How To Deal With People You Disagree With

bernerslee
Photo credit: Whoever was standing in front of Tim Berners-Lee

Dealing with people in real life is beyond the remit of this advice column. With any luck you won’t meet many, as live human beings are notoriously difficult to hammer into shape. We shall concern ourselves with replying to those in the splendid human construct known as social media.

You see a contrary opinion online. An itch starts in your brain, impossible to ignore. It must be scratched! But how do you get to it?

newbrain

Through your keyboard. (Real warriors use keyboards, not touch screens.)

1. Take a deep breath, it will oxygenate your blood. Maybe have a nice cup of tea before getting down to work, if tea’s your cup of tea.

2. The time-honoured practice of cracking your knuckles is an over-used trope, but do it if it you’re superstitious. Just don’t overdo it, you’ll be needing those fingers in good working order.

3. We’ll dispense with the numbering system. The point is made that this is a logical process.

Rember always that arguments are like bowling balls—they’re bound to have holes in them.

1-eroclp2egkamt0rxg-tduq
one metaphor at a time please

Examine the enemy’s case closely for flaws. (‘Enemy’ is merely convenient shorthand.) You might get lucky straight off the bat: have they even written something worth rousing yourself to answer, or or they just stringing words together to amuse themselves and enrage strangers?

Be polite. It’s a rare skill, often confused with cowardice. It will confuse the enemy.

If this is a factual fray, document, document, document. Be meticulous with your sources and be ready at a moment’s notice to provide links, preferably more than one should your adversary show an indifference to your preferred authority. Bear in mind that both The Guardian and the Daily Mail (two well known mines to go digging for fool’s gold), which both employ professional journalists (not necessarily a compliment), are equally unreliable in matters of opinion, which often masquerades as fact.

Determine if the position is theirs or somebody else’s. Have they put in the work to hold it all by themselves? Are you going to attempt to knock them off a bandwagon, or are they standing on carefully prepared ground? If the latter, you may wish to retreat to fight another day, or better yet, accept that perspectives can differ. Even the itchiest brain can learn to accept this as a scratch of sorts.

Look for signs of hypocrisy. Should you find it, consider the labor-saving strategy of allowing them to tie their noose with their own words. Note that any gratification derived may be a private affair, given that hypocrisy is usually vampiric in nature.

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it’s obvious who’s the fairest of them all

Use spellcheck if you don’t trust yourself, it’s right there on Google. Generally conform to accepted grammatical norms. Teasing grammar Nazis crosses the line into cruelty.

Common mistakes
Don’t say “We’ll have to agree to disagree.” Whoever says this first, loses. While some may see this as politely sweeping away the gauntlet laid down, in truth it is the equivalent of loudly stomping off. There is no need to belabour the obvious.

Whatever you do, never announce that you’re leaving the discussion. This cannot be stressed enough. If you want to go, just go. Some warriors are amazed this is even an option.

Refrain from posting immediately prior to a period of being out of contact with the www, e.g., going to a wedding or funeral, a session of lovemaking, etc. I know you pride yourself on your ability to multitask, but should you think up a better comeback whilst indisposed, the itch will be visited upon you tenfold.

If you think your opponent is reading what he or she wants to read rather than what you wrote, well, everybody thinks this. Almost everybody is right. The mistake here is to openly parade your amazement.

Do not ‘Like’ as an 11-dimensional chess gambit, should your chosen media platform offer this or a similar cheesy option. Duel with words, not rancid marshmallows.

What to do if you ‘win’
Disabuse yourself of the notion that you have. Hardly anybody ever ‘wins’, no matter what humble admissions are uttered in the aftermath. The skull is a hardened silo impervious to penetration by even the most sensible argument; while the brain inside may be slammed and partially flattened by the impact of a new idea, it reliably pops back into its original shape.

There are, however, documented cases of people who actually have had their mind changed by a disembodied consciousness filtered through this thing we call the internet:

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Pumped for Trump

OK, I’m going to lay my cards on the table. I voted Trump.


Meme generator in same vicinity as rage generator

No, I didn’t. Let me repeat: I did not vote for Donald Jehoshaphat Trump to be President of the United States of America. That was just an experiment to see how you felt immediately after reading it. Pleasure at finding a kindred spirit? Pity? Disgust or even rage bordering on nausea?


Rage so great it can be seen from space

Did you even get past the first sentence (let alone the headline) in order to read this plot twist, or are the saloon doors still rattling back and forth from the speed of your exit?


There’s a not-quote-apropos YouTube moment for everything

The truth is, I voted none of the above, which in the eyes of some Democrats makes me just as bad as the people who voted Nader in 2000. (I voted Nader in 2000.)


And a butterfly flapped its wings

Not long after abstaining from my civic duty, I then had the audacity to hope that it was too early to call Trumpageddon.

This is a view I still hold.

I can read* (*the question is what one should be reading) and observe exquisitely unpresidential press conferences. I see how it looks. Amateur hour with clowns at the head table.

