Category Archives: 7 Holonics and LOHAS

Cosmic synchronicity in a hay field.

We baled today.  It was wonderful.hayman

It started a bit later than planned because the normal school run delay was compounded by an emergency breakdown of a client’s computer .,..

The field was rowed around noon and then square baling started.  Padraig would arrive at 3pm to round bale.  I needed 200 square bales for 2 customers who each wanted 100.

The baler was acting up.  The knots weren’t holding and a bale in every five would be lost.  Noel cleaned the knotter and after a couple of rows it loosened up and ran better.

Still it wasn’t easy to guess how much hay would equal 200 bales …

In the end we baled 241 square.  Padraig got 38 round.

One customer took 136 by mistake, and paid for the extras too.  The other took his 100.  And there were 5 left for us.  Unbelievable.  By pure chance we split the field precisely in the right place to get the square bales the customers wanted without leaving anything in the field to await the rain.  It couldn’t have been better if it had been planned!

Very lucky.  Or maybe we’re leaning to feel the rhythm of the universe and surf the cosmic wave…

I must have been on a roll because a similar coincidence occurred  in the evening.  #4 wanted to watch an inappropriate film that was playing for his elder siblings … Having said “not for you”, about half an hour later I had a feeling he might have ventured in to  join his brother and sister, so  I checked.  He had walked in 10 seconds before I checked!

The cosmic rhythm can be useful.

Common Sense in 5 minutes

I’ll be doing Voice Box at GBS Visual Centre next Thursday 25 June at 7.30pm.

The idea is to do Common Sense in 5 minutes (apparently the bell rings when time is up. 😉 )  It will be a challenge, but fun.  Now to squash the book in to 5 minutes before next week …!

Also there will beatomtoworld2
Steven O’Brien
John McKew, IT Carlow lecturer
Majella Swan, Carlow School of Music & aspiro choir
Blaise Smith
Ed Byrne – limestone / salvage
Pauline O’Connell
Eddie Sheehan – musician / composer, teaches at Carlow College

It should make for an interesting evening.  Please come along. Ask questions!


What happens when you destabilise a suboptimal system? It implodes.

The death of John and Alicia Nash on 23 May brought attention to game theory and the Nash Equilibrium, which offer insights into resolving the problems of today’s world.

As The Economist succinctly says: “In the real world of less-than-perfect competition, a “Nash equilibrium” may well be stable, but not optimal.”   Game theory shows that competition yields a sub-optimal stability, which can only be enhanced by cooperation.

Today we live in a world where resource constraints are not just widening the chasm between “haves” and “have-nots” but are destroying the fabric of nature upon which all life depends.  Human consumption is reducing access to clean water, land and air, is eliminating species and people increasingly rely upon junk (food, fashion and stuff) to prop up our confidence.

The way to reverse the destruction of the biosphere is to reduce consumption which can only be achieved with a cooperative approach to resource allocation.  At the root of this cooperation must be the sharing of technology which allows efficient production and allocation of food, clothing, housing, energy.

A cooperative approach is not a bureaucratic approach, it is not mechanical and it can not be maintained with laws.  Cooperation is founded on a culture of empathy which engenders trust which reduces enterprise overheads.  The root of a the solution to resource constraints is in cultural maturity.

John Nash showed this scientifically half a century ago.  Many others have shared the same wisdom over the centuries, but have been drowned out by the confidence of political and economic ego.

TOGITV: Stag hunting – thoughts on John Nash and social cooperation

The Mereon Legacy: A Mereonic perspective on John Nash: Cooperation vs. Competition

Wikipedia: Nash Equilibrium


The trouble with being rich is … family!

Of course, there’s really  no trouble with being rich, but … family is where issues arise because that’s what’s usually neglected.

If you made it you probably had to work hard which took you away from your family.  Whether you made or received it, you probably have responsibilities which you feel take you away from family.  Either way you might give your family the things they want because you want the best for them or just because they expect it.  So they live in a big house, ride in a fine car, jet off to hols and have the latest gear.  The trouble arises because what people need is you.

You might give your family the best schooling, clothing, holidays etc but you probably just don’t spend quality time together.  The “stuff” without the “touchy feely” invariably nurtures weak consciousness and a moral compass that spins easily.  The values that cement civilisation, like honesty underpinning trust and empathy underpinning care,  are weak so while everyone looks marvellous their happiness is compromised.  And probably yours too.

