Exhibit A: A Hormone

Exhibit B: A horse’s ass.

If you are unable to tell the basic difference between these two things you may qualify as a Facebook biochemical scientist. We have an audience of people who have paused their search for creme doughnut recipes and have grown tired of anti-Trump memes. They are ready for enlightenment, and you may be just the person to bring it to them. Intrigued? Read on.

The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia has always sought to ” assist ” the more fearful members of the community with those fears. To this end we have established the Office Of Worry – which seeks to supplant a natural dread of the dark or venomous snakes with more rational horrors – like vaccines or aeroplane condensation trails. In doing this we hope to help them feel like part of a regular movement…and regular movements are essential to health. Regular movements and soft paper, as Cohen The Barbarian might have said…

The current pandemic that is killing people all over the world is a perfect opportunity for us to introduce new fears, new complaints, and new bogus remedies. These are all part of the new lifestyle of reflex skepticism from which we may profit.

Are you ready to join us? Would you like to be taker or the taken? We have openings for both of these positions, though interestingly enough, these are located at opposite ends of the dog. Do let us know before we proceed.

Good Morning. This Is Your Scammer Speaking.

During the current virus lockdown many of you are staying home and re-arranging the canned goods on the shelf, organising your sock drawer according to colour, and hemming the lawn. While these activities are beneficial, we at the BGA Department of Scamming feel that more could be achieved. Here is your guide to creative scam-based  activities that every householder can do.

a. Commence transferring your money assets from one account to another. This will enable you to escape from the Mandatory Handover Of Savings that we phoned you up about last week. To do this you click on the link below and type in your account and PIN details. The Department will take care of the rest.

Act now an qualify for a set of steak knives.

b. Home schooling is going to be big for the next few terms and this is your opportunity to become an educator without the tiresome business of Teacher’s College or certificates or books or anything. All you need to teach your children is a blackboard and chalk. Try to get the kind that squeaks as you write with it. Children appreciate having their nerves scraped raw.

You can teach whatever you wish in the next few months. If you enjoy mathematics, you freak, then you could teach that. If you feel the children would benefit from a comprehensive course of getting up on the roof and cleaning the gutters with a teaspoon, boost the tykes up the ladder and lie back with a cool drink telling them what to do.

This approach has the advantage that you can do it from a social distance and therefore offer your services to the neighbours as well.

c. On-line and internet trading is a big thing and the awkward thing of people coming to your house when you offered old furniture and stuff on Gumtree is largely gone for the moment.

Remember that whatever goods you offer need not actually be good. If you are on one sie of a country that is in state-border and airline lockdown, you can send out whatever you wish with no fear of consequences. Indeed if it is cheap enough, no-one will even bother to return it.

Your real profit can be gleaned from the ” shipping and handling ” charges that you attach to the goods. The actual cost of sending something through the post office can be surprisingly low, as long as you do not opt for first-class delivery or insurance. But who is to say how expensive your hands are and how much handling you have done to cram the porcelain figurine into a thin envelope and push it through the post box slot. ( ” Tinkle…”) Do not undersell your expertise.

d. Charity begins at home, and the wise scammer makes sure that it is someone else’s home. Register yourself with the BGA as a charitable institution and we will issue you with a full kit of begging letters, posters, and one-way plastic collection containers. For an extra $ 100 you can also get official-looking vests with the name of your charity so that when you send the children from door to door they will look the part.

Remember that charity, like fallen leaves, frequently collects in piles. Churches and Salvation missions often have collection boxes or poor boxes at the front of their premises and these are sometimes not fastened securely. A screwdriver and a few minutes work may pay off handsomely.

” This Is Telstra…”

Or Optus, or the Australian Taxation Office, or the Federal Police. And the Indian person on the other end of the scratchy phone line is named Mary Smith.

If she said she was ringing from Icelandtel or the Icelandic Taxation Department  or the Icelandic Police her name would probably be be Mary Svensdottir. The phone line and the accent would be the same.

The Subcontinental Round is starting again. 4 so far this afternoon. You lucky bastards at work are missing out – come be retired and talk to Bombay.

My wife says that her late mother used to get the Indian scam calls all the time and was nervous and frightened by them – she was in her 90’s and had little computer experience. Fortunately we are an IT family and could soothe her but there must be thousands of elderly folk who are badgered  – and some who fall prey to them.

It set me wondering what my own parents would have been like had they lived into our scam age. My mother was raised in New Mexico and Texas and had little time for subcontinentals at the best of times. She also passed her  life in construction camps and mining towns and was not afraid to discuss things on an extremely basic level when required.

My father  – long gone – would have had a ball with them. I think he would have pulled up a chair, reached for the popcorn and an big orange drink, and then attempted to drive the scam artist mad. He was bad enough with Mormons at the door and my mother had to shoo them away before he got fairly started. No bad words from him, but he did have a habit of making people tie themselves up when they started to sell doctrine or junk bonds. He just put his finger in there every now and then to make sure the knots were good and tight…

I find the best way to respond is with friendly politeness and a grasp of the topic that is 270º away from what is on the script. Today I debated the advisability of changing the .50 cal machine guns for a 37mm autocannon. I was worried where the shells would be ejected to. The Indian woman assured me that Telstra would make it work perfectly.

I’m skeptical. Those empty cartridge cases are quite bulky. And hot.

 

You Had A Missed Call

And it is still missing, because I have no idea from whom it originated. If there is a genuine caller out there whose number is 0437 336 993 they are welcome to try again and see if I answer in time.

