Aspiring Or Perspiring?

My contemplation of the Facebook Follies a couple of months ago was somewhat of a chore – but it had  some good effects.

Oh. I was not less annoyed at some of the postings, but I reined in any comment, and gained some degree of self-satisfaction at that. And there were valuable insights:

a. Those with most to post, had least to say. They dipped out of a dry well, but that didn’t stop them rattling the bucket.

b. There are, indeed, Fellow Travellers still out there.

One might have expected them to vanish with the 1990’s but I think they just went into a grumbling hibernation. With the rise of a moneyed and bellicose Russia they reappeared, blinking in the sunlight. They are probably a little dismayed that the old red flag days were not revived, but they can still travel to Cuba, Vietnam, and presumably North Korea to get some of the thrill of the past. I’ve watched a couple do two-thirds of the trifecta and expect that they’ll be booking for Pyongyang eventually.

c. There are would-be Fellow Travellers who lack the fire, fare, and foresight to ever succeed.

At least they could take some comfort in the thought that they serve as Useful Idiots…if they understand what that means.

d. You can, indeed, be a ne’er do well these days and gain an audience on the internet. Where once you would have been spurned or clapped up in a workhouse or gaol, you can now draw sympathy and a pension on the strength of it all. It is ever the fault of others… and they must be made to pay.

e. And on the bright side, there are genuinely cheerful and amusing people on the social media. They leaven otherwise lumpen fare.

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” I Don’t Think You’re Funny! “

” Sorry to hear about your problem. But keep at it – if you try to have a thought every day – even a little one – eventually thinking comes easier.

But thank you for the complement in the latter part of your speech. You might leave a little pause between the first sentence and the second, so people understand that there is a full stop there… ”

Well, there you go. A ready-made Uncle Dick squelch for the person at a party who wants to be offended and take over your conversation upon that basis. You could cede it to them by apologising for whatever it was you said – but you would have a difficult time getting it back. This way you leave them wondering what the holes are on both sides of their mental cockpit and what that whizzing noise was. It was a 40mm Bofors squelch.

There are lots of what the Readers Digest used to call Perfect Squelches to be had – and  lots of times when they are needed – but unfortunately we often miss the cue and fail to fire. Or we are a little slow in the fusing, and the target flies away. A squelch delivered too late bounces off the ground and can detonate in your face.

The best thing to do is practise – and nowadays we are given this opportunity nearly every day when the Indian call centre scammers ring up to try to take control of our computers. There is a brief pause after you lift the telephone receiver and then often a hiss or the sound of a background camel market as the scammer reels out their spiel – you can have up to ten seconds to collect your wits, fuse a squelch, slam it into the breech, and reach for the trigger.

Use these scammers as practise targets. Do not be rude or profane – don’t even be vulgar. Be nice. Be logical. Be honest. Draw a bead on them and tell them that you are Billy The Old Kid and that you rob railway trains as a pension. Tell them that are looking for a Russian bride but all the agencies will offer is Vladimir Putin in a dress. Tell them that you are the ghost of John Diefenbaker looking for butter tarts. Do it in a serious voice.

Note: When an Indian scammer blows up the results can be spectacular. They are only human, after all, and it must be hot and sticky there in the market. They are often only one call away from running amok.

” Aren’t You Afraid That Someone Will be Offended…? “

On the contrary, my dear.

I am afraid that no-one will be offended. Because if that is the case I have failed to read the social currents and have cast my bait onto a lee shore. All my effort is in danger of being disregarded. I have done my best work and it is languishing…

This is 2019. We’re in the Offended Zone. Everything we say can be taken amiss. Oops, sorry…that should be taken aMs…no, aperson…

We may be the least controversial, kindest, and blandest of creatures but we are still bound to be guilty in someone’s eyes. And with the internet it will not only be their eyes that condemn us – they’ll be able to post no end of condemnatory essays about us. We’ll be memed to death, if we’re lucky. The best outcome for most of the witch hunting will be a quick stake and bundle of blazing sticks.

Now I’m a hunted man. Oops, I’ve just admitted that I’m a man and written the word ” hunt “. I can hear the convoy of activists starting their engines and heading for me.

Is there no end to the torture? Can I never please everyone?

Well, no. No, I can’t. I’ll offend someone by being a Jew and someone else by writing Jew instead of jewish. I’ll anger someone by being male and someone else by doing it since 1948. I will make one section of the country angry by being healthy and another section by writing. Lord God, don’t let us consider what I’m about to cook for dinner…the criticism would be all too much.

So.

