Holding Facebook’s Beer

I was mildly amused when a Facebook game came by asking me to score points for admitting to foolish/sad/criminal behaviour in my past. And making it public to the entire planet. I mean, how could one resist the temptation to fill in the little chinks in the information brick wall. I’m just a little surprised they didn’t include a section that asked for sexual fantasies and credit card numbers…

Well, here at the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia we feel that this sort of blatant attempt at coercion is all very well, but should not be done on an amateur basis. If you are going to ask people to condemn themselves publicly, you need to give them more tempting chances. If they’re going down the sewer, make it a big one.

To this end, we have devised the following quiz for social media. There are no points scored, unless you count the knowing looks that people will give you at your next party.

Have you ever…

a. Shot a police cruiser in the grill work with a 17 pounder anti-tank gun from a camouflaged position?

b. Flayed an Albigensian heretic?

c. Written a song about your feelings and then played it to people at a party, accompanying yourself on guitar? All 15 verses?

d. Served week-old warm runny egg salad sandwiches from a service station cabinet to people at a church social?

e. Counterfeited a draft card to allow your underage classmates to buy beer at the local liquor store? Then phoned ahead to alert the local police?

f. Removed a ladder from an attic access hatch while someone was up there and then gone quietly home and had a good dinner?

g. Switched tops on the spray-paint cans in the local Bunnings store cabinet?

h. Put salt in the plaster mix of someone who is trying to invest a casting?

i. Invited a religious caller in to tell you their entire story by using an accent rich in unidentifiably foreign sounds, mixed with blatant grammatical error –  and then insisted that they sit down and drink toasts to your country? Used water tumblers full of hard liquor and cooking oil?

j. If they lasted the course, showed them the Albigensian skin…?

 

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The Authentic Fake News Site Vs The False-Flag Rumour Forum List Meme

If we were asked to characterize the social media that we use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – in terms of food, what would we make it out to be?

a. Facebook: A crusty stew with appetizing aromas at the edges – aromas that never actually seem to be there when you search for them. The occasional bubble in the centre indicating heat. And a roiling mass of unsavoury ingredients just under the crust. Cat hair here and there. And unicorn glitter.

b. Twitter: A Pez dispenser. You poke the ornamental head at the top and a hard pellet of opinion is popped out of the screen. Some of the pellets taste like sugar and some of them taste like horse shit. None of them do you any good at all.

c. Instagram: Magnificently plated, superbly coloured, and unavailable to someone like you at this time. Just look and envy.

d. Pinterest: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and so is the food. The reason is mould. Subscribe now.

e. The personal blog: Someone’s home cooking. Not necessarily bad, but nevertheless someone else’s pots and pans. Taste at your peril. They may not be a good cook. You may not be a good eater.

If we had been presented with today’s social media news in the 1950’s or 1960’s we would likely have recognised it for what it is – propaganda and commercial promotion. The flimsiest of the flam. Those of us who saw the lies when they came on newsprint and left ink stains on the fingers…or who waded through innumerable cigarette advertisements in magazines…react entirely differently to those who have only ever seen a screen. We may not know how to turn that screen on and make it dance, but we know when to turn it off and do our own thinking.

Of course we can be wrong when we do that – original thought can be as bad as the store-bought stuff – but as we use simpler ingredients and have less access to processors, it is likely to be fresher and tastier. It may lack the salt and scandal that is added by unknown hackers but it nourishes us just the same.

Bit riskier when we send it to our friends and neighbours, though. As our own thoughts are unlikely to be covered by the legal indemnities enjoyed by professional liars, we are in danger of being detected and having our opinions challenged. Most of us have no biased reports or dodgy scientific studies to back us up and common sense has long been discredited as a way of living. The best we can do when some other madman challenges our own mania is throw out a smokescreen of kitten and Hitler memes and close the account.

Anyone who either agrees or disagrees with this will be instantly defriended with the prickly end of an emoji.

Civility And How To Avoid It- Part 1

With the rise of civil behaviour and good manners in the last few years – prompted in large part by the election of Mr. Donald Trump to the American Presidency – there has been an increasing feeling of unease in the backstabbing community. The Guild hopes to be able to reassure members and the general public and to set us all back on the proper pathway. Because everything off the pathway is strewn with mines.

Let’s start by making sure that people know what civility actually is – it is no good starting at phantoms and then letting real dangers slip in the door.

