A Foot In Many Camps*

The dual citizenship game is heating up.

New Zealand apparently regards anyone who has ancestors or close relatives who were or are New Zealand citizens as ” citizens by descent “. They have put up an advertisement promising them a passport if they register. Many of my friends who have some sort of Kiwi connection are delighted with this. I am going to take leave to be horrified…in a kindly and genteel way.

It’s not New Zealand – that is a wonderful place full of wonderful people – it’s the concept of someone declaring you to be something…in this case a citizen… without you having a say in it. It comes very close to someone declaring you to be something else , good or bad, that you have no say in. Both actions can damage your life, if improperly applied.

In the case of Australians who wish to fully participate in their own nation’s political life, they have the problem of a flaw in the wording of the Australian Constitution that sets a wide prohibition to the ability to stand for election; no dual citizenship, and no hint of it by dint of entitlement or allegiances. Sounds good, but it means that if some other nation says you are eligible for dual citizenship –  EVEN IF YOU DO NOT TAKE THEM UP ON IT – that automatically cancels one of the most basic civil rights here.

That’s a flaw in our constitution. It needs mending…and soon.

Otherwise, the door is open to a number of abuses. A local political party could exploit some nebulous promise of foreign citizenship to deny Australians with New Zealand or Israeli or Greek connections a right to stand. A foreign government could target potential Australian political candidates who they do not want to see in power here by attaching a spurious dual citizenship to them. Even if it proved to be false, it might keep someone out of the hustings during an election. Talk about interfering with the polls…

Nope. Hands off our parliament and hands off our citizens. You’ve got enough on your plates in your own countries. It’ll be up to us to amend our constitution to show this up for the nonsense it is, and to grow up as our own legislature.

Note: This is not a push for any political party. It is a call for political independence. And for common sense.

*  But not in many mouths.

 

 

How To Be Correct Without Being Political

As a person who has done his fair share of offending people in his time, I think I am in a good position to advise others on how to avoid doing the same thing. I would hesitate to address friends about this but strangers may benefit from these handy hints:

A. Do not lie to people or about people. Do not lie on people. Do not lie to yourself.

B. Do not tell other people the truth about themselves. This may seem to be in direct conflict with rule A. above, but there is a delicate difference between telling the truth about where the nearest post box is located as compared to how flabby someone’s arguments are becoming. One’ll get you thanked and one’ll get you punched.

C. Do not present ‘ sights unbecoming ‘ to others on social media. These sights may include pictures of you, friends, or family doing things of a marginal nature. The images may amuse you but won’t have the same effect on others. Keep your peccadilloes hidden. Peccadillo sheaths are sold in all good ironmongers.

D. Do not repeatedly press political, religious, financial, sexual, theatrical, mechanical, or moral opinions on others. By all means state your support for triple-expansion steam valves, the Social-Endymionist Collective, or bi-metallism in a clear and honest manner, if you feel that the times have called upon you to do so. Once. Do it once, and all who know you, will know your thoughts. If you have any entrée to their minds, you will accomplish as much with one quiet message, as you could with the loudest and most repetitive tub thumping. And you will not risk driving them away.

E. Do not tell Irish jokes unless your name is Kelly and you come from County Mayo. Likewise any other joke that involves ethnicity or religion unless you are clearly speaking of yourself. Even then, be careful. Your fellow ethicists, co-religionists, or compatriots may be unwilling to laugh with you about your shared heritage – at least where others can hear. Some groups have no sense of humour about themselves.

F. Do not ape another culture. Even if you admire it and think it is cool and good-looking and wise and sexy. People who you might regard as exotically interesting may regard themselves as just home folks. In particular, do not use accents that are not your own. No-one from Scotland ever wants to hear you speaking in a Scottish accent and no-one from Mississippi ever wants to hear you speak in a fake Southern drawl.

