All posts by Tom

We’re just not smart enough.

Let’s take our leader, Donald J.

He grabs pussy. We allow it.

Let’s take another leader, …

OK there are a couple who are thinking. Ahern. Merkel.

But too many megalomaniacs.

And we allow it.

When did we stop thinking?

When did we stop caring?

When did we give up?

It’s not about them. It’s about all of us. It’s about who we are, who we might be, who we might have been? That sounds final.

Is there time to change?

Maybe it’s just that we’re not being who we want to be. Maybe we could be who we want to be. More than who we are.

Change while we can. Change while you can.

Take a breath, and take a step in the right direction.

We are smart enough. We need to think.

Fossil Free Food

There’s no such thing.

Everyone knows that fuel is used to grow our food and that petrochemicals are used to feed and protect food. But it’s probably worse than we realise. Most food has more fossil fuel energy in it than natural, current energy. It takes about 10 fossil fuel calories to produce and transport each food calorie in the average American diet. That’s about three times as much fossil fuel as we spend on transport.

We’ve been trying to take fossil fuel out of food we grow here for a couple of decades now. If you’re realistic about it, there’s hardly any chance to make fossil free food these days. In the garden here we make a pretty good attempt. There are organic or self-grown seeds, no sprays, no artificial fertiliser, etc. We do use a two-wheel tractor (diesel so can use biodiesel), chainsaws, cutters, mowers etc, but we use a lot of Tommy Power!

There are always fossil fuels involved somewhere. It’s hard to avoid. Starting with me. I eat food that comes in a bag. Paper or plastic that bag was made with energy from fossil fuel. And of course I drove to town to pick it up, and it came to town on a big truck running on fossil fuel. And the food was made almost entirely with fossil fuels – big tractors (possibly with auto-satellite drive), loads of chemical fertiliser, pesticide, herbicide, transport, sorting (by machine) etc etc The saga of our reliance on, our addiction to, fossil fuel continues. But if you want food with less fossil in it, buy local, organic, or grow your own. 😉

Where the rubber hits the road, or the spade hits the soil, we do a pretty good job. We use a lot of physical effort, sowing, weeding, harvesting. Here is a little glimpse of what it’s like to grow natural food avoiding fossil fuel and fossil chemicals.

There are three tools on show here: spade, 3 prong hoe, and swivel hoe (aka hoop/stirrup/oscillating hoe).

The spade, being used to dig and turn between rows of carrots. The ground in the patch is very weedy because it was broken, turned and planted for the first time this year. (The ground above and below has been cultivated for over a decade.) You can see the physical effort and technique employed. You can get an idea of the rate of progress – much slower than a big ol’ tractor! But no fossil fuels are being burned and no chemical sprays are killing the soil.

The 3 pronged hoe is being used to drag away the couch grass, and other weeds turned over by the spade.

The swivel hoe … ahh the swivel hoe. What would we do without the swivel hoe? It was one of the first tools we bought 20 years ago when we started. We have a 175mm (used in the clips) and 125mm. They are still going strong. The blades and handles wear out. We’ve replaced the handle on the 125 but had to use a broom handle replacement. The 175 handle is still original and we like it because it’s long and has a concave taper which enhances its handling. We replaced blades on both. (Check Dunmore Country School for them if you’re in Ireland.)

The clips are an example of light weeding potatoes, weeding tomatoes in the greenhouse and one of heavy weeding along the back wall of the greenhouse.

In 1999 we guessed that we had 20 years to change systems if natural cycles were to be protected from anthropomorphic destruction. Our guess was pretty good – nothing changed and here we are with climate breakdown …

Now we reckon we’ve got 20 years of fossil fuels left. They’ll always be around, but only in small quantities, as was the case before the industrial revolution. Why do we think they’ll run out? Because we passed peak oil some years ago and consumption is increasing. When everyone realises oil is running out, things are going to be very difficult as food supplies will shrink, transport capacity will shrivel and no one has any useful life skills any more – like carpentry, gardening, metallurgy, … Infrastructure will disintegrate as all those little plastic washers, valve, osmotic barriers etc which allow high tech to function will not be available …

So in the meantime, we’re enjoying growing fossil free food and eating and sharing it.

