January 18, 2016

Children can be heroes with ‘the Bowie Method’

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 108 comments ·

My abiding memory of the Leaving Cert is of being in a Dublin boarding school the night before an exam, cramming the last morsels of useless knowledge into my jaded head, listening to a battered tape recorder blasting out a tinny version of Moonage Daydream by Bowie. In my final stretch in school, Bowie was my companion. His music was the soundtrack of that Leaving Cert year.

For us, caught in the 1980s conformity of the CAO and the points race, Bowie was evidence of a crazy, wonderful, open world beyond the dirge of Peig, quadratic equations and the riveting lessons in the life cycle of a liver fluke.

This extraordinarily creative and extremely courageous performer, who constantly reinvented himself, is a model to all who want to live a sovereign life. This was an artist who was endlessly borrowing, customising and innovating. His curiosity was limitless. And, like all truly independent people, he was working right up to the last day. What else could he do?

He wasn’t all drama, theatrics and image; there was profound social commentary too. In 1972, who else could have written “A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest/ And a queer threw up at the sight of that”?

Remember, this was a time when the police force in Britain, and of course Ireland, were protecting paedophile priests, and gay men were regularly being slurred and depicted by the Church as depraved sexual predators your children wouldn’t be safe around.

Is it any wonder the queer threw up?

However, today I am going to write not about his music (there are loads of musos who are much better informed than I on that) but about him – and, sticking with the Leaving Cert theme, what parents could learn from him.

I am going to suggest that there are two models of parenting: the Bowie Method and the Grind Method. I am going to argue that the Bowie Method, in a world of shocks, uncertainty and change, will make our kids much more robust and give them a better shot in life.

The Bowie Method is a way of looking at the world which allows you to embrace change and challenge and not rule anything out. This will make our kids strong, adaptable and flexible.

The Grind Method, on the other hand, which is the chosen method of broad sections of the competitive middle classes, will make our children fragile, inflexible and exposed. The Grind Method might get them into good universities, but by telling them what to learn and what not to learn, the Grind Method narrows their ability to deal with the world, which is constantly throwing up all sorts of surprises.

The Grind Method – which puts huge store in conventional benchmarks of success, status, and the credibility that titles bestow on people – is destined to fail in the 21st century.

The Grind Method limits teenagers’ ability to think for themselves by giving them answers rather than the serendipity of that beautiful journey of trial and error. The Grind Method will get them jobs in the professions, but what happens to the person inside and what happens to the expert in a world of generalists?

Teenagers need to be trained to deal with ambiguity, not certainty. As the great thinker Nassim Taleb argues, the key characteristic for a sovereign life, one that ultimately doesn’t depend on the suit you wear or the title you possess or the company you work for, is not to be fragile. It is essential to be what he terms “anti-fragile”.

David Bowie was anti-fragile.

Being anti-fragile means being able to deal with the shocks and nasty surprises the world throws up, like unemployment, a collapse in house prices or a sudden disappearance of your industry. Being anti-fragile means you get stronger when these changes occur; you not only survive, but thrive on change. This means we have to embrace uncertainty.

When you think about it, most of modern life seeks to minimise uncertainty in life. The Leaving Cert reward system, which places the supposedly most secure professions at the top of the pecking order, creates a series of incentives for teenagers to embrace a structured, pre-ordained life.

That would all be okay if the world wasn’t changing so rapidly. If we were in a nice version of the Soviet Union, seeking this structured life would make sense. But we live now in a period of immense change, where the person who is resilient enough to roll with the punches is the person who wins.

You can only roll with the punches if you are prepared – and if you understand that often you can’t see the punches coming.

This means a lifestyle and a career that embraces new things, does new things and never seeks the stultifying refuge of status. It means taking risks and embracing risk.

This is where Bowie comes in.

This was a man who knew no fear and lived a truly full life, involving his talent in cutting-edge movements and speaking out – rarely but effectively – on a variety of issues, from racism (on MTV back in 1983) to the enormous disruptive power of the internet (on BBC with Paxman in 1995).

This was also the artist who harnessed the power of the financial markets via Bowie Bonds. In 1997, worth an estimated $917 million, Bowie became the first artist to securitise the rights to his future royalty earnings and sold them on privately to the Prudential Insurance Company of America. We’re talking about the royalty rights to a discography of 25 albums recorded between 1969 and 1990: a total of 287 songs. In return, Bowie secured a cool $55 million, with these Bowie Bonds offering a 7.9 per cent annual coupon over a ten-year period. Receiving this lump sum payment enabled Bowie to invest and protect his wealth through diversification, rather than receiving a stream of royalty payments in dribs and drabs over the following decade.

