Honesty For Beginners

You’ll see a lot of use of the word ” honesty ” in the next few months. This is a lead-up to an American presidential election, a wind-down from a Chinese virus, and a cut -back on the availability of money. In the first two cases, do not expect it in any actual form – for the last cited – the money business – people will be surprisingly candid.

The election is probably going to be contested by failures – windbags of Washington who would say and do anything to gain or retain power. They both command, or are commanded by, armies of minions, minders, and puppeteers. These people would assassinate their candidate in a heartbeat if they thought they could get away with it, but the politicians know how to protect themselves against this sort of thing. So it will be a fair and open contest for the grossly blundered votes of America. Do I have a preferred candidate? I do not…I am fully occupied in writing out curses upon both their houses. I have faith that eventually the USA will have a decent President – some day – but from whence I cannot say.

The Chinese virus is with us now, has been with us for longer than they’ll admit, and will stay for longer than we care to speculate. We’ll get denials, stonewalling, accusations, and bullying tactics to try and maximise its effect upon the West while exonerating the East. Eventually the currently careless portions of the world will get smart or dead and it will peter out. There may even be a vaccine preventative one day, but that’s little consolation for the millions it will kill now. We’ll get no honesty from the Communist Party Of China but we may find out the truth through other agencies.

The business downturn and money drought is evident now and will be increasingly so as time goes on – you’ll be able to see it in black and white…or red and white…figures. The wise people will become more frugal and less demanding and probably live pretty well. Those who locked themselves into expensive lives will find that the locks can be opened and they can be thrust out.

There will also be some honesty in race relations now that there has been a flare-up of US rioting at the start of the summer. The reality that the races dislike each other has been self-evident for some period of time -roughly the last 400 years – but up till now popular culture has avoided admitting it. Whether it will ever be altered is to be seen – but there’ll be a period of intense agitation for the rest of the year. Here in Australia we’ll get our own copycat version of it.

This weblog column will not be a popular or good thing to read, but I’m not selling feels – I’m selling honesty. I expect to be yelled at for it.

Victorian Vulgarity

I hasten to add that I am not referring to the Australian state of Victoria. It is not a vulgar place – far from it. I am thinking of the instances of vulgar behaviour that pop up in Victorian novels and that are so disparaged by the heros and heroines of these books.

It seems that it was very easy to be vulgar in Victorian England. All one needed to do was be from the continent or North America, be in trade, or be poorer than the main focus of the story. Ethnic birth ensured it – Jew, Hindu, or Muslim – all were irretrievably vulgar in the British eye and the British novelists made sure that their readers knew it.

I may have made a slight error when I said that vulgarity came with poverty. Not if the pauper was an Anglican clergyman or a female member of his family. That was impoverished gentility, and to be pitied…from a distance. The Catholics – Irish, French, or Italian as they might be, were vulgar to a soul.

Vulgarity could also be assigned to the rich, if there was no prospect of getting any of their money. August Melmotte in Trollope’s novel ” The Way We Live Now ” comes to mind.

I am so glad that we have advanced past these days and that now there is a universal brotherhood and sisterhood of tolerance and kindness. If only we could get these damn foreigners to kneel in the street when they pass our cap, eh?

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 So Much A Kept Woman…

As a preserved one.

I am not sure I have ever met a kept woman. At least none have ever admitted to the fact – and there have certainly been no receipts or account books on the table. Yet, I suspect that there may have been a few cases…

And not just kept women – kept men as well. I’m darned sure I know a couple of those. And fine fellows they are. I should welcome the chance to join their ranks, if the rest of my family would sign off on approval.

The concept of keeping someone is as old as the sexual urge. That’s what it amounts to in the end, and any nonsense about meetings of the minds and artistic muses can be blown up the chimney as so much smoke. There is a quid pro quo and if this involves fishnet stockings and champagne suppers so much the better. In some cases the ladies can wear the stockings…

Is it legal? Sometimes…if the transaction is adequately reported to the taxation department and no attempt made to disguise the cost of the stockings as a work-related expense.

Is it moral? Yes, of course. Everything is moral if you look at it the right way. Just turn your head sideways and squint.

Is it safe? Sometimes…relationships that are entered into loosely can be exited in the same way and sometimes they are more of an intersection or exchange station than a fixed establishment. Beware those arrangements that are so open as to permit anyone to enter.

