I Know Where You Live

And I’m going to visit you. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

You’ll never see me coming…because I’ll never phone ahead. You’ll hear the doorbell and open it and there I’ll be. And I’ll force my way in and sit down on the sofa.

From then on it’ll be a nightmare of horror. I’ll demand a cup of coffee, and biscuits. Good biscuits. And more than one. And a second cup of coffee.

I’ll want to use the toilet pretty often. And the bathroom. I don’t use guest towels – I use your bath towel. And I’ll be looking in your medicine cabinet, you bet.

Is this a bad time to call? Who cares? I’m here and social mores demand that you cope with it and smile. I know that and will press the visit as long as I can to maximise your discomfort. If it overlaps your meal time you are either going to have to go hungry, invite me to eat ( And I will…) or commit the social blunder of leaving me in the lounge room while you bolt your food. Be sure that everyone in our mutual acquaintance will know of this within hours.

Do you have pets? Expect them to either detest me or love me more than they love you. Whichever it turns out to be, you’ll be sorry. I’ll feed them greasy treats and you’ll be scrubbing the carpet later.

It’s no good hiding behind the sofa. Your car’s out front. You stay crouched behind there long enough and I’m going to get bored and write you a note. ” I called but you were out. ” is particularly poignant when it’s keyed into the duco.

Note: I can always leave something on the mat. Particularly after that bad taco I had for lunch.

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The Assumption Of Social Media

It happened again today. I sat down in my lounge room with a friend and had a conversation. The computer was off and I made no typographical errors. Both he and I seemed to be making intelligent statements and not once did we break out into a political meme or a picture of a cat. And neither of us invited the other person to play a brightly-coloured game. I’m a little creeped out at present.

Is this the start of an actual thing – this business of talking face to face and not using emojis? ( I will admit to making several emoji faces, but my friend just asked whether I had swallowed a teaspoon.

It all came about by him deciding that Facebook was eating up too much of his spare time, and by analysing the bulk of the posts and conversations…and then deciding that many of them were not as attractive or as helpful as a blank screen. And he’s not the only one – I have a regular weekly meeting with another friend ( at least I’m regular, but then fibre biscuits will do that for you ) where we do much the same thing. The topics are far-ranging and there are no advertisements to endure. So far neither of us has put the other one on time-out for a month.

Social media assumes that we want to see all that we do see. It tries by means of computer logging and recording to find out exactly what we want to look at, with no responsibility save that of the shill to provide anything else. It is the snoop and the sneak at the edges of our conversations with others – always piping up with what it hopes is a catchy phrase or picture. The click-bait scams are, quite frankly, just a form of intellectual pornography.

It assumes we are more foolish and venal than we really are. That we can be cozened into doing small useless things and that we will be willing to set these things onto other people in a chain of folly. This may seem to be annoying and insulting, but really is a valuable thing. It enables you to see who within your circle of acquaintance is gullible enough to borrow money from. Though I should be quick – by the time the click-bait advertisers get to them, they may have spent it already on lemon peelers and facelift hooks.

Like the moon landings, this experience of actual human interaction is one small step for mankind. Who knows whether it may ultimately lead to turning Facebook off altogether. Only time will tell.

Well, Well, Well…

For those of you wondering how the workplace contretemps finished, I can say that it finished very well.

Pardon was asked, given, and registered by all concerned. A proposal for a way of avoiding the problem in the future was put forward ( by me ) and accepted. I shall benefit from protection against any business problem in the future.

Thank you, Lord Chesterfield, for your cogent advice. Thank you as well, Dr. Franklin, for yours. I shall certainly take it. Of course, Nicolo, you are generally right about the way things are governed by princes, and I shall also review your excellent text to make sure I miss nothing.

 

Sex, Yet Again…

You’ll have to pardon me for pasting that title up there. I just wanted to hear the hum of the virtue-robots turning on and the sound of the cultural turrets revolving on their roller bearings. It’s like watching ” The Guns Of Navarone ” but you’re not entirely certain who the good guys are. One thing’ll be certain – in the next two weeks a flock of dodgy “likes” will show up in my email…

I read Facebook regularly. I hunt up all the clickbait side panels and I read all the troll comments. I regularly resort to the Urban Dictionary whenever the language gets obscure. I haven’t bought red tennis shoes or grown a man-bun yet, but I do cry openly – mostly at our household utilities bills. But I long to see a final definition of a number of burning questions of the hour…

a. If a single lady goes off and does bad things in bed it is known as sexual misconduct. If a married woman goes off and does the same, is it sexual mrsconduct?

