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The Symbols of Dreams, Poems, and Art

the-banquet-of-the-gods-xx-hendrik-van-the-elder-balen

“The Banquet of the Gods” Hendrik Van Balen.

When I remember my dreams I don’t just recall what happened in them; I study their meanings. At times I have written my dreams down to help recall what it was I dreamed about and to actively study what things meant, and I now have a couple of notebooks full. Right now that seems unnecessary because I seem to interpret the dreams as I recall them –  a dream about a banquet isn’t simply that, it’s what the banquet represents, for example.

The same can be true for poetry. Poets can consciously use particular things/words in their work that they know carry a deeper meaning, or they might not consciously do this but the reader can/might read more into why they used a particular word – I remember learning about this in English Literature lessons at high school, but I didn’t really grasp it. “What does Wordsworth mean when he says he wanders lowly as a cloud?” my teacher would ask us. I figured he was either trying to be cleaver or illusive or there just wasn’t any other meaning there and to search for such things was a pointless exercise.

In some ways, to deny a hidden meaning in anything someone might say or write is to deny the existence of the subconscious.

The decision to write this article now was because I have just read the following poem and a few lines struck a chord with me (I’ve highlighted them):

The Light of Other Days
by Tom Moore (1779–1852)

OFT in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
Of other days around me :
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood’s years,
The words of love then spoken ;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimmed and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken !
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

When I remember all
The friends, so linked together
I’ve seen around me fall
Like leaves in wintry weather,
    I feel like one
    Who treads alone
  Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed !
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me.
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

I’ve had numerous dreams of ‘banquet halls’ but I’ve generally described them as buffets – a banquet sounds too lavish for me and I’m far more comfortable with a quieter affair. At these buffets are often many tables with piles of food for the taking, and sometimes I would go round and heap my plate with as much as possible, occasionally spilling some. Then I would find a seat and find myself sitting down among people I went to school with, typically. It took me a while to decide what all this meant – I could search the internet for “dream meaning food” but the explanations didn’t fit, the search terms weren’t quite right or “food” being too broad a term. The interpretation I have mostly settled on is that these scenes are about enjoying the fruits of life in the company of others, or rather, they tell me it’s alright to do so, because it seems these dreams occur at times when I’m perhaps being too hard on myself in one way or another. For this reason I attached this same interpretation to the lines in Moore’s poem, although sadly his banquet hall is a lonely one… but he has fond memories of when this wasn’t the case.

“To feast in a dream can be a symbol of indulging, or enjoying, of giving into sensuous pleasures.” – The Dream Well

The painting “The Banquet of the Gods” by Hendrik Van Balen (1574 or 1575) at the top of this article is like an image from a dream – again too lavish compared to anything I would dream about, but I see a resemblance.

 
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Posted by on 7 February, 2016 in Art, Food & Drink, Poetry, Psychology

 

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OpenOffice – Print Selection

OpenOffice keeps printing only a selection of a document, because I seem to have got into the bad habit of leaving something highlighted when I click print or click print after having just pasted a picture into the document and it still being selected that’s all that gets printed… very annoying. I never used to have this problem. I don’t think I’ve every wanted to only print a selected item in a document, sometimes just a particular page, but that’s different. This ‘feature’ is therefore annoying me… can it be turned off? Who knows? I can’t find a solution so I’ve leaving this rant here so maybe a solution will find me ;-)

open_office_print_selection

 
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Posted by on 7 February, 2016 in Computers

 

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SETI@home efforts – January

seti_jan

My last SETI@home update was for October when I lost one of my Nvidia 560ti GPUs. Strangely I had another GPU fail in the same manner, this time an Nvidia 460 – one of my lowest performers (I have/had two 460s) but still a shame to see it go. I listed both on ebay describing their faults and was shut of them.

