Shopping For A War – Part Five – The Reader’s Digest…

Or will it be ”  War And Peace “?

You have to decide when you enter a keyboard dogfight whether you want to fight it down to the deck until you all run out of ammunition and are reduced to ramming each other, or whether you just want to make a quick firing pass, zoom up, and fly away.

The first approach – what I like to call the Zeke – is for those who wish to become legends in their own lunchtime. Heros who do not care whether their reputations, bank balances, or underwear are shredded in the fight. People who sacrifice themselves whenever they can – possibly for the pleasure of being hurt. There’s probably a PhD somewhere in there but you’d have to write footnotes to get it.

The indefatigable keyboard fighter never gives up, even when they have passed from being questionable to being wrong – and then gone on to being ludicrous and irrelevant. They cannot quit, as quitting would involve them in the suspicion that they were fools and have been suckered into an intellectual Lufberry Circus by smarter thinkers. They generally die in a blaze of inglorious prose against some hillside.

A second fighting style is know as the Thunderbolt. The writer knows that they have one chance only to drop on their opponent with overwhelming force, let ’em have the whole nine yards, and then use the moment of stunned and horrified silence to zoom away and disappear. It is not a case of cowardice – just judicious use of advantage and tactics. Dodging and weaving whilst making the escape is also not a bad idea. They never have to return to fight that opponent again.

A third approach is to enter unobtrusively, throttle back whilst close to the victim, drop a delayed-action meme, and then slide over the horizon before the thing goes up. Make no mistake – no-one will be in any doubt who dropped it. You will get credit, if only in curses.

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Shopping For A War – Part One – The Battleground

Nothing to do with politics or the military here, folks. Everything to do with human relations on the internet.

I count 224 souls on my Facebook list but have no idea whether some of them are really still there. There are a couple of greyed-out profiles that may indicate that they have signed themselves off – one hopes only from the social site. A few more are on semi-permanent do-not-follow status that is only breached when I get bored and curious. In some cases they have always rewarded me with the same behaviour that got them unfollowed in the first place and have been hung back on the rack.

Several more are popped into snooze mode during special occasions like the current federal election. Once this is over and their sense of electoral outrage simmers down they will be worth looking at again.

Note: I have no idea how many people have locked me in the social media bathroom at any one time. I just write and broadcast these little essays and hope for the best. If I get the worst it is just part of the game. If I get the wurst I make sauerkraut and boiled potatoes.

The social media site is a wonderful thing – there is such falsity and barnumistic advertising on it as to suggest that it has no value whatsoever. Yet every day someone makes a valuable contact or comment somewhere and it doesn’t do to remain completely ignorant about what is going over the net. You can ignore Harry Potter and the Game Of Thrones and benefit greatly but you still need your daily kitten fix on Facebook.

Unfortunately for the more modest of us ( And I am always making Modest Proposals. I’m swift with that. ..) there are people who deliberately bait, goad, and entrap on even the kindest of social sites. And we do well to realise it and shape our actions accordingly.

Tomorrow: Picking sides is like picking noses…

 

My Hobby, Sir, Is Below…

No, not that far down. That’s a different hobby. Stop staring.

My hobby is what you are reading right now. I write now.  I write four weblog columns each weekday and three on the weekends. I get paid money to pen one of them and the other three pay in joy.

I did not realise this was going to be the case when my friend Joanne suggested over a café breakfast that I look up WordPress. She, like many young people, is somewhat of an expert on the social media and connection side of things. But she doesn’t make the technical side of things sound as hard and confusing. Nor was it, once I had picked up a couple of simplistic books on the WordPress blog experience.

My first efforts were crude – like my first engagement with Facebook – but gradually the business of telling a story ( and that is all I am doing when I write ) started to flow and it has gushed ever since. I’m a photographer with my own studio so I can make pictures to enliven the print and as much as the graphic designers amongst my readers may quail, I can dot them with words. Generally the words I choose try to be funny. Sometimes they succeed, but only sometimes…

So I finally have to admit I like engaging you in this one-sided conversation – I look upon it as a Catskill monologue. Hence the title of this first weblog column. I’m here all week – try the pasta surprise.

The chef was absolutely surprised. He was aiming for bacon smoothies.

 

Harmony And Harmonica Are Two Diffferent Words

Are you on Facetwit? Or Googram? Do you respond to your phone, computer or tablet every time it makes a dinging sound? Are you a modern version of a Pavlov dog?

Congratulations – you are a prime candidate for Le Régiment Zukerberg. Also known as the 101st Internet Lancers. The Old Brigands. You are the person that they want  – because they can make you do anything that they want you to do – and do it willingly.