How about if it is blokes? Mrconduct? Who is in charge of the English language here? And more importantly, where do we go to get a piece of the action?

b. If we are to be driven to expunging gendered words from the English language at the behest of university professors and sophomores with protest signs, who will de-gender the French or German languages? Will it become the Academie Francay ( with a mumbled pronunciation ) to avoid setting up a tent in either camp? Oops. Sorry about the camp there…oops, sorry about being sorry.

c. If we were in Oklahoma that would a sorry with a fringe on top.

d. Tish Boom.

c. If being a Liberal in Canada and the USA is being Labour in Britain but being a Liberal in Britain is not being either Conservative or Labour but being Labour in Australia is not being conservative…we have Liberals for that job…is it time to retire all the political words and invent new ones? I am led to believe ” Snowflake “, ” Snowball “, and ” Slimeball ” are already taken but we’d welcome any suggestions.

d. No suggestive suggestions, please. Our in-box will only take so much…

e. If we are not allowed to open doors for ladies or tip our hats to them, are we allowed to behave like gentlemen in any other fashion? Slaying dragons or composing love-sonnets still alright? The old guitar under the balcony in the moonlight business? How about fighting duels? I could go a nice pistolling about now…

f. Now that blokes can marry blokes and ladies can marry ladies…as well as the blokes marrying ladies bit…will we see revised traditions at weddings? Who goes for the garter, where will they look for it, and what will they do with it once they find it?

Who carries/throws/catches the bouquet? I ask this for the florists in the audience. It’d be a bit unfair to them to cut ’em out of the fiscal feeding frenzy around a wedding. Note that if you are going to throw a bouquet over your shoulder, weight it with lead shot. It’ll be a bit harder to get it up in the air, but when it comes down onto the crowd of well-wishers, it’ll be travelling like a comet and be able to do similar devastation.

Who cuts the cake, and why? Would it be better to cut the cheese? Particularly with the stuff they serve at wedding receptions…

And don’t get me started on the speeches. They’ll all be straining at the microphone like the horses pulling Ben Hur’s chariot. No-one will get out of the reception until 3:00AM. Living hell for the wedding photographers…

 

How To Be Correct Without Being Political

As a person who has done his fair share of offending people in his time, I think I am in a good position to advise others on how to avoid doing the same thing. I would hesitate to address friends about this but strangers may benefit from these handy hints:

A. Do not lie to people or about people. Do not lie on people. Do not lie to yourself.

B. Do not tell other people the truth about themselves. This may seem to be in direct conflict with rule A. above, but there is a delicate difference between telling the truth about where the nearest post box is located as compared to how flabby someone’s arguments are becoming. One’ll get you thanked and one’ll get you punched.

C. Do not present ‘ sights unbecoming ‘ to others on social media. These sights may include pictures of you, friends, or family doing things of a marginal nature. The images may amuse you but won’t have the same effect on others. Keep your peccadilloes hidden. Peccadillo sheaths are sold in all good ironmongers.

D. Do not repeatedly press political, religious, financial, sexual, theatrical, mechanical, or moral opinions on others. By all means state your support for triple-expansion steam valves, the Social-Endymionist Collective, or bi-metallism in a clear and honest manner, if you feel that the times have called upon you to do so. Once. Do it once, and all who know you, will know your thoughts. If you have any entrée to their minds, you will accomplish as much with one quiet message, as you could with the loudest and most repetitive tub thumping. And you will not risk driving them away.

E. Do not tell Irish jokes unless your name is Kelly and you come from County Mayo. Likewise any other joke that involves ethnicity or religion unless you are clearly speaking of yourself. Even then, be careful. Your fellow ethicists, co-religionists, or compatriots may be unwilling to laugh with you about your shared heritage – at least where others can hear. Some groups have no sense of humour about themselves.

F. Do not ape another culture. Even if you admire it and think it is cool and good-looking and wise and sexy. People who you might regard as exotically interesting may regard themselves as just home folks. In particular, do not use accents that are not your own. No-one from Scotland ever wants to hear you speaking in a Scottish accent and no-one from Mississippi ever wants to hear you speak in a fake Southern drawl.

If you would like to test this out without getting punched, try the experiment of going to someone in your own ethnic or national group and speaking to them in a parody of your own shared native accent. Their reaction will be real, and that’s what other people will really think of you ” doing ” their accent.

This is entirely separate from trying to learn a foreign language, and attempting to speak to someone in their own tongue, and getting it horribly wrong. No-one is offended with this…with the possible exception of the French…and even they will patiently try to correct your pronunciation. If you are trying to meet others half-way they all recognise it.

G. Do not ‘ share ‘ internet memes that say the nasty things that you really want to say but cannot bring yourself to utter. It is recognisable cowardice as well as offensive. And it leagues you with some of the vilest minds in society.