Civility is adult behaviour of considerate men and women who take care to treat others with respect and who do not cause unnecessary suffering. It is related to politeness and kindness, as wens are related to furuncles and boils, and it is equally welcome. Civility is the cement of societies…a thought that may comfort some until they realise that cement is also used to weight bodies that will be dumped in the harbour.

Civility may also be defined as a social pavise that allows one to get within easy crossbow-shot of the unsuspecting. As such, it is not that bad. You can paint soothing mental pictures on the front of it to make people think that a work of art is creeping up on them. Then, when they have been lulled into an aesthetic sense of safety you pop up and let one loose at them. If you do it in a completely calm and unemotional voice they may not even believe it was you. Quietly crouch under the protection as you wind your windlass and prepare for a second shot.

It’s not likely that you’ll get a third one off undetected, so be prepared to creep away. In some cases it is wise to creep as fast as your feet will carry you.

It has often been said that it costs nothing to be civil. True, and in many cases the behaviour is worth every penny you pay… In the case of Backstabbers Guild members we would advise a more commercial approach – be as polite as you need to be for as long as you need to be. Once your object has been achieved you can stop the pretence and go back to normal.  If you do it unobtrusively the memory of your kindness will continue far after you have resumed being cruel.

Remember that Mary Poppins – a Backstabber if ever there was one – said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. She was, of course, speaking before the current research into diabetes, obesity, and social virtue damned the sugar industry. And she was likely on the payroll of CSR. But she was right – you can sweeten vitriol, paraquat, and curare quite effectively if there are no hypodermic darts available. We advise that you never lick the spoon.

Part 2 will detail civility in different civilisations, though we have no data for Tasmania or Newfoundland as they are not civilisations

 

Hold My Beer

Please excuse me for using what is rapidly becoming a cliché meme, but I wanted to get this one in before the Thought Police arrive and load me into the van.

It is entirely possible to live your life without offending anyone. Just ask a mollusc. Hardly any bivalves sitting on the floor of the sea receive nasty messages on Facebook. Few of them are called racist or phobic. They live their lives in harmony with…gravel and weeds. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

Let’s be honest here ( And in saying that, I realise that I must apologise to all the liars out there. Sorry Mr Nixon…) we are all going to offend someone, somewhere, at some time. We cannot pass our lives without engendering bad feelings in others. In my own case, I have started in on the near relatives and am working outwards…

As we are bound to do it, we might as well do it early, do it thoroughly, and then be done with it. In this we are fortunate – there are groups of people in general society who wish to take umbrage at everything. If we can connect with them, supply a known quantity of offense and receive a measured amount of outrage, we can then all take Friday afternoon off and go to the pub. ( Minus the WCTU contingent, of course…)

To this end the BGA is going to start a register that will connect potential unwitting oppressors with people who would like to claim to be victims. Abuse/outrage ratios can be agreed to beforehand and arrangements made for confrontation at times that will be mutually convenient. With proper planning we can hire coffee vans and porta-loos as well as crowds.

Currently we are reviewing the public statuary of Australia to see if there are any examples that can be torn down and carted away to satisfy some portion of the populace. As yet, the only complaints have been about abstract works of art put up outside council premises and it would appear that the demands for their removal ( on grounds of the price tag ) have come from the ratepayers. I think there will need to be a Royal Commission on this and that means I get a white Toyota and a fact-finding mission to Biarritz.

Beauty!

 

The Question Of Dinner

The only questions I intend to countenance about dinner are ” When is it? ” and ” What’re we having? “. Any other attempt at advice or consent will be repelled.

This may seem a little sharp and dictatorial – well, cooks are like that. There is a little Gordon Ramsay in all of us. And it is no new thing in the family – I was raised in a household where there were two options upon the menu; take it or leave it. If I was loud or truculent at mealtime the first option was withdrawn. I am not stupid – I learned quickly – and I am eager to teach others.

Another dinner question sometimes arises: ” Now who can that be? “. The telephone, the iPad, or the doorbell is who it can be… The answer in all three cases during a meal should be : ” It does not matter “. I despair of ever curing the subcontinental scam artists from ringing at tea-time, but I am going to try to let relatives know that we keep regular meal times and hope to do so undisturbed. I think the trick will be to find out when they eat and regularly phone them in return. A few dinners congealed on their plates should get the message across. Either that or a cutout on the line between 6:00 and 7:00.

