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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My New Enemies – Fresh From The Newspaper

Apparently I am the enemy of the young, and they are enemies of me – or so says the Atlantic Monthly. I am considered a minor detonation in the Baby Boom and guilty, thereby, of oppressing them mightily.

It seems as if by being 71 and owning my own home, I have condemned them to listless poverty and racial segregation. I’m not sure if I’m also responsible for Hitler or the Johnstown Flood, but I’m going to read the magazine avidly to see. And that may be the explanation for the article…

Newspapers write whatever they like. And what they like is for people to give them money. They are pleased to receive it from advertisers, subscribers, and people who buy the paper to wrap fish. It is much the same with magazines, though they are smaller than newspapers and the ink they use makes the fish taste funny. Still, they want you to read and look at the ads, and writing garbage is just as profitable as wrapping it.

On one hand I am pretty certain I have not excluded any of my neighbours from Singapore, India, Malaysia, or Watford Gap from settling in the neighbourhood…because they’re here and so am I. None of us that I can recall have burned crosses on the front lawn, though there have been a few suspect smells when someone has not paid attention to the pots on the stove. And first day of winter smells like a forest fire in the Okanagan as everyone in the street fires up their wood stoves.

On the other hand, the thought that I am causing pain and suffering to the millennial generation by denying them their rightful place in Mom’s basement playing a video game is a very appealing one. Just knowing that they are frustrated at not being able to get free stuff is enough to brighten the day. We don’t have much of a lawn now, but I’ll welcome the chance to yell at them to get off it.

 

The Morality Machine – Part Three – The Sin Of Virtue

Have you ever been virtuous? Not just nice or pleasant or harmless. I mean outright, blatantly, unavoidably virtuous? Virtuous to the point that you make people’s fillings hurt?

How vile.

And you even admit to it – to a gossip columnist. Ewwwww. When this gets out no-one is going to tell you any of their juicy secrets. All that good stuff, and you’re not allowed to hear it.

Well, take heart. Virtue is its own reward…which is the punishment bad people inflict on the good. Everyone else gets a slice of the pie, a cut of the takings, a share of the blame. You get nothing, and are required to like it. But you are still rewarded with a place at the right hand of whoever is in authority. This is so that they can smite you more conveniently – you nasty little do-goodnik.

Private virtue can be indulged in with a snigger and a grin but public virtue requires a pious face and humble dignity. You will be required to raise your eyes to heaven and occasionally fold your hands in prayer. Every now and then a saint is amongst us and the publicly virtuous wish to suggest that it is them. Of course they run the risk of having to pass qualifying exams for sainthood – in the old time it was a stake and a wheel and these days it is a Senate hearing. ( The former preferable to the latter in all cases…) They also run the risk of being hoist on an Elmer gantry if their past sins are discovered.

Remember, God forgives, but CNN never does…

For God’s Sake Leave That Careostat Alone!

I seem to be trapped in a social media household – the people who contribute to the Facebook site are at war with each other over the careostat. That’s the control box on the wall in the hallway that adjusts the degree of involvement and engagement that the group runs on.

Some want to turn it up, and we get Anti-Trumpeters blasting their little horns every second day. To be fair, most of them do not do their own sneering – they just repost other people’s bias. But they are nevertheless fiddling with the dial.

So are the activists – and they are active in any number of good causes. Some are quite genuine, and some have the same committment to goodness and mercy that Ma Barker used to exhibit. There seems to be an admixture of very clever advertising campaigns in the passion and outrage – not that you need to to be passionate or outraged to sell razor blades or running shoes. You just have to have your finger on the pulse of the populace. And you’d be surprised to see some of the spots on the body where pulses can be taken…

Some want to turn it down. Every day there is someone who stridently insists that I take notice of the fact that they do not care about something or someone. As the level of intensity in this insistence rises, I am not sure whether I am meant to take more notice of them or less…In actual fact, I have shared their emotion of  disinterest for a long time, and much of it is connected to their affairs…

I think that it would be a good idea to arrange a face-to-face meeting for all the people on my Facebook list. They could harangue or ignore each other on a personal basis with wine and cheese cubes on sticks. And if they wanted to set the careometer they could fight over that.

 

Are You Sorry You Never…?