Is it aesthetic? Well, that depends upon the parties involved. There have been more instances of frog princes than toad princesses, but it so much depends upon where the money is at any one time. It is rare for a frog prince to be kissed by a frog princess, and when it happens all you ever get are pollywogs.

Is it fun? We are led to believe it is, if we read the literature. But reading further may uncover the exploitative nature. This can be seen from both sides; I recommend reading Zola’s novel ” Nana ” for  a view of the thing. It has a weak ending, but a powerful mid-piece.

Can anyone join in? Well, considering that you need money or beauty, not everyone is free to participate. You may have neither, in which case you are better off finding true love or at least a consuming hobby. If you have both, you are in the cat-bird seat to command others. If you have one or the other, it can be sold advantageously.

What if true love intervenes? Well, then all bets are off. Cupid and Venus are the most fickle of influences and they can spoil lives as well as plots. ” Beware ” sounds trite, but beware…

Final advice. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, followed by Anita Loos’ books. A man’s best friend is a dog and a gun, provided it is duck season. Couple if you must, with or without commerce, but reserve some time for rest and recuperation. And never put anything down in writing.

I Used To Be A Cynic…

But then I lost faith in the whole thing.

My childhood ambition was to be a Navy fighter pilot flying a jet armed with rockets that I could use to blast my schoolyard enemies with. It was probably a confused thought at the time. As I grew up my eyesight worsened and I realised that I would never be given my own Cutlass to fly…

However, as I read more and more humorists and columnist’s books in my youth a second dream slowly took form; I would be a Walter Winchell cynic; a gadfly who would blast those enemies* from closer to the ground. No rockets – just the darts of barbèd wit. By the time I finished high school I’d tried a few volleys and found they served well. I was too young to realise how blasting some adults could make them into hardened enemies and how they could revenge themselves decades later.

Then followed a long period of being kind, both professionally for a price and privately for  amusement. It was wearing but fortunately there was always the thought that I could fall back on ghastly behaviour in retirement. It’s here now and a kindly fate presented me with the platform and opportunity to write daily columns as my own editor. I look on each morning as presenting me with a new page, upon which I may write. Some mornings the inkpot contains perfume and some see it full of blood. I like the vitriol days the best, as you can wash anything in it and it comes out clean.

*  Who were they? I have no idea. I was ten at the time and foolishly failed to keep records.

Barrack Room Law 101

There are two principles that must always be borne in mind by the practitioner of barrack room law:

a. Magna Carta.

Ye olde establishmente of an agreement between a robber king and robber barons in England in the Middle Ages that can be cited to establish the rightness of anything. The language of the document they drew up is convoluted and uses so many obscure words that it can be twisted to any shape these days.

If you wish to dig a sewer through your neighbour’s front garden, Magna Carta can be brought up to give you that inalienable right. If you are quick and bold enough you can be halfway through the hydrangeas before the fraud is discovered. Even if you are made to stop, you will have had the satisfaction of ruining the lawn.

b. Reducto ad Hitlerium

Anything that you wish to attack can be referred back to Hitler and tarred with a nazi brush. Again the absurdity of the thing may be staved off until enough attention is drawn to you and then you can retire in ablaze of assumed virtue.

Be careful when using this on Europeans of a certain age and ethnicity. They may well remember the original and will not accept arguments based upon an ersatz copy.

Drawing yourself up and pretending to be a pillar of virtue is a good ploy in both cases; A or B. It is the same thing as an animal flashing a brightly-coloured tail or raising a ruff. It gives the impression of a much fiercer enemy than may be the real case. Opponents might be frightened off by it, or at least put off their timing long enough for the prey to run.  Be aware that some opponents are actually versed in law and virtue and will pursue arguments to very bitter ends.

Picking Up The Breadcrumbs

Picking up breadcrumbs is an innocent enough thing unless you are trailing Hansel and Gretel – then it becomes harmful. A Grimm event…

Jokes aside, picking up snippets of information is a very useful way for an author or spy to gain useful information. The spy can piece together the movements of an army or the operation of a new secret weapon – the author can gather enough material to write a biography of someone at a distance. You may toss up for yourself which is the more dangerous practice.

Everyone drops breadcrumbs – bits of information about themselves that they either announce or write down. In our information age we are constantly filling in forms or supplying details to the nosy. Just this week I sent all my banking details to Berserkistan when they phoned me up. I’m sure it’s all legit – what could possibly go wrong? I mean, it’s not as if I told them the real numbers.

