Stormkeeper's Blog
Random randomness you can understand!

So, in an attempt to give myself an excuse to blog more (because I’m terrible at remembering to blog consistently!), I’ve signed up with the collaborative blog site Artificial Constructs (AC), which is a blog that specialises in such topics as culture, music, politics, current affairs, opinion pieces and other stuff. I’ll likely be doing cross-posting between the two blogs (plus A Right State! when it gets up), meaning that the audiences of all the blogs concerned will eventually see a boost. I’m not going to make any major posts anywhere until things have started to settle down for me life-wise, although I will probably add the odd comment on the AC website, like I currently do on Facebook or a lot of news outlets. In the meantime, while you wait for me to (eventually) make a post, check them out and also contribute either by commenting, or even signing up to be a contributor yourself, as they’re looking for them right now!


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Happy New Year and all that jazz.

Additionally, I’ve deactivated the GD Star Rating plug-in due to repeated abuse. It might eventually be back, but I’m playing it by ear for now. 


Yeah, I know this really should be on a dedicated blog (and eventually will be), but for now just bear with me.  On Facebook, I linked to this post here: http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/new-attempt-to-demean-benefit-claimants-launched-by-right-wing-loonies/ with the following caption: “I recommend you all read this… it’s a good commentary on the kind of attitude benefits claimants are having to deal with. Additionally, I don’t see why people should be forced to do 30 hours a week for no additional pay; doing 30 hours for the price of benefits is basically “paying” someone less than minimum wage!”

So, going on this premise (you need to read the blog entry for it to make sense!), I have written to following:

For the basis of comparison, 30 hours at minimum wage (£6.19) for 4 weeks is £742.80. The rate at which a person gets ESA at the Work Related Activity Component is about £405.00 every 4 weeks. Housing Benefit used to be £150.00/wk (£600.00 every 4 weeks which is a total of approximately 1005.00/4 wks, plus Council Tax was paid) – which is just enough to survive – but if you’re under 35, you get about £78.50/wk, so every 4 weeks a person under 35 gets about £719.00/hr, minus the £5.00 minimum in Council Tax (that everyone has to pay) which means ultimately people get about £714.00/4 wks.

The thing here as well is that if you were to actually work 30 hours a week, you’d likely struggle to pay for most of your costs; being on benefits makes it easier to meet the cost of living, but honestly them alone isn’t enough. I screwed up with the figures before, but if you were to work less than 16 hours a week (in actual paid work at minimum wage), you would actually be marginally better off (£5 or £20, depending on if you’re disabled or not). Sadly though, even with being marginally better off, it doesn’t make a huge difference on the whole, as it will mean every 4 weeks you earn either £734 or £784/wk. I know that the larger figure is for a disabled person, but excluding DLA (£84/4 wks) or even including it, it’s barely enough to live on; DLA is usually used for support services, hence why I am excluding it in favour of a more straight comparison.

Anyway, it’s clear to see that the only way you can “make work pay” is actually having a “Living Wage”; that same 30 hours at £8.50/hr (which is roughly the amount that is proposed for London) leads to £1020 over 4 weeks. Therefore, we can actually determine that the 30 hours of “unpaid” work (let’s face it, working for one’s benefits is really not much of a wage at all) is basically so businesses can have free labour; it’s not at all about trying to get people back into work as if it were, there would be a job at the end of it if the person did well enough. Instead we have these 9 month “job contracts ” which pay absolutely nothing! The Artist Taxi Driver has had enough outrage at this, so I needn’t go into it any further. I will say though that that’s only part of the video, so you may want to watch the whole thing to get context.

Ultimately though, I don’t think it is at all possible for someone to live on benefits; surviving is certainly possible, but living on them is not. Even if my figures are slightly off (they have been in a previous entry because I got confused about how benefits work when working under 16 hours), they give enough of a picture to see that being on benefits is not something you really want to be on, if at all possible.  Of course, going back to the “making work pay” statement – made by the wonderful Iain Duncan Smith – it’s clear to see that there isn’t enough work to go around. I’ve consistently said this as well; 500k job openings and 2 million plus people looking for work… and even then, I imagine that some of the job openings cannot be filled, for various reasons. I heard about a new branch of Morrisons opening up recently and they needed 400 workers… over 1000 applied! That really shows how badly people want to work, and that there are sod-all jobs out there.

