Evidently A Good Person…

How often are we greeted with this over the morning egg and coffee? In most cases it is quite the opposite – a beloved entertainment figure is held up to scorn and calumny for some sexual offence – a local official is found to have stolen money – the schoolmaster is pictured dressed in an SS uniform at a Christmas party. It is not so much a case of shaking our faith as preventing it from developing in the first place.

I am always willing to assume the worst about people…but secretly hope that I am wrong. I would be delighted if the monster that is booed from the political platform was kind to puppies. I might not be prepared to vote for them, but I would trust them to walk the dog.

Equally, I am fair-minded when it comes to actual criminality – as long as it can come before a magistrate who is not elected by the local community. I have faith in the British system of justice, though the British can give me an ache in the pancreas as often as not when they start to spout John Bullshit. Done fairly, the British court system does mete out justice in most cases.

It depends upon evidence – evidence that can be clearly presented, seen by the magistrate…and everyone else in court…and that can stand the test of proof. The cases where there is a lack of evidence are harder to deal with, but I still think that they err on the side of caution enough to allow justice to prevail. Unfortunately they can also err on the side of the ruling classes in more cases than you’d think, but this is dying out.

I should still prefer to stand a trial in front of a standard magistrate here than the Supreme Court of nearly any other nation in the world.

” Temperance, Temperance, Now… “

When you are angry and it’s cold, warmth is a pleasure. When you are similarly out of sorts and it’s hot, coolness is soothing. What shall you turn to when the temperature is pleasant, but you are still not?

Well, the candy bar makers would have you buy their sugar sticks and cheer yourself up that way. So would the BMW corporation. I’ve looked at the price of confectionary these days and you might as well pick out a colour for your Series 2 Coupe right now – you’ll be able to afford it far sooner…

Temperance in all things was prescribed by the ancient philosophers as a way of life. Or, I should say, by some of them. Others went to extremes of being either miserably pinched or wildly overstimulated…and in the end everyone ended up just as happy as each other.

” Temperance ” when seized upon by the 19th century social reformers and religious promoters seems to have been anything but. It basically meant no alcohol – in a moral crusade allied laughingly to a mohammedan’s jihad view of liquor. If it was George Orwell writing their lines they might have been ” Water good – booze bad “.

If you want to see the combined effects of water and morality, google up 19th century images of the WCTU ladies. Lips that touched liquor never touched theirs…and the reason is painfully obvious from the photos. Admittedly, photographers did not encourage their clients to smile in the days of the long exposure, but the WCTU ladies are something else entirely. I’ve seen things painted on the front of fighter planes that looked more welcoming…

Am I encouraging you to wild licence? To drunken orgies? To wasted days and wasted nights? If you are going to experience them anyway and do it feeling guilty, no. If you plan to take wild delight and bask in the warm glow, go right ahead.  Stay out of the car, don’t juggle chain saws, and avoid contracting marriage or any other social disease.

The Smile On Voltaire’s Face

For many years I’ve visited Melbourne – sometimes in the summer – sometimes in the winter. Sometimes for both seasons on one day ( plus the Apocalypse and Free Pizza Night. Melbourne weather is like that… ) I’ve often gone to visit a friend. He lives in the NGV on the second floor.

François-Marie Arouet was in the word business long before me…and as it happens, will probably be there long after I am gone. That is the quality of his thinking and writing. I say ” is ” rather than ” was ” because so much of what he wrote and published is still current. Indeed a great deal of his admonishment to tolerance and sensible thinking is still for the future…

Quite what he would make of the current viral crisis, the world’s response to it, and the attitude of the plague’s authors, is open to speculation. I don’t think he would have been surprised at any of it – he seems to be a man who would have been hard to startle – and I suspect he would be more willing to forgive the perpetrators than the rest of us will eventually be. He faced bullies and malefactors himself.

But he’s safe now. He can reside in a bronze bust along Toorak Road and in the bookshops of the city. The rest of us still have to keep our distance and hope that the CSL will pump out a vaccine that won’t kill us. And try to be tolerant when the truth about what set it all off finally comes out.

I shall polish my toleration tools in anticipation.

 

” I Need Sex “

You what?

