June 29, 2016

Addblocking




The advertising industry is very worried about that 0.60% of users that think they can get away from them with adblocking programs on their computers.




Imagine having a remote control that you could use to blank out billboards and other advertising as you went about your day. That is kind of what internet ad blocking is like.

Ad blocking is the removing or altering advertising content in a web page. This intrusive, unwanted and uninvited garbage takes many forms including pictures, animations, embedded audio and video, text, blinking banners or pop-up windows. It can also employ one of my favourites, auto play, where audio and/or video plays without the user doing anything.

Intrusive advertising is a known problem with most web browsers, and most web users. Recently my internet provider changed from a flat rate to a usage rate. That means that now we pay for the bandwidth to run all the advertising that infects everything on the internet. And there is more of the stuff all the time.

Global ad spending is projected to reach $600 billion US by the end of next year, according to eMarketer. This staggering sum is projected to grow at an annual rate of about five per cent until the end of the decade. A lot of that growth is in digital advertising.

In my old age I am going to freak out young people and tell them that I am so old that I remember a time when the internet didn't have any ads. I would add that I also remember a time before there was such a thing as the internet, but that might be too much for them.

Now whiney advertisers are complaining that they are losing 22 Billion a year by adblocking programs that frustrated computer users are increasingly turning to for some relief. How many internet user's computers do they want to inject with their poisonous propaganda? All of them. 100%.

And they don't want you to have any way of protecting yourself with a propaganda prophylactic.

Amongst other initiatives to "fight back", the industry is asking web owners to only give access to their content if users first disable their adblocking program. "We have ways to subject you to our unwanted mind parasites, whether you want them or not."

Maybe they should have kept quiet - many commenters on an article I read about the issue reported getting adblocker specifically because of the news of advertisers gnashing their teeth at being denied the ability to jam consumerism down their throats at every turn.

People are sick and tired of pervasive advertising, and want it to stop. Therefore - adblocking. It is my computer. It is my bandwidth. I deserve to be my own gatekeeper.

Advertising? No thanks.



Note: Many Adblocking programs can be downloaded for free. Do a search for adblock, read some reviews, then see if such a thing might be for you.

The remote control that blanks out billboards and other visual advertising? Well, that is still under development in the Not Buying Anything research laboratory. It will be unveiled soon... unless Big Advertising gets to us first.

June 27, 2016

Turtle Troubles Part Of Larger Problem

There goes the neighbourhood - many creatures called this home before resource extraction happened here.

There are many reasons not to engage in the planet-destroying excesses of consumer society. One of the most important for me is the preservation of non-human species. They are nice to behold, and we can learn valuable lessons from them. Most importantly, we can not exist without them.

We already know that life for this planet's human infestation, I mean 'population', is bound to be rough without the likes of ocean phytoplankton which produces 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

Einstein knew a lot about the nature of things, including the importance of our enormously stressed bees. He said, "“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, humans would only have four years left to live.”

It is not so much about "saving the whales", or the bees, or saving this or that, or even "saving the environment". What it really is, when you get right down to it, is "saving ourselves". We are inextricably linked to everything else. If consuming too much is the problem, then cutting consumption is the solution.

The overconsumption of the past few decades has decimated wilderness and wildlife. Habitat loss is occurring just about everywhere as we extract resources at an ever-increasing rate.


Snapping turtle surveying what has happened to her home.

Every other living thing we share this planet with deserves to live just as much as we do. They deserve any and all efforts to reduce our impact on conditions around us so that they may live. That includes the snapping turtle here in Nova Scotia, which were listed as "a species at risk" in 2013. I found this out doing research after meeting a snapping turtle while I was biking in the woods.

Snapping turtles are the province's largest fresh water turtle, reaching a size of up to 50cm (almost 2 ft). While they spend most of the year in water, towards the end of June and into July these creatures leave the water to lay their eggs in soft soil or sand.


Looking amidst the logging debris and destruction for somewhere to lay her eggs.

These prehistoric-looking amphibians can live to be over 100 years old. The one I saw looked 1000 years old, or older. Its wrinkly wrinkledness had to have been a million years old. I don't know how old it was, but it looked older than time itself. Turtles in other parts of the world can live to be hundreds of years old... if they are lucky and avoid contact with their main predator - us.

Resource extraction and increased access to the deep woods means that many snapping turtles are run over on roads, leading to a precarious drop in numbers. How exciting to see one for myself - it was an encounter I will never forget.


Could she be crying? Or are you of the opinion that non-human animals don't have feelings?

