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21 September 2010 @ 04:59 pm
I'm lousy at updating livejournal, so here's an essay I wrote for class; please enjoy!

In the past, people were put in chains, forced to work for a pittance, or nothing at all. Now, we put ourselves in chains willingly. Among the chain links, one of them happen to be mortgages. They are so consistently accepted as an unavoidable fact of life, that most of us—if we are lucky enough to qualify for one—confuse having a mortgage with owning a house.
Mortgage literally translates as ‘death pledge’ (from Old French, ‘mort’ and ‘gage’), so perhaps it makes sense that many of us pay it for so long. In Japan, banks offer hundred year mortgages, which children and grand-children inherit.

Sir Edward Coke has explained the term of mortgage as having the doubtfulness of whether or not the ‘homeowner’ will pay the debt. If the homeowner does not, then the land pledged to the them as security for the debt ‘is taken from him forever, and so dead to him upon condition, etc. And if he doth pay the money, then the pledge is dead as to the mortgagee’

When people become unable to pay their mortgage, banks may offer the homeowners to stay in the house if they pay interest on the loan, without gaining value, and not getting any closer, month by month, to owning the house. This is called an interest-only loan. Otherwise, the bank may foreclose on the mortgage, taking all investments paid and claiming back the house. In former times, human lenders sometimes had a condition on a mortgage, that if the lender died, the mortgage would be forgiven. Modern banks don’t die, but are instead sold, so a bank-held mortgage is never suddenly forgiven. It’s a win-win situation for the banks.

One reason that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is bank interest. Interest is the ‘fee’ that the bank or lender charges to use their money. Most of us charge a ‘fee’ on our working hours, which is our income. The difference between our fee and the bank’s fee is that your work hours are restricted to your humanity. Money never gets sick or tired, nor dies, so it can earn interest as long as interest is an acceptable social reality.
However, there is a member-owned bank in Sweden called JAK (Jord Arbete Kapital), that believe in the philosophy that economic instability is a result of interest.
Here are some of the premises JAK operate under:
          • Interest is harmful to a stable economy
          • Interest causes unemployment, inflation and environmental destruction
          • Interest moves money from the poor to the rich
          • Interest favors projects which tend to yield high profits in the short-term

Plato, the Greek philosopher, and even Adam Smith (who developed the philosophy of free-trade capitalism) warned of the negative effect that interest has on human economies, yet the lending of money and the charging of interest continues to multiply and evolve. In Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, usurers (people that practice the illegal action of lending money at unreasonably high rates of interest) are placed in the inner ring of the seventh circle of hell, sharing with blasphemers and sodomites and appearing below suicide. This shows how cultural attitudes have changed since the 14th century.

Religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism throughout the ages theologically prohibited excessive interest rates.
The Bible, Qur'an and Torah specifically limit this kind of human interaction. The Qur'an forbids all interest, and the Bible is typically interpreted to allow no more than two percent annually, and to require no loan to last past the next ‘sabbatical year’, a celebration that happens every seven years, when loans are forgiven.
An example among many is that of banks following Shari’a (Islamic rules) in various parts of the world. They offer loans without interest, and nor do they require the borrower to be of religious background.

One way to avoid paying any interest is to pay the entire amount in cash, however few could ever afford such a transaction. Today, a relatively small amount of people own their houses outright. This could be that they have worked a whole lifetime or have inherited their house or other wealth that enabled them to buy. Houses are so expensive now that few expects to own one without taking less than a twenty year mortgage, and the mortgage means that buyers typically pay two to three times the stated cost of the house.
Many people think they have a few other options than to borrow from a bank to buy a house. The simplest thing, it seems, is to be born rich.

The price tag on land has increased greatly in the last 500 years. In 1500AD, land was priceless, subject to the indigenous belief that a location—the sky, the sea and the land—is limitless and as such cannot be owned or sold. But during westward expansion, immigrant individuals; businesses; and government agencies surveyed, divided and claimed every valley; plain; and mountaintop. Land is made expensive by greed fuelled by our fear of insufficiency and poverty.
We all must be somewhere, so land is much the same as food and fuel in that sense, a commodity that is always in demand. They all have a natural and social consumption limit. Or perhaps land is more like diamonds; a precious item, a sign of wealth and therefore accomplishment. Just as we ‘can’t be too thin or too rich’, we can’t own ‘too much land’. Unlike owning too many shoes, having too many love affairs, or eating too much cake, there is no social disgrace about being ‘land fat’.
In the last generation it has become particularly difficult to sleep anywhere that isn’t rented or privately owned. Every night we are paying money to sleep soundly.
Towns and cities once allowed people to sleep in parks, in fields, or at the edge of towns under bridges. Now, it seems almost illegal lying down in public, creating a growing class of the sleepless and homeless poor.

As long as you own a mortgaged house, one thing’s for sure: you own the mortgage, not the house. That is, you own the right to occupy; maintain; and pay taxes on what is fundamentally bank property, while paying a monthly sum close to or exceeding the rental value, for fifteen, twenty-five or sometimes even forty years.

Picture By Francesca Rosier 
24 August 2010 @ 11:22 pm
 My boyfriend bought me a conspiracy magazine at the 24-hour shop, and it has this stupid article on it about orbs; which I think is a load of crap. They are obviously dust particles/dirt that happen to get caught on camera through angles of light.
Funny how I always end up reading this stuff. Don't get me wrong, some of the topics discussed in such texts I find highly interesting, but most of the time it can be a hit and miss situation. I've had my fair share of supernatural and paranormal experiences to last me a life time, which I should write about but maybe next time.
Ironically, I watch a lot of documentaries; read books on such subjects; talk to people of like-mindedness of it, and at the end of the day-if I'm sleeping alone-I'll always have that trusty lamp on. In short, I'm still afraid of the dark! Speaking of which, it's closing in on witching hour, and I'm doing just that tonight; sleeping alone. Lamp? Check. Guard dog? Check. Conjurations? Check. Ha, who am I kidding? I'll just stay up all night. 

