Last month I watched people promoting their causes. Well actually, not their causes as such – more a case of causes that they agreed with. Or seem to agree with. Or were paid to agree with.
I am now wondering a lot of things about them. Did they believe what they said? Did they say what they believed? Have they read any of the stuff they clicked over at everyone on the social media site? Or was it all just a sham performance designed to get our attention – not on the causes – but on them?
Well, we’ll find out in two weeks when I start following the news feed again. A lot may have happened in this month, and that may change the way they think or the things they say. At least it will serve as a test to see if they change either their minds or the topic. In case that sounds a strange combination, remember that the definition of a fanatic is one who will do neither.
Note: I do favour goodness over badness and virtue over vice. But I may see these items in a far different light than you. To save time and trouble let’s just proceed from the premise that I am right and you are wrong, and you can apologise and offer compensation for your errors later. It is not an onerous demand – I can be bought off with baked goods.
- When Facebook is not an option: When you have committed yourself to a month of no FB to see what the effect on your life will be.
- When you do not want the latest toy that your toy retailer has put out on the shelf because your current toy is working just fine.
- When the motion pictures on offer at your local cinema are too juvenile for words or too politically correct to stomach.
- When every new trendy drink costs $ 20 and every new trendy food in the restaurant costs $ 50.
Answer? You blink twice, knock the water out of your ears, and come to your senses.
- Firstly, you do things that do not involve Facebook. Hobbies, for instance. Or reading. Or writing. Or visiting friends. Or going for little trips. The things you did before you first bought one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s nickel bags.
You’ll have time for things that you ran out of time for prior to Facebook eating your day hollow. Or to put it in another way, you can call into a bar for a drink and walk out again or you can live in a bar and venture out for brief periods. Same bar, different life.
- If you are playing with your toys so hard that the wheels fall off and all the paint is gone, you may need to get new ones at regular intervals. If you are not, the old ones can serve a great deal more time than you’d think. The money you save using the old ones can be put to other uses.
- A motion picture is someone with millions of dollars in the bank telling you a story for ninety minutes while you sit in the dark and cringe at the price of a chocolate ice cream. The story may be well worth the telling and well worth the seeing – if the story teller and the tale are good. If they are new, they gain a whole dimension.
If the tale is not new – if it’s a re-hash of something you saw in a comic book in 1957 – or if it’s so puerile as to suggest a Little Golden Book worth $ 4,000,000, you are perfectly justified in giving it a bye rather than a buy. With ninety extra minutes and the price of the ticket and the chocolate ice cream in your pocket you can immerse yourself in the best of new or classic literature and feel a lot more adult for it.
- At the end of spending from $ 70 to $ 120 at dinner time you are entitled to feel both full and foolish – but in some cases you’ll only get the latter. Some restaurants do, indeed, see you coming. And then they see you off.
You need not spend that much to feed yourself, either at home or on your travels. You need not eat badly, unless you’ve fetched up at a country town that has nothing on offer at all except a blood pit pub. If you’re going to be on the road, take an emergency pack of beer, soup, crackers, sausage, and cheese, and even if the town has closed for the night you should be able to go to bed fed. If you are in a strange city look for a Chinese, Vietnamese, or Greek restaurant and eat what they cook.
If you are at home, consider the advantages you have – your own pantry, your own icebox, your own cellar. Your own expertise at preparing something that you like. Your own schedule. Do not sacrifice these for those fast-food lights winking down the road.
Establishing and ensuring privacy in the modern world is more difficult than it used to be. We are subject to enquiry and observation in nearly every aspect of our lives. People have written in to the BGA Advice Bureau seeking ways to reduce this – we are happy to help. Here is a list of practical measures that the householder can take to increase and maintain their privacy:
- Do not put a number on your house. People who wish to find you based upon your physical location use this to pinpoint you. If you talk your neighbours into adopting the same measure, the entire area can be impossible to decipher.
- Maintain several names. Give one in one location and another at a different venue. Keep a notebook to accurately record who you are at any one place. Do not deviate.
- Avoid using banks to store money. They always take far too great an interest in you once you lodge funds with them, and they can be coerced by the Taxation Department into telling about it. A large safe set into the ground is he best alternative, though you’ll need to pay for the safe in cash and haul it home and imbed it yourself. Place no faith in mattresses as cash receptacles.
