Category Archives: Mit liv

Software conservatism

Politically, I am in no way a conservative, in fact, I can’t help but shake my heads at many conservatives I see on TV these days. However when it comes to the computer software I use, I am somewhat conservative. The reason is that I love it when my computer works, literally. Certain people I know, love to run the latest versions of everything, and occasionally have to fix their machines because something broke. I don’t like that, I like to just be able to go over to my computer, sit down and just use it. This is why I don’t use Windows, or any Microsoft software at all. If we look aside the fact, that Microsoft doesn’t give you any freedom in relation to your computing, all their stuff is just broken out of the box. I can’t think of one piece of Microsoft software, that doesn’t simply suck, and is broken out of the box.

One thing I plan to do for the foreseeable future is to use KDE 3.5.x, until KDE 4.x is a full replacement for what I do. And that could take a while to come, which is why I appreciate the KDE has got 3.5.10 coming out next month.

The consequences of one’s actions

I just finished listening to an audio lecture on the Buddhist teachings of rebirth and karma. To help out. let’s ask Wikipedia for a little help:

Karma means “action” or “doing”; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma.

In Buddhism, the term karma is used specifically for those actions which spring from:

* mental intent (Pali: cetana)
* mental obsessions

which bring about a fruit (Pali, phala) or result (vip?ka), either within the present life, or in the context of a future rebirth. Karma is the engine which drives the wheel of the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth (sa?s?ra) for each being.

Source: Karma in Buddhism

Listening through the explanations of karma, something struck me. It would seem to me that the average person on the street, doesn’t put that much effort into considering what sorts of consequences his or her actions, may or may not have. For example, I sometimes hear some people say that even small amounts of generosity and compassion are good things. Is it the busy life that many people live, that make them forget about the small, but important things in life? For example, when go for a walk, something as simple as seeing a cat makes me smile or get me in a better mood on a day that might have gotten off to a rough start.

The idea of thinking about the consequences of one’s own actions, I find quite interesting. I’m generally good with languages, and occasionally I help some friends with some homework, typically in English or Danish. Me using my knowledge to help them gradually widen their own is, when you think deeper about it, not just some small, irrelevant endeavour, but rather an important piece in a large puzzle, even though the individual puzzle brick might be small.
Other things such as kindly greeting people you meet, and generally considering the larger effect of a small action or deed, is something I think many of us would benefit from giving more thought to, even in a busy, city life. Like with portable electrical devices that use multiple batteries, an individual battery can’t power the device alone, but when more are added together, bigger things can be accomplished in terms of electrical energy. Putting positive energy out into your surroundings by doing good things, is quite a concept, even if we’re talking small amounts at a time, because they eventually add up …

Some sort of 5 year aniversary ….

Today it is exactly 5 years since I bought my very own computer. Before then, the ones I had been using were family computers, which were pre-built machines. But on the 31st of May 2003, the day after my confirmation (Which in my opinion, is just a silly tradition, without any real meaning, because like I wrote in an earlier post, I have always been skeptical of the whole Christianity thing), having gotten a bunch of money as gifts, my mother, my uncle, my friend Mathias and myself went to Århus to get parts for a brand new computer for me. After that we went to a Pizza Hut for lunch, and then we went on home, and Mathias helped me put the machine together. Very special day for me, because it culminated into something much larger today.

Concluding reality for oneself …

It’s been quite a few years since I decided for myself, that I really was not a Christian, because I did not (And still does not) believe in what Christianity teaches, about the “alwise” and “almighty” God of Abraham.

I have always put a great deal of energy and effort, into conclusions that I make for myself about things in life. Because doing so, in my opinion, makes my chances of making, what for me would be, the right conclusion better. I spent a lot of time thinking about the concept of God, which I had been lightly told about since I was adopted by my Danish parent(s). Even though I was confirmed at the age of 14 (Which in my opinion, is really is more of a tradition in society, among the majority of Danes, than an act of actual faith), I always had my doubts about the whole thing in general. I think that a few months after my 15th birthday (Which was on September 24th of 2003), I realized that I really did not believe in what the bible said at all. And since then, I have further enhanced that conclusion because of the enormous amount of violence and human rights violations, described in the bible.

When my mother (Along with the man, I once used to see as my father) was in Sri Lanka to adopt me, they bought some small statues and figurines of one of the Hindu gods, Krishna, and the Buddha, Siddhattha Gotama. I guess as keepsakes and souvenirs. I always thought they seemed quite fascinating, and definitely well made. Unlike many people I know, I have always found other cultures interesting and fascinating, rather than weird, strange or alien.

