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:-

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Entertaining Political Times: "Infinite Monkey Brexit"

Monkey + Laptop = Metaphor for randomly throwing out "results" source:

Recently I've been pouring over many papers concerning the environment policy as well as extending that into something else I'm preparing for another purpose, and it has not been possible to write that up as the next blog post, probably for at least another week. Hence I wanted to explore this idea about how people think about things while providing a hopefully enjoyable diversion for anyone feeling bored out of their minds by the "noise" or to reframe this positively into something to find entertaining, afterall 'politics/politicians' "like to be entertaining" when it suits them, as much as being ignored also when it suits them.

I enjoy metaphors almost as much as I enjoy watching animals and in fact the combination is irresistible for use in communication. Why? I think in written communication, the rules of grammar dictate the form of what is said and that is necessarily so. A metaphor allows a wider unspoken space to be intuitively grasped perhaps in addition to following the rules of grammar. We already use what we know to understand what otherwise would require lengthy details and descriptions.

This is useful but it seems it can lead to errors. If the metaphor is overstretched then it will become the argument and lead to non-sequiturs and the like. Or in other words the container for ideas becomes the argument as opposed to the actual ideas held within. This has already been seen regarding the totemic "voodoo dolls" in discussion for Brexit:-

What is brexit? Atm a voodoo doll to stick pins into, in the legacy-news media. Every pin feels better!
  • European Union European Family of Peace
  • The Single Market of European Free Trade
  • The Customs Union of Tariffs and Regulations
  • The Brexit Options beneath all the above:-  
  1. Norway Option
  2. Swiss Option
  3. Turkey Option
  4. Canadian Option
  5. WTO Option
  • Bespoke "British Option" which is either nearest (Cameron's reform fudge) or farthest away from the EU (Old Empire), interestingly.
Dr. RAE North comments on similar themes: Brexit: "mind boggling" complexity & Brexit: a "massive overhead for very little gain".

The simple answer is that Brexit is very complicated. But also, equally the simple answer to the subsequent step in thinking taken that "the problem is, there is no solution" is to recognize first behavioural responses: (1) "pin sticking activity above" as well as recognize (2) such a mantra is logically a fallacy of thinking that the problem itself has not been defined, hence there is no solution and if no solution - no problem defined, not necessarily no solution. Pete North makes this observation about the excessive problematizing of Brexit: The way forward for Brexit. Not only is he right, he's also well within his "rights" to feel a trifle "peeved" with the behaviour of people being so enormously entertained by "typing monkeys" thinking and "voodoo doll" pin sticking behaviour. If you want real entertainment, this wonderful quote from Dr. RAE North:-
"It's thirty months since we published the first version of Flexcit, pointing out that a trade deal with the EU inside two years was not possible, and now the Independent considers it news that "experts" have woken up to that fact."
The economic "sky falling on our heads" has not come to pass as swiftly as some had hoped before the referendum, so a new circus has had to come to town to entertain everyone instead - probably the above, which I've used the metaphor of Infinite monkey theorem to keep with the standard of entertainment expected:-
"The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

In this context, "almost surely" is a mathematical term with a precise meaning, and the "monkey" is not an actual monkey, but a metaphor for an abstract device that produces an endless random sequence of letters and symbols."
Of course it's worth appreciating that the monkeys are a metaphor, because this interesting experiment putting the practicalities into practice shows a somewhat more "down to earth result":-
"In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course used a £2,000 grant from the Arts Council to study the literary output of real monkeys. They left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes crested macaques in Paignton Zoo in Devon in England for a month, with a radio link to broadcast the results on a website.

Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages largely consisting of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it. Mike Phillips, director of the university's Institute of Digital Arts and Technology (i-DAT), said that the artist-funded project was primarily performance art, and they had learned "an awful lot" from it. He concluded that monkeys "are not random generators. They're more complex than that. ... They were quite interested in the screen, and they saw that when they typed a letter, something happened. There was a level of intention there."
Thanks to the commentators at for pointing this out some time ago. And any readers of this blog, thank you for reading, but I hope you've been entertained by the notion of the story above as well as using it to compare with what is currently the output in the Legacy News-Media concerning Brexit?! Hmm.

 I was reading about totem poles in "Art: The Whole Story" recently and as opposed to what is usually thought: The lower-down segments are usually the more important story components...

