The Russians Have Been Influencing The Elections In Moscow

Apparently with the help of Julian Assange, Donald Trump, and Robert Mugabe. Or so the latest sidebar wisdom from Facebook would have us believe.

I’m fully prepared to agree with this – if only in an effort to get away from the arguments about whether vaccines cause football players. I’m waiting until a would-be bestselling children’s author releases a statement clarifying the roll of Bob The Builder, and whether he did, indeed, fix it.

I am always amused when I hear of the secret influences the Russians are said to have on overseas governments. How secret can freighters loaded with Kalashnikovs and RPG’s be? They couldn’t even sneak atomic bombs through the Bosphorus back in Nasser’s day without getting caught at it…and having to beetle round and sail back with them. And how popular could the Russians be in the Muslim world anyway – after Afghanistan they are generally as welcome as a two-tone turd on a toothbrush.

And they have the problem of not only China, but North Korea. Oh, they are meant to be allies of both countries, but being an ally downwind of either of these places is a worrisome matter. Especially if the wind gets lively – they have a choice of 4 billion cases of smoker’s breath or an underground nuclear test site built on the Swiss cheese principle… I have a strong suspicion there’s a growing desire on the part of a number of countries to remove the present ruler in Pyongyang…I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a take-a-ticket machine for the various  Spetsnaz teams so that they all get their chance.

I’m actually privately pleased to see that the Russians are getting their act together…if they could ever be said to do that…and getting more consumer goods. That’s the real ticket to world peace. The Chinese went from being regarded as outer-space alien zombies to world shopkeepers in the space of 30 years and there is nothing to stop the Russians, with all their mineral wealth, from doing the same. Nothing except the Russians, mind…

 

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Free the Political Prismers

Don’t I mean political prisoners? No, though it might be a nice gesture for them, too.  And in some cases it would give them a welcome opportunity to take their turn as the local tyrant and imprison others. A game of musical cells…

What I really want is freedom from the complimentary rainbow that WordPress stuck on my blog page some weeks ago. As pleasant as it might look, and as charming as the cause for which it advocates may be, it is a banner that has little to do with the rest of the writing. It is also a little cloying.

I hope that when the results of the same-sex-Simon-Says plebiscite are announced and the business goes off to the parliament for resolution that the WordPress operators will take it off again. They can bombard their members of parliament with as many rainbows as they like, but I’d appreciate a return to normal* round here. If people want bands of colour, I can make them in Photoshop and string them all over the place.

Here’s one advocating triple-expansion cylinders for French steam locomotives. I think it deserves your support.

 

*  Normal is not a good thing to define as it tends to make the neighbors nervous.

The Authentic Fake News Site Vs The False-Flag Rumour Forum List Meme

If we were asked to characterize the social media that we use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – in terms of food, what would we make it out to be?

a. Facebook: A crusty stew with appetizing aromas at the edges – aromas that never actually seem to be there when you search for them. The occasional bubble in the centre indicating heat. And a roiling mass of unsavoury ingredients just under the crust. Cat hair here and there. And unicorn glitter.

b. Twitter: A Pez dispenser. You poke the ornamental head at the top and a hard pellet of opinion is popped out of the screen. Some of the pellets taste like sugar and some of them taste like horse shit. None of them do you any good at all.

c. Instagram: Magnificently plated, superbly coloured, and unavailable to someone like you at this time. Just look and envy.

d. Pinterest: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and so is the food. The reason is mould. Subscribe now.

e. The personal blog: Someone’s home cooking. Not necessarily bad, but nevertheless someone else’s pots and pans. Taste at your peril. They may not be a good cook. You may not be a good eater.

If we had been presented with today’s social media news in the 1950’s or 1960’s we would likely have recognised it for what it is – propaganda and commercial promotion. The flimsiest of the flam. Those of us who saw the lies when they came on newsprint and left ink stains on the fingers…or who waded through innumerable cigarette advertisements in magazines…react entirely differently to those who have only ever seen a screen. We may not know how to turn that screen on and make it dance, but we know when to turn it off and do our own thinking.

Of course we can be wrong when we do that – original thought can be as bad as the store-bought stuff – but as we use simpler ingredients and have less access to processors, it is likely to be fresher and tastier. It may lack the salt and scandal that is added by unknown hackers but it nourishes us just the same.

Bit riskier when we send it to our friends and neighbours, though. As our own thoughts are unlikely to be covered by the legal indemnities enjoyed by professional liars, we are in danger of being detected and having our opinions challenged. Most of us have no biased reports or dodgy scientific studies to back us up and common sense has long been discredited as a way of living. The best we can do when some other madman challenges our own mania is throw out a smokescreen of kitten and Hitler memes and close the account.

Anyone who either agrees or disagrees with this will be instantly defriended with the prickly end of an emoji.

The Sniper Team

Recent events have made this a parlous sort of title for my weblog column but read on and you’ll see why I wrote it.

On my Facebook today a post prompted a series of exchanges – between people with whom I am familiar and people who are complete strangers. I hasten to add that I did not intrude into the exchange. The root cause of the fight, as it will be of many others, was the reports we received of the events of the recent hotel shootings in Las Vegas.

There was a great deal of anguish shown by the various people involved in the discussion and eventually it started to spill over into sexual politics, cross-accusation, and nastiness. The person who originated the thing then called an end to the discussion. One of the participants claimed a sort of victory. It’s an occurance that happens frequently on Facebook.

I could not help being drawn to compare it to some of the practices outlined in a book written by a Captain C. Shore about British army sniping in the world wars. Not the Las Vegas thing…that is yet to be seen for what it may well prove to be…but the use of the spotter, shooter, and decoy system in scoring victories on social media.

