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Showing posts from April, 2020

Opinions on SARS-CoV-2: How Long Should We Hide?

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Asian countries are now seeing second waves of the virus [1] after easing lockdown. Long term the only solution is herd immunity, either through most people catching it or a vaccine. Then the virus dies out, until the next one or it mutates. That's assuming you can only catch it once and we'll develop a vaccine, neither is guaranteed but both seem likely.
For the furloughed middle class, sitting at home, the virus is a scary inconvenience. For others the lockdown is bringing ruin, delayed treatment, mental health problems, increased abuse, destroyed businesses and families and even suicide. Poverty kills, stress kills, lockdown kills too.
Meanwhile it's still the case that something like 9 out of 10 deaths due to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) are people with other serious health complications [2][3]. It's also the case that the mortality rate is a lot lower than reported because we're doing so little testing and a lot of people who have it are asymptomatic (maybe half acc…

Stuck in the Living Room Dreaming of a New TV

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The OLED 4K TVs I like, either the LG OLED55C9PLA 55" or the Panasonic TX-55GZ950B 55", have come down in price to around £1300. That's still more than I'd like to spend on a TV but they're gorgeous and we haven't yet made the jump to 4K. The Panasonic has the edge supporting the newer HDR10+ standard for High Dynamic Resolution and better display of blacks in the details. I'll keep the old TV because no-one is really making passive 3D displays any more and I adore Avatar in 3D.

We've been getting by using a PS3 and a 2nd gen Apple TV as media centres. Since we moved the living room around we no longer have an aerial or wired internet to the TV, so no live TV channels and no iPlayer.

Disney+ arrived and is fantastic. We're enjoying the Mandalorian, we've started The Simpsons from the start and there's a good selection of movies. Unfortunately the app didn't stream well from an iPhone to the Apple TV, so in lieu of pulling the trigger …

On Being a Wizard or a Witch

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I posted this meme on Facebook, I think he's right, and someone made this response about Alan Moore:
I'm going to ignore the fact that this is coming from a man who claims both that he is a wizard, and that the comic book industry was run by the mafia. Now I'm pretty sure DC and Marvel do in fact count as a mafia. As for calling himself a wizard, that's clever. You don't do it because you believe it, that would be daft it doesn't even mean anything, you do it because some people will believe you and have faith in you which is powerful.

Personally I identify as a Witch, but that's just my religion. My favoured flavour of witchcraft is a syncretism of Druidism and The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Druidism is the religion of the land of the Britons, from the time of Boudica and now my land. The magical system of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is based on Hebrew mysticism. I'm Jewish and lived in a Christian cult as a true believer, without mon…

Vipassana Meditation

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Vipassana Buddhism teaches us that the default state of mind is "monkey mind", jumping from one thing to the next. Vipassana means "insight" or "clear thinking" and is the path of wisdom.

In mindfulness we let go of distraction to return to the breath. After a little while we may enter "access concentration" where we are less distracted.

We may push distractions away so  far they do not return and all there is is breath. Time has stopped, flow state.

This is Dyana or Jhana. The place where you step back into the garden of the mind and the work of tending the garden is the same work as enjoying it.

Mindfulness is the practise of relaxed focus, alert but rested awareness. Mind calm like a still lake, reflecting what it sees. The aim of the practise of mindfulness is the cultivation of the habit of conscious awareness. Habits maketh a person.

I learned Vipassana meditation, both mindfulness of breathing and the Metta Bhavna as taught by the Buddha…

A Few Books that Have Shaped Me

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From when I was a child there were Billy Bunter, Just William, Jennings, Roald Dahl, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Swallows and Amazons, The Hardy Brothers, Narnia, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Hobbit, The Stainless Steel Rat, and pretty much all of Robert Heinlein. Those were the days. Wouldn't go back for all the money in the world.

Fast forward a few years and I think my favourite book of all is On the Road, the beat generation classic, the great American novel, a travel book. For a handful of years I would read it every year and I still want to go to Denver. On the Road has my heart but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has my spirit.

Then there's Lord of the Rings, Catch-22, anything by Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett (I have a copy of Good Omens signed by both and I've read all the Discworld novels and do I get to count the Sandman series as a book?), 100 Years of Solitude, anything by William Gibson (Neuromancer is a work of genius but I like the newer work too - h…

Conversations with the Holy Guardian Angel (or How I Ended Up in Prison)

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For more tales from the past, short horror stories from my life, see the links and the stories here:

Those Times Psychosis Nearly Killed Me
It transpires I've never told the story of how I ended up in prison. Like most stories it's hard to know where it begins, but maybe we can pickup the thread in my darkest hour in Verulamium. There, like the Romans before me, I faced a savage and wild horde of natives before whom I genuinely feared for my life. That is at the Verulam School for Boys in St Albans, the new school I had started at having moved from the northern industrial town of Macclesfield where what childhood idyll I knew remained behind to the commuter town of Harpenden. Full of estate agents and Italian restaurants and a higher class of savage natives than we'd known before.

I had been taught not to fight back, and although I'd been in a few fights I'd always brought them to an end fairly quickly and refused to fight, so I hadn't practised fighting much. …