Archive for March, 2011

It could never happen here.

I was watching the story unfold in Egypt over the last few days and thought “This could never happen in England.”

For one thing, successive governments have made us far too reliant on the state and no matter how evil the politicians become, the people who actually have the time to take to the streets won’t want to knock the status quo.

Yes, I know of the students riots and the poll tax riots, but these are riots with a hidden agenda, orchestrated by a hidden agenda!

Then there is television and radio. No way will people riot in the street if they have to miss EastEnders or Coronation Street, not to mention the Archers or Neighbours!

Finaslly there is the molly-coddling of the young. I grew up in Africa and had access to a little bit of danger – in fact I had access to a huge amount of danger but my parents never found out! Kids nowadays aren’t allowed the slightest bit of danger so grow up into pretty strange human beings.

There are many other examples, but these should suffice to explain why we have been slowly conditioned by our political masters to be completely docile. Even young soldiers have difficulty coping, mentally, with war any more. They come home a bag of nerves and need serious treatment, even those who haven’t been physically wounded and it’s not their fault! And our government doesn’t do enough for them when they do!

We could never riot tomorrow, but we could start to toughen ourselves up politically. Here is a 5 point plan if you want to take a more active part of life in your country. I have also added a bonus item!

  1. Take more of an interest in politics. If you have digital TV watch, not just BBC or ITV news, but watch Sky news as well – they keep winning the annual prize for being the best news programme. Go to meetings, the Adam Smith Institute have many free meetings in London. Attend the occasional local council meetings, this is permitted and you can see how awful democracy works locally. Understand what ALL the parties stand for, even those you hate. I keep an eye on them all, even the obnoxious BNP!
  2. Watch less TV. You are going to hate this but don’t watch any programme which is not self-contained into one showing. This means the soaps and anything that is serialised. This locks you into the TV. Get a good magazine which shows next week’s programmes, highlight only those you really want to watch. After a few months, become even more strict, choose one weekday and one weekend day where you will not turn on the TV. If you really “have” to see a programme, watch it next day on iPlayer or record it! Work towards eventually getting rid of TV and take control of your life again.
  3. I know you have a computer as you are reading this. Investigate RSS feeds and how they work. I use Google Reader to “collect” any additions to a lot of websites and read them all at once. You can read every article in your newspaper’s on-line edition very quickly this way. Read my blog on how it works at https://ampers.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/google-reader/ this can reduce an hour’s searching for news ino 60 seconds!
  4. My mother used to say to me “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.” This is an ideal philosophy to have when watching or listening to anyone in the political classes spouting on the box or in print. Ask yourself Cui bono (who benefits) or Cui malo (to whose detriment) or perhaps, what is their hidden agenda in saying this? All this is important as there will always be a hidden agenda, and whatever they do will usually be to our detriment and to their benefit.
  5. Know where you are on the political spectrum. Those of you who are a little older and can remember their school maths, will understand it when I talk about the ‘x’ axis and the ‘y’ axis. With politics, knowing where you stand in the political spectrum is important. The ‘x’ axis tells us where we stand between left and right but this is only a third of the picture. More important and counting for two-thirds, is the ‘y’ axis. This tells us exactly how much of a statist, centist or libertarian we are. If you aren’t sure, the statist believes the government should run the economy and also run people’s lives. The socialists are statists. A centist believes the government should run the economy but people should run their own lives. It is debatable whether the Conservatives are true centists but they lean a little towards that position. Libertarians are at the top and believe people should run their own economy and their own lives. To work out what you are, go to http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz and complete the ten questions. However, so that you can get proper results, spend a few minutes with every question, no matter how cut and dried they seem to be, and consider the implications of each before you tick the box.

    For example. Should we legalise drugs? Instead of letting your emotions run riot, mull over the fact that, for decades, we have not halted illegal drugs, we are not just losing the battle, we have lost the war. And it is costing the country billions. If we legalised drugs and you could buy them cheaply in Boots, then they would be ”clean”. Every drug dealer in Britain would be out of work, kids would not have access to drugs at the school gate in return for “deliveries”, muggings and burglaries would go down. If you still say “no” tnis is OK as you would have thought it through and would be making an “informed” decision..

  6. Bonus: This brings me to my last point, Thinking things through. You will never be free of the current political oppression unless you learn to think for yourself, to think everything through before making any decision. This will also help in your personal and business life.

My own politics are for me. I am not running this blog to try to influence you, but to attract like-minded people who like what I have to say and follow me.

