Wednesday, 16 September 2020

PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM COVID

Some information that’s out there but should be on the front page of every media outlet.

The top one is Vitamin D, which ‘supports the immune system through a number of pathways’

An anti-heartburn medicine

‘She had tested positive for COVID-19 and developed a fever. Her lips became dark blue from hypoxia. She took her first megadose of oral famotidine on 28 March. The next morning, her fever broke and her oxygen saturation returned to a normal range. Five sick co-workers, including three with confirmed COVID-19, also showed dramatic improvements after taking over-the-counter versions of the drug, according a spreadsheet of case histories Tuveson shared with Science. Many COVID-19 patients recover with simple symptom-relieving medications, but Tuveson credits the heartburn drug. “I would say that was a penicillin effect,” he says.’

Nicotine:

‘There are biologically plausible pathways through which nicotine may impact SARS-CoV-2, but the clinical significance of these is entirely unclear.’

‘…Early studies are underway regarding the role of nicotine replacement therapy as a therapeutic aid for COVID-19… Evidence so far is too limited to inform any decisions about use of nicotine replacement therapy in COVID-19’

- but it’s been shown in action in France.

Cannabis:

‘several cannabinoids in the cannabis plant have anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, they point to CBD as the most likely candidate for treating COVID-19 related inflammation. CBD has shown serious anti-inflammatory properties in previous studies, it doesn't create the disorienting psychotropic effects associated with cannabis’ most common chemical THC, and it has already been approved by the FDA as safe for children with intractable epilepsy. If successful at reducing inflammation for COVID-19 patients, it could be a safer alternative to other anti-inflammatory options.’ 


Other existing drugs against covid

Repurposing existing medicines focused on known drug targets is likely to offer a more rapid hope of tackling COVID-19 than developing and manufacturing a vaccine, argue an international team of scientists in the British Journal of Pharmacology today.’

'A Nature study authored by a global team of scientists and led by Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, has identified 21 existing drugs that stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.'



Monday, 10 August 2020

Covid-19 thoughts from July Newsletter

COVID THOUGHTS

Above - examples of what happens when your government is too brutal or stupid to care. Or both. 

Meanwhile in the UK, we now have stealth-eugenics: 'Unlawful do not resuscitate orders imposed on people with learning disabilities.'
This takes the policy of encouraging disabled people to kill themselves by stopping their benefits a step further. I mean, when I was a youth we were as bad as Rick in 'The Young Ones' for calling everything we didn’t like ‘fascist’. It’s no longer an exaggeration. Only those with their eyes squeezed tight shut can fail to see that we've already stumbled into fascism. Arm yourselves with magic my friends!!!

Monday, 29 June 2020

COVID-19 events from May Newsletter


For my Rune-Magic online workshop on 8th May I did a divination on the progress of the pandemic in the British Isles. It was a 3-rune reading, and the staves I got were Isa, Eihwaz and Kenaz.

I found this to be very clear: death and lockdown, and the timescale suggested is till next Winter. In other words, it will be the end of next winter, early next year, before this pandemic has run its course. 
WHAT'S WORKING?
So, what is best practice now we've some evidence in?

Sweden's no-lockdown approach is proving a complete disaster.  


The country that's done best so far is Vietnam. 'Despite a long border with China and a population of 97 million people, Vietnam has recorded only just over 300 cases of Covid-19 on its soil and not a single death.' Their method included a rigorous lockdown early on, and then tracing contacts for those who turn up with symptoms. 

The UK's late lockdown is a dismal failure. We had the third-highest daily death rate internationally – 4.49 deaths per million people per day. Only Sweden, with a rate of 4.68, and Brazil at 4.49, came out worse. Sweden didn't do anything and Brazil is run by a government that is openly boasting about getting pension costs down.
Britain has failed badly. The herd immunity people were wrong. The people that took their cue from healthcare workers were right.
Looking at methods for containing viral spread, the French have got a great scheme: dogs that can sniff out infected people, and this training is being worked on in England.  


So the take-home: Early lockdown and tracing contacts? Best practice. Lockdown later? Almost useless, small positive effect. No action? Disastrous.

SELF-HELP (which is all we've got when we're led by donkeys): Irish researchers have found that having
 high levels of Vitamin D pro
tect against Covid; it “support the immune system through a number of immune pathways”

Lionel Snell's Thoughts on lockdown.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

COVID AND WORLD EVENTS from April Newsletter


As you may have noticed, there's some pretty strange stuff happening.  For a start, check this out, a self-reorganisation of the US states: 

‘Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California “as a nation-state” to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide. If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even “export some of those supplies to states in need.” 
He said 'nation state'; that's maybe a sign of things to come. Other regional coalitions are forming too. 
UBIGuy Standing writing for The Idler:
'A modest basic income is definitely affordable. Think of the billions being poured into the financial markets. Think of the fact that every year the Treasury operates over 1,100 forms of tax reliefs that favour higher-income groups to the tune of over £400 billion, according to the government’s own figures. As shown elsewhere, there is no need to raise the standard rate of income tax in order to pay everyone at least £100 a week. That is not enough to cover people’s needs, but it would make a substantial difference to those on low incomes and facing those debts.'
Ramsey Dukes speaks on Technology versus Coronavirus  - how solutions might be found in the most despised technologies.

