Father’s Day Has Come And Gone

And there will have been many who made a spectacle of themselves thereupon. I did not, being sensible. I stayed home, visited with a friend, and completed self-assigned tasks.

I fed my family a good dinner and made sure that the rooms we live in were heated – it is a cold spring day in Australia.

I kept the magpies, crows, ibises, and dugites from the door. Of the species listed, only the dugites are friendly.

I preserved a high moral tone all day, in spite of the temptation to run amok. One day a year is small enough price to pay for being seen as virtuous and you can always compensate for it later in the week. If you are squeamish steer clear of my suburb from Wednesday on.

I did think of my own father, and my grandfathers. I have very little basis to extend my thoughts further back, but they must have been fathers all or I wouldn’t be typing this. Congratulaions and thank you, ancestors.

I’m certain that there are people who detest this day, and who probably hate Mother’s Day as well. Perhaps they extend their distaste to the various Grandparent’s or Children’s days that other cultures celebrate. This is sad, but not my problem.

And yes, I did get four new model airplane kits, a paint rack and three month’s supply of espresso coffee pods. I am delighted and will buy my own socks and hankies in the future as needed. You don’t need a lot of hankies if you’re not fussy…

The card is from the socially-distanced daughter who draws penguins. When I was her age I only drew fire…

I Need To Talk To Me

But will I listen?

Taking advice from yourself is not as easy as you might think. Sure, you’re available 24/7 to consult, but by the time you’re an adult, you will have grown accustomed to the sound of your own voice and you might have gotten into the habit of ignoring you.

The best way to break this is to find something that you can deal with that really does benefit you. Then tell yourself to do it, do it, and realise that you were right. Back slapping congratulations might throw out a shoulder, but you can be quietly proud.

My latest revelation to myself is to realise that when someone says or writes something to be annoying…and it succeeds in annoying me…they benefit and I lose. And every recollection of it just renews the distress.

The thing to do is to block the annoyance. You can do this on the crudest level by blocking the pest. Drop their acquaintance, real or electronic. Do it for a day, a month, or forever more. If someone is such a pain as to provoke this, you will not regret their removal.

A more sophisticated method is to let them continue holding forth but cease noticing the attempt. Regard them as you would a maniac howling at the moon. Nearly all comments, however delivered, can be ignored.

If you have time and patience you can respond minutely to each irritation. Do so blandly, politely, and literally. Never ignore them, never ignore their grammar or spelling. Politely correct them, and suggest that they are wrong…but you forgive them. You’d be surprised how fast people flee from you when you forgive them publicly.

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 Try Not To Be Biased Against Bigots

I read about you the other day. On the internet – it said you were horrible. This rather contrasted with the book they did about you last year that said you were wonderful.

I am waiting for the motion picture about you – or at least the mini series or Netflix release  that will tell me what to think of you. This is because I am unbiased in my judgements and will wait until all the lies are gathered in one spot before I decide which to believe and which to reject.

What?

What’s that you say? You want me to listen to you? To listen to you tell me the truth about what you have experienced or are intending to do? To listen to your own words spoken directly? To get the facts?

Pshaw…Where’s the fun in that? I’ve got Facebook and Wikipedia and Netflix and the New Era Press. I can learn all the things I want to from them and they’ll let me judge you from an unassailable position. You’d just confuse matters.

Get this straight: the world doesn’t revolve around you. It revolves around me and what I think. If I think of you at all you should be grateful.

You’re Entitled To Your Opinion

At least here you are. We live in a free country that will let you think what you like. You can also say what you like…but with a few restrictions to prevent harm to others. By and large it is a good system and altogether a good country.

But note: the freedom you exercise to think and speak is also granted to everyone else. And it goes further – we have a great deal of freedom to listen to what you say, to commit it to memory, and to think about it.

We are allowed to agree or disagree with you… and within certain limits to let you know that we do. And you, more or less, have to put up with either decision.

Which conflicts with the attitude and pronouncements of some people in the chattering classes. They form groups, collectives, and cabals that try to silence any dissent or disagreement. As these can be found in schools, universities, cultural institutions, and businesses, it can destroy the very freedom of speech that they cry for.

The humorous part of this – if hypocrisy is humour – is that they will insist that they be allowed public display and disruption to push their barrow.

Is there an answer to it all? Well, you’re reading it. the weblog column. The internet posting. It can be read by all – it can be criticised by all – it can be ignored by all. It hardly ever garners a legal protest or challenge and mostly just hangs around in electronic space to embarrass or discredit decades later.

Another answer would be a Speaker’s Corner in a central public park that could be open to all for untrammelled oratory. Of course that would mean that the speakers and listeners would have to abide by rules of conduct. We may be too far down the road to either political correctness or political chaos for that. Plus it would need two cops to oversee the venue.

 

 

 

I Plan To Be A Wunderkind

But I’ll need to wait until I’m older.

I’ll also have to find a reliable source of wunder. My wunder tub has run empty in the last few years and I’ve had to resort to dogged persistence. The dog is getting sick of me…

I do remember thinking that I would be a big deal when I was a callow youth. I’d won a gold medal for being the best pupil of 1964 in a little Canadian high school and gotten a job with the local weekly newspaper as a result. Had my family stayed there in that little town, who knows to what heights I could have risen. As I still had a year of high school to go, I might have been brought down smartly with a bump the next year.

