Archive for August 11, 2008

Mike’s Incomplete Philosophy and Belief System review.

Mike’s Incomplete Philosophy and Belief System review.

Mike’s Incomplete Philosophy and Belief System review.

The following article was written over a number of days starting shortly after the loss of Heppie. It is included in this newsletter for general interest, but future stories like this may be posted on the blog instead, and linked to in the newsletter. Your opinion on this is welcomed, and sought at the end of this newsletter.

Life is not always as easy to define – and many of us find ourselves asking questions to try to work it all out. Many people will find a religion or belief system that they adopt in order to help make sense of life, and especially death.

The recent death of Heppie, my 10 year four legged constant travelling companion, has caused me to briefly reflect on all those experiences I’ve had so far.

Before reading on, I ask that if you have already chosen a belief system and are easily offended by having that belief system questioned, you may prefer to go and read something else. I’m not out to offend anyone. This is simply my own story so far.

Also I warn ahead of time that I have not done due diligence on some of these items as this is not my profession. Thus, if you are interested in any of these items you need to do your own further research to see what merit lies, or does not lie within them  Happy reading!


My first encounter with any belief system was for a couple of years at a Catholic Primary school. Too young of course to be able to apply any real understanding to the situation, it was nonetheless interesting. The church sessions that were interspersed with other classes involved sitting, kneeling, sitting, and watching as every other kid in the school would go and get their free 1” disc of bread. I was the only one out of the couple of hundred who did not do so – but I don’t know if that was pre-arranged or what it was. Irrespective, I failed to find any special feeling of belonging.
The more obvious teachings of being good to others made innate sense to me – but I failed to find any magical spiritual enlightenment.


A couple of my high school years were at a Christian school. Here there was very little in the way of actual religious training, which suited me well as I still didn’t feel any sense of belonging to this type of religion. Again, just being good to others was the only bit I really had a belief in.

Jehovahs Witnesses.

Roll forwards to when I’m about 20, and I have my first encounter with Jehovah’s witnesses. They visited a few times, advised of what I should be doing, and how only a certain fixed number of people could get into heaven. Given this rather low six figure number, it was statistically almost impossible for me to be a lucky contender, so I soon lost interest in this one too. I was however, quite happy with my built-in sense that if I do right by other people, then that’s a good thing and whatever potential judgment at the end, I’d not (at that point at least) be guilty of anything worse than accidentally killing a pet mouse by unknowingly sitting on it.

Near Death Experiences. (NDEs)

I think it was not long after this time that I was given a 2400 bps modem. (This is 1/20th the speed of dialup, 1/120th the speed of the cheapest broadband.) This opened a new world of opportunity to review any further religions I encountered. I soon discovered some pages about Near Death Experiences and for a time took comfort in that they seemed to make sense, providing more tangible and current evidence than 2,000 year old texts. I think the address was Once nice thing about this belief system is that it seems to be compatible with elements of most religions but without the associated overheads.

Time Share

Still a bit naïve sadly at 20, I and my then partner got taken up with the excitement of Timeshare, as a company was running an invitation-only presentation. They told us all about how you could go anywhere in the world for a small amount compared to what people normally pay, and enjoy one week once every second year in some foreign resort. Sounded good, and I guess for some people it would be – but of course there’s no advantage in air fares, etc. So, we parted with somewhere between $4.5K and $7K (which we didn’t have anyway) and signed up.
Now of course, said partner’s no longer contactable, and I’m stuck with a timeshare that I can rarely use, and which due to local resort availability issues can be a real pain. Being a jointly-owned asset, I appear to be stuck with it and may have to let it go delinquent. There are better deals to be found locally these days on sites like QuickBeds, NeedItNow, etc.
I guess this isn’t really a religion in most people’s definitions, but it is a belief system of sorts – happiness through theoretically cheap prepaid holidays. (The drawback being the maintenance fees, booking fees, transfer fees, and chronic lack of Australian vacancies within a reasonable timeframe, etc.)


