General

Eckhart Tolle

Tolle gives good advice about being present and his authentic presence is evident in the way that he speaks. I was almost as impressed with Russell Brand for being so quiet and so honest about himself. I think Brand was surprised himself.

Some key points:

What we do is an expression of our level of consciousness.

If we fight something we give it more energy. Be aware. Be an observing presence. Feel desire arising but don’t be that desire.

The Hive Mind moves into our minds. We know we are in the collective egoistic Hive Mind when we are participating in condemning others.

We need to operate on the level of Being not just Doing.

I sketched as I was listening and making notes:

Tolle’s understanding/teaching is similar to Krishnamurti’s because they are both based on appreciation of being in the present moment and ‘choiceless observation’.

Curiouser and Curiouser

I do not doubt the reality of the Covid-19 virus and I do not doubt the severity of the disease in many patients. What I question is some of the information that we have been given about the disease and the way that the virus is being handled. I suggest that there might be large amounts of misinformation being disseminated by govenrment and that there is considerable mishandling of the crisis by government.

For example it has not been proven that asymptomatic transmission is real. As this is the basis of masks and lockdowns, transmissibility is of the first importance. Here is Dr Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO in June, few months ago:

There appears to be clear evidence supporting Dr Van Kerkhove’s contention that if it occurs asymptomatic transmission is rare: https://www.aier.org/article/asymptomatic-spread-revisited/

We read in the AIER article that:

..there was the predictably pro-lockdown mainstream media which decried her [Van Kerkhove’s] heresy. The cry was so loud that the WHO immediately started walking back the claim, mostly with hints and suggestions that didn’t say untrue things but did not repudiate the initial claim either: “There is much to be answered on this. There is much that is unknown. It’s clear that both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals are part of the transmission cycle. The question is what is the relative contribution of each group to the overall number of cases.”

Dr Van Kerkhove apparently does not continue to pursue the line that Covid-19 is not or is only rarely transmitted by the asymptomatic. In the next video I see of her, she is talking about vaccinating Santa Claus.

Then there is this video where she talks about mutations in viruses generally, mutations in the Covid-19 virus generally and then specifically about the new variant in the UK. She says that this new variant does not behave any differently from the the older virus.


This is apparently the line that the UK government was taking until the last few days. On 15th December Van Kerkove is reported as saying

“So far we don’t have any evidence that this variant behaves differently. But we will continue to evaluate and inform you of any changes.”

Dr Gillian Richardson, the co-chair of the Covid-19 vaccine programme board in Wales, said

“At the moment, this variation is not thought to affect the behaviour of the virus at all and it is not thought to affect the effectiveness of the vaccine. Obviously, we will be looking very closely at that to make absolutely sure.”

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/coronavirus-vaccine-mutation-wales-infection-19459242

Within ten days the situation has changed. We are told that the new variant makes the coronavirus more contagious and the UK government puts London and a large part of South East England under strict ‘Tier 4″ lockdown.

In the fourth video I see of Van Kerkhove she is talking about social distancing, masking and vaccines. What is missing is any reference to the lack of evidence regarding asymptomatic transmission or discussion about the mechanism of transmission.


Covid Comparisons

Source: https://ncov2019.live/

The UK is country with the seventh worst figures in deaths per million attributed to Covid-19. As of 18th December the number is 66,541 which is 978 per million of the country’s population. The UK has done slightly worse than the US, which has reported 320,182 Covid-19 deaths or 965 deaths per million. This is particularly remarkable as all Covid-19 deaths in the US are routinely blamed on Donald Trump.

But it is not the comparison with the US or France, Italy or Belgium, all in the top 10 of countries worse afflicted with the virus, that is most interesting it is the comparison with countries like Ethiopia which, with a population of over 116 million has reported a total of only 1,843 Covid-19 deaths, 16 per million of population. It would not be unfair to say that Ethiopia seems not to have experienced a ‘pandemic’ at all.


If Ethiopia were a solitary outlier it would make sense to look at Ethiopia and ask what factors caused it to be so little affected by Covid-19. But Ethiopia is of course not the only country to be much less affected than the UK. There is a huge difference between Finland’s reported 88 deaths per million and the UK’s 978 deaths per million.

A lot of energy and of course money has gone into creating vaccines to protect people against the virus but very little effort seems to have been put into examining factors that might account to huge disparities between nations in the impacts on them of the coronavirus.


Why does China with a population of over 1 billion people, and where the Covid-19 infection reportedly originated, record only 4364 deaths or 3 per million of population? Why does Congo, one of the poorest nations on the planet report only 100 deaths, 18 per million?

What about Madagascar, Malawi and Malaysia with 9, 10 and 13 deaths per million?

The success of New Zealand in keeping numbers very low has been celebrated. Less so (well not at all) the successes of Nicaragua, Niger and Nigeria. Why? Is it supposed that nothing can be learned from these countries?

