Chisel, Chisel, Chisel…BOOM!

Haggling and bargaining is more common in Australia than it was 30 years ago. I won’t say from whence came the practice, nor to where I wish the practitioners would go, but let me record my admiration for Japanese commercial culture – the price stated on their retail goods is the price that is paid. Would that this were the norm for other people.

Haggling is also known in Canada as chiselling – and it has a bad connotation for many of us. We put up with it when necessary, but it is the sort of behaviour that causes us to reconsider whether or not the sale itself is necessary.

I recently put some items up for sale on the Gumtree site. A couple of items sold, a couple of them did not – one piece was offered as a trade or swap and it resulted in a very pleasing bargain for both myself and the other party. I’m delighted with the model airplane I got in the swap.

This cycle of ads brought what I can only describe as an onslaught from another would-be buyer. The price asked in the advertisement was routinely halved by him. And then on each refusal he upped it by $ 5. A final price given from me was underbid by – you guessed it – $ 5. All the while urgent messages came that he would call in in half an hour, etc.

Upon reflection, I went back and scrubbed the price from the advertisements and substituted an offer to trade the goods for unbuilt model airplane kits. It worked a treat before, and it might work again – and no more $ 5 haggling. I added more goods into the offer.

Today I got a message from the chiseller. Was I still interested? He was figuring that I was under some sort of pressure and would cave in overnight. I’m actually curious to see if he reacts at all to the new terms of engagement or whether he realises that he chiselled himself out of a good deal by being greedy for $ 5.

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Shopping For A War – Part Three – Lemme At that Keyboard…

Well, if you have decided not to get physical in your search for a fight, why not pull up the laptop and start being obnoxious. The worst you’ll get is unfriended and you might very well be able to ruin someone’s whole week from the comfort of Mum’s basement.

Note: Mum’s Basement is a cliché. The best work is done from a warm den, surrounded by cups of coffee and plates of chocolate biscuits. It helps to have a pin board up on one wall with lists of victims .

Are you right? Not political Right – I mean are you correct – at least as often as you are wrong? Would you like to improve the score? To be right more and more often? To finally be right all the time? The internet will be your  playground, then, and if you are good at what you do, it can become a killing ground. Literally, if recent news reports are to be believed.

Find a group of people who will read your work. Pick a topic that will arouse them. Choose whether to be righteous or cynical in your posts, but do not switch between the two settings – this will just confuse your audience.* Rouse them to passion with whatever you write, and then note which ones rouse easily. These are your go-to readers when you need a quick fix of righteous indignation or virtue. Don’t be ashamed of this – we all need a shot of caffeine, alcohol, or praise every now and then.

Play on your simpler readers as much as you like – they’ll generally respond predictably and you can keep them going with a very small maintenance dose of smarmy memes. They may not be humourous people in themselves, but they can recognise humour in others and condemn it. Remember that you can always wave a flag, poppy, or cross and get a healthy shout of approval.

Then try for the harder targets – the readers who are more intelligent and/or sophisticated. They will need more careful cozening and subtler stimuli. Do not expect them to boil and explode as easily as the base layer, but you’ll be surprised how rewarding it is when they finally do go off. Then you can chide them for lack of self-control.

*  And confused readers are likely to switch off and go to the refrigerator.

 

Bait

Bait is there for a reason.

It is to lure you to bite. Whether you are a fish looking at a tempting worm with a line attached, or a yokel looking at the sheriff’s 14-year-old daughter in a miniskirt, the bait is being presented to lead you to destruction. But these are easy examples – here’s more sophisticated ones.

a. Free Stuff One – ” The 45th click on this website will win a holiday or a caravan or a blender. ” In reality, the click will be collated and sold to advertisers who want to know what your email address is and how to get through it to your bank account.

You click, you lose.

b. Free Stuff two  – If you vote for the Star Spangled Green Social People’s Love And Fairness Party they might get a seat in Parliament. They’ll try to get your vote by promising you free stuff. And then they'[ll try to stay in that seat long enough to qualify for the Parliamentary pension scheme while collecting contributions from the faithful. All the while brating at you to give more.

You vote, you lose.

c. Outrage – you are presented with some dreadful images and tales of outrageous behaviour and are invited to react in a similar fashion. If the post succeeds you identify yourself to the watchers and they watch more closely. And they send ever more outrageous images to either lure you or drive you. Ultimately they look for money from you.

You react – you lose.

The best thing you can do with any of these fishing situations is do nothing at all. Time will reveal whether or not they have ever had any validity – in most cases the bait will shrivel up and disappear. Presumably jerked away by the person or organisation that dangled it, to be replaced by the next thing calculated to sucker you in.

The bait tin is full of worms…

My Hobby, Sir, Is Below…

No, not that far down. That’s a different hobby. Stop staring.

My hobby is what you are reading right now. I write now.  I write four weblog columns each weekday and three on the weekends. I get paid money to pen one of them and the other three pay in joy.

I did not realise this was going to be the case when my friend Joanne suggested over a café breakfast that I look up WordPress. She, like many young people, is somewhat of an expert on the social media and connection side of things. But she doesn’t make the technical side of things sound as hard and confusing. Nor was it, once I had picked up a couple of simplistic books on the WordPress blog experience.

My first efforts were crude – like my first engagement with Facebook – but gradually the business of telling a story ( and that is all I am doing when I write ) started to flow and it has gushed ever since. I’m a photographer with my own studio so I can make pictures to enliven the print and as much as the graphic designers amongst my readers may quail, I can dot them with words. Generally the words I choose try to be funny. Sometimes they succeed, but only sometimes…

So I finally have to admit I like engaging you in this one-sided conversation – I look upon it as a Catskill monologue. Hence the title of this first weblog column. I’m here all week – try the pasta surprise.

