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.

The Ethical Slap In The Face

Lets state a fact right at the start. Telling anyone that something’s ethical is a direct insult to them – and a blatant attempt at mind control. Here’s why:

a. It assumes – and states – that the hearer doesn’t know yet what is ethical. Or flouts it deliberately. Calls them a fool or a knave by even introducing the subject.

b. It states by implication that the teacher is in control of what the student will learn. Worse…it implies that the teacher is ethical. With no proof ever asked or offered.

c. It calls into question – by the fact that the subject has been raised – the past behaviour of the hearer. Had it been ethical, would this statement have been made?

Okay. We’ve established that there’s something here about which you can be mightily offended. If you’re 18-27 years old this is all you need to go off and have a  good time. You can be a virtuous victim. Enjoy. Knock yourself out.

If you are older than this you need to look at the problem of what to do when you really do know what is ethical and are thrown amongst those who do not. It may worsen – you may be amongst those who do not know good manners either. In the former instance the law and the police will back you up but in the latter you are left to Heaven. And Heaven has off-days.

The most sensible ploy is to abandon morality and ethics altogether and fall on the nearest victim red with tooth and claw. If you don’t feel yourself capable of this, slice small slivers away from morality and use them to lure the victim to their salvation. Allow them to be bad enough to injure themselves and feel it, and then offer the balm of not having to do it repeatedly. The wiser ones will seize upon the idea.

Or invent a system of ethics that will allow whatever particular behaviour you probably won’t be able to eradicate anyway, and then license it. They’ll feel strengthened in their folly and you’ll get a nice little earner. This may not be ethical but adjust that when you next have time.

 

 


 

Carrie Nation Has Risen From The Grave

And she still has the tomahawk…

Australians who frequent social media sites on the internet have just been served a moral googlie – we’ve been bombarded with a high-sounding call to abstain from the Demon Rum for the month of July. This is advertised as alternately a shaft of saving grace beamed from Heaven, or a warm and fuzzy feel-good socialist fire-side chat.

I prefer to think of it as a crock of shit. Let me explain…

The call to righteousness assumes that we are sinful – or at least wrongful. That we harm ourselves and our families and the planet and little fuzzy kittens by drinking wine, beer, or spirits in the month of July. There are dark hints that we must do better…or risk the disapproval of the people who want us to abstain.

That is interesting. Why should we care about the disapproval of unseen and unknown entities? Particularly if they are the sort of organisations that scold on Facebook. Are they the touchstones and guiding pillars of our lives? Along with Candy crush and ” What is your Viking name? “.  Is it possible that this is all a load of hooey?

It is.

The scolders who advocate a dry July, stretching as far as next century, want us to do something else – not with our time or our digestion – they want us to do it with our money. They want us to give it to them. Because we will then be moral, and presumably fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…or at least the Kingdom of Zukerberg…

Do as you will. If you think you are a drunk because you down a bottle of wine a week and have immoral thoughts, smash the glass in the fireplace and set your mind on higher things. I intend to Up Spirits each afternoon at 15:00 hours and take beer with dinner. I am even prepared to join you in a toast Carry Nation and her tomahawk, but be warned – if you disrupt my table you will be thrown into the street.

 

The Obscene Joy Of Politeness

I used to own about eleven different firearms – from rifled muskets to revolvers to shotguns. There were bayonets and swords and spears and bows and arrows enough in the house to hold a regular historical reign of terror. Yet I never did – I found that none of the weapons ( and that is exactly what they were, despite the mealy-mouthing of the Sporting Shooters Association ) could cause as much accurate destruction as my books of etiquette.

Emily Post can hit harder than a 17 pounder gun. And you can turn her onto anyone – young, old, rich, or poor. She comes with impenetrable armour as well – you fight from a secure position.

Our nation has many rude people. Many crude people. Many people who use obscenity and bluster to dominate all conversations and exchanges. Yet none of them can do the slightest damage to a person who behaves in a gentlemanly or ladylike fashion consistently. Good form and good behaviour is a position from which one never need never resile. They carry the day.

But how can you do this in the face of rude behaviour? By behaving in precisely the same fashion as if the behaviour is polite. Or at least subject each circumstance, person, or conversation to a graded response:

a. If all is well, and the other people are polite, be cheerful, gracious, and friendly.

b. If the situation is well, but the others are cool or standoffish, still be polite. You need not strain cheer past the limits of grace.

c. If the encounter is rude, be civil. Civility is the bottom line of behaviour and can not be criticised later. Keep your responses and actions to those of a reasonable person – as defined in law – and you are safe from the law.

In all these three cases, you hold the upper hand with your response – you give or withhold as the circumstances demand, and if you always treat others better than they treat you, you are the moral victor.

Suspicious Stains

Impelled by a recent comment on Facebook, I am going to have to make a confession. I have left suspicious stains on the moral fabric. The dry cleaner says he doesn’t care to put it through the machine and the Anglican Op Shop has refused to resell it. So I am stuck with it.

