” So Many Targets – So Little Time “

The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia has a reputation for dishonesty that is wholly undeserved. We are never untrue to our core values and our corporate mission. We never promise what we cannot deliver and we never deliver without getting a signature – no receipt – no deceit.

By the same token we do not deal in unvarnished truth. Now that there are $ 13 spray cans of Berger and Dulux gloss and semi-matt available from Bunnings we make sure that everything we tell you can safely be cleaned with a damp cloth.

But even these high ideals and multi-mission morals are put to the test when it comes to the social site Facebook. Now that we’ve started re-examining it again for pleasure each day, we can’t believe how many people lay themselves out for a shelling. They post things that invite a barrage and they post the ordnance survey map coordinates as well. It is almost as if they wanted to be treated badly. There are clubs for that, you know, and big ones, too…

It is all that the observant BGA reader can do to prevent themselves from making use of the sensitivities and tender feelings that people expose. Of course some of this may be just bait – posting an anti-Trump meme to see if they can get a fight started – vaguebooking in the hopes of little hearts and sad emoticons – but some of it is bound to be genuine. That is very sad. The Guild is not a monster – we do not  grind the helpless. The helpless have no money and there is no point in wearing out the teeth of the grinder on them for no return. So we pass over the obvious and the inadvertent – reserving our bolts for the best armour.

I think it is a tribute to the Backstabbers Guild’s sense of morality and dignity to say that we never kill what we are not prepared to either skin or eat. This alone has preserved many of our Facebook friends, as well as a fair proportion of the local city council’s executive.

The Morality Machine – Part Four – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

No-one today can be unaware of the gulf between the requirements of Muslim moral codes  and those of some other cultures or religions. Oh, they may run rather in parallel with those of other fundamentalist religions and some severe non-religious institutions, but there is still a wide berth on many grounds.

Many Muslim people will tell you they are correct and many non-Muslim people will tell you that they are not – and you must decide for yourself how much truth either of these sides is telling. If you are a Muslim person yourself you may not have a chance to debate the question or even to change your mind about it without danger to yourself- but that is another story. I suspect that may be the case for other religions or social structures too, in some cases.

But we are not here to judge a particular religion for its tenets – we’re here to bag all of ’em. And atheism too – honest to Godless, some of the atheists make me want to scream…

If you can’t get one single absolute moral rule that goes everywhere for everyone – and you can’t* – what can you get? You can get the sort of thing with which every ward-heeler, British politician, and Southern Democrat is most comfortable; the compromise. You’ll need to agree to this before I tell you what it is…just breathe regularly and I’ll take that as full agreement.

You need to do the most good for the greatest number in a reasonable time in a defined area. This sounds a lot like 18th century enlightenment, and so it is. I propose that it also be combined with the Teddy Roosevelt dictum of doing what you can with what you have, where you are. In short – if you are going to drive world, do it with a pragmatic transmission. It’s easier to get it to go over a cliff.

This means that you have be prepared to put up with the Sultan of Brunei chopping off hands or the Pope piously wringing his with the same aplomb. You need to be able to accept Donald Trump walling off the Mexicans if you equally want the Hungarians to tear down their border fence. You must be able to take the sweet with the sour – except in the case of the British Royal Succession. We’re starting a petition to have the country ruled by Basil Brush after Her Majesty passes on.

*  Is inhospitable murder universally abhorred? Not in the Andaman islands…

The Morality Machine – Part Two – My Favourite Vice

My absolutely favourite vice is a 3″ Record located in my Little Workshop. I inherited it from my father’s workshop some 36 years ago and there isn’t a week goes by that it doesn’t make my life easier.

As far as moral failings go, I treasure some of these too. I am not religious and so am rather denied the pleasures of sinning, but I can still have flaws – and some of these can be considered vices. This is by people who don’t want to do them or who do rather fancy them but have never succeeded. There is a great deal of jealousy in the assignment of terms like vice and virtue and whenever anyone essays to do it, they reveal more about themselves than those they judge.

I’m happy to say that none of my vices seem to do much harm. No-one has fallen ill or dead from mine and the occasional bruise or loss of skin is no more than you would get from an ice hockey match. I do not frequent dens of iniquity – but equally I do not enter bastions of righteousness. I have to be satisfied with small vices and limited consequences.

As far as eradicating vice, I am all for it – provided it is someone else’s and major enough to be worth the outrage. I look closely at the causes I am asked to espouse and the height of the moral horse I am expected to ride. I’ve been known to choose the Shetland rather than the Percheron. Do not expect me to be much of a knight in shining armour for any but the foulest of dragons or fairest of maiden. The middling ones can get on with it between themselves and good luck to ’em.

