Category Archives: Media and Gatherings

The Silk Roads: Two and a half millennia telling us to stop fighting.

Book review:

The Silk Roads

A New History of the World
by Peter Frankopan

Yes please!

The title and the book’s intention, to offer a global perspective, were intriguing to me.  Though not a history fan, it is increasingly clear that it is no help to see history from your own perspective because it is blinkered, full of self-serving interpretation and fails to expose the reality of the past.  This book offers a big picture perspective.

Continue reading The Silk Roads: Two and a half millennia telling us to stop fighting.

You have the power to change the world. Choose!

Words by Charlie Chaplin.  Contemporary images.  The choice is clear.  Have you chosen yet?  Or are you still chasing the machine?  Choose humanity, while the choice remains …

 

The Great Dictator‘s Speech (1940)

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible- Jew, Gentile, black men, white…

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind.

We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery ,we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.”

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder!

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate!

Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite.

Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!

Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!

Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Common Sense in 5 Minutes

We joined an eclectic group at Voice Box at the end of June. We were asked to talk for five minutes about Common Sense, a book about people, planet and profit by a venture capitalist.  Here is the edited version of the video showing the slides more clearly.  Enjoy!

Thanks to Jaspar for great camera work.

The original footage is available at the bottom of this page here.

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!

 

Facebook, like Google, reduces our ability to think. Now scientifically proven!

"Emphasize our unique differences, pass it down."
“Emphasize our unique differences, pass it down.”

It’s not as though it wasn’t expected.  The behaviour and algorithms users and social media networks are intended to filter ideas to suit our individual perspective.  That’s a major reason people use the big engines like Google and Facebook.

But that behaviour encourages groupthink.  The user only clicks on stories and links that match their own desires and perspective and the engine tends to serve stories and links that the user prefers to click.  It’s a self-reinforcing process.

The result is that you get a narrower view of the world.  You don’t hear stories or connect with people that you have differences with.  This reduces your information as well as your perspective.  That means you don’t develop ideas; your thinking is less critical.

groupthinkThe solution?  Every now and then, click links that you would normally avoid.  Even if you don’t read them it will diversify the feed you get from the big engines.  Use a different search engine which does not track your behaviour so that the search results are generic and diverse (try duckduckgo or ixquick for exmaple).

BBC: Facebook tips news feed balance ‘less than we do’

Don’t watch “Earthlings”. You can’t handle it.

Three stages of TRUTH:
Ridicule.
Violent opposition.
Acceptance.

Earthlings is a docudrama drawing attention to vile, uncivilised behaviour in which we all play a role.  It focuses on the torture of animals which modern society condones and from which we distance ourselves, covering five aspects: pets, food, clothing, entertainment, science.

earthlings4Be warned.  It is graphic.  You might have a pet which you rescued, you might eat only organic produce, you might avoid leather and fur, you might not go to the races and you might not wear make-up, but the atrocities shown in the film still go on today, in your community and are endorsed by governments, leaders and “everyone”.

The point is: Just say NO.  Humanity can not survive if it does not extend the rationale of justice to nature.  That means treating animals with care, even if you are going to eat them, though plainly that in itself is far from necessary.  In fact, a simple fix for climate change is veganism/vegetarianism because the livestock industry in the number one cause of greenhouse gases and a major contributor to biodiversity loss and environmental contamination. (See “The Facts” about sustainability, the environment and your future.)earthlings9

I watched the movie last night (mostly with my eyes closed) because Ellen said “Food Inc is “Disney compared to Earthlings”.  She wasn’t kidding.

I used to make fun of vegetarians and tofu.  One day I realised I didn’t like killing animals.  (Duh!)  So I stopped killing them and became vegetarian.  That was nearly two decades ago.  I’m still alive, a little overweight in fact.  And now it is science that a plant based diet is healthier and the meat industry is killing the planet.   It should be that we can eat a bit of meat, but the impact on the biosphere of a meat focused food industry  has become so violent, that a simple avoidance policy is really the only option.

You don’t have to watch Earthlings, but humankind must slow down and drastically reduce its consumption of the biosphere (our habitat which we need for life) and that includes consuming fewer animals.

syria-christian-massacre-3Is it going to happen?  Well, this is today’s headline: Syria conflict: Aleppo civilians suffer ‘unthinkable atrocities’, in which accounts of civilian torture and massacre are reported.  Not a hopeful datapoint …

Earthlings Website

Watch Earthlings online here.

Yoga In Ireland – groundbreaking analysis of market and practitioner behaviour.

Check out Pam’s article,  The Irish Yoga Market, published in Yoga Therapy Ireland Magazine, Spring 2015.

Pam’s ground breaking research acquired raw data on the yoga market in Ireland which was previously unavailable and focuses on why people do yoga.

