Be Kind To The Indian Scammer

I might not have written this a year ago, but this has been an unusual time for us all.

Much more for the Indian population than for the Australian one – and particularly for the people of Western Australia. Sealed away from most of the infection as we are, we can afford to be kind to those who are more exposed…as long as that sealed border exists.

The Indian call scammers are always going to be with us in some form or other. Amazon, Telstra, ATO, DHL…all these names have been used as ploys for scam calls. There will be many more as local business changes. The one constant in the calls seems to be the steam-room noise behind the caller’s voice, the South Asian accent, and the false name given. It is always vaguely European in nature but pronounced so quickly that you cannot be sure you heard it.

The calls dropped dramatically as the Covid 19 virus hit India and some form of quarantine or lockdown happened there. They have now started again, and I fielded my second one just recently. I was not angry at receiving it, nor did I treat the caller with derision. Their plight is bad enough without me adding scorn to it.

Perhaps they will get angry – if they can recover from the Chinese biological weapon that hit them. I suspect they were one of the main targets for this virus, and I cannot imagine that they do not feel the same way. I wonder what the travel time for an IRBM would be over the Himalayas?

Class Antagonism

New phrase to you?

It was to me until a chance posting on Facebook introduced it . I suspect the cartoon that used the words was written closer to Pyongyang than Seoul, but it’s hard to tell these days. The person who ” shared ” the post may well be in the know. I’m frightened to ask in case I get a dialectic up my nose.

It looks as though the dear old communist ideology is still being pressed upon the masses, though other dear old ideologies are frowned upon. And the brainwash departments are still very much in business. It’s gone a bit past the poster columns and agitprop trains but they know that they still have a wide audience for ” virtuous socialism ” amongst the disaffected. I’ll bet the campuses are still packed with the true believers who are ready to shout down anyone else.

Are there nests of right wingers in opposition to the red end of the spectrum? I have noted the occasional one on Facebook, but not to the same extent. Are there secret societies? Are the beer halls still putsching?

Perhaps it’s time to start pushing the buttons; hide, unfollow, defriend, spam alert, etc. I can get all the scolding I want from physical friends and identifiable family – no need to import it from strangers.

 

Sniper Nest

It is no longer necessary to tie yourself to a tree wearing a ghillie suit to be a professional sniper. Nor do you need to search out book depositories, grassy knolls, or water towers. You need not carry heavy firearms either – no more carefully swabbing barrels or weighing ammunition. You can shoot ’em dead from the comfort of your computer room.

We’re not talking about computer games as such – none of that video business like with an arcade game. This is actual assassination carried out on actual people. And the good thing is you won’t be punished for it, even if you are found culpable. You see, you shoot ’em in their reputation, not their rib cage.

The best practitioners of this skill have specific targets to deal with. Ex-husbands and ex-wives are the primary targets …as well as the primary shooters. They have either a long-standing grudge and animosity or a short-term goal in view; blackening the character of their former partner.

It can be done blatantly, with names, addresses, dates, and high-res pictures…but that does risk the lawyers battening upon it as defamation. More often it is done with memes, hints, and innuendo. As long as the sniper can hint to the observers know who the target is they count on formerly-mutual friends to convey the messages back. The disconnects that exist on the social media may  prevent the target from seeing the shots as they come and go, but someone can always send a screen copy to do the same thing.

The unfortunate part of this is the collateral damage – the people on social media who have to see the written fire fight and pretend to ignore it. Or  are lured to pour sympathy or scorn on one or other of the parties. In most cases people have enough traumas in their own lives without having to watch an artillery duel on their computer.

Please Undress In The Cubicle

And present yourself once you are ready.

There seems to be a great deal of fuss made about romance, love, and sex these days that is somewhat superfluous. Not that the subject is not delightful and horrid in equal parts, but the set of rituals that have developed around it are becoming increasingly strange.

Once it was simple. Arrive at puberty, find someone else also at that stage and contract a marriage. Gain permission to live together from whatever relatives were handy, pay a small fee to the local priest for magic words, and start living together. Some societies just did the pairing up for you – you were married to whoever the relatives or ruler said you would marry and that was the end of it.

Now you need to meet, fall in love, romance each other, inspect the goods, try the mechanism, and get a lawyer to draw up deeds specifying who gets the cat if you divorce. This is time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and no-one ever asks the cats’ opinion.

If you decide to skip the legal bit you’ll be presented with it later – and neither side will be happy with the division of anything. Dividing the cat will be the most distressing aspect, not least to the cat.