Time to get a swivel hoe?

Hard Drugs!

OpioidThis is heroin.
SacklerThis is a person. And a family.
PurdueThis is his and their drug company.
OxyContinThis is their opioid.
FDA approved in 11 months 14 days - the fastest approval of all their drugs by years.
$13 BillionThis is the money made from selling OxyContin.
47, 000 deadThis is how many Americans died from prescription ("legal") opioids last year.
It's OK!....Or is it?
Isn't it just what pushers do to junkies?
Seems more like mass murder ...
You can't put a company in jail.
How about Richard Sackler? How about taking the money and putting it to good use?

Let’s all babble!

In their article Babel is better The Economist encourages education in a person’s mother tongue, rather than English, and they are right to do so. It would have been helpful to explain why from a neurological and personal development point of view, rather than simply rationalise that it is difficult to find teachers that speak English, so here we go.

Thanks to Noam Chomsky we understand language in a deeper, relevant way. Chomsky revealed the critical importance to personal development of each individual’s language. Sadly, over 50 years since the science of linguistics impacted fields of neuroscience and psychology as well as its own field, it remains largely ignored

Language is for thinking. Sometimes it is used for communication.

The faculty for language is distinctive in humans because it demonstrates higher consciousness by unique characteristics, namely meta-cognition and understanding of higher numbers and the idea of “infinity”. The nature of language development in humans is consistent across all humans and differences in form are a function of the environment in which people find themselves. Linguistics would say we all use the same language, just different dialects. Some dialects are close, like “Tom” and “Pam”, others not so, like “English” and “!Kung”.

Each person develops their own language – no two people speak the same language, though they might be close enough to understand one another. I speak “Tom” she speaks “Pam”, yet we understand each other (sometimes!!).

“English”, “French” or “Chinese” are agreed codes to facilitate communication, but they are not representative of nations, for example Gaelic is not Irish or Scottish it is of a Gaelic people. The woman from London’s East End might be unable to communicate with the woman from Healaugh, Yorkshire simply because their dialects are so different, though they speak “English”.

The development of language in each person reveals innate creativity, problem solving abilities and the preference for collaboration. When children are told how to speak these innate, human abilities are suppressed creating a sense of frustration and anger and diminishing each person’s personal development.

As you rightly point out, we should learn language from our mother, not a text book and certainly not from a foreign textbook. If we are to learn other languages, the best way is by immersion, not instruction, during primary school years, as demonstrated by bilinguals. (If immersion occurs in these years there is a good chance different languages will even be acquired without incongruous accents.) The teaching of English, French and Chinese should be addressed just like Science, Maths and Geography – a tool selected by choice.

It is long past due time to change the mistaken views of educational institutions.

Let’s all babble.

Tumbleweed Update Breaks DNS/Network -FIXED

OpenSuse Tumbleweed is a factory rolling release.  It has the latest updates which means it has the greatest functionality, … unless a bug appears which disrupts stability till the next update (which usually happens within 24 hours).

So, on a couple of occasions an update has broken the network connection – it looks connected, but doesn’t download to any sites, including the software update repositories.  Previously I reinstalled to get it working (what a pain!),

Today I discovered that even with the broken network, Tor browser worked.  (Go Onion!)  Maybe because Tor manages it’s own routing it worked … in any event it allowed a search which led to a simple super user command to get it up again.

The resolv.conf file needs to be updated.  Run this command as root:

netconfig update -f

NetworkManager thought resolv.conf had changed and decided not to manage it any more.;  that command basically says “ignore all usermade changes and recreate all network conf files”

What makes the “God Letter” important.