  1. If we take, the above latest subjects getting an airing, if you read Dr. North's two linked blogs you'll see how people are not arguing accurately about the subjects anymore but are using the subjects more and more as metaphors or what is perhaps a well known process: Totems to represent the full story or subject. Huge amount of political activity and associated industries around it, are more or less bowing down and doing fantastically complex ritualized genuflections in front of a totem pole.
  2. As Pete North points out, FLEXCIT was "there from the beginning" or 30 months old to be accurate. What does this tell us about the EU Referendum? Well let's use a metaphor of the typing monkeys: In the experiment above to quote: "Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages largely consisting of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it." The detail about the "lead male" just makes me crack up the most! You could not write the script any better. But on a serious note, look at monkeys and look at a super advanced and extraordinarily complex technological tool such as a computer or look at people and FLEXCIT.
  3. If you read the Wikipedia link to the "infinite monkey theorum" it comes up with a mathematical formula to describe this. I think it's possible to come up with a similar formula for politics and problems. Probably not as rigorously defined but more or less: Number of actors, number of subjects, applicability of subjects to actors. Given a rise in all three, you will have a growth rate in problems, increase in problems complexity and of course a rise in actors/people who are experiencing disruption to their lives through problems! In the campaign phase, this seems to tack onto this notion of conflict by simplifying messages and each phase accentuating the fact the other group are agents of disruption. [might try and add something here in formula notation in the future]
  4. Now here's the curious outcome: That thinking is being used to problematize Brexit when it's a process of campaigning BEFORE decision-making. Namely the attempt being made is to use the same process of campaigning and problematizing AFTER decision-making. In fact the process after campaigning and decision-making is very different: Educating and widening understanding as opposed to narrowing and simplifying a message to amplify it and distribute it repeatedly. Yet there are people using the "Because Leave campaigned for it" argument this is "politically impossible", hence the latest suave argument using the tempting but false "binary presentation: Norway, Switzerland, bespoke-UK – no option looks easy. The UK faces a stark choice – a solution that works economically, or one that works politically, says Sebastian Remøy. It can’t have both. It seems to me that the complexities don't stop within the UK, but expand "higher and higher and further and further afield" - for the politicians that is - as much as for the people concerning the idea of the above formula. "Because Vote Leave campaigned for it", is mostly a question of resolving the problem of dealing with people who now feel disrupted because what they were told was of course simplified campaigning cobblers! And just imagine this also applying across Europe...
According to the article:-

Sebastian [Remøy] is Global Head of Public Affairs for Kreab and leads the consultancy’s Trade Competition and Digital practice. He is part of the London School of Economics’ [LSE] Commission on the Future of Britain in Europe and is European Co-Chair of the Brexit Working Group in the Trans-Atlantic Business Council. Previously, Sebastian was Senior Officer in the EEA Coordination Division of the EFTA Secretariat and was Deputy Head of the Commercial Section at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo. He has dual Norwegian/American citizenship.

It's interesting because Pete North further makes the observation in the comments section at his blog The way forward for Brexit:-
"He knows full well Flexcit exists but prefers his brand of problematising because that's what his acolytes feed off...

As to my tone, it's largely because I am sick to death of these cleverdicks who persistently lie by omission and put the walls up when challenged. Brexit problematising is a cottage industry whereby anyone with ideas and solutions is excluded because the very last thing they want to do is discuss ways forward.
The joke of it is, were he actually interested in solutions he would have found us 

Flexciteers helpful and cooperative. We have perfectly amicable relationships with remainers who are interested in answers - but that is not DAG.

There is a whole universe of other issues he has yet to discover and when he does he'll parade it round like nobody has ever thought of it before. And again when it turns out that there is a perfectly viable solution he'll ignore that too. You can't really work with that - so if sneering derision is what he gets then it's no less than he deserves.

Throughout the FT clique have framed the debate by excluding critical pieces of information..."
There's a commentator "HarryT" there who falls for the predictable:-
"Yeah... perhaps. It would be a shame if Flexcit were a great idea but people were put off finding out about it by the way its proponents behaved." 

Pete North responds accurately:-

"You are looking at this as one single post from Green. It isn't. This is part of a pattern of behaviour from him. Continued problematising and catastrophisation to the exclusion of all external sources."