More recently I’ve had a fan failure in a PSU which caused it to overheat and shut down, preventing further damage but still requiring an RMA nonetheless. The first strange thing was the Corsair PSU was only a couple of months old. I contacted Scan to arrange a return and frustratingly heard nothing back, so then contacted Corsair directly and promptly received the instructions to return the part; the second strange thing being that it turns out Corsair’s UK returns centre is shared with Scan. Perhaps the PSU just needs the fan swapping out but even to save myself the cost of the return I wasn’t prepared to void the warranty by lifting the cover to try – for a PSU that’s out of warranty I would have fitted another fan but one shouldn’t take poking about inside a PSU too lightly as there can be dangerous electricity lurking within. Luckily I had a spare PSU to hand so I could keep all my rigs running.

January saw the arrival of the setiathome v.8 app which “gives us the ability to process data from multiple sources, including the Green Bank Telescope. That means we’ll be ready for data from Breakthrough Listen when it’s available.” I suppose I could read up a little more on this really understand what it means! Sadly there was no GPU work for a while until that point so it was either a case of switching everything off or running only CPU work. I opted for the latter; I could have taken the opportunity to save some electricity but it’s winter here and my house was getting chilly – I kept all rigs on and optimised them to run SETI@home on all CPU cores (the best practice is to limit the number of CPU cores crunching work units in order to feed the GPUs). The idea being that my RAC (Recent Average Credit) wouldn’t drop off quite so dramatically/and I’d have a little head start against those who are normally optimised for GPU crunching also and who stopped crunching for the time being.

As soon as v.8 work started flowing in for the GPUs I switched back to GPU crunching and then as soon as Lunactics v0.44 became available to better push my hardware I installed that also.

My tactics paid off and I sat quietly with a smug look on my face as I rose from 20th in team GPUUG to 15th+. I’ve also had the run on a few fellow participants in the UK where my RAC dropped significantly while there was no GPU work, but I’m currently in 5th, based on weekly credit whereas realistically I’m in 8th. Things will settle down once my performance peaks of course – I expect this to occur in a few weeks.

seti_jan_chart

Until then, and when that occurs, I’ll continue to mull over the idea of upgrading some of my lowest crunchers; my last Nvidia 460 and my 560 really ‘need’ replacing with something more recent if I’m to make any headway this year before the weather warms up and I stop crunching for the summer part of the year. So far I’ve been managing to talk myself out of any such expenditure – “Save your money” I tell myself.

As a final point, I noticed that not all my computers were crunching so well – GPU usage wasn’t in the mid-to-high 90s as I’d like to see. The two rigs that are making best use of their GPUs are old Windows XP machines, one with an Intel Core2Duo and the other with a Core2Quad, both with identical Nvidia 560ti’s. For example I have an AMD socket AM3 machine running Windows Vista 64-bit and GPU usage of the Nvidia 460 was hovering around 60-70% – it seems different work units using different apps push things differently, but it’s peculiar. Loading the card up with three work units improved things by 10% or so (although trying this on another problematic rig with a 670 saw no such improvement) – loading the card up with four work units made matters worse (since) more than the card’s 1GB of RAM was required.

 
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Posted by on 1 February, 2016 in Computers, Science, SETI@home

 

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Milk

cows

book_childrens_encyclopediaMy regular readers know I’ve been reading my way through my ten volume set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia which dates back to the 1930s. I’ve set myself the task of reading one volume a year, or around 62 pages a month. Beyond calculating how many pages I need to read it’s a casual arrangement I’ve set up for myself; I sit down for breakfast with my cup of tea and bowl of porridge and open up the current weighty volume (four) and read through whatever random topic is next, and they are pretty random because this encyclopedia isn’t arranged how you might expect; A-Z, but divided into categories or groups and aimed at different age groups (of children). Today’s group was ‘Ourselves’ and the topic was Milk; “Nature’s Wonderful Food” – quite fitting for breakfast I suppose.

But it wasn’t the talk of milk that made me spout a profanity over my laden spoon, which tends to happen when something rocks my world (I’ve considered keeping a mental swear jar to try and curb my use of such naughty words), but this single paragraph that the author threw into the mix:

…milk is the outward and visible expression of a greater thing still, which is motherhood ; and the lesson we have to learn, which all our politicians and those who rule nations have yet to learn, is that by the laws of Nature the importance and needs of motherhood increase as life ascends, and that upon it depends the destiny of all living things.

I mean, holy c…ow.

