How To Be Correct Without Being Political

As a person who has done his fair share of offending people in his time, I think I am in a good position to advise others on how to avoid doing the same thing. I would hesitate to address friends about this but strangers may benefit from these handy hints:

A. Do not lie to people or about people. Do not lie on people. Do not lie to yourself.

B. Do not tell other people the truth about themselves. This may seem to be in direct conflict with rule A. above, but there is a delicate difference between telling the truth about where the nearest post box is located as compared to how flabby someone’s arguments are becoming. One’ll get you thanked and one’ll get you punched.

C. Do not present ‘ sights unbecoming ‘ to others on social media. These sights may include pictures of you, friends, or family doing things of a marginal nature. The images may amuse you but won’t have the same effect on others. Keep your peccadilloes hidden. Peccadillo sheaths are sold in all good ironmongers.

D. Do not repeatedly press political, religious, financial, sexual, theatrical, mechanical, or moral opinions on others. By all means state your support for triple-expansion steam valves, the Social-Endymionist Collective, or bi-metallism in a clear and honest manner, if you feel that the times have called upon you to do so. Once. Do it once, and all who know you, will know your thoughts. If you have any entrée to their minds, you will accomplish as much with one quiet message, as you could with the loudest and most repetitive tub thumping. And you will not risk driving them away.

E. Do not tell Irish jokes unless your name is Kelly and you come from County Mayo. Likewise any other joke that involves ethnicity or religion unless you are clearly speaking of yourself. Even then, be careful. Your fellow ethicists, co-religionists, or compatriots may be unwilling to laugh with you about your shared heritage – at least where others can hear. Some groups have no sense of humour about themselves.

F. Do not ape another culture. Even if you admire it and think it is cool and good-looking and wise and sexy. People who you might regard as exotically interesting may regard themselves as just home folks. In particular, do not use accents that are not your own. No-one from Scotland ever wants to hear you speaking in a Scottish accent and no-one from Mississippi ever wants to hear you speak in a fake Southern drawl.

If you would like to test this out without getting punched, try the experiment of going to someone in your own ethnic or national group and speaking to them in a parody of your own shared native accent. Their reaction will be real, and that’s what other people will really think of you ” doing ” their accent.

This is entirely separate from trying to learn a foreign language, and attempting to speak to someone in their own tongue, and getting it horribly wrong. No-one is offended with this…with the possible exception of the French…and even they will patiently try to correct your pronunciation. If you are trying to meet others half-way they all recognise it.

G. Do not ‘ share ‘ internet memes that say the nasty things that you really want to say but cannot bring yourself to utter. It is recognisable cowardice as well as offensive. And it leagues you with some of the vilest minds in society.

Well, that should help a little. It is not the complete Emily Post, but in trying times it may smooth out your social picture and hide a few of the creases. Remember that nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, so if you plan you run for office either here or in your other country, be sure that your Facebook and Twitter will find you out. Mind you, you might get away with it for years and at a Senate or White House salary, that makes a pretty good nest-egg.

” If You Don’t Know…”

” I’m not going to tell you.”

How often have we heard that one? It was the constant litany of the Kool Kids at school when the rest of us asked a question. It was used to make us feel left-out…even more so than to begin with. And it worked very well for the first few times that it was employed. We would go off sad and insulted, and there seemed to be no answer to make.

I bring this up because of a Facebook posting recently that floated past my feed line. It was a topic I would normally have taken no interest in, but it appeared because a friend had entered the general discussion. She was interested in one person’s assertions regarding nutrition, and asked very politely for some references that she could pursue in her studies.

Well, she got a sneering version of the standard reply. And then some equally rude passing commentary from other anonymous sources. It was the schoolyard all over on the internet.

I mentioned earlier that this sort of thing worked well for the first few times. My school days were a long while ago, and it has stopped working – indeed it stopped working long ago. But the interesting thing was that it was a standard ploy used in many situations for a very long period of time.

When I encountered this sort of rudeness from people of my own age I was able to dismiss them as fools or braggarts that had no information or knowledge to back up their assertions. When I encountered it from a lecturer in the University of Western Australia’s Dental School I was taken somewhat aback. But it took a further 10 years of solo practice to harden me enough to respond to it when it happened again.

The chap had moved on to be a specialist consultant in a mechanical branch of dentistry. I had a patient who needed the sort of thing he did – and referred the patient by letter to the specialist. Apparently they did not get on well – and I eventually received a high and mighty letter sneering at me for sending that referral and telling me not to do it again. And I never did – I sent the people who needed a prosthedontic specialist’s attention to other practitioners and everyone was happy. I did have the satisfaction of writing a polite note acknowledging the order*.

I suspect that whenever this sort of thing happens it is because of a number of factors:

a. The person being rude does not know what they are talking or writing about .

b. They have no material to which they can refer.

c. They are naturally ill-mannered. Or they have developed ill manners as a cover for worse characteristics.

d. They are writing from Mom’s Basement, with no other connection to social interaction than the reactions to their trolling posts.

I suppose we can be grateful that at least they are not in specialist practice…

* Good manners in the face of bad is always the best answer. Public good manners is even better…

The Nose To Tailer

Having just written a humorous Facebook post about nose-to-tail car accidents in morning rush hour…and that will tell you a lot about my behaviour on social media when they let me loose…I have dived for the editorial keys to vindicate myself.

Let me say at the outset that I am against such accidents – both on principle and in practice. I think they should be avoided. I have so far managed to not be there when they have happened.

But unfortunately I suspect that I don’t really have a say in the matter anyway. The behaviour of the drivers of the large SUV and tray-top vehicles seems to determine when these will occur, and they are getting more desperate by the day.

