Propriety For the Proprietor

Funny old language, English.

Everyone in the modern milleniverse seems to be for propriety…that sense of the right and proper thing to do, say, or think. Yet the same people are willing to attack the proprietors of anything; businesses, governments, learning institutions, whenever they do not get the cultural obedience or discount they demand.

Perhaps I am being harsh on Millenials. To be honest, I am not exactly certain who they are, nor are the names of Gen X, Y, or Z any more help. I have been told Baby Booming was bad, but as I benefitted greatly from the practice I am unwilling to condemn my parents…or me.

I’m also wondering if we can institute a system of impropriety for improprietors. It would use up all the language that otherwise is scorned and we might have a lot more fun doing it. I have the BGA, The BGA News Service, and ZOWIE magazine to help me get through the day and there is always recourse to liquor, if the price is right.

Perhaps we just need effective advertising slogans:

” Do the right thing – say the wrong words. ”

” Impolitical Correctness ”

I will ponder this some more in the coming days. I have an uneasy feeling that there are people living who I have not offended, and time is fleeting. I may have to become more efficient, or at least work on larger batches.

 

Sniper Nest

It is no longer necessary to tie yourself to a tree wearing a ghillie suit to be a professional sniper. Nor do you need to search out book depositories, grassy knolls, or water towers. You need not carry heavy firearms either – no more carefully swabbing barrels or weighing ammunition. You can shoot ’em dead from the comfort of your computer room.

We’re not talking about computer games as such – none of that video business like with an arcade game. This is actual assassination carried out on actual people. And the good thing is you won’t be punished for it, even if you are found culpable. You see, you shoot ’em in their reputation, not their rib cage.

The best practitioners of this skill have specific targets to deal with. Ex-husbands and ex-wives are the primary targets …as well as the primary shooters. They have either a long-standing grudge and animosity or a short-term goal in view; blackening the character of their former partner.

It can be done blatantly, with names, addresses, dates, and high-res pictures…but that does risk the lawyers battening upon it as defamation. More often it is done with memes, hints, and innuendo. As long as the sniper can hint to the observers know who the target is they count on formerly-mutual friends to convey the messages back. The disconnects that exist on the social media may  prevent the target from seeing the shots as they come and go, but someone can always send a screen copy to do the same thing.

The unfortunate part of this is the collateral damage – the people on social media who have to see the written fire fight and pretend to ignore it. Or  are lured to pour sympathy or scorn on one or other of the parties. In most cases people have enough traumas in their own lives without having to watch an artillery duel on their computer.

Please Undress In The Cubicle

And present yourself once you are ready.

There seems to be a great deal of fuss made about romance, love, and sex these days that is somewhat superfluous. Not that the subject is not delightful and horrid in equal parts, but the set of rituals that have developed around it are becoming increasingly strange.

Once it was simple. Arrive at puberty, find someone else also at that stage and contract a marriage. Gain permission to live together from whatever relatives were handy, pay a small fee to the local priest for magic words, and start living together. Some societies just did the pairing up for you – you were married to whoever the relatives or ruler said you would marry and that was the end of it.

Now you need to meet, fall in love, romance each other, inspect the goods, try the mechanism, and get a lawyer to draw up deeds specifying who gets the cat if you divorce. This is time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and no-one ever asks the cats’ opinion.

If you decide to skip the legal bit you’ll be presented with it later – and neither side will be happy with the division of anything. Dividing the cat will be the most distressing aspect, not least to the cat.

There must be an easier way. Of course fundamentalist societies revert to Plan A and then fight it out from there on. Hippy societies have no plan, and still fight it out, but with a messier result. We need the intervention of the Vulcans and their logic to solve the problems.

I propose that before the ship of eternal marriage sets sail, the local authorities inspect the lifeboats. There must be an adequate provision for alternate lovers and/or spouses before the first lot are wed. It should be simple to draw up a list of secondary and tertiary partners to whom the prospective lovers will be sent in case of a breakup. If these individuals are taken up in the meantime suitable alternatives must be inserted into their planned marriage contracts. That way there is no uncertainty about where the affections will be directed or the infections  contracted.

 

What Is The Difference Between A Harpoon And A Lampoon?

The latter hurts far more than the former and its effects can last for centuries. If it is well done, you can bleed for 400 years – well after you are dead.

Making fun of – or mocking – someone is a very serious business. Far too serious a matter for laughter. In many cases any attempt at fun merely obstructs the process.