Coming back to the idea of the biography – think of the books you have stolen from the library. Some are marked “authorised biography” – some are marked ” unauthorised biography” or ” independent biography “. These divisions are arbitrary – all the books have been written by an author and the only difference is the quality of the lies. The unauthorised and independent ones have juicier stuff  – and strangely enough are likely to be closer to the truth. More people can remember more things and all the author needs to do is be a diligent collator and curator – eventually the truth will appear between the connected dots.

And then there is the autobiography…like auto-eroticism, it can be a lot of fun but you have to be careful or the pages stick together…

You Are The Only Barrier To You

There is only a very small difference between being puissant and being a piss ant – and it is ” u “. This is also the case in general life. The chiefest obstacle to your advancement is you.

I held myself back from greatness when the openings were there through laziness and lack of confidence. The lack of confidence might have come from outside but the laziness was all internal. I reaped the reward of these two traits by passing through a lacklustre career  into meagre fortunes in old age.

Yet, I eat regularly and sleep soundly…and as yet have retained enough health to laugh and drink. I find it politic to be content with this, though I occasionally run howling through our suburb biting people at random. I like to think of it as social interaction on a new plane.

Had I realised my limitations before I started practising them, I would have removed a fair few. I daresay I still wouldn’t have been elected to parliament, but I might have made it to the backrooms of power and been able to blight the lives of others.

Moral of this post? Do not sell yourself short – even if you are the only buyer who expresses any interest. You can probably do a great deal more damage or good if you just rush blindly at the world regardless.

Things I Have Learned So Far In The Virus Year

  1. People who have no intellectual life are ready to share it with you. This is done through repeating Facebook memes.
  2. Few have the courage to look at the elephant in the room, let alone mention it. If they do, they are judged. Even fewer can look between the lines for themselves.
  3. Bad tidings travel faster than good ones…because people love to be the bearers of them. See (1.) above. There will be some serious disappointment when this affliction passes and the doom-criers have to be happy…
  4. Some consumers are greedy and many suppliers are incapable of meeting the demands placed upon them…even after a time of recovery.
  5. Script-writing has gone from being a stage or cinema activity to being a social media one. None of the scripts need to be accurate – just eye-catching.
  6.  Some businesses will invent reasons to increase charges based upon public health issues. These will be blandly demanded – it is a fortunate customer who can forego the need for some item or service in this time. Note that the prices will not come down later.
  7. The American President, Australian Prime Minister, and British Prime Minister will be blamed for anything that the social media script-writers think they can get away with. The Facebook repeating stations will seize upon this to look kewl.
  8.  The Canadian and New Zealand prime ministers will be elevated to near god-like status by the same meme writers*. Most of the other world leaders will get a by for this round in the English-speaking press.
  9. Foolish home remedies and folk medicine will abound. So will religious activity, though not in large groups inside closed spaces. Both the religious and non-religious will claim victory for their opinions.
  10. As many fortunes will be made as will be lost – just amongst different people. Few of the really rich will suffer much.

*   You don’t suppose Justin and Jacinta are writing their own flack, do you? Or each others…?

Is it Too Soon To Get Out The Old Carpet Bag?

I know we are still in a shooting war with the virus plague, but we’re hunkered down in the bunkers and doing what the officers say. However, the essence of being a good Guild member is the ability to plan ahead. Now is the time to think about profiting on the misfortune of others.

A lot of businesses are going to go broke in the next few months – the virus plague and the general downturn of trade will find those with low cash reserves and high liabilities. The current exemptions and rules that the government is extending to tenants and consumers will eventually run out. It is at this time that the assets will be ripe for the picking.

Of course, the objection will be raised that this is inhuman and trading in misery. Compassionate objectors are easily skirted, and you can throw empty KFC containers at them as you swerve by. The more relevant consideration is whether the assets are worth spending money on – I mean, if the original owner has gone bust, what are the chances that you’ll make a better fist of it. If there is a considerable amount of plant, machinery, and real estate involved, this can possibly be cut up and parcelled off to other carpet baggers in turn.

Staff that have been stood down may have some residual workplace rights, but if you liquidate the companies entirely, you can often run away from these. The superannuation and pensions will, of course, be paid directly into the Swiss account before you even start to auction off the secretarial pool. If Robert Maxwell taught us anything, it was the value of quick work.

Note: be careful. Even if you are getting things at a bargain, they may be worthless if the panic sets in again. Even Maxwell had difficulty keeping his head above water in the end…

For myself, I plan to invest in cotton plantations, sharecroppers, and county elections. They’ve never failed yet.