Part 135

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I take aim at a comment I saw on Reddit, stating that poverty is a life choice. Also, a look at NFTs. The usual Tory Shambles, and all the regular financial updates. First the Quote of the Week:

“Poverty is a life choice.”

I saw a comment on Reddit a few days ago where someone argued that poverty is a life choice.  I was going to link the post here, but it appears to have been deleted.  I don’t think I can adequately state just how wide of the mark this comment is, but I’ll try.

It seems to be quite common for people to underestimate the impact of luck in their lives.  No one asks to be born, and the country in which they are born has a huge impact on that person’s prospects.  I was born to teenage parents from working-class backgrounds in the UK.  This still provided me with prospects far more positive than many other children born around the world on the same day.  I had no say in being born; either when or where.  I’m only able to do what I’m doing now because of the circumstances of my birth, and the love and support of my parents who push me to be the best person I can be.  None of these circumstances are down to my “hard work” or “drive”.  It was luck.

I’m not saying hard work or drive has no impact on success in life.  I’ve worked to get where I am today, and contrary to what some commentators have claimed, I’ve not been handed thousands of pounds from “The Bank of Mom and Dad.”  If my parents hadn’t pushed and encouraged me, I may have been trapped in a minimum wage job with no prospects for my future.  

There are plenty of people who want to achieve more, and who are capable of greatness.  It’s possible that the universal cure for all cancer is locked inside the mind of a child living in the slums of India.  It’s possible that the means for achieving faster than light travel is inside the mind of a young woman forced into an arranged marriage, where she will be forced to be a housewife and mother, with no chance of unlocking her academic potential.  The key to fusion power could be inside the mind of a child soldier forced to fight in a religious war.  Had any of these children been born into a loving family in an economically powerful nation, the whole world could be different.  Luck plays a massive part in life.

There’s another part to all this, which I don’t think people consider when they make snap judgements about the circumstances of others.  Let me present you with a scenario. 

You are at the supermarket completing your weekly shop.  You see a woman with three young children.  She is struggling to keep her kids under control.  She is visibly stressed and her trolley is full of reduced items and cheap branded products.  One of her young kids knocks over a bottle of wine, causing it to smash on the floor.  The woman snaps and shouts at her kids.  You find yourself behind her at the checkout, and as she is paying her card declines due to insufficient funds.  Most of us will have seen some version of this scenario, and the snap judgement is probably that she’s a bad parent, and that she shouldn’t have kids if she can’t control them or afford to feed them.

What you don’t know about this woman is that she lost her husband several months ago.  He was hit by a drunk driver racing through the streets in a stolen car.  He died instantly.  He was the main earner for the family, and the wife was a full-time parent.  Owing to her lack of recent work experience, she could not find a job above minimum wage.  If she was to work, she would have to pay for child care as there is no extended family she can depend on.  Money is tight, and she is falling into arrears on her mortgage.  The life protection her husband had has been used up with the cost of living rising dramatically.  

This woman did not choose to have kids she couldn’t afford.  She had a loving relationship until her husband was taken from her by a drunk driver.  Can you seriously tell this woman that her impending poverty is a life choice?

It’s easy to judge the people you see on the street each day, but you don’t know what their story is.  The decent thing to do is assume the best in people, and don’t be an asshole.  If not for the luck of our birth, it could have been any of us.

Weekly Update

It’s been a fairly uneventful week and I’ve still not felt on top form.  I had a tetanus booster on Monday following my head-first collision with a metal sign.  Apart from that, I don’t know where the week has gone. 

Next week I am back at work for the first few days, and then it’s the Jubilee.  It’s difficult for me to put into words just how little I care about the monarchy.  The sooner the whole establishment is demolished the better.

I accompanied my Dad on a couple of property viewings as he steps up his search for a new place to live.  There was an apartment just over the river from where I live that would have been fantastic, but the numbers just didn’t add up.  He’s still looking and something will hopefully come up soon. 

As the week came to a close I ventured to the mall with my girlfriend.  We hated it.  Neither of us has the patience or tolerance to deal with people.  We started with a nice lunch, where we enjoyed some sushi and fried chicken.  Then, it was on to clothes shopping.  I lasted maybe an hour before I ran out of hit points.  I found a bench and sat whilst my girlfriend finished up in a few shops.  

This Week’s Tory Shambles

The Sue Gray report was published this week and, as expected, it hammers the Tory party.  Despite the inevitable criticisms of the government, I can’t help but feel that the report pulled its punches a little.  I’m not going to dwell on this story for too long though, as it’s been covered at length in the news over the past few days.  

PMQs was hilarious and frustrating in equal measure.  Almost every single MP stated they wanted the PM to resign, and his response to each request was negative.  Recent polls suggest that the majority of the UK population wants the PM to resign, and I don’t know how he has the front to state he wants to get on with the business of government when faced with the facts.

I don’t even know how to start this next bit, so I’m just going to get to it.  Did you see the rap video released by Nadine Dorries? I just… I just can’t even… I mean… what the actual fuck?

I felt violated after watching those 41 seconds of complete cringe.  The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this video was released to draw attention from the Sue Gray report. 

This week also saw the government make changes to the Ministerial Code.  It has long been expected that when a minister breaks the rules, or acts in a way that is unbecoming a public servant, they should resign or be sacked.  Following the seemingly endless revelations about Tory members breaking rules and/or acting like complete morons, the Tory party has introduced strict new measures to… nah, I can’t even joke about it.  Rather than expecting everyone to act according to the rules, they’ve simply watered down the Ministerial Code.  I find it absurd that MPs can set the standard for their conduct, and if they fail to meet that standard they can just change the rules.  In what other profession would this be tolerated?  Why are people not outraged by this?