And the jobs that are out there, a lot of them are part time or casual (Zero Hours) contracts. This means that people will be forced to stay on benefits because the wages from these jobs alone aren’t enough. It’s all a huge mess… and people have done far better research on it than I have. I even link to many of the articles related to this issue and comment on them as well.  Either way, this country is in a sorry state right now!

Edit: It appears I was slightly misinformed with regards to a disabled person’s earnings on ESA as I asked about it when I last went to the Jobcentre, so I best correct it. Essentially, while the option to be able to earn up to £20/wk working is there (I’m not sure at present if they deduct additional earnings from benefits), there is also an option to earn up to £99/wk for 52 weeks, on top of the ESA. The person I spoke to said that it was as an incentive to get back into work, which is a nice thing, but I do see problems if the work is irregular. Still, I guess that is an important distinction to clarify. It certainly makes some things easier though not everything, heh.


…and no, it’s not me! One of my “fans” has decided to take it upon himself to rate every single one of my blog posts 1 star, claiming he did it as a favour to me. Yeah, right. I just thought I’d mention it, seeing as it’s basically on every single blog post; this one will probably get marked soon as well.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I posted a proper update, and it’s probably not going to be this one either, though I do have a few things to say. First of all, everything is all nicely up to date now, which is always important to do. Secondly, I’ve disengaged my Twitter to Facebook link in order for me to tweet more often. I have retained my Facebook to Twitter link and have accordingly moved the post notifications over to Facebook instead, which will push it on to Twitter. As soon as is feasible, I also need to find a widget/plugin that allows me to put my tweets back onto my blog, so they can be shared. Additionally, I’ve also signed myself up to something called XeeMe, which collates all my social network profiles in a single place…. it’s a something I’ve needed a while to be honest, as I now know exactly where I am everywhere.

I’m going to be getting my new PC from next week, or I hope I will be anyway, so I’ll be able to get back into gaming, and finally doing some Let’s Plays (Played Up), or at least the beginnings of some! The only bugger right now is that because I’ve switched over completely to a 64 Bit version of Windows 7 (I’m not keen on Windows 8!), I’m gonna have to do some fiddling in order to get older applications to work, though luckily I know how so there shouldn’t be too many issues. Either way, I expect this to make things take off for me in a big way. I’ll show the specs later on, but I can say that they are pretty nice, plus the system is silent, and the case is massive; I’m thoroughly impressed with what the guy who built the PC has done!

As a matter of interest, those Let’s Plays will instead be moved over to my personal account, as I don’t want to have to faff about with 20 million YouTube accounts. That said however, it’ll likely be that with Blip it’ll be on a dedicated Stormhaven Nexus account, along with all the other shows, like the DiggerFeast and anything else that will be associated with Stormhaven Media, Gamed Up, etc. There will be a dedicated blog for each show though, and as Played Up will be done by different people, it will just link to the videos on the person’s YouTube account instead, which I think is much cleaner, and also keeps things more secure.

For now, that’s about it, though I am still hoping to eventually move this blog over to a new space; the businesses will also have a dedicated multi-blog now, in the same vein as Xeno Storm will have. Also, the new system of mostly UK domains will continue as well. I also want to try to get the new run of the DiggerFeast started too, as I’m now taking it to the next level in a way, although sadly it has to remain with the old video camera due to technical issues. There will at least be some new people, new locations and better production values though!