” I need sex. If I don’t get sex I will be a failure. I will be sick. I will be terrible…”

Hogwash. If you don’t get sex you won’t be any of those things. You’ll just be yourself with your clothes on and a good deal more spending money in your pocket. You’ll have time to do pleasant and fun things without worrying about consequences. You will be able to avoid any number of unpleasant outcomes – both physical and mental.

” But everyone else is having sex. ”

No they’re not. They might be telling you that, but a great many of them are lying. They are bragging about it in hopes of making themselves look interesting or sophisticated or exciting. They could do that by reading a book.

” But what if I’m missing out? ”

Here’s a textbook on venereal diseases. Find out what you’re missing…knock yourself out. You’ll love the chapter on herpes. It’ll stick in your mind, like the virus sticks everywhere else.

” But what if I fall in love? ”

So fall. Fall as hard and fast and wet and foolish as you want to. It has nothing whatever to do with sex, as the porn channels on the internet make perfectly clear. You can have a superb romance dressed in woollen longjohns and sensible shoes. You can do it in cold weather and look absolutely stunning against crashing sea waves.

” So sex is not as good as it is made out to be? I can do without it forever? ”

Nahh. Sex is alright. Dive right in when you find a chance. But don’t hang about the edge of real life just mooning and mooching – use your time to enjoy everything else. If it gets you, it’ll grab your crotch anyway, and if it doesn’t you can be happy doing other things.

 

 

Honesty For Beginners

You’ll see a lot of use of the word ” honesty ” in the next few months. This is a lead-up to an American presidential election, a wind-down from a Chinese virus, and a cut -back on the availability of money. In the first two cases, do not expect it in any actual form – for the last cited – the money business – people will be surprisingly candid.

The election is probably going to be contested by failures – windbags of Washington who would say and do anything to gain or retain power. They both command, or are commanded by, armies of minions, minders, and puppeteers. These people would assassinate their candidate in a heartbeat if they thought they could get away with it, but the politicians know how to protect themselves against this sort of thing. So it will be a fair and open contest for the grossly blundered votes of America. Do I have a preferred candidate? I do not…I am fully occupied in writing out curses upon both their houses. I have faith that eventually the USA will have a decent President – some day – but from whence I cannot say.

The Chinese virus is with us now, has been with us for longer than they’ll admit, and will stay for longer than we care to speculate. We’ll get denials, stonewalling, accusations, and bullying tactics to try and maximise its effect upon the West while exonerating the East. Eventually the currently careless portions of the world will get smart or dead and it will peter out. There may even be a vaccine preventative one day, but that’s little consolation for the millions it will kill now. We’ll get no honesty from the Communist Party Of China but we may find out the truth through other agencies.

The business downturn and money drought is evident now and will be increasingly so as time goes on – you’ll be able to see it in black and white…or red and white…figures. The wise people will become more frugal and less demanding and probably live pretty well. Those who locked themselves into expensive lives will find that the locks can be opened and they can be thrust out.

There will also be some honesty in race relations now that there has been a flare-up of US rioting at the start of the summer. The reality that the races dislike each other has been self-evident for some period of time -roughly the last 400 years – but up till now popular culture has avoided admitting it. Whether it will ever be altered is to be seen – but there’ll be a period of intense agitation for the rest of the year. Here in Australia we’ll get our own copycat version of it.

This weblog column will not be a popular or good thing to read, but I’m not selling feels – I’m selling honesty. I expect to be yelled at for it.

” Euphemism ” Is Such A Harsh Word…

I’m not prevaricating. I’m not fibbing.  And I’m not lying.

Stretching the truth so that it fits is a time-honoured trade – joined at the hype with its twin:  bald-faced lying. They are frequently employed at the campaign offices of politicians in the run up to elections. But theirs is a smelly trade, and the odour can become overpowering. That is why Eau de Ephemisme was invented. It masks the stench.

One day I will not pass on. I will not cross the rainbow bridge. I will not become late ( for I shall never have to keep an appointment ever after…). I will die. Just the once, and probably not with any degree of sensible efficiency, but I shall eventually accomplish it. The only regret I shall have is that people will pussy-foot around about it.

Ditto the worse aspects of life – the occasions when I am taken up for train robbery, arson, counterfeiting, and tearing the tags off mattresses. In the hands of my friends these dishonourable pursuits will become sad shades of their real nature. I might become an ” undocumented recipient of wallets ” or an ” incautious user of a can of petrol and a box of matches under the orphanage “. ” Non-governmental printer ” will cover the stash of $ 13 bills I run up on the inkjet printer, but I am baffled as to how to gloss over the mattress mutilation.

