Category Archives: Personal Activism

For all the passive enabling parents out there…

A great discussion about consequences for actions and taking responsibility for yourself, your children and everyone you come into contact with.

When will the government realise that if they manage to prevent downloading, then paying for high speed Broadband will be pointless?

Is there a point to having Broadband if its not to watch/stream/download content that is copyrighted and that you haven’t paid for?  Where is the fun in paying to watch a film on Youtube or listening to the latest tunes from your favourite band a few days before the CD is available?

What about software?  How would creative people get access to specialist software to learn and practice?  I certainly learned all my skills on pirated software.  When your employed part time, young and expected to be experienced how else are you going to cope?  I remember the days of the “Blobby Disks” the CD’s that you could get your hands on for £10 that would be cram packed with all sorts of software.  Fully cracked and virus free.

Don’t get me wrong!  I don’t think that having to use pirated software is an agreeable situation, but when a piece of industry software can cost a months wages you soon get your priorities straight.

The story about Pirate Bay being banned in the UK is sad.  Like banning one of these sites is going to make any difference.  Even if they ban Fifty of these sites once word gets around of the many others that pop up or the new links that become available to different mirrors of the originally banned sites then who is going to keep on top of this?

The losers in all of this are the Broadband Customer and the ISP’s.  As an example, if I find that my ISP has decided to send me a letter warning me that they are going to disconnect me from the internet due to me deciding to do something via the internet then the ISP will find that I will disconnect them from my monthly Direct debit that they have been receiving for many years now.

The normal things like blog entries and checking email can be done after hours at work or in an internet cafe.  Actually, lets be honest, who really needs email, facebook, twitter and their ilk?  Choice to use these things in a free country is lovely, but using these things in a surveillance state isn’t worth a damn thing.

If this gets worse, I’m coming off the net and going to sell my smartphone.  I don’t do anything to hurt anyone offline or online.  If I could pay my way then I would.  As would others I imagine, but we can’t because we are all skint and suffering right now.

The argument about protecting music artists is so tired.  Artists should be engaging the internet.  We’ve been here before.  Betamax/VHS/Cassette Tape/CD/DVD/BluRay/MP3 if you can make copies then people will.  If you can’t then people can’t and the original has increased value.  THIS is what needs sorting out.  If you want people to respect copyright law then your going to be waiting forever.  You have to change the method of distribution.  DRM if you must or something like it.  Yes people hated it, but thats because they wanted to rip the music.

It’s not this simple, I know.  But blaming the public for a system that has within its design the inherent facility to make duplicates without acutally physically stealing or modifying the original is entrapment, surely.

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UPDATE: Sadly 43 Things was taken offline and is no longer with us.

If you haven’t already, take a look at “43 Things” its a great website that helps you to focus on the REALLY important things in life.

This is my list: so you get the idea.

Calling all list makers…

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100 Things

I have recently been introduced to the 100 things concept.  Basically what you do is pare down your possessions to just 100 in total.  These are personal possessions, so the sofa doesn’t count, the bed doesn’t count etc.  I started my list expecting to have a large excess of 100 things that I really wanted to keep and imagined that the emotional trauma that would follow if I decided that yes actually I was going to go for it.

Here’s my list:

2. Shiva
3. Aarti lamp
4. Trays
5. Incense sticks
6. Puja sundries
7. My many religious texts (one single shelf full)
8. Tabla
9. PC and cables mouse keyboard etc
10. A3 printer
12. Kettle
13. 5 mugs
14. Bicycle
15. Helmet
16. Pannier bags
17. Cycling tops, pants, overshoes and gloves
18. Tech toolbox (limited to what fits within)
19. General toolbox (limited to what fits within)
20. Blackberry bold and 8820
21. Belt
22. Braces
23. Tie rack and ties
24. Sock hanger
25. One weeks set of pants, socks
26. One summer coat
27. One winter coat
28. One box of cufflinks and collar stiffners
29. My Portfolio
30. My MA work
31. Bread maker
32. Shredder
33. Poker set
34. PS2 & Games (selection only give rest to Nat)
35. Bollywood Movie collection
36. Music CD collection (34,35 & 36 must fit on 1 benno cd bookcase
37. External Harddrives (home and work) bin the other crap.
38. Billy Bookcase
39. Puja bookcase
40. Ibook (?) Mac mini (?)
41. Hoover
42. Ironing board
43. Iron
44. Water sprayer
45. Wok
46. Tawa
47. Kitchen Radio
48. Umbrella
49. Backpack
50. Trainers
51. Catapillar boots
52. Suit shoes
53. Slipper shoes

There are several things that interested me about this exercise.  Firstly that my desire to keep should extend to my bed.  Secondly, I don’t have 100 personal things that I really want to keep.  I realised that this list is telling me that I have a lot of junk!  At least a lot of things that I don’t care for enough to list – which is interesting.  I think the circumstances in which the list was made is significant.  I made the list on my blackberry of the period of three evenings just as I was about to jump into bed and set the alarm for morning.  Its amazing how clear your mind is when it has the expectation of restful sleep.  (I sleep like a log!)

So anyway, I felt like sharing my list.  Its under development.  I encourage you to make one too.  Its interesting how it clarifies whats important to you right now.  If you have a go, post me a few lines I would like to read your comments.  For your benefit this is where I found out about the 100 things challenge.

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How to filter blank TO: emails in Gmail (Keywords: unspecified to field filter gmail blank spam unsolicited email)

I have spent ages trying to get Gmail to filter out all the emails I get that are not addressed to me. They arrive with blank TO: fields. Normally they are scam letters requesting that I send my personal details to a stranger in X country of the world in return for a share of $5,000,000 US Dollars. Mmm.

So if like me your sick of them, here’s what to stick in your filter. This works with Gmail and uses boolean logic so it should work in other filter systems too:


The exclamation mark on the beginning of your email address means NOT. So this makes the filter list all the emails that have arrived that do not have your email address in the TO: field. This works great for me. Of course it works too well and catches a few emails that aren’t actually spam like forum and email group messages. In Gmail you can use the Doesn’t Have: box to list things that you don’t want to filter out. For example:

hindu | bmw | amnesty | wordpress

the “|” means OR so the above line leaves emails that contain one of those words out of the filtered emails.

I just thought I would post this here so that once google picks it up it might help those who are treading my footsteps with Gmail spam.


Om Namashivaya

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Geography Teachers & Global Warming

Amongst a programme on Radio 4 this afternoon I heard one of the people being interviewed say that they were a Geography Teacher and that they teach Global Warming.

Nothing wrong with this you might say, you may well be right too but my suspicions are that the Government is propagating certain beliefs about the world and Global Warming into the next generation so that it can get us to buy into the things that it will charge us for in the coming years because of Global Warming. In effect a new tax.

Teachers teach from a syllabus so theoretically it might be possible to find out the depth and breadth of what is being taught and the angle that it is being portrayed from.

Yeah I’m cynical. But I think the whole Global Warming thing is rubbish. Don’t get me wrong, I think its happening, of course it is the world has changed its temperature for many millions of years (apparently). However the Co2 thing and the damage we are doing potentially destroying the planet. RUBBISH!

A distinct rise or fall in temperature might get rid of humans, but I’m pretty sure that the Earth will still be spinning.