I was watching   Recorded coverage of the president of the European Parliament Martin Schultz MEP making a speech at the London School of Economics on EU and Brexit, from Friday 23 September. And I have nothing personally against what is said in the speech by Mr. Shultz who curiously keeps to the straight and narrow line and points out it's mostly a question of acceptable behaviour, but watching the tittering behaviour of the LSE group in attendance was as fascinating, however, at the mention of "Boris": Reassuringly superior laughter. Pete North is right, above, a huge part of all the problems in that potential "formula" suggested above is "behaviour" (as above even with the accusation that those who are "unpleasant" are the ones who are not behaving!) much more than it is the actual subject itself which will indeed pose problems of it's own kind, which as FLEXCIT points at for so long, already, are indeed very complicated of themselves. But when you factor in this other form of behaviour: The question is as per the typing monkeys: How much time do they need to type out the full Brexit solution?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Better Rhetoric For Brexit: "Acres Of Diamonds."

What is the value in Brexit?

There is one silver-lining from having to endure the nonsense rhetoric or what is given the (overly-) serious political description of "phony war", and that's that rhetoric can be made to work BOTH ways.

In one previous blog, the obervation was made that the common wisdom is that "no-body knows" if Brexit is good or if Remain is good or better or worse. Namely confusion and complexity at work before communication is able to even parse anything worth saying. This is one reason I find it particularly difficult these days to comment over at I know in most cases I've not done the requisite work, research and preparation to master the details to be able to simplify enough to ask useful questions and hence develop/advance the discussion presented there.

I've seen a number of times group meetings where people have come out with the usual mantras irrespective that being present at these meetings they should, as preliminary, be familiar with the overall conceptual picture... and predictably you see a "flash of lightning" darken Dr. North's response the speed of which is probably proportional to the number of "man-hours" invested in these materials so that people might actually have the basics of communication wrapped up first before attempting to argue the details and logic in seriousness using this common platform.

For this reason I've chosen to attempt to limit the scope of this blog to policy areas: Environment, Fisheries and Farming, in future, at least that may aid in attempting to master the details as much as I am capable as a non-expert. As well as this, some of the thinking that goes around the subject of Brexit such as this blog: Namely connecting the principles to the details at different ends: Working on the problem from both ends.

I watched yet another BBC political production: Britain After The Referendum: What Next? which, did not answer the question: "What Next?" but did as with Question Time provide a pedestal for various talking heads to spout their rhetoric from.

The central question which keeps failing to be acknowledged, that from The Great Deception: "What is the EU for anyway?" then from that "Is it worth it?" is derivative. Instead we have from the speakers:-
  • Ben Page's preferred filter from public polls: "You wot, mate?"
  • Nick Clegg's student of the EU speech: "Friend Of Big EU Chief".
  • CBI: "Business is about money. I rest my entire case."
  • Polly Toynbee who demonstrates that being misinformed makes you more wrong than being ignorant time and time again.
  • Tim Montgomerie: Seizing the negative tone of all the others to present a positive message to probably gain persuasion points?
All the speakers are very studied in the effect of their words, but none bothered to establish before "What Next?" first: "Where Right Now!"

So, looking for a countervail of rhetoric: Where words rely less on substance and more on style to shift attitude as opposed to carefully argue reason for reason, the "management style stirring speech" is a possible approach; one that has some merit and points out to people: That work, preparation and research are all prerequisites:-

Recognizing Opportunity: How?

These sorts of motivation or management style talks necessarily contain an amount of cliché to them, but that does not detract from the likely reason for this: How many people, have heard such "advice" a number of times  in a number of different ways? Or perhaps so many times that, and end up only feeling good about such speeches and the positive prospects mentioned, and then "What Next?" Do absolutely nothing about applying them or testing them to see if they actually work?