My life currently allows me to be off the road during morning and afternoon crushes, and sometimes to be on public transport for the average town journey. It is heaven not to have to worry about the driving and parking, and makes a journey into our main city shops actually worthwhile. I am also able to access at least two major suburban shopping complexes on the bus or train, so as long as I am not buying a refrigerator I can do my shopping on foot.

Nose-to-tail has no winners. Everyone accuses everyone else and everyone and authority blames them all. It only wants one link in a crash chain to have no insurance or license to delay any repairs or settlement, and the meat in the sandwich cars can sometimes be written off with horrifying ease.

Let’s hope that winter eases up in a month or so and we can get back to dry roads and small comfortable motor crashes…

” I’m Disillusioned…”

Bloody Goodoh!

Now you get to see things as they really are, instead of through the veil of prejudice and pre-training that someone draped around you when you were a kid. You can cast aside the sage advice that Dear Old Dad or Dear Old Mum gave you and make your own Dear Old Decisions. Even if they are Dear Old Mistakes, they will at least be your own product. All the programming that your teachers and your playfellows did on you when you were in school can be thrown into the bin.

Watch out for the current crop of fake news and meme sites. Keep a weather eye out for actual propaganda and steer clear of it. Don’t allow people on your Facebook list or in your social circle to bamboozle you either. They can be as wrong as they can be right…and if they have resorted to FB to tell you how to live your life, they are more likely to be the former than the latter.

Always look to see where the money trail leads. If it leads from your wallet to someone else’s, you can be certain that they approve of this and that you have been set up for harvest. Pay if you wish, but remember that you can also tell whoever it is demanding your money that they can go to hell in a handbasket. If they seem hesitant to start, help them into the basket. With your boot.

Cherish as many falsities as you like…just don’t impose them on others. If you like the sound of a certain idea because it makes you feel good, indulge yourself all you wish behind closed doors. Close the computer program before you start – no-one needs to see you lost in whatever rapture you enjoy. We’ll wait out in the hall until you recover yourself.

 

Discretion Is the Bitter Part Of Valour

It certainly is bitter when it prevents you from crushing your enemies and drinking blood from their skulls. This can take all the fun out of a children’s birthday party.

Being discrete means different things to different people – in one case not mentioning  that the hostess’s soufflé has slumped to the side of the plate – in another not screaming ” Die, Infidel! ” and leaping at the SAS trooper with the machine gun. Neither makes for a comfortable social interaction.

You might be tempted to equate discretion with cowardice. This is false. Cowardice never attempts anything – discretion only baulks at the impossible or improvident. Both will serve to keep their practitioner out of trouble, but the former brings disgrace once detected; the latter can sometimes bring honour. The difficulty is in knowing where the boundary line is.

People often try to introduce a moral tone to what might otherwise be a purely operational decision. They ask ” Will what I do make the world a better place? “. ” Will it be fair, and right, and kindly? “. They might as well ask whether it will be covered in unicorn sparkle poo. The question is just a way of masking underlying cowardice.

A wise and brave man asks different questions: ” Will it work? “…” Will the benefit outweigh the cost? “…” Can I sheet the blame home to someone else if it all goes to pieces? “. Answered honestly, these will help you to determine whether to do something or just go to the washroom and crawl out through an open window.

Remember – no-one ever blamed Confucius for the explosion of the HINDENBERG. Confucius was no fool.

” You’ll Be Sorry… “

” You’ll be sorry…”

a. ” When I’m gone. ”

Yes, probably I will be. There will be things missing and ugly discoveries in the back of cupboards. There will be more work for less reward. But I will see it through.

b. ” If you eat that chocolate cream stuffed lamb chop. ”

Undoubtedly. Pass the maple syrup, eh?

c. ” You ever met me.”

Yes, and I am starting now, while you’re here – so it’s fresh. No good trying to get the same consistency in stale sorrow.

d. ” If you don’t buy it now. ”

Possibly, but I am betting on a greater probability of sorrow if I buy it at all. You own it now and you don’t look any too happy…

e. ” With the fringe on top. ”

NOW I know what happened to my OLKLAHOMA LP! Give it back!

The preceding was brought to you by the National Council For Regret. If the Australian Government cannot make you sorry, then nothing can.

 

One From Column A – And One From Column B

It may come as a surprise to many, but I do have friends. The fact that I am the Right Evil Bastard of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia might suggest that I am unapproachable, or that I can form no lasting connections. Nonsense. I know when to place a barrier between personal matters and Guild matters. And I only lift that barrier when it is absolutely necessary.

As an adult, who has adult friends who have married, I also have adult friends who have unmarried. Neither of these circumstances are uncommon in our society – and in nearly all of the important aspects of life should raise no controversy whatsoever. When I noticed that both processes were happening more frequently I had to stop and think how to comport myself. In the end I decided:

a. To accept the decisions of adults to join or separate as their own affairs. My views were not canvassed either way, wanted, or necessary.

b. To maintain an even friendship with both parties. If possible to get coffee and biscuits from both in turn. Good biscuits, not those old flat, dry things.

c. To endeavour to support them in whatever way seemed correct to them. There are exceptions. No, I will not move pianos up spiral staircases.

d. To support any future relationships they may form with an equal sense of friendship and dignity.

I am happy to say that in most cases I have been able to keep to these resolutions. The people concerned have not overburdened me with their troubles and I have not had to be custodian of their anger or referee in their fights. I do not know whether they have behaved well toward each other, but they have been pleasant to me.

Strangers, however, may purchase my fealty or enmity as a matter of course. The Guild has an extensive price list of services and we welcome new clients.