Debt Now – Pay Later

Some people are forced to go into debt…by health or family crises. By disasters. By any number of disturbing events in the universe. This column is not for them.

It is for the people who are daily being bombarded by the debt industry…the complex mechanism that wishes to enslave you and to wring as much money out of you as it can before you die. In many cases if you take refuge in the grave it will succeed in squeezing your family to get more money…and you will not be able to stop them.

It is for the people who have a vague notion that they are missing out on something if they do not have the shiny new toy in the KB HiFi catalogue – or the new telephone from the Orange store – or the furniture from the giant warehouse. And who are tempted into having now with the idea of paying later.

In some cases the temptation contains a phrase that tells you there is no payment required for six months – or no interest charged for a year. Be sure that this is not altruism or pity for you – the finance companies and the stores will extract the full measure in time. And in the case of some deals that full measure can be payment two or four times the initial price.

The time to avoid this is at the start. By all means read the advertising flyer before you ball it up and start the chip heater with it. But scrunch it all the same. Whenever you are looking at luxury goods you are looking at a wound – not a bandage. If you did not need them before your read the flyer, you do not need them after you’ve read it either. Be happy with the warm water from the chip heater.

No debt is good and having no debt is better. The people who tell you that you need to enter into it to qualify for more of it are the moral equivalent of dynamiters.

Advertisements

The Pea And Shell Game Vs Three-Card Monte

Which to choose when you want to fleece the rubes – it can be a vital business decision.

The simple pea and shell game ( variation for industrial towns – pea and thimble ) is fast, cheap, and always effective for an operator who can palm effectively. It is the sort of thing that can be easily mounted on a bar table and doesn’t need a portable stand. The betting can be as simple as needed for the intelligence of the crowd, and like many bilks, it is perfectly suited to a con and shill team as well as a single operator.

It does fall down a little in states where they regularly carry sidearms. A pistol can make operation awkward – the wise worker carefully gauges the time to pocket the shells and fade  – five minutes more has been a fatal temptation for many a Texas grifter.

The Three Card Monte table seems more suited to the city alley than to the county fair. Urban rubes always fancy they know cards better than their country cousins – and perhaps the taint of sin doesn’t enter into it as much for the towns. You need a folding table that will come up to waist height for a good monte and wise operators know that occasionally you’ll have to abandon a setup – so don’t buy an expensive table.

On the other hand, buy the best cards you can find and monitor them for wear. Replace them at regular intervals or when any form of scuffing starts to show. There is nothing worse than a palm shift being stopped by a card that sticks – people have been detected and knifed because of it. Moral: buy good cards.

Of course neither of these two cons should ever be attempted by someone who is not perfect in the art. There is nothing at all, save a jail term or a slug, to be gained by trying to train on the job. If you wish to enter the pea or monte industry, set aside enough time and money to train yourself properly and practise in every spare moment. After all Heifetz or Paderewski did not play scales to their audiences on the stage of Carnegie Hall.

The Rise Of The On-Line Booster

If you would like to read about ” boosters “, I can suggest no finer book than ” Babbit ” by Sinclair Lewis. It may seem a little dated to some, but then anti-American propaganda never really gets old if you find the right readership. You may be just the fellow traveller who would appreciate it. Paperback versions are readily available, and Dear Old Sinc does get some good lines in there.

I am reminded of it when I get responses via email to these columns. A fair few of them seem to suggest that I can make a fortune by following their formulae for search engine success and/or marketing. I suspect that few of them really have read what I wrote – that this column is not selling anything – nor buying it either.

It almost seems as though they have turned the old saying back to front and are urging me to stick my business in everyone else’s nose…

Fine, if I was trying to market a feel-good book on how to feel good or a successful program on how to be successful…but I am actually operating a personal pillbox from which I can mow down my enemies. When I run out of enemies I mow down friends. Hey, the machine gun bullets are not fussy…

If you have had the misfortune to be attacked and destroyed by this weblog column consider yourself lucky – when you lie down and bleed you will not attract further fire. It is only the heroic that get another fusillade.

Far worse off is the person who I praise. When you put people on a pedestal they are visible to more batteries and will attract heavier ordnance. The spotlight of fame is a merciless one.

 

The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia Annual General Meetings

My forthcoming trip to Melbourne and Sydney will be enlivened this year -and I hope in every subsequent year – by the opportunity to conduct the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia Annual General Meetings in each city. I am preparing my address for each location.

The Guild was founded in Melbourne several decades ago and has flourished – so much so that backstabbers can be found in every state of Australia. The Perth AGM has languished for several years  but this will also be re-instituted. Given the boredom and despair – not to mention the red-hot anger and viciousness – that an AGM can generate for any society, the BGA ones are memorable.

I am planning, as Right Evil Bastard, to award medals of dishonour to several people. My chemist has assured me that the pins on the medals are tipped with curare. He was unable to obtain suitable amounts of ricin or polonium but fortunately he has a cousin from Brazil. I always think the organic poisons are the best for the environment, in any case.

In both Sydney and Melbourne I have authorised agents to book tables – a pizza restaurant is the traditional venue – and allowed them the freedom to round up the usual suspects. I am happy to say I expect the worst. If it is to be a German restaurant that would be wurst.