You have to laugh, not at some of the now quaint aspects in the above, which have aged, inevitably, but at the difference between the contents of this speech and the contents of our modern politicians' speeches but as important if not more so: The intent behind the messages proposed in both cases. Let's explore this concerning how it affects talking about Brexit:-

Normally in science, light (white) travels through the prism then separates out into the various different colours which we take delight in when it reaches our eye (sparkle in the diamond's multi-faceted case). However, in politics, this is often what happens in a lot of communication between the questioner (sending out the "light"), the process of communication inbetween and the answer from who ever is on the other end, now scale this up to the institutional processes of politics but in the same Q&A form of person to person (as we always see on our tv screens eg):-

  1. A question is asked on a particular area, let's say "colour blue" using above.
  2. The questioner expects this input to be processed reasonably and output in "colour blue".
  3. But what the questioner often wants to know is the specific value of the "colour blue" after the processing. When I say value, it could be money or some quantitative change that can be measured accurately and definitively.
  4. What instead comes out is the white light. From blue you get all the colours combined and hence the answer is often in politics "uncertainty" or it seems as if the politician has evaded the question (often the case due to party line) but also:-
  5. How To Recognize what where in the fully complex system the question actually resides and hence the limits to what it's effects will be once processed.
In the above, using Dr. North's points about Brexit being a complete thing or using the quote again "Swallow it Whole", the diamond being the different angles of questions asked of the (sub-) components of this complete structure:-

  • Any individual detail or regulation must fit within the wider policy which must fit within the wider political realities.
  • Any "positive outcome" desired in any given specific area, will naturally process through this complex structure and churn out an output based on multiples of different components operating together.
  • Any "positive outcome" is itself a question of "joint-up-policy" being the focus of the components to create the complete outcome (which will include other outcomes). Thus the inputs should be considered as tools rather than ends accountable in themselves.
  • Inevitably these outcomes will lead to "unforeseen consequences" or "uncertainty" which will introduce mistakes or errors. The process should be considered continuous and aim more to avoid catastrophic error ie reasonable deviation.
  • Dr. North moves the argument further along pointing out that any such system itself needs another level of 'consciousness' in what it is used for: In how effectively it can react to correct these mistakes or indeed recognize them from the complexity inherent.
Much like the motivation speech above, it may be that people can listen and read or look at such considerations and yet ultimately not pay any heed to them, because without learning the very many and sometimes boring and seemingly infinitely endless details upon details (ie hard work here and now); people decide they'd prefer to feel good and be comforted in hearing of stories of others who've "miraculously" found Acres Of Diamonds across the other side of the world. This seems to be the politicians' bread and butter basis of rhetoric?

The value in Brexit is much more inherent than is imagined, is probably the best conclusion to use. But the cost is equally inherent and I think more easy to come to terms with right now: A failure of investment of people in this politics, is as per the speech above, "going backwards" and the results may then be considered to be understandable in terms of their "perversity" of outcomes; if check-box listing these the list would be long, of notorious note to summarize however:-
  • No alternative or full fact sheets presented during the Referendum unlike for example in Switzerland as per recently from Scribblings From Seaham: That’s the way to do it………
In the next blog I will cover the Environment subject as applied to Brexit, as I've attempted already with Fisheries. However, from the ideas "talked about here", I hope to apply them to examples within that policy's context and thus better explain them as "examples in action" and observable.

If there's one thing Brexit has exposed, it's how perverse politics can become and how the inherent message within the modern political rhetoric is a message of "powerlessness of people to the political systems".

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Battle In Heaven: The Trouble With Politicians

Supreme quality - of rhetorical skill

The above statement by Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York, is an example par excellence, an exemplar of "the trouble with politicians". Have a read, this American polician's words makes the British equivalents look like pixies of politics by comparison! If I remember a quote from the great story-teller J.R.R Tolkien, correctly to paraphrase:-
"I see no Saurons, today, but the descendants of Saruman the silver-tongued are everywhere."
Well, there may well be a Sauron or two in Middle East, presently, but in British politics it's "these descendants" that are flourishing and thriving. And to use the above as the prime example:-
  1. "I do not believe": A sincere statement of conjecture
  2. "And I Know": Where is the divide?
  3. "This To Be A Horrible Thing To Say": I am sincere and it takes conviction to say it openly and measurement.
  4. "The President Loves America [Not, Not]": No one should be President who does not love America hence actively rejects the people.
  5. "He doesn't love you": If he does not love America how can he love you?
  6. "And... he doesn't love me": We together are not loved by this august authority over us.
  7. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up": He's different, technically this may very well be true in meaning if not in essence, there is plausibility in that the President is different and hence incapable of love of Americans.
  8. "Through love of this country": To be brought up American with American values is through shared love of each other and our country, this is the choice to make.
I'm not here to comment on the veracity of the situation in the USA's politics; don't have a clue about it. But the method of rhetoric is incredibly tight above and skillful, I think. The silver-tongued words shine and gleam with potency, it even makes me worried that President Obama could be a great big uncaring fraud, and that if only we had a Big Sister or Brother (or Father...) to look after us and love us, truly as our own family. Something like that - Yeesh!

