Do You High Five The Computer?

No. I point at it and yell ” Bumpah ! ” when I finish writing a knockout column.

Then I put it in the draft section and let it sit for at least a couple of days before I re-read it. If it is still ” Bumpah! ” I can post it. The two days lets me see the typos, and introduces a certain degree of calm into the thing. It also means that sometimes the exclamation is changed to”

” Trasho! ”

Thanks to Mr. W. Rogers, I am taking more of the opportunities to shut up that are presented to me. I hope silence will smooth relations with people in the future and serve as an elegant setting to the occasional flash of diamond-like wit.

Would that world leaders who resort to the mobile phone keypad whenever stressed to send out tweets were as cautious. It might prevent a great deal of angst in the rest of us.

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Do We Know Who Our Enemies Are?

And I am not talking about political enemies, class enemies, or national enemies…You can leave those to the government to deal with. They’ll make ’em for you and then arrange for you to meet them when it is most inconvenient.

I’m not even including hostile institutions or businesses – the organisations or groups that plot your destruction during secret meetings in dark caverns. These are a normal facet of life.

I’m thinking about personal enemies – private individuals who hate you. People who would get at you if they only could. They come in different varieties:

a. Someone whom you have wronged. Stolen their treasure, perhaps, or murdered their father in a duel. Seduced their wife/husband/partner/lawnmower man. These are persons who contemplate a blood feud but cannot decide yet which of your veins to open.

b. Someone whom you have done a favour or service for. This can be a potent source of enmity, particularly if the good deed was observed by others and required an equally good deed in return…that was never done. Your enemy is enclosed in a guilt-edged cage.

c. Someone of whom you have been contemptuous. Even if this is no more than a word or a glance, you can be sure that it is the deepest poisoned cut of all. If you have made your contempt amply plain in public, expect no abatement of their anger.

d. An ugly person, if you are beautiful, or a beautiful person, if you are ugly. Whatever a mirror might reveal, your enemy can see themselves in you, and they hate what they see.

Now, what do you do about enemies?

If you cannot think of one, leave it go at that. They’ll still be there, but if you don’t see them, it’s like having mice in the wainscotting.

If you suspect someone is an enemy, go to them and ask them if they are. If they aren’t, they’ll say ” No ” and if they are, they’ll say ” No”. Then they’ll ask you why you asked…and you can tell them that you were worried about it. Then they’ll have to start being overly friendly to defuse the awkward situation. Make them pay for coffee.

If you have proof positive that someone is an enemy, treasure this. An enemy is a very valuable person. They will always be interested in you and the best ones will know where you are at all times. You can ring them up and they’ll always answer – try this at 3:00 AM and see how true it is. Remember that as you are their enemy they worry about you far more than anyone else does.

Sort of touching, in a way.

Are You Sorry You Never…?

Yes. and no. When I consider the possibilities of what I might have done…or had done to me…I figure it is about a draw. I have never been as happy or as miserable as I might have been. Not that I did not try.

We can all remember chances we could have taken that would have resulted in vast wealth, fabulous sex, and untold acclaim.  The land we could have bought for a song, the partner we could have bedded, the position we could have stood for and won. But we have to be honest – if we pass the same period of time through our memory we can also list junk bonds and properties that we passed by, people who have turned out really rotten, and ventures that have proven to be toxic to all concerned. If we missed some, we at least avoided the others.

It’s been a constant meme that the saddest phrase is ” If Only…” but this is a crock. The wise person remembers the mixture of events and benefits greatly from the warm glow – in some cases of nostalgia and in the other of burning wrecks. In both cases you benefit from being far away and long after. Just remember the dumb thing and do the smarter thing next time.

But, but, but…what if there is no next time? What if you fetch up on the wrong side of 70 and all the bikini girls are 18? And what if there is no more land in Dalkeith for 5 Pounds? And you have retired from the Association Of Veeblefetzers long before you could become president and reap the bribes? How can you stop the gnaw of regret? Easy. Remember then, if you wish, and then look at now realistically.

Talk to an 18 year-old. If you can get them out of their iPhone long enough. Ask them about music or the movies. Be prepared to grit your teeth and/or other parts of your anatomy at some of the answers. Let’s face it – you’ll be lucky to resist the urge to order the kid off your lawn!

Fabulous land bargains? They come with fabulous land taxes and/or dealing with contractors to develop the dirt. They are the start of decades of worry, culminating in the fear of capital gains tax. You’ll get a six-foot plot of land soon enough…

Position and power? Over whom? The sort of people who have meetings, seminars, and workshops? The committees and subcommittees? The Annual General Meeting? You could wash out stale yoghurt containers and have more fun than occupy most powerful executive positions.

So do not regret. Leave that to others. If you enter into the thing at all, opt for being the person who makes them sorry for it all.

 

 

 

The Unspeakable Joy Of Satiety

You’ve all seen the tee shirt that says  ” Been there, Done that. Got this tee shirt. “.