So what do I do? Do I jink and dodge like a Halifax bomber whenever someone attacks my tail or do I just sail along and shoot at them with the quad .30’s? Do I try to buy the admiration and approval of people who are determined to neither admire or approve? Or do I eat my dinner, drink my toddy, and brush my teeth before bedtime as I have for 71 years – bidding defiance to politics, trends, and rituals of others?

Ask me tomorrow, it’s just about dinner time.

 

 

My New Enemies – Fresh From The Newspaper

Apparently I am the enemy of the young, and they are enemies of me – or so says the Atlantic Monthly. I am considered a minor detonation in the Baby Boom and guilty, thereby, of oppressing them mightily.

It seems as if by being 71 and owning my own home, I have condemned them to listless poverty and racial segregation. I’m not sure if I’m also responsible for Hitler or the Johnstown Flood, but I’m going to read the magazine avidly to see. And that may be the explanation for the article…

Newspapers write whatever they like. And what they like is for people to give them money. They are pleased to receive it from advertisers, subscribers, and people who buy the paper to wrap fish. It is much the same with magazines, though they are smaller than newspapers and the ink they use makes the fish taste funny. Still, they want you to read and look at the ads, and writing garbage is just as profitable as wrapping it.

On one hand I am pretty certain I have not excluded any of my neighbours from Singapore, India, Malaysia, or Watford Gap from settling in the neighbourhood…because they’re here and so am I. None of us that I can recall have burned crosses on the front lawn, though there have been a few suspect smells when someone has not paid attention to the pots on the stove. And first day of winter smells like a forest fire in the Okanagan as everyone in the street fires up their wood stoves.

On the other hand, the thought that I am causing pain and suffering to the millennial generation by denying them their rightful place in Mom’s basement playing a video game is a very appealing one. Just knowing that they are frustrated at not being able to get free stuff is enough to brighten the day. We don’t have much of a lawn now, but I’ll welcome the chance to yell at them to get off it.

 

When They Ask You To Play ” Misty “

Yet again.

You may never be in this position, Clint, and good luck to you. but if you ever do find yourself listening to that phone call or reading that email…

  • Immediately remove yourself from all social media. Cancel your subscription to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other electronic conduit.
  • Clean out all traces of the correspondence that have accumulated. This may involve burning old letters tied with blue ribbons, deleting files, throwing everything into the ” secure trash disposal ” icon, or any other means necessary to clear the table.
  • Consider reducing your computer and hard drive to atoms by strapping it onto a North Korean nuclear device and poking Kim in the back with a stick. As alternatives you can do much the same with an oxy-acetylene torch or by wrapping the computer with a sock and putting a matching pair into the dryer. With any luck the offending one will disappear into the sock void and never be seen again
  • Contact your local network news agency and confess to something. Make it something juicy – it need not be a true confession to an actual crime or sin, as long as it is going to be chortle-worthy on the 6:00 news. Make yourself a neon-lit, steam-powered, toxic social pariah. That usually stops most pests.
  • Send a price list for misty-playing. I usually ask $ 30 an hour and in the cases where I suspect the bill wouldn’t be paid, I demand cash in advance. You’d be surprised how often a business-like approach to this sort of thing sorts out the cheapjacks.
  •  Move away. Away away. Go interstate or overseas.
  • Take holy orders. Tuck yourself into whichever superstition seems most likely to provide protection against unbelievers.
  • Come out of the closet. Or go back into the closet. Buy an closet at IKEA and spend the weekend putting it together. Buy an secondhand closet from someone who has come out of it and no longer needs it. If you do, inspect it beforehand for moths or worse.
  • Just play Misty.

Nearly July, And I Am Going To Go Dry

Oh, I’m not going to stop drinking. Good Lord, don’t jump to ridiculous conclusions…No need for crazy talk.

I’m going to conduct the experiment on Facebook during July of not removing anything. No hiding ads or shares that people put up. No taking down rants and political propaganda.  No snoozing or unfollowing people. No unfriending. No untoward reactions to anything.*

It will be a strain. I will be forced to see, but pass by, the worst of the drivel that appears on screen. I will not post corrections of typos or humorous suggestions. I will not try to push people over the edge of madness.  The people I know teeter there much without any help from me.

I shall practice Will Roger’s advice about not passing up a chance to shut up – and I will see if I feel better or worse at the end of the month. I will either have been destroyed by the flood of folly or find myself completely unaffected by it. I can’t say right now which prospect is most appealing.

*  I may have filed one person away for 30 days, but that is to prevent homicide.

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.