British politics is no different if you are raising your eyebrows here, sceptically: Look at Nicola Sturgeon who acts in this bullying and commandeering way for the Scottish people. Look at the outpourings of Nigel Farage (Immigrants on trains speaking funny makes me uncomfortable) or recently Nick - fucking - Clegg:-

 Helpful Tip when dealing with modern-day Sarumans: Don't listen or allow their voices through your ears (block your ears even!), before, first looking very closely at what their eyes are doing for a moment of time. As masterfully characterized by the wonderful actor Christopher Lee, above, playing the role for the Hollywood movie adaptation (unfortunatley like modern movies like modern politicians, a vision eviscerated from it's senses)!

Of all the Saruman's of today, I really least like the ones that work hardest on being liked! The Tony Blairs, Nick Cleggs and of course the further grubby descent of politics by charlatans with even more silvery tongues such as Boris Johnson (part-time comedian) or that comedian/celebrity with long hair and designer goatee who supported Labour and I've completely forgotten his name; the strutting and preening peacock; or possibly Owen Jones, such a nice and so good; what a darling child: That makes me very suspicious... . It's also little wonder our Prime Ministers must spend so much on their clothes and haircuts (Monsieur Hollande's barber?) and acting classes and PR agencies/spin doctors and more and more appear to be selected on the basis of their young and fair of face looks (Blair, Cameron).

It's tempting to look at the opposite proposition *wink*.

In part what has this strand of thought is a New Statesman article: "Nick Clegg: Brexit is too much for the Tory brain". You can google it, I'm not linking such filth, but if you read the above with the above dissection and then you also do the same to Clegg's piece above (just read that title!) then I hope I've exposed "The Trouble With Politicians" a little bit? The New Statesman has the gall to push a pop-up about "quality journalism costs money" too. They're mouth-piece organs to what in Tolkien's book was the title of chapter 10: "The Voice of Saruman":-
"[His voice was] low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment [...] it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire woke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves ... for those whom it conquered the spell endured while they were far away and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them."
The bit in that chapter that especially resonates with me, is the invocation of wiser leaders requiring to discuss great and important matters behind closed doors while the small and insignificant little people tremble with trepidation and hope that these great persons might deliver them from their troubles... or something like that. So true: All the stage management of politics today, captured in that little passage.

Battle In Heaven: A recurring theme, always above us.

The above picture seems to resonate for some reason... the distant and rarefied visualization of "higher unseen powers" at work or battle. With respect to politics it does seem to be something like this in my own personal experience; so I may better understand these terrible and dread clash of the gods)?:-
  1. "Which is the best quality newspaper to read?" Is it The Daily Telegraph; surely better than The Sun?
  2.  "Which newspapers provide the best breadth of coverage to lead to a balanced and informed understanding of what is going on in the world?" Is it the main political spectrum papers: The Telegraph for Tory, The Guardian For Labour, The Independent for Liberal Democrat (and Breibart today for UKIP)?
  3. "Which newspapers provide coverage based more in fact than opinion?" Graduating on to The Economist and The Financial Times...
  4. "Why do I even read the news if it is proven to make people's moods more pessimistic and negative?"
  5. "Who are the leading and authorative sources one can depend upon then?"
  6. What do I need to learn more of to understand these issues more deeply?
  7. "How can I get more actively involved and do something usefully while avoiding becoming a gullible fool of politicians' machinations?"
The trouble with politicians it seems to me is that people become bound to the idea that they learn and follow from such people and all will be wise and great as it were but remain stuck on one of the lower levels, always looking upwards at the great battle in heaven by these silver-tongued descendants.

Pete North recently blogged in my opinion the definitive verdict on the subsequent and forthcoming consequences of the EU Referendum and how it will shape and guide the formation of Brexit:

The consequences of The Silver Tongue

It's worth reading all of Pete's blog on this subject, but to select a few particular areas:-
"If you think back to the run up to the general election, Ukip was talk of the town. They were going to storm the castle walls and take the establishment on in their home turf. It didn't happen though. All eyes were on Ukip to see if they were made of the right stuff, but in the end what shone through was their complete lack of intellectual foundation and total lack of competence.