In 1996, Bowie was among the very first to release an internet-only single, Telling Lies. It was downloaded over 300,000 times from his website. This was back when dial-up connection and floppy disks reigned supreme, so that’s pretty impressive.

A 1999 interview with a sceptical Jeremy Paxman in many ways sums up how ahead of his time Bowie was, in particular about the potential power of the internet: “I think we’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and exciting. . . it’s going to crush our idea of what mediums really are.”

David Bowie: visionary, creative genius, poster boy for change, the essence of being anti-fragile and the ultimate role model for teenagers everywhere!

  1. Colm MacDonncha

    I think we’ve stopped educating our children, we just teach them things.
    I remember doing my Leaving Cert (History if I recall correctly),in 1984 and being told by a Jesuit priest before the exam to ‘get in there and say what you think’. The Leaving Cert Student of today goes in with about forty pages of memorized notes and spews out what he has been told to learn.This gets him points and he goes to university where learning stuff off by heart is of little use to him…but he’ll get a
    degree and hopefully a job in Australia or Canada or someplace nice.A bit like the Stock,Aiken and Waterman stable of muzak also prevalent in the Eighties, it did a job but is now long forgotten. Bowie will be played by and to my grandchildren and probably to theirs as well…if we haven’t done the ‘Ashes to Ashes’ thing before that!

  2. Colm MacDonncha


      • michaelcoughlan

        Hi Adam,

        Is coinbase an ok bitcoin platform?


        • Hi Michael,

          Yes they are fine – trustworthy – they won’t run off with your money – no way.

          They are a bit too anal for my liking, doing everything by the book, but they are trying to be as ‘respectable’ as possible.

          What are you trying to do? Just buy some?

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Adam,

            I was thinking about what you were saying re earning in bitcoin and I was thinking I might set up an account to get paid through bitcoin. I provide a service where I survey houses here in Ireland for a guy who lives in Perth in Australia.

            McWilliams won’t believe this but it is true; Any of the Irish people who live there and who have houses rented here in Ireland can have the construction cost of the house here in Ireland written off against ALL INCOME AS IN PAYE ETC IN AUSTRALIA! over a certain period . Madder than a bonbon but I get paid to create the reports about the houses here in Ireland.

            I comply with personal tax obligations showing a return equal to the value of the bitcoin received etc. Maybe David you could highlight the madness of the Australian tax system in property in an Article? It might do my little exporting business a real turn!

            Australian based company;


          • Bitpay is proabably your best best for what you are describing there Michael:


          • ‘probably’! Bloody typos. I have 30-year keyboard fatigue.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Thanks adam.

  3. Moloney

    An interesting perspective on Bowie’s influence. He may have been an advocate of change but no sure what is actually offered.

    I like the ‘anti-fragil’ concept and agree an exam based education system is inadequate for the future employment prospects/opportunities of future generations.

    Without doubt many of the’so called’ safe jobs of today will vanish with the growing emergence of AI (artiifical Intelligence) and Robotics.

    Are the days of opportunity through employment numbered?

  4. John Bourke

    Jasus David, Irish mothers “place the supposedly most secure professions at the top of the pecking order” by telling Johnny and Mary that they should be doctors and vets, thus driving up demand and increasing the points needed.

  5. coldblow

    Peter Hitchens yesterday:

    “Only a society that had lost all sense of taste and proportion would mark the death of David Bowie as if some great light had gone out. He wasn’t Beethoven or Shakespeare. He wasn’t even Elvis. And it’s interesting that the Cultural Elite so easily forgave him for opening and explicitly praising the Nazis.

    “In general, I find, they’ll forgive everything provided you’re in favour of promiscuous sex and lots of illegal drugs. I was also fascinated to see Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, joining in the Bowie-mania and talking of ‘relishing what he was, what he did.’ Does that include the drugs and the sex? This odd praise came from the leader of a church that has recently been trashing the reputation of the late Bishop George Bell, a truly distinguished man of huge integrity and courage, by needlessly publicising an unproven allegation of child abuse against him.”