We all learn it early on – the schoolyard bully’s taunt is the first intimation that all will not be well in life. If we are lucky, we can throw it off as mere noise – if we are less fortunate it may colour our days far longer than anything else. Some people carry this sound with them well into adulthood and it can either cripple or energise them.

The adult mockery we encounter may be much more subtle – the slight, the sneer, the show of status. These can all tell upon a sensitive soul – as they are meant to –  and give a feeling of gloom and despair to any social occasion. But what is one to do? What to do..what to do…?

a. Fight fire with fire.

Mock back. Every person has a sensitive spot that will send a pain to their brain. Find it and press it.

Once you are sure of it, press it publicly, repeatedly, with plenty of witnesses.

b. Fight fire with oil.

Become smooth and conciliatory. Soothe the taunter with praise for their personality, looks, wealth, and power. Do it so well that people will think you are best friends and then discount all that the taunter says as mere badinage.

c. Fight fire with water.

Burst into tears. Weep at the scorn that is poured on you. Do it well and few spectators suspect the slice of onion in your hand and will look upon your tormentor with contempt. Prepare to be consoled with brandy and sympathy.

d. Fight fire with insulation.

Ignore the taunt. Smile and offer the taunter a slice of bread and butter – or a small pamphlet on monetary reform. Keynesian economics will quell the loudest mouth.

The Delight Of Being Needed

Say what you like about the delights of sex, drugs, rocks and roll, or the 1953 Standard motor car – or about family and friendship and little bluebirds chirping – there is nothing quite as good as being needed.

It quiets the mental worm that gnaws at us; why are we here? Even if for only a short period of time we are here to help.

And it doesn’t really matter if we succeed. The thing is, we were called on. Even if we make a sad hash of whatever we do and make matters infinitely worse, the need was there and it was us that was needed.

This was the basic drive that made Boy Scouts stand at street corners and eye off old ladies. We were priming ourselves to swoop and help them across the road. As we got older and progressed from Boy Scouts to scouting for girls we used this early training on the street corners. We were extremely vigilant for a chance to help younger women into bars and into our cars. There were no merit badges on offer but we occasionally had things pinned on us.

Ethical Mortar Bombing

If you put a little effort into thinking, you can make any human action or emotion ethical. If you’re prepared to dress up you can make it ethnical.

I often do this when I want to drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentations of their women. I’ll qualify that – I don’t actually enjoy hearing women lamenting. They do it with a professional vigour that I find wearing. In a lot of cases I let the women drive themselves and me and the enemies just sit around drinking.

Your ethics are what define you – and I have met any number of people who defy definition. Just as you think you know what they think, they read another Facebook post and go off on a tangent. Then you either follow them, at the risk of seeming to agree with them, or oppose them, at the risk of being right. Both pathways are fraught with dishonour.

I have endeavoured for years to free myself from ethical thinking or behaviour. Rather than take a hard stand on any moral issue I have waited in the wings until the debate was finished and the winner declared before declaring my support for them. Even then I have reserved some disclaimers in case they fall out of favour. It was a little hard to wriggle out of Watergate but I managed in the end when Carter took office. You could get out of anything with Jimmy Carter at the helm.

Am I firmly committed to the path of righteousness and truth right now? In as far as the keepers of that path are prepared to play me, I am. I do not demand money; sex, drugs and rock and roll are acceptable substitutes. I can also be bought for scale model plastic kits.

Ask me later and I’ll give you a list of the ones I haven’t got.

 

Being Fruitful And Multiplying

This is apparently a good thing, and recommended by a number of religious texts. In the nature of religious texts, they are being delicate and trying to mean one thing by saying another. Generally being fruitful means having sex, getting pregnant, and giving birth. Fruit has very little to do with it. A tomato is a fruit and the thought of tomatoes and sex is a little disturbing.

Now multiplying suggests that the sex business causes a numerical increase all out of proportion to the two bits that are put into it at the start. I’m not going to explain the process, but I can assure you it takes more than two bits. For two bits you don’t get any sex at all. Try pricing flowers, dinner, and bottle of wine these days and see what sex costs. And remember that you sometimes need to do sex several times to get a result – It’s like trying to start an old computer or a used car. Press that starter and pump it with your foot…

But you cannot exist on fruit alone. You need vegetables as well. Very few passages in the religious texts deal with vegetables, which I think is a sore failure on the part of the ancients. It leaves vegans sort of out in the cold, sex wise.

I do not intend to lower the tone of this column by making zucchini jokes.

When Someone Is Full Of It

You’ll meet people from time to time who are full of it.

