I just came across something I last encountered 6 years ago. It’s an interesting little problem  designed to tell you a little something about yourself.

A tale: A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met a guy whom she did not know. She thought this guy was amazing. She believed him to be her dream guy so much, that she fell in love with him right there, But never asked for his number and could not find him. A few days later she killed her sister.

A question: What is her motive for killing her sister?


Now spend a little time thinking about it before you go to the answer down below.

It was apparently designed by a famous psychologist trying to test for abnormal thought patterns usually associated with psychopaths and the answer is “She was hoping the guy would appear at the funeral again”. Apparently, if you got it right you think like a psychopath.

As long as you don’t act on it, though, we can all still be friends. If you are the kind of person who does act on those compulsions I have some people I don’t like I would love you to meet.
Actually, about a third of my friends, it turns out, think like psychopaths. Fun people. Hooray.

Really.

Probably the toughest time in anyone’s life is when you have to murder a loved one because they’re the devil.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Since then-CIA Director Porter Goss assured Congress last year that this was a “professional interrogation method,” not torture, citizens should be permitted to bring splintery planks, leather straps and water tanks to expedite discussions with any member of Congress who continues to insist that things are going swimmingly for the U.S. military in Iraq.

Well, as long as it’s a “professional interrogation method.” No-one taught the Spanish Inquisition about spin, methinks.

It’s a great day for the scientific age. The Pope, who we need to be reminded is not a Nazi anymore, is joining George Bush and his religious nutcases backing “intelligent design” and fired a Father from being his Astronomy Advisor for backing Darwinism as compatible with the Bible. In “George Bush Land” (formerly known as the U.S.A.) Evolutionary Biology disappeared off the list of approved Majors to get a federal education grant in the USA while an Irishman, a man from the most Catholic country on earth claims the discovery of “Free Energy”.

While the world gets over the fact that our Pope, a member of the Nazi Youth League in his chequered past, a man voted in over a black man as the new Pope to keep the vatican firmly chained to the 17th century, is backing “intelligent design” I remain shocked that the world is still stupid enough to listen to the organisation thar brough them such historical gems as the crusades (which contributed so brightly to our modern feelings of peace and tolerance in the middle east) and the spanish inquisition (whose innovations in torture are still contributing to society- notably in Guantanamo Bay).

I have no problem with God, faith and spirituality, you understand. Just stupidity and sheeplike behaviour. The Catholics don’t refer to their religious icon as a shepherd for nothing.

So while some of the world tries to get back to the ‘good old days’ of chivalry, obedience, slavery, a flat earth, and no dentistry I think I’m off to get my skateboard, my spray paint and find some girl to have pre-marital sex with. Someone who has a dentist and a toothbrush.

Even though skateboarding in your 30s is very uncool unless you’re Tony Hawk. Which I’m not.

Even a little bit.

And I’m holding thumbs for the Irishman, but I expect to hear that someone had to explain to him that “It’s called a wall socket and your parents have been paying for it.”

Dealing with the new Big Brother…

We in the free world (which should be renamed as i can’t remember the last thing I got for free) are plagued by increasing incompetence when dealing with companies. With said companies offering local wages more usually associated a life enslaved or working for McDonald’s on the fryer to their support staff I can’t see the situation improving anytime soon.

Mweb, my dear, kind, old computer-illiterate mother’s internet service provider decided, in the spirit of good service, to cut off her connection after two months because she had paid them for a year up front rather than monthly. By behaving in such a reckless and inhumane manner my mother had thrown the company completely off-track. All were in a quandry. All were at sea. All were suffering from a great many painful cliches with the net result that they wanted to exact revenge and, in due course, threats were made.

The kind usual request came through. All the documentation that she had faxed through to them before had to be collected together again, 2 months later, and re-faxed. Although this is just annoying, rather than hugely time consuming anyone who knows anything about crap service knows that if it happens now it is going to happen again. Next month. And the month after. And the one after that. Gradually wearing her down until she is a gibberging mass of gelatin, raw emotion and 100% real wool.