It is ironic that it is family that suffers most because relationships make human experience rich and wonderful.

familyownershipmanagementThe solution is simple, though difficult because it requires a change in perspective.  The solution is to give more time to family.  That is difficult because, as the entrepreneur or founder or guardian of the wealth,  you are busy and feel the need to work and fulfil responsibilities.   But if you spend time with family, playing as well as working, you help nurture a positive culture in which the sense of entitlement is replaced by one of duty and responsibility, greed is replaced by empathy and anger replaced with humour.

You don’t even have to be that rich for these issues to be pertinent.  Anyone with any prospect of succession will face family issues.  The best way to minimise problems is to admit they could be happening and try to separate ownership of assets from management of assets from family relationships.

BBC: The trouble with being a billionaire

Pedagogy of cooperation … Maltese National Curriculum!

In work on design of curriculum and pedagogy I came across this quote.  It must be shared because it’s good, and it’s Maltese.  (Malta is a tiny little country rich in culture being at the centre of history for thousands of years.  I’m half Maltese but spend too little time there :-(  )

a pedagogy of co-operation, based on group work, should transform … classrooms in to a hive of synergetic collective endeavour … The vehicles for the development of critical and independent thinking are: questions, systematic investigation and the exchange of ideas with others … Genuine group work implies that the control over the production of knowledge does not remain in the hands of teachers but is shared among students.  An educational context based on holistic principles is essentially a democratic context in which a balance between individual and participatory learning is achieved.

Maltese Ministry of Education: National Curriculum 1999

This is good stuff.  Radical compared to what most readers might have experienced and certainly compared to the approach felt in most state schools, but actually very human, necessary and perhaps even leaning toward the ancient dialectic method of Socrates.

Unnoticed by everyone, education is regressing.

Understanding education is not easy.  We all think we know what it means but when it comes to defining it and suggesting improvements the challenge becomes amorphous.  I’m trying to create a framework to help improve curriculum and pedagogy.

Quotation-Matthew-Arnold-thinking-age-sense-Meetville-Quotes-111033One of the biggest problems I see as an educator, coach and parent is the rapid replacement of thinking by media devices.  We swipe a screen instead of adding a sum …

I’ve come across historical commentary which is as relevant today as it was decades ago.

This extract written in 1867 is sadly relevant today.

The mode of teaching in primary schools has certainly fallen off in intelligence, spirit and inventiveness during the four or five years which have elapsed since my last report.  It could not well be otherwise.  In a country where everyone is prone to rely too much on mechanical processes and too little in intelligence, a change in the Education Department’s regulations, which, by making two-thirds of the Government grant depend on mechanical examination, inevitably gives a mechanical turn to the school teaching … In the game of mechanical contrivances […] as it is now found possible, by ingenious preparation, to get children through the Revised Code examination i reading writing and ciphering, so it will with practice no doubt be found possible to get the three-fourths if the the one-fifth of the children over six through the examination in grammar, geography and history, without their really knowing any one of these three matters.

Arnold added a couple of years later:

The circle of children’s reading has  … been narrowed and impoverished all the year for the sake of a result at the end of it and the result is an illusion.

One example observed personally is that children in local schools are given the answers to their national secondary examinations prior to the exam so that they can memorise answers.  I’ve seen it in English, French and Science and I suppose it occurs in other subjects too.

matthew-arnold-poet-conduct-is-three-fourths-of-our-life-and-itsThis might not be the case in your child’s school, but it is certainly pandemic and dominant in public schools where most of humankind receives an “education”.  This is gross foolishness in a complex, sophisticated world where ingenuity, creativity and initiative are increasingly required to become self-supporting.

Matthew Arnold Quotes




Exercise body and mind to keep them fit; or lose you wits and fade away.

exerciseoldman-thinkstockphotosIn case you still find it a challenge to get off the couch or do mental arithmetic (when shopping for example) this week more evidence was published  showing the dramatic difference between people engaged in life and those waiting to die.

A study showing that elderly people who exercise ‘live five years longer’ was published the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

While earlier in the week, a BBC journalist reported being trounced by a brain-training octogenarian!

brain-lit-up-While at first you might think that walking and thinking are bygone arts of a pre-modern age when we didn’t have cars, phones, computers and media devices, in fact they are core to your happiness and well-being.