So yeah, I’m looking for some files and I stumbled across this little tidbit which I had planned for a blog, but I never finished it, plus I couldn’t think of a beginning… either way I’ll post it now. It is in relation to my fixation on Mario Paint a couple years back…

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[Mario Paint Creator]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gc-1Dq3uQQ (Michael Jackson – Thriller)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWaxPouJ6fU (Funkytown)

Here are some game music links (in order to not flood out this post with nothing but vids!) to other videos that I liked:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M5GTcediYI (Super Mario Bros 1 – Castle Theme)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhNOBvio8rY (SMB Theme)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXlw0Whlx6Y (Sonic: Green Hill Zone)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euqs5UK1xWk (FF3 (Jap) Random Battle)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybdnWAhS9t4 (FF7 Boss Music)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acybAPrgtTU (FF7 Opening Music/Bombing Mission)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylp2UVFpXC0 (FF7 Battle Music – Okay, I’ll stop with the FF7 music now)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOkFia4vemI (Tetris – If you have never heard of Tetris, you’re obviously in the wrong blog mate!)

I’m aware that they’re all songs from games that everyone will know, but that’s the point; you can compare them to the originals easier that way. I personally think they’re all impressive. There’s plenty more out there too… comment with your faves.

Here’s a few other songs not related to games:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wrz2lK4rgzY (Muppet Show Theme)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVlw9iWvE5k (Haddaway – What is Love?)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iVlP3mvEY4 (Genesis – Land of Confusion)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WdmDHor-dE (Disturbed – Shout 2000)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfVYh5u2a8Y (Darude – Sandstorm)

I think “What is Love?” is pure awesomeness, and like Funkytown, catches the essence of the song perfectly. Funkytown is by far the best though. I’m gonna stop posting links now, before I post too many! I wouldn’t mind trying to make my own music sometime though, would be pretty cool, I think.
Anyway, his is part of an actual MSN chat which took place when I showed Spoofy (Sean) the Funkytown video on YT:

Stormkeeper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWaxPouJ6fU
Spoofy: hahahahahahah
Stormkeeper: lol, it’s brilliant, isn’t it?
Spoofy: yeah
Stormkeeper: I’m prolly gonna blog about MPC in my blog
Spoofy: the whole meow thing makes it!
Stormkeeper: Yes! More meowbell! >.>
Spoofy: lmao
Stormkeeper: I have to listen to it again… it’s like audiocrack >.>
Spoofy: lol i already tweeted it ^_^
Stormkeeper: lol, I should do the same!

Sometimes, I think I am too random for my own good.

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So yeah, not really complete as far as things go, but I may as well post it up, before I forget it again… I might have a listen to some of them again, so I can indeed have more meowbell ;)

At some point I’ll post up a proper blog entry, but everything has been so much all over the place that I’ve been easily distracted… I suppose adjusting to 2 jobs doesn’t help matters much. Still, I’ll be glad when I move everything over to the new system… I managed to find another way to save myself a lot. But heh, it seems that what I was looking for mostly isn’t even on this computer… go figure! It’s probably on another hard drive, knowing my luck! Still, I suppose I should start getting rid of crap I don’t actually need, and also start uploading documents to Google Apps!


This originally started as a FB status, but has become so much more now… I can’t honestly keep it on my status now, and will be cross-posting this to all the relevent places. That said however, I can’t really change the start, but let’s roll with it. I understand you might not agree with what I have to say, but instead of outright disagreeing with it, please tell me why you disagree. I occasionally get things mixed up and will be more than happy to clarify, although I understand that people have expressed disagreement with my comments about people not voting not having “the right” to complain. Note that this is more to do with the situation in the UK right now, but parts may apply to your country. I have a tendenncy to ramble and repeat my points, but that’s how my mind works… hopefully it is coherant enough to be understood; any doubts, please just ask.

You know, given how poor some hourly rates are for where people live, I’m not surprised that people need benefits to supplement their income.

The sad thing is though that with the exception of the ‘bad examples’ you see in the paper, or occasionally hear about, those on benefits are truly getting persecuted, for simply choosing to live, and from that standpoint it’s absolutely sickening! I did some calculations for my average monthly wage, though admittedly I can’t actually do that properly, but the fact is that what I get paid in a month, for what I’m able to do at present (I’m trying to ease myself into a routine) varies from 30-130 quid short in a month. In this instance, those 2 figures I quoted at either end are literally what I’ll be short for next month (plus, there’s the fact my travel costs have tripled past what I would whilst on benefits).