Check please

And yet, I can’t help but feel that anyone this widely reviled by the forces arrayed against him, including a press corps which made him despite themselves and is itching to unmake him (with the tremendous help of unforced errors), and political opponents more concerned about their stalled career trajectories than the nation’s stability, can’t be all bad.

He also seems inclined to want to act on his campaign promises.*

Sure he’s got his bad points, like clumsily showing concern for America’s borders by wanting to build a wall instead of a fence, or having disturbing tendencies to occasionally speak ugly truths (e.g., “for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation…”, “You think our country’s so innocent?”) in between ugly tweets. His every syllable isn’t scripted like a Hillary Clinton’s, and a lot of people like a script.

Setting aside the pesky line of succession, I’m sure we can all think of a hundred other qualified applicants for head of state.


He’ll do

If you’re in the IMPEACH HIM NOW crowd

or the coup d’état crowd


When all you have is a guillotine, every problem looks like a neck

or even the please-report-yourself-to-the-Secret-Service crowd

Tainting the grassy knoll brand forevermore

imagine the almighty turmoil the country would go through if there were a transfer of power in the current climate. Remember that 60 million of your fellow Americans voted for him. They had their reasons, just as you did yours for voting Clinton, or third party, or not at all.

Maybe you have imagined it

Worst. Weather. Ever.

and still feel it’s worth it; maybe you’d be right. It’s something thoughtful people should be able to debate in a reasonable way.

Like a helping of irony with that?

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Bookshelved

What home library would complete without the Bible? I’ve even read it, if speed reading counts. This is what I remember.

tree

OLD TESTAMENT
God clapped his hands and there was light. A few more claps took care of everything else under the sun. Man was given dominion over all the animals except cats. A snake got into the garden and tricksied Eve, the first scapegoat. Everybody moved away because you can’t go home again.

The birds and the bees begat. There were giants in those days, and X-men. Also prophets like Nostradamus, who predicted Hitler before spellcheck.

The world quickly became overpopulated with ne’er-do-wells so there was a flood. Only Noah had bought flood insurance.

Joseph got a nice coat for Christmas; too nice. This angered his brothers, as did the fact that he never had dreams about falling like normal people.

Baby Moses was set adrift in a model boat then grew up to part the waters. Unfortunately he later missed the boat to the Promised Land. First he passed along the X Commandments as chiseled by God, who was pretty high on himself even though things never seemed to go according to plan.

Abraham nearly killed his prodigal son because of voices in his head, but relented and turned him into a pillar of salt instead.

God made Job suffer terribly. The devil made him do it. Job’s response was to say “Thank you Sir may I have another,” so God gave him 14000 sheep and more asses than one man can covet in a lifetime as a kind of apology for being a good sport.

David killed Goliath to show he wasn’t going to be anybody’s bitch.

Moby Dick swallowed Jonah but spat him out again because he preferred plankton.

Angels dance on pins. Because they can. They also leave messages.

womb

NEW TESTAMENT
Joseph believed Mary, bless.
All you need is love, loaves and fishes.
Matthew Mark Luke and John weren’t always on the same page.
The committee of three is making a list and checking it twice.
Hell is other people going around in circles. If you’re going there you probably haven’t been bad enough to meet Hister, but you might be bumping into a few peeps from work.

APOCRYPHA
There are no original sins because they’ve all been done before.

amen2

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The Joy of Captioning


Way to be a downer

I’ve been carrying one camera or another for a long time. At some point it occurred to me that a picture is worth as many words as it takes to complete the picture. That number may be 0,

or (counting…) 19,

or you may run out of fingers and toes and need a little help.


Elvis signing with RCA Records under the ever watchful eye of Colonel Parker, just out of shot. The two had taken the contract out of the office to cool off after a heated discussion involving a clause requiring the rising young star to gyrate his hips in a manner which he found objectionable on the grounds that his mother wouldn’t approve. “I’m sure she’ll approve of the new house you’ll be able to buy her,” the Colonel told him. Warming to the idea but still uncertain if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Elvis asked two young ladies if the suggestive thrusting of his hips would deter them from buying his records. They searched their conscience and assured him that it wouldn’t, provided he lived a wholesome life when not under the spotlight. Grabbing a pen and a boy passing on a bicycle, he signed. The rest is music history. The boy grew up to become a DEA agent and a big Elvis fan. More days in history

Everything and everyone is fair game, and I do mean everyone.


Computers grew impatient with humans


Professor Hawking admires what he thinks is a new ‘black hole’ screensaver. His wife hasn’t yet told him that the computer isn’t plugged in. (Yes, some of these are a bit old. RIP, Stephen.)


London Mayor Ken Livingstone is lost for words as he suddenly realizes the ferris wheel has torn loose and is headed straight for him


Their first fight was over ‘Spank me Sally’, whose calling card she spotted in the phone box, and later, his wallet. (Here comes the bride. And again.)


No need to sacrifice yourself for the cause


This is never going to come out. (If you like that, you might like this: What did the nun say to Jesus?)

Photoshopping is usually kept to a minimum, unless the picture is crying out for it.