While the Encyclopedia was edited by Arthur Mee, there is a list of some fifteen literary contributors, and who wrote this particular piece is unknown/unclear, but it’s curious to me.

I think the term Mother Earth would perhaps be better fitting, but the topic was supposed to be about milk and cows and babies. To me this was a clear message about the meddling with nature and turning things artificial, and how doing so (often through the use of science) will be to the detriment of us all; we will fail to ascend and our destiny will be thwarted. This might sound all very spiritual and deep but I began my Monday morning with ten minutes of guided meditation that moved me somewhat also.

 

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Finding Your Path

Your body and mind tell you what you need…

The flu hit me for a day – I had to rough out a sore throat for twenty-four hours… I don’t wallow about these things, I know the routine by now (actually, not swallowing seems to be the best course of action, but I don’t want to gross you out with any of this). Once the sore throat passed I was left with a cold and a head that felt like it was stuck in a vice. It’s during these times that food and drink requirements naturally alter, I’m not one for medication – if you listen carefully your body tells you what it needs (although many of us have had some bad training and developed some bad habits so the voice can be hard to hear), and during times when we’re unwell we either crave what we need, or go off what we usually consume and then try and figure out what else to have. During this period of dietary confusion I did a quick search online for something I could eat/drink that might help clear my congestion and I found myself watching a guy on Youtube make smoothies. The video wasn’t much use to me since I don’t have a smoothie maker, but I watched anyway, while he fed lemons and cucumbers into his machine. He admitted that his concoction wouldn’t be too nice to drink, but was adamant it would do the trick – such things seem counter-intuitive to me: I’m not a fussy eater at all, so if something tastes bad then I’d be convinced it’s not what my body needs.

The guy with a mission…

After watching this video I proceeded to the guy’s Youtube channel and found a plethora of videos he had uploaded over the course of four years or so. The next one I clicked on was somewhat different from smoothie making, but health was still at the forefront; in it he talked about so many things, a lot of which really clicked with me. Not only was he talking about what he considered to be healthy eating (his fruit and vegetable diet being the basis for this), but he talked about thoughts and feelings, like, really open and honestly from his perspective as a guy, and how he felt he had some sort of mission or duty in life to help others. I felt it to be quite positively moving.

Finding your own mission and light…

He was clearly at a good point in his life and was seeing his path laid out ahead of him. Often I have spent my days stumbling around trying to find that path for myself – I’m convinced there have been times when I have been on it, and then there are days when I feel like I’ve gone astray and lost sight at some junction or bend in the path; I have tried to backtrack in my mind to take a few steps back through what I have been through recently to re-find my way. Sometimes I’ve just waited for a little light to come on somewhere; anything from a random conversation with a stranger to a book that stands out on the shelf at the library (or a combination of the two). In fact I have been compelled to write about this before.

Look out for…

These moments of synchronicity are the key; glitches in the Matrix perhaps, but I am convinced that if you keep your eyes open and maintain some flexibility, the path will find you – there is a path, I’m sure of it. Some people will label this as being guided by the hand of God (or other religious figure) but I think this is irrelevant (the label you give it).

It seems not everyone sees their world like this – to them the suggestion of such a path would seem to be either just delusional, down-right silly, or over-complicating a life where you are simply born and then die. To be honest I probably accept all of the above; seeing the silliness of it isn’t so bad really – smiles and laughter can emit wonderful energy.

Friends and family…

Perhaps for some the belief that there is no path is the right path for them but I’ve tried to tease out of friends or family members what it is their purpose in life might be; what it is they should be doing with their time here; how they can better themselves (because there is room for improvement in all of us, right? – rather than accepting “this is me” and that “me” is fixed and unchangeable) – of course these questions are hard enough for ourselves to answer, but sometimes if you ask someone else in just the right manner (or someone asks you in the right way) a little spark can be lit and they can be helped on their way. I’m sure of it. Perhaps we are all growing but this needs no conscious effort, but to me it feels right, or there is a need for me to make a conscious effort; not necessarily because I everyone would stray from or lose sight of the path if they weren’t consciously focussed, but for some reason perhaps I feel I will run out of time to traverse as much of the path as I need to within this lifetime – why the hurry? – I don’t know.