There must be an easier way. Of course fundamentalist societies revert to Plan A and then fight it out from there on. Hippy societies have no plan, and still fight it out, but with a messier result. We need the intervention of the Vulcans and their logic to solve the problems.

I propose that before the ship of eternal marriage sets sail, the local authorities inspect the lifeboats. There must be an adequate provision for alternate lovers and/or spouses before the first lot are wed. It should be simple to draw up a list of secondary and tertiary partners to whom the prospective lovers will be sent in case of a breakup. If these individuals are taken up in the meantime suitable alternatives must be inserted into their planned marriage contracts. That way there is no uncertainty about where the affections will be directed or the infections  contracted.

 

The Delight Of Being Needed

Say what you like about the delights of sex, drugs, rocks and roll, or the 1953 Standard motor car – or about family and friendship and little bluebirds chirping – there is nothing quite as good as being needed.

It quiets the mental worm that gnaws at us; why are we here? Even if for only a short period of time we are here to help.

And it doesn’t really matter if we succeed. The thing is, we were called on. Even if we make a sad hash of whatever we do and make matters infinitely worse, the need was there and it was us that was needed.

This was the basic drive that made Boy Scouts stand at street corners and eye off old ladies. We were priming ourselves to swoop and help them across the road. As we got older and progressed from Boy Scouts to scouting for girls we used this early training on the street corners. We were extremely vigilant for a chance to help younger women into bars and into our cars. There were no merit badges on offer but we occasionally had things pinned on us.

Popping The Question

A quick glance at a Facebook post…a young technically-talented swain proposed marriage to his light-of-love  by making an animation that was played on a large motion picture screen. All went well and she accepted his troth. It made a charming little show.

Consider what would have happened if she had said ” No “. Or turned and popped him one on the beezer in front of the rest of the crowd.

Proposing marriage – like confessing a sin, propositioning for carnal pleasure, or suggesting that someone invest in a time-share apartment in Brisbane – is wiser done as a private thing. The reaction of the other is not guaranteed and if there are people to see and hear it, the situation goes from romance to embarrassment very quickly. It is the sort of thing that marks one indelibly for ever after. And that’s the case with either answer.

I am not an anti-romantic. I love a good bended knee and ring box and gasp of delight. I can freely weep in a cinema when I see someone kneeling and getting boxed in the ring, particularly if it Sylvester Stallone. I gasp in delight.

But I also remember my own proposal of marriage. It was done privately, accepted privately, and announced publicly when we were sure of our own feelings. It seems to have lasted some 48 years so far, so it must have been a good thing to do…

 

Make Small Talk

Being a social creature is hard work for some of us. We dwell largely in isolation – in my case within a loving household – and we encounter others on a more distant basis. Hardly anyone is a mortal enemy, but by the same token, there are few extremely close friends. Most people are one or two steps removed from this core contact.

Do not be sad or disapproving of this…above all don’t regard it as unnatural. Moray eels have few drinking buddies but live perfectly adequate lives. And no-one feels bad about moray eels.

The thing is, we do venture out occasionally and we meet other people. I don’t mean in the wrong lane in the car park – this is not uncommon in a suburb with SUV’s. I mean at parties, meetings, and workplaces. We need to communicate with them but we may have lost the skill of doing it through long inattention. This Covid 19 year is particularly likely to distance us, if we are lucky.

What do we say when we do meet – 6 feet apart? The safest conversation of all is small talk. Here’s a list of topics and intros to get you going:

a. What about the weather, eh?

This will start a banal exchange that can be broken at any point if someone comes in with a plate of snacks. Feel free to ask if it’s hot enough or cold enough for you.

If you are in New Zealand substitute the word “climate ” for “weather “. Mentioning wethers in New Zealand can start a whole different conversation and you may be startled at the turns it can take – particularly if the Kiwi is the romantic type.

b. What about those Knicks, eh?

Apparently there is a basketball team called the Knickerbockers and people are interested in seeing them throw orange balls through hoops. If they were called the G-strings I could pay attention, but as it is I can throw orange balls through a hoop in the back yard myself so watching professionals do it is pointless.

Professionals in G strings would rivet the attention, mind.

c. What about that election, eh?

Well there’s always an election in the offing, no matter where you live. It may be honest and fair or not – it makes no difference  – because whoever you are talking to has the correct political opinion anyway and is either elated or incensed by the whole thing. Just wind them up, let them go, and nod sagely every 30 seconds. You will gain a reputation as an astute political expert.

Don’t get caught turning your hearing aid off.

