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.

 

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The Family History As A Method Of Torture

I spotted it in a trice – on the shelf of the council library. It was a self-published history of a local family. Paper-bound, A4 size, but about a centimetre thick. I’m a bit hazy about the exact family name but I remember it referred to a country town where they lived and styled them as ” Pioneer Nobility “.

That’s a concept you don’t see all that often in an egalitarian society – but it lurks in the heart of every amateur genealogist. If they can assert that their family is noble, and get you to believe it, they can control the universe.

I come from a mother and a father. They, in their turn, came from mothers and fathers. Funnily enough, so does everyone else riding the N0.507 bus to the train station. And so do you. It is the common experience of mankind to be born because of the combination of a mother and father.

The lucky ones get to know who they were. Even better – they might have gotten to see them for some portion of their lives and can treasure this. But there is a catch to the treasure – a curse, if you will…if you try to grasp too much of it, it turns to fire and burns away your happiness. And that fire can consume all the social oxygen and leave everyone around you asphyxiated.

I met today with a relative of my wife – a pleasant man who is the amateur genealogist for her family. He is good at it and has facts and figures of all the extended family at his fingertips. You have only to sit still long enough and you will find out when in 1887 one cousin shifted addresses in Adelaide, and how we know this, and what it means for the Scottish branch of the family in 1934…

It is not polite to sneer or yawn. Neither is it to run and hide in the toilet or fall lifeless to the carpet. One must look bright and attentive. And not scream.

But, just as with the accounting of dreams, so the history of someone else’s distant family connection to even more distant relations who have done no more than breed and move is the saddest and most banal of communications. No-one wants to know.

None of us are remotely interested in the thing, and unless you can prove in court that you are a direct descendant of a liaison between Benjamin Franklin and Cleopatra, we’re not likely to care. Publish all you like, prattle all you will, thrust forward parish records from the 19th century all you may – We. Don’t. Care.

But let me tell you about my uncle Agnes and the time she met the Kaiser in Woolies…

Are you An Ethnic Minority?

Hard to say, isn’t it?

In a society that has migrants from all corners of the globe, you can be amazed, entertained, disgusted, or distressed by looking at the variety of humanity that walks past you on the street. You can also be intimidated, delighted, or unmoved in equal measure. And here’s the good part…

The creatures you see that cause all these emotions to flow through you are also experiencing much the same thoughts when they see you. You are something of a spectacle, you must admit. If you were a bit better looking or had more money for better clothes you might get away with it…but as it is you look pretty much like what you are.

The thing to do is to figure out what ethnic minority you belong to – even if there are carbon copies of you stretching as far as the horizon like penguins on an Antarctic ice shelf. Once you have found the niche in which you fit, it is a short step to finding the niche in which you don’t fit – then squeezing in there and protesting that people are being mean to you. Some people are good at this – some are hopeless. They seem to blend in and succeed wherever they go and live happy and productive lives. They are law-abiding and cheerful…and where’s the fun in that, I ask you? 

I admit to being fortunate in being a member of a number of persecuted minorities. I’ve got a ready stock of angst and can wheel forward and discharge a cry of anguish no matter how good things are going or how comfortable I am. My only regret is that the traditional dress of my people chafes under the armpits and can become smelly in humid weather.

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…

Standing For Parliament

Standing for Parliament costs money – a fact that all people understand. The corollary is simple; not standing for parliament saves money. Particularly if that includes not standing for the policies and imposts of the parliament.

I do not suggest that people should revolt – there are far too many people on my Facebook feed who are revolting enough as it is. But I do think we should refuse to pay.

Refuse to pay the enormous salaries that parliamentarians get…and then refuse to pay the pensions, perks, and golden handshakes that usher them out the door. At very least, expose the entirety of their financial dipping and slurping while they are in office.

The two and a bit party system provides a certain amount of jealous spite to do this – but it is always tempered by the knowledge that once one lot succeeds in driving the other from the public teat, they can fasten upon it and suck  as hard as possible. It ain’t morals that drives the moralists – it’s the desire to get to that teat.

Note: This week there is a petition to the Australian parliament to get rid of an Australian parliamentarian because of his crass statements after a terrorist attack in New Zealand. So far it apparently has some 850,000 signatories. For a land of some 20 million people – most of them pretty conservative and politically apathetic – that’s actually pretty big beans. As both major parties are going to make a censure motion on the individual in the Senate, it is a very big beans indeed.

Make Money Ezi

Ezi? Easy.

Just flood spam messages into the rest of the world until someone sends you money to stop.

About 3/4 of all the replies to this and my other weblog columns seem to be people wanting to sell me programs and instructions on how to bother folks for money. I got news for ya – I knew how to do that long ago and discovered how ineffective a strategy it was compared to getting a job and actually working. If I managed to get to the point where I could do the job well, money was no problem.

Save your bandwidth, folks – I’m not interested in your get-rich schemes. If you were rich you would not be spamming me, so there’s the truth of it and of you.

On the other hand, I do not decry the value of good old-fashioned thievery. Even in an age of computers and on-line fraud there is still a place for someone willing to hold up pensioners at the Senior Citizens Centre or dig up the copper cabling at the power station to sell it for scrap. Just make sure the juice is turned off – apparently there are a lot of copper thieves in China that have made this fundamental error and are not drawing their rice ration any more.

I should be delighted to participate in any money-making activity that was not actually illegal, immoral, or fattening. Menacing people with painted chickens, for instance. Or reading Jane Austen on public transport until people pay to have it all stop. There’s gotta be money in that.

Bust Out Laughing

It is the secret of defusing a terrible situation. For instance…

a. You go to a clothing store with your small daughter – you tell her to wait quietly while you go into the changing booth to try on a new pair of trousers. When you have your old pair of daks off and are just about to pull the new ones on, the flimsy rail holding the curtain across the door of the booth falls down and there you are in your jocks for the entire shop – including the small child – to see.

Remedy? Bust out laughing.

The other saving grace is that eventually the small child will stop telling people of the incident. It’s been about 35 years so far and I am hoping that the forgetfulness will start to set in sometime soon.

b. A random stranger gets out of a car in front of you as you are waiting at the lights and accuses you of giving his girlfriend a heart attack.

Remedy? Bust out laughing.

When the light turns wheel around his car and turn the corner still laughing.

c. A customer in the camera store acts like a Very Important Person for a Very Long Time. And when it comes to pay for his purchase, he demands a discount because he is a Jewish Dentist. A Lithuanian Jewish Dentist.

Remedy? Bust out laughing.

The owner of the store is standing ten feet away, and he, like myself, is Jewish…he is a patient in my dental surgery for many years in the past…To his credit, he gives a stifled squeak and runs upstairs to his office holding his face. To my credit I do not give way and the litvak pays shop price.

d. We all eat potatoes and garlic and cabbage and beans and tacos sometimes. The wise amongst us do not eat them all at the same meal, because there is only so much a gas valve can stand. When the inevitable happens…

Bust out laughing.

And move upwind.