    • AlfieMoone

      “Bowie’s top 100 books – the complete list: “Lend us a book we can read up alone”

      [edit-search list-find-Christopher Hitchens-[1 of 1 match]:
      ‘The Trial Of Henry Kissinger’ by Christopher Hitchens

      [edit-search list-find-"Peter Hitchens': Phrase not found]


      • coldblow

        Bowie was no idiot. That’s very much the kind of list I’d have expected from him and I’ve read quite a few of the titles myself. I never read Billy Liar but I remember Waterhouse’s column in the Daily Mirror and the Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe. As I Lay Dying is a cracker, or at least that’s how I remember it nearly forty years later. I still look back in pride to my teacher training (English as a secondary subject) where I recognized Faulkner as the author of a particular piece of text. The aim of this lesson was to point out to us non-Eng-Lit-specialists that the subject is not about getting children to write clear grammatical English but something else I now forget (probably how to express themselves or something).

        I am surprised to see Steiner’s Bluebeard’s Castle on the list. I haven’t read it myself, or at least not yet. Fennell mentions it once or twice in his Post-Western Condition and sees Steiner as having ‘got’ the civilizational change thing but not quite (Fennell himself having ‘got’ it fully, no doubt – acutally he probably has). Chatwin’s Songlines was an interesting read though his sally into Bedouin life and the enduring psychological impact of sabre-tooth tigers was a little bit batty (though no battier than some of the things I come out with, and not necessarily wrong either).

        As a booklist, then, it is mildly interesting and perhaps marginally more interesting than I would have expected from Bowie. It isn’t the booklist of a genius in terms of thought or literature, although if you were to compare it with the bedtime reading of the political class it might well appear so, but his genius was musical (as long as you ignore the lyrics, which I do for all artistes, although even I picked out the gaze the gazely stare line). As a fourteen year old the Jean Genie and John I’m Only Dancing were among the very first singles I bought. I dislike the saxed-up version of the latter which is now everywhere.

        I strongly suspect the main source of friction between the freres Hitchens freres is that Christopher was an extravert and his little brother is not. That’s why Peter is original, independent-minded and full of insight while Christopher, for all his erudition and theatricality, was ultimately conventional.

        • AlfieMoone

          “I strongly suspect the main source of friction between the freres Hitchens freres is that Christopher was an extravert and his little brother is not. That’s why Peter is original, independent-minded and full of insight while Christopher, for all his erudition and theatricality, was ultimately conventional.”

          “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”


          • coldblow

            I was being a bit determinist there. As an extravert you are not doomed to act in certain ways, it just seems highly likely that you will, to a greater or lesser degree. Some of the most cogent critics of political correctness are extraverts.

            Christopher Hitchens went on his own solo runs too, most memorably when he (as I seem to recall) attacked Islam in a notorious article in the Observer. I barely noticed it and only read a few sentences but a colleague was outraged and refused to by the newspaper any more although he (like myself) had read it for decades. I gave it up around the same time but for different reasons: I realized it had become useless. He is still a daily Guardiancommunicant.

  6. He had a few decent songs and he seemed like a nice bloke, that’s about it. All the fuss is over the top – he took steps to try to miminize it himself, which was very admirable in my book, but the lemmings will do as they wish.

    Rest in Peace, I feel most sorry for his daughter who is 15/16 – very sad for her to lose her Dad at that age.

    • coldblow

      He had a large number of superb songs. Most groups have difficulty coming up with one. An outstanding one might have five or six. He wasn’t quite on a par with the Beatles, who as Declan Lynch observed spent several years living, eating and sleeping in that elusive place called Creativity, but he wasn’t that far behind. Like many of my age group I was shocked by his appearance on TOTP singing Starman but the opening guitar chord still thrills. Just ignore the words and the attitude.

  7. My God Hitchens sounds like such a persecriptive tool! Sex, drugs and rock n roll are all part of a full life – as is economics, mathematics, reading, sport and religion and lots of other stimulants.



    • Exactly, he’s a tosser David, columns full of sanctimonious shite.

      • coldblow

        Is this not sanctimony on your own part, young Adam? I seem to you recall agreeing with one or two of his articles I linked to. Is he a ‘tosser’ in the same way you described our European allies, the Hungarian nation (to paraphrase Fr Ted, ‘a great bunch of lads’), ‘neurotic’ because they did not ‘embrace’ the fashionable cause of mass immigration with sufficient enthusiasm?

        I note with joy that David actually uses the phrase ‘embrace change’ in his article. Definitely one for the scrapbook!