Free Internet

I’m not a thief!  If its in my home naturally and I haven’t taken it from anywhere else then its mine to use!  Well thats my excuse.  I’ve been reading several websites about receiving wifi signals from a far through make shift parabolic shaped sieves and USB wifi receivers. Yesterday I decided to actually try it out.  I went to my local Chinese Supermarket and spent 12.95 on a 12″ brass dumpling sieve.  I Borrowed a USB wifi dongle and grabbed a USB extension lead from my small collection of gadget leads.   After picking a hole in the middle of the sieve I placed the end of the lead through the hole and plugged in the dongle, after initial testing in various places of my home I can confirm that there are lots of people “on my block” that have broadband and wireless.  out of about 10 different connections only 1 didn’t have WEP or PSK encryption.  I got the following page through this connection:    Illegal ?I have probably incriminated myself here, but you know what?  I pay for my own internet connection and I use that all the time.  The exercise was to see it the sieve worked and it did.  I found it interesting that there were loads of SKY connections around my home.  They have recently spent loads on a massive advertising campaign to get people to have their internet / tv / phone (and probably their water, heating and air) through them, it must have worked at least 5 of the connections were being served by sky.  I wonder if they changed the default password on installation?Reference:–USB-adapters-%26-DIY-cookware-refl/

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Sadhu and their dedication

I went on a trawl of Google’s Images the other day looking for Sadhu’s. I find them curiously interesting. Sadhu’s are holy men of India. They are worshippers of Shiva living as ascetics who are in there last stage of the three stages of a Hindu life where efforts to achieve Moksha are upmost in and foremost in their minds. Being a worshipper of Shiva myself I am really drawn to their dedication and focus. Qualities that I have right now, but not in the same context and probably not in the same strength (by any stretch of the imagination). Their renunciation of the material and societial world interests me the most. I have always been drawn to things that completely buck the system and travel in a completely opposite direction to the norm. I am sure I have missed the point here, they’re likely to me going with the flow that is presented to them rather than making a poilitical point.

Personally I am currently attempting to live a more austere lifestyle, I’ve dumped my TV, I’ve severely reduced my possessions and I’m thinking of doing another round of recycling soon as I still have lots of things that I don’t really need. My iPod battery finally gave up the ghost the other day, I’m going to ebay it and pass it onto someone who can get hold of a battery and knows how to change them. I can’t compare my meagre efforts with the Sadhu’s who I admire so much, but I have a way to go before that stage of my life begins.

Click an image to see the full size version.
A SadhuJust looking at this picture makes me want to know what’s gone on in this mans mind. I find his efforts staggering. When do we in the west face this kind of experience?

Whilst looking through the hundreds of interesting pictures that people have put onto their blogs and photograph collections I came across this image of a young girl who lives in the city of Varanasi. Its not very often you see genuine happiness and freedom on someones face. I see this in her face. She seems so happy. She looks so genuine, she seems almost untainted. Untainted by the west?
Street Kids of Varanasi
What an amazing concept, that people can live in such terrible poverty by western standards, yet be so much more happy. I can’t remember the last time that I saw someone smile with such expression. Our overdeveloped western lives have so much to answer for.

Streets of Varanasi
This image shows the level of the quality of life in Varanasi. Dirt next to food being sold in the same street. A Bitch feeding her young. In the same place. What a great picture.

The Colour Photographs in this entry where taken by Ray Church. His photographs are found here: and his travel blog can be found here:

I feel that I should point out that I feel both grateful and annoyed at being a westerner.  There is much to be grateful for, as has been pointed out in the comments from the readers I appear to have annoyed with my ignorance.  Yet at the same time I do not feel a connection with the earth or with my community and to a certain degree with my spiritual life that appears to be the very foundation of the Indian way of life.  It is not my intention to annoy anyone with the comments I have made.  If they stir comments and even discussion then this is wonderful.  But I have posted the above pictures with the utmost respect for the people shown.  Namaste. Om Namah Shivaya.