Lastly, as I’m on a Zero Hour contract, my hours aren’t set, so technically, the average doesn’t exist… I’m just basically extrapolating from 2 months of work (both what I have done this month (and will do) and will do the next. When you really think about it, actually experiencing it from this end of the spectrum, you realise why a lot of people stay on benefits. Sure, you could cut them in order to “make work pay”, but then the issue is, how will it affect those already in jobs… will they get their current rate still, or will they get more or less? Either way, no matter how you look at it, whether you work and don’t earn enough from the job (which stands for ‘Just Over Broke’ btw) or simply claim benefits without working, life will get harder for you, especially when the government is insisting on marking everyone on benefits as scroungers!

I have to wonder though, since when in this country has it been okay to demonise people simply for trying to live? Do people have no heart any more? Are people now that greedy as to think that so long as their needs are sorted out, what happens to everyone else is irrelevant, as long as it doesn’t negatively affect them? People are becoming as short-sighted as this government is, standing idly by while these savage cuts are made, while people simply just trying make a living are being negatively affected, people that are otherwise law abiding citizens; people who have to take pay cuts in order to keep their jobs, people who have lost their jobs due to the current economic climate (which is dire, I might add), people who are clearly unable to work yet are being forced to breaking point by the government; people like you and me.

And in light of these cuts, the MPs don’t sit up and say “let us help our country and take a pay cut, just like other civil servants have had to!” No, instead they consider giving themselved (and maybe have even passed through) a 30% pay increase! How is it that we allow this?

How is it that we allow the government to invest the minimal amount (or even below) needed for this country to get back on its feet, thus stifling growth, and will making people worse off in 2015 than anyone ever was in the 2010 recession! How is that right?

How is it we allow the government to paint everyone on benefits (working or not, deserving or not) as scroungers, and telling them they must get a job, despite there being at least 2.5 million people out of work, and only around 500k jobs available? Better yet, what about those who are becoming unemployed due to redundancies made? It’s not only the high profile ones that make the news that are making them. This adds thousands more to the unemployed list, and also lessens the chances of anyone getting a job. It’s now at the stage where those who have a job (no matter how good or bad it is) are lucky to have one! The problem is though, not all of them pay enough, so we go back to the issue at the start.

The point is, we’re in a very vicious cycle here, and with each full revolution, things get progressively worse. This needs to be stopped, or we’re heading towards this ‘”Lost Decade” the papers have mentioned, which means it’ll take a very long time to recover. We all need to stand together and say to the government that we’re sick and tired of being treated like this, rather than just standing by and letting it all happen. This is what they call the Divide and Conquer approach; the bottom line is, no one is safe from the government cuts, and activities, unless you happen to be rich! I haven’t even mentioned what they’re trying to do to DLA or the NHS, but the point is, they’re trying to make it more difficult to live in this country.

I could go on and on like this in all honesty, but at the end of the day, things are happening that can be stopped, we just need to d something about it, even something as simple as signing and sharing an e-petition can help in a lot of cases, especially the ones that the Number 10 website; those that get enough signatures MUST be debated in Parliament! But, not only those petitions work, some of the ones on other sites work too; educating others about what is going on, and even educating yourself about the situation is important, read blog posts, newspaper articles and anything that discusses the current situation.

You may not do politics, but it is about time you started; politics is what this entire mess is about, and the more you distance yourself from it, the less chance you have to change the situation you are (and everyone else is) in. Look, I know you’re likely fed up with politics (at times, I am too)… but apathy towards politics is partly why we’re in this mess in the first place. If we all genuinely want to make this country better, we need to all be politically aware and make sure we make the right decisions; even a basic understanding of politics will help, because then you know what exactly you’re getting into when you vote, and honestly, you should be voting (at least where it matters).

