My New Enemies – Fresh From The Newspaper

Apparently I am the enemy of the young, and they are enemies of me – or so says the Atlantic Monthly. I am considered a minor detonation in the Baby Boom and guilty, thereby, of oppressing them mightily.

It seems as if by being 71 and owning my own home, I have condemned them to listless poverty and racial segregation. I’m not sure if I’m also responsible for Hitler or the Johnstown Flood, but I’m going to read the magazine avidly to see. And that may be the explanation for the article…

Newspapers write whatever they like. And what they like is for people to give them money. They are pleased to receive it from advertisers, subscribers, and people who buy the paper to wrap fish. It is much the same with magazines, though they are smaller than newspapers and the ink they use makes the fish taste funny. Still, they want you to read and look at the ads, and writing garbage is just as profitable as wrapping it.

On one hand I am pretty certain I have not excluded any of my neighbours from Singapore, India, Malaysia, or Watford Gap from settling in the neighbourhood…because they’re here and so am I. None of us that I can recall have burned crosses on the front lawn, though there have been a few suspect smells when someone has not paid attention to the pots on the stove. And first day of winter smells like a forest fire in the Okanagan as everyone in the street fires up their wood stoves.

On the other hand, the thought that I am causing pain and suffering to the millennial generation by denying them their rightful place in Mom’s basement playing a video game is a very appealing one. Just knowing that they are frustrated at not being able to get free stuff is enough to brighten the day. We don’t have much of a lawn now, but I’ll welcome the chance to yell at them to get off it.


Well, We Never Killed Anybody…

I was busy adjusting the world the other day with my friend Warren – we meet during the week to condemn the guilty and praise the worthy. It is a mad session of tea and biscuits.

We agreed that we have both been very fortunate – his time as an airframe rigger in the Royal Australian Air Force did not result in any crashes or loss of life. For my part, my time as a dental surgeon did not result in any fatalities or overweening infections. We can both sleep soundly of a night with no ghosts haunting us.

But it begs the question; how many of the people we know can say the same, in their own fields of endeavour? We know many of the same people, and then others in different social sets…somewhere in that lot is bound to be a death or despair. A bankruptcy or suicide. A soul that was lost because of something that someone did…

I don’t want to know the answer to the question. It would colour my perception of the persons involved – even if there was no possibility of redemption or repair. Far better to remain ignorant of it.

This may not sound like the thing that the Right Evil Bastard of the Backstabbers Guild of Australia should say…but there is a difference between deliberate and artistic evil-doing and mere accidental disaster. I would far rather ambush a bus full of orphans with a 17 pounder than run over a cat with a Suzuki…

Warren is not so fussy. He has a new truck and is more impatient than I – he is hunting for lane-changing idiots on the road. I can hear the maniacal laughter now…



How Did You Know It Was Me?

a. The charred remains.

b. The characteristic smell.

c. The business card stapled to the victim.

d. The blood sample, hair clump, fingerprint, footprint, nose print, newsprint, and signed confession. Have you never watched CSI or read an Agatha Christie novel?

e. Your invoice for bullets and petrol. Bit steep…

f. The CCTV coverage. Was it necessary to take a bow? Three times? And hold up a credits sign?

g. The testimony of your ex. And the milkman. And the Dalai Lama. You have seriously pissed some people off…

h. Satellite images from Google Earth. We missed out on Boulder Dam but we saw you…

i. You wrote a full confession and mailed it into the office. In duplicate.

j. The little grey cells. And you are headed for one right now…

k. We have a book: ” 101 great mystery plots ” and you fit No. 46 perfectly.

l. Your mother turned you in. Also your father, three aunts, and the woman who runs the deli. You should have paid your tab up long before this…

m. We guessed. Okay, we’ve hung three other people so far for the same crime, but hey – you can’t get it right first time all the time. And they probably deserved it.



The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia – A Guide To Salvation Through Publicity

We mentioned the Catholic confessional yesterday but forgot to say that it is considered to be a sacrosanct thing. The admissions that people make in there are generally supposed not to be blabbed about by the priests. This has lead to a number of melodramatic Hollywood movies and even more melodramatic government enquiries and media reports all over the world. And that has given the BGA an idea.

We are going to introduce a variation upon the institution of the confessional but with a few operational differences:

a. The BGA version will be available in more places – not confined to the premises of a church or cathedral. BGA booths will be set up in railway stations, shopping malls, and sports arenas. In country towns they will be attached to the pub or the petrol station. The Guild has a long-term aim to make sure that no Australian is more than 500 metres from a BGA booth wherever they live in the country.

b. BGA booths will be manned by a trained counsellor, though in some cases the training that they have received may be in naval gunnery, bartending, or double-entry book keeping. In any case they will be people who are prepared to sit there and listen. They will be paid, of course.

c. The booths will be properly curtained, with a darkened interior and a grillwork between the impenitent and the professor – we’ve learned that much psychology from the church. People will only start talking when they feel safe. Or when they are full of sodium pentothal. Curtains are cheaper than hypodermics.

d. The booths will have an internal sound tube and megaphone attached so that the sounds created inside are amplified and sent out over the surrounding area. We were contemplating a modern microphone/amplifier/speaker system but the technical experts pointed out that the power requirements and maintenance would make this impractical – certainly if we are to have a large network.  And the costs involved would push the project well over budget.

e. There will be no time limits set upon the BGA booths – neither frequency of attendance nor time inside speaking into the tube. There will be a hook provided in the counsellor’s tool kit to allow them to remove people who are just in there sleeping or making a nuisance of themselves. In really troublesome areas no seating will be provided apart from a central spike.

f. Most of the BGA booths will have a charity box attached to them. It will swing in on a steel hinge once the curtain is pulled across and will not swing back out of the way until a gold coin is dropped into the slot. There are fishooks set in the slot of the box to make sure that voluntary contributions go in and not out.