If you would like to test this out without getting punched, try the experiment of going to someone in your own ethnic or national group and speaking to them in a parody of your own shared native accent. Their reaction will be real, and that’s what other people will really think of you ” doing ” their accent.

This is entirely separate from trying to learn a foreign language, and attempting to speak to someone in their own tongue, and getting it horribly wrong. No-one is offended with this…with the possible exception of the French…and even they will patiently try to correct your pronunciation. If you are trying to meet others half-way they all recognise it.

G. Do not ‘ share ‘ internet memes that say the nasty things that you really want to say but cannot bring yourself to utter. It is recognisable cowardice as well as offensive. And it leagues you with some of the vilest minds in society.

Well, that should help a little. It is not the complete Emily Post, but in trying times it may smooth out your social picture and hide a few of the creases. Remember that nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, so if you plan you run for office either here or in your other country, be sure that your Facebook and Twitter will find you out. Mind you, you might get away with it for years and at a Senate or White House salary, that makes a pretty good nest-egg.

A Pile Of Pooh

The news that Communist China is banning pictures of A.A. Milne’s characters from internet use came up as a slightly hilarious story in Facebook. Apparently the character of Winnie The Pooh is used as a substitute for the head of the Chinese government in mild political satire. The Japanese Prime Minister is likened to Eeyore and the former American President has been depicted as Tigger. None of the drawn messages are rude, but the fact that they allow the Chinese people to poke fun at authority is considered too dangerous.

I am not surprised at this attitude in Asia. The perceived dignity and prestige of the mighty are so very much more valued than free speech, that no deviation from any sort of party line can be expected to be tolerated. It’s as much Confucian thought as it is Communist.

Personally I think the Chinese leader is making a mistake. If you are going to be seen personified in anything, a child’s favourite book character would seem to be a charming and lovable image to put forward. The world is full of enough monsters as it is… take a good name when you can get it.

Can You Afford To Own A Chevrolet?

Or put another way – If they try to sell you a Plymouth can you Dodge the question?

No good Nash-ing your teeth over it either…

How odd that as we pull away from the curb into the twenty-first century in Australia, we should do so in the Toyota, Subaru, Daihatsu, Nissan, Suzuki, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Fuso vehicles. Or, if we have been successfully greedy, in Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Lancia cars.

We should be hard pressed to do the same in a Humber, Standard, Triumph, Rover, Hillman, Austin, or Vauxhall.

And yet today I will go to a car show that glories in Ford, Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Willys, Cadillac, Mercury, and Chrysler. And they will be spectacular and bright…or rotten and rusty…but will reflect the best of a car builder’s skill. Very few of them will be oriental or continental. What do the hot rodders and custom car builders know that the rest of us have forgotten?

Can we be reminded by an industry that needs to stop repeating what Europe and Asia say? Can we still build what we need, for ourselves, where we live? I hope so.

 

A Modest Apology

I wish to apologise for a recent Facebook post that ridiculed Facebook posts. I have been brought to realise that one may ridicule the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Australia, or the Premier of Russia ( or is that President…? Whatever…) but one does not hold the most popular social media network on the planet up to ridicule. Not if one knows what is good for one…

My legal adviser has urged me to throw myself upon the mercy of the Court Of The Internet and plead for a reduced sentence. Okay, Manny, if you think that would help. Here goes:

I’m sorry that I laughed at the people who share things on Facebook. From early childhood we have been told that it is good to share. Fine advice, when it comes to making 7-year-olds cut a birthday cake into even portions, but not quite so good when the sharing involves foolish opinions and political propaganda. But who are we to say what is foolish? The opinions that are hawked about like broadsheet ballads by People Who Sit At Home may be correct, for all we know. They are not backed up by any personal experience or practical demonstration, but then neither is the selling spiel for a washing machine by some sales clerk in Harvey Norman – they just sell you the box full of white goods. Perhaps the political opinions of formerly successful politicians can wash clothes as well as minds…

Enough, Manny? No? What do you mean, No? Jesus, Manny….Okay, Okay, Moses, Manny, how much grovelling am I expected to do? I’m not Johnny Depp, here…

Take Two: I apologise unreservedly for laughing at the people who share things on Facebook. I realise that they do this for the good of the planet and my soul. I am infinitely grateful for the tired anti-Trump memes…

Manny?