If you didn’t (or don’t) vote, you have absolutely no right to complain about the situation we are in now. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s true. I voted at the last GE and I’ve been rather… vocal with my opinions as of late. Sure, the party I voted for didn’t win (that’s a discussion for another time), but at least I voted. By voting, you have basically ‘purchased’ a stake in the welfare of this country, and therefore have every right to complain about it going downhill. Now granted, I may not agree with your opinion (how would the world be if we all agreed?), but I accept you have one and strongly believe in it; that’s what tolerance is, that is accepting that people are different, have differnent ideas and different opinions, yet still accepting them as a person. Anyway, the bottom line is that in this day and age, it is possible to do life-changing things, simply by sitting down at your computer.

Now granted, not everything can be done this way, but some of the major things are promoting awareness (blogging or telling others, or sharing posts/articles) putting your signature to something or even funding a cause you believe in… changing the world can be that simple at times. Even still, if you want to gather for a protest or other cause, you can find like-minded souls in order to help facilitate that. We’re only as strong as we think we are, and if we think we are strong, and we come together with other strong people, we can use that combined strength to make things a better place. Admittedly, it is very possible for one person to make a difference, but at the same time, there is strength in numbers. And now, this doesn’t mean gather together to cause a riot… we had enough of that last year, but certainly, we need to come together to make things happen… let’s come together and try to make this country great once again.

And in some cases, all you need to do is spend a few minutes (or more if you can spare it) of your time doing it, fancy that… a few minutes of your time, and you can help improve life for yourself and many others.

Surely that is something worth being a part of?


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I think it’s about time for another post. Admittedly, I haven’t really been averaging a post a fortnight, but equally, I have been diversifying my blogging topics a little more, which is a trend I hope will continue. I am looking at having categorised blogs though, which I have mentioned before, and I think is best because I ultimately want to have this centred around a select few topics, namely stuff I haven’t  covered elsewhere yet. As far as blogs go, I’m thinking about having the following:

  • The Sciences, Technology, Mental Heath/Disability, Business/Entrepreneurship, Projects and general ramblings: This blog.
  • Portfolio: Andrew Kennett (this clears up some space pages wise, and also will provide a timeline of sorts with my projects; it is mainly a dynamic CV of sorts).
  • Current Affairs & (some) Politics: A Right State!
  • Gaming (computer gaming and other sorts): Gamed Up (personal blog for personal stuff and site for reviews, news, previews, etc)
  • Travel (Personal): Stormkeeper @ Xeno Storm.
  • Travel (Group Projects): Individual dedicated project blog with links to category of personal blog associated with that project.

And that’s just for starters, to be honest…. or maybe it’s the end, I’m not sure. Either way, I’ll be looking at where stuff goes. I did have a site called Geeked Up planned as a sister site to Gamed Up initially, but I’m realising I’m spreading myself a bit thinly now, so therefore Geeked Up will be put on the back burner for now, plus there was very little I could put there, except for maybe stuff on Warhammer (that can go to Gamed Up anyway, maybe Geeked Up later) and Wrestling (the FB group is kinda dead). Ultimately, I’m gonna be spending this year sorting stuff out more, and also trying to make more posts where possible, though there will be some overlap from a couple of the blogs; the SK travel blog however will be dedicated to travel specifically, although I’m 50-50 on where the projects go; either they stay here or go to their own dedicated blog, suppose it depends on the format I make the projects, but for now I lumped them here…. it may just be I separate the project section into a separate blog and do it day by day. It would certainly make a lot more sense in all honesty, so I’ll do that when I move over to the new system I have planned.
Read the rest of the entry »


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Yeah, random title… but it’s what I got in my mailbox, have a looksee:

Subject: Let’s talk more my bunny!