Some older technologies may be paying off. The idea of testing already-approved drugs against Covid in order to find a cure rather than a vaccine is getting results in some unlikely places - such as an anti-heartburn medicine.   

And nicotine...  

Thursday, 21 May 2020

My Mumufication

My passport to the afterlife in the People's Pyramid arrived a couple of weeks ago.


When I die, (which I’m not planning to do in the near future) a sample of my ashes will be placed in the hole in the middle of the brick, the brick re-fired and then used in the building of a People’s Pyramid in Toxteth, Liverpool.

I considered getting a berth for my ashes in a modern longbarrow such as this one. But as much as I love the long barrows, having done a few nights of exceptional magick in West Kennett, it feels as though that boat sailed about 4,000 years ago. At that time, my bones would have been buried under the floor of a chamber in which my kin would have danced and sung through the night of Midwinter, inhaling psychoactive herbs off of hot rocks. They would have emerged at dawn, renewed, ecstatic, their covenant with our ancestors renewed and completed for one more year.  

No such option exists today, so instead my remains will become part of an art project, in an urban environment, in the company of other weird, dead people. Cauty and Drummond’s pyramid is grounded in the reality of funeral experience by Green Funerals’ Ru and Claire Callender . My remains will be in good (dramatic) hands.

Here’s a picture from last year’s Toxteth Day of the Dead. For various reasons, I wasn’t able to get to 2018 or 2019’s pyramid building ritual there. Hopefully this year, lockdown permitting, I shall walk the streets of Toxteth with a fine selection of weird people, contemplating death and immortality.


This decision came about because I decided it was about time I made a proper will. This was nothing to do with the plague; my intuition tells me I’ll get through at least this phase of it OK, but the pandemic had freed up some spare time, so that I no longer felt I could go on making excuses to postpone getting this stuff together.

The will was signed during lockdown, immediately following on from one of those Thursday evening ‘clap for the NHS’ street events. I signed the will, witnessed by my two Discordian neighbours, on top of their wheelie bin, in the street, preserving social distancing. A proper Discordian will-signing ceremony, Hail Eris!

Once I’d written my will, I decided this was the perfect time to consider my other end-of-life provisions, top of which are of course the arrangements for my funferall, as Joyce called it. It was an interesting couple of weeks, arranging to donate my body to the local medical school where, as it happens, a friend of mine is currently studying, and then arranging for the remains to be cremated and sent to Messrs. Cauty and Drummond to perform their ceramic alchemy with. A couple of weeks in which I thought about my death daily, in fairly concrete terms. It did me no harm at all. I’d recommend it, especially if you can get excited by your posthumous involvement in a public work of magical art.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Covid Special 2 from Chaotopia Newsletter

This is the Covid part of my last newsletter. You can sign up at https://bit.ly/2DXLAMA

COVID-19 THOUGHTS AND NEWS

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No two days are the same. I brought forward the date of this newsletter because it's all shifting so fast, so there's no shortage of necessary new thoughts to fill these pages. I don't think I ever truly expected to see times like these, when the irreversability of the flow of human life is so obvious, when there is no turning back to what went before.

None of what follows pretends to completeness.

SPRING HOME BREW
An old family recipe for the Spring: how to make Dire drink. 

SOCIAL DISTANCING
Be Like Odin, by Matthew Frederick (@putmyspellonyou)


SCIENCE
Last newsletter I featured a tune composed from the DNA sequence of the coronavirus. Now people are doing something similar with the virus's protein structure, and for a different purpose. Audio sequences are helping scientists get their heads round the complexities of the virus's spike protein, which is how it attaches to human cells. 'This, the researchers say, is faster and more intuitive than conventional methods used to study proteins, such as molecular modeling.'

TECHNOLOGY
A book called The Knowledge: How to rebuild our world from scratch came out a few years ago, but of course is having a popularity surge. I have it but haven't had time to read it yet, but it looks interesting. Even if you're not planning to build a toaster from raw materials, you may still be curious about what it takes for such a thing to exist at all.



SOCIETY

Now for the good news: Spain is introducing Universal Basic Income. Better still, 'the government’s broader ambition is that basic income becomes an instrument “that stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument”'.

In November 2019 David Graeber in Against Economics was wondering what it would take for the political world to come to its senses:
'Breaking through neoclassical economics’ lock on major institutions, and its near-theological hold over the media—not to mention all the subtle ways it has come to define our conceptions of human motivations and the horizons of human possibility—is a daunting prospect. Presumably, some kind of shock would be required. What might it take? Another 2008-style collapse? Some radical political shift in a major world government? A global youth rebellion? However it will come about, books like this—and quite possibly this book—will play a crucial part.'