As it was, it took several years of dental school here in Western Australia to do that. I discovered that the academic prowess I was supposed to have was really like the prow of a barge – it pushed through the sea of learning very slowly. Fortunately the dental racket is 75% hand/eye ability and only 20% academic. The other 5% is business acumen and I never had that at all – which meant I sold my practice when I was 60 and took up trade. And never looked back.

Do I still have time to be a wunderkind? Well, at 72, I’d need to be looking forward to living past 100 to qualify for unexpected youthful success. I think I had better settle for a different thing: wunderalter. If I aim to be a surprisingly bright and successful codger, I may make my mark on society yet. If I cannot manage bright and cheerful I can at least be diabolical and dangerous.

I’ll get into a different section of the history book, but get in just the same.

Liquid Control Interface Operation

Before you switch over to the cat’s channel, this isn’t another one of those technical manuals written by a lawyer. Nor is it bid to sell you dietary supplements. I am not even asking you to march through the streets looting and burning.

It’s just a quick note on how to control your weblog essays through liquid interfacing.

a. Column is not starting. Blog is cold. Flywheel is motionless.

Brew a pot of coffee and drink a half a cup. Dose it however you wish – sugar, milk, soy, whatever – or not. After you have downed half a cup pour more into the cup and head for the computer. Think of something that someone said last week -and it can be anything from a wonderful poem to a snarled insult. There is your topic and your flywheel is turning on caffeine and away you go.

b. Column is boring. You re-read it and even you are bored. This isn’t leftover stuff…this is re-hashed rehash. Ketchup couldn’t rescue it.

Go to the drinks cabinet and pour a half a tot. Rum, whiskey, gin, whatever. Half a tot – 30 ml. Say God Bless The Queen and down it.

By the time you get back to the computer the lid of reality will have loosened. Hopefully, just enough to let the boring escape and leave the good parts of your essay still bubbling there…because you DO have something to build from already. You were just looking at it with tired eyes.

When you have tightened it up, cleaned and polished the grammar, and inserted a slyly dirty joke, you may have the other half of the tot. With soda water.

More tots will carry you into dangerous ground. Take my advice – a friend doesn’t let a friend write drunk. They certainly don’t let them post essays drunk.

c. Column is unfinished. And it is 11:30 at night for an 8:00AM  posting. You feel like a dishrag.

Go to the kitchen. Make a cup of cocoa with two spoons of cocoa, two spoons of sugar, and hot milk. This takes it from being mere hot chocolate to being kye.

Kye is what watchkeepers on HM ships drink to keep them awake on the bridge. It will not let them sleep, nor will it you. You will be able to finish your column and do your taxes before the sun rises. Or hunt U-boats, if the taxes are already done.

Ping… Ping… Ping…Ping…Ping-a…

Aha.

Permanently Wrong

Are you in danger of becoming permanently wrong? Take this simple test to find out:

a. Are you male or female or not? If you can say yes or no to any of these three, mark your scorecard with a ten.

b. Look at the colour of the skin on your right forearm. If it is any shade between palest white to deepest black mark another ten on your scorecard. Then look at your left forearm – if it is 15 shades darker than the right one you might consider not driving with your arm out the window. Reverse this in the UK, Australasia, Singapore, and Japan.

c. Are you old enough to vote? Mark another ten.

d. Did you vote? Ten again.

e. Do you hold a religious belief of any kind, or do you avoid any belief? Ten again, and now you can add up your score.

You should have 50 points. This proves that you are wrong. If you have less it proves you are wrong and dishonest, and if you have more than 50 it indicates that you are stupid.

How do we know? We have the internet, social workers, political parties, teenagers, and the leaders of think tanks to tell us so. No good you protesting that you can live your life perfectly well with whatever shape, size, colour, or ethnicity you have – you are wrong, and must be made to pay for your error.

The payment will be in guilt ( we’ll tell you what you are guilty of ) and fear ( again depend on us for this ) and money. The money will produce justice for everyone whom you have wronged. We’ll keep it in Switzerland or the Cayman islands so it is safe.

Pay up.

 

The Celebrity Strip Stripped Naked

I read a number of comic strips every day – they are a wonderful antidote to the miseries of the news broadcasts. They do reflect these – comedy can be made out of tragedy. Some try harder than others…and some get it wrong.

”  Least I Could Do ” is a satirical strip detailing life from the point of view of a narcissistic young man in the USA. He has a splendid job, forgiving friends, and long-suffering relatives and partners. He is selfish, funny, and stupid from day to day.

The strip is written by one man, drawn by another, and marketed by a small team who tour comic conventions and sell all the merchandise that this sort of success produces. Normally I enjoy it and would pass most of its foibles by as legitimate humour.

Not today -The writer and the artist have conflated the service personnel of the US, Great Britain, and Canada who participated in the D-Day Normandy landings and the defeat of the Wehrmacht with the current band of political terrorists, Antifa.

Poor form, poor thinking, and poor taste. An unnecessary venture into politics by people who really should know better – the writer and the artist. They’ll sneer and jeer and start off on another smarmy theme shortly, using the comic strip character to mouth their opinions – but they have done the real WWII veterans no service  – nor have they rendered it to their poor torn country

Shame on them.