Hello! My name is Tanya , I am lonely russian woman from Ulyanovsk. I hope you will interested in
my letter or in my structure in agency. I have decided to write to you really liked to me. Some more
about me…. I am 25, I have finished medical university in our city and now I work as the
children’s doctor. My free time I spend on a hippodrome, as I 7 years am engaged in equestrian sport.
I think more about my appearance will tell you my photos. If you want to learn more about me you may
write me to RandomEmail@yandex.ru Also if you want to ask me some questoins (if interested in me),
please write me and I promise answer you and also I will send you more of my photos. Bye for now.
I hope it’s letter will not without your reply.

So yeah, I got two of those emails over the past couple of days. You want to know the kicker though? They came from Myspace! I think Myspace likely has some issues with being compromised, which concerns me as I have an account there (albeit semi-inactive), but I do wonder if the security of the site is compromised. Still, it amuses me Igot called a bunny… that’s the last animal that I’d ever consider myself to be; those of you that know me (especially those who were with the old Xeno Storm Forums) have a better idea, plus I’m sure I still have it as an avatar in some places. Anyway, really amusing.

 


This site will be down for up to 14 days from this cominf Sunday, due to some technical issues, namely the fact my domain comes up for renewal soon and Ihaven’t the cash right now to renew it!

I will soon update to the new domain and alias this one to the new site but for now, I’m staying here until I am able to move. As always, watch this space for developments. You can contact me or get updates during the outage via Twitter (@Stormkeeper_, though I may not actually have many site updates. Either way, I’ll be glad to move over to a new setup, given it’s much cheaper and more efficient!


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I can’t help but notice I’m really popular with spammers compared to actual users (as indicated by the comments on my disclaimer, though I may disable comments on that page)… if the spammers were actual users, I think I’d be reasonably popular, lol. That would actually help out the cause I’ve been promoting recently as well, thinking about it… and mentioning that, I have an update on that below which is quite important.

It’s come to my attention that the link for The Mental Health Struggle has been updated and moved to Indiegogo. I’ll be changing the link on my last entry too (read that towards the end if you want to know what I said about it first), but if you get to it before I do, but after reading this, the new link is here. I also tweeted the new link when I made my pledge, so use that link as well. I’ll also be tweeting a new link to be retweeted after I finish this post, using the hashtag #TMHS and also/or #TheMentalHealthStruggle (for tracking purposes; don’t be surprised to see one or the other, or both). The reasons for this change of link are threefold; first of all, the £8,000 goal wasn’t going to be reached in the time given, so the organiser asked for the deadline and goal to be increased and decreased to £5,000 respectively. Secondly, it seems that Kickstarter doesn’t allow causes or charities to be funded, which seems a bit bizarre. It does mean though that I’m gonna have to pester those I told again and remove links to the old address, so if you see this, and then see a Kickstarter link to this project in my blog, don’t click on it!

Lastly, they have a website as well which is here. I do hope to remove all the Kickstarter references by this weekend, but this post is partly in case I’ve either missed some or I’m still working on it when you read this. Unfortunately, they’ve had to start from scratch, so be sure to make a new pledge! There are also some new goodies, so check it out before pledging your original amount, or your original level. I should mention that there’s a possibility that you’ll be paying instantly via the Indiegogo link (through Paypal), so this is unlike Kickstarter where you pay after the goal is met. This is just a heads up, just to make you aware of the difference. I can luckily take the hit, so it won’t be too bad, but still, it’s something you need to know.

Anyway, if you have contributed via this blog post, or even if I directly mentioned it to you, please leave a comment below. Additionally, please do tell your friends if you think they’ll be interested in this project… you know I will be!

P.S.: I’m sorry for harassing people again, but you’d rather be kept informed, right? Especially those of you who made a pledge.

P.P.S.: I’ll soon be making another blog entry, only it will be about my experiences with podcasting. Additionally, I don’t expect my website to move now till at least the middle to the end of February, because I’m a terrible procrastinator, and also need to see what I need to move over, as well as set up the stuff on the new host to be ready to transfer over. In the meantime, please check out this project if you haven’t already, it means a lot to me.

Edit: It appears that I had a lot less links made than I actually thought… I think they’re on Facebook more though probably.


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