The only solution, and it works, is to make it their problem. It’s simple. The documentation was sent, they connected her once they had received it. So they have it somewhere. They must get off their collective arses and find it. Initially they will refuse. They, after all, have the power. They can cut you off. So what to do? It is’nt difficult, especially with companies that have policies in place where the staff only give you service once they have received the documentaion.

Send them a letter, with all relevant dates (especially if there has been previous incompetence), explaining that the information that they require is with your accountant/ lawyers/ trustees/ trained gorilla “steve” and it will take a day to get it all together again. Ask them to please check their files one last time but say you are perfectly happy to get the information together for them again but would expect to be reimbursed for the days work. Give them a fee, R(x). Make it reasonable based on your income. I generally put down 25% of my monthly salary and don’t go over R3700 (this is a consultation fee, not a full time job, after all).

Make sure that the email is sent to the head of the appropriate department and CC in anyone else who you have had contact with. Ask them to email you again if they need you to perform this task for their department. If they do it will be a contract and you send them the bill on the front page of the fax. Then (an I have not had to yet) sue them in small claims court (up to R3700). They will settle rather than have to send a director along to small claims court (lawyers are not allowed to represent there).

If they don’t and cut you off it will be ureasonable denial of service and you will be due compensation, again go to small claims court. It’s also a good idea to keep a log of the mount of time you spend on the phone with them and the time you spend writing letters.

Always remain polite. Always stay charming. The person you are talking to is seldom the person who made the mistake, just another underpaid, overworked person who hates their job working for a crap company that doen’t really give a shit about them or, for that matter, you.

I have used this successfully (so far) with Eskom, Telkom, Mweb and Nedbank.

jester out.

One of my favourite blogs “Fergis writes letters” had an interesting piece that I thought I could help with and dropped him a note. So starts “midnight_jester’s unsolicited advice column”. I know. Snappy name!

url: http://fergis.wordpress.com/2006/08/16/dear-johan/

Dear Johan

It has been far too long my friend, but I’ve been busy working, much to your surprise, I’m sure.

I recently gained employment at a busy media production house. It manufactures postmodern fiction on a daily basis. The company must maintain the swift and timely creation of these

While I enjoy the creative environment, I haven’t done actual work. I’ve spent many hours watching others work. My supervisor calls the time “training.” I’m not sure what to call it. I’ve watched so many tasks completed by others that I am unsure if I would be able to finish anything myself. I’ve managed to develop a persona that veils this uncertainty. I walk around the office very quickly. I keep a determined face. I avoid idle chitchat even while others seem to engage in it incessantly. I’m careful to distance myself from direct observance. I am constantly resolving a pressing responsibility somewhere mysterious.

I am beginning to worry that my persona as “confident multi-task manager” is too effective. It won’t be long before my supervisor expects that I complete actual tasks. You of all people understand how greatly this troubles me. Please advise.

Sincerely,

Fergis T. McGillicuddy

dear fergis

i appreciate the precarious situation and thought i might lend what some advice based on the limited knowledge i have of your situation- failing your old friend johan managing a reply.

i must recommend that you avoid performing actual tasks as a solution to your situation. to do so will encourage the idea in those around you that you are enthusiastic about the possibility of performing more  of them.

they may even conceive of some warped mindset where a person, you in this case, may derive some pleasure or feeling of accomplishment from these “actual tasks”. this is dangerous thinking that has led to such things as careers, booming stock markets and, in one extreme case, america.

i have heard of something known as “delegation”. i am reliably informed that in the situation you find yourself in that this “delegation” combined with a modicum of wit, charm and good suits may hold you in good stead through 10-12 years of corporate life. possibly eventually involving things called “promotion” and “bonuses”.

please be aware that this is all hearsay and i cannot speak from any personal experience. i had an office job only once, for half an afternoon, and it did not work out.

i apologise for my allergy to capital letters. they make me sneeze and gunge up my keyboard.

and “reliably informed” might have been an exaggeration.

midnight_jester

South Africa has to select who is going to take over from Thabo Mbeki as President. While it is a quiet and expected victory to have an African country have a second President in a row allow his two terms to come to an end without trying to change the constitution to allow him to stay on we would like to make sure that we can respect his successor as much as him.

