Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Red Cliffs Of Dawlish
Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Friday, 21 October 2016

An Orbital Perspective: Brexit means "A Global Reality"

 Towards a data-driven model of the Earth?

The nuance for the correct picture for this subject was actually quite challenging: I did not want just a perspective of the entire global earth planet: The whole picture or "bigger picture" which because it's so common a phrase turns people off immediately. I did want a perspective that suggested something physically demonstrable in being "bigger" than the European Union. But that was merely stating the obvious. Finally I chose the above picture irrespective that the actual satellite shown is not a classic "Earth Observation Satellite" itself. The image however fits the focus of this blog: An Orbital Perspective:-
  • A higher perspective in both space and time.
  • Is a dynamic or changing picture.
  • Is driven by "big data" at this scale.
  • An Earth-Centric basis to the human processes of "Globalization".
A-Train group of Earth Observation Satellites ~ Reference: NASA wiki
"Other environmental satellites can assist environmental monitoring by detecting changes in the Earth's vegetation, atmospheric trace gas content, sea state, ocean colour, and ice fields. By monitoring vegetation changes over time, droughts can be monitored by comparing the current vegetation state to its long term average."
Borrowing the name from: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles ~ By Astronaut Ron Garan
"Scenes on the surface of Earth can be very still, which is not true when one is orbiting the planet. A snowy winter scene might impress us with its quiet stillness, even though the ground we are standing on is rotating at 1,000 mph, while Earth rotates around the sun at 67,000 mph, while our solar system rotates with the rest of the Milky Way galaxy at 515,000 mph, and the galaxy is hurtling outward at 1.4 million mph. All that motion is outside of our awareness. But when I gazed at Earth from space, there was no escaping the fact that I was traveling across the surface at five miles per second—17,500 mph. The lighting, colors, and the motion of the scene were constantly changing. And when my brain was able to extrapolate the curvature of Earth, I was filled with the certainty that I was witnessing a planet hanging in the blackness of space. Earth became my ever-present travel companion. This is the overview effect, which makes possible the orbital perspective."
A view of this from Europe and the UK, via The Overview Effect:-

Colours: White (North), Yellow (South), Green (East to West) and surrounding Blue (Oceans and Seas) with some more White (Clouds) and surrounding Black (Space)
"The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface.

It refers to the experience of seeing first hand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative."
That's a long preamble, but the observation of how we consider ourselves and our place on this planet, in the case of the UK, is highly relevant to our future politics. One of the most damaging inherent conditions of EU membership was the waste of political attention on a small sub-set of this larger perspective. If you reread the description by the astronaut above, the relative comparison of different speeds are highlighted. There's a national speed for the UK (and regional), a broader speed at the EU level and then another speed at the global level - of change. This is I think a good description of "globalization" in human processes, including but not exclusvely: Politics.

One of the very core messages contained within Dr. RAE North's FLEXCIT - Summary p.5 Phases 5 & 6 (End-Game):-
"Phase five comprises a coherent programme to define our wider global trading relations. This comprises eight separate initiatives. The withdrawal settlement has now receded, having served its purpose as the launch pad. The way is now open for the UK to break out of the EU cul-de-sac and rejoin the world.

Sixth, and finally, we embark on a series of domestic reforms, by introducing elements of direct democracy and the other changes embodied in The Harrogate Agenda – the immediate aim being to prevent ever again a situation where our Parliament hands over our powers to an alien entity without the permission of the people."
You can determine from the recorded reactions of those who are categorized as 
experiencing "The Overview Effect" that it's quite a powerful context from which to then start using and viewing things through, including politics. Indeed nations are already party to "Global Top Tables" which produce legislation at a Global level, at an EU level and again at the national level and eventually at the local level.

Brexit: "A Global Dawn"

It's for this reason I've chosen to end this blog and launch a new blog/website with this combination in mind: Connecting Local Real (or direct) Democracy to the Global Environmental challenges and changes that are already being developed in tandem with other globalization processes. To look at the first two of The Harrogate Agenda demands specifically through this context:-

1. Recognition of our sovereignty:

"The peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland comprise the ultimate authority of their nations and are the source of all political power. That fact shall be recognised by the Crown and the Governments of our nations, and our Parliaments and Assemblies;"

2. Real local democracy:

"The foundation of our democracy shall be the counties (or other local units as may be defined), which shall become constitutional bodies exercising under the control of their peoples all powers of legislation, taxation and administration not specifically granted by the people to the national government;"
One of the challenges ahead will indeed be reinterpreting Sovereignty within the context sparingly outlined, here. The final blog on this site will be, the below which I'll carry over to a new blog/website subsequently:-

"Environmental Audit Committee hears from the Department for Exiting the European Union and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how the Government intends to approach the environment in its negotiations with the European Union after the EU Referendum result."

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Power: The Castle of Illusions

Preferably this would have been a mock-up of M.C. Escher's abstract geometry-breaking style, but the above will suffice for lack of skill in this endeavour.

