Tag Archives: freedom

I Love The Internet

This week many UK Internet Service Providers blocked access to a range of Torrent sites because a court order requesting that they block the sites finally came through.
I googled: “How to access Kick Ass Torrents through Virgin Media” and got to this article:

http://news.softpedia.com/news/How-to-Access-KickassTorrents-and-Other-Censored-Sites-in-the-UK-339313.shtml

Now, the “come.in” link is a bit touch and go as to whether it works on my first use, but it does load the site eventually making a complete mockery of the court system.  The secondary effect of this court order is that it pushes the users of these sites further underground, all be it slightly.  It means that there are many more access points to places like Kick Ass Torrents that will actually get traffic.  Rendering the court order totally ineffective other than blocking the main entrance URL.

Totally pointless!  I’m sure the judges think that they just need to be keeping everyone thinking that they are doing their job and upholding the law.  I’m glad that the way the internet works means that peoples freedoms will remain intact even if a piece of paper with someones forced wish upon you arrives in the mail.

I used to curse the Internet Service Providers, not anymore.

A lot of people still access all sorts of sites that someone else says they shouldn’t.  It’s the Nanny State!  Mr Judge – we are not your kids!

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Two Years Credit Card Debt Free

This is to mark the fact that today it will be two years since I last used a credit card.

Cash is sooo much simpler!

Wonderful feeling.

🙂

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Debt Free In Ten%

I have known about this method of becoming debt free for a while now, its pretty simple and although people have shown interest in it when I have told them about it they haven’t asked for details.  Here is a pretty good place for purging and sharing.

Here’s what you do.

  1. Make a list of all your debts and list them from the smallest to the largest.
  2. Keep paying the minimum on all of your debts through out your time trying this.
  3. While doing this find a way to reduce your outgoings by around 10% of your net monthly income. (turn the heating down a notch, eat less takeaway, drive more sensibly, stop going to starbucks catch a bus, walk to the corner shop – however you do it, make a plan to scrape this together)
  4. Now pay the 10% you have scraped together in addition to the normal minimum payment on your smallest debt (the first on your list from step one).
  5. Keep this going until you have paid this off completely.
  6. Now the fun starts.  Now take your 10% you will have got used to scraping together each and every month AND what was the minimum payment of the first debt (now cleared) and use both of these to start paying off the next debt on the list.
  7. As you clear this debt, add the minimum payment of this second debt on your list to the minimum payment of the first debt and your 10% that you have scraped together and start paying the third debt on your list. … etc.

By the time you clear two to three credit cards and a loan you will have a huge amount to use against your MORTGAGE (oh yeah!).  When you get to this stage you will find that you can reduce a 25 year repayment mortgage to between 7 to 13 years depending on how much debt you were in in the first place.  The funny thing is that as long as you can actually afford to run this system at the beginning, ie pay the minimum each month and find your 10% you will find that the more debt you had at the start the more you will have to pay towards your mortgage in the last stage – and the quicker you can be debt free.  (and thats TOTALLY debt free!)

I can’t pretend that I invented this, I didn’t.  It’s called many things on the web but “Debt Snowballing” is the most popular name.

I have been meaning to share this here for a while.  If this helps someone then mission accomplished.

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The ultimate question?

Is life worth living?

According to Nietzsche our lord(s) and saviour(s); our God(s) are dead.  Dead in that their originating source is undefined and Religion(s) appear to be systems that provide a social structure for the continuation of our species.  Interesting stuff!  He points out that if indeed God(s) is dead this isn’t necessarily a negative thing.  Our horizons will have been opened up by the lack of moral boundary.  Anything is possible; at last.  However, if there are no Gods, then what makes life worth living?  If life is not a period in which to attempt to satisfy all Karmic debts, then what value does life have in and of itself?  Procreation and maintaining human numbers is one potential offering, but there are already probably way too many people on this planet so this seems like a very weak argument.

Baudrillard coined a wonderful term “Desert of the real” to describe the mere fragments of our experience that are actually sourced in true authenticity.  In the west we are surrounded by imagery which is used to construct our reality.  Only the other day did I realise the depth to which I had been conditioned by TV.  I was at a friends house (hi Jono!) and he put his TV on as background noise as people do.  The BAFTA awards were in their early stages.  People who I mostly did not recognise due to lack of exposure to the entertainment media over the last five years or so appeared in smart attire and were furiosly photographed by photographers.  As I watched with new eyes.  As if I hadn’t seen this kind of thing before, I saw one section of the media photographing another section of the media, to be published in a different form of media; the whole event being televised which obviously is another form of media.  TV was displaying its own child.  I think this is a simulacra or simulacrum?? (Answers on a post card please!)  Anyway, I remembered “The desert of the real” and as I watched actors and actresses be treated incredibly specially I wondered what they had done?  Have they saved lives?  Have they prevented wars?  Have they solved world poverty and starvation?  No, they have entertained those of us who are lucky enough not to be starving.  There are awards for this kind of thing.

So in the potentially godless desert of the real, is life worth living?  If not should it be ended?  If it is worthy of our effort how do we know?  What benefits do we reap?  In my experience the death of a loved one is an interuption to the precession of simulacra presented to us as reality on an everyday basis.  Maybe those who acknowledge and accept in their own mind that life isn’t of any value and act on this personal reality bring a moment of reality to the lives of their nearest and dearest?  Those who I have lost most certainly have brought a moment of reality and clarity to my experience.  I am grateful.

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Cleared my credit card debt

As of today I have no credit card debt again.  I managed to pay off the last £350.00 worth.  I had been paying around £160 each month on it for the last few months after moving my savings of £1600 onto it last december.  It wasn’t draining my finances completely but it really was an extra heavy weight to carry each payday.

Of course its all my fault, I signed up for the thing in the first place.  What did I buy?  I can’t actually remember which is probably pretty typical of a credit card user.  One thing for sure is that I didn’t use it for everyday spending like food and mortgage.  However I did find myself in what felt like an endless cycle of  “emergency=credit card use”.  I managed to stop this by starting an emergency fund and by being extremely stringent with my spending for a couple of months.  I managed to put £200 by for the servicing of my car (which turned out to be an MOT and new radiator! instead) so that I didn’t use my credit card – I used cash instead.

Car Insurance.
Books from Amazon.
A meal out.
A new computer.
A shirt.
Petrol.
New Car Tyres (pair).
Car repair (door window issues).
The odd ebay purchase.
Tickets to see Steely Dan in concert.
Vet bills.

This is what my statements say that I use my Credit Card for.  Most of these are now budgeted for but the Vet bills are a surprise.  I’m going to have to add that to the list of expenses.

Damn I really hate credit cards.  Things are just going to have to WAIT!  I’m not going back to that kind of suffering again.

Right now I feel like I need to keep it just in case I need it.  Looking at the statements the most expensive things were about £450.  I need to get at least this much into my emergency fund before the next emergency.  Once I have managed six months or so without it I am going to close the account and return the card.

My “credit card cut-up & shut-up day” is August 22nd 2010.

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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:

1.Ganesh
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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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: http://www.instructables.com/id/%22Poorman_s-WiFi%22–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: http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/893322.html and his travel blog can be found here: http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Raymondo/

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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