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Wine tasting at home.

Photo of wineIt is sometimes difficult for an amateur to go to an wine tasting event with so many professionals using such flowery language but it doesn’t matter too much.

When you taste wine and you feel you haven’t the ability to smell the nose or taste the wine in such an expert way, don’t worry about it.

There is another way!

Use numbers. Score your wine out of twenty points. When you examine to colour, give points between 0 and 3 depending on the clarity and brightness of the colour and the size of the lip around the wine. Then give between 0 and 7 for the nose and how it pleases you. Finally give between 0 and 10 for the taste of the wine. 0 is equal for buying it for your mother-in law, and 10 for whether you intend trying to make an impression on a young millionnairess with large eyes.

When in a restaurant, and the wine waiter pours a sample for you to taste there should be enough in the glass to sip a couple of mouthfuls. Otherwise you cannot swill the wine around the glass to get a decent nose of the wine. A waiter without the experience will give you a quarter of an inch in the glass, don’t be afriad to say to them, I need at least two centimetres to be able to test the wine.

First of all look at the colour of the wine over a white light or a white table cloth. Look for cloud or foreign objects in the wine. Then swill the wine around the glass and sniff – you will soon know if there is something funny there! If all seems fine, take a decent mouthful and swirl the wine around the mouth before you swallow. This will give you the final judgement to see whether it is corked or not. One bottle in ten is corked but that isn’t quite as bad as it seems.

If you take corked wine in levels between level one a little corked, to level 10, very corked, different people’s palates can decide whether it is corked or not. Rather than the person at the head of the family testing, it is best to allow the person with the most experience of wine to make this important test. This way if the wine is corked and he can taste it, it can be exchanged. If someone who doesn’t know tests it and accepts it, then your experienced person will be saddled with a bad wine and his evening will be ruined.

If you want to test the difference between an old wine and a fresh wine at home, then buy a new wine and then also buy the exact wine, but a few years older. Then when you taste at home, open both bottles and taste the fresh wine first, followed by the old wine. This way you will learn that age with the right wines improves the wine magnificently.

A word of warning though. If you are happy with the low priced wines you are drinking, and for any reason, you are not prepared to pay more for the nectar of the gods, do not go to wine tastings at all. There is no point whatsoever in educating your palate if you are not willing to pay more.

I did, and am forever crippling myself buying wines which I find hard to afford on my pension!

And my mother-in-law stopped speaking to me.

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For our new immigrants

You are probably wondering about all the terms for this country. England, Britain, United Kingdom and the British Isles.

So here is the definitive description.

Great Britain consists of England, Scotland, Wales and various islands scattered around the landmass.

The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That’s right, Northern Ireland is not in Great Britain.

The British Isles consists of the United Kingdom and Eire. That’s right Eire, an independent country, is still situated within the British Isles.

Learn this by heart as we will be questioning you later and failure to get it right will be drastic for you.

Ampers

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Why I moved to OpenSource

I am often asked why I moved over to Linux from Windows. A question which is difficult to understand when replied to verbally, but a little easier when written down. A few years ago I had a wonky hard drive and kept on having to reformat and reload Windows. After I had done this a few times I received a message on my screen asking me to ring a number (Microsoft’s) immediately.

The guy on the other end introduced himself as Microsoft’s fraud department and demanded to know why I had tried too many times to use the same disk to load up Windows. I was furious and called him a few names and told him I had trouble with my hard drive. He wanted to know where I got the disk.

I suddenly saw how I could have some fun at his expense and said a lady in a London club gave it to me. He became very alert and asked me details of the person. I gave her name and a Reading phone number which he wrote down and suddenly he said, but that’s a Microsoft head office number in the UK. Yes, I said, I am an IT Journalist and she gave it to me at a Microsoft event in London and if he’d prefer, I could scrap this disk and get her to send me another one. He then grudgingly gave me a code to enter into my computer to release Windows. I was amazed that he believed me though!

But it got me thinking. I evidently hadn’t bought the software but the cost is expensive for most, and that this proved most windows products are only on loan, you are not entitled to do anything you like with them, as you wood a book for instance. Lend it to a friend or resell it. Similar to DRM and Music CDs, they are not yours, you have to obey the rules laid down by the music company. Even Kindle books for example can’t be lent to a friend, it has to stay on your Kindle.