This blog is overdue another description of a policy (Environment + Brexit) via focused and detailed description of a subject of substance!! Going in the opposite direction, hence at the risk of adding to the cacophony... but noticing the current headline topics in politics at the moment and noticing a high quality blog post by Pete North:-

"If I have learned one thing from my dabbling in politics it is that knowledge is not prized. Conformity is. The rules of political progression are thus:

Firstly one must declare publicly an allegiance to an orthodoxy. One must praise it and denounce followers of opposing ideals. One must never deviate because the narrative is a closely guarded continuum. Each tribe has a leader but in each tribe there are cells. There are acolytes who are permitted a certain degree of status so long as they never challenge or contradict the high priest of the tribal orthodoxy. Dissent is punished, conformity is rewarded. 
This is so engrained in our political culture that debate has now become a form of entertainment rather than a means to an end [editor's note: Distraction Activity could substitute here also]. This explains London political culture.
Not for nothing do we call them the chattering classes. It is reflected in London based political publications where we see in full flow the dynamic of prestige and conformity over substance. What we see is the popularised mantras of the leading tribes which attract the most prestige.

We often speak of "the establishment" but there have been very few credible attempts to define what that actually means. To the left, the establishment is the banks, bosses and the "neoliberals", but this is a wholly teenage interpretation of the establishment.

The establishment is difficult to define specifically because it is an amorphous mass of competing influences. It is neither right wing nor left wing. It is simply that which cannot be removed by way of voting.

The purpose of an election is notionally to refresh the powers that be. In reality all we are doing is sending more fresh meat into the grinder into an ancient system whereby the system takes malleable and naive politicians and uses them to gain influence, be it the media, privately funded think tanks or direct political donations.

In modern times the media and think tanks are interchangeable. The media does very little thinking of its own and so there is a nexus between the media and the thinks tanks whereby old money ensures that the orthodox narratives are never challenged. Through either bribery, bullying, ridicule or sabotage, there are no limits to the lengths they will go to to suppress ideas that they themselves do not endorse or did not originate."

I highly recommend reading the full blog (certainly up to the paragraph on Fascism and for further on that subject re-read my previous blog: Politics & Power: The Power of "Will Power"). One thing I feel confident in stating: Much of the discussion of politics has poor foundations. Often the data group "tags" used to assort large groups of people into such as "left, right, libertarianism or any of the other more established labels", are extremely limited and self-limiting by the current system of politics: Reds vs Blues, as the traditional football match goes. One tribe of supporters ritualistically against another and fair enough some of the quality of football is brilliant entertainment in my opinion - but it's football of course.

Coming back to the news, today there's some highlights of "Trump vs Clinton": Go watch it and it's much easier to see the suggested above, the wider schism between rhetoric and reason; between illusion and reality. In our present debate about Brexit, it's perhaps less obvious, but as usual Dr. RAE North provides enormously helpful assistance:-

Brexit: confusion reigns20/10/2016
Brexit: mutual recognition of standards19/10/2016
Brexit: off the edge of a cliff18/10/2016
see previous blogs......
see previous blogs......
see previous blogs......
see previous blogs......

There is "a kind of order within the above apparent chaotic pattern" in all the above, which go into great detail and depth, the latest concerning the predictable conflation between Customs Union (of the EU), The Single Market (including EEA) and variations on "Free Trade, Sovereignty and Supranationalism, " presumably when "the shit hits the fan" (illusion hits reality), and the parameters of Brexit as understood within the limits of Article 50. To provide an example, just read the beginning summary of news-media coverage of the politicians "positions" concerning the "progress" of Brexit in the above "Brexit: Confusion reigns":-
David Jones, Minister of State for Brexit, has told a House of Lords committee the UK's negotiating position may not be "totally crystallised" by next spring. The government was "at an early stage of the process", he said, and thinking was "developing".

But then, if this recent report in the Guardian (and a parallel report in the Mail) is any guide, this should not come as a surprise. The debate seems to be going backwards, sowing confusion in place of clarity, adding needless complications to an already complex issue.

For a start, these two newspapers don't seem to know whether they are coming or going. Both apparently report on work submitted to the Cabinet by the Treasury, the think-tank NIESR, and the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, but both seem to have a different idea of what it involves.

The Mail, on the one hand, has the work focusing on "a Norway-style model where the UK exits the single market but stays inside the customs union", whereas the Guardian has it that we remain "inside the single market but outside the customs union".

The Guardian then confuses the issue still further by suggesting that a customs union sets common external tariffs – which is fair enough – but then, bizarrely, asserts it "does not require customs checks".