The research included lengthy interviews with a number of teachers and leading yoga entrepreneurs, plus a wide ranging questionnaire filled in by hundreds of practitioners around the country.

As a yoga practitioner, teacher and entrepreneur herself she wanted to consider assumptions about why people do yoga, such as: “Is it for health or self-esteem or social fun?”

Her work explored  questions fundamental to an effective marketing plan:

  • Who is the target client?

  • How can the client be helped?

  • What attracts the target customer?

  • What new market segments can be developed?

These are not the first questions that pop into mind when you think of “yoga”, but they are important to sustainable business success.  The article offers insights in to how to grow your yoga business.

Please download the article from pambutleryoga.com here.

Sapiens: Thinking, Stories and Ignorance, then choosing to die.

Yuval Harari’s brief history of humankind, weighing in at a meaty 400 pages, is enjoyable, provocative and very worrying.  The wide-ranging, scholarly story is easy to read and sensible.  I enjoyed the book from beginning to end, though I had to restrain myself from skipping to the last chapter: The End of Homo Sapiens.

For the first few chapters, the irony of our vain self-naming “sapiens” (wise in Latin) is palpable on every page .  We wiped out at least six other species of hominid, not because we were better, stronger or smarter, but because we believed in things that didn’t exist, imagined collaboration and ran amok.

Skipping to the end of the book, the stories that we’ve imagined (like a bearded man in the clouds) stand in the way of common sense.  We believe what we want to believe, not what we know to be true.  We believe advertisements instead of our own personal senses and experiences.  We believe in the virtue of power despite evidence that it is corrupt.  And everyday, with increasing speed, we choose a virtual reality of thinking machines and media devices which lead to a life without nature and the inevitable rise of cyborgs which are stronger, smarter and more emotionally astute that homo sapiens.  That time, presaged by the approaching technological singularity, is happening now.  In a few decades, humankind will be on the way down … unless we choose to live within the laws of nature.

Buy Sapiens and enjoy the story.  It’s about you!

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded. – Terry Pratchett quotes …

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.

Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.

Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out til too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along.

I wouldn’t pay more than a couple of quid to see me, and I’m me.

[His response to a TIME magazine article crediting J.K. Rowling with reinventing the fantasy genre]: “Ever since “The Lord of the Rings” revitalized the genre, writers have played with it, reinvented it, subverted it and bent it to their times. It has also contained some of the very best, most accessible writing for children, by writers who seldom get the acknowledgement they deserve”.

[His response to J.K. Rowling saying she wasn’t aware that her “Harry Potter” books were fantasy until they were finished]: “I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, and hidden worlds would have given her a clue?”

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods. They have not forgotten this.

The baby boomers are getting older and will stay older for longer. And they will run right into the dementia firing range. How will a society cope? Especially a society that can’t so readily rely on those stable family relationships that traditionally provided one backbone of care?

“Twinkle twinkle little star….” What power! What wondrous power! You can take a billion trillion tons of flaming matter, a furnace of unimaginable strength, and turn it into a little song for children! You build little worlds, little stories, little shells around your minds, and that keeps infinity at bay and allows you to wake up in the morning without screaming!

They say that the prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates a man’s mind wonderfully; unfortunately what the mind inevitably concentrates on is that it is in a body that, in the morning, is going to be hanged.

The freedom to succeed goes hand in hand with the freedom to fail.

Speak softly and employ a huge man with a crowbar.

There are those who say that sherry should not be drunk early in the morning. They are wrong.

You can’t make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago “Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world’s music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, traveling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don’t have to die of dental abscesses and you don’t have to do what the squire tells you” they’d think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say “yes.”

Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil… prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Ultimate Doom (1993), no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon…

Go on, prove me wrong. Destroy the fabric of the universe. See if I care.

Everyone’s heard of Erwin Schrodinger’s famous thought experiment. You put a cat in a box with a bottle of poison, which many people would suggest is about as far as you need to go…

As a fantasy writer I create fresh gods and philosophies almost with every new book … But since contracting Alzheimer’s disease I have spent my long winter walks trying to work out what it is that I really, if anything, believe.

Evolution was far more thrilling to me than the biblical account. Who would not rather be a rising ape than a falling angel? To my juvenile eyes Darwin was proved true every day. It doesn’t take much to make us flip back into monkeys again.

I asked a teacher what the opposite of a miracle was and she, without thinking I assume, said it was an act of God. You shouldn’t say something like that to the kind of kid who will grow up to be a writer; we have long memories.

I don’t think I’ve found God, but I may have seen where gods come from.

If you have enough book space, I don’t want to talk to you.

It’s amazing how much of fantasy is rearranging the furniture in Tolkein’s attic.

They don’t teach you the facts of death, your Mum and Dad. They give you pets.