It was then that I decided that I would never rent anything again. I would only buy products which were mine to dispose of how I wished. With music I had to be allowed to make up a backup copy and MP3 files for my portable music. I had to make this concession else I’d never buy CDs.

I flirted with several distributions of Linux and decided to settle down with Ubuntu as it seemed the best behaved. And two years on, I have never looked back. I have a choice of a single click download of 43,000 programs which automatically put themselves in the right menu on my computer, I have just counted the number of programs I use, it comes to just over 100! And, these don’t include the administrative files there to help you run the operating system.

Who should run Ubuntu? Not an easy question to answer, but at the lower end of the scale, if you just use your computer to use email, browsing on the web and word processing, then you should definitely seriously consider it. Get the following three programs for Windows or the Mac: Firefox Browser, Thunderbird email and LibreOffice. Google for them. Use them for a few months and, if you are very happy with them, change over to Ubuntu and load the same three programs into your computer and you are away. Easy Peasy! If you want to remain with windows, remember, the free LibreOffice reads, and saves to, Microsoft Office so you can avoid paying such huge prices for that program.

There are some good programs for editing photographs (Picasa from Google is available on all three systems) and music playing, cd ripping, video editing. And a terrific help forum where you get answers in no time at all. Look at www.ubuntu.com

Most other users would probably benefit unless they either use their computers for serious gaming, or Adobe’s more serious software – although “The Gimp” is almost as good as Photoshop and is available on all platforms.

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Batteries in mobiles and laptops to run 100 times longer

A team of electrical engineers at Illinois University in the US believe their method will enable mobiles and laptops to run for up to 100 times longer between charges.

It focuses on changing the way a device’s digital memory works, as this consumes much of the charge.

At the moment mobile phone memories contain thin metal wires. Every time information is accessed, electricity is passed through them to retrieve the data.

The electrical engineers thought that if the size of the components used to store and retrieve the information could be reduced, so could the amount of electricity.

They have discovered a way of using carbon nanotubes – tiny tubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – instead.

The full article is in the Daily Telegraph

Ampers

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The big Society is all about ubuntu

I’m from Africa, you will know about what the Big Society is all about if you come from that neck of the woods.. We called it Ubuntu.

The following is a short description – it’s very hard to describe it in a shorter fashion – I am not religious and am a committed “deist” – this is slightly different to an atheist as, although we disbelieve all notions of religion, we do believe there is some sort of superior force, in my case, nature is that superior force. I have added this as I am quoting a Bishop who, incidentally, I believe to be one of the most sincerest of all the people in South Africa.

Bishop Tutu gives his interpretation of ubuntu which is the best I have seen to date.

“Ubuntu is a concept that we have in our Bantu languages at home. Ubuntu is the essence of being a person. It means that we are people through other people. We can’t be fully human alone. We are made for interdependence, we are made for family. Indeed, my humanity is caught up in your humanity, and when your humanity is enhanced mine is enhanced as well. Likewise, when you are dehumanized, inexorably, I am dehumanized as well. As an individual, when you have Ubuntu, you embrace others. You are generous, compassionate. If the world had more Ubuntu, we would not have war. We would not have this huge gap between the rich and the poor. You are rich so that you can make up what is lacking for others. You are powerful so that you can help the weak, just as a mother or father helps their children.”

All this has been lost in the West though our affluence. Perhaps, when times become harder, we will learn how to inter-relate and help each other. In a way, the hard times ahead may bring rewards.

Finally, here is an example of ubuntu at work.

Ampers

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The case for decriminalising drugs – by Milton Freedman PhD.

Although I have been saying everything he says in the following video, he says it a lot better than me.watch the video and look at some of the benefits I have listed after the video…

This is excellent and I have downloaded it from YouTube and put it on my phone to show others. There is nothing here that I don’t instinctively know and am amazed that everyone else doesn’t know it as well.

I hate hard drugs, I am already hooked on strong coffee and South African Brandy. This is really too much for me as it is!

But if we took drugs out of the criminal offence bracket there would be no dealers recruiting kids outside of the school gates to get them to deliver drugs in return for payment with drugs.

Muggings and burglaries would go right down as drugs would be cheap enough from Boots or the corner shop.

A&E wings of hospitals would have less injuries to treat, every night and double on weekends.

The police would be able to live with any cuts as we wouldn’t need half as many as we do now.

Tens of thousands of drug dealers all around Britain would be out of work. Now this bit pleases me!

One could go on, but this is enough, I need another coffee… badly!

Ampers

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