Well, that should help a little. It is not the complete Emily Post, but in trying times it may smooth out your social picture and hide a few of the creases. Remember that nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, so if you plan you run for office either here or in your other country, be sure that your Facebook and Twitter will find you out. Mind you, you might get away with it for years and at a Senate or White House salary, that makes a pretty good nest-egg.

Culturally Sensitive Political Incorrectness

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Well, let’s face it, in today’s society you are going to offend all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. You might as well do it with precision and style. You will be no worse thought of than if you just blundered and will have the satisfaction of an artist.

There are any number of topics that easily get danders up; race, religion, sex, politics, etc. They are fields can be left to others to plough – the skilled practitioner gets more pleasure and recognition by dealing with ideas that are either hazier or that are intensely specialised. Let me give your some examples.

a. If the person whose armour you wish to pierce has any hobby or interest that is outside of the mainstream they are an instant mark. If their passion is the theatre you can either criticise the idea, finances, or ethos of it. Ethos is a good word because you can then link it to pathos and bathos and turn your nose up. Be careful not to mention Aramis or D’Artagnan or your victim will know they are being gulled.

If they are sophisticated, be rude. If they are boors, be intellectual. And then, midway in the conversation…just as they start to heat up…swithc to the other mentality for a few sentences and switch back. Do it deadpan.

b. Give praise to Jonathan Swift for his “Modest Proposal ” about solving the overpopulation in Catholic Ireland by eating the babies. He wrote it, got it published, got it into the hands of readers, and then ran for it. The people in authority who he lampooned got the message, as did everyone else.

c. ” Lampoon ” is almost the same as ” Harpoon “. Perhaps it is derived from the practice of using a coal-oil lamp to capture whales. Perhaps not.

d. If someone is offended it does not mean that they do not agree with you – it sometimes means that they are mad that they did not get to say it first.

e. Righteousness is a salable commodity – just ask Elmer Gantry or any of the television evangelists. So is sinfulness – otherwise Northbridge, the Tenderloin, and any number of theme parks would not exist. Why not invent a way of combining the two for even more profits? Sinful righteousness or righteous sinfulness sounds like you could sell it in bags at $ 50 a pop.

f. You must ask yourself what use is political incorrectness? How can it benefit the average man or woman? If you heat up a university student to incandescence with a carefully orchestrated series of insults and gibes, can they be plunged into a tub of cold water to heat it up and do the dishes? If so, it would probably be the only time in their entire university careers that they ever did the dishes…

g. Can the naked truth about something be politically incorrect? And viewed from the other way, can something that is politically incorrect be absolutely true? I think it can – if you understand that anything someone does not want to admit to can never be spoken of, then you can get away with doing quite a lot of unspeakable things. Remember that you can effectively turn a conversation away from your own flaws by accusing someone else of having the same ones…but the deluxe model with added brimstone.

Indeed the topics under consideration need not even be arcane – as long as you can howl racism, sexism, ageism, or any other current buzz word, you can derail any train of thought. It will give you time to loot the mental baggage car and ride away before an intellectual posse can be formed.

 

So You’re Standing There With A Cocktail In Your Hand…

BCB

And this person comes up to you and says ” If you say anything racist or sexist or phobic I am going to sever all contact with you. Now let me tell you what you have to think about the latest report of…”.

What do you do? If you are in a public bar or someone else’s drawing room you look around for the door and sidle over to it. If your assailant follows, you gulp the cocktail and sidle faster – right out of it. If you are in your own home you reverse the procedure – you ask them to drink up and then gently assist them to find the door. Toodle Ooo.

If this sort of encounter happens on a public footpath you are not bound by the rules of the hearth – you can bid them adieu or tell them that they are talking through their hat quite openly. You’re not allowed to breach the peace but you’re not required to stand there with a shit-eating grin either.

But what do we do when it comes over our computer screen? Is Phasebook a public or a private place? What are the rights and wrongs of unbidden public comment…particularly when that comment is delivered into our homes? I recently posed the question to the social media readers and I will be interested to see the replies.

Of course it has been pointed out that there are escape mechanisms – I have averred to them before in this column, and I avail myself of them in the worst cases of vulgarity. One press and they are gone from view. With any luck they do not pop up again as a referred post on someone else’s feed. It is the digital equivalent of pouring your martini down a pot plant and making for another room. Hopefully there are cocktails and interesting conversations in that one.

The real danger is the prurient challenge it presents…the desire it raises to invent a scandalously infuriation meme, opinion, or reply just to hear how loud they will scream. Of course it would always backfire on you, but sometimes even that is preferable to having to listen to one more harangue.

Mind, you, if it was a lenin harangue, I wouldn’t say No. My old grandmother trotsky used to do a lovely lenin harangue for Sunday tea.