Throughout the last couple of years, I have occasionally come in contact with small aspects of Buddhism, like sayings or quotes/statements by people such as the Dalai Lama. Those coming out of a different culture than my own, seemed interesting to me, so I took notice of them.
Last year when deciding what classes I was gonna take, I decided, among others, on religion, in the hope that I could learn about Buddhism (And also Shinto, the native religion of Japan) in detail. On the first day of class, our teacher asked us, whether there were any topics we wanted to get into during the year, once we were finished with the obligatory stuff stated in the curriculum. I think about eight people, including myself, mentioned Buddhism, and another guy, and myself, mentioned Shinto. Our teacher said that if we were to get into a far-eastern religion like Buddhism or Hinduism, she wanted to do those toward the end of the school year, because she thought they were more challenging to understand, and at the end of the school year, we would have more tools of analysis to work with. I thought “OK, fair enough”, even though I doubted that I, personally, would have difficulty understanding concepts in Buddhism if they were explained properly. To make a long story short, we never got to Buddhism, because my teacher decided to prioritize medical ethics and criticism of religion, instead of my, and other’s requests for a topic on Buddhism. That really frustrated me quite a bit, because when chugging through Christianity, I almost fell asleep at times, and I just kept telling myself “Don’t worry, we’ll get to something interesting soon …”, but we never did, and boy was that frustrating.
So, I rolled up my sleeves, and took matters into my own hands, and in the middle of the night some time last year, I brought up Wikipedia, and various sites, such as Buddhanet and ReligionFacts and started reading. After having digested the information I had obtained by my first round of study, as I like to call it, I really thought it was fascinating, and a very interesting view on the world, the universe and reality in general.

Since then, it has reached the point, where I decided that this might be something that I could get into. Especially after I read this (Which is part of a larger Q&A on Buddhanet):

Question:
What you said so far is very interesting to me. How do I become a Buddhist?

Answer:
Once there was a man called Upali. He was the follower of another religion and he went to the Buddha in order to argue with him and try to convert him. But after talking to the Buddha, he was so impressed that he decided to become a follower of the Buddha. But the Buddha said:

“Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well-known person like yourself.”
“Now I am even more pleased and satisfied when the Lord says to me: ‘Make a proper investigation first.’ For if members of another religion had secured me as a disciple they would have paraded a banner all around the town saying: ‘Upali has joined our religion.’ But the Lord says to me: ‘Make a proper investigation first. Proper investigation is good for a well known person like yourself.”
MII 379

In Buddhism, understanding is the most important thing and understanding takes time. So do not impulsively rush into Buddhism. Take your time, ask questions, consider carefully, and then make your decision. The Buddha was not interested in having large numbers of disciples. He was concerned that people should follow his teachings as a result of a careful investigation and consideration of facts.

Source: A Basic Buddhism Guide: What is Buddhism? – Becoming a Buddhist.

The reason this pushed me through the door, so to speak, was because the last part of it, pretty much sums up how I have always viewed life in general, “Take your time, ask questions, consider carefully, and then make your decision.”, and since reading the above, I have run across other things, which I through some careful thought, have found that I agreed with. Some of these, I will mention at a later time …

Edit: In the comments section, somebody pointed out that my reference to “enormous amount of violence and human rights violations, described in the bible.” was too vague for the general reader, so here’s a few direct examples (Among many many others) of incitement of hatred, prejudice, violence and murder:

It’s OK to sell your daughter into slavery:

“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do.”
(Exodus 21:7 NIV)

People of other religions must be put to death:

“Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.”
(Exodus 22:20 NIV)

Anybody working on the sabbath must be put to death:

“Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.”
(Exodus 31:12-17 NIV)

Gays must be put to death:

“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
(Leviticus 20:13 NIV)

Women who are not virgins when they get married must be stoned to death:

“If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.”
(Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NIV)

A “rebellious” son (Which would include children, since no age is specified as being exempted) must be put do death:

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”
(Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NIV)

WordPress 2.5 released … Upgrade complete!

WordPress 2.5 was released this morning (My time), and I immediately upgraded my blog to this new version. Among many things is a slick new look for the admin interface, much cleaner sky-blue look. Really really nice. It’s also much better organized than it used to be. It’s just hard to say how awesome this is, if you use WordPress yourself, what are you waiting for, go fetch version 2.5 over at wordpress.org ASAP!

I gotta give the WordPress developers’ props for having one of the most pain-free upgrade procedures I’ve ever seen, it’s amazing, it’s just four simple steps! No more, no less!

In case any WordPress developer is reading this, a feature I’d like to see in the future, is an upgrade of the license to some flavor of the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPL/LGPL/AGPL).

Brilliant job guys, please keep it up! 😀

Oh man did it feel good to finally have something positive (Very positive at that!) to write, compared to the last few days!

Copyright © 2005 - 2015 Troels Just. Alle rettigheder forbeholdes.