Sobering Up and Behaving Properly

I seem to be in the sights of a number of organisations that wish me to obey them. Not just the police and taxation office – now it is the nutritionists, dietitians, and moral reformers. They have selected my home as their target for tonight and I can hear the rumble of bomber engines every time I turn on the internet.

To be fair, I invite this attack myself by clicking on Facebook. It is the equivalent of turning on all the house lights and throwing back the curtains on a moonless night.

I was told to give up alcohol for January – with the promise that it would make my life better. There was a clear inference that if I continued abstinence through the following eleven months I should become a healthy and sane individual. They did not feature a picture of Carrie Nation and her hatchet  on the internet, but I’ll bet they were tempted.

I am also to abstain from all meat, milk, eggs, and other non-vegan foods. This is not being sold to me for my health, but on moral grounds. The pictures used to scold me away from meat are actually worse than those of Carrie in her bonnet.

Occasionally I am warned away from fluoride in my drinking water, soft drinks, natural gas, vaccines, Chinese people, and anything else of which an internet poster does not approve.

Of course, I am always forbidden to approve of the American president, local politicians, Australia Day, horse races, and many more hitherto innocuous subjects. This list grows yearly and is the subject of some cynical betting as to what will be next. Note: 50 years ago I was scolded for using an aluminium cooking pot, which was pretty bizarre at the time…I had no idea the internet would bring so many more sins to light.

I do not resent the posts – they are evidence that people think of my welfare and want the best for me. Of course, this benevolence is not a one-way street. They do expect something in return. If it is not donation of money, it is assistance in promoting Their Glorious Cause. I’m only sorry that heretofore I have not done so…but I fully intend to go to their next torchlight rally at the sports stadium. I like the searchlights and the marching bands…

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Well That Explains The Noise And The Smell…

Do you have a desire to be noticed by your colleagues and friends? Are you unsure whether or not you have any personal qualities that would warrant this interest? Well, you’ve come the the right place; the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia can outfit you with startling mannerisms, appearance, and theatrical routines – you’ll be the centre of attention in no time.

Now we’ve all had the experience of going to a party where everyone else is discussing topics with which we are totally unfamiliar. It need not be intellectual, either – you can be out of place in a group of people playing a Japanese children’s game, with the only way of coping being bright and brittle and drinking a lot. The social consequences are never good. But take heart – even in the most foreign of cultures the BGA can make you the hit of the evening. All you need to do is remember the motto – Stand Out, Stand Forth, and Stand On Their Toes.

No-one needs an ally in a conversation – no-one needs agreement. No-one wants to be stuck with ignoring the syncophant in the room…The adroit BGA conversationalist makes sure that they do not agree with whatever is being said, and the more experienced Guild members arrange for this to be known before the conversation. They lay down a barrage of disapproval before anyone else can fire a question.

Are you in a mess of millennials? Espouse Donald Trump as your companion animal. Is most of the crowd dressed in flannies and drinking VB? Start up a cheer wave for Wahleed Ali and Lee Lin Chin. Are people complaining about the onions at Bunnings? Demand they sign a vegan petition to have buns banned. You need do no more to become the star of the evening.

If you are in family gathering you need not go to politics or religion to draw the limelight. Every family has a history of an Aunt Olive or Uncle George somewhere and you can be sure that the opinion is evenly divided as to whether they should be canonized or burnt. A really skilled Guild operative can antagonise both sides with one fleeting reference.

But what if you are afraid of the consequences? Of being socially ostracized or cut out of the will or hounded for money? Do not be concerned – a good Guild member will always have one innocent-sounding question that can be asked of anyone – see our section on family secrets and suppressed court orders – that will ensure silence and sweating. Remember to smile and show as many teeth as you can.

