Do Not Fear Me

For I am not fearful. The smile is real, and conceals nothing but the back of the teeth and a fair few fillings.

Do not praise me, because I am not praiseworthy…or at least not for the things that you think. If I need praise I can do it myself.

Do not be my enemy – because we are judged on the quality of our enemies, and you may not measure up.

Do not try to seduce me with offers of commercial sales. I have all the goods I need. If you offer to buy some of them off me we can talk, provided you are willing to load them on the back of your truck yourself. I don’t do heavy lifts.

Please do not sell me a plan or a program. I’ve had many plans in the past and have learned to be wary – some are futile con games that take my money and leave me disappointed…and some come to glorious fruition. Of the two results, the first is a lot easier to bear.

I can always be purchased with coffee, tea, and cakes. I am not greedy and I do not slurp or drop crumbs. The quality of my interest in your problems is directly proportional to the quality of the coffee and cake. Barista special and rich fruit cake will enlist my deepest sympathy – a plastic cup of Pablo and Nice biscuit will get you what you deserve…

And never be afraid to ask me for money – make the sum as grand as you wish. I shall be equally brave in my refusal, and the higher the demand, the greater the saving. You may be treated to a hollow laugh and a hearty handshake or vice versa.




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.

Salute The Quarterdeck

There is ¬†slightly complex sequence of behaviour required to board an American warship in harbour. This involves proceeding up the gangway but not stepping aboard until you have saluted the quarterdeck flag and the person controlling the ship’s end of the gangway. You ask permission to board and do not step on until it is given. The rank of the person at the entry point is not relevant…if they are the authorised controller of this entry they represent the captain of the ship who has final say on who boards.

If you are doing this at sea the formalities are truncated, and if you are swinging aboard on a rope while firing a pistol at the crew you hardly have to pause at all…

Similar formalities probably attend entry to ereryone else’s ships, and army and air force bases…in the case of some you are issued security clearances after documents are inspected and these clearances are retrieved as you leave. Mind you, the army tank museum has a policy that if you can carry it out, it’s yours…

I should like to see the establishment of similar rituals in civilian life with regard to who comes in and why. Too often we open the door to relatives and in-laws without a bye-your-leave and they never buy and they just don’t leave…for hours at a time…I am not sure whether there is actually a quarterdeck in the average family home…perhaps the lounge room…but maybe we could do as Japanese homemakers do and deliberately incorporate a family altar or place of beauty in the front room, and the visitors could salute this as a promise that they will behave.

In return, I would be willing to accord them all courtesies…while having them closely escorted by armed Marines.


Experience Is No Substitute For Righteousness!

And don’t you forget it, Grandad. Don’t try that old business about having seen it all before just because you did actually see it all before. If I didn’t think of it after watching YouTube, it doesn’t count.

And don’t try rolling your eyes at me, old man. None of that senior sarcasm or you’ll be sent to your room with no supper. Wait? What do you mean it’s your food? Just because you’ve paid for it and cooked it and served it at your own table doesn’t mean you have a right to enjoy it if I disapprove. There are principles involved and the main one is I am young and right and you are old and wrong. And I am the judge of it all…I’ve got the internet.

And in a few years I’ll be able to vote and drink beer and smoke cigarettes and get the dole and post angry memes on social media whenever I want to. I got rights.

How To Apply For A Grant Without A Revolver

Well, I said I was going to write on the subject, didn’t I? When I promise something I always make good on it, even when it is something bad. That’s what being a long-time parent can teach you.

Leaving aside the question of whipping the children with scourges – a fine leisure activity – let us get to the question of the grant. We generally understand this to be a sum of money or credit given to us for some good purpose. Education, health improvement, housing, etc. have all been subject to this sort of thing in the past. Indeed there have been grants of land and other titles made by authorities ever since the first tyrant rewarded the first grovelling minion with slaves and fields. It’s not quite that obvious these days, outside of the Balkans or South Asia, so we’ll just consider the money grant.

