” 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.

 

That Stuff..You Know…Stuff…

That sort of stuff. The one I want. Where is it?

And thus…vaguely…begins the sad adventure of many a failed shopping expedition. I go out to get stuff I need to do things. I know what I want a project to look like in the end and I think I have seen some material or item that will be perfect for the job, but I do not know what it is called exactly…which prevents me from going to people who sell it. I cannot name it precisely enough to call their technical expertise into action and all I get is annoyed looks.

Yet I have money and need, and whatever it is…from a dog-powered ice cream mixer to recycled underwear…is surely for sale somewhere.

The best frustration safaris start with a sample of the item that you can take with you. You still have to find the correct destination where people will recognise it and can direct you further to a real source. Frequently it’s best to just start with the internet and then feel bad online before going out to feel bad in person. A good days sees someone saying they recognise the item and a really good day goes on to them knowing where you can get some. Then when you go there, you find they went out of business last week…

I want a Citizen’s Advice Bureau at my local council office that is staffed by a team of know-it-alls. I don’t care how dry, pedantic, or irritating they are as long as they are prepared to climb down off their high horse and tell me what I want to know.

Privileged Misinformation

Also known as the luxury lie. The sort of news that you get when you pay a premium and can demand to be told what you want to hear.  Sound good? Well you’ve come to the right people. Pull up an overstuffed chesterfield and light up a sofa…or is it the other way round? No matter – if you’ve got money you can smoke any sort of furniture you like.

Of course the opposite does apply if you wish cheap out and just follow the broadcast news or use the free app on your tablet. In that case we select the lies and bias and you get what we give you. Don’t worry – it will be fast paced and there will be bright colours. You can be outraged and seduced at the same time…frequently by the same news. You will not have to spend a lot of time thinking about issues as we will provide the opinion we wish you to espouse. All you have to do is stay ready to erupt into the street demanding whatever we tell you to want.

The middle-of-the-road news consumer may be left out a little in the division of the media. The old-fashioned newspaper and magazine are becoming harder to sell and harder to buy. The articles contain less thought and more emotion than before and frequently it’s somewhat delayed. The really fresh stupidity has already flitted through the mobile phone and tablet networks.

Note: putting aside the fake news and disastrous internet social groups is also an option but one taken by very few. You can tell who has gone that route by observing their street verge. if they’ve put all the televisions, computers, and internet devices out there for council collection it’s a sign that they would prefer happy to woke. If it’s not even council collection week you’re dealing with a hard core old-school thinker.

 

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 Haunting

Forget spirits. Forget vampires. Forget werewolves.

None of them are real. They’re just literary and cinematic devices to get money out of your pocket. But sit and quake with fear about the new haunting. For you will have brought it on yourself…as we all have.

You will have done it when you bought something from eBay. Or used Paypal. Or googled up an online store selling essential oils, crystals, and Krupp artillery fuses.You will have set in train a series of connections that will follow you forever – a ghost train, if you will. The advertisers who lurk in the fetid swamps of the internet will have risen in the miasma and infiltrated your life. They will now pop up everywhere.

You cannot exorcise them. You cannot buy them off. No sacrifice you make will banish them. They are going to pursue you long after the vengeful Furies have let you off the hook. They do not seek your brains, or your soul. They seek your money.

How can you get release? How can you find peace? What can save your sanity?

Just send $ 39.95 to this address in a plain, sealed envelope and the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia will send the envelope straight back to you. It will miraculously be empty, and you can fill it up again. And for a brief period, no-one will try to sell you fidget spinners or pictures of Justin Trudeau in costume. It will be like Heaven, except Heaven is harder to get into than the BGA.

You know it’s the right thing to do.

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.

 

I Wish To Buy Some Malware Please…

Good morning. I wonder if your could help me. I want to buy some malware, please.

My in-law’s birthday is coming up and he’s a big fan of computers and video games and mobile phones. I want to get him something that he’ll appreciate and that he can use for years to come.

I’m not worried about the cost, as long as it doesn’t go over the top. I’ve got a budget of $ 200 as this is a significant birthday and we want to make it memorable.  I looked in JB HiFi and the Apple store but all they seem to have is headphones or Bluetooth speakers – I want something a bit more high-tech. I’ve read that malware can reduce unwary people to financial ruin and gibbering madness, and I thought that this would be nice.

Actually, I have no idea what it actually is. Is it a book or something or a tape that you play?  Can you get it on vinyl, because I know he has a record player…I’m sorry if I seem a bit vague, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much to the lady from India who said she was the Technical Department of Microsoft when she rang the other week. After I could not find the thing on the computer that she wanted me to press she just started crying and rang off. I would like a second chance to make her day.