I Blame The….

a. Police…when people who are committing crimes are chased and caught and jailed and made to be unhappy. This is not right. A criminal has a constitutional right to do crime…based upon their ethnicity and their desire to do crime. The police want to punish this and it’s an outrage.

b. Police…when people are injured or die evading them after committing crimes. A person who does crimes is supposed to escape from the police because I have seen it on the telly and in the movies. If they do not succeed it is a basic assault on human rights.

c. White people. Because it has proved to be an effective way to get publicity and eventually get paid for it. And it would be wrong to prevent a successful business from flourishing.

d. Society. In case there are successful people with money that can be accessed who are not white. They are guilty too…of being successful.

e. Pauline Hanson. Because everyone hates her and if I blame her I look virtuous.

f. Pauline Hanson’s former partners and party members. Hard to tell who’s being nasty to whom, but I figure that when you see a head you kick it.

g. Donald Trump. I get kewl points for this and Trump is so far away that I never get pulled up for it. I tried blaming Hilary but I got an email with a picture of a horse’s head in my bed. So I just blame Trump for everything…I’m no fool.

h. Vaccines. And when that doesn’t work I blame non-vacc people. The effect is the same – I get publicity.

i. Schools. Well, we all hated school, didn’t we, and we made sure that our kids knew that it was the right way to be…the hating, I mean. So now when they screw up royally, it’s all the school’s fault. Stands to reason, eh?

j. The flag and the anthem. Well, it worked for Kaepernick, didn’t it? I might get a lucrative shoe contract if my kid won’t stand up at school assembly. Worth a try, innit?

 

How Much Is Your Name Worth?

If it is Elon Musk or Richard Branson, apparently quite a lot.

If it is Harvey Weinstein, somewhat less…

And for those of us in the middle? Well, it’s worth just what other people think it is. And therein lies the danger. If you have been a good person forever and are a good person now, your name and reputation will still be available for people to throw darts at as long as you are within range. You are not in control of the darts nor of their throwing arms – you can only control the range.

This is a sad thought if you are a people person. If your life needs human contact and constant approval, you are always going to be within range of the very human trait of animosity. You need not provoke it – it is there all the time ready for use. Sort of the frozen pizza of emotions. Just stand still for long enough, close enough, and there you go.

How to protect yourself from it? Either stay far enough away from others so that you never fall under their notice, or please everyone in every way all the time, or put safeguards in place. Never see anyone alone. Never say anything remotely objectionable to anyone. Never borrow anything , nor lend it. Never win a contest. Never write a book, blog, or laundry ticket. Never ask and never tell. Never know.

For those of you out there contemplating sex, forget it. Cold showers and prayer are your only recourse. Shun dating, marriage, adultery, celibacy, and strip joints. Avoid the movies, particularly if you are producing them. Do not send pictures of any portion of your body to anyone at all, ever. Avoid stimulating foods like lukewarm gruel and dry toast.

As far as finances go, remember about not being a borrower or lender. Also do not spend any money and take particular care that you are not seen to be saving it – you would be a miser.

Of course politics are a minefield of offence. Minefields are also a minefield. In fact just plain fields will get the more committed ecologist quite livid with anger. You may be wise to curl up under your desk and make no sound whatsoever.

But cheer up – do all this and you will have a good name. King Tutankhamen has been quiet for centuries and no-one has a bad word for him.

The Untouchable List – Part One – Opening The Jar

Glory be! I’m getting smarter in my old age!

I’ve finally realised that there are some things that are untouchable – and for darned good reason. I’ve compiled a list of them for myself and will be adding to it as time goes on. Currently the divisions include discussion topics and people, but I will be expanding it to include places, things, and experiences.

It’s a totally subjective list – I would advocate that other people also make lists, but they are free to put whatever they want on theirs – and I think it might do them a world of good to do so…as it has done for me. But it must be deliberate.

You see, until you actually think long about this sort of idea, you are unlikely to benefit from it. You’ll have aversions that come up quickly and then go away just as fast. You’ll have momentary hates without keeping them long enough to make pets of them – and nowhere near long enough to benefit from them. You need to consider the business soberly.

” Soberly ” can also include thinking outside of a stiff drink of rye whiskey. If you are one of the people whom it takes favourably, it may strip just enough of your inhibitions to allow you to see what you really do feel and think. Just make sure that when you do cocktail meditation that you do it alone, and that you write your conclusions in secret. You may need to revise them and you do not need everyone to see what your original thoughts were.

The list should be drawn in such a way that it can be altered easily as new aversions make themselves known or as old ones are discovered to be harmless. I’ve removed a person from the list after realising that there was no need for them to be there. It was not that they did not deserve to be on it to start with, but they have since ceased to be objectionable. No point in bearing a grudge if it has no substance.

In the next part, we examine what the list does for and to you…

 

The Sniper Team

Recent events have made this a parlous sort of title for my weblog column but read on and you’ll see why I wrote it.