A couple of years later, I was chatting online with a lady who defined herself to be a witch. This was a fascinating deviation from the mainstream, with strange beliefs about nude moon bathing, etc. By now, I had better Internet access, and was able to research these belief systems somewhat more efficiently. My mind’s a bit rusty on what witchcraft was all about now – at its roots it seemed mostly harmless – but now the only phrase I remember is the maiden, the mother, the crone – probably because it’s in a Tracey Chapman song too. Mind you, I think I was more fascinated by her than by the belief system, although nothing ever came of it. More info on this system at

Mind Control

A few years later while casually surfing away I read about body language and Mind Control Techniques. It is quite clear in this world that if you’re clever enough, you can convince people to believe almost anything. Every now and then (although less common these days it seems) you hear of some bizarre sect that makes a televised appearance for some reason – often a mass suicide or being blown up. Waco comes to mind… This alerted me to question more anything I was told, and the manner in which it was presented.
For example, be suspicious of any training that involves getting up early repeatedly – being tired reduces your ability to filter bullshit. I haven’t revisited this philosophy for a long time now – last I remember reading was


A number of years later – after moving to Guyra and almost going broke due to the change – I was approached by a Health Insurance company to become a mobile sales droid. To become one involved a number of days of training in North Sydney. Sadly for them I had already learnt about mind control techniques, and was largely immune to the training. Certainly there was money to be made on commissions by selling and renewing policies to clients – quite a lot of money judging by some of the sales droids; but to do this for a living you either had to really want the money or else really believe in the product. For me, money wasn’t a big driver as I am satisfied if I have enough to pay the bills and a little in reserve; and the product may in rare cases really help someone in need – but for most people I imagine being vigilant in saving a similar amount in a bank account each quarter would achieve the same coverage over time, plus have the benefit of being available for any emergency, not just those covered in the qualifications and disclaimer sections of the application form.

The other element of it I could not take any joy in at all was the telephoning of customers to book appointments – complete with telemarketer-like scripted methods to keep callers on the line. It wasn’t cold calling, but it felt like it. I only stuck with this job for two days before giving it up on the second rainy night. Another irony was that of the 8 or so people at the training sessions, I was the only one who didn’t smoke!

Psychics (Local and Armidale)

I’ve had a couple of visits with psychics / spiritual readers and healers out of curiosity. (Well, they were in some promotional thing the Armidale tourism group was doing when I first moved here.) While they’re certainly fun to talk with, and talk about various issues with, so far the ones I’ve chatted with have not been able to produce any result that was not possible by warm reading. The idea of auras, chakras, etc, sound fancy and are easy to imagine but so far impossible to prove. A local one also claimed that my dog would die of a heart attack – she died from a fancy green injection instead with no heart problems – although perhaps it causes a heart attack. An Armidale one said my sister was pregnant – which was a surprise to her and now 6 years later is still not the case. I guess googling psychic, cold and warm reading will give more info. I’m not well researched in this area – the last article being a Youtube series “The Enemies of Reason” mentioned later. I don’t fully discount the possibility of psychic events, but have no evidence to hand 

Einstein and a Budgie.

This is more a philosophy than anything else. Basically, if you were to have Einstein lecture to a budgie about his various laws on how the world works, the budgie’s response would probably be chirrp chirrp warble warble (head scratch) chirrup (crap on the ground) chirrup. The Budgie’s comprehension however would be almost zero, as a budgie is likely not capable of understanding human concepts and those of the world.
You can then extrapolate from this that perhaps we as Humans also lack the power to fully understand the world due to our own limitations – so don’t worry too much about it 

The Magic of Radio

I have one belief which is that, given radio works but is otherwise invisible, then it’s quite possible that other things exist that we don’t have facilities to see; so as a result weird things may well be possible!

Strange coincidences.

Two unusual things happened in the following few years.

Firstly my pseudo-grandmother was dying of cancer, and on her last night before being hospitalized she had slipped down in her bed and was choking. I’d previously given her a cordless doorbell button to press if she needed assistance by any of us – but in this case she was too weak to be able to reach it. I also sleep with a small fan running which masks other sounds. However, despite this I managed to hear her choking in the next room, and at the same time my father was awoken from a much further room. Perhaps it was a coincidence or logic, or perhaps something else.

Later, a close friend of mine had decided to kill himself. That day I had just finished teaching a class and was feeling a little unsettled – started to go towards the front of the building and then changed my mind and went back to the classroom – I felt unsettled. There, I checked my email and found what looked like a suicide note email. After trying a few contacts I eventually dialed 000 and the police found said friend in the car with the motor running and the pipe through the window. Again, perhaps just a coincidence, or perhaps something else.