Will I be a BETTER PERSON if I eliminate vice from my life? Possibly, but who could tell – they don’t know from what horrid depths I spring. Drenched in blood, stark naked, and chasing the Lord Mayor up the High Street with an tomahawk may indeed be a vast improvement from what I was a week ago, and thereby deserve your praise. Likewise my appearing in vestments singing a prayer may be the sign of a drop into deep depravity. You need some accurate foreknowledge to calibrate your judgement.

And I’m not going to give you a chance to form one – I’m vicious that way.

I Have Been Accused Of Being Old And Vile…

And I couldn’t be more delighted. Receiving recognition of a lifetime’s dedicated study and work is very gratifying and the fact that the speaker is crying and trying to throw canned goods and shoes at me just makes it all the sweeter. There is a great deal of sincerity in a can of green beans when it is aimed at your head.

Getting to be old is a privilege – one we pay for in aches and pains – but nevertheless a good thing. It means that, as Gilbert and Sullivan so accurately put it, we can mature our felonious little plans. Anticipation is fine but satisfaction is better, particularly if you are never suspected.

Is being vile a bad thing? Well, there are so many definitions of the word that there seems to be room for a great many forms of behaviour. Eating the wrong thing in one culture scores badly – the same meal elsewhere is welcomed with gusto. Likewise political and religious opinions and actions. You just need to find the right audience for anything you do.

I have always tried to be kind to animals. Some of them are useful, some attractive, some dangerous. Some are delicious. It is best to adopt a good attitude to them all if you do not have a .30-06 or a frying pan close to hand.

Likewise I am kind to children. I find them to be valuable allies in my war against their parents. They know things that can be jotted down and given in evidence. Few of them are discrete.

And I do help old people across the road – I take their arm and carefully totter from one curb to the other, oblivious to the screeching and banging of cars as they collide. But I am careful to keep the other person closest to the traffic – no sense being careless about things. SOme of them are younger than me.

I will admit to one bad habit. I cannot pass a stack of canned goods in the supermarket without easing one of the cans on a lower level just to the edge of its engagement. And then I go away and pause in the dairy aisle and listen for the inevitable…

Things I Never Write About

While I have treated of many topics here on ” Here All Week ” over the past six years, there are some that I do not deal with. Others may approach them, but I do not feel myself qualified to comment. Certainly I do not think I could make things better.

a. Suicide.

I have known a number of suicides in the last few decades. All of them had a history of distress, but few of their acquaintances knew to what depth it went. Two instances were reported truthfully, and one was clothed in deception.  One I have decided to believe the report, though I strongly suspect it. In the end it is all the same.

b. Adultery.

Is that still a thing? It would be for me, but I may be living in a parallel universe. I should not know how to deal with it, in any case.

c. Family abuse.

I recoil from it when I hear, and wish never to hear more…but for the sake of the victims, there are occasions when it should be boldly and openly discussed. I can offer cake and sympathy but sometimes I have no idea what to say. Have some more cake…

d. Extremist politics and religion.

I can stand a certain amount of Trump-bashing or Morrison-bashing before I react, and the reaction is mild anyway. I also grit and grim ( as opposed to grip and grin ) when I see racism, sinophobia, or xenophobia tricked up in pseudo patriotism and generally just let it through to the keeper…in the knowledge that no-one wants to keep it anyway. I am inclined to ignore ignorance.

I do not react well in other areas – when someone decides to be anti-Semitic or anti-American thinking it to be kewl. But I have been able to rein in my replies reasonably well – the 30-day snooze button on Facebook has been a godsend. But, like a snooze button on a clock radio, you can only press it so many times before you decide to just unplug the damn thing and throw it away.

Note: I am more aware these days of the psychological consequences of associating with idiots and ratbags, and seek to reduce this to a minimum. If Facebook friends are still able to read this as a shared message, they may take it as a favourable endorsement of their characters. Otherwise…

 

 

 

The F List – Not as Poisonous As One Might Think

inglewood004

Bear the title of this post in mind as I explain the contents of my F list. Broadly, it is a document recording a number of things that I never want to do. Some of them are memories of things that I have encountered before – acquaintances, experiences, possessions. Some are founded on mere future speculation  – a future I hope to avoid.