Here are a few more countries. The figures show that Tanzania and Thailand, with populations numerically similiar to the UK’s, have hardly been touched by the pandemic.

A world map showing the occurence of Covid-19 cases lines up somewhat with the map of temperature zones.

Source: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/geographical-distribution-2019-ncov-cases
Source: https://studylib.net/doc/6783298/map-of-world-climate-zones

Countries in the tropical zones have much fewer recorded cases of Covid-19 in some cases the figures can be called negligible.

However Brazil with high Covid mortality in a tropical zone and China with low Covid mortality in a temperate zone are very big exceptions to this observation.

What can we make of these observations? I’m not qualified to make much of them but I think it would be useful for people who are qualified to look at the differences between countries. I think that if it is the case that tropical zone countries are vastly less vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and mortality they should not model their responses to Covid-19 on the responses of temperate zone countries; they do not need to trash their economies and should perhaps seek to benefit economically from their lesser vulnerability. Also, if there are factors apart from climate that contribute to the lesser vulnerability of Madagascar, Malawi and Malaysia then though factorts should surely be identified in only to increase our understanding of the virus and to better inform our dialogue.



Games and Coding

I have completed the ‘first chapter’ of an Interactive Fiction (IF) story called ‘Prisonship‘. I wrote it using Twine 1.3.4. It is in the style of a webcomic using Comic Life software from Plasq. Most images were taken from Pixabay and manipulated and captioned in Comic Life. I’m enchanted by the simplicity of Twine 1.3.2 and the ease with which the story can be viewed on both PC and smartphone screens. I’d previously written a previous short IF story called Lucid Dreaming using Squiffy , another interesting tool.

I’m thinking seriously about using the webcomic, interactive fiction format as a way of expressing what I want to express. Learning to draw is probably a better way to go for me than learning new digital design skills. I’ll probably be posting some of my efforts over the next few week and months ..

Postscript: I’ve added some music to the Prisonship story using a script I found at Glorious Trainwrecks. The music from a Public Domain site is Strauss’s The Blue Danube

Concepts

I don’t do political theory a lot and I don’t like doctrine at all but there are certain important concepts, ideas and models for moving forward together that seem to me to be simple, obvious and necessary. These ideas are not ‘mine’ but they resonate with my way of thinking. I understand the following articulations so I’m sharing them I may have changed the wording slightly in some cases but I’ve noted all the sources:

Dialogue
To enter into dialogue presupposes equality amongst participants. Each must trust the others; there must be mutual respect and love (care and commitment). Each one must question what he or she knows and realize that through dialogue existing thoughts will change and new knowledge will be created.

Praxis (Action/Reflection)
It is not enough for people to come together in dialogue in order to gain knowledge of their social reality. They must act together upon their environment in order critically to reflect upon their reality and so transform it through further action and critical reflection.

Conscientization
The process of developing a critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflection and action. Action is fundamental because it is the process of changing the reality.

Conversational Leadership
Conversational Leadership is about appreciating the extraordinary but underutilized power of conversation, recognizing that we can all practice leadership and adopt a conversational approach to the way in which we live and work together in an increasingly complex world.

Distributed Leadership
The rise of the distributed leadership movement comes in response to the problems that arise when we rely on ‘Hero Leaders’. Many community institutions/initiatives have leaders who do everything, so much so that when they leave, vast amounts of knowledge and skill upon which the initiative departs with them. The void that they leave behind is difficult to fill and the community struggles to maintain any legacy from the departed Hero Leader and the period of transition with new leadership can be very turbulent indeed. Distributed leadership, therefore, was born out of the idea that if leadership of an institution/initiative and its activities are distributed across many leaders, both formal and informal, it can continue to grow and flourish as leaders come and go. The focus is shifted from organisational structures and hierarchies being key to the initiative’s long-term success more towards an investment in community capital that is able to successfully renew itself, as skills and knowledge are retained in the community.

Horizontalism
Over the past ten years, the world has been witnessing an upsurge in prefigurative revolutionary movements; movements, that create the future in the present. These new movements are not creating party platforms or programs. They do not look to one leader, but make space for all to be leaders. They place more importance on asking the right questions than on providing the correct answers . They do not adhere to dogma and hierarchy, instead they build direct democracy and consensus. They are movements based in trust and love.

Anarcho-syndicalism
Anarchism is a revolutionary political tradition that declares “freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.” Syndicalism is the workers’ movement. Deriving from the French word for trade unionism (syndicalisme), it seeks to unite workers to fight for their interests at work. Anarcho-syndicalism is anarchism applied to the workers’ movement. From small educational groups to mass revolutionary unions, libertarian organisation grows and is controlled from the bottom up. The role of anarcho-syndicalist networks is to advocate and organise mass meetings of all workers or community members involved in each struggle so that the workers or community members involved retain control. Within these mass meetings anarcho-syndicalists argue for the principles of solidarity, direct action and self-organisation. In this way anarcho-syndicalism is completely different to trade unionism, which seeks to represent our economic interests, and the so-called ‘workers parties’ which seek to represent our political interests. Instead, anarcho-syndicalism unites the political and the economic and opposes representation in favour of self-organisation.