So, a few years ago after teaching a class, one of my students approached me asking if I’m interested in a unique business opportunity – but paradoxically would not name what it was about. Already suspicious, I nonetheless accepted an appointment with them to hear more about it. They talked about how it worked, about how you’d do all your shopping online and get cheaper prices than retail, and how you’d make money out of anyone else you got to do the same thing.

I followed along for a little bit out of curiosity, but the products online were far from being a match for Woolworths HomeShop yet alone Coles, and required lots of bulk purchases. The orange juice was a horrible reconstituted job, and most other products just didn’t exist. The site was pretty poor too.

I went along to one Amway meeting in Tamworth out of curiosity – and it seemed to have most of the hallmarks of a cult. By then I’d also researched Amway / Quixtar online and based on those two things it seemed pretty clear that the only real money to be made was on creating promotional training cassettes and hosting the fancy get-togethers; not in peddling mediocre products. I guess if you stuck at it long enough you could make some money on the product sales, but it’s not for me. My belief when entering into any new business relationship or belief system is to go in with an open mind and research it online to build up your own opinions, because like I said before it’s very easy for us as humans to take on a belief even when it’s false – so question everything  (I made a mistake years ago in buying a florist business which I really shouldn’t have! Funny how you learn from your mistakes.)


More frequently now I am seeing pure atheism posts on sites like Reddit – , Zgeek – caution – not safe for work – , and in other media sites. I guess this is to be expected as more people research more religions and belief systems on the Internet and poke holes in their teachings. I’m not sure I agree with what they replace religions with sometimes but am happy provided they stick to the basic obvious rule of being good to others.

FSMism – Pastafarians.

FSMism is a strange new religion created when there was an argument in American schools about whether or not scientology (or was it evolution) should be taught alongside other religions in American schools. The basis of FSM is that the world, trees, and a midget were created by an entity called the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It’s a laugh, and I love the graphics!

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth vs. The Great Global Warming Swindle

These two contrasting documentaries argue for and against the existence of global warming. In time we’ll find out who was more right and wrong. Sadly other than buying these movies the only way to get them is an illegalish download from a Torrent network – which kind of cancels out their good intentions. Why would they try to make money out of a movie that is meant to save the world – or at least tell it how buggered it is! (Call me a freetard if you like!!) for Al Gore, and for the Swindle.
One of my customers also send me a link to which claims 35 inaccuracies in Gore’s movie. I’m undecided in the face of these three entities.


Richard Dawkins has produced a couple of documentaries – The root of all evil, and The Enemies of Reason. He works strictly on evidential science, and argues against anything else that can not be scientifically proven. They make for an interesting watch but his very blunt questioning may offend some of you. These ones are free to watch on Google Video. He’s almost certainly an atheist.
Enemies of reason 1:
Enemies of reason 2:
The God Delusion:
Virus of faith:

Reddit / Sheeple

Years ago it was quite easy to sit in front of a computer, open google, and have your mind go blank – not able to think of anything interesting to search for. Since then, sites like Reddit, Digg, etc have come along that allow you to see what other people think is interesting at that moment in time.

Another term that has become more mainstream recently is ‘sheeple’ – which roughly means people simply following eachother and / or believing things simply because other people do, for good or bad, without questioning.

While sites like this make it easier to find out what others are thinking about, it may also have a negative effect if it takes away your desire to look for and analyze information independently. I recommend researching anything you read as there’s usually two sides to any story.

NDE Revisited

OK so by now it’d seem likely I’d mostly be an atheist, but happy to accept that strange things may still be possible simply because radios work and yet without a radio we would not know that the signal was there. However, after those Dawkins documentaries, it would seem there is nothing other than life itself. Perhaps, however unpalatable, this is the case – in which case you’d want to have as good a life as possible since they don’t last forever.

However, this last article, which I read before once again losing interest in philosophies and religions; reverting to the more logical world of computer repairs and having finished the worst of grieving Heppie’s loss; does leave a door open for possibilities that can’t be proven in the traditional scientific method. is a fairly long document that aims to impart that NDEs (Near Death Experiences) are verifiably real due to cases where patients have been able to report things that have happened, even in other rooms, while they’re dead – but whose evidence does not fit well with scientific methods and is therefore readily dismissed.