When Gandhi said, "Live simply so that others may simply live", I am sure he wasn't just talking about other humans. The planet is so much more than that. There is a need for us all to live simply so that everything else may simply live. Everything. Trees, turtles, phytoplankton, bees. Everything.

If we continue to show such blatant disregard for other species, it won't be long before we are headed for extinction ourselves.

Or are we already headed in that direction? I am not sure, but I can say that it was an amazing encounter when I got lost looking into the deep, dark, teary eyes of my neighbour the snapping turtle. I am glad we met, and I hope that future generations will have this same opportunity, perhaps with this exact same turtle.

I happily cut my personal consumption to make sure that everything can live. No sacrifice is too much to handle if it means snapping turtles and other living things may thrive together along with us on our beautiful, shared planet.

June 24, 2016

Summer Reading

Beautiful nature in our neighbourhood park is a nice respite from global turmoil.

Summer is here - the season for relaxing and reading. This morning I was checking out a piece by William A. Cohn, professor of jurisprudence at New York University. In it he was explaining how the whole Brexit thing was just more obfuscation, of which there is plenty these days.

Contained within his writing were some suggestions for summer reading that I thought I would share.

Cohn wrote that "thankfully, starting tomorrow, we will have to hear less about the so-called debate on Brexit – a debate which has been marked by lies, omission, and fear-mongering."

Unfortunately that describes most of the crap emanating from governments, corporations, and their media enablers around the world these days, as they prepare us for the ultimate corporate take-over.

"New issues will capture the headlines, Cohn says, "and new false choices will be presented. Ignore them as best you can."

You can't ignore the fact that it is summer time, an opportunity to read and relax. I am not sure if these titles will provide a break from the turmoil, but they will improve our knowledge base, and therefore our ability to counter anti-freedom forces. In spite of their potential heaviness, I will be visiting the library to check some of these out... before they are banned by the corporatocracy.


The following are the books the good professor recommends for the beach this season:

"Bad Samaritans" by Ha-Joon Chang

"News: The Politics of Illusion" by Lance Bennet

"Absurdistan" by Gary Shteyngart

"Democracy Incorporated" by Sheldon Wolin

"Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo.

"Knowledge is potential power, to be acted upon, towards building new and better ways of organizing our world."

Read, rest, relax. And change the world at the same time.







June 22, 2016

Summer Solstice

Summer solstice moonrise over the back yard Acadian forest.

It is true that the best things in life can not be bought. Take summer, for example. No amount of cash will make this most relaxed of seasons come any sooner. I might buy me some of that if I could.

Here in Nova Scotia summers tend to come late. Right now, with summer being an official designation for the next 92 days, our weather has finally turned. The change of seasons can be seen, felt, and experienced.

June 21st is no guarantee of summer-like weather anywhere in Canada (it can pretty much snow anywhere any month of the year), but I am noticing a few things that lead me to believe we have arrived here in Digby county.

  • I'm not wearing layers any more.
  • My down comforter has been washed and put away till winter.
  • I can't remember the last time we fired up the wood stove.
  • The black flies are out. And hungry. "Don't scratch - it'll get infected."
  • Haying in the fields around us has been taking place over the past few days.
  • A cat has been leaving its calling cards in our new raised bed garden.
  • Open windows, fresh breezes.
  • My neighbours are getting ready to migrate down the road to their summer camp on the lake.
  • Our garden is fully seeded. "Germinate, little buddies, germinate."

So, Northern Hemispherians, if summer has arrived where you are at, consider yourself to be rich. I hope you enjoy a relaxed and fruitful summer season enjoying the best things in life. For free.

Southern Hemispherians - stay warm. We are thinking about you.

Note: Be sun smart and keep your eye on the UV forecast when you check your local weather before heading out into nature. Cancer sucks. 

"About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun."

June 20, 2016

A Simpler Way: Crisis As Opportunity



I received a notice from the Simplicity Institute of the release of a documentary film by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander called A Simpler Way: Crisis As Opportunity. I am sharing the information in this post so NBA readers have the opportunity to see this film in its entirety.

For free, of course.

This is what the Simplicity Institute has to say about this documentary:

"The overlapping economic, environmental, and cultural crises of our times can seem overwhelming, can seem like challenges so great and urgent that they have no solutions. But rather than sticking our heads in the sand or falling into despair, we should respond with defiant positivity and try to turn the crises we face into opportunities for civilisational renewal. 
During the year of 2015 a small community formed on an emerging ecovillage in Gippsland, Australia, and challenged themselves to explore a radically ‘simpler way’ of life based on material sufficiency, frugality, permaculture, alternative technology and local economy. 
This documentary by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander tells the story of this community’s living experiment, in the hope of sparking a broader conversation about the challenges and opportunities of living in an age of limits."