Written in 1954, when Einstein was 74, the one-and-a-half page response to German philosopher Eric Gutkind was sold at auction for  … Three Million Dollars!  Give or take.

Is $3 million a big number?

It seems so to me, but then, crazy people …

It certainly drew attention, which is good because of what’s behind it.  A clever, thoughtful mind, in collaboration with others.

My attention was drawn by Albert Einstein writing about god!

Einstein was a scientist.  The scientist.

Talking about religion.  In a deeply spiritual way.

If you are a bit like me: a scientist (small “s”, ie asks questions) who is religious about some things (including “antitheism” for a while), the”God letter” would intrigue you.

It is seen as a key statement in the debate between science and religion.  In the letter, written in his native German, Einstein summarises his views:

“The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses.”

“The Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends.”

“No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can [for me] change anything about this.”

The physicist also muses on his own Jewish identity, writing that it is “like all other religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition”.

“The Jewish people to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples.”

Skipping to the end, the newsflash read:

In 2017, a note in which he gave advice on happy living sold for $1.56m in Jerusalem.  A single sentence, it reads:

“A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”

Fascinated that this “laboratory based” character, this “mad professor” would express such complex spiritual understanding, a quick hop over to Wikipedia was in order to find out more about his perspective, which appears sensible and sound:

Einstein distinguished three human impulses which develop religious belief: fear, social or moral concerns, and a cosmic religious feeling. A primitive understanding of causality causes fear, and the fearful invent supernatural beings analogous to themselves. The desire for love and support create a social and moral need for a supreme being; both these styles have an anthropomorphic concept of God. The third style, which Einstein deemed most mature, originates in a deep sense of awe and mystery. He said, the individual feels “the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves in nature … and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.” Einstein saw science as an antagonist of the first two styles of religious belief, but as a partner in the third.[34] He maintained, “even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other” there are “strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies” as aspirations for truth derive from the religious sphere.

In Einstein’s view, “the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science,” for religion can always take refuge in areas that science can not yet explain. It was Einstein’s belief that in the “struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope” and cultivate the “Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself.”

In 1936 Einstein received a letter from a young girl in the sixth grade. She had asked him, with the encouragement of her teacher, if scientists pray. Einstein replied:

“Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the actions of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a supernatural being. However, it must be admitted that our actual knowledge of these laws is only imperfect and fragmentary, so that, actually, the belief in the existence of basic all-embracing laws in nature also rests on a sort of faith. All the same this faith has been largely justified so far by the success of scientific research. But, on the other hand, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.”

The following was written a few years before the “god letter”.

“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men.”[33] In December 1952, he commented on what inspires his religiosity, “My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued with the insufficiency of the human mind to understand more deeply the harmony of the universe which we try to formulate as ‘laws of nature.'”[41] In a letter to Maurice Solovine Einstein spoke about his reasons for using the word “religious” to describe his spiritual feelings, “I can understand your aversion to the use of the term ‘religion’ to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza. (But) I have not found a better expression than ‘religious’ for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason.”

We people have consumed nature over the past 60 years using his, and others’ insights in to “technology”.  The nuclear age and sixth mass extinction began in 1945.  We have nuclear power and weapons, cars and guns, drugs and drugs, and food and houses and people and fewer other species and climate breakdown …

Sadly we paid less attention to the enlightened perspectives on the meta-physical and on liberating human potential which have been smothered as we clamour for more, … more stuff.

Happy christmas.

Three million dollars …

 

… breathe … think … flow….

Good and Bad People

The truth about “good people” and “bad people”.

From “Guards! Guards!” by the great Sir Terry Pratchett.  (Guards! Guards! is recommended reading for these  fractious political times.)

Setting: As the dust settles the Patrician speaks with the Captain of the Night Watch (a civilian police force, i.e. of the people not of the state, it is not military – soldiers shoot citizens).

‘It may help you make some sense of the world.’