While I prefer to use my own images, it would be foolish to ignore opportunity when it presents itself.


The lady wasn’t for hovering


Family motto: We’re rich and you’re not


There was a palpable tension to pull out The New Yorker


A caption will only go as far as you’re willing to take it

Museums are my favourite hunting ground these days.


Anticipating the next Facebook notification


There was renewed interest when it was discovered her last will and testament included a treasure map


He’s probably more afraid of you than you are of him

The great thing about this passion play is I’ll never run out of pictures. Or words.


When a man is tired of writing, he’s tired of life


“Some come to me in a flash, others take a day or two of brooding.”
“Who cares. Make us laugh or go away.”

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Star quality

Thank you all! Facebook of course, for this award, which is proof positive of my worth. My parents, for raising me to be the kind of person who can merit such an accolade. My Facebook friends, for being appreciative, obvs. Myself, for believing in myself. The list goes on.

Can’t wait to see how my badge looks.


Zuck took time out of his busy schedule to visit me for inspiration

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In the news

I barely knew who Arron Banks was. Now that I know a bit more, I barely care.

I know who Caroline Lucas is: the envy of idealistic 12-year-olds everywhere. (Nothing wrong with being young and idealistic; it’s better than being older and none the wiser.)

So, reading the latest of what passes for news, I see that the bad boy from Basingstoke prompted Lucas to report him after setting Twitter squawking with his expressed desire to see a teenager drown in the Atlantic ocean. Well, when you put it that way.

Having incited my own much more modest mob a number of years ago, and being versed in tribal politics, I find merit in his non-apology: “Obviously I don’t hope she encounters a freak yachting accident! … I just enjoy watching the ludicrous tweeter mob following the next outrage.” Doubtless he spat out the bones of a baby kitten immediately after providing that quote.

Seriously

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Wonder Bread


the Wonder Woman who introduced me to the world of wonder women. Although we shall return to Lynda from time to time, the screenshots I have lined up are from the 2017 film starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, which I finally got around to watching in the summer of 2019 using an Amazon Prime trial, appropriately enough.


Stick them with the pointy end*


Now that you’re all grown up, better register those hands as lethal weapons


If that’s not defensive body language, I don’t know what is


All that training in hamster wheels left on the cutting room floor


Antiope’s work was never done


Good thing she’s just read a 12-volume treatise on the art of bodily pleasure


So far this is ticking all the boxes in my fantasy island scenerio


Are there any illicit videos from before he made it big, for us to judge for ourselves?


Little Big Steve is very persuasive that way


Good writing: he says what we’re all thinking


Much of the audience would like to liaise with you, Diana


Wait a minute, those don’t look like the bad guys


I’m not sure they came with a laugh track, either


Looks like we picked the wrong beach to storm


So much slo-mo, so little time


Consider me well chastised


Nothing says #MeToo like a powerful woman in charge of other powerful women suddenly confronted by their first men, now sleeping with the fishes


Only for the obligatory singles night of passion


Somebody’s playing hard to get and it’s not me


Third base can also be satisfying


If that’s his orgasm face, he’s a very fine actor indeed


That was fast. Are you sure Themyscira isn’t on the isle of Jersey or something?



I’m betting the prop master wasn’t even born when those were in fashion




There is a suspicious lack of twirling in the current era


If this is a movie made by women, we want more of same, please
Alternate caption: I’m sure you’re an Amazon at heart, Etta


And we love light relief (if I don’t fast forward we’ll be here all day) (flashbacks to the 70s don’t count)


The band of sisters who live there might like some light relief too


What he heard: “I do”


We love a tantalizing backstory explaining a villain’s mask and state of mental health


Spoiler alert


But first there’s a lot more fighting to get through


You Germans, such reliable evil-doers, hard to believe half of Britain will be crying over Brexit


My phallic symbol is bigger than yours


Funny how that outfit never caught on with the resistance movement


Thanks, but I think the new gal’s got this covered


It’s CGI, which if you know your Arthur C. Clarke, means it’s close


Oh, but being English, there was always a good chance you were going to be a baddie


This isn’t in the same universe of filmmaking as Naked, but the pay is much better


Have you been talking to my mother?


we would achieve box office dominance by capturing cult film lovers and DC Comics fans – would you like to see a Venn diagram?



Deserve’s got nothing to do with it


But like a sperm, I must complete my mission before la not-so-petite mort


Let’s not get too deep here


Kindly do not make me complicit in your pop culture homily-making machine


I am woman, etc.


Bruce Wayne is an available bachelor, isn’t he?


The wisdom of Athena…


I guess every generation needs a reminder


So much world to save, so little time.

It was a fun movie, but nutritionally suspect, like so many.

She said / she said

Growing up, I always wanted to be a Steve



Oh for the days when men were men, women were women, and phone booths were superhero changing rooms.

Nothing to do with the above, except I caught The Upside around the same time:
Pleasure earland – Bryan Cranston gets the Ferengi treatment

*Captioning Game of Thrones would probably take the rest of my life

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