He does use some fancy scrabble language – such as the word Qua, which means ‘acting in the capacity of’ or something like that. Oh, and as stated, I haven’t done due diligence on this one – it’s the point I got to before freeing one of my registers from processing this sort of stuff, and getting back to work!

So, happy living, whatever you believe!

[ccc-news] Assorted News 13 :)

[ccc-news] Assorted News 13 🙂

In this edition:

Important News
Memory Stick viruses.
Holiday – Sept 8th to 12th

Broadband via NextG phone suddenly much more affordable.
Google Street View
Automatic Wallpaper Changer

Molly & The Story to go with her.
Guyra buys a Monorail, Takes No Crap from Tingha
Seven Register Theory
Mike’s Incomplete Philosophy and Belief System Review.
Question for you re. these newsletters.

Memory Stick Viruses.

When viruses were first invented, they often used to spread via floppy disks. With the advent of email, etc, this trend died off until quite recently when some new viruses began to emerge that would copy themselves onto memory sticks. I encountered one last week for example, which was quite clever. The virus hid itself in the bin that was on the memory stick, and then set up another file to tell the computer to open the virus from in the bin whenever the stick was plugged into the computer.

Fortunately, both XP and Vista do a reasonable job of protecting you from this trick because when you plug a stick in to them, they usually ask you what you want the computer to do, rather than just doing whatever the stick asked for. However, the first item in the list is usually the one that says something along the lines of ‘run the program provided on the device’ which, unless you know what that program is, you shouldn’t do 🙂

Holiday: September 8th to 12th.

As mentioned later in this newsletter, I have a timeshare holiday that I have to use or lose – so rather than lose my $500 or so, I’ll be taking a week off in Tuncurry. I will of course still be online and able to help with problems via remote control and over the phone – I just won’t be able to readily park outside your residence to fix your computer. Feel free to call despite my being away – as I’m happy to help 🙂

Broadband via NextG phone suddenly much more affordable.

As you probably know, I’m not a great fan of Telstra – their pricing is after all usually what the market will bear, not what is reasonable. However, it appears that thanks to stiff competition regarding the new iPhone, Telstra has drastically reduced the price of one of their facilities by about 80% – I guess they had to because their prices for internet over the mobile phone truly stank compared to Optus & Vodafone, so presumably no one was buying them from the big T.

At present, if you have any contracted NextG mobile phone, you can now buy what’s called a ‘data pack’ and then connect your phone to your computer and have broadband. $10 used to get you 20MB a month, now it gets 150MB. Sadly, and paradoxically, $30 only gets you 300MB, albeit with a lower excess fee. 150MB is still not much but it’s reasonable at that price point – and excellent if you want to be able to check your email, text chat online and read some webpages while on the road. Since there’s no ongoing contact with data packs, you can sign up a few weeks before going away and cancel when you get back.

If you’re currently on dialup, and you have a NexG on contract, I reckon it’s a great thing for you to try – dialup can only do about 7MB an hour so it gives you an idea what you could do with 150MB – and if you used up your 150MB before the end of the month you could just go back to dialup until the next billing cycle.

Now of course, I have no relationship with Telstra and don’t earn any money from suggesting this – but the Internet has really outgrown dialup for most people (pages are 3 times the sizes they were a few years ago for example) and I am quite happy to help you set it up since having happy customers is my highest priority. I do of course still offer dialup at $1 per hour if you need it as a backup.

It has yet to be confirmed if or when these new prices will be available for prepaid customers. I expect it will be at some point in the not too distant future, and at that point I’ll be recommending it to all dialup customers as prepaid phones are only $100 to buy – and just as important – no contracts!

Telstra data pack pricing is at

(Ignore the mobile as modem plans on that page – they’re almost twice as expensive as a BigPond Relocatable Modem plan.)

Google Street View

You can now look at photos of many streets in Australia including most of Armidale and about 2/3rds of Guyra. I’ve since discovered that the house in Eastwood I lived in still exists, the one in Cremorne has had a storey added, and my parents have a new fence.