That was just five months ago. Obviously, no-one in their right mind would have chosen the covid-19 pandemic as an ideal means to a better society, but now it's here, it'd be criminal not to make use of the opportunities it presents for change. Now we are seeing even the Bank of England admitting that 'money is just an IOU', and therefore the economic theory that has supported decades of neoliberalism is a fraud.

The bad news: some governments are of course enjoying the new powers that they are taking to themselves to 'flatten the curve' of infection. Emergency powers acquired by those in charge are seldom relinquished willingly when the emergency is 'over'.

Following up thoughts on the theft of the commons, and why we need and deserve UBI, here's an excerpt from Prof. Guy Standing's The Idler article.



THE MAGICK

Bear in mind that authoritarian script when you are enchanting for the next stage of the world. We have to be careful about how we define an emergency and how we judge when it's over. What is an emergency? How bad does it have to get to qualify?

To answer that question, we need to keep in perspective the whole covid-19 pandemic, and the high probability of similar pandemics in the future. We need to understand pandemics as just a part, albeit a very big one at the moment, of the business of life and death.

I'm definitely not suggesting as some are that 'the economy' is more important than people's lives. If you need to sacrifice people who' ve become vulnerable because of a broken social contract, then you've got a broken society and some kind of mantra of economic growth is a symptom of that dysfunction.

Rather, we need to keep in mind how big a demon coronavirus is compared to other diseases, or, say, to road accidents. Or to bad government. After all, we've been sold a crock of crap with the 'War on Terror'; off the top of my head, the figures go something like this: you are seventeen times more likely to be killed by your own furniture than by acts of terrorism. In lipservice to that tiny extra risk we spend extra hours on pointless security theatre every time we catch a plane, and that's a pretty minor inconvenience when laid aside what some deranged authoritarians would like to do to us using covid as an excuse.

So when you cast your next spell for a better world, remember to consider carefully the freedoms we have now and which we stand to lose.

The Reverend Danny Nemu writes: 'And here we are again, with front row seats as the curtain draws back on the biggest #apocalypse since the Early Modern period!
'Keep your hands sanitised and your sanity handy as you dig into that panic-purchased apoca-poca-popcorn and enjoy the show.'
Danny is well worth reading. Follow him on Twitter.




Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Claude Lecouteux - Demons and Spirits of the Land

https://www.bookdepository.com/Demons-Spirits-Land-Claude-Lecouteux/9781620553992

Lecouteux is a deep scholar who is interested in the mysteries, principally the European stream. I've read another of his books, The Tradition of Household Spirits, which was very interesting but quite different to this one. I never had a sense with that other book of his having a thesis, a particular thing to prove. In this book, he has: the way that numinous experiences of the natural world are the bases of gods, and that the layer closest to this cultural process is where we find spirits of the land. He then traces how they got mutated, particularly by Christian theology, into demons.

Those of you who have wondered at such beings as elves and the various forms they are portrayed in will have some of their curiosity satisfied by Lecouteux's demonstrations of how such terms changed in meaning over the time of the Christian occupation. But it is in the cultural layers prior to this that he makes his boldest assertion, of where the gods and spirits come from in the first place.

If you read mythology, you are probably familiar ad nauseam with the 19th century academic notion that gods and spirits are the responses of 'primitive' peoples to the natural forces which toss them around; Lecouteux's thesis is not of that ignorant imperialistic stripe. Rather, he quotes Christian scribes who forbid worship of idols, citing trees, fountains and stones; people are understood as quite literally worshipping the numinous power of a place, not a named idol. He is suggesting we take literally the Christian notion that the Germans worshipped 'groves'.

This centres his argument on the raw experience of natural power in the environment. This notion of spirit is closer to Aldous Huxley's idea of mind-at-large - that intelligence is something we are embedded in rather than something we have inside our skulls. 

The naming of these spirits changed over the centuries. The author show us how giants, dwarves and dragons conceal land spirits. And our ancestors got mixed up with the land spirits too. A founder of a house might be buried there, and over a few generations becomes the guardian spirit of the household. In a similar way, bodies of kings and heroes were buried to protect the land from invaders.

He leads us through how our ancestors paid for their invasion of the wild places and kept on paying, by making sacrifice to the spirits of the land that he had displaced. The church decried those spirits as demons, and many are the tales told of Christian holy men who overcame these spirits and made the land habitable for Christians. In other words, people were then able to live in that place without respecting its numinous intelligence any more. So this Christian abolition of nature-sacrifice is the origin of our present despoliation of the land.

The depth of the sacredness of a person's relationship to the land they live on is emphasised by the author. In old Germanic law, 'the proscription of a man sought to expel him from his domain, thereby stripping him of his sacred nature (mannhelgi), which means to make him óheilagr, 'devoid of sacred nature'' (p110).

It is not a big leap to see how this happened on a vast scale with the enclosures of the commons in Britain; the souls of a large proportion of Britons were stolen, a sickness which still runs like a bloody wound down the middle of British politics.

If you are fascinated by the history of spirits in the lives of humans, check out this book. Lecouteux is a one-off, and very worth reading.