bad person. I’m a good person. I don’t set fire to orphanages…not even when  they deserve it. I don’t chew with my mouth open or use bad language. Why me?

Oh, you can go on as much as you like about channelling spirits or invoking daemons and such. But I never draw things on the floor or light candles, so what’s the attraction? The only thing I do is write little essays and paint model airplanes and look at Facebook.

What? What do you mean ” There you are…”? Where am I? What have I done? What does building model airplanes have to do with bad people?

Oh. Not the model airplanes. Facebook, eh? That’s the portal? That’s the pentagram that attracts stray communists, racialists, and assorted third-hand radicals to my house? Oh Dear. I’ve done this to myself? Oh Dear…

But there is a way out of the morass? I can remove them with one click of a button? The trolls can be stuffed back under their bridge? Oh, thank goodness.

Show me the button.

Many Strings To The Bow

Said to be a good thing: the concept of being multi-skilled so as to always have something you can sell.

But remember that whatever string it is wrapped up in, the basic thing that you are selling is you. And you’ll only be saleable for a limited period of time. No-one wants you before you’re ripe and after you’re rotten. If you are wrapped in too many strings you may never be able to get a sale.

Take the example of the forever student. We’ve all been them or seen them – the person who never leaves an institution of learning, even after the door swings open, the degree is in hand, and the janitor coughs meaningfully…

The forever student often says that they are bettering themselves…or their prospects. The prospect they imagine they are bettering is the idea that someone will one day buy them – and they want as high a price as can be got. In most cases, they would achieve this by stepping out the door and starting to do a job, instead of learning how to do a  wonderful fabulous future job.

If you must string yourself up – as opposed to waiting for an angry mob to do it – the best way is often to go do whatever the best prospect job is now and take on extra work after hours with the ideal job. The  spare-time work may not be paid for, but the knowledge gained is often better than that ladled out at an institution of higher learning.

You won’t be able to become a neurosurgeon by this route, but then you won’t be paying malpractice premiums either.  Go check out what mobile mechanics, plumbers, and fencing contractors earn and sit and think.

Note: This is real. My second string became my second profession but I did not weave it at university – I learned my trade in the trade after hours.

Not. To. Be. Joked. With.

I’m sure you have met them – the people who will not be joked with. The serious members of society. The sober, dignified, correct people with whom it is virtue to neither laugh nor smile.

They may be found in all walks of life – it need not just be the local magistrate or headmaster. You can find them in most workplaces, and you’d be surprised at how often they are put in command of others. This is possibly because they are fittest or possibly just a lapse in judgement higher up the chain of command.

They are dangerous, not least to themselves. Their sober mien and serious dignity may be helpful in some situations but harmful in others. They exude little warmth, though they may be come passionate about their position and the deference due them. They can frequently make a bad situation worse, and become indignant that they are not respected for it.

All this said, I love them. They are the best of targets for humour. Of course it will not be appreciated by them – if even perceived –  but if they repel it with the shiny armour of virtue, it can reflect to all those around them. And the laugh spreads outwards in shock waves.

If this seems a little mean, it is only because it is. And it can be converted to a lot mean with just a little more effort. Dignified people are often blinkered, and can see only one meaning to a word or to a behaviour. They can, like a blinkered horse, be led down an ever-narrowing pathway until they cannot turn around. Speak seriously with them, and as kindly as needs be, and you can get them a long way down that path.

Do they ever change? Only with the greatest effort or because of the greatest life episode. Marriage will often burst the bubble, and parenthood will prick anything. Some people’s dignity will survive hospitalisation, business failure, or public shame, but often this will derail it long enough for the mechanism of the human mind to reset. Then they might have a laugh on themselves.

What Do You Want From A Prime Minister?

I want a statesman. Or a stateswoman. I want someone who the whole country can be proud.

I want one who has been elected fresh – not boosted from the cabinet ranks in the latest round of musical chairs. I want the apple I bought, not a sudden substitute from further down in the barrel..

I want one who is not radio-controlled from a union party room or some cabal of moneyed backers. I want one who cannot be cowed and refuses to be insulted by other nations throwing their weight about. I want one that can’t be bought or sold.

I want one that is there when the country needs them, and who stays through the crisis. I want a leader who – like King George VI – will never leave.

I want one who knows when to have a laugh and when to be sober. Above all I want a dignified person – not a Pierre Trudeau or Donald Trump – as our figurehead. I want the PM to communicate from Canberra or the Lodge and not on Twitter or Facebook. I’d prefer truth to lies but whichever we get, let us get it through official pronouncements rather than angry rants or press conferences.