Other times it seems there is no spark ignited in a friend or family member when I have tried, and when I leave that conversation I can be left feeling more saddened that I couldn’t help someone I care about find a glimmer of their potential calling, than I might feel frustrated with myself when I’m yearning to see the way for myself. I think the truest friendships are those where everyone involved is there to help, support and encourage everyone else to do their best and be their best – these are the truly beautiful and meaningful friendships, and relationships, and we certainly don’t need to bully or badger.

Being in your element…

Sometimes this help can, on the face of it, be for the simplest of things, not necessarily specifically and directly about helping someone find that big path in life, but can help them along a little stretch, at a junction perhaps, such as providing impartial advice about work, or relationship worries when asked. There have been times when I’ve found myself called upon in this manner and somehow I’ve been in my ‘element’ when imparting my perspective and it often seems I learn too and I have become aware that sometimes advice can fail to be acted on, or lessons not learned and similar problems can keep arising; in these situations there is no benefit to anyone involved, especially to the advice-giver – there is something draining in this practice if one isn’t careful, and at worst times I’ve found myself hiding away from potential further situations for a time.

Losing the path…

Now returning to the topic of the guy’s Youtube videos. While the first video (about smoothie making) hadn’t been my cup of… wheat-grass, and his second video about deep stuff had been more meaningful to me, his third video revealed to me that he had taken up bicycle touring which is more my thing also. However, his approach in this and then in further smoothie-making videos (and a little issue he alluded to in the first two videos) I felt he was somewhat ‘off the path’ – perhaps this was simply the impression I gleaned from picking these few videos at random and therefore I’m projecting onto them rather than reading accurately, so for fairness I will say my opinion/observation here is a general one, or more about myself (as these things can be) rather than him – it was just his videos that lead me to this point.

Highlight the positive…

Anyway, the little issue I mentioned that he alluded to was that he acknowledged the negative approach some people have on Youtube and towards his videos and messages therein – the ability to leave comments quickly and easily is beneficial to those who have quick and less thoughtful things to say and is a problem not only on Youtube but other web services with a social networking element. While highlighting flaws in someone’s advice can be helpful, since some advice, especially on the grounds of health and well-being can be unintentionally harmful, this should be done constructively and politely – but sadly such voices, and the initial communication, can be drowned out by the masses. To even acknowledge such masses seems wrong to me and one should remain focussed on their own message.

The topic of plastic stuff again!…

It seemed to me the guy’s changing approach throughout his videos published over the years sadly lead him away from that earlier path, which felt more true. Specifically his focus on his chosen diet became too science-based and strangely unnatural and this culminated in his chosen food for undertaking bike touring. Essentially it seems he achieved this without consuming the typical carbohydrates and protein as I would expect, and as I consume when I do a lot of cycling. Instead he lead a life of smoothie making and consuming ‘stuff from packets’ it seemed. In a later video I watched, he was still sharing smoothie recipes but it seemed his focus was on singing the praises of certain brands (plugging) and reading off the scientifically worded so-called ‘benefits’ as spouted on the packaging. It was all wrong in my ears – this was unnatural, even if the contents of those packets were derived from natural substances, it wasn’t food to me, and stuff in packaging screams “Unhealthy!”. In the case of my bout of flu and following cold, my approach was, and is pretty much always, a natural one – no ‘medication’, just some dollops of honey in hot beverages, and answering my body’s call for soup, and (strangely) rice for breakfast (on one occasion).

Since living on my own for almost two years and being the master of my own grocery shopping I shied away from packaged food – I still have a way to go, but essentially any food wrapped in plastic feels wrong and harmful and I tell myself off for purchasing such things; not initially harmful towards me directly, but harmful to the planet in that such packaging tells me the food has been produced in an artificial environment and that the plastic packaging will end up in landfill and polluting our world (even if it can be recycled at first).