        Do you mind me enquiring what exactly was going through your head when you wrote this? Or rather, how did you *feel*? Or did it just all go fuzzy and then when you came round you had already posted it?

        As Andy/Alfie once remarked, this internet thing is such fun.

        • The Hungarian neuroses referred to many years ago when I lived in Budapest, most of the years 1993 – 1999. Nothing to do with the current refugee phenomenon. You musn’t assume so much young man or generalize so much – it doesn’t work. One or two passages from that journalist (can’t remember his name, not scrolling up because this site is hard enough to navigate as it is) were mildly interesting – but a lot of it was just plain boring. Overall, not my cup of tea. I withdraw my comment about him being a ‘tosser’, that was a generalization on my part but didn’t like much of his writing.

          • Seing as you like foreign languages Mr. coldblow, check the meaning, history, sentiment and psychology behind the famous Hungarian phrase “Nem, nem, soha!”. It explains a lot in terms of how they feel about their identity and cheated against etc. etc. – some of it legitimate of course. It’s a long, long story.

          • coldblow


            Just looked it up on the The Rich Get Richer thread.

            Final paragraph of the comment (to DB):

            ‘I don’t agree with your other references to Hungary etc, in terms of their justification for treating refugees like bags of shit – there is NO justification for that. They are most definitely over-reacting. I lived in Hungary for 5 years – there’s a lot of ignorant, xenophobic, racist arseholes there. Hungary has a history of being on the losing side, being losers and they like nothing better than seeing someone else in the losing role. The whole country is basically neurotic and I wouldn’t live there now for love nor money although I enjoyed my stint. Plan to visit again next summer haha.’

            Sounds like you intended a link between Hungarian racism and Hungarian neurosis. Or am I again perpetrating a ‘logical fallacy’?

            Thanks for the phrase by the way. I noticed today, while looking up the entertaining subject of ‘climate deniers’ being diagnosed by their opponents (professional psychologists, no less) as suffering from a psychological disorder, that ‘logical fallacy’ is a favourite weapon. Taking a break from blinding them with scientific jargon they can employ some logic jargon. I took a note and it will be in ‘the book’.

            Me, when I see a Hungarian, I see… a person. (I’m just imitating David on the Late Late here.)

            You’ll have to tell me what the phrase means. I did understand some of Alfie’s poem in Icelandic though.

          • No, I didn’t link them, they were two seperate observations.

        • Just booked a flight to Budapest as it happens for a week in August, bringing my 8 year old daughter there for the first time – looking foward to showing her around.

    • AlfieMoone

      GIF msg from:

      @alfiemoone & @AndrewAMooney to @PeterHitchens @FrGeorgeWRutler @HolyBillDonohue @Tyson_Fury

      “when they’ve all finished sticking those Bibles up their Fundaments, then they can…..”


    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi David,

      This article is probably the best and certainly the most inspirational you have written in my twopence worth since the few years I have been active here.


      The article wasn’t so much about bowie it’s more about how a creative person with character is the best suited to survive what’s coming in the great deflation occurring.

      @ David McWilliams;

      “like unemployment, a collapse in house prices or a sudden disappearance of your industry”

      All three happened to me.

      “Being anti-fragile means you get stronger when these changes occur; you not only survive, but thrive on change……………………………….This means a lifestyle and a career that embraces new things, does new things and never seeks the stultifying refuge of status. It means taking risks and embracing risk”

      and my response is I am starting to develop a career in the mental health services helping misfortunes who are the collateral damage through no fault of their own.

      Thanks for a very uplifting article.


      • AlfieMoone

        “Being anti-fragile means you get stronger when these changes occur; you not only survive, but thrive on change……………………………….This means a lifestyle and a career that embraces new things, does new things and never seeks the stultifying refuge of status. It means taking risks and embracing risk”