The ” it ” may be knowledge, opinion, bullshit, malice, love, or salted caramel ice cream. You can recognise the condition by the sight, sound, and smell of them. The fact that you can see their problem means you have a problem. The problem is problems demand solutions  – and we are fools enough to try to provide them.

In truth, any overweening thing in someone else is still largely in them. The overweening portion is just the foam coming out of the top. You can generally ignore the foam, but if you seek to open up the rest of them you may have more trouble than you can handle.

Someone is arrogant? Well, that’s their character and their problem.

As long as that arrogance does not take money out of your pocket or skin off your nose, you can leave them stuffed with it. If anything, it acts as a good counterpoint to your own gentlemanly or ladylike behaviour. You look good beside them.

Someone is full of political opinion? It doesn’t match your own? Fine.

You can still exercise as much political power as they can every time there is an election and your weapon aon the field of battle is the same as theirs; a pencil stub in a cardboard booth. They may choose to bray their vote but your private one counts just as much  – pencils are silent.

Someone is religious and you’re not…or irreligious and you are? Relax.

Reflect that neither of you know whereof you speak in any real or scientific sense. You both commenced and will eventually both cease…and the sun has risen in the east and set in the west  all that time without your help.

The only time when you might be wise to interfere is when someone is full of sadness. You might not be able to relieve it entirely but it’s a good thing to try a little. Sometimes this is an active thing and sometimes it is passive. Sometimes just leaving makes others feel better…

” Tell Me A Blatant Lie! “

” You want a Blatant Lie? You can’t handle a Blatant Lie ! ”

I may have nodded off there during the Tom Cruise movie but you get the main idea. Truth-telling is rife in the courts and something needs to be done about it. Magistrates need to be given the power to have people who tell the truth locked up until they can come up with a better one.

I, myself, find it is wise to be economical with the truth. By all means have a store of it to hand but deal it out in very small quantities and be careful to whom it is told. It can have a very long half-life and be dangerous for decades.

At the same time do not be cynical when others tell you their truths, or half truths, or fibs, or lies, or campaign promises. You can laugh sardonically at protestations of love – as long as they do not require blood tests you are safe. But treat everything else with gentle amusement and a kindly smile. And make sure that you take the time to write down the pertinent details for later checking. You never can tell when someone will let a really valuable piece of information out inadvertently and you’ll kick yourself if you can’t cash in on it in a few years time. A cross-indexed file is the most valuable part of the furniture in your lair.

Some truths are self-evident – these are mostly the ones that concern gravity and red-hot objects. These bits of information are hard to deny or ignore, forcing themselves upon you as suddenly as they do.

Oddly enough, some lies are equally clear. Catching your significant other in flagrante delicto  with someone who isn’t you means you won’t have to pretend to believe the story – not while the flurry of shrieking and zipping is taking place in any case. No need to suspend judgement.

The funny little ones in the middle that might be true or might not are the awkward part of the business. If you can suspect someone, do so – most times you’ll be right. If they are proved innocent it will be a lovely surprise and you can all sit round the rack laughing at your suspicions. Otherwise you’re in a convenient position to give the wheel another turn.

You’re Entitled To Your Opinion

At least here you are. We live in a free country that will let you think what you like. You can also say what you like…but with a few restrictions to prevent harm to others. By and large it is a good system and altogether a good country.

But note: the freedom you exercise to think and speak is also granted to everyone else. And it goes further – we have a great deal of freedom to listen to what you say, to commit it to memory, and to think about it.

We are allowed to agree or disagree with you… and within certain limits to let you know that we do. And you, more or less, have to put up with either decision.

Which conflicts with the attitude and pronouncements of some people in the chattering classes. They form groups, collectives, and cabals that try to silence any dissent or disagreement. As these can be found in schools, universities, cultural institutions, and businesses, it can destroy the very freedom of speech that they cry for.

The humorous part of this – if hypocrisy is humour – is that they will insist that they be allowed public display and disruption to push their barrow.

Is there an answer to it all? Well, you’re reading it. the weblog column. The internet posting. It can be read by all – it can be criticised by all – it can be ignored by all. It hardly ever garners a legal protest or challenge and mostly just hangs around in electronic space to embarrass or discredit decades later.

Another answer would be a Speaker’s Corner in a central public park that could be open to all for untrammelled oratory. Of course that would mean that the speakers and listeners would have to abide by rules of conduct. We may be too far down the road to either political correctness or political chaos for that. Plus it would need two cops to oversee the venue.