Will there be sadness? Will there be fear and horror? Will there be treachery and madness? Look at our name – it says it all.

Care for an invitation?

Shopping For A War – Part Two – The Pub Fight

Is there a bloodpit pub, tavern, or hotel in your town? Pretty well certain to be one – every settlement has the place that you really don’t want to go to.

Well, go. Go on a Saturday night about 10:30 when the greasy food and stale beer have soaked well into the regulars, the football game has just wound down, and the drunks are looking for a fight. If you are identifiable as any particular social class, colour, or race, choose a place that is packed with people who are not the same as you.

Go in and find a fight about to start. Two yahoos – or stock brokers – weaving and cursing and squaring up to each other. Leap between them and command them to stop. Tell them that you are disappointed in them and that order them to behave themselves. Call them bad names to get their attention.

Do you like grapes? Because they are in season right now and the hospital will let us bring them into the wards when we come visit you.

You may wish to review the situation while you lie there in the bed. Why did you go into that pub ( aside from the fact that I told you to…)? If you were looking for a quiet drink , why did you pick the bloodpit? Every town has a bottle shop and you could have sat at home and drank without getting punched.

Did you want to be a missionary? A martyr to save the souls of the delinquent? Well, most of the delinquents will never be saved and certainly not on Saturday night.

Or did you want to find a fight you could win…and picked the wrong one? Were you planning to be the bully of the schoolyard and found out that you were not? Is the condition of your eye and your teeth a just reward for your own aggressive desires? What the hell did you go to the bloodpit for?

Never mind. Now you can plot revenge upon your assailants. You have enemies that you can be mean to – and your stitches will act as justification in your own mind for any act of nastiness you care to think up. You are good – they are bad. Simple as that, eh?

Tomorrow – carrying this attitude over to the internet.

The Commercial Ghost

Upon commencing retirement I read a book of essays by Michel de Montaigne that proved quite inspiring. It was one of the forces that impelled my to increase my daily weblog column output – his essays were the same thing to him – a way of propounding philosophy in easily digested portions.

One of the things he said about retirement was that it should really be retirement – from whatever occupation had formerly used up one’s life. If one were a public figure, one should become a private one. If a commercial entity, this should be foregone for a life away from the marketplace. I would suppose he might have added that if one were a conqueror or warrior it might be nice to beat the sword into a plowshare…or at least into a drinking cup …for the last portion of life.

I am drawn back to this reflection each week as I revisit the camera shop where I was employed. I do have a purpose for going there – to gather material for weekly reviews and columns. But to return to semi-familiar premises while having little to do with day-to-day operations is a little odd.

Drifting through with no responsibility is all very well – and it suits the semi-independent nature of my columns – but  it is hard to know which is more disturbing; the changes made to the premises, operations, and staff…or the sameness of it all. I can  see things that were genuinely foolish in 2008 that are still foolish.

My lack of responsibility also means a lack of any power – save that of sending in a bill once a month for the writing. And while I cannot be ordered about in daily affairs by the bosses, I can be by the employees – who have far more stake in the place than I.

This may be what a ghost feels like – nearly able to communicate and almost able to touch the living. But with a diminishing degree of care as time goes on.

” I Have Loved You From Afar…”

Cut out the title of this column and keep it ready by the phone. You are bound to get a scam phone call from India around tea-time and it is a very good phrase to use. If you do it with a sweet voice and then say ” Alas…” and let your voice trail away, the caller will not bother you again. They may go home to their little Indian flat in the heat of the night and scratch themselves all over, but that is not your affair.

There are other words and phrases that can help us through our day.

a. ” You are the one I saw yesterday. ”

This is a perfectly innocuous statement that can be spoken to nearly anyone in a public place. It has the ring of truth. It is also quite disconcerting, but no-one knows why.

b. ” You may speak to me now. The restrictions have been lifted. ”

Ditto for (a.). A little riskier because you may find that they have not spoken to anyone for a month and this will open the floodgates. If they start to become agitated, threaten to call a policeman. Call the policeman a bad name and then say the other person said it.

c. ” Your prices seem a little low. I was hoping to pay more. ”

This said to any retail seller will ring alarm bells throughout their whole body. If you then leave the shop they will be left wondering whether they have made a serious mistake somewhere. When they decide to raise their prices storewide, come back in and demand a discount.

d. ” Does your food contain ingredient 453B? Because I am not allowed to eat 453B. It’s on the EEC schedule 2, you know. Do you have a list of ingredients? ”

This said in any eatery, from Jamie Oliver to a pie cart, will cause the owner to bristle like a warthog. The wise ones will throw a pan of hot fat at you and have done with it – the foolish will try to argue their way out of it.

e. ” You were recommended to me by your competitors. “…here you can insert the name of an actual business rival for better effect.

The person you are speaking to will be flattered and frightened. Are you a plant or a trojan horse designed to make a nightmare of the place? Have you been so unpleasant at another shop that they have desperately sent you here? Or are you a chance for a big sale?

A variant on this is to say that you have been recommended by several other firms – and give their names…but the kicker is none of them are in the same business as the shop you are in…

f. ” Do you mind being recorded for evidence? ”

If they say yes, you ask what they have to hide. If they say no you ask whether they realise what is being said about them at the department. Have them speak clearly into your top coat button.