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Living without TV

Over the summer of 2006 I decided to get rid of my Television set. My DVD player went too. Why? A colleague of mine (hiya Lesley) mentioned in conversation months earlier that she didn’t have a TV and hadn’t had one for many years (or maybe even at all, I can’t remember). This, whilst it came to a shock to me at first, made me consider the amount of moaning I have been told that I do at the TV when watching it, especially the News. Don’t get me wrong, its not the news itself that I have an issue with, what happens in the world happens, its the way that the news is told. The lack of actual facts and accurate information is remarkably common. The huge amount of opinion that is stuffed into each and every article makes the story completely one sided. Take the imagery of the wars in Iraq and the current conflict between Israel and Palestine for example. The imagery is completely censored. We are told that people are dying and many are dead in a single article. They probably are, but the imagery does not support the voice over. Once we have had the wool pulled over our eyes which political leader do we hear from next? Being here in England, you would expect to hear comment about the days events from our Prime Minister or one of his colleagues. No. We get to cross the pond to the USA, about as far away as you can fly without going to Japan or Australia, to hear what George Bush has to say. Why should we care? He doesn’t run our country does he? (mmm good question!). It was startlingly obvious to me during my last days with a TV that the media of this country isn’t doing its basic job very well. Unless its basic job is to corrupt the minds of the UK population with half truths, open lies, complete rubbish and opinions from people who we shouldn’t be hearing from who are presented in a way that makes you feel as if they are our leader.

So anyway, I got rid of my TV. I got rid of it because I wanted some quiet. I could turn it off thats true, but unless you live on your own its very rarely actually off. It provides the background noise for daily life. What a din it is too. The programmes are to low in volume or is it that the adverts are louder? A room that is serene and pleasant with the TV off is changed once the TV is turned on. Immediately there is electrical noise that fills the room as the TV heats up. Then it starts. Fifty percent off at hopewells, brush your teeth with aquafresh for a cool minty whiter mouth, no-nails is so strong you can fix a chair to the side of your garage with it, are you in debt? Got that sinking feeling? Well don’t worry because debt buster loans can help. It goes on and on. So you turn over the channel to find Trisha interviewing a group of low life half wits using leading questions and directing them to their embarrassing doom in front of the nation. Who ironically probably don’t care one inch and wouldn’t recognize any of the people from the show if they past them in the street the very same day. The unfortunate thing is that these people probably aren’t actors like on Jerry Springer, but really do have real problems that they need help with. Why does anyone with an ounce of sanity think that appearing on Trisha will help them in anyway shape of form?

So anyway I got rid of my TV. I regularly got the feeling that the TV broadcasts were invading my personal space. When your at home your personal space is the whole place. But I found myself sat in my living room being constantly disturbed by sound and images that I had not asked to see or hear. Advertising for things that promise something constantly thrust in my face. I realised that TV can shape your attitudes if your not aware of its potential. Now that I don’t have a TV I no longer think “10 o’clock – the news will be on now”. I no longer feel myself planning my time around TV programmes that are actually a complete waste of my time. I mean, really ask yourself – when was the last time that TV actually gave you something that made you glad you have it.

So anyway I got rid of my TV and the time I spend in front of the box has filled with other activities. The most important one is talking to my friends and family. Communication is so important, everyone thinks this. Yet 99% of UK households have this time wasting, communication inhibiting device, and many of these households have more than one.

I save £360 a year at least (not including electricity) by not having a TV. The biggest saving of all is my time and the fact that I now spend it doing things that I choose to do consciously, rather than unconsciously.

It has been pointed out to me that having children in a TVless home puts your children at a social disadvantage. This concerns me. I feel that this probably is true but at the same time is a sad sad reflection of the world that we live in. has a lot to answer for! I found this video on there detailing what an American TV network does with the truth in its TV news reports and how the news team in the studio behave like they are model examples of how everyone in society should be.

I have ranted on about TV already so I am going to leave the following video to pass on its message.

“But it’s American, what do you expect?”, The BBC do exactly the same thing with all the “Terrorist” reports shown over here. However unlike the people in the US who complain about the problem but don’t actually take direct action, I and many like me have decided to dump the TV and the “how to live a good life” propaganda that it sends out 24 hours a day.

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