The last two words are the operative ones – I do not avoid phone contact as such. I answer innumerable subcontinental callers from all sorts of technical departments every day. But they ring me on my land line and it is beside my computer desk in a quiet room. The mobile phone is in my pocket and I’m frequently driving or in another loud environment and simply do not hear it.

I’ve been warned about enough scams that operate upon a ring-back basis to be loathe to enter into a missed-call chase. I did check this one to see if it was my wife or daughter, but it wasn’t and all the other friends on my phone’s internal memory list showed up with different numbers. I shall just wait and see if whoever it was needs to speak to me again.

The really interesting part of this is to wonder how many more missed calls have come in to other lines I tend. Land lines and such. As I’ve not suffered rocket attacks or bug infestations as a consequence of not returning calls, I’m inclined to continue the silent treatment.

O.K. Baumer

Orville Baumer was about my same age when I met him in grade school. We went to the 5th grade in Riondel and lived not too far apart. We also joined the Cub Scouts that same year, though Orville was a lot better at doing the badges than ever I was. I can only recall getting two in all my time – one for cooking and one for woodcraft. Orv got semaphore and shelter building and a lot more. He went on to Boy Scouts as well.

Orville was a home soul – he stayed in the town long after I had moved away. Went to high school there and eventually graduated a year ahead of me; I had dropped back a year through moving to Australia. He also stayed in the province for his university time, and got out faster with his degree than I did down here.

Orville had girlfriends in high school and university. A lot more than I did. He married a little earlier, though maybe that was a mistake – he ended up with a divorce from that first marriage. Thankfully, his second has worked out well, and he’ll be well into his thirty-some anniversaries.

Orville does like I do – keeps his cars until they are about 13 years old before trading them in. He never buys big ones – always just little sedans. He’s only taken two overseas holidays in his life. He lives in a regular house with the average amount of old furniture, cranky pets, and unsuccessful grass.

But Orv is different from me in one important respect. When tasked by some unknown  teenager with being responsible for all the ills of the world, Orville cringes and apologises. He says he is sorry for whatever the kid complains about and promises to do better. Orville bows his head in shame for owning his own little house and car, eating regularly, and minding his own business. Orville shys away from the internet groups and protest demonstrations and people who complain in malls.

Orville would never tell a work-shy, over-age, quasi-student who plays the welfare system like a xylophone for money, opiates, and sympathy that they are a public pest. He’d never call them pinko parish parasites. He’d never tell them to stuff their puerile secondhand manifesto where the sun don’t shine.

In many respects, Orville Kitchener Baumer is an admirably civilised person. I really should try to emulate him. One day. I’ll let you know which day I choose.

Take This Quiz

In the spirit of the pop-up quizzes that Facebook puts out on a regular basis, the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia is set to introduce a series of fun games that everyone can participate in. Are you ready? Got your thinking cap on?*

Here goes:

  1. What is your favourite food?
  2. What is your favourite colour?
  3. What is the log-in code to your bank account?
  4. How much money do you have?
  5. What is your security password ?
  6. When do you go on holiday?
  7. Where is the spare key for your house?

There. That wasn’t hard was it? And did you have fun?

We’ll be in touch…

*  On yer arse…

 

The Spam Queue

This column attracts spam. As do all the others I write. So, I would imagine, would a note left in a bottle for the milkman – given the ever-reaching greed of internet pests.

Fortunately there is a program that drives away most of this traffic, putting it into a bin for me to empty periodically. I have learned to give the contents only the most cursory glance before flushing it. Once, within a space of a decade, there may be a genuine message leaking into the cesspool. More often the seepage is the other way. I am prepared to lose one real comment amongst the dross.

Like the Indian scam phone callers, I am at a loss to think that anyone could ever be interested enough in these fraudulent pests to ever respond to them…and I imagine that it would only spark a greater onslaught. Yet, the fact remains that they keep coming. This suggests some profit from it for the criminals and therefore some engagement by the unwary. If there is a trail of anything, it will be a trail of money and stupidity.

It is tempting to go on the hike as well. If others can pick an occasional drachma from the pockets of the unwary, surely I can put my hand in there too. I have been able to persuade people to all sorts of folly in the past, and I hope my skills are still with me. It’s just thinking how to do it…

Will they fall for sending me money directly? That’s been tried by everyone from Nigeria to Nunawading, and unless you have  dewy-eyed kittens marching on Parliament House, you are unlikely to access the right level of gullibility. I can be dewy-eyed but kitten suits are hot and itchy.

I could threaten. If they are frightened of the Immigration Department there is a chance that they’ll pay to avoid deportation. If the Taxation Department is their nightmare I can put on my best Jobsworth manner and impose fines left, right, and center. But I have no need of iTunes cards or anything else that might be duped out of them. It’d have to be cash or nothing, and that leaves the operational problem of collecting it. I don’t mind the victims being dumb, but I don’t want to join them.

Perhaps cajoling would work. I could try to shame them for eating meat, or vegetables, or sugar, or really anything…with the absolute certainty that they will feel guilty about something. It’s just finding out that secret shame and whacking it with a mallet.

I wish I was better at begging in rags. I’ve got the rags, all right, courtesy of a lifetime of never cleaning the wardrobe out, but the thought of panhandling in shopping centres leaves me cold. I don’t like the places all that much when I’ve got money, so doing the urban poor act would be even worse.  I suppose I could send out invitations for people to visit me here at home and I could do it in the lounge room, but somehow it doesn’t sound all that promising.