Things I Have Learned So Far In The Virus Year

  1. People who have no intellectual life are ready to share it with you. This is done through repeating Facebook memes.
  2. Few have the courage to look at the elephant in the room, let alone mention it. If they do, they are judged. Even fewer can look between the lines for themselves.
  3. Bad tidings travel faster than good ones…because people love to be the bearers of them. See (1.) above. There will be some serious disappointment when this affliction passes and the doom-criers have to be happy…
  4. Some consumers are greedy and many suppliers are incapable of meeting the demands placed upon them…even after a time of recovery.
  5. Script-writing has gone from being a stage or cinema activity to being a social media one. None of the scripts need to be accurate – just eye-catching.
  6.  Some businesses will invent reasons to increase charges based upon public health issues. These will be blandly demanded – it is a fortunate customer who can forego the need for some item or service in this time. Note that the prices will not come down later.
  7. The American President, Australian Prime Minister, and British Prime Minister will be blamed for anything that the social media script-writers think they can get away with. The Facebook repeating stations will seize upon this to look kewl.
  8.  The Canadian and New Zealand prime ministers will be elevated to near god-like status by the same meme writers*. Most of the other world leaders will get a by for this round in the English-speaking press.
  9. Foolish home remedies and folk medicine will abound. So will religious activity, though not in large groups inside closed spaces. Both the religious and non-religious will claim victory for their opinions.
  10. As many fortunes will be made as will be lost – just amongst different people. Few of the really rich will suffer much.

*   You don’t suppose Justin and Jacinta are writing their own flack, do you? Or each others…?

I’ve Been Self-Quarantining For Ages

Long before it became government policy. And I can tell you it has helped me immensely.

A medical quarantine is imposed in cases where you are a danger to others. In my case my personal quarantine is imposed when others are a danger to me. The solid ” thunk ” of the front door is a very welcoming sound. In some cases it is followed by equally solid bangs and thumps as I hammer nails into the door frame to keep it shut.

The medical quarantine can be several weeks – the personal one several years. I have a list of people who are going to be walled off until 2050. I know they exist – I cannot help but know. And I cannot do anything about that, the laws being what they are. But I can avoid seeing them while they do so. A good solid wood door from Bunnings makes all the difference.

The current virus climate’s quarantine is somewhat leaky. Oh, you may be asked to stay home, and perhaps compelled to do so if someone can think up a legal mechanism for it, but you cannot be prevented from communication – this internet is open and not likely to be a victim of aches, fever, or cough.

Unfortunately it is open in two directions. Just as we cannot be prevented from posting, so others cannot be prevented from loading the social media with panic, xenophobia, false advice, and nasty accusation. The news feed from anywhere is overloaded with this material and anyone inclined to run around like Chicken Little can gather a crowd wearing helmets. In many cases they seem to be made from tin-foil.

One good report: I went to the local supermarket for a weekly grocery run and did not find scenes of panic or greed. I did find people who turn their entire trolley around in the middle of the aisle to go the other direction and I did see a woman squeeze…and probably ruin…every orange in a display before she chose one. But these sorts are there in normal times.

 

Virtue R Us

If you cannot get people to fear or respect you, you’ll just have to settle for them admiring you. It’s a come-down, I know, but we must be realistic about these things.

One of the best ways to start the flow of admiration is to show your virtue. Everyone else who is actually virtuous will be compelled to complement you and those who are vicious but don’t want it to be noticed will also praise you. But how do you demonstrate virtue?

Well, you used to be able to do it by living a good life and all that sort of thing. However, that was the days of books and the circulation of a report about you was pretty slow. It might take decades – or an entire lifetime – for news of your saintly behaviour to reach the eyes of the public. Not much good to you if you were tipped into a martyr’s grave before the payoff, eh? Well, today you need not wait that long – you can force the pace.

Social media is the way. I’m not sure about Tinder, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other trendy sites, but good old Facebook can be relied upon to give you a stable platform upon which to do your act. You’ll be able to harvest likes and you may even be able to go viral. Though this may not such a good way to put it right at this time…

What you need to do is find something or someone that everyone else excoriates – and then post about how bad you hate it all. If you can find memes that ridicule a politician or public figure, call them into play. You get credit for the sentiments, even if you do not originate or share them. It is wise to pay close attention to other Facebook posters and to general news reports to make sure that you do not miss the mark. There have been public defamation campaigns that have run afoul of the fact that someone was thought guilty, then proved innocent. Hell of an embarrassment if, in the meantime, you have pounded the pulpit and foamed at the mouth…the exoneration of a guilty party leaves you in a bad position.

Also be careful who you support. Nearly everyone can have a vile past, if enough money can be spent to find it or make it…and if you praise a saint who subsequently turns out to be a sinner, you are made to share their guilt.

The safest course of action is to research history to find someone who had no redeeming features – like Hitler or George Bernard Shaw – and whale away unremittingly on them. Everyone will be compelled to agree. Or find a safe saint like Roy Rogers or Oswald Mosely and build little virtual shrines to them every day. Either way, people will become so tired of it that they’ll agree with you just to stop you posting.