I am always saddened to see people adopt a euphemism to describe themselves or what they do. It smacks of dishonesty more than politeness. If they must be fastidious, let them do it with plain language.

 

Settling An Argument

If you wish to settle an argument between two people in a most positive fashion, get yourself a venomous snake…a Taipan or a King Brown for preference…and coil it about the open bung of a full gunpowder barrel. Then hand each of the contenders a lighted taper and tell them that the first person to put their hand in the barrel is the winner of the argument.

It is best to wander away while they puzzle out their response.

This may seem a little dramatic, but no less so than any public row over private matters. Since the advent of the internet, I can’t even be sure that there are private arguments any more – we’re pretty well prepared to wash every bit of our dirty linen in the Facebook front-loader. And we don’t even use soap suds to hide things…

I’ve decided to give it a rest. I’ll be sending out a list in the post to my friends – all their sins –  and let it go at that. There’ll be a space down the bottom which will allow the recipient to add any new occurrences that may have escaped me, but really the resources of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia are equal to most things.

Look out for the postman in the coming weeks…

Victorian Vulgarity

I hasten to add that I am not referring to the Australian state of Victoria. It is not a vulgar place – far from it. I am thinking of the instances of vulgar behaviour that pop up in Victorian novels and that are so disparaged by the heros and heroines of these books.

It seems that it was very easy to be vulgar in Victorian England. All one needed to do was be from the continent or North America, be in trade, or be poorer than the main focus of the story. Ethnic birth ensured it – Jew, Hindu, or Muslim – all were irretrievably vulgar in the British eye and the British novelists made sure that their readers knew it.

I may have made a slight error when I said that vulgarity came with poverty. Not if the pauper was an Anglican clergyman or a female member of his family. That was impoverished gentility, and to be pitied…from a distance. The Catholics – Irish, French, or Italian as they might be, were vulgar to a soul.

Vulgarity could also be assigned to the rich, if there was no prospect of getting any of their money. August Melmotte in Trollope’s novel ” The Way We Live Now ” comes to mind.

I am so glad that we have advanced past these days and that now there is a universal brotherhood and sisterhood of tolerance and kindness. If only we could get these damn foreigners to kneel in the street when they pass our cap, eh?

Good Morning.

It makes all the difference – just saying it to people as you meet them. If it is a social meeting, it shows that you are determined to be pleasant and if it s a commercial encounter, it shows you are going to be polite. It invites a similar treatment.

I also find it is a useful greeting in the afternoon and evening as it concentrates the hearer’s attention – they think they have misheard you and listen harder. Never give the game away – do it dead pan.

When you leave, ” goodbye ” is much better than ” see ya ” or any such thing. No-one can complain of formal politeness.

Many Strings To The Bow

Said to be a good thing: the concept of being multi-skilled so as to always have something you can sell.

But remember that whatever string it is wrapped up in, the basic thing that you are selling is you. And you’ll only be saleable for a limited period of time. No-one wants you before you’re ripe and after you’re rotten. If you are wrapped in too many strings you may never be able to get a sale.

Take the example of the forever student. We’ve all been them or seen them – the person who never leaves an institution of learning, even after the door swings open, the degree is in hand, and the janitor coughs meaningfully…

The forever student often says that they are bettering themselves…or their prospects. The prospect they imagine they are bettering is the idea that someone will one day buy them – and they want as high a price as can be got. In most cases, they would achieve this by stepping out the door and starting to do a job, instead of learning how to do a  wonderful fabulous future job.

If you must string yourself up – as opposed to waiting for an angry mob to do it – the best way is often to go do whatever the best prospect job is now and take on extra work after hours with the ideal job. The  spare-time work may not be paid for, but the knowledge gained is often better than that ladled out at an institution of higher learning.

You won’t be able to become a neurosurgeon by this route, but then you won’t be paying malpractice premiums either.  Go check out what mobile mechanics, plumbers, and fencing contractors earn and sit and think.

Note: This is real. My second string became my second profession but I did not weave it at university – I learned my trade in the trade after hours.