To use it simply go to and then type in an address. A small photo appears near your destination on a map – and if you click it you can then use the arrows to drag around the photos and have a good look around. Lots of fun but a bit of a time waster too 🙂 To go to a new destination, drag the orange ‘man’ character to a new street.

Automatic Wallpaper Changer

One of my podcasts recently recommended a free wallpaper changer program – and it works quite well with no spyware or other nasties. It also gives you a calendar on the desktop which a few people have asked me for in the past. You can fetch it at – however on my system it uses between 30 and 50MB of RAM so if your PC is fairly old or slow, it might not be for you. Anything two years or younger or with at least 1GB of RAM should be fine 🙂

Molly, and the story to go with her.

As you probably know by now, Heppie died on 24/7. A few days later I casually inquired about some dogs at the Armidale animal shelter. There was only one left there at the time, and the manager there didn’t think she’d be a particularly good match as she was a shy, excessively timid dog and not overly fond of men. So, I decided not to go any further in looking, and resolved to wait for one to find me again – like Heppie did years ago.

So, shortly after that, I call one of my customers to help her with a niggling VoIP issue, and whilst adjusting the PSTN voltage detection thresholds on her modem chatted casually. It turned out that she was the one who initially found the last two dogs to go into the shelter, and had delivered them there. Of course, she knew me somewhat better than the voice on the phone at the shelter, and felt we’d be a good match; so figuring this was near enough to being found, I followed up, had a meeting with Molly that Friday, and then a week later 8/8/08 she was delivered here.

She’s a 4-5 year old Border Collie, very shy, but otherwise good. So far she’s been for a few walks, has adapter to walking with the electric scooter, and seems to be settling in well. Monday will be a big test to see how she likes, or doesn’t like, travelling. It’s sad that her previous owners dumped her before moving to Sydney, and I guess I may never know why they did that, but at least she should have a good life here. The way she cringes at every unexpected sound makes me think they must’ve been pretty hard on her.

Oh, and a quick note of thanks to the 20+ people who wrote in with condolences on the loss of Heppie, and similar stories of your own. I will write back to you all individually soon!

Update: 1 day later she’s now getting a bit more spritely, runs well with the electric scooter, and has clocked up 10 metres in the Kingswood. I’m not sure if she’ll travel like Heppie – time will tell.


A while ago I wrote about an update for some HP laptops to prevent an overheating sudden death issue with them. Since then, some more manufactures have had issues, and it has been traced to a faulty batch of laptop parts made by nVidia. These parts make the pictures come up on the screen, so when they break you end up with a stuffed laptop.

At this stage it’s not clear exactly how many are affected, but the rumour mill’s running. If you want to see if your new laptop could be affected, right click on your wallpaper, choose Properties, then Settings. If you see nVidia models 8400M or 8600M then you may have a cause to worry. More information from the rumour mill here –

Guyra buys a Monorail, Takes No Crap from Tingha

On Thursday evening, I attended a meeting in Guyra which discussed Guyra council’s dramas and introduced three new candidates.

In summary, the claim appears to be that 82% of council’s savings (about 7 Milliion) were invested in CDOs offered by Grange Securities. I’m not really up on all this stock market jargon – so had to look up what a CDO was. Basically a CDO – or Collateralised Debt Obligation – appears to be what you get when you buy other people’s debts. You make money out of those people paying off their debts, because they pay interest on those debts which you get to keep. Problem is, Grange Securities was sourcing these debts from – you guessed it – the US, and you probably know already what’s happened to the US housing market. Thus, the money is tied up in people’s home loans and their real estate, and as more people default on their sub-prime loans, it adversely affects your money.

The heading is a reference to an old Simpsons episode where the Springfield council is conned into spending all their money on a Monorail – which apart from turning out to be impractical also tries to kill it’s occupants! The catchy song and story that goes with it is at (I can’t find a working legal copy of the whole episode online because Viacom doesn’t like Google.)

I’m terrible with names, so I could have this quote wrong. Boyd Munro reported (~7PM) that back in June 2005 section 1.5.7 of a legal document relating to council financial affairs was amended to state “The general manger or his delegated representative is authorized to approve variations to the policy if the investment is to Council’s advantage. All changes to the policy are to be reported to the next council meeting.” He stated that this effectively annulled the rest of the policy, and possibly explains how the mess started.