Learning and Making Culture
Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things.These things are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our souls. To feel whole as a community there must be a sense of us being makers and learners, of being productive as collectives and as members of collectives. Making things in the community roots learning in the community and creates value for the community. It can include everyone from the youngest to the eldest.

Sources:
Paulo Freire
Distributed Leadership
Anarcho-Syndicalism
Sitrin (Ed.) – Horizontalism – Voices of Popular Power in Argentina

An Investigation

I note that my name has been mentioned in “an investigation into Joshua Garfield’s complaint relating to antisemitism in the Newham Labour Party”

See: https://www.onlondon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/john-gray.pdf

I am not much interested in this but since my name is mentioned in the report (page 4) I will take the time to comment on that section specifically:

“Gavin Sealey is allowed to publish an antisemitic article from the website ‘Exposing Zionism UK’ on the Newham Labour Facebook group (18 January 2020).”

I don’t recall the particular article. Looking for the ‘website’ I found a Facegroup group: https://www.facebook.com/EZUKFP1/

“Gavin Sealey had been suspended from membership of the Labour Party at that time and he was finally expelled in February 2020, for antisemitism. He was a public supporter of the well known antisemite Gilad Atzmon.”

I note that there is no instantiation to support the charge of antisemitism against me unless it is being ‘a public supporter of well known antisemite Gilad Atzmon’. I shared a number of posts by Atzmon over a period of five years but I do not know that this constitutes being ‘a public supporter’ of Atzmon.

For anyone interested in knowing why I was expelled from the LP there is a lengthy account here: https://52.netstorms.org/case-number-3641/ but what I want to highlight is my comment at the end:

  1. I am asked if there are further matters I wish to raise in my defence. I do not perceive anything I have said as a defence. The only further matter I wish to raise concerns the motivation for this charge or inquiry or whatever it is. What motivated the Labour Party to trawl through five years of my Facebook posts. These are presented as ‘evidence’ but evidence of what? Evidence in support of what charge? Think about it; evidence is usually sought in support of some allegation or conjecture. What is the allegation that preceeded the search for ‘evidence’ in this case?

I can only speculate as to whether my coming to the attention of Newham Councillor Joshua Garfield had anything to do with me being investigated by the Party.

Returning to the Hirsh Report, it says that the particular post from ‘Exposing Zionism’ “named Lisa Nandy as ‘one of the five Zionist stooges left in the Labour leadership contest’. It says that ‘all five have grovelled before the Board of Deputies in order to get endorsement from the Israeli lobby group’. The report says that this image is antisemitic.

I cannot remember the post or the context in which I presented it but it is very likely the context in which I commented, on my website, on the Labour Leadership candidates acceptance of the ‘Ten Pledges’. This was my view then and remains my view now: https://52.netstorms.org/a-crisis-of-antirationalism/

I am a very polite person and, although I do not hide my views, I do not use terms such as ‘grovelling’ to describe other people’s behaviour. I do not necessarily dismiss an article for its use of such imagery in relation to public figures but I do not approve it.

According to the report:

“Gavin Sealey’s introduction and defence of this piece is antisemitic because, as Joshua Garfield puts it in his complaint, it will have ‘radicalised average Labour members to distrust Jewish people’s concerns and think ill of Jewish organisations’. Sealey portrays the Board of Deputies … as inherently Conservative and anti-Labour. In this way it inaccurately gives the impression that Jews, including Labour Jews, are on the whole are Conservative and antiLabour. This portrayal of mainstream Jews as hostile to the Labour Party and its values fosters an antisemitic image of Jews in the minds of Labour People.”

I find the image of myself ‘radicalising average Labour members’ particularly ludicrous. A characterisation of the political stance of a particular Jewish institution does not imply an intention to characterise Jewish people in general as having that same stance. To imply that would be stupid and to infer it is stupid. I do not believe that ‘average Labour members’ are stupid but the only inference I can take from Garfield’s comment is that he does.

This ‘investigation’ has been reported in the Newham Recorder: https://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/politics/newham-labour-antisemitism-report-leaked-1-6916897

It has also been reported on the On London website: https://www.onlondon.co.uk/newham-whats-going-on-with-the-mayor-and-the-fight-against-labour-antisemitism/

No Going Back

I do not want to go back to a normal where my worse days are better than the best days of many children across the world.

I do not want to go back to a world where the goods I take for granted are in fact granted by the exploitation and dispossession of billions.

