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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You Can’t Say That!

But I did say it

” But you are not allowed to say that! That is not acceptable! You are not allowed to have those opinions! We forbid it! ”

We? Who is this ” we ” that you write about?

”  Me and all the other the moral people! The people who are caring and sensible and good and right and virtuous! The people who demand that you toe the line and conform to our moral standards and only print our opinion! ”

So no other opinion is permitted?

” No! We are a free country and you are free to think as we do or suffer our displeasure! ”

Do you always speak in exclamation marks?

” Yes! We are never wrong! “

Promoting The Causes

Last month I watched  people promoting their causes. Well actually, not their causes as such – more a case of causes that they agreed with. Or seem to agree with. Or were paid to agree with.

I am now wondering a lot of things about them. Did they believe what they said? Did they say what they believed? Have they read any of the stuff they clicked over at everyone on the social media site? Or was it all just a sham performance designed to get our attention  – not on the causes – but on them?

Well, we’ll find out in two weeks when I start following the news feed again. A lot may have happened in this month, and that may change the way they think or the things they say. At least it will serve as a test to see if they change either their minds or the topic. In case that sounds a strange combination, remember that the definition of a fanatic is one who will do neither.

Note: I do favour goodness over badness and virtue over vice. But I may see these items in a far different light than you. To save time and trouble let’s just proceed from the premise that I am right and you are wrong, and you can apologise and offer compensation for your errors later. It is not an onerous demand – I can be bought off with baked goods.

Ensuring Privacy

Establishing and ensuring privacy in the modern world is more difficult than it used to be. We are subject to enquiry and observation in nearly every aspect of our lives. People have written in to the BGA Advice Bureau seeking ways to reduce this – we are happy to help. Here is a list of practical measures that the householder can take to increase and maintain their privacy:

  1. Do not put a number on your house. People who wish to find you based upon your physical location use this to pinpoint you. If you talk your neighbours into adopting the same measure, the entire area can be impossible to decipher.
  2. Maintain several names. Give one in one location and another at a different venue. Keep a notebook to accurately record who you are at any one place. Do not deviate.
  3. Avoid using banks to store money. They always take far too great an interest in you once you lodge funds with them, and they can be coerced by the Taxation Department into telling about it. A large safe set into the ground is he best alternative, though you’ll need to pay for the safe in cash and haul it home and imbed it yourself. Place no faith in mattresses as cash receptacles.
  4. Pay for everything you buy in cash. If the item is too expensive for this method, consider stealing it or going without.
  5. Use false names on the internet. They should not be spectacular. And never post anything that is so offensive or controversial that the media watchdogs batten upon it.
  6. Act strictly in accordance with all laws – including traffic laws. This will attract no interest form the police and unless you are selling doughnuts, they will take no notice of you.
  7. When you go to confession, get the priest to tell you his sins.
  8. Vacation in-country, preferably in town, and possibly in the house.  No travel, no passports or documentation.
  9. Marry someone who is very secretive, but never ask them why.
  10. Wear unobtrusive garments bought from goodwill shops. Make no eye contact.
  11. Become Vice President of the United States.

 

The Watch Tower And The Listening Post…

We should all be prepared to realise that the things we write on the internet:

a. Will never go away, unless they are useful and vital to our well-being. Then they’ll vanish without trace.

b. Are overseen by any number of state and private agencies and snoopy individuals.

c. Are carefully noted when they contain trigger words that deal with state security or criminal activities. Even if we innocently write the words ” bomb plot ” or ” My Kitchen Rules ” they will trigger an automatic recording by someone in Langley, Virginia, Beijing, and Moscow. Also probably in Pyongyang and possibly in Canberra. They will certainly be noted in Bombay and used to provide the telephone scammers with a target.

This is a problem for those of us who routinely write about shelling the local council offices with a howitzer because we can never tell whether the federal government snoopers will think it a bad idea…or a good one. I guess we’ll find out if someone leaves a free basket of 250mm shells at the front door tied up with a pink ribbon and bearing a ” Thank You ” card.

My chief fear is that the things that I write will lead to my friends being arrested, tried in secret, and jailed for long periods. And that I won’t be there to see the fun.

Still, there is always hope – you are reading this right now, and your internet address has been sent to a group of hackers in Athens. With any luck you should be getting your ransom demand in a couple of hours. They are not greedy – you can pay in moussaka and retsina.

 

 

 

The Morality Machine – Part Four – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

No-one today can be unaware of the gulf between the requirements of Muslim moral codes  and those of some other cultures or religions. Oh, they may run rather in parallel with those of other fundamentalist religions and some severe non-religious institutions, but there is still a wide berth on many grounds.

Many Muslim people will tell you they are correct and many non-Muslim people will tell you that they are not – and you must decide for yourself how much truth either of these sides is telling. If you are a Muslim person yourself you may not have a chance to debate the question or even to change your mind about it without danger to yourself- but that is another story. I suspect that may be the case for other religions or social structures too, in some cases.

But we are not here to judge a particular religion for its tenets – we’re here to bag all of ’em. And atheism too – honest to Godless, some of the atheists make me want to scream…

If you can’t get one single absolute moral rule that goes everywhere for everyone – and you can’t* – what can you get? You can get the sort of thing with which every ward-heeler, British politician, and Southern Democrat is most comfortable; the compromise. You’ll need to agree to this before I tell you what it is…just breathe regularly and I’ll take that as full agreement.

You need to do the most good for the greatest number in a reasonable time in a defined area. This sounds a lot like 18th century enlightenment, and so it is. I propose that it also be combined with the Teddy Roosevelt dictum of doing what you can with what you have, where you are. In short – if you are going to drive world, do it with a pragmatic transmission. It’s easier to get it to go over a cliff.

This means that you have be prepared to put up with the Sultan of Brunei chopping off hands or the Pope piously wringing his with the same aplomb. You need to be able to accept Donald Trump walling off the Mexicans if you equally want the Hungarians to tear down their border fence. You must be able to take the sweet with the sour – except in the case of the British Royal Succession. We’re starting a petition to have the country ruled by Basil Brush after Her Majesty passes on.

*  Is inhospitable murder universally abhorred? Not in the Andaman islands…

Allons, Enfants!

Let us now celebrate one of the best days of the year for democracy – a day when the downtrodden finally rose in arms and started to break the power that had always set its foot on their necks. Today is Bastille Day.

It was not a quick revolution nor a clean one – the real ones never are – but it was, by and large, a successful one. The old monarchy tried to return after the new upstart monarchy was defeated. Eventually both their powers petered out and people took more of their lives into their own hands.

They’ve been conquered since, and then liberated and have conquered in their turn, and are facing  more of it  – as all Europe does. But then Europe has always faced strife since before the Roman Empire – none of it is new.

I take comfort on Bastille Day in reading  Tom Paine’s ” The Rights Of Man ” and am inspired by our Marianne in the liberty cap. It is a good day for cheese and wine and paté.