Old chap turns up for a job interview. It’s all very politically correct and sensitive. Finally one of the young men/women interviewing says, “So what would you say was your main weakness.”
The old man thinks briefly and says, “My honesty.”
“Oh,” says the sincere young person, I don’t think honesty can be a weakness.”
The old man replies, “I don’t give a damn what you think.”
Now it appears everybody has an opinion, and everybody seems to think their opinion matters.
Or at least people who don’t know enough to know better keep shooting their mouths off telling us what we ought to believe.
Just to give you one example. The Middle east and Gaza. My Facebook feed is regularly filled with pictures from Gaza. This side’s wrong, that side’s wrong, boycott this, oppose that.
Look, I cycled home from school to catch the updates on the Six Day War. I’ve followed Israel and its neighbours since the 1960s. Let’s just say I’ve made my own mind up looking at the evidence that has accumulated over the years.
Or Badgers! Again they keep cropping up on my Facebook feed as people post stuff saying how cute they are, how wicked people are etc etc etc.
One of my earliest memories is sitting, aged about four, on a shippon window, watching my father and grandfather TB test cattle. I’ve followed the whole bovine TB thing since the 1960s. Please don’t preach to me because of some new found enthusiasm for the topic.
Parkinson, in Parkinson’s Law, sums things up pretty well. He describes a committee meeting.
The main item on the agenda is building a new nuclear power station. But there’s only one person on the committee who knows anything about it, and he knows that if he wants changes, he chats to the design team direct, so this multi-million pound project goes through on the nod.
Then the next item is building a cycle shed for staff. Well at least four people on the committee have been involved in this sort of small project at home and the discussion rages for twenty minutes.
The final item is whether there should be tea or coffee served at subsequent meetings, and should there be biscuits, if so, what type? Well everybody has an opinion on this and the discussion lasts for an hour or more as everybody says their piece.
(I paraphrase, he said it so much better)
He wrote in 1958. Now it would be entirely different. There’d still be nobody on the committee with any real knowledge about the nuclear power station, but their ranks would be stuffed with ‘stakeholders’, they’d all have been lobbied, and there would be a long, tortuous, and probably circular discussion based on the briefing documents produced by half a dozen different organisations with irons in the fire, and half remembered TV documentaries that they didn’t properly understand anyway.
I suppose I’m old fashioned. If a company wants me to advertise their products, then if they give me money, I’ll advertise their products. But I’m not going to spend my money to buy clothes carrying their logo in big letters so that I function as a walking bill-board. Free.
I feel the same about advertising for political parties, lobby groups, terrorist organisations and similar; if such an organisation wants to distribute its propaganda on the web that’s fine, but be damned if I’m going to ‘like’ and ‘share’ it on my Facebook page.
But I thought I’d just mention, that if you’re interested in major social issues, the rise and fall of civilisations, harsh environments and bizarre belief systems, ‘The Flames of the City’ is still available
Go on, I’m just telling you to read it and enjoy it. I’m not going to tell you what to believe.