If you read Pete North's blog, I think he lays out a useful basis as to why, that is actually very useful before then using the language of established conventions in our politics and hence the confusion that usually engenders. And if you accept some of the suppositions, it might then make more sense why for example Westminster politics deals and trades in so much that defies reason, that breaks the rules of reason - and yet ends up holding a most perverse logic of it's own! What is that? I think one way to perhaps describe it, and not exclusively, is to compare it to what M.C Escher does with his depictions of "rule-breaking geometry": There is order in understanding which rules are being broken and only displaying the consequence of those broken rules: Of course such an 'echo or reversal' thus holds onto it's inherited "reason" but in a most convoluted and captivating and strange and bizarre outcome: Much like watching politics in Westminster: The centralization of power at work, even? Why if we begin to assume we glimpse some of "how"?

 M.C. Escher: "Waterfall" - Our modern politics: But does such a picture serve a purposeful function for present people? "Almost certainly".

This is perhaps a fantastical way of suggesting: Perhaps people need to start learning more about possible rules of power itself, if we want to progress our politics and it's productive work as opposed to it's "distraction activity" usage which consumes the former; the greater the disconnect between those in power and those not, that also seems to be some sort of rule operating? That's an enigma. But for the moment, it seems to me to be more pleasing to view these illustrations than it is to listen to the illusions of politicians (passport colours a lazy eg, a more appropriate one: Scotland in the Single Market, rUK out – what would it take? - a strong exercise in catering to current illusions from a "think tank" etc).

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Reports From Rebuilding: The Harrogate Agenda (THA)

The Harrogate Agenda: "Continuing the work..."

Page 1 of The Harrogate Agenda: "Demands for governance by the people for the people":-
"The original aim of the Chartists was to reform the political system to make it more democratic. And, although five of their six demands were eventually conceded, their work was not done. The system, although improved, is still very far from democratic. Thus we seek to continue their work, with another six demands, which we intend to be the focus of a new political movement."
On 1st October, 2016, I attended a meeting for The Harrogate Agenda. To choose one single subject to define the heart of the meeting: Power. There was some very deliberate and defined discussion at one point in the meeting concerning Demand 4: The Peoples Consent with respect to the mechanics of power. On the one side you have The Peoples Consent requirement to legislation proposed by Parliament and on the other hand you have Parliament's Consent to legislation proposed by people, which sparked a number of questions: Who then holds true power if the "right of proposal" is curtailed"? Or how is power truly restrained? There's more on this (see the website link above) on Page 14-.

This example is at the heart of the movement mentioned here and in the above passage all within the ambit of Power:-
  • Reform
  • More democratic
  • Continue their work
  • Six Demands
  • new political movement
It seems to me that The Chartists helped build some of the foundations of democracy, but the work is incomplete. And to complete this work or continue it, I think what is required is "people with skills" in political processes. The ability to develop these skills and educate more people with these skills, is I think the essence of real power in politics.

Much is made today, for example today's Daily Politics, just the latest example of types of power:-
  • Money (eg funding sources)
  • Vote Count (eg MPs per party) - this one mentioned
  • Communication (eg data mining)
  • Prestige (eg social hierarchies)

It's tempting to explore so much more and to elaborate on the ideas behind these basic ideas on power so much more, too. But to keep this report succinct: If we stop and consider that maybe our present politics really does revolve around such accepted notions of power as summarized above, then a consideration of where we are at with respect to political change as it exists today, may be in order:-

In times of transition or change, new problems arise. Not only are these new problems to solve, but old ways of viewing problems may themselves become problems too?

When you translate the above "viewing" into how the politicians "view" peoples current problems you end up with the type of "party speeches" that have been aired in the past few days, the usual fodder dolled out year on year:-
  • 'Building a bigger, better, fairer more inclusive society'
  • 'Those at the bottom neglected will be included again'
  • 'We will regain control of immigration, housing, economy and...'
I don't even know, the monotone sound-bites filtered through the way politics is currently viewed according to the context of who has power and who is perceived to hold power. Apparently to then resolve/solve problems through that power that's filtered through the above channels.

Nowhere was this more in evidence than the Referendum on the EU. My assertion is this: The Leave Alliance affliation provided all the tools and much of the education for people to learn to skill themselves up for the Referendum, freely available: Power effectively was being given to people for free! What was potentially possible for people to acquire Real Power ie exercise Real Democracy was almost completely squandered and replaced by the vast majority of people cleaving to the above forms of power - in the hands of "The Few"!

Hence, in my opinion, at The Harrogate Agenda meeting, there was the feeling of being dwarfed by the scale of the problem: If this is such a good idea, why hasn't it already been done before, a "sanity check" style of question?

Interestingly, The Chartists already did attempt this, as stated before! And by the very means of perceived power of their time, too:-
"The strategy employed was to use the scale of support which these petitions and the accompanying mass meetings demonstrated to put pressure on politicians to concede manhood suffrage. Chartism thus relied on constitutional methods to secure its aims..."
What did they rely on that made them successful? I think if there is going to be any kind of success, for The Harrogate Agenda, then finding out what "this" is, will be essential; if it isn't already known? For more discussion on the challenges understanding this, Scribblings From Seaham provides further commentary:-