In sharing this documentary they hope to "spark a broader cultural conversation about the importance of voluntary simplicity, permaculture, and economic relocalisation in an age of limits." That definitely fits within our mandate here at Not Buying Anything.

Watch "A Simpler Way" at: http://simplicityinstitute.org/film, then let us know what you think in our comment section below.


Here is what some are saying about this timely and important film:

“This is a great video, and a very nice community I wish to one day be involved  in a community like this and live the same way.” 

“Awesome. We wish we could do this here in the UK. Hopefully with good people like you guys, this mindset and these values will be abundant. It's really inspiring to see, keep up the good work. Thank you for sharing this with us.” 

"I was one of the participants in the project.  
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to extract oneself entirely from the monetary economy in industrially developed nations like Australia. There are rates, bills, taxes etc, the entire country is set up around extractive industries and opposed to the radical self sufficiency we were attempting during our year together.  
Any project trying to set up alternatives is necessarily living with one foot in the formal economy and the other in the localisation/internalisation of production that would lead towards "true sustainability" (though true sustainability would need to involve entire bioregions, multiple generations, and ultimately the entire human species moving to a radically different way of life)  making compromises along the way."
  

“Message of hope for the human race, the other living animals and plants on this tiny planet unique in the universe(as far as our knowledge goes).”

“Thank you for all the hard work that went in to this. Especially to those who went against the modern paradigm of individualism, and offered their lives (or one year of it!) to live with others, for others, in a way that is now considered abnormal. 

Humankind has to change if we are to survive what is coming, and projects like this offer not only ideas, but hope. Ted Trainer is an amazing person - my thanks also go to him for daring to write about and live consistently with his beliefs. You are all an inspiration!”



June 17, 2016

Free To Consume, Free To Unconsume


Our much touted freedom in so-called democratic countries is an illusion. It is an over hyped lie. Except for one area - we are free to do as much consuming as our bank accounts will allow.

Where else is the freedom?

Are we free to protest without harassment? Free to travel a world without restrictive borders? Free to live anywhere we want? Free to quit work and live off the land?

Are we free to put into our bodies what we want, or keep out of our bodies those things we don't want? Free to marry whom we wish? Free to use the bathroom we feel most appropriate for our gender situation? Free to read about the truth in the mainstream media?

Instead of gaining any freedoms, we are increasingly being stripped of any vestiges of liberty that we have left. In some parts of the world you are not free to harvest rain water, or grow a garden where you neighbours can see it, or without being taxed for the privilege of putting a bit of distance between you and the system.

Our system is broke. Unless you are rich, in which case you are more free than those less monetarily blessed. In today's world money is the way to freedom, not the ballet box. And if you don't have money you don't deserve to be free because you just aren't trying hard enough.

Now whole countries are being forced to accept the freedom to be plundered, privatized and pirated. How are you enjoying all that Western capitalist consumeristic freedom Iraq? Libya? Syria? Honduras? Brazil? Argentina? Egypt?

Are you feeling it yet, all that juicy freedom? When we stop the violence, you can go shopping.

Robin Mathews, author of “The Trans Pacific Partnership: Canada and Imperial Globalization”, describes our current situation:

"A characteristic of Imperial Globalization is criminal manipulation of people and events for the profit of a few. It includes massive ‘disinformation’ about equality, benefits, social development, law, improved standards of living, etc. 
The disinformation is spread by ‘authoritative’ news sources. In the hands of gigantic, wealthy, private corporations, globalization is a process which works to erase sovereign democracies and replaces them with ‘treatied’ sub-states, economic colonies ruled by faceless, offshore, often secret, unaccountable powers."

You see, it is all about enriching the few as a result of the consumption of the many. Have money? Want stuff? This new world was made for you. Your dollars will buy you the freedom to consume, plus a bit more, depending on how much cash you have. More cash - more freedom.

I don't know about you, but that is not a system I am interested in joining or supporting, and I will do everything I can to ensure that I am doing nothing to contribute toward this dismal distortion of our infinitely good and abundant planet.

Freedom can not really be bought. Or given. Or forced. It just is, and we have to actively live it for ourselves. After all, consumption is not legally mandatory. Yet. We still have a choice.

I am free to consume, but, well, no thanks. Consuming is enslaving us all. Therefore, I see unconsuming as the answer. As always, simplicity yields true freedom, and if more of us adopted such a lifestyle, we could negate the power of the criminal manipulators, and turn this thing around.