Manny, why are you making that noise? I’m doing the best I can here. I haven’t mentioned Nerium face grease once in the whole apology, and at no time have I yanked the Meminist’s chain. I’m being as good as gold. With a bit of luck I will get through the whole weekend without being unfriended by anyone. What do you mean, you’re crossing me off your list? Crosses, Manny…?

Featured Image: Voting Booths for the constituency of Facebook.

 

I’m Going To Start A Movement

And about time – I haven’t had one for a couple of days. I feel bound to express myself.

I am brought to this resolution by yet another ” shared ” post on my Facebook – this time one that upbraids me if I do not agree with the writer and pay attention to their political beliefs. Having someone rant at you from the hustings, the speaker’s corner, or the university campus ( not in exam time, mind… ) is no new thing. We’ve passed through American, Australian,and French elections recently and will be subjected to the British ones soon.

It would be nice to think that we watched the news feed from Paris with all the attention that we gave to the previous ones but frankly, My Dears, all the damns had already been given. We may have managed a small ” Tiens! ” or a deflated ” Zut Alors  ! ” but that was about all. The political organ can only remain distended for a certain length of time.

The Facebook meminist who wrote the post that others shared was indignant that people were tired of politics and wanted to avoid it. She blamed them for being privileged and white and male and American and rich. In reality they were simply tired of politics – her politics – and tired of hectoring. Tired, if you will, of her.

And I don’t think she will succeed in scolding them into paying her attention. No-one owes it to her and the dump button is one click away.

High Culture – Low Culture

And what about middle culture? Why is it ignored? What does the bourgeoisie have to do to get a little respect?

Try saying the word ” bourgeois ” in any social group and see what happens. Do it – if you possibly can- in a dead flat monotone and a context that hints no judgement of the actual word. It is the nearest thing that you can do these days to dropping a hand grenade into a koi pond.

No-0ne likes the bourgeoisie. No-one respects them. No-one has any faith in their tastes, judgement, intelligence, or morals. None of their history is pointed to with pride. No-one wants to admit to knowing them and certainly no-one wants to be considered to belong to the group. The reason for this is simple: no-one knows exactly what the word means – it is as nebulous as the word ” sin ” or the word ” goodness ” and no-one really knows how to use it Not until now. But this all changes – the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia will provide that definition and a clear guide to the whole concept. Bourgeoisism will come of age.

BOURGEOIS: Middle class – the one that the peasant owes money to. Oddly enough, also the one that the lord owes money to. A social creditor, without being a supporter of Social Credit.

You may also add capitalist in there somewhere. In any event the bourgeois is in a position that raises the jealousy and ire of everyone else for two reasons: They have property and they have independence. You might not think the latter when you see the extent to which rules are demanded by the peasants and imposed by the lords on the basis of ownership. There is a commonality in both high and low – they want that property but can’t quite figure out how to get at it.

The bourgeoisie is derided for their taste in clothing, architecture, music, and literature. No-one thinks well of them for what they choose, though in most cases the highs and lows will try to emulate them when they can. The most infuriating thing about them is they can pretty well have what they like, because they can pay for it. Those who can’t or won’t regard this as a reminder of their failings.

But the thing that should really make peasant and lord angry is the realisation that most of the actual productive thinking – as opposed to the military posturing of king and  indolence of pawn – comes from the bourgeois and their propensity to do more than people have done before. They might want to profit, but at least something other than battles and beer barrels come of it.

Or to put it in more refined terms; the upper classes cause shit, the lower classes do shit-all, and the middle classes do shit and make shit.