The original intent was that The Leave Alliance was going to put in a bid but we were caught off guard and never had the resources to mount a credible challenge. We did however have one thing the other contenders did not. A plan. Through Twitter we eventually got the attention of Arron Banks and there were a number of talks with regard to the adoption of Flexcit - a plan that would take us beyond Brexit. To cut a long story short, that same contingent of malevolent Ukippers rapidly bullied Banks into a u-turn. Banks was a coward.  

And now what have we? A very problematic win. In most respects Vote Leave failed to register at all with the media unless it was being especially obnoxious. It certainly didn't win any new friends. 

It seems to me that the EU was an abstract element in the whole campaign and nobody even attempted to sell the broader ideals of the EU to the public.  

So what we have is a corporate shell of a campaign, with no movement behind it, no real traction among its backers and a handful of empty marketing slogans which are politically unrealisable. 

There is now a shadow organisation in the image of Vote Leave but it is not a genuine grass roots organisation. It is one of Matthew Elliott's sock puppets.

Brexit is only half a job and if the mission was to return the power to the people then the Brexit we get doesn't even scratch the surface. We're back at square one - back where we were when I was a kid attending meetings with Farage and Sked speaking to audiences of three in Lancashire church halls.

If Brexit were to have any revolutionary potential it needed skilful, knowledgeable leavers at the forefront working to a plan with a movement behind it. And that needed to be in place years before now. Vote Leave should never have even had a look in. The lead campaign should have been territory owned by Ukip."
One of the excellent bloggers during the Referendum and before Paul Reynolds made this post: The Last Straw concerning the disintegration of The Blogger's Army as the new opportunities and consolidation of progress was attempted by various members to assert FLEXCIT into influential areas of Westminster and thereby achieve lasting success (just read Pete's account above for that type of success...). It's a little sad this happened, I think personally. However,  the silver-lining of failing to counter-act the Silver-Tongued:-

"I do not enlighten those who are not eager to learn,
"nor arouse those who are not anxious" 
"to give an explanation themselves."
"If I have presented one corner of the square"
"and they cannot come back to me with the other three,"
"I should not go over the points again."

Usefully the above is now very visibly established: An experiment has been successfully completed. ~ Confucius Analects: 7:8

The Fijian players sang and took part in a communal prayer after winning their gold medal

The Fijian's above; which was easily my favourite result from the Summer Olympics, having followed Sevens for a long time and the above achievement was the result of a lot of hardwork and preparation and execution in addition to the team unity expressed above - I think like most teams, the hardwork and preparation is the basis for the team unity that follows. A similar implicit trust or bond emerges in similar-sized squads in the armed forces.

From my perspective, it's a shame The Blogger's Army could not have held it's shape and been more of an example of what people could achieve through hardwork and preparation instead of what effectively was decided: To give into the silver-tongued politicians and offer the EEA scraps as prizes in the aftermath of this big experiment: Just watch as they all seek to exploit "something" from the scraps that will be on offer, from Nick Clegg or Nigel Farage to Matthew Elliott and others: . I personally support Dr. RAE North's stance here, to defend what one has actually done over what others are only willing to say they will do or have done:-

Vote Leave PR lead and Cameron's former strategy chief join forces in new agency

 Honing more "Silvery Words" to come in the future from the data-mining of the Referendum voters database.

"Gill, who worked with Cameron for 10 years , said the pair provided "a unique perspective on Brexit".

"We’ll be doing quite a lot of Brexit intelligence and Brexit insight, a lot of companies are now thinking about developing campaigns in the wake of the referendum result," added Stephenson

Stephenson also said that their experience on both sides of the referendum gave the new agency a "competitive advantage", and that while both had spoken with several established PR agencies since leaving their last roles, that he was more driven by a desire to run his own business.

Asked by PRWeek for the main lesson both had learned in the referendum, Gill said it was "that the age of political theories and hunches are over - you’ve got to base your strategy on the data".
Stephenson said: "Keep it simple - I think by the end of the referendum people were talking about our simple messages like the £350m a week figure and Turkey joining the EU; we used language people could use in the street or in the pub."

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A Fisheries Forecast: "Easterly, slight - or moderate, falling slowly..."