The value of these CDOs is now reported to be about 3 Million, but Boyd believes this figure is closer to $800,000 or less based on info from the NAB. I personally have no idea what they’re worth!

Many councils lost money to this arrangement – but it seems rather imprudent of the council to have put so much money in one investment. Related articles online are at and and – Manly for example only invested 10%. and has lost 65% of it.

Another issue raised was a Tingha resident who complained that Guyra was not doing enough for Tingha – Guyra having about 6 public toilets where Tingha has either one or none. (Hence the second part of the headline.) The PA system failed quite early on so the whole thing was a bit hard to hear at times – no I was not in charge of the diversity microphone with the flat battery!

The next 15% rate rise is more or less locked in, but the one after that could apparently be negotiated on with the council.

Anyway, the whole episode gave me cause to consider whether I’d be any good as a Councilor, and at the moment that’s an each way bet in my mind given that I know bugger all about politics and am usually the one alone in a crowd since I have a fairly one-track mind based on technology rather than beurocracy. If I was one I’d be all for transparency, having all meetings recorded and available on YouTube or similar, taking comments, etc although a brief read of the privacy act makes it sound like recording meetings is illegal – a point to which I despair as I feel anything said in public should be recordable for all time.

I’d also want to extend all decisions onto a public forum that people could access online from home and have their say on – since most of us are happy to click and read; but most of us don’t want to go to council meetings – which of course helps these silly decisions happen. However I’m pretty sure that if I took such ideas to an established group of councilors I’d be viewed as a newbie know-nothing too bent on technology, in breach of some arcane unknown privacy and discriminatory democracy rules, and the ideas’d be voted down. Perhaps I could achieve this better by not being a councilor and just attending meetings – more research required.

The Seven Register Theory

As promised last newsletter, here’s the Seven register theory.

Basically, it is believed that humans can hold about seven thoughts active in their working memory at one time, ignoring the subconscious. This is quite useful, particularly in some tasks in life that require using many at once.

A drama for us can be when one or more of these gets tied up with some background task, event, question, relationship or sexuality issue, loss, infatuation or trauma; leaving less registers available for other tasks at hand. There are many events in life that could cause this to happen.

Driving for example eventually becomes more or less subconscious at some point – but when first learning it’s quite easy to run out of registers and do something stupid. Even when you get more experienced at driving, if you’re distracted by something else you may end up missing something. For me, it’s usually zebra crossings that can get missed if I’m off with the fairies! (There’s one in Armidale which is right next to the corner, and an SUV blocks view of any pedestrian approaching the crossing.) To see the one I’m talking about on StreetView click (Corner Rusden and Faulkoner)

If you get a ‘stuck’ register it can make life a bit unpleasant – that is when something is on your mind and won’t get out. For me of course the most recent would be the loss of Heppie which for a while leaves you less able to concentrate on other tasks at hand. I think stuck registers are particularly prevalent when you’re a teenager which partly contributes to depression, etc – and also makes complex mutli-register tasks like mathematics a problem.

I believe there are some techniques available to help you jam more stuff into one register – but I haven’t researched that for ages. I do appear to have at least one sticky register – it plays music when I’m not doing anything, as for some reason I’m quite good at memorising music – yet I can still be thinking about other things at the same time. It might also be what gives me the unique but mostly useless and for other people highly frustrating ability to repeat back what people are saying, while they are still saying it – an echo if you like. I’m yet to find anyone who can handle this treatment!

Mike’s Incomplete Philosophy and Belief System review.

The following article was written over a number of days starting shortly after the loss of Heppie. It contains my thoughts on a number of different belief systems, philosophies, etc. Since it’s quite lengthy, and in rare cases could contain material some may find offensive, I’ve made it a blog post instead. If you’d like to know more about religions, mind control techniques and afterlife philosophies, and are not already decided on a path, then happy reading! It’s at

A question for you 🙂

Many people run blogs as opposed to just having a newsletter. Blogs tend to be updated more regularly than newsletters, but require the viewer to actively go to visit the website.

For off-topic articles like the last three, would you prefer they are included wholely in the newsletter, or would you prefer they were on the blog only, and linked to in the newsletter? Click reply and type an answer to let me know 🙂

Cheers, Mike.