Photo by Unknown
16 August 2010 @ 03:19 pm
 I think I was smarter when I was younger. I feel as though my brain is slowly getting fried today. It seems when you're growing up you had time to think amazing things, but now it's more daunting than anything with all the deplorable things happening around us day to day.

I remember reading somewhere that there was three separate classes and someone had conducted an experiment with the different stages of reactions.
Each class was shown different photos from the rest of the classes of gum disease to see how it effects the students with brushing their teeth. Basic psychology shit.
The first class was shown photos of the beginnings of gum disease, gingivitis etc.
The second class was shown photos of the mid stages where the gums had started to swell and the teeth starting to get deformed.
And the third class was shown photos of completely rotten mouths, black and completely disfigured.
The first class, who saw the first stages of gum disease, reported back that nothing had changed, they still brushed their teeth as normally as before.
The second class, who saw the mid stages, said that they had started to take better care of their teeth, instead of just brushing, they now even included flossing and mouth washing on a regular basis. Even reporting that they started to become self-concious of their mouths.
The third class, of which the final stages of gum disease were shown, completely stopped brushing their teeth all together. Showing that the mentality, after being shown the worst of the worst, had lost all hope. It shows contrary to what would be expected.

Another piece I read, was in the same boat more or less. Putting to the test that if you reward something do you get more of the behaviour you want. A study was done to a group of students giving them a set of challenges such as memorising numbers, doing crosswords to shooting a ball through a hoop. To incentivise their performance they would get three levels of reward. If you did okay you get a small reward, if you did well you get a medium reward and if you did really good you get a large cash prize. If the task involved only mechanical skill the students got higher pay for better performance. But when the task called for rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance.

Both of these studies surprised me at first, but then I started to realise the truth behind it. That the mind is a very cunning trickster. When shown a photo you would think would make you try harder, instead you lose hope. Just like the state of the planet and it's civilisation, it's crap, we're crap and we continue being crap even though we're well aware it's all crap, blatantly putting it. The same with rewards, under pressure we falter, similarly, getting promised something better than what you have or doing the right thing seems too far away, who cares, what's the point?
I mean, sure, we all try at first or you can deny it and claim that this isn't you, but in the end everything is in this manner.
Physically, mentally, spiritually... It's just how you relate to it.
However, the only way to overcome such bullshit is to become militant in the mind, to train it to see beyond this basic structure that halts progress. Basic yet impossible.

Having said all that, this is me having a bad day, over-thinking, over-analysing, over it all!
Oh well, let's hope tomorrow brings a better day.

Photo by Peter Beste
05 August 2010 @ 05:49 pm
As my days, weeks and months blend into this irksome timeline of the same meaningless shit that keeps me alive, I'll try and make this journal as interesting to readers as possible. Most of my days are pretty mundane and bland, but I get the occasional winsome day. So here goes...

My current real estate agency and landlord I am renting with are very shoddy. One morning, around six months ago, I was sleeping in, home alone. I hear my front door opening and I freak out a little and think someone is trying to rob my house. I couldn't find any pants at my aid, so I went out investigating just covering myself with a blanket. I find this woman in a suit, standing in the dining room looking up and down and around the place (it was fairly messy, clothes everywhere, dishes, papers and books). I asked her who she was and she explained how she's with so and so real estate and this was a routine inspection. I never got any mail about it, no notification, no set dates, nothing. I tell her this and how they were legally supposed to at least give a 24 hours notice before rocking up.
She's shocked, probably because of the mess and my indisposed self, and I'm shocked from the situation and my mess and my indisposed self too! She's insisting she has sent out the letter, and I'm insisting I never received it. Finally she offers to come back later and I apologise for the mess and such, and she's gone. I'm calling up my boyfriend, freaking out more, afraid that we were going to be kicked out etc. Hours later, the real estate agency calls and tells me that they DIDN'T send out the letter and it was a terrible mistake, sorry for the inconvenience, it happens from time to time. Thumbs down.

Recently, they also found out that I have two cats, which is apparently why the landlord is reluctant to sign the new lease. Fucking bastard. Yeah, I know that they have the some right to refuse because it's their house blah blah. As if pets actually cause damage enough to properties compared to a lot of other factors, like kids. These people obviously are either old hags or they are anal and love money too much. I always pay my rent on time if not early, have great references, and normally present the house spotless clean, they just happened to catch me unofficial.
Whatever. I'm not getting rid of my cats, fuck 'em. I wait...
I wait to receive a letter in the mail, claiming that everyone has signed the lease - only that as I look through the paperwork I realise these are not my signatures! They sent out the wrong fucking lease. Unprofessional pricks. Oh yeah, and on top of that, I'm apparently not allowed to plant anything above 70cms in the yards, even though it's coming out of my pay, would make the place look much better AND they were all going to be native plants! There is absolutely nothing in the front and back yard. It's a waste barren. 

In conclusion, my boyfriend reckons that if he hadn't of met me, that he would be living in a tent. Is this the shape of things to come?

Photo by David C. Foster
03 August 2010 @ 12:06 pm
"If you want the truth, believe nothing, examine everything and be open to the philosophy of possibility. Only then will you find the answers to the questions that you have been seeking.

And You will no longer need to wonder, for you will have gained direct experience of the truth."

Photo by Peter Beste