The people I never wish to see again are etched into my memory – there are 11 of them. 11 out of the entire population of the planet is not a bad percentage, and only one of them is an in-law. Only four have occasioned me any financial loss and I appear to have borne it well enough to be staying healthy. The one common factor is that they have all treated me with contempt or disdain at some stage of the game and in each case it has been undeserved.

I understand that I should not bear grudges – my old deer-hunting buddy the Dalai Lama is always on about this. I’m not good enough to let them all go but I am reasonable enough to relinquish them when circumstances change. There were 12 on the list a year ago but one has been removed.

In any case, the nature of the F list is such that it keeps me safe from a lot of further grief – if I never want to see someone again I arrange matters so that it does not happen. It may mean reining in interests or trimming circles of mutual acquaintance, but there are more things to do and more people to see in the world. And any day spent not feeling bad or sad is a good day.

The F list has a number of geographic areas that are no-go zones. Or rather no-want-to-go zones. None of them contain attractions that I burn to see and none of the inhabitants burn to see me. We exist in our separate spheres of influence quite well. I bear the residents of these areas no ill will, but I am wise enough not to present them with an opportunity to harm me.

As far as activities go, there are few that I absolutely abhor, but one does make it into the list at No. 3; visiting public venues at the times of peak activity. This is the consequence of foolishly going to the Gloucester Park trots and the Canning markets on various New Year’s Eves during the 1980’s and being nearly overcome with the crowds.

Two entries in the list deal with moral matters – contact with people who would do me no good at all. As they are classes or groups of individuals I do not list the names – but when I recognise them for what they are, I exercise my right to avoid contact.

Okay, if it all seems to be getting rather gloomy here, let me brighten things up by saying that this is one of the most positive lists I have made. Every one of the entries has a good reason for being there and I can recognise those reasons. They are legitimate for me. Implementing a ban upon the various points has a very positive effect – it shields me from trouble and distress. It does not harm any of the people, groups, or geographical areas specified – they live their lives untouched by me.

And the best bit. The B, or Bucket list is aspirations that are rarely or never attained. From day to day there may be no reward at all in just hoping. Nothing but desire with no fulfillment. The F list, on the other hand, is instantly gratifying – any day that I do not see the detested, visit the abhorrent, or collude with the dangerous is a good day. I win all the time.

There Must Be An Easier Way To Do It The Hard Way

11Zowie Cover t59

I have discovered several new rules. They are so new that they are ancient.

a. There is always an easier way to do things. It goes by several names; sloppy, incomplete, and shoddy are just three of them. You can think of more.

b. The easier way is cheaper until they send you the credit card statement at the end of the month. Notice that little 18% interest fee they charge you? It is the modern equivalent of the iron collar they used to put on serfs in the Middle Ages. And they don’t even have to heat up iron in a forge to do it…

c. Everyone wants an easier way. If you can find one, you can sell it to them. Even if it is hard to get and hard to do, they’ll want it.

d. None of the great art, architecture, science, or technology was done using the easier way.

e. If George Washington had clothes dryers for winter in 1776, Valley Forge would not have been so miserable.

f. Most military campaigns can be made easier by killing unarmed civilians. If you can find them in your own neighbourhood you need not march long distances. You can kill more people on a cost-effective basis and in some cases you can thin out the relatives as well.

g. Dogs and cats do it the easy way.

h. The easy way means that you forget how to do it the hard way until the bearings on the flux capacitor go and then you have to start forging iron all over again. Wise people keep a supply of coal, iron, and blacksmiths in reserve.

i. The easy way uses up 300% more materials than the hard way.

j. The easy way tastes like corn starch and saccharine.

k. The easy way has potholes, detour signs, and no petrol stations for 45 miles.

l. You can never do it the same way twice with the easy way because they change the software daily.

m. Before you know what the term “software” meant you were smarter and harder and faster. Now you know you have surrendered a lot of your own skills.

n. The easy way feels slightly immoral, even if you have no morals to begin with.

o. The easy way stalls in the rain and cracks in the sun and looks bad in bright light.

p. The easy way is out of date. Passé. It needs to be updated more often than the calendar.

q. Lazy people spell ” the easy way ” as ” the ezi way “. Soon they will reduce it further to ” TEW ” on their cell phones.

r. Then the European phone designers will put an actual TEW button on the phone.

s. Then Chinese copy bureaus will make it a touch screen icon.

t. Then the Japanese design bureaus will make it a CUTE touchscreen icon, and produce a series of animé, manga, stuffed toys, and consumer electrical goods featuring the icon. It will either be lime green or pink.

u. Then the Chinese copy bureaus will copy the cute icon toys.