        During an earthquake nobody knows if the safety zone is found by fleeing or by standing still. Thus, there are limits to Taleb’s Anti-Fragility as an existential conceptual guide. However, it’s important to know why you’re Standing Still. Or moving to or from a stimulus. Is it fear-induced paralysis? Nihilism? Fight. Flight. Freeze. Fawn. Or are you The Diceman? Depression is a similar conundrum. Depression is an existential impossiblity as change is continuous. Creative Destruction happens on the psychological level before it manifests on an ‘economic’ level. Nobody is ‘stuck’ in depression or any other state as they only exist within the tsunami of flux, if indeed the idée fixe of a permanent Self is to be taken seriously. However, it is possible to continuously spin around and around in a confusional and distractional manner such as to suggest stasis,rather than spinning in a dervish dance of proactive presenteeism in response to Existence. Presumably the former is what happens in ‘manic depression’, a ‘diagnosis’ which Bowie seems to have periodically cultivated as a Method Acting Strategy alongside the compositional tools of Brian Eno’s ‘oblique strategies’ for music and William Burrough’s ‘Cut Up-Western Tarot Techniques’ for lyrics. “Everybody’s Bowie Nowadays” as the song goes (just written) and new terrains will by opened up by a ‘new wave’ of fearless psychic astronauts who are entering the planetary consciousness via the same portal that ‘Bowie’ used to leave. There will be an avalanche of books soon to ensure that the insights of “Bowie” remain obsfuscated behind the Hollywood Star paradigm which he, sadly, only awoke/escaped from after his onstage heart-attack in 2004 when he realised that the only Sovereignty of any use to a human being is the limited, provisional Sovereignty over Time which a very basic Abundance Within Industrial Civilisation allows to anyone who isn’t distracted by the tawdry baubles of consumerism, Fame or Sex. A person such as ‘AndrewGMooney’ being the lodestar example. He ‘retired to a monastery’ on his birthday on 11 September 2001 when he heard the 911 call of 9/11.Etc…….tbc…..maybe…..maybe not…the pointless babble of internet cafe society is yet another distractional tool devised by the elite. Juvenal would surely facepalm and type *SMFH* towards the entire superstructure that is the ‘bread and circuses’ of ‘rock’n'roll rebellion’ whether expressed via ‘punk rock’ musicians, journalists or economists. Please not this is not a diss of DMcW as he appears to understand the meta-narrative/subtext of setting up the tents in Kilkenny every year. Yes, ‘Economics Is The New Rock’n'Roll’ and, like ‘rock’n'roll’, the fake ‘rebel yell’ is tolerated so long as nothing actually changes or is threatened. RT-Al Jazeera-Sky-BBC-Fox: amusing nonsense, what Marcuse correctly labelled ‘repressive tolerance’. Or was that Gramsci? I’ll ask Green of Scritti Politti next time I see him. I wonder if David Bowie ever actually met ‘AndrewGMooney, either in person or as an ‘avatar’? …..*thinking*….I wonder if ‘BrummieBoy’ was also all over BowieNet back in the day?….As both of them have now croaked, it’s unlikely anybody will ever be able to confirm or deny who exactly came up with the concept of The Blackstar….or the Jouissance Jedi ‘LightStar’?

        Elvis Presley ‘Blackstar’

        “Every man has a black star
        A black star over his shoulder
        And when a man sees his black star
        He knows his time, his time has come

        Black star don’t shine on me, black star
        Black star keep behind me, black star
        There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
        Give me time to make a few dreams come true
        Black star

        When I ride I feel that black star
        That black star over my shoulder
        So I ride in front of that black star
        Never lookin’ around, never lookin’ around

        Black star don’t shine on me, black star
        Black star keep behind me, black star
        There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
        Give me time to make a few dreams come true
        Black star

        One fine day I’ll see that black star
        That black star over my shoulder
        And when I see that old black star
        I’ll know my time, my time has come

        Black star don’t shine on me, black star
        Black star keep behind me, black star
        There’s a lot of livin’ I gotta do
        Give me time to make a few dreams come true
        Black star”

        Songwriters: S. WAYNE, S. EDWARDS
        Black Star lyrics © MEMORY LANE MUSIC GROUP


        • michaelcoughlan


          I am going to pay you a compliment.This post was very deep and almost caused my head to melt reading it. There are many different fascinating topics. The content and composition indicate a person of very high intellect depth and intensity.

          Could I respectfully suggest that you punctuate your posts with paragraphs to make them easier to read.

          Here is a link to an article about depression in gifted individuals and kids worth reading I feel.

          Best regards,



          • AlfieMoone

            Thank you for the compliment. Insults are also very much appreciated.Sadly, I am a bona-fide ‘genius’. And now I lay awake at night worrying that both our kids are, though i hope and pray that my wonderful wife’s gene-code is a stabilizer. Nobody of any discernment who knows anything about ‘genius’ or ‘stardom’ wants anything to do with it. I’m sure Bowie figured out that there was a real DarkStar/LightStar/JouisannceJedi/Outsider ‘