A sudden change to regroup…

Then when I looked at the guy’s most recent videos I noticed that all of a sudden he had stopped uploading some months back – his voice went quiet. I often wonder “what happened?” when someone stops posting content, such as on blogs, or in this case Youtube. Perhaps he recognised that he had indeed lost sight of his path, as I suspected, or the voices of those masses he acknowledged became too loud in his head. Sometimes we need a change and we leave an online environment – I have done this myself. In some ways I didn’t want to point out his videos, or make specific mention of him – I didn’t think this wouldn’t be a positive thing to do, but it seems that in order to end on an upbeat note I feel I should end with his second video I watched which moved me and compelled me to return to the topics here that I have written about before (and add a little more), to hopefully show us all that there is a good path to follow – we’re not always on it, we may from time-to-time lose sight of it, but it is always there; we just need to look for the light.

Anyway, this video was posted by that guy almost four years ago, and its title will allude to the topics it is about, i.e. men’s health, but I watched it for (and it turns out) found it to be insightful on a different level, as he says in his video, any adult, male or female might – maybe it will shed for you a little light also.

My previous topics you may find interesting:

What’s Your Mission?

Encouraging Others

 

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Ebay – such a mixed bag

ebay_stuff

Buying stuff off ebay can be such a mixed experience – sometimes things go smoothly, and sometimes it feels like there is a problem with just about everything you’re buying at the moment.

Of course it can vary depending on what kind of things you buy: new or used, Buy It Now stuff or auctioned items.

Generally I think the used things that you buy at auction can be dealt with pretty smoothly because you base your impression of the condition of the item on the seller’s description – if it arrives damaged or not as described then a return/refund case is quite clear-cut (although I suppose some such sellers can play difficult and as a buyer you have to remain calm and patient and let the ebay/PayPal system sort things out).

I think I buy mostly new (or some used but working) Buy It Now items; from little odds and ends for my home, bike or business, to more substantial things (I bought my bedroom carpet via ebay). I don’t particularly like buying little odds and ends off ebay because I would prefer to support a local business, but visiting them and looking round takes time and often you don’t find what you are looking for, I also consider the carbon footprint involved in transporting all those little packets purchased via ebay (I generally visit the shops by bicycle – so there a minuscule carbon footprint right there); I combat the ebay carbon footprint inflicted by small purchases a little buy buying multiples of things that I know I will use eventually (sadly the lack of postage discounts fail to encourage this practice with ebay encouraging sellers to offer ‘free’ postage).

Here’s a rant/run-down of some recent problem purchases:

A small electronic buzzer – I’ve just filed a return on this because it doesn’t work.

Electric boxes – these are silly; they are poor quality and as such they arrived damaged. I mentioned I wasn’t happy with the quality to the seller… and they’re sending replacements; the same ones again I assume *sighs*.

Computer RAM – wasn’t packaged correctly even though the seller was meticulous in their listing about how it would be packaged; and thus arrived faulty. Actually I was surprised that the guy phoned me the following morning, apologised profusely (blaming the new lad), and had a working replacement with me the next day. He didn’t ask for the faulty one to be sent back – sometimes this frustrates me because it’s pointless if the item is scrap, and more so if it’s at my expense, and even more so because of the delay in receiving the replacement… sometimes it’s quicker order to place a fresh order (with somewhere else) and then return the problem one for a refund.

A bed sheet – out of stock. This really shouldn’t happen on ebay because sellers should only be listing things they have in stock. If it’s something you need quick then you can lose a day (or however it has taken them to tell you it was out of stock); and then there is the hassle of re-searching for an alternative.

A tablet cover – they were available in many colours, I chose yellow (for a client) and the one received was clearly a green one… they amended their listing following my return request to show yellow was now out of stock, so it seemed to me they thought they could get away with sending the green one out anyway. In the end I offered the green one to my client and they were happy enough with it (it avoided me sending it back and then waiting another week).

Rucksack, combs and toothbrushes. Sometimes you just can’t gauge the size or quality of an item you see in a picture or two – the rucksack was surprisingly large but in the end it would have cost me to return it and the smaller replacement wouldn’t have saved me any money in the end either – I resorted to modifying the one I bought (with a couple of cable ties no less) and felt happy enough with it. The combs and toothbrushes were purchases I thought I could economise on by buying in bulk, but both sets were poor quality (the combs are very brittle and the bristles of the toothbrushes splay out after a while, a problem I’ve never had with a £3 toothbrush. Actually the first set of combs never arrived and I got a refund (and then the hassle of sourcing alternatives.)