Yes. and no. When I consider the possibilities of what I might have done…or had done to me…I figure it is about a draw. I have never been as happy or as miserable as I might have been. Not that I did not try.

We can all remember chances we could have taken that would have resulted in vast wealth, fabulous sex, and untold acclaim.  The land we could have bought for a song, the partner we could have bedded, the position we could have stood for and won. But we have to be honest – if we pass the same period of time through our memory we can also list junk bonds and properties that we passed by, people who have turned out really rotten, and ventures that have proven to be toxic to all concerned. If we missed some, we at least avoided the others.

It’s been a constant meme that the saddest phrase is ” If Only…” but this is a crock. The wise person remembers the mixture of events and benefits greatly from the warm glow – in some cases of nostalgia and in the other of burning wrecks. In both cases you benefit from being far away and long after. Just remember the dumb thing and do the smarter thing next time.

But, but, but…what if there is no next time? What if you fetch up on the wrong side of 70 and all the bikini girls are 18? And what if there is no more land in Dalkeith for 5 Pounds? And you have retired from the Association Of Veeblefetzers long before you could become president and reap the bribes? How can you stop the gnaw of regret? Easy. Remember then, if you wish, and then look at now realistically.

Talk to an 18 year-old. If you can get them out of their iPhone long enough. Ask them about music or the movies. Be prepared to grit your teeth and/or other parts of your anatomy at some of the answers. Let’s face it – you’ll be lucky to resist the urge to order the kid off your lawn!

Fabulous land bargains? They come with fabulous land taxes and/or dealing with contractors to develop the dirt. They are the start of decades of worry, culminating in the fear of capital gains tax. You’ll get a six-foot plot of land soon enough…

Position and power? Over whom? The sort of people who have meetings, seminars, and workshops? The committees and subcommittees? The Annual General Meeting? You could wash out stale yoghurt containers and have more fun than occupy most powerful executive positions.

So do not regret. Leave that to others. If you enter into the thing at all, opt for being the person who makes them sorry for it all.

 

 

 

The Unspeakable Joy Of Satiety

You’ve all seen the tee shirt that says  ” Been there, Done that. Got this tee shirt. “.

It’s funny and sad on several levels, but mightily encouraging in the end. It frees us from the need to:

a. Go back there and do it again. At least as long as the tee shirt lasts.

b. Go there and do it in the first place. If we really don’t want to travel, compete, shop, or whatever the thing is, we can pretend that it is old hat and that we’re weary of it all.

If we were honest we would wear a tee shirt that said ” Never been there. Don’t fancy going “. Then we could emblazon this slogan over all sorts of images; Paris, Disneyland, Bali, Gold Coast. The reaction on the faces of others would be much more satisfying than with the first version.

c. Envy those who do go and do things.

Again we ought to be honest inside ourselves if we really do not fancy any of it…but instead of emblazoning this contempt on our chests we could settle for a nice silkscreen print of a Messerschmitt or Bullwinkle the moose. Why shit people off over your own tastes and desires?

For myself, I try to avoid any writing on the externals of my clothing – whether that be a brand name of running shoes or the state prison farm. If people want to know where I’ve been or what I like to wear they can ask me.

 

” I’m Not Happy…”

Once upon a time my father put a set of plans for his new house in to the local shire for approval. It was a good design and quite legal – though it was an unusual configuration for the time. The clerk behind the desk shook his head and said he wasn’t happy about the ideas he saw on paper.

My father wasn’t offended. He asked the clerk to show him the local building statute that referred to the clerk’s happiness…There was a the sound of growling and rubber stamping and the house is standing and serving me 44 years later. I cannot say what the state of mind of the clerk is – perhaps he cheered up in retirement.

Similarly, I have noted that many people behind counters are not happy. Some, because they are there, and some because I am there. I have learned to do my best to alleviate their gloom by smiling and making whatever request I have small and easy to accomplish. This works well in delis and banks – a simple request for a pie and sauce in the one or a small note demanding cash for the other is all that’s needed. And keep your finger pointed in your coat pocket when you ask.

If you are not happy at home, the onus is generally on you to remedy this. The way you do that can be manyfold – study, work, singing, hobbies, thinking – they’ll all serve to lift your gloom. If your unhappiness is due to another, simply remove them from the home and have the locks changed. If all else fails paint them a bright colour and decorate their edges with chrome trim.