If you are suspicious of this, consider your history on the internet:

a. Do you write your own material or just ” share ” what they lay in front of you? Are you advancing on your own recognizance or are you led…or driven?

b. Do you respond predictably? Can they count on you to share, tweet, like, or proselytize just as directed?

c. Do you do this for free? Or do you pay for the privilege of doing it?

d. Are you passionate? So passionate that you will embrace anything that you’re told to embrace? Would you do this physically at the bidding of a master? There’s always a place for a willing prostitute, so don’t worry if the answer’s yes.

e. Can you be turned quickly from one opinion to the opposite if Central Command decrees it? Are you ready to applaud the Brest – Litovsk treaty one week and declare class war the next?

f.  Are you willing to ignore the bad behaviour of other people if it is useful to your party? And to find cause for outrage in the mildest opposition?

If you can agree to some or all of these observations, you too can be a social media instrument. An instrument of power – of vengeance – of justice. Also of propaganda, of deceit, and of treachery. What a career you can have.

But be aware that it is not all happiness in the Divine Instruments Of Justice Brigade. While you might think of yourself as a Trumpet Of Glory, the reality may be that you are merely a Harmonica Of Wind. And the sad thing is eventually someone will turn you upside down and rap you against the table to get the spit out.

 

Author Trees

The author tree is not exactly a distinct botanic species. Author trees can be Elm, Maple, Oak, or any large deciduous variety. In tropic and hot climates Palms and Baobab trees have been very successful author trees. Pine and Fir are less common, though the Giant Redwood of California would be very suitable, if a little deadly.

You see an author tree is a tree which the author of a book that is not selling well will use as a marketing tool. He packs a bag with copies of his book, climbs up the tree, and shinnies out on a limb that hangs over the sidewalk.

When a suitable victim walks under the tree the author drops the book on their head and then pops back into the foliage. The person below suffers a surprising blow on the head and then looks around to see who threw a book at them. Very few ever look up. Then they pick it up and see what it is. In most cases they will start to read it…and if the author has been careful the start it put with a zinger like a murder or a girl taking her clothes off, chances are the sore head will wander off reading the book.

Another fan.

It was not a marketing strategy without risk. Pamphleteers and writers of short stories bombarded the populace with no qualms; their writings were lightweight and safe to drop. Others, like Tolstoy or Zola, caused fractured necks and worse. This explains many of the periods in their lives when they took rapid vacations into the provinces.

Of course you have to make some sacrifices for your art, but these days sacrificing strangers is not viewed well by the authorities. Philistines to a man.

” Lookin’ For A Good Time, Big Boy…? “

Yeah, I am. And I have learned to be damned careful where I look.

Recently a friend on Facebook shared a small essay about doing things for fun – as opposed to doing them for money. My mind, being what it is, instantly linked up the concept to the title and it all went downhill from there. But I thoroughly agree with the original essay – there is a limited time and a place for monetization of our lives – and an increasing pressure to judge everything we do by the standards of the cashbook and journal. But there is an equal time and place for it all to be done for love.

We stand in danger of becoming Jacob Marley in our spare time.

These essays I write are for fun – I find them so, even if you may not. I do not expect to be paid for them, as payment comes as soon as the words hit the screen. It is in the form of pleasure and satisfaction…and I do not need to do double-entry bookkeeping to appreciate that.

I have had hobbies that earned money – and I pursued them diligently enough for years. In the end the money that they brought has evaporated, as all money does, and the only thing  left is a sense of satisfaction or otherwise when I think back on the times spent sewing, developing, shooting, drawing, or whatever. I could equally have this final pleasure if no money had been sought. Indeed, it may have given me more time to seek pleasure, rather than profit.

Well, I learned. I now build model aircraft, take photos, and write to please me. I share some of this and if you are pleased as well, good times are rolling. But they do not need to roll with an on-line shop, etsy, or business model. They have other wheels to run on.

Does It Bother Me…?

Does it bother me that so few of the posts on this weblog column go viral – that so few phone calls come through inviting me to the White House or Buckingham Palace? Do I gnaw my vitals and weep into the pillow at being in relative obscurity?

Not a bit. Everything I’ve ever written has been read by someone – even if it was only me. And in reading it, they and I have gained something. Unlike the writer of a newspaper column, my words have not been wadded up and used to clean windows or wipe bums. These thoughts all come out on the computer or mobile phone screen. Try wiping with that, Wilbur.

Sometime these things ring a literary or social bell and I hear it reverberating. Sometimes they fall on deaf ears. Sometimes I deliberately avoid posting copies them onto Facebook because I fear that they will cause offence. Sometimes I post away with just that intent.

In all cases the act of writing the weblog column has kept my mind active and allowed me to order the universe to my satisfaction. It goes awry a moment later, of course, but for a brief period it is correct. I live for those moments.