Of them all the frontrunners appear to be our fomer vice president Jacob Zuma and a runner “not running” Cyril Ramaphosa.

While the former vice-president’s vices include (apparently) corruption and bribery as well as (definitely) ignorance, arrogance and stupidity the good news is they don’t include rape (just a huge lack of respect for women).

Cyril Ramaphosa, though, has kept his public hands clean by washing them of politics some time ago and going into business. Apparently a place from which he does not intend to return. Although I could see the “will of the people” encouraging him to “make a sacrifice” when the time comes.

I would like to think that we, unlike certain other countries who will remain nameless but obvious nonetheless, would choose to have a little higher standards than an ignorant brute as president. A puppet, religious extremist, warmonger and a cash-whore. We’ve seen enough blood shed over politics.

I would rather see blood shed over bad television programming and awful sex which are far more worthy causes, would create more happiness if solved and might be solved easier and together by placing porn on television.

99.06.14 Biography

Jester does not hail from anywhere. In fact he doesn’t like people who hail from places as opposed to just being born there. He does not think that being pretentious right from birth is likely to result in a stable personality. He does not have a stable personality and in fact claims never to have been near a stable in his life, the rumours are untrue.

Jester occasionally resorts to crap puns. Jester lists under his strengths: “Never owned an ant farm,” and dislikes intensly people who do (doesn’t everyone). He likes dogs and cats because they never contradict him but only likes humans who do. He likes a good fight but not the physical kind. His response to physical attack is: fall over and wait till they go away. Failing that drop a hand grenade and run like hell (there is seldom violence when all are united by common purpose).

Jester likes money but not people who love money. “Money is mean, not an end,” he is heard to say. We suspect he doesn’t know what he means either but he likes obscure phrases. Jester is only moderately good; At punctuation. Editor needed.

Jester likes praise from complete strangers as he never gets any from the people who actually know him. He has taken to receiving insults as compliments instead and has “you’re a weird plonker” right at the top of the list of nice things to say to people. “You have a wierd plonker” is right at the bottom.

He doesn’t like war or fishing, placing them on the same level of human mental activity. Of the two he considers war the lesser evil because although people die at least it’s easier to sit through a television program about it. Jester thinks people who like hunting are thick and bloodthirsty except when they are pointing a big gun at him. Then he thinks they are (and I quote): trulyfantasticwonderfulhumanbeings.

Jester likes ‘pragmatic’ but prefers ‘automatic’ as it leaves a hand free for communication purposes. He likes living in small houses as this saves time with finding keys and glasses.

there’s an old man in an old town. he is a good man. a kind man. a gentle man. a wise man. a boring man. his smiling, happy wife died four years ago. he is also a lonely man. every day when walking down mainstreet he greets everyone as they pass, deciding who’s day it will be today.

if it’s your day he will stop you for a chat. he will tell you a story. he is not a natural storyteller. his stories go on too long. he get’s bogged down in meaningless detail. he goes off on irrelevant tangents but never forgets to go back to the exact point in the story and continue. he gets there in the end. you listen attentively. there is value to the story, if not the telling. you listen, nod, smile, absorb.

he is a kind man. you give him your time, your ear. time is the most valuable thing anyone has and you give yours to him because he needs it and he deserves it.

i arrive at my breakfast meeting 20 minutes late but not flustered. the others are waiting, having some early morning banter with the waitress and cook. i apologise and explain why i am late and they get it. the subject is closed.