I know people who have especial diets – occasioned by religious faith, ethical choice, or medical reasons. I would never ask them to feed contrary to their own best interests – were I to entertain them I would attend assiduously to their needs. Likewise, if they were the hosts I should essay anything they put on my plate – presuming it to be intended for my own good.

Outside, of this, however, I brook no interference with the food choices. I adhere to Mark Twain’s dictum: ” Part of the secret to success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. ” He also advised people not to follow his advice, saying that his diet would assassinate them. I have no ambitions to murder people with a saucepan, but equally I have no desire to subsist on gruel. While I have hands, I will wield my own fork, thank you.

I am fortunate in that I passed my early life being hungry and having that hunger dealt with by both good cooks and terrible cooks. I was given clear examples of poor choice, bad flavour, and miserable preparation…and then of good food, good cooking, and comfortable surroundings. I am no culinary expert, but I know which experiences I liked.

If you will excuse me, the potatoes have caught alight and it may be time to serve them.

 

 

Reforming The World

A number of my friends would like to reform the world. They wish others would think, vote, spend, and behave in a way that seems correct…to them.

This has become evident in conversation and in reading the things that they have written. In some cases they have undertaken concrete action to try to initiate changes, but I do not know if there has been much success…time will tell.

I have few such ambitions – my desires for fundamental world-wide changes sort of peak at hoping people will not park too closely in shopping centres or leave chip wrappers on my lawn. This may seem sad or pathetic, but it at least has the advantage of providing daily reward – when my car doors are undented I sleep in peace.

My ability to affect Theresa May, Kim Jong Il, Donald Trump, or even Justin Trudeau is equal to my ability to juggle dugongs. I hesitate to even consider the mechanics of the thing. Any anxiety on my part about what they do remains untreated and untreatable. I could as easily alter the second law of thermodynamics.

So…what do I do when I want to do a bit of reforming…a bit of activism…a bit of righteousness? I turn to the nearest sinner and grasp them firmly by the conscience and turn on the guilt lamp – turn it up high until they start to sweat and twitch and gibber. Then I compel them to tell me all their misdeeds and browbeat them until they are a nervous jelly. By the time I am finished they have surrendered their entire psyche to me and are ready to be moulded anew. I demand – they obey. It is like training animals in a circus – a flea circus.

Of course I need hardly tell you that the nearest sinner to me is…me. It is a very efficient process – I know my peccadilloes intimately and can go right to the heart of the dirty little matters. No good pretending to me that I wasn’t there – I know where I was and I can prove it. If there is any argument I give myself a quick cuff round the ear and yell at me. It works every time.

And the great thing about it is…I never learn. I’ll be doing things that are worth sneering at for years to come. I can be as domineering to me as I want to and there is nothing I can do to stop me.

Browse the Shelves

Want to find out all about someone? The real info – the skinny – the down dirt?

Forget the internet. Forget the public record office. Don’t hire a private detective – save your money. All you have to do is look for a bookshelf. People can hide everything from anybody nowadays but they can’t conceal a thing from long-dead authors…

a. If there is no bookshelf in the house, because there are no books in the house, you know a very valuable thing. The householder probably doesn’t, but…

b. If there is no bookshelf in the house but there are piles of books lying about the floor and on every available horizontal surface you know a different valuable thing. Look at the books – if they are dust-covered and uncut, you may be in the presence of a collector, a publisher, or a dolt.

c. If the books are pawed – spines broken, jammy fingerprints on pages, bookmarks everywhere, marginal notes in pencil, etc. you can ask the householder questions and are likely to get useful answers. If the marginal notes are written in lipstick or blood, don’t ask the questions.

d. If there are numerous bookshelves with books neatly arranged, a big wing armchair by the window, and a smell of coffee and cinnamon buns in the air – do your utmost to ingratiate yourself with the householder. It will be worth it.

e. If, in addition, the bookshelves are labelled, numbered according to the Dewey decimal system, and sport signs reminding you that you are being watched, try not to rattle your teaspoon in your cup of camomile and be careful of making eye contact.

Now – all the above having passed, look at the titles of the books. The books most important to the householder are likely to be those closest to hand. The first three show you their mind – if you need to know it, study those books carefully. What you do with the knowledge is your own affair.

Note: To be fair to my readers I will list the three books I keep closest to hand:

  1. George Washington’s Rules Of Civility And Decent Behaviour.
  2. Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack.
  3. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. This volume also contains The Rights Of Man and The Age of Reason