And I really should include the two cars my brother has bought off ebay – two sellers knowingly selling shoddy motors, yet there seems (as is with the case of most privately purchased motors) little you can do when they break down within 100 miles and learn they were really scrap all along (but didn’t look it).

I’ll end with some memorable happy ebay purchases – both used items:

The light fittings won on auction for my living room – well packaged and just as expected/hoped.

My pre-loved coffee machine. It was so eloquently described in the listing… “has been glued together… but works fine” (which suits my house) and then the hand-written instructions (that I could just about read – although he did offer to send me a typed up version if I wanted). I’ve had it for a year and I’m still enjoying using it.

Does everyone else have such a mixed experience on Ebay?

 
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Posted by on 25 January, 2016 in Services

 

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Money

I’ve had this topic on my mind for far too long* and so it has got to the stage where I don’t know where to begin, or how to write it – like, what tone to use, to try and be more helpful or insightful, rather than sound like I’m being (overly) critical of others. Therefore I have decided to just sit down for an hour and type… so please forgive me for however this turns out!

*money is on all our minds from a very early age – likely as soon as we start overhearing our parents speak and then gain a grasp of what it is they are talking about.

It was back in 2010 that I borrowed a library book called The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson. Since then I’ve watched Youtube videos on banking conspiracy theories regarding such groups as the Rothschilds, and more recently read another book (because I wanted to brush up/gain another perspective on the topic of money) called Paper Money Collapse by Detlev S. Schlichter. Around this time I also had a brief conversation with a random person in Second Life about money, which revealed a perspective I had not really pondered: that “when one works hard physically – they sweat and work their body. Money is their sweat materialized.”

Firstly, Ferguson. The author claims early on (p.13 in the Introduction) “that poverty is not the result of rapacious financiers exploiting the poor. It has much more to do with the lack of financial institutions, with the absence of banks, not their presence.” but at the same time “finance… [enriches] the lucky and the smart [while] impoverishing the unlucky and not-so-smart.” Those with “plenty of money” are often seen as fortunate because they are far removed from a life of poverty, while those at the other (and extreme) end of the monetary scale suffer a life of poverty while having little in the way of money – money, at its very least, is used to buy the necessities in life such as* food and shelter.

*I emphasise “such as” because once the need for food and shelter is met, further necessities are added to our list: here in the UK internet access is classed as a necessity, for example. It seems to me that the closer we get to considering ourselves to have “not enough money” the closer we get to a fear of a life of poverty (of course, sadly there are those that do live a life of poverty in its rawest form). With this fear though comes images of an uncivilised world as we can imagine existed in the past (or shown to still exist today); the world of the hunter-gatherer which as Fergoson pointed out to me: “[t]he life of a hunter-gatherer is indeed, as Thomas Hobbes said of the state of nature, ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’. It’s not surprising then how easy it is to fear such an existence; it surely sets us back in a past time rather than puts us on the path of progress that other people apparently live on. I think a fair amount of this is about perspective.

Moving on, like Schlichter, Ferguson had also questioned: “Are we on the brink of a ‘great dying’ in the financial world?” And if so, what would this mean? Ferguson seemed to be careful to write in a explanatory tone, so as to not sound like a conspiracy theorist, whilst at the same time adding a good insight into things for those with a conspiracy theorist’s hat on.

I like to don this hat from time-to-time, and when it comes to money I see things in the way I have had them explained to me through certain Youtube videos:

Money is a pyramid scheme.

It’s quite simple really, think about it; where does money come from? We print the stuff, or (increasingly) it’s just numbers held in a computer. It’s used as a measure of the value of a transaction so if you have something I want and I have something you want, we can carry out an exchange in a simple maner. In this way money simply flows around a/the system. But where is it created? Largely it is created out of nothing, but we have to trace it back a little way to its raw form such as the growing of food – food (which we all need to eat) grows, and farmers encourage it (in the past we were all farmers I suppose, and before that time we simply hunted and gathered the food that was around us – easy). Farmers though, in this day, put in the effort and time required. However, “thanks” to mechanisation machines are created and employed to do the bulk of the labour, so that instead of paying a farmer for the work they have done, we are paying him to pay for the machines… see how it’s getting more complicated already? – we’re building a pyramid.