I'm not buying anything. Not their stuff, or their bullshit, for I am free to unconsume.






June 15, 2016

Top 10 Reasons I Garden

A re-used wood pallet project that might be nice to have for the garden.

While my new garden is a bit late, my enthusiasm is high for pioneering our residential soil situation. The soil in my area is a light brown sandy loam with a fair amount of stones. While it has some nice qualities, such as good drainage, it needs to be amended. But what doesn't need to be changed for the better these days?

Getting soil to where you want it takes time, so patience is a nice quality for the gardener (or activist) to possess.

Developing patience is one of the reasons I garden. There are many, many others.

Here are a few:

Top 10 Reasons I Garden

  1. A garden can't be rushed, and therefore teaches patience.
  2. Vegetables aren't getting any cheaper these days (up 12% over the past year in Canada)
  3. Spending time in the garden means time away from electronic entertainments.
  4. There is no substitute for connecting with nature, and experiencing the green fuse first hand.
  5. My 8 x 16 raised bed will be much more diverse than the grass it replaces.
  6. It is good exercise.
  7. Gardening is a good excuse to get outside, like walking a dog. Except that you can't eat your dog.
  8. Being out and visible in your garden connects you to your neighbourhood.
  9. I like to freely share the garden's fresh food abundance with others.
  10. Veggies from the garden are much more nutritious (and tasty) than the wilted stuff shipped from thousands of kilometres away.

I could probably think of ten more reasons to garden quite easily. But I will stop there. Those seeds won't plant themselves. Happy gardening. 

June 13, 2016

Success Without Selling

Chance The Rapper - success without selling.

Chancelor Bennett is a 23 year old Chicago musician that has been practicing his craft since childhood. His breakout mixed tape "10 Day" is about being suspended from high school. Since those ten days, Bennett's career has skyrocketed. Without actually selling any music.


"Some people are so poor, all they have is money."


Bennett, who performs as 'Chance The Rapper', hasn't sold any of his music because he gives it away for free. Referring to his art he says,"I don't make it for free. I make it for freedom." He is not currently signed to any record label.

Gifting his music to the world has not slowed this musician down one bit. Quite the opposite. His music can be heard on the radio. He has performed for late night TV audiences. He performs concerts for large audiences. He collaborates with famous performers.

And he gives his music away to his fans.



"Fame or perceived success - it all comes from groupthink." 



Why sell something if you can give it away? Is this artist insane? Or is he on to something? Can we have success without selling? Success without buying?

"Give it away, give it away, give it away now." Welcome to the gift economy.







June 10, 2016

An Ethos Of Abundance





What is the ethos of our time? Most people would agree that it is the American Dream, or globally speaking, the Consumer Dream.

An ethos is defined as "the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations." So ours is something like - work hard and you will be able to buy everything you have ever wanted. As nice as this lie sounds, it has had some unintended consequences.

There are currently several individuals in the world that are in the running for designation "First Trillionaire". They truly exemplify the ethos of our day, which could also be read as "The Ethos of More".

But only for me. Not for you. My gain is at your expense because there is a scarcity of everything. There is not enough so we have to compete with each other, and winner takes all. This is a distortion of the facts when we live in an infinitely abundant universe.

“If you perceive the universe as being a universe of abundance, then it will be. If you think of the universe as one of scarcity, then it will be… 
I always thought that there was enough to go around - that there are enough ideas in the universe and enough nourishment. 
It’s very hard to move beyond the idea that there is not enough to go around, to move beyond that sense of ‘I better get mine before anybody else takes it away from me’.” 
- Milton Glaser
Our current ethos, The Consumer Dream, has become The Planetary Nightmare.We need a new characteristic spirit to guide us, one diametrically opposed to the one we have today.

In an abundant world there is plenty to address everyone's need, but there will never be enough to fulfill the greed of even a few. Needs are finite, while greed is unlimited.

What if we are not as greedy as the economists tell us we are? Maybe we don't have infinite wants, or wouldn't if it weren't for being immersed in profit propaganda and advertising our whole lives. Maybe, with a new world view, people would give simplicity a try, and discover that a simple life of limited wants is a sustainable, happy existence. It is enough.

Imagine if, in an Ethos of Abundance, we all thought that there was more than enough to satisfy the needs of every human on the planet. In such a world view we could freely share the gifts of Earth with everyone taken care of in the healthiest way possible.

In such a world we would spend our time taking care of ourselves and those around us in a spirit of cooperation and sharing. Most people would agree that this would be preferable to competition and perpetual war.

