Sat | Nov 18, 2017

Gordon Robinson | Pick a card, any card

Published:Tuesday | June 27, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The domino game was interrupted while Gene Autry and I travelled to 'Cloud Nine' for pizza.

We announced our presence with "Percy, two 'full house' and a pepperoni!" Youngsters born after 1970 are spoiled brats who have veggie pizza (ugh!) or barbecue chicken pizza (yuck!) delivered to their door. Back then, you went to the baker who decided what toppings you bought. Upon returning, we executed our planned sleight-of-hand. I opened the pepperoni pizza, which the Beast and the Dunce immediately attacked. Then, Autry and I devoured a full house each. Pick a card ... .

Haemorrhoid arrived as the game resumed. You remember Ernest H. 'Haemorrhoid' Flower, top-class shaggy-dog-tale teller whose nickname combined his middle initial with his perpetually lazy complaint about "piles and piles" of files on his desk. The very first game after the break, I drew double-four; six-five; six-four; four-deuce; four-blank; double-trey; and five-trey. Gene Autry posed double-six; the Beast contributed six-trey. Quick, what should I play?

Haemorrhoid, who observed everything, insisted on telling the story, which he said was true, of the elderly bridge player with prostate problems.

"John's 85-year-old grandfather refused to retire from bridge tournaments because he still won his fair share, despite battling fading eyesight and 'senior' issues, including prostate problems. John, away at college, asked his friend Mick to be Grandad's sidekick and babysitter. Mick was also a good bridge player.

"Grandad insisted on playing an 'open' international event in Aruba, so Mick was forced to tag along as his partner. After each round, Grandad would leave the table and take his time returning, so they always started the next round late. Mick couldn't decipher what was going on until Grandad was so late for one round, Mick was forced to search for him or face disqualification.

"Mick couldn't find Grandad anywhere in the hotel so, in desperation, went outside, only to find several people, including Grandad, looking up into the night sky. Mick looked up to locate the fascination. Before long, his peripheral vision glimpsed Grandad gripping the front of his trousers with both hands and making a yanking-up motion with the right. Then, Grandad stopped looking at the sky and headed inside.

"It finally dawned on Mick that Grandad, unable to wait in line for the men's room, decided to convert the hotel's grounds into one, but, as misdirection, first stared into the sky. As expected, everybody present followed suit, giving Grandad his privacy."

 

BRAZEN MISDIRECTION

 

Haemorrhoid explained that the secret to the best misdirection was brazenness. One must hide in plain sight. I remembered this during the parliamentary uproar about sexual offences, a strategy guaranteed to attract religious whack jobs and heartfelt homophobes, ensuring sex remains dirty AND the sole purview of the Church.

While self-awarded expertise on sexual deviance dominated submissions to keep sex a taboo subject available only to some, Government quickly slipped its new national identity legislation past a sexually stimulated media. Soon, Big Brother won't even have to spy, as we'll hand our privacy to him on a silver database. The worst trick is to promise it's 'voluntary'. Of course, it's not. According to Onika Miller, when she was permanent secretary at OPM in 2015, multiple entities will have access to your NID information "at different levels ...". Adroitly misdirecting, OPM chief technical director in the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, assured a recent press conference that the system is "safe, secure, and good for business". She might as well have said, "Pick a card, any card!"

Safe from whom? Not Government. The REAL problem isn't security, and Mrs Lynch-Stewart let the cat out of the bag by continuing: "Let me be clear. NIDS will ... be a one-ID system in Jamaica that, instead of carrying around multiple IDs, each of us will have one single ID that'll allow us to do business with Government." Uh-oh!

To obtain what's yours by right (for example, passport, driver's licence), you'd better have 'volunteered'. I predict this'll prove the most dangerously invasive legislation brought before Jamaica's Parliament. It's much worse than the Special Zones Bill which, until recently, also benefited from Government's expert misdirection. The good news is this numbers proliferation (birth, TRN, NIS, and now NID) might so confuse Jamaica's inept public service that the threat soon dissipates.

Peace and love.

PS: Play six-five. You're missing four-trey AND four-five. Give The Dunce two chances to help out? Don't worry about double-trey. Because you 'ran from trey' and cut Autry's pose, you're certain to see that card from the Beast again. Plus, don't you LOVE the misdirection?

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.