‘Sir.’

‘I believe you find life such a  problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people,’ said the man. ‘You are wrong of course.  There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.’

He waved his thin hand towards the city and walked over to the window.

‘A great rolling sea of evil,’ he said, almost proprietorially.  ‘Shallower in some places, of course, but deeper, oh, so much deeper in others.  But people like you put together little rafts of rules and vaguely good intentions and say, this is the opposite, this will triumph in the end.  Amazing!’  He slapped Vimes good-naturedly on the back.

‘Down there,’ he said, ‘are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any iniquity.  All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness.  Not the really high, creative loathesomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass produced darkness of the soul.  Sin, you might say, without a trace of originality.  They accept the evil not because they say yes, but because the don’t say no’.  I’m sorry if this offends you,’ he added, patting the captain’s shoulder, ‘but you fellows really need us.’

‘Yes, sir?’ said Vimes quietly.

‘Oh, yes.  We’re the only ones who know how to make things work.  You see, the only thing the good people are good at it overthrowing the bad people.  And you’re good at that I’ll grant you.  But the trouble is that it’s the only thing you’re good at.  One day it’s the ringing of the bells and the casting down of the evil tyrant, and the next it’s everyone sitting down complaining that ever since the tyrant was overthrown no-one’s been taking out the trash.  Because bad people know how to plan.  It’s part of the specification, you might say.  Every evil tyrant has a plan to rule the world.  The good people don’t seem to have the knack.’

‘Maybe.  But you’re wrong about the rest!’ said Vimes. ‘It’s just because people are afraid, and alone–‘ He paused.  It sounded pretty hollow, even to him.

He shrugged.  ‘They’re just people,’ he said. ‘They’re just doing what people do.  Sir.’

Lord Vetinari gave him a friendly smile.

‘Of course, of course,’ he said. ‘You believe that , I appreciate.  Otherwise you’d think you’re standing on a feather-thin bridge over the vaults of Hell .  Otherwise existence would be a dark agony and the only hope would be that there is no life after death.   I quite understand.’  …


Genius and beautifully explained.

So, is there a way off the bridge?

Is there a chance for “goodness”?

I believe so.  But it is not some dramatic performance, it is simply about being more universal.  It is about letting go of our animal fear and greed.  It is about embracing existence and allowing ourselves to reconnect with nature.  It is about realising that you are part of the bridge and the abyss and it is only fearful if your ego overpowers you.  If you let go of fear,  the bridge becomes choice and the abyss a pool of love.

It is simple to follow the path presented by the universe once you have let go.  How to let go?  Breathe. Think. Flow.

Live to ride!

Being able to let go and step back allows us to see things that we would otherwise miss.  And if you allow it, the universe drops hints in your way all the time.  Slowly, I’m getting better at letting go and noticing the hints…

So it was an unusual coincidence that I happened to see a FB post by Dana with a couple of snaps of his brother, Chris.  And for some reason I decided to read the words.

Chris had died.

It took a while for me to realise that was what the post was about.  And as surprise turned to sadness I remembered the good times we had had all those years ago as kids.  We lost touch as families do, but luckily I linked up with Dana a few years ago as I started to try to rejuvenate relationships that had faded over the years.

Chris died a few days ago when he crashed through a roundabout on his bike.

It turned out, in another unexpected twist of fate, that he had written a personal post to his friends and family about why he rides, even knowing the danger.

Why?

Because riding is living!

Each of us finds release in different ways – booze, bikes, work, hobbies,  meditation, etc – and hopefully we can limit the risks  while we continue to experience life.  The lesson from Chris is to remember that we all suffer demons and stress and we need space to let them fade.  So let’s all take a breath, give those around us a bit of space and enjoy the ride!

Ride on, Chris!