Banks are involved in a number of ways. Perhaps the farmer can’t afford his first machine, because, how would he unless he sold his produce for more than what it was strictly worth and saved up? So, he would turn to a bank to lend him the money. Banks of course charge a fee (for their effort?), or rather, they own the machine, and so when we buy food, we’re paying the bank and the farmer. Messy isn’t it? And who gets the larger cut?

Banks are now further involved though, and this is where concerns about a financial collapse step in. Banks increasingly handle all transactions – they sell the benefits of this to us whilst taking their cut. Take the ‘wonderful’ credit card for example. We’re all encouraged by the bank to use this means of transferring money – we’re sold on the prospect of it being safer, and/or easier, and we can buy things and pay for them later (like the farmer and his machines). One slip though and we quickly (and endlessly) end up paying the bank more in fees than what we borrowed in the first place. Beyond credit cards we’re seeing more and more “technology” involved in our transactions, right down to the micro-transactions – take a look at all the ‘contactless’ wizardry that has crept in.

A way around this and the many problems of the modern financial ages is: “Don’t borrow”. This is probably my main point here, and I’ve just let it slip in – I didn’t see it coming either. When you borrow you automatically owe ‘someone’ something – but a bank isn’t a someone, a bank isn’t a person – it may be fronted by people, people who need food and shelter like you and me, but the bank doesn’t. I don’t know how to teach this in the way of a lesson; I’ve tried explaining it gently to people who get themselves into financial strife (and how many people end up owing money in this day?) but getting into a mindset of only buying what you need is a tough one, and more tough if you’re already borrowing to cover past borrowings – see how it spirals out of control? Who benefits from this? The banks of course.

The thing is, we’re all brainwashed – and we all brainwash. This might sound like I have my conspiracy theorist’s hat firmly stuck on now but bear with me; I will straddle the fence on this one. The conspiracy theorist will say that we are brainwashed by the media, or whatever, and that there is some grand plan to control the minds of all; this may be so, or, (and? perhaps and too,) we brainwash each other; there is no “grand plan” by the so-called leading families of the world, it’s just human nature that leads us to unknowingly encourage others to make the same buying mistakes as we ourselves make (perhaps guided by norms portrayed in the media). Lets take the modern mobile phone as an example and ask ourselves if we need a mobile phone. Do we? Some will say yes, and some will say no (the latter perhaps becoming an increasing minority). Those that say no are perhaps of the mindset that we only need food and shelter, and those that say we do need a mobile phone are perhaps of the mindset that you simply can’t live “in this modern age” without a mobile phone. Those inverted commas probably cast a tone of skepticism just then – the point is, who says we need a mobile phone? Who has made us think this? The voice of progress, perhaps? The voice of progress that shows you how far you are away from a life of poverty, a life that will be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’.

It’s all piffle. If you have food and shelter then what else do you think you need? Perhaps ask this question deeply. If you have plenty of money though, don’t ease your mind just yet. Remember the pyramid scheme I mentioned, and the thought of where money comes from? Where did your money come from? You earned it, right? Maybe you have a job and turn up each day and work your 9-5 and then at the end of the week your boss hands you some cash (in this day this is largely done invisibly by shifting some digits from one place to another in a computer system) – but this idea of where your money has come from is very shortsighted. Now, I’m not going to criticise for holding more money in one’s hand than one needs by the harsh standards I outlined above, that would be hypocritical of me, but my point now is that all money comes from somewhere (as well as coming from nowhere and having been made up) – some people have “fancy jobs” and a “flash car” and a “nice house” (or five), but if all the money to buy those things were traced down through the pyramid, where does it all begin after it has flowed round the magical monetary system umpteen times? It probably begins with one simple soul somewhere, somewhen, putting some real sweat and effort into something to earn what he really needs.

 
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Posted by on 24 January, 2016 in History, News, Politics, Psychology, Technology

 

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