 

Take This Quiz

In the spirit of the pop-up quizzes that Facebook puts out on a regular basis, the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia is set to introduce a series of fun games that everyone can participate in. Are you ready? Got your thinking cap on?*

Here goes:

  1. What is your favourite food?
  2. What is your favourite colour?
  3. What is the log-in code to your bank account?
  4. How much money do you have?
  5. What is your security password ?
  6. When do you go on holiday?
  7. Where is the spare key for your house?

There. That wasn’t hard was it? And did you have fun?

We’ll be in touch…

*  On yer arse…

 

Elevating Yourself From Savagery To Barbarism

This is not a Horace Greely tale written to raise you from the depths of degradation to the height of grandeur. My readers do not need this, as they are, all of them, grand and formidable. If you don’t believe me, go look in the mirror.

Before you go, look up savagery and barbarism in the dictionary. There are tell-tale signs of both that can also be easily descried. No need to do the entire course of improvement if you are barbarous already. Tattoos and throwing axes are a pretty good indication that you’re in the upper quadrant – burnt sticks and cannibalism are near the bottom. Just above participating in Boxing Day Sales.

No good looking at popular culture for much of this as they have edited out the idea of savages or barbarians as unsuitable for a virtuous public to view. You need to go back in time – if you need a quick reference we can recommend the Osprey series of extremely-expensive-hobbyist-booklets for a biased and unsustainable look at history. Do not adhere too closely to the coloured illustrations, unless you are short and squat, and then feel free to follow Angus McBride’s lead.

What should you do as a savage – what as a barbarian? Well, while you are restricted to sacking Rome or Paris as the latter, the former can pillage anyone. Of course, being a savage, you can make no use of the booty, but that is no barrier to you enjoying a bit of slaughter or torture. I mean, what’s a holiday for if you can’t have fun.

 

Racialism

Please read carefully. You don’t want to stumble over the rest of this post. I wrote it carefully because I didn’t want to stumble either…

We often hear people being accused of racism. Or things being referred to as racist. Both are deemed wrong and unacceptable. A great deal of writing and speaking, as well as legislating and litigating, is done to eradicate this. Time will tell whether it will be successful, though I have my doubts when this might be achieved entirely.

But how about eradicating – or at least reducing  – racialism. That’s what I call the all-pervasive concentration upon race and upon ethnic matters so that it becomes the pivotal point of all thought and behaviour. Not just seeing black and white things as black and white, but deliberately turning down the saturation on the rest of the world so that there is nothing to see but black and white.

Don’t believe it can come to that? I have heard people make a racial fuss about sandwiches, numbers, and hair styles. I have heard people make a racial matter out of the choice of a colour scheme for a new car. God knows what they would do if someone asked them to buy a non-racist, non-sectarian, gender-neutral water pump.

I can even do it. I can look at certain teeth in certain jaws and even if I cannot see the rest of the person, I can tell you whether it’s likely they come from Beijing, Leeds, or Dresden. ( Though I was fooled by Cyril von Shanghai once…)

The main effect of racialism upon me is boredom, and a feeling of dread. It is an indication that the conversation will be directed to take a decided turn for the worse at every possible opportunity. That every pathway will be a political one and none of them will be worth treading. It will as if the old bolsheviks and their fellow travellers had risen and gained traction again. The brave black – and white – banners will be flying and it will only be a matter of time before they break out the bayonets and the marching songs.

Bah!

( Not baa, or baa baa, because that would suggest black sheep and we would get nasty notes from the NAACP, the Farmer’s Federation, and VMF 214… I could stand the first two but the thought of Boyington’s ghost terrifies me)

Either Tell Me The Entire Story Or Keep Silent

This is an essay that will echo instantly with those of you who follow each other on Facebook or other social media sites. Personal, face-to-face, over the dinner table  communicators may also recognise the sentiments expressed.

When someone relates a story, they do so for one of three reasons:

  1. They wish to clearly describe a situation and to obtain a rational response from the listeners.
  2. They wish to instil a sense of sympathy amongst the audience.
  3. They are trying to con someone out of money.

All three of these are valid exercises and we applaud them. What we do not approve of is the vague half-announcement that tells only one DRAMATIC – OMIGOD – OMIGOD part of the story and then leaves the hearers to guess at or plead for the rest. This is known in the advertising and prostitution businesses as the come-on, and it is generally up to no good.

We’ve laughed at the term ” vaguebooking ” for this sort of thing on social media. It can also be done over a dinner table or an office desk. In all cases it is an unfair and unhelpful. But what is one to do about it?

Well, take a leaf from Mr. Literal – the Viz Comic character who takes every single statement at face value…even if it is spoken from the other end of the body.  When someone tells you half the story, accept it and act accordingly.

If they tell you that they are leaving for Peru…because…send them a hasta la vista card. And then wait until you get a postcard in return from Lima. Likely the next message will come from Lismore…

When they post that they just can’t…you quietly accept that they just can’t and move on to talk to someone who just can.

If they cry poor or sad or sick or jailed, do something to help. But let them say it clearly or not say it at all. Social interaction should not be a 19th century guessing game of emotion and sensibilities that’s broadcast to every hacker and hoon on the internet.