Exercising makes you feel good.  It’s a fact.  Endorphins stimulate the happy parts of your brain.  And you don’t need to be a champ, you just need to move, everyday.  Simply standing is nearly twice as good as sitting.  The study publicised today recommends only 3 hours of exercise a week.  C’mon everyone can do that!

And as for thinking, well isn’t it sad that we’d rather slide a finger across a screen than do the thinking that the human brain was built for?  That we can’t add up a few groceries in a bag or even guesstimate the change we expect from a purchase?  No wonder we’re defrauded by bankers, politicians and big business when we can’t be bothered to read a label.  Thinking can be fun too, because, here again, an active mind releases its own happy chemicals.

Vitruvian_MansmallIf the positive encouragement is not sufficient, ask yourself if you want the machines to take over.  It’s happening.  The futuristic scenario of The Terminator is becoming reality as artificial intelligence and android engineering advances.  We already have self driving cars and robochefs.  It won’t be long before rich people can get rid of the rest of us because all production will be automated.  And then the machines might decide to get rid of humankind, after all we’re not looking after the biosphere.

So, getup, think and choose to live.

BBC:  People who exercise ‘live five years longer

BBC: Ttounced by a brain-training octogenarian

The Economist: Robochef gets cooking

BBC: Google purpose-built robot cars tested on public roads

Maths is art. Art is maths. It’s all science. – Govt education report

This morning Eilis, a friend of Pam’s, explained to a councillor that funding for art education should be increased because businesses want creativity and the Renaissance flourished because science and art merged.einsteinart

At the same time a report by The Creative Industries Federation and the Institution of Civil Engineers, saying similar things was being publicised.  Their report argues that creative subjects like the performing arts, design, music and film studies lead to children developing the skills needed in design, engineering and computer gaming.   This is a healthy initiative.

It is clearly important to have a solid grounding in science, maths and literacy..  Without that you don’t understand the world you live in, can’t read, write nor count.   The quantitative aptitude is important.

Art-Science-773522But without the language, art and creative side you have low quality.  Humankind’s successes are born of communication, imagination, stories.  We create culture through song, dance, fashion, art, music, books, …

It’s common sense that life is more fulfilling the more you engage with it  Diversity of experience, sight, sound, taste, touch, aroma lead to a fuller appreciation of life and enhance the ability to engage mental and emotional, even spiritual faculties.

The education system is ripe for emergence.  ICT combined with what we know about humans, curriculum and pedagogy are opening education and enhancing access to art and science.  Both sides of the brain.

BBC: Call to boost status of arts subjects

System change is accelerating, but we’re still unprepared for our spiritual vacuum.

2015RLSpromo640x320The Pew Research Centre reports that Americans identifying themselves as having no religion has grown from 16% to 24% since 2007.

Naturally the increase has been at the cost of Christian affirmation which remains high at 71% (down from 78%). The increase in non-affiliates is found across America, highest in the west (28%), while even the South has seen a doubling from about 10% to about 20%.

The trend is welcome, not because we don’t want spirituality, but because dogmatic opinion must be replaced by thoughtful consideration of facts (science) in our virtual world built of science.   It is unhelpful to base ones morals on someone else’s mantra when they seem to go against one’s inner sense, and that is why there is a fall-off in religiosity – people feel they are more free to choose what they think without being vilified by society.   Expect the trend to continue and accelerate.

But there is a danger: “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”.  Giving up religious faith can also lead to a neglect of one’s spiritual nourishment.  That happened to me and it took a year or so for me to recognise it and remedy the situation.

There is no doubt that there is a spiritual dimension, an invisible dimension to existence.  In science the electro-magnetic spectrum is critical to understanding life even though it can not be seen.  We have thoughts and emotions, which can not be seen.  For humans to fulfil their potential they must nurture their capacities in this arena as well as their physical health. How?  Thinking helps.  And meditation or prayer.  And in time one can manage your physical body to allow it to more easily interact with the metaphysical dynamics of the universe.

Let us hope that the trend to atheism, which is healthy, if not easy, is not accompanied by a trend to amorality or worse.

BBC: US Christians numbers ‘decline sharply’, poll finds

PRC: America?s Changing Religious Landscape Pew Research Center