Why this should be seen as desirable, in what is supposed to be an on-line community, is sometimes not clear, but the thing that is evident is that there are frequent occasions where a person sets up a tempting post to invite comments and one of their friends sits waiting until a target reacts. Then there is a brief flurry of outraged and biased virtue-scoring posted to dominate the unwary target.

If the person caught in this barrage responds with a counterattack that seems to answer the question or puts the sniper in a bad light, the spotter – acting as originator of the whole sequence – shuts it down by declaring an end. In some cases they can weave back and edit out the target’s posts. The sniper team is left to publicly do the little dance of victory of whichever social army they fight for.

Happened on the computer today to someone else – happened to me some time ago with a different sniping team. The only remedy I could see at the time was to defriend the spotter – the sniper was not on my list.

I’m warier these days about what I say to whom. I rarely defriend anyone, but I do sometimes switch them to the unseen track. And when I meet them in person I am careful to restrict my speech to ” Yay Yay” and ” Nay Nay ” as per biblical instructions. Because all the rest is bound to be sin and sorrow.

Hold My Beer

Please excuse me for using what is rapidly becoming a cliché meme, but I wanted to get this one in before the Thought Police arrive and load me into the van.

It is entirely possible to live your life without offending anyone. Just ask a mollusc. Hardly any bivalves sitting on the floor of the sea receive nasty messages on Facebook. Few of them are called racist or phobic. They live their lives in harmony with…gravel and weeds. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

Let’s be honest here ( And in saying that, I realise that I must apologise to all the liars out there. Sorry Mr Nixon…) we are all going to offend someone, somewhere, at some time. We cannot pass our lives without engendering bad feelings in others. In my own case, I have started in on the near relatives and am working outwards…

As we are bound to do it, we might as well do it early, do it thoroughly, and then be done with it. In this we are fortunate – there are groups of people in general society who wish to take umbrage at everything. If we can connect with them, supply a known quantity of offense and receive a measured amount of outrage, we can then all take Friday afternoon off and go to the pub. ( Minus the WCTU contingent, of course…)

To this end the BGA is going to start a register that will connect potential unwitting oppressors with people who would like to claim to be victims. Abuse/outrage ratios can be agreed to beforehand and arrangements made for confrontation at times that will be mutually convenient. With proper planning we can hire coffee vans and porta-loos as well as crowds.

Currently we are reviewing the public statuary of Australia to see if there are any examples that can be torn down and carted away to satisfy some portion of the populace. As yet, the only complaints have been about abstract works of art put up outside council premises and it would appear that the demands for their removal ( on grounds of the price tag ) have come from the ratepayers. I think there will need to be a Royal Commission on this and that means I get a white Toyota and a fact-finding mission to Biarritz.

Beauty!

 

The Conspiracy Magazine On The Shelf

will do it to myself – every blessed time. When I go to the Lucky Poo-Bah Newsagency and look for model car magazines I always turn round to the rack that has the New-Age and Conspiracy magazines, and – try as I might – I can never stop myself from picking up the latest and having a flip-through.

Aliens, Illuminati, Muslims, chem-trails, assassinations, rogue Popes, secret bunkers…it’s all there, and it’s all there, all the time. The menu changes very slightly from one issue to the next but the diet is always the same.

The one I see in our local Poo-Bah seems to be produced in New Zealand but draws writing from all over the globe. It may be a branch of some other publishing organisation or it may be native to NZ. I should not like to give you the impression that New Zealanders cannot produce world-class idiocy when they want to. They are a resourceful and dedicated people, and they can.

I am in a bit of a bind with this magazine – I want to snort over the nonsense but I don’t want to spend money on it to take it home. And I don’t want people who I know to see me browsing through it at the newsagency – so I have devised a ruse.

I fold it inside a copy of ” Hot Naked Babes With Butt Tattoos Quarterly ” and stand in the aisle ostensibly reading that. I mean – I’ve got my reputation to think of, don’t I?

 

” Do Tell Me You Loathe it “

The cartoon is pinched off the internet…in turn pinched from a copy of Punch magazine of the 1930’s. The fun it pokes at Moderne architecture and the pretensions of the owners is dated, but priceless. However, it would appear that with the advent of the social media campaign, satire might now be spread into our era.

We’re currently seeing several campaigns in our social media to do with changes to marriage law in Australia. A questionnaire has been sent to us all asking if we would like to see same-sex marriage introduced. We get to answer yes or no, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics will be making the result known to the parliament. What they do with the opinion count is anyone’s guess.

The form is simple – yes or no – but from the way people are behaving on the social media section of the internet, I think it should have included a number of additional questions and options:

a. Yes, and I want the ABS to tell everyone on my Facebook list. And I want to get a signed receipt from each one of them to show that they know what I voted for.

b. Yes, but not when I’m looking.

c. Yes, But can we have something in it about the participants not writing their own vows and reading them out to the assembled guests before the bar opens? Please?

d. Yes, but not for certain people on the list I’ve enclosed with this form. Especially not No. 4 and No. 17 on the list. Not after what they said.

e. No, but not because I am a bad person. Because you asked…

f. No, but you can change the inheritance laws if you like.

g. Yes and No. Well, you asked. If you wanted a definite answer you should have made it a lot more vague. Hint first, then qualify that hint. Like a legislative game of ” Clue “.

h. No, but then yes, and then no again. And then yes. That should use up a couple of parliaments, if I know Canberra.

I’ve been watching the informed debate, the uninformed debate, the emotional outbursts, and the cynical jockeying for validation that is Facebook. I know that if I entered into any form of discussion I would be instantly shunned by half the people I know. If I espoused the opposite view I would suffer the same fate from the other half. I would become a social pariah…wandering the cold halls of the internet knocking vainly upon closed doors.

It is the one cheerful image that keeps me going…