Programer Simple Living Shanty Town Squatter

By Xah Lee. Date:

[The following was written sometimes in 2010. I wasn't sure i want to post it, but i want to put it out now.]

In 2003, just after the Napster incidence where file sharing became mainstream, there were a growth of anonymous p2p networks or other distributed networks (one of them that survived today is bittorrent.) One of them, i recall, is MUTE, where everything on the network is encrypted and guaranteed anonymous. I blogged about it here Ants, Insects, Decentralized Systems. Checking on it today, MUTE is dead. Though, its author Jason Rohrer, seems interesting. Quote:

Jason Rohrer (born 1977) is a computer programmer, writer, musician, and game designer. He publishes most of his software under the GNU GPL or into the public domain, and charges for the iPhone ports of his games.[1][2] He practices simple living and says his family of four has a budget less than $14,500 per year.[3]

What caught my eye is the “Simple Living” part. $14k a year is about $39 per day, divided by 4 person is $10 per person per day. I am a ascetic. My life style is pretty much hermite-like and also “simple living”. For the past 5 years, i live about $3 per day for food. My annual income is about 3.6k (yes, not typo). 〔➤see Diet of Xah Lee〕 (your help much appreciated: Donate)

Jason's home page is and he has a donation page describing his simple living at

I wonder what's today's p2p scene. I think it kinda waned. After the Napster fiasco, there was gnutella, eDonkey, Limewire… that i am aware of and occasionally used. Of course, Apple lead the movement of online downloadable music for $1 per song, effectively killed CDs. In mid 2005, i used to use Limewire to download music, perhaps around one song per month. Starting in ≈2009, i use the various bittorrent sites to download movies. Check Wikipedia to read about today's p2p scene: Peer-to-peer file sharing.

See also: Software Piracy, Open Source, Free Software, Copyright.

A online friend meowcat recently showed me this Wikipedia article: Squatting. Quote:

Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential,[1] that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use.

According to author Robert Neuwirth, there are one billion squatters globally, that is, about one in every six people on the planet.[2] Yet, according to Kesia Reeve, "squatting is largely absent from policy and academic debate and is rarely conceptualized, as a problem, as a symptom, or as a social or housing movement."[3]

In many of the world's poorer countries, there are extensive slums or shanty towns, typically built on the edges of major cities and consisting almost entirely of self-constructed housing built without the landowner's permission.

In US or Europe, for most of us, we don't see it. We sip our coffee at Starbucks, and whip out our iPad/Android/Kindle or whatnot devices to gossip about latest movements of Google or Steve Jobs. The closest you see is those annoying homeless on city streets. But you might have seen it in movies, or sometimes run into pictures on the net, where in some poor countries such as India or Brazil, that there are vast areas called shanty towns, made of piled up woods or metal sheets, with no electricity, no water, and thousands of people live there, while adjacent to it you have skyscrapers with beautiful pools on top.

One movie that gives you a idea of shanty town is District 9, see: Avatar and District 9 Movie Review.

It's interesting to note, that the Wikipedia article also mentioned Richard Stallman being squatter at MIT. You know, he just sleep there. Kinda hippie style in his time.

Wikipedia says, 1 in 6 people in the world lives in slum. Of course, that is a statistical average. It's that high and yet we don't see it, because most are concentrated in South Africa, Brazil, India, and other 3rd world countries. You might wonder, with all our advanced tech and computers and stuff, why does this still happen?

This issues concerns policy makers, and philosophers, economists, have of course thought about this in depth. Actually, they have been for the past few thousand years. Politicians, plays with it. Politicians plays with it because that's the way to become politicians, and that's because the masses, are idiotic, and our behavior are not based on rationality, but on emotion, human psychology, selfishness, (including the massive number of white do-good activists. 〔➤see The White Savior Industrial Complex; Forrest Gump Syndrome〕). Human nature.