But enough of the mechanics of the booths. Read tomorrow to see how the BGA professional will help the people.


Motivational Memes

blue-mountains-oregonWe get ’em every day. Our friends on the social media networks capture them and send them along to us – the motivational memes. Feel-good sayings supposedly sourced from the wisest of humans. Phrases to turn our lives around.

Well, I’ve seen dogs turning around just before settling onto the rug for a nap, and I wonder if these potted platitudes are not having the same effect on us. Do we ever benefit from them?

I’m not sure if I ever have, though I must say there are a couple snappy sayings that have been attributed to past presidents or philosophers that do recur to me now and then – and in some cases help me make a decision about something. The telling point is that they help me make wrong decisions as well as right ones. And the advisers are never there to take any part of the blame for it – just me.

I’ve started to regard the memes that people send as nothing more than a lens into their own psyches. Telling clues, if you will, to tell us of what sins they feel they are guilty. Viewed in this light, I wonder if many people would be willing to repeat the nonsense phrases with the pictures of moonlight or mountain ranges. Even if the memes are not signed confessions of guilt, they are clear indications of people’s own insecurities and weaknesses.

In modern terms, they are the plans of the mental Death Star put out over the internet for everyone to copy. The person who posts them must not be surprised if they are attacked upon their weakest point in consequence.

Far better to keep silent and let people discover things in their own time. If they feel good about you, all very well. If they flee screaming for their lives, even better. Just do not telegraph either your punches or kisses.

You Only Have Yourself To Blame


Why? Because no-one else will stick round long enough to share it. Moral of this is learn to recognise the signs  of impending doom and edge closer to the door…

This is one of the useful maxims in the new Backstabber’s Guild Of Australia book ” Moral Responses To The Questions Of The Times ” that is due for publication in January. The title may not seem too interesting at first but remember that this is a book that is made to resemble a discarded school text of the 1950’s – it has a faded grey cloth cover and stains on the back. No-one would give it a second glance on a bookshelf and it can be left in full view in any pile of discards and will never be disturbed. Just as well – in addition to valuable advice for the novice, there is an extremely sharp six-inch folding knife sewn into the binding. You can fell a stranger in a bus shelter in the wink of an eye and no-one will glance at you as you walk away.

Getting back to the printed matter, the business of guilt has occupied philosophers for millenia. It has featured as the foundation stone of many fine religions and has proven to be a sure-fire investment for many priests, rabbis,and mullahs. It has provided shelter, bread, raiment, and pussy for many thousands of people-herders. It can serve the backstabber equally as well.

FInding out who is guilty of something can sometimes be difficult, but there are professional armed forces and private firms who undertake this all the time. You can pay to find out, openly or secretly – but don’t try to sneak  this information away from the professionals for free. It is not easy to do and always more costly in the end – pay the bribe cheerfully and take your information away. It is a legitimate cost of doing bad business.

If you do not wish to find out actual guilt you may elect to think out a perpetrator first and then fix a crime to them. This can be simpler and it means that you can be ready with the hush-money demand at precisely the right time. Of course if you intend only to expose someone and blight their existence you can tailor the frame to any dimension you like. Sometimes it is more satisfying to show someone picking their nose at a stop-light on YouTube and sometimes it is better to have them naked on a billboard in Roe Street. The experienced backstabber will get a feeling for this over the years.

Sometimes people do not feel guilty at all until you make them so. This is particularly the case with people from different nations and cultures. The normal behaviour in French Indochina, say, may be peculiar but not illegal here – but if you present it to the visitor in the right way, you can set their mind aflame with shame. Making lists of ” Things visitors should never do in…” is always helpful. If you set out 9 obviously offensive things and then slip something innocuous in like tapping your right foot or glancing at a clock before 10:00 AM you can get the most hardened immigrant nervous. If you then jump on them with indignant howls when they do it, you have them. Language is no barrier to this – and fortunately with Asians you are taller than them and you have a longer nose – you can look down it and sniff.

Remember also that the reverse guilt trip with the slow-speed brush-off is one of the most sophisticated of techniques. When you deliberately go to someone and apologise to them sincerely, but don’t say clearly why, you raise in them the spectre of an injury or loss that they are unaware of. If your wingman then sympathises with them, but is called away before the specifics of the offence can be mentioned, it confirms the case. And then they are left to ask everyone else what has happened…and to examine everything about them to see where the fault is. With luck they will find some flaw in their happiness and will become outraged. You then become outraged yourself and demand an official investigation. With luck they will be jailed in a week.

And they have only themselves to blame…