Our freedoms can be taken from us, our wealth can be misappropriated and our communities can be broken so easily because we permitted freedom and wealth to be taken from others and felt no sense of community with them.

Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

Our freedoms of speech have been restricted, our freedoms of thought have been limited and manipulated, and our collective wealth has been misappropriated long before the current dispensation.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our mind”

My Voice Shakes

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again … and again.

The position that the Labour Left finds itself in today is a logical consequence of all the things the Labour leadership and membership have accepted in the past. The removal of Rebecca Long-Bailey from her front bench position and the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn are the logical consequences of premises and principles adopted by the leadership of the Labour Party and acquiesced to by its membership:

“The only acceptable response to any accusation of racist prejudice is self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement.”

~ Rebecca Long Bailey 12 Jan 2020

Do people really not appreciate what this statement implies? How dangerous it is, and how humiliating, because it deprives the potentially innocent the right to speak in their own defence? Do people not realise that its effect is potentially racist because those who are most subject to having their voices silenced, to being accused of speaking out of turn and to be presumed to have nothing of value to say are the black and the poor? It is most often power that accuses and the powerless that stand accused.

“Any MPs, Peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support,campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.”

~ The Ten Pledges

This is the fifth article of the Ten Pledges made by the leadership of the Labour Party in January of this year. What it means is so clear and its wrongness so clear that I feel foolish attempting to make it more clear, but a logical consequence of the acceptance of this principle is that any member now supporting Jeremy Corbyn should now be suspended themselves.

Premises and principles have corollories and that if you accept the premises you implicitly accept its corollories?

“When an expert looks into a problem you have – whether it’s a doctor, a mechanic, or a plumber – you take their advice and follow it without thinking twice.

So when the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), and imminently the Equalities and Human Rights Commission give the Labour Party specific recommendations about how we need to root out the poison of antisemitism from our movement, our starting point must not be to dispute their proposals but ensure every single one is implemented unless we can rationally explain why not.”

~ Emily Thornberry 8 Jan 2020

“Without thinking twice” says Thorberry. Think about that if you will. How can you rationally explain why anything might be wrong unless you accept the possibility that it might be wrong, unless you are prepared to think again and to question both yourself and those who are ‘advising’ you.

“Without thinking” the Labour Party has abandoned the obligation to think, it has become explicitly hostile to reasoned discourse and to human decency. Starmer’s endorsement of the of the Overseas Operations Bill and of the Covert Intelligence Sources Bill is an implicit endorsment of torture and murder that has been acquiesced to by the great majority of Labour MPs.

The endorsement of savagery is the ultimate consequence of the abandonment of reason. I note with respect that a small number of Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott have oppossed these bills:

See: https://labourlist.org/…/commons-abstentions-are…/

It is not the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn, but the suspension or expulsion, of decency, compassion and reason from the Labour Party and from our public consciousness that most concerns me most and that should concern all of us.

The Third Industrial Revolution

I saw this today and am mightily impressed. I’d not heard of Jeremy Rifkin before but what he says is worth listening to closely.

What is the difference between the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ that Jeremy Rifkin is talking about here and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ ? The following definitions are both from Wikipedia:

“The Digital Revolution (also known as the Third Industrial Revolution) is the shift from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics which began in the latter half of the 20th century, with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record-keeping, that continues to the present day.”

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0) is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology. Large-scale machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT) are integrated for increased automation, improved communication and self-monitoring, and production of smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention.”

For Rifkin the Third Industrial Revolution is founded on ‘Three Internets’:

A Communication Internet
A Digitalised Renewable Energy Internet
An Automated GPS Transport Internet

What most interests me in Rifkin’s presentation is his contention that these three Internets are by design distributed and decentralised rather than centralised. Although I’m far from being familiar with these concepts it seem to me that the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, by contrast, points to greater centralisation through Artificial Intelligence. The phrase was coined by Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum in a book of the same name. His vision is one of close integration between humanity and AI systems even at a biological level.

Both Schwab and Rifkin offer visions that respond to impending crises that are very real.

Rifkin begins his lecture by noting the following epoch defining facts:

  1. Half of humanity is now better off than their ancestors before the industrial revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries
  2. …but 40% of the human race making $2 a day or less and are arguably worse off than their ancestors before the industrial revolutions.
  3. The very wealthy .. the 62 wealthiest humans own more accumulated wealth than that of the poorest 50% of the population.
  4. Climate change .. is never properly explained .. climate change changes the water cycles of the planet. Increasing temperatures mean more concentrated precipitation leading to unstable weather – storms, floods.
  5. We are in the 6th Extinction event. This is not a model. Over the next 7 decades we could lose half of the species now in existence.
  6. We need a new economic model. For both developing and industrialised nations.

The rest of the lecture is about how the distributive aspects of the Three Internets could provide the new economic model.