 

 

Varnish Or Tarnish – A BGA Guide To The Reputation

Your reputation is the opinions or beliefs about you that other people hold.

These are not concrete things, unless you are the head of Holcim. They are someone else’s assessment of you, and can be coloured, changed, influenced, or bought. A wise Guild member knows how to manipulate a reputation from both ends – clean and dirty.

If you have a spotless reputation amongst the respectable people of the town – if you have never been detected in any questionable activity or associated with any unfortunate outcome…congratulations. You have a valuable trading asset. You can spin this carefully to generate a steady income, and if you are not greedy, the lustre of it will only increase as time goes by. Everyone loves a winner, even when he tramples them into the dirt.

If your reputation is spotty – or rather if it is markedly different amongst separate groups of people – you need to step more carefully. You are past the point of being the stainless banner that can float on high. But you can still be Old Glory to selected people. If the people who you wish to respect you are important or rich or good looking, do all you can to preserve their good opinion.

If you are admired by the demimonde or worse, you can also benefit, but remember that they do not have as many assets that you can acquire. Keep their friendship only insofar as they can do good for you – once they prove to be worthless, inform on them to the police. If you can derive no reward even from this, introduce them to noted religious and cultural figures and retire discreetly. You never know when they’ll prove amusing.

If you have what could only be described as a rotten reputation – if no-one has a good word for you, no matter how low they themselves are on the social ladder, rejoice. From here on in you can do no wrong.

Of course, all you do is wrong – that’s what reputation and opinion trade upon; judging you guilty for every word that you utter and every silence you hold. I mean you can do no new wrong. So there is no need to judge yourself at all.

Do what you like. If it is horrible, it is only what was expected. If it is charming, kindly, and good, you are also deeply wrong…but your critics can take no notice of it for fear of having to backtrack. You can make someone happy and the critics will feel worse than before.

It’s worth being nice, just to spite ’em.

I’m Perfectly Normal…

Ever notice that that the basic building blocks of language can be assembled in different ways to make entirely different structures? You needn’t stray into foreign languages or ethnically relaxed  grammar, ether… take our heading phrase. Seen as it is, it is a statement of good mental hygiene.

Say ” Normally, I’m perfect ” and you open up a whole new range of behavioural possibilities – if you pause pointedly they become disquieting.

And it’s not just the order of the words – timing is critical. ” I really love you ” said straight out is charming. ” I love you…really…” is a world of worry with an ellipsis flavour. I would be edging toward the door, if I were you.

The reason for this reflection is a recent motion picture on television; ” Greyhound ” with Tom Hanks. It’s a war drama set on a destroyer escort and most of the spoken action takes place on the bridge and in the combat plotting room. The dialog is complex and precise – and every statement is made in such a way as to be unambiguous. When the lookout addresses the bridge, or the bridge the plot room, they do it in a set order of identification; destination, origin, message. It may well be a universal form of naval communication.

It means the hearers know from whence the message comes and to whom it addressed. If they are either of these parties they are vitally concerned with it. Otherwise they can hear and not respond. They also communicate back  in a set form so that the speaker knows they have been heard. This is unfortunately missing from normal civilian communications – so many marriages could be saved if it were not so.

Moral of this? Say what you mean clearly. Make sure you say it to whomever you wish, but make equally sure they have heard it and have acknowledged it. Most conversations on this basis actually work.

 

” I’ve Never Been So Insulted In My Life! “

Well that shows you that things are advancing, eh? You have achieved something that you never reached before. Onward And Upward, eh?

Feeling insulted may not seem like an achievement to some of us older folks. We remember when it was an unpleasant thing that we tried to avoid. We probably still think of it along these lines, which shows how ancient we are.

A more modern generation has  been able to see more clearly – by peering harder into the pan. They regard feeling insulted as a badge of honour and a desirable state of being. If they can feel insulted…and protest their distresses…they feel they have gained status in their community.

As odd as this may seem to us oldies, it is real – and we should make an effort to assist the younger generation to gain self confidence and esteem by insulting them at every opportunity. Make note of the following words and phrases:

snot-nose kid

millennial snowflake

dole bludger

Mickey Mouse student

They are crude weapons on the generational battlefield but valuable nonetheless. You may never need to wield them, but if you do, lay about you with vigour. You need not feel bad about making the young feel useless and sad – they have said far worse about you for years. If you can engage them in a deep and meaningful conversation you can be more specific and delicate in your abuse. Every young person has deep-seated anxieties that can be plucked like the strings of a lyre.

Pluck ’em. Pluck ’em all. I say. Smarmy little pluckers…