(paragraph missing- race)

after the meeting i go to the supermarket and off-license. it is owned by a local couple. they have two children, a boy and a girl. smart and decent looking teenagers with just the right amount of healthy disrespect for authority. the boy pushed it a little far last summer and took a drunk joyride in a car belonging to a local. his parents made him repaint the courthouse and the sports club. the sheriff overlooked it since no-one got hurt and the boy got disciplined.

the supermarket is 15% more expensive than the corporate one in the next town over. everyone knows this. none more than the owners. they make sure you are looked after. they remember your name. they ask gentle questions about your life. they remember your favourites. they sell so well you always walk out broke and happy. when they realised some people were getting jittery about going in just for milk or a paper rather than change their approach they organised a milk and paper round and saved everyone the trouble. so everyone knows: when you go there, beware! take cash only and a limited amount. happy and broke, everytime.

no-one bothers to go to the shop the next town over. better broke and happy than thrifty and irritable. the supermarket opens at 10 and close at 5.30. last year on my birthday i was disorganised and arrived, late, at 6, at the doors. everyone was gone. i went around to their house and begged them to help me out. if they came and opened up for me i would pay double. they looked at me like i was mad. double indeed. they gave me the spare keys and told me to scan the items through the front till so i knew the cost. i could drop off the money the following day.

there’s very little for the local kids to do in a small town. around once a month one of the parents give up their home and go to friends for the evening. the kids have a party and get up to no good. if it’s going to happen it may as well happen in plain sight. if something in the house is broken or damaged all the kids have to chip in to pay for it. if anyone gets hurt there’s usually neighbors on either side. the kids know that in a small town there are no secrets. solve the problem, don’t conceal anything, pay for your mistakes and everyone will move on.

a few years ago there was a strange face hanging around town. late 20s, blond hair, dark complection, ragged clothes. he was caught shoplifting and handed over to the sheriff. he was made to clean the police station from top to bottom, spotless. he was given a decent dinner and held over-night. the following morning 3 families came by and offered garden work. one of them had a granny flat and said for one day a week of work he could stay there. he stayed 6 weeks. stole a car from the family he was staying with and made off. he was caught by the sherrif in the next town and dragged back.

the judge gave him a week in a cell, made him clean out the town sewers for a further week and fined him an amount equal to the fuel missing from the car. after sentancing, once the stenographer had packed away her equipment, after the editor of our local paper had left the room and it was just him, the sheriff and the stranger the judge had a word with him.

he had been given a chance. it was his only one. if he was seen in our town again he would be arrested and thrown in a cell. charges would be fabricated, the trial would be quick and he would find himself in a jail cell for 5 years. everyone in town knows what was said, even if there were no witnesses.

(paragraph missing- neighbour)

small towns occur everywhere. in the middle of open plains. in the middle of big, cosmopolitan cities. homes occur in mansions, hovels, internment camps, under bridges.

there are as many different perfect lives as there are people. probably more.

Burying Puccini

August 7, 2006

Puccini was my father’s doberman. Beautiful, dim and terribly friendly. Sort of like a supermodel but with more heart and less conciet. A dog who was easily confused. Daily, in fact, by humans doing such unexpected things as walking around, standing still or (providing particular confusion) saying “green” to him with no discernable reason.

Not that any reason for anything was really discernable to Puccini. It struck me, though, that the human amusement and compassion for dumb animals also extends to humans these days. We seem very tolerant and even interested when moronic opinions are expressed by super-famous and pointlessly rich. The likes of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson or George Bush. Where the difference lies is, I believe, we spare less affection for them and fail to mourn their passing. In my case it’s probably to do with contact. If either Britney or Jessica had nuzzled up to me the way Puccini did I am sure I would have been better disposed to them.

Can’t say the same for old George, though. I think it would take a bigger effort in his case. Perhaps a comprehensive plan to deal with poverty in Africa, a solution to the middle east crises which didn’t involve selling missiles to Israel for them to massacre the Palestinians and Lebanese or he could do what he does in government and buy me off. I’m not terribly expensive. A couple of million would do. If he made it a yearly stipend only for the period of his lifetime I would be sure to mourn his passing.

Puccini will be missed. He was a beautiful, loving animal. With that loyalty and heart you can only trust a dog to give.

Bye Pucci. Love you.