This map! "40 yrs of high quality cod discards"... "A Sea of Opportunity" including the UK Continental Shelf Limit," the implications of "turning this over to common grazing" in the 1970's"... [The CFP] "is simply unfit for purpose... "MP's/MEP's who simply know nothing about Fishing".

This blog brings to the reader's attention: Select Committees - Brexit and Fisheries Committee: Sub-committee session on the impact of Brexit on fisheries with evidence from academics, from Wednesday 7 September.  A lot of this reconnects to the arguments fairly well made in FLEXCIT and from John Ashworth's The Betrayal of Britain's Fishing to the European Union.

It's worth watching. Why? If you happened to catch this evening's Newsnight A look at David Cameron's legacy, the future of the EU this topic has already been covered in the previous blog: Sunday Reading: The Political Tea Leaves of Brexit

There's too much "adversarial nonsense" or "noise" mixed into the Newsnight report from people with their own "filters" operating. Read the blog for a more accurate summary. However if you watch the above select committee on Fisheries it as previously recognized, acts as an exemplar of the "problem - solution - outcome" triangle recognized previously and a model of other patterns that will also operate in other policy areas. For example, some of the core themes that pervade a lot of the prominent communication concerning Brexit:-
  • "Hard vs Soft Brexit" in purely technical terms.
  • Achieving Brexit for the UK "legitimately" at the same time as dealing with EU and other International Implications of this or "resonance".
  • Coordinating the "public relations" of Brexit Negotiations.
  • Above all building a conceptual framework from which all the above take their relative meanings
Final point will be revisited in a subsequent blog, it's been mentioned previously in the blog under "intellectual architecture" from Dr. RAE North. One point to bring up here that the Select Committee fails to start with or "beginning to begin" appropriately: The history of the UK's Fisheries that John Ashworth documents in the above booklet. Here the general themes of leaving the EU and the CFP connect, see Dr. North's latest monograph for expanding this same idea from for example here, one policy area, to the entire subject of leaving the EU:-

Barrie Deas (National Federation of Fisherman's Organizations (NFFO) stated that UK's Fisheries has become "emblematic" since the question of UK membership of the EU has been put to national debate through the EU Referendum political process. This is historic and cultural and social value even if GDP value is not that significant, for very simple example:-

Does this map look familiar or sound familiar!

The BBC Shipping Forecast, was definitely something I grew up hearing, with it's strange but familiar language litany, for example:-
  • Viking
- Wind: "Easterly or southeasterly 4 or 5, occasionally 6 later."
- Sea State: "Slight or moderate." 
- Weather: "Fog patches." 
- Visibility: "Moderate or good, occasionally very poor."
The NFFO's chairman's report:
"The referendum on 23rd June, which decided that UK should leave the EU, represents a seismic change for the UK fishing industry. We are taking the view that there may be risks and pitfalls associated with this monumental change of direction but overall, this is a huge opportunity to reshape the management of our fisheries to the great benefit of our fishing industry and coastal communities. The Common Fisheries Policy has taken us down many blind alleys over the years. Now a new era beckons. This will not be without its own challenges; but the very fact that the fickle and cumbersome European co-decision process will no longer be the arbiter of our fate, is tremendously liberating." 
Bertie Armstrong (Scottish Fisherman's Federation (SFF)) makes an excellent distinction: (1st) The removal of the CFP not because they dislike rules, but because it is a system with too many rules that go wrong and hence "A Sea Of Opportunity" to revise this system in a more coherent and better managed way. He also makes the telling point that (2nd) the negotiations will be concluded at "the macro" level that for any given policy, in this case Fisheries (partly it's GDP ratio) it will not be a "pure debate" concerning the given policy in question in a political vacuum. This echoes the predictions made in FLEXCIT's introduction, (p.55 current version 13 July 2016 v.08) on the matter encapsulated in reversing the quote:-

Famously summarised by lead negotiator, Con O'Neill, he described his strategy as: "Swallow the lot, and swallow it now". which is the title component to the above monograph 12 requote.