It is an idea whose time has come. Goodbye American Dream, hello Enough For Everyone. Gift what you can - receive what you need.



"What if...

Everyone started sharing, just a little bit
With everyone else,
something that they liked to do
and didn’t charge for it?

I like making art and growing plants.
In current society, I have to sell
“things” or my “time” to live.

But if I gave some of my art
And some of my plants away,
And other people gave away some of what they do
Before long our society
Would have a different shape.

I believe we would soon have
More time for 'giving'
than for 'selling'."

- Candace Ross



June 8, 2016

Gardens Make Good Neighbours

An 8 X 16 raised bed of infinite growing potential.

In my experience, gardens make good neighbours. I have met more of my neighbours, wherever I have lived, in the garden than anywhere else. All those gardens, and all those gardening neighbours, have left a positive and memorable impact on my life.

Now I can say the opposite is also true - neighbours make good gardens. It is the story of how we recently acquired an 8 X 16 raised bed garden next to our new home in Nova Scotia.

Earlier this spring I watched from my window as our neighbours, Ronnie and Peggy, built a raised bed garden next door. Recently when Peggy dropped by our home for a visit, we found out that the new garden was a birthday present for her sister.




Gardening with a view

Linda and I couldn't think of a better gift than a garden, and said so. That comment got the ball rolling, and confirmed for us once again that the bountiful universe works in mysterious ways. And sometimes it works quickly.

Within three days Ronnie and Peggy had an 8 X 16 raised bed finished right next to our house to match the one they built next door. Whoa! Is this a dream? It seems too good, but it is very true.

There it is. Yup - still there. Still. It's confirmed. We have a garden.

Right now we are growing infinite potential, but soon Ronnie will drive his tractor over with a few bucket loads of soil. And while we are a bit behind schedule for this growing season, it won't be long before we get this garden party started.

Gardens and neighbours, neighbours and gardens. The two go together so well. I can't wait to share our bounty with everyone.






June 6, 2016

Tidal Pool Eyes

The world is an amazing, beautiful place, but how can you see it if you don't stop every once in a while?
Image: Oystercatcher’s Garden by Melissa Cole

One day Linda and I were on the Pacific beach in a place with many tidal pools. Something happened that day that really changed the way I approach the world.

Linda had settled in to view one particular pool while I walked about exploring the general area. She called over to me and invited me to join her. I arrived at her little pool of water on the rocks.

"Check out all the life in here", she said.

After a few seconds I told her I didn't see anything, and started to move away to perhaps find a better pool of water with more stuff in it.

"Stop", she said. I stopped. "Come back here and sit down". I sat down next to what I thought was an empty pool of water.

"You have to have tidal pools eyes", she said. "Just stop and watch".

After a short while I began to see things. Something scurrying under the sand at the bottom of the pool. An anemone opening up. Tiny life forms scooting through the tiny salty sea. After about 60 seconds it was hard to keep track of all the life going on in what I previously saw as barren.

All I had to do was stop.

In First World countries it is hard to stop. We are trained from birth to go, go, go, and stopping for any length of time is liable to arouse suspicion, possibly scorn. But, really, is it possible to retire too early?

Don't we all yearn to just stop? To adapt our tidal pool eyes and see the world for what it is.




June 3, 2016

Make It Last: Bar Soap

Much smaller than a fresh bar, but still lots of hand washes left.

You can live life as if nothing is sacred. I prefer to live considering everything sacred. All life, all matter, everything. This world view allows me to see value and purpose in everything that surrounds me. Even itty bitty flakes of soap.

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to do with bar soap as it shrinks in size. There have been times in my wasteful past that I might have thrown little remnants of soap in the garbage. Then I started to weld little soaps on to a fresh bar, with varied and often frustrating results.

I made self-soaping pot scrubbers fashioned from saved up soap bits and mesh produce bags. A small bit of soap would still sometimes be wasted.

In my perpetual quest to simplify, I gave some thought to coming up with a more straight forward solution to making bar soap last.



The smallest soap flake I have ever made - one more hand wash here. Maybe two.

I have been trying an experiment to see how small I could get a bar of soap. Could I use an entire bar right out of existence? Apparently I can. In the process, I created the smallest bar of soap in the world. I need a magnifying glass just to find it.

Why not just throw it away? Because that tiny flake of soap is better than no soap at all. Using it all up in this way honours the soap, the ingredients of the soap, and everyone that had to work to get the soap to me.

 It is all that, and more. I do it because everything is sacred. Even tiny flakes of soap. Perhaps especially tiny flakes of soap. You know what they say about cleanliness.






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