On my Facebook today a post prompted a series of exchanges – between people with whom I am familiar and people who are complete strangers. I hasten to add that I did not intrude into the exchange. The root cause of the fight, as it will be of many others, was the reports we received of the events of the recent hotel shootings in Las Vegas.

There was a great deal of anguish shown by the various people involved in the discussion and eventually it started to spill over into sexual politics, cross-accusation, and nastiness. The person who originated the thing then called an end to the discussion. One of the participants claimed a sort of victory. It’s an occurance that happens frequently on Facebook.

I could not help being drawn to compare it to some of the practices outlined in a book written by a Captain C. Shore about British army sniping in the world wars. Not the Las Vegas thing…that is yet to be seen for what it may well prove to be…but the use of the spotter, shooter, and decoy system in scoring victories on social media.

Why this should be seen as desirable, in what is supposed to be an on-line community, is sometimes not clear, but the thing that is evident is that there are frequent occasions where a person sets up a tempting post to invite comments and one of their friends sits waiting until a target reacts. Then there is a brief flurry of outraged and biased virtue-scoring posted to dominate the unwary target.

If the person caught in this barrage responds with a counterattack that seems to answer the question or puts the sniper in a bad light, the spotter – acting as originator of the whole sequence – shuts it down by declaring an end. In some cases they can weave back and edit out the target’s posts. The sniper team is left to publicly do the little dance of victory of whichever social army they fight for.

Happened on the computer today to someone else – happened to me some time ago with a different sniping team. The only remedy I could see at the time was to defriend the spotter – the sniper was not on my list.

I’m warier these days about what I say to whom. I rarely defriend anyone, but I do sometimes switch them to the unseen track. And when I meet them in person I am careful to restrict my speech to ” Yay Yay” and ” Nay Nay ” as per biblical instructions. Because all the rest is bound to be sin and sorrow.

The Statue In The Park

I have said before that my flabber is rarely ghasted, but this last week has more than made up for it. Leaving aside the North Korean foolishness, and the predictable nature of the unpredictable, we came to the hot summer rioting in the CSA and the subsequent reactions by various authorities.

This sort of clash is nothing new for the place – I can remember it back in the 1960’s, when the temperature rose and some clash set off a riot. I even seem to recall Baltimore losing a couple of whole city blocks to fire in the middle of one of them….though that may have been Philadelphia or Newark. In any case, late summer, before the kids get back to school, is the traditional time for rioting and looting. If you haven’t got a television by August it is your chance to bring one home before the football starts…

The thought of incipient riots has also proved useful for the Baltimore city administration – allowing them an excuse to edit out any of the civic statues that they don’t like on a prophylactic basis. Fair enough, though given what modern sculpture looks like these days, one could wish that they would widen the scope of their concern and pay for the cranes to take away some of the grottier pieces of new scrap iron art.

As it is, I think they could have saved a lot of work and expense by just hiring a signwriter to re-name the existing statues. Unbolt the bronze plaque that says ” General Lee ” and attach a plate that reads ” Malcom X “. Just scrub out ” Stonewall ” on the Jackson statue and write ” Samuel L. ” in its’ stead. Any one else who might be less recognisable could be tagged as Patrice Lumumba or O.J. Simpson, and everyone would be happy.

Not the rioters, mind. You don’t get a free Motorola by renaming statues…

Here in Australia we have seen a most amazing piece of theatre by Senator Pauline Hanson. For overseas readers, she is a politician from Queensland ( and that is fruitful ground for many, many posts…) who rose to fame by hating Asians* professionally. Now that she has achieved a seat in the Senate, she hates Muslims professionally. To express her dislike for them she paraded into our federal Senate chamber wearing a full-coverage burka garment – then tried to argue that she wants it to be banned.

No, I’m not making this up. It really happened. I don’t have that much imagination.

I do not know whether she has any shares in a restaurant, or owns a pick handle, or plans to change her name to Lester. I don’t really want to think about it. I have an old flabber and if it is ghasted beyond its’ rated pressure anything could blow.

I also don’t want to think about who her next professional hate is going to be. I’m not sure if she has done with the Asians, though she’s gone somewhat quiet about them. The Muslim seam will eventually play out, and she may still be digging.

Perhaps we could get her busy removing statues…

*Mostly to the Chinese, though she was prepared to be unpleasant to Japanese and Thais as well.