The chef was absolutely surprised. He was aiming for bacon smoothies.

 

Harmony And Harmonica Are Two Diffferent Words

Are you on Facetwit? Or Googram? Do you respond to your phone, computer or tablet every time it makes a dinging sound? Are you a modern version of a Pavlov dog?

Congratulations – you are a prime candidate for Le Régiment Zukerberg. Also known as the 101st Internet Lancers. The Old Brigands. You are the person that they want  – because they can make you do anything that they want you to do – and do it willingly.

If you are suspicious of this, consider your history on the internet:

a. Do you write your own material or just ” share ” what they lay in front of you? Are you advancing on your own recognizance or are you led…or driven?

b. Do you respond predictably? Can they count on you to share, tweet, like, or proselytize just as directed?

c. Do you do this for free? Or do you pay for the privilege of doing it?

d. Are you passionate? So passionate that you will embrace anything that you’re told to embrace? Would you do this physically at the bidding of a master? There’s always a place for a willing prostitute, so don’t worry if the answer’s yes.

e. Can you be turned quickly from one opinion to the opposite if Central Command decrees it? Are you ready to applaud the Brest – Litovsk treaty one week and declare class war the next?

f.  Are you willing to ignore the bad behaviour of other people if it is useful to your party? And to find cause for outrage in the mildest opposition?

If you can agree to some or all of these observations, you too can be a social media instrument. An instrument of power – of vengeance – of justice. Also of propaganda, of deceit, and of treachery. What a career you can have.

But be aware that it is not all happiness in the Divine Instruments Of Justice Brigade. While you might think of yourself as a Trumpet Of Glory, the reality may be that you are merely a Harmonica Of Wind. And the sad thing is eventually someone will turn you upside down and rap you against the table to get the spit out.

 

How To Foster Disapproval For Fun And Profit

Those of you who have enjoyed our previous BGA How-To entitled ” Treason For Tots ” will particularly enjoy today’s episode. You’ll learn how to turn smiles into frowns and curses into cash. Make sure you have your pencils and notebooks handy!

Disapproval is one of the most valuable of human emotions – it can be used in nearly any social situation to command attention. In the past, however, many people did not realise that it could also make money for them. Fortunately with the advent of the internet and social media this can now be tapped into.

When you disapprove of someone or something, it is a sign that someone is responsible for displeasing you. Oh, you might hear people complaining about the weather or losing at the horse races, but this is just small talk – the real point of any conversation is to disapprove of something concrete and to demand that someone be made to pay for it. The payment need not always be a lot of money – abject apologies and grovelling servility are also acceptable to some extent – provided, of course, that there is some cash on the table. It may be difficult to get an adequate apology from a young person who has no source of income other than a weekly allowance, but they can save up, and it builds their character.

On the other hand, if someone disapproves of you, it is perfectly in order to cry out that you are a victim. You can choose from a wide range of angst these days – racism, sexism, religious bigotry, age discrimination, etc. If you are a champion of fine cuisine, you can complain when your food is not available. If it is provided you can complain that it is not cooked well. If your diet consists of raw things only, you can complain that it is not fresh enough. Eventually you can bring it down to being bitter about the patterns on the china plates. It’s just a case of persistence.

Being a victim means that you can march, carry signs, scuffle with police, and set fire to things while wearing a mask. Those people who have pointed out that this is what arsonists do are just tools of the fascist fire brigades.

The assiduous Guild member will be able to foster disapproval of nearly everything by nearly everyone, and be able to whip the average crowd into a frenzy of mayhem and rage. Really skilled practitioners can work up a crowd of Buddhist monks and Amish Quakers into a knife fight, after which they withdraw and disapprove of the whole procedure.

Remember the Guild motto:

Where there is a wrong , there is a right, and your position is right behind that – picking up banknotes with a grain shovel.

Featured Image: A teenager asked to clean up their room…

The Consonant Continentals

We’re constantly being bombarded by Facebook data-grabs of various kinds – asking our favourite colour, condiment, or calibre of rifle bullet. If we fall for them, our preferences are shunted off to the advertisers who have paid the social platform for the information. Then we are bombarded with advertisement pointed to what they think are our interests.

Frankly, I think that Zuks…

But there is one particular hootchy kooch that puzzles me – the one that asks me to think up a food name that doesn’t end in Q or a dog’s name that is the same in a mirror. Even if I can come up with something that fits the criteria, what use can they make of it?

Are the stupid ones designed to find people who can be sold cryptocurrency? Are the impossible ones a recruiting drive for Bletchley Park? Or do they just put this filler in when the kitten or Trump posts are running low?

I long to send out a few myself:

” Write an entire Polish novel without using a vowel.”

” Find the Good Guys in Syria ”

” Where, in Mississippi, can you legally shove a pickle? ”

From the answers I will compile a list of people who are incautious. This characteristic is valuable because they are the type of person who will invest in bulk-buy cosmetics or time-share holidays in Queensland. In some cases they can be induced to buy waterfront property in Townsville…though to be fair that is generally everywhere in Townsville some years.

They can be induced to enter a dark kitchen alone when the soundtrack makes that Wheep Wheep noise.

They can also be induced to stand for Parliament on an independent basis. Hey, there’s a good living in taking their deposits…