It would not be so bad if I had thought at the time to soak my morality on water. Or bleach. Or nitric acid. But it is too late – the telltale marks of depravity are there for all to see. The best I can do is draw around them with a Texta and pretend it is batik.

Of course I am not alone in this. There are several other people in here. The run around at night and bump into the coffee table. I wouldn’t mind so much if they would pay for some of the utility bills or at least remember to turn off the dryer. The pointers on the electricity meter box dials spin around like propellers on a Wright Cyclone bomber engine. Some days it looks like a suburban house and some days like the ” Memphis Belle “.

I do turn to the sacred texts when it all becomes too much. ” Bradshaw ” and ” The Almanach de Gotha ” are a great comfort late at night. My copy of the trigonometric tables for 1923 sits on the night stand. So do I, when the weather is warm.

 

 

 

Morality Plays Upon The Phosphor Screen

The medieval morality play was a religious exhortation tricked up into a theatrical form. Most European nations did not have television in the 1200’s ( Though apparently it was invented by the Russians in 1068 according to the late Soviet regime…) and the peasants did not understand the words of the Latin Mass. So travelling shows and church festivals used plays to entertain and instruct.

The various kings, dukes, earls, barons, and sheriffs used the axe and the rope to instruct, as well. It was not until the late 1700’s that a French doctor was able to return the compliment with a mechanical device.

But we are straying from the topic; morality played out or taught on the computer screen. It’s not just done by means of Hollywood crime dramas – sometimes it is in simpler form. Sometimes all that is required is  a crusading cartoonist or someone who likes to put memes onto Facebook. I see both of these daily – and while they do not form or reform my mind, I can see that they might do so for others.

Take the case of ” Sinfest ” – a rather well-drawn daily strip by a chap in America that has been going for over a decade. It features very stylish art and some quite novel concepts of God, the devil, supernatural beings, Time, etc. It sounds moralistic, and it is moralistic, but the longevity of it shows that there is a market for its biased view of the world. If you are a bad person it castigates you and if you are good one it praises you…but the thought eventually must arise in the mind of the viewer that the artist is putting himself forward as  the sole judge of good and bad. If his pronouncements are a little puerile they are at least redeemed by the pretty drawings.

” Least I can Do ” is also successful and enjoyable…and equally as plonking in some cases, though there is a different form of puerility evident – the writer delights in shocking the viewer if he can. At least the artist is a brilliant illustrator. Still, when the tenor of the strip gets political and snarky with it…you wonder whether the fun is worth the scolding.

If you go off and google the strips and follow them for a while you’ll probably see what I mean. In a way, they are no worse than Lil’ Abner was when Al Capp decided to beat his political drum.

The Facebook meme is the one that has me reaching for the mouse most times. I do understand that people like to score points by appearing smart and trendy, but I would be more likely to award them this opinion if the things they had to say were from their own mind, instead of being a parrot squawk of someone else’s prepared smarminess. But that would expose them to criticism of themselves, rather than of the anonymous source… Now that we have 30-day ” rest ” periods for the worst offenders, I can read the social media with more pleasure.

 

The Sex Lecture

I plan to give a lecture about sex.

Not here, mind. This is the internet and not a place where one discusses that sort of thing. This is an electronic hall of decorum and a temple of digital chastity. The authorities that control the World Wide Web would never allow unseemly topics or unsavoury images to be displayed. I think we can all be grateful for this sort of moral decision.

No, I am going to hire a hall and put up posters on the local supermarket bulletin board as advertisement. I may make a few paper wrap-arounds for the street lamp posts in the town. These, and some cardboard boxes with spray-painted arrows at street corners, should serve to direct the audience to me on the night.

I think it would be best to do it during August when the weather is the coldest. That, and some rain, should serve to control the raging lusts of the people who attend the hall. This sort of presentation can be risky if it is done in hot weather, particularly if there are dark spots in the shrubbery around the back. I don’t want to be responsible for people taking things into their own hands…or allowing other people to take their things in hand…In fact I shall insist on seeing all hands at all times.

It will be a lecture suitable for all ages – from those who have no idea what they can do to those who have no idea what they have done. I will have medical and religious professionals in attendance to cope with any outbreaks of curiosity, and no effort will be spared to provide complete and accurate explanations for swellings and discharges. Daemons, phlogiston, and the evil eye have always been popular. Also fish-net stockings, long gloves, and whips.

No lecture is complete without audio-visual material. To that end we have engaged the services of a trained team of athletes and actors to pose in correct sex postures. Magic lantern slides of this will be projected upon a sheet stretched at the front of the hall. If we get enough interest, the sheet will be horizontal instead of vertical and participants may use the projected images as a form of planning diagram or Twister game.

The charge for admission to the lecture will be modest: $ 15 per person should cover the cost of the entire show and use of the towel afterwards.

I’ll be announcing the venue as soon as we secure the necessary third-party insurance to satisfy the council. This is a nuisance but you know how fussy people are these days about pubic liability.