So far I've quoted from the second session. The first session very much aligns with this quote above, from the expert witnesses:-
  • Dr. Bryce Stewart
  • Professor Richard Barnes
  • Robin Churchill
Some notes on their contribution in summary:-
  1. Discards is an area that requires resolving positively from Brexit.
  2. Access Controls are a key part of management and compromise.
  3. The degree of control over policy is deeply connected to North East Atlantic Fisheries eg (NEAFC) this is already evident with Norway and the EU cooperation for example.
  4. All 6 agree that the fundamental zone of control or EEZ aligns with UNCLOS. Robin Churchill goes through the history of this and concludes that the 12 mile border and 200 mile border or median line take effect through his interpretation of preceding subsequent EEC and derogation matters with respect to the UK's Fisheries Sovereignty. "Historic Rights" could be assessed through this perspective it seems, too, interestingly.
  5. Interconnection exists in Trade using variable economic measures in different sea food subsets eg shellfish or scollops differentials and then total percentages to the EU or other nations. Margins are often fine in multiple areas around fisherman (11,000) for example food processing or fish and chip shops rising (120,000) etc.
  6. DEFRA's responsibilities will rise at the same time as it's capacity to absorb these changes has fallen with budget cuts. Alternative funding from EU sources will have to be arranged in other areas eg Lobsters for Baronness Wilcox's constituency.
  7. The regulations that currently operate are not so easy to remove without already being in place a full substitute system, this will take a lot of time!
  8. The UK will be open to join other Fisheries "Bodies" either international bodies or nations agreements and so forth which is useful.
  9. Dr. Bryce Stewart was particularly interested in the fundamentals of a data-driven natural resource as the primary signal to economic yield, effectively sustainable stock maxima will lead to a economic yield maxima with the context of a dynamic stock that may absolutely grow and hence grow the above ratio, given the decline of Fisheries eg the pyramid base of sand eels from CFP. This had critical implications for "TAC" (Total Allowable Catch).
  10. All three strongly agreed led by Professor Richard Barnes that the UK should be some sort of "adjunct member" of the CFP as a transitional measure or for example ISIS (An Integrated Sea information System) would continue it's functions for the UK for data as one visible example.
  11. For example the current Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ's) were already a step in the right direction for reversing declines in fish stocks as some of the CFP had improved... but if you read Dr. North's latest monograph you'll see the core principles behind it's significant and long lasting failures.
Again coming back to Bertie Armstrong for a third valuable insight into a principle of regaining "control", (3rd) the perception difference is that cooperation allows compromise on access, but that the key to regaining this Policy was "prescription" as Norway currently enjoys when it allows other nations' fishing boats to fish in it's waters. This is useful policy to combine with the work of John Ashford concerning the absolute necessity to work with "immediate data" to feedback from the sustainable resource to the economic sustainable yield with the secondarily, cooperation of the actual fishermen, instead of criminalizing them. This point was further elaborated on differences in technical gear usage rules between zones (EEZ's) which the experts agreed was not necessarily a problem so long as the fishermen knew what the the rules were, given the above logic of using such equipment, eg John Ashworth's work explores this in greater detail.

Finally, perhaps I merely remember Bertie Armstrong's contributions more than the others hence I requote him again, despite the others all being very useful and informative: The key from the future of Brexit concerning Fisheries is The Positive Vision, that means the UK with it's factual assets could be become a (4th)  WORLD LEADER IN FISHERIES MANAGEMENT and it's critically needed:-

Advancing conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (IUCN)

  • NOTING that nearly two-thirds of the world’s ocean is beyond national jurisdiction, and that this area provides valuable ecological, economic, social and cultural benefits;
  • CONCERNED that marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is being significantly reduced by certain human activities, and noting the need to protect biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), such as by establishing  marine reserves or other types of marine protected areas;
  • RECALLING the recommendation in the marine crosscutting theme at the IUCN World Parks Congress (Sydney, 2014) to urgently increase the ocean area that is effectively and equitably managed in ecologically representative and well-connected systems of MPAs or other effective conservation measures. This network should target protection of both biodiversity and ecosystem services and should include at least 30% of each marine habitat. The ultimate aim is to create a fully sustainable ocean, at least 30% of which has no-extractive activities;


Here's a picture of a beach I was walking along today:-

I picked up a very large bag of plastic rubbish washed up or left on the beach, mostly plastic bottles. Such a beautiful resource for the UK, I hope the future leads to more jobs looking after it.

The final point to add: As well as the "emblematic social/cultural and historic factors, the geographical and biological fact of of UK Fisheries must be the foundation from which good policy and hence good governance of this natural resource can be achieved and the relevant expertise exercised on a global and world level: Truly a positive vision.