The first thing you need to do to get one, is to find out who has the money in the first place. Favoured sources are federal, state, and local governments – we’ll just lump them together and call them the Tyrants. They have money because they have found other victims before you and accumulated a store of the stuff. Note that it is no good trying for grants from organisations that are themselves begging.

The grant is frequently a way for the Tyrant to purchase fealty and/or safety from the masses. They remember how they got the money in the first place and it is only by sending back little parcels of it that they can ensure that their head is on the stamps, not on the pitchforks.

Start by writing in for The Form. There will be one. Then sit down and read it carefully. It will promise money but demand something in return. Your first-born child or your soul are frequently mentioned – all good there. What you really have to be careful about is if the form asks for repayment of the money over a period of years with interest added as time goes on. This is the triple-gang hook of finance. It never works its way out…

If possible, make your request for grant money sound like you are going to do some worthy thing with it. Of course you need not do so – it can all be shovelled into your pocket as ” operational expenses “, but make a little paper sign that says” Goode Workes And Godley Virtue ¬†” then put it beside the pile of coins and take a picture. It looks good for the press.

And think of making a grant yourself. Perhaps your local bottle shop needs to sell a couple of cartons of full-strength beer – you can help by taking some of your grant money down there and giving it over. Everyone will be happy.

Of Course…

” Of course air travel is perfectly safe. Look at the HINDENBURG. It’s never crashed yet. ”

A perfectly valid statement at the end of 1936 as the zeppelin completed 17 round trips in its first season across the Atlantic. It went to North and South America with no incidents. And then the first trip of Season Two to Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937…

Putting aside the humanity, look at the phrase ” of course “. I just traced it through the computer’s internal dictionary and it seems to indicate that something is obvious or expected. But you knew that already, didn’t you…

Yet, it seems so many times that it is used to mask what is not obvious ¬†– the bias of a political debater, or the pre-made circular and specious argument that serves the propagandist. I hear it repeatedly when eavesdropping on others. Of course, I don’t do that in an obvious manner. No wire taps or tape recorders. I just lurk and listen.

I’m starting to think it’s a valuable marker for this sort of thing. A litmus test for bullshit, if you will. A small warning bell that tells you someone is flanneling on while they fumble for your wallet.

The truth is that nothing is ever ” of course “. It can be ” off course ” easily, and frequently is ” of a curse “. but beyond that you really should not take things for granted.

Tomorrow’s post: How to apply for a grant without a revolver.


The Grammar Fascist

We’ve all seen the memes that berate people by calling them ” Grammar Nazis “. Presumably there are also ” Grammar Fascists ” and ” Grammar Communists “. Possibly ” Grammar Democrats ” and ” Grammar Monarchists ” as well. I accept them all – the class of mankind that really makes my skin crawl are the ” Grammar Anarchists “. The people who deliberately fracture the language to show off their cleverness.

Or perhaps that should be ‘ there clevrnes ‘. Or was Cleverness where they based the submarines? Must look that up.

Any sentence that you read…or have read out to you by the magistrate…should be easy and merciful. No pained expressions – no miserable contractions – no jargon or acronymical garbage. The CEO of the AIIGRIMAS was adamant about this, as was Stuart Goddard; if anyone had a right to the attitude, it was Stuart.

I’ve just finished washing the taste of a Facebook post out of my mind and wondered if I should ask for three previous convictions to be taken into account. The post was from a very sweet and kindly person who was trying to grapple with ‘their’ and ‘there’. Unsuccessfully, as it happened, though I am grateful that the message did not have to involve the contraction of ‘they are’…I fear it might have been infinitely worse.

If anyone corrects it, I’ll bet they’ll be accused of being overbearing. Yet, a person matured in the use of the English language should know how to use the three words correctly.

” Does it matter? ” I hear you say.

” Yes, it does. “, you hear me reply. We live in our language – wear it as a garment, if you will. There is no need to cut holes in it an then display them. We can clean what we say and mend what we write. Our communication need not be drab or uniform – it can certainly be colourful – but it must be well-tailored to what we need to say.