- Pay for everything you buy in cash. If the item is too expensive for this method, consider stealing it or going without.
- Use false names on the internet. They should not be spectacular. And never post anything that is so offensive or controversial that the media watchdogs batten upon it.
- Act strictly in accordance with all laws – including traffic laws. This will attract no interest form the police and unless you are selling doughnuts, they will take no notice of you.
- When you go to confession, get the priest to tell you his sins.
- Vacation in-country, preferably in town, and possibly in the house. No travel, no passports or documentation.
- Marry someone who is very secretive, but never ask them why.
- Wear unobtrusive garments bought from goodwill shops. Make no eye contact.
- Become Vice President of the United States.
Which to choose when you want to fleece the rubes – it can be a vital business decision.
The simple pea and shell game ( variation for industrial towns – pea and thimble ) is fast, cheap, and always effective for an operator who can palm effectively. It is the sort of thing that can be easily mounted on a bar table and doesn’t need a portable stand. The betting can be as simple as needed for the intelligence of the crowd, and like many bilks, it is perfectly suited to a con and shill team as well as a single operator.
It does fall down a little in states where they regularly carry sidearms. A pistol can make operation awkward – the wise worker carefully gauges the time to pocket the shells and fade – five minutes more has been a fatal temptation for many a Texas grifter.
The Three Card Monte table seems more suited to the city alley than to the county fair. Urban rubes always fancy they know cards better than their country cousins – and perhaps the taint of sin doesn’t enter into it as much for the towns. You need a folding table that will come up to waist height for a good monte and wise operators know that occasionally you’ll have to abandon a setup – so don’t buy an expensive table.
On the other hand, buy the best cards you can find and monitor them for wear. Replace them at regular intervals or when any form of scuffing starts to show. There is nothing worse than a palm shift being stopped by a card that sticks – people have been detected and knifed because of it. Moral: buy good cards.
Of course neither of these two cons should ever be attempted by someone who is not perfect in the art. There is nothing at all, save a jail term or a slug, to be gained by trying to train on the job. If you wish to enter the pea or monte industry, set aside enough time and money to train yourself properly and practise in every spare moment. After all Heifetz or Paderewski did not play scales to their audiences on the stage of Carnegie Hall.
- We don’t open until later.
- We don’t open on Public Holidays.
- We don’t accept Masterdinersamericanexpressvisa card. And the till doesn’t have change. Exact money or go away.
- No dogs allowed.
- No children allowed.
- No coaches.
- No split bills.
- No thongs or singlets.
- No seat without a reservation.
- No reservations.
- No seats.
- No parking on the verge.
- No parking in staff bays.
- No parking.
” I don’t know what it is about the people in this town, Maurice. We open a world-class art gallery and poetry slam café at the edge of an outer suburb on a main trucking road and they just refuse to come. I mean, we have artefacts and avocados, for Christ’s sake. What more do they want? Philistines, the lot of ’em…”
I am going to try a new one on the South Asian phone scammers.
When the next one rings up – and there will be a next one, no fear – I am going to offer to send them money. I shall be polite and sincere.
It should lead to them ringing off instantly…as it is far from what they have been told to expect from their victims. If they are intrigued and ask how much or how I will send it to them, I shall offer them $ 1000 – and ask to which postal address it should be sent. This, again, should lead to them ringing off in confusion.
But there may be a newbie in the stream room and they might give me their address.
Oh Boy, could I have fun with that…
If you find a shopkeeper who will refuse to sell you something on the basis that it is not right for you, you have a gem.
These people may be hard to find – but if you enter into conversation with them over a regular basis -and if it is a genuine and respectful exchange…you can find a whole new world of intelligent help out there.
I talk regularly to the family who run our local post office agency – and to the lady and the chap who run the Asian food store in the shopping centre. I talk to the man who runs the bottle shop, and to the lady who is teller at my local bank. The result is I get told how to cook well with the Asian ingredients, when to change my deposits for good interest rates, and how to send postal items safely at low cost.
Occasionally the bottle shop man warns me off a dud or mentions a good deal. I am always repaid for listening.
Moral: Your local retailers are human beings who appreciate being treated as such and who will make your life better if you recognise the fact.