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https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 118.9kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books (4/10)

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) ✅
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC) ✅
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844) ✅
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605) ✅

3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before (5/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅
  2. Nicole Perlroth ✅
  3. Sabine Durrant ✅
  4. Luke Smitherd ✅
  5. Max Skittle ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading:

What I’m listening to:  I have just finished Don Quixote and haven’t started a new book yet.

What I’m watching: Taco Chronicles (Netflix), This Is Us (Prime), Night Sky (Prime).

Don Quixote is a strange book.  Some parts of it are great, and others are difficult to follow.  For a book written so long ago, it’s surprisingly meta, and self-aware.  It’s also much more of a comedy than I expected.  I’m glad I’ve finished it, but I don’t think I’d be in a rush to revisit it anytime soon.

This Is Us came to an emotional end this week.  It is a show designed to tug on the heartstrings, but it works.  Both my girlfriend and I enjoyed the show, and apart from a slight dip in quality in the fifth season, it was great.  For those who aren’t familiar with the show, it follows the lives of the Big Three; two brothers and a sister all born on the same day, but they’re not triplets.  It makes sense when you watch it, I promise.  Anyway, the show follows their lives in a non-linear fashion, with episodes flashing between the 60’s and present day.  Taco Chronicles is great fun.  It’s a documentary series looking at the history of different types of taco.  As someone who loves Mexican food, this is brilliant.  The show is funny, interesting, and a sure-fire way to make you hungry.  Each episode is between 20-30 minutes.  We watch an episode here and there, and now have the itch to visit Mexico and eat lots and lots of tacos.

We started Night Sky on Friday evening and watched the first three episodes back to back.  It’s a slow-burning story so far, but I’m hooked.  The premise is that an old married couple in the US have found a doorway to an alien world in their shed.  It sounds insane, and it is, but there’s a definite mystery simmering under the surface.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends.

What would you want to watch again for the first time?

Whenever we finish a great show, my girlfriend and I discuss what shows we would want to watch again for the first time.  We agree that Breaking Bad is on the list, as it’s arguably the best series ever made.  I would like to experience This Is Us again for the first time, as I watched the first few seasons out of order, before going back and starting at the beginning.  

Although it’s not aged particularly well, I’d love to experience the story of Babylon 5 again for the first time.  Hopefully, the reboot is a success.  Other shows in contention include Mad Men, Buffy, The Expanse, but after that I’m struggling to think of others I care enough about.  What about you? If you have any shows you think are worthy of being on the list, please leave a comment.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £19,250.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £42,978.23 (up £1,249.57 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £100.00 (no change from last update). 

Pensions: £50,624.98 (up £319.87 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £218,291.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £140,863.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £472,107.21 (up £1,569.44 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £164,067.27 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,338.22 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £269,405.49 (no change from last update).

Total Wealth: £202,701.72 (up £1,569.44 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £1,900.14 (target £6,000).

No major changes to my finances this week.  Next week will see my mortgage balances reduce, and then the following couple of weeks will see more investment income come through.  

My credit card will probably take some punishment in the coming week or so, and it might be that it carries a balance for the next month or two.  There are a few things we need to buy, including new clothes. 

NFTs

“A fool and his money are soon parted.”

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably heard of NFTs even if you don’t know exactly what they are.  Some people have hyped NFTs as the evolution of cryptocurrency and collecting art.  It’s my considered opinion that NFTs are simply a way of transferring wealth from those who “invest” in them, and those who sell them.

What are NFTs?

Non-fungible token.  Yeah, I’ll wait whilst you look that up.  

If something is non-fungible, it means it’s unique.  Something that is fungible can be replaced like-for-like, for example, a £10 note can be swapped for another £10 note.  Ignoring the serial number on the note, £10 notes are interchangeable.  With NFTs, each is unique and cannot be duplicated.  It’s at this stage that NFTs just fall apart.  

Most NFTs that make the news are pieces of digital art.  If you acquire the NFT you are the owner of the art.  However, there is the issue of simply screenshotting the work, or the dreaded right-click and save.

If you are thinking about getting involved in NFTs, don’t.  Some people are going to get very rich from them, but the vast majority of people are going to lose money.  The whole ownership model is, in my opinion, flawed.  Take my favourite painting; The Starry Night by Van Gogh.  I’ve seen the painting in person twice.  The most recent time, I just stood there and absorbed it for several minutes.  It’s an incredible piece of work.  The thing is, a photo or print doesn’t do it justice.  This is where NFTs and art are different.  I can take a screenshot of an NFT and it will be identical to the original.  I can’t take a photo of The Starry Night and have an equivalent version.  I can own a print, or a photo, but not the original.  This is part of the reason why first edition books or copies signed by the author are more valuable than an ebook.  You can appreciate the story whether it’s a physical book, ebook, or audiobook.  However, no one has ever flexed about owning a recording of Lord of the Rings.  A copy of the book signed by Tolkien’s own hand is another story entirely.

Biolink and other links

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:

bio.link/davidscothern.

Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health:

www.darrenscothern.com

One thought on “Part 135

  1. Wait, what!? There’s a Babylon 5 reboot! I was a huge fan, used to attend sci-fi conventions, got to ‘meet’ Claudia Christian and Bruce Boxleitner (well got their autographs) and nearly died when the lovely late Mira Furlan said I had a lovely name! I just remember the excellent story telling, which at the time was far superior to the likes of Star Trek.

    Like

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