It’s funny and sad on several levels, but mightily encouraging in the end. It frees us from the need to:

a. Go back there and do it again. At least as long as the tee shirt lasts.

b. Go there and do it in the first place. If we really don’t want to travel, compete, shop, or whatever the thing is, we can pretend that it is old hat and that we’re weary of it all.

If we were honest we would wear a tee shirt that said ” Never been there. Don’t fancy going “. Then we could emblazon this slogan over all sorts of images; Paris, Disneyland, Bali, Gold Coast. The reaction on the faces of others would be much more satisfying than with the first version.

c. Envy those who do go and do things.

Again we ought to be honest inside ourselves if we really do not fancy any of it…but instead of emblazoning this contempt on our chests we could settle for a nice silkscreen print of a Messerschmitt or Bullwinkle the moose. Why shit people off over your own tastes and desires?

For myself, I try to avoid any writing on the externals of my clothing – whether that be a brand name of running shoes or the state prison farm. If people want to know where I’ve been or what I like to wear they can ask me.

 

The Divine Joy Of Distance

Have you ever wondered at the principles of the Buddhist faith? At the detachment that many of the faithful present in the face of difficulties? Does it seem all an act?

It may be…and like all acts, it can be well or ill done…but the very motions and disciplines that the Buddhists go through serve them in any case. it is like the Jews doing rituals that make them think about morality – sometimes it works.

But distance is the thing. If you can master the use of distance, you can make daily life so much better for yourself and others:

a. Distance yourself from inordinate desires. Feed yourself, of course. Clothe, house, and entertain yourself. Educate yourself. Ensure yourself against disease if possible. But do not chase wealth, power, sex, or sensation too avidly. You may be forced to catch it.

b. Distance yourself from people who distress you. Running away is necessary sometimes and staying away even more so.

c. Distance yourself from dangerous places, people, and activities. See (b. ) above.

d. Distance yourself from argument. Not just from arguments that others are engaging in, but from argument that you start. Most things are not worth arguing about.

e. Distance yourself from idiocy. Not all folly is idiotic, as Erasmus of Rotterdam might say, and not all folly is harmful…but sheer idiotic behaviour is never good for anyone. You can rarely stop it, but you can anticipate it, and be somewhere else listening to the sirens in the night.

If this all seems to make you…well…distant – use your new-found reputation as a cool head to advantage. It may be so for yourself and others – you may be a calming or moral  influence far beyond what you do for yourself.

The Obscene Joy Of Politeness

I used to own about eleven different firearms – from rifled muskets to revolvers to shotguns. There were bayonets and swords and spears and bows and arrows enough in the house to hold a regular historical reign of terror. Yet I never did – I found that none of the weapons ( and that is exactly what they were, despite the mealy-mouthing of the Sporting Shooters Association ) could cause as much accurate destruction as my books of etiquette.

Emily Post can hit harder than a 17 pounder gun. And you can turn her onto anyone – young, old, rich, or poor. She comes with impenetrable armour as well – you fight from a secure position.

Our nation has many rude people. Many crude people. Many people who use obscenity and bluster to dominate all conversations and exchanges. Yet none of them can do the slightest damage to a person who behaves in a gentlemanly or ladylike fashion consistently. Good form and good behaviour is a position from which one never need never resile. They carry the day.

But how can you do this in the face of rude behaviour? By behaving in precisely the same fashion as if the behaviour is polite. Or at least subject each circumstance, person, or conversation to a graded response:

a. If all is well, and the other people are polite, be cheerful, gracious, and friendly.

b. If the situation is well, but the others are cool or standoffish, still be polite. You need not strain cheer past the limits of grace.

c. If the encounter is rude, be civil. Civility is the bottom line of behaviour and can not be criticised later. Keep your responses and actions to those of a reasonable person – as defined in law – and you are safe from the law.

In all these three cases, you hold the upper hand with your response – you give or withhold as the circumstances demand, and if you always treat others better than they treat you, you are the moral victor.

Facebook’s Community Standards

Or Hold The Stainless Banner High…*

I’ve been scolded by Facebook for posting a story in my column that deals with scale model building – a story in 8 or more parts. It’s the history of the Royal Ruritanian Army Air Force and Facebook thinks it is spam. And says that it contravenes Facebook community standards.

I have to admit, it doesn’t contain:

a. Sneering memes about an American President or Australian Prime Minister.

b. Thoughts and prayers.

c. Sneering references to thoughts and prayers.

d. Cat videos.

e. Advertisements that have been paid for by businesses based upon my browser history.

f. Games that seek to find out people’s preferences so that the information can be sold to advertisers.

So, yes, my columns do not conform to Facebook community standards. If they did I should be deeply ashamed.

I wonder if Facebook is ever deeply ashamed…?

*   I was listening to the old Civil War song of this name…but I can’t be sure if the lyrics mentioned ” stainless ” or ” brainless “… which would explain a great deal about the current problem.