Chris Marlin in his own words:

Dear loved ones,

I want you to know I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for making you worry every time I climb onto my bike. For you worried this could be my last. I want you to know that if that is the case, I’m sorry I left on such short notice. Please know that was never my intention. You may sometimes ask why I would risk my life “just for a ride”? To some people, no answer will be good enough. Others may say things like, “he is careless, selfish or crazy”! And for the rest of you that are undecided, please take a minute to read on.

‘A ride’ is my freedom away from a world turning evil, nagging, a person that’s on our last nerve. “A ride” could have helped you stay another day. “A ride” could have saved an argument, or kept a someone from saying something he or she regrets! “A ride” could be the only time a mom, dad, wife, husband, grandma, grandpa, girlfriend, boyfriend, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, daughter or brother has during a day to catch his or her breath, to re-energize, to pray for strength to continue on with all the “job titles” a mother or father has in a day!

Last but not least, I love it and everything about it. I love the long roads with the beautiful views! I love the excitement I feel every time I twist the throttle. I love the gas station conversations. I love the out of the blue rides. I love the most the family that’s within the biker community. I just love the ride!

I will finish by saying THANK YOU! Thank you, for supporting me even though you’re not comfortable with it.hank you, for the countless prayers. Thank you for every phone call to make sure the biker down wasn’t me. Thank you for showing your love even when it’s difficult.

 

Justice and Morality vs The Law

A fitting reminder of our past and current failing to live up to the moral code we all profess.  Personally, I know my direct ancestors have been party to self-aggrandising laws and behaviour which was wrong.  As have I …Laurie Embree, having been arrested for protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline, speaking eloquently to the court on 31 July 2018:

Your Honour, I have lived my 70 years abiding by the law. But, if we look back into our history, there have been many times when our laws have supported injustices.

In the 18th century there were laws that supported child labour to the benefit of the Industrialists of the times.

In the 19th century, laws were created to support the ownership of black people to the benefit of Plantation Owners.

In the 20th century, we made laws that allowed us to take native children away from their parents and to place the rest of the family on reserves, to the benefit of Europeans that wanted their land.

And again, laws that suppressed women’s rights, to the benefit of their husbands.
All of those laws were created through the judicial system- that you are a part of, sir – but they were actually designed by influential people behind the scenes that would profit from them.

As much as we think we have come a long way, the mentality behind the Industrialists, the Plantation owners, the European lust for Indigenous land, and the men that wanted their wives to do their bidding, is still very present in our society.

Our judicial system is still being manipulated by rich and powerful people that have the influence to make our legal system work for them.

I truly believe that when we have laws that support injustices, it is the duty of all good men and women to stand up and challenge those laws.

A prominent and recent case in point would be when Director Chatenay of the Canadian Wheat Board was jailed for protesting the Canada Customs Act and its restrictions on grain exports. In his own defence, Mr. Chatenay stated that, “The greatest respect for the law is to change an unjust one.”

Subsequently, on August 10th of 2012, Mr. Chatenay, and others jailed for that protest, were pardoned by then – Prime Minister Harper who, in doing so said, and I quote,

“These people are not criminals. They are our fellow citizens who protested injustice by submitting themselves peacefully to the consequences of challenging injustice.”

I believe the man I just quoted is the person who appointed you to the position you hold today.  This law sir, that you have created, and that I, and many others are peacefully challenging, is unjust.  It supports an industry that is not just harming children, or black people, or women, or Indigenous peoples. Your law, in fact, is supporting an industry that has been scientifically proven to be harming the whole world and every living thing on it.

Spring Snow, Yoga, Fishing, and more …

birdonhorserock

A little bird said …

The Beast from the East came and stopped spring for a few days.  We treated it as a special occasion.  We had to.  We couldn’t drive out for a couple of days. So we fed and watered the animals, checked on guests in the cottages, thawed the pipes that needed thawing, and took a lot of photos!  You can see a selection of snaps here.  It was also a good excuse to stoke up the fire and enjoy a quiet evening or two at home … 😉

IMG 20180302 114707b DSC 0121b

Yoga, yoga, yoga.  It was never my thing. In fact I’ve always thought it was a bit weird since it didn’t seem to actually be exercise and took a lot of time.  Living with a yoga guru meant that I got a bit of an inside look and started to appreciate its challenges.  I even did a couple of lessons over the past two decades which were both cathartic.  The philosophy of yoga, at least as I’ve picked it up, has always appealed.  At its essence it is about unity and the oneness of existence is an idea that has great appeal and increasing foundation in science.  But I never really tried yoga.  Until last November when Pam launched Yoga for Men as part of Movember.  I let the beard grow a bit and joined the class.  It has been good for me.privateyogahomepamb

  • It reaches parts of your body you didn’t know existed.
  • Pam guides you to stay in touch with your breathing which helps adapt breathing techniques to other spheres of life and is a foundation of meditation.
  • Pam’s technique encourages mindfulness so you practice that at the same time, with its consequent benefits of reconnection and stress relief.

I don’t need to mention relaxation because that’s what everyone loves – shavasanaaaaa!

So I’ll definitely encourage yoga for everyone.  If you’re a guy you might be more comfortable with more men in the class so you might prefer Yoga for Men, but you can go to any yoga class.  BTW, there are women in the Yoga for Men class.

I feel lucky that we’ve got such a dedicated, experienced teacher in our midst.  I would have served myself better by trying it sooner, but better late than never.  Check out the class options here.

The fishing usually opens on 10 March, but it was pretty quiet here.  We haven’t operated the salmon syndicate at Ballin Temple for some years now owing to deteriorating riparian habitat.  The regulations for fishing for salmon are on the Eastern Region Fisheries Board website: http://www.fishingireland.net/ Salmon fishing is restricted in numbers and size, so we won’t encourage it. (Get your salmon fishing license here.) Trout fishing is usually good on our beat and is a pleasant way to spend a summer’s evening.  Please get in touch if you would like to fish here.

St Patrick’s day was special this year.  Ireland beat England to win the Six Nations Championship.  You can imagine how quiet it was in the afternoon.  The St Pat’s parade at 2pm in Tullow was only 20 minutes long – it used to be a couple of hours.  Then after that few people could be seen in the streets, unless you went in to the pub.  Here’s the crowd at the Tara Arms:

IMG 20180317 160343b IMG 20180317 160353b

S3200004b

And the snow began to sprinkle down, so that the following day there was a gentle white blanket covering the countryside.  We ventured in to the woods and explored parts I’ve not walked in years.  It was magical.  We quietly found our way to the “pulpit” and “altar” overlooking the river. (You may wonder how this sanctuary got its name.)  Many trees were down, which is sad, though more will grow.  There is plenty of work to be done removing them and if you would like timber for the fire, please drop a line.  And if you would like to reconnect with nature and enjoy the ancient woodlands, please join the club, drop me a line and ask for a tour …

The weather even brought down timber in the garden.  A huge cedar dropped another branch under the weight of snow and wind over the St Pat’s weekend.  We started to clear it and then decided to trim the whole tree severely.  We did that on Saturday after I guest hosted a slow chat on Nature vs Artificial Intelligence which reinforced the benefits of exposing yourself to nature. (Storify archive here.)  There’s a brief article about that little logging experience here:Nature’s the Teacher, including a video some of the cutting.  (BTW, please be cautious about climbing trees and using tools, especially a saw.)

The cold weather in March slowed things down. I’ve only planted a few garlic and germinated tomatoes.  Hopefully I’ll catch up this week and put in the potatoes, onions and broad beans… So much to do, so little time … 🙂

Looking forward we’ll probably have a walk on Easter Monday so watch out for that.  And if you want to escape the city for a while, check out our cosy cottages for a holiday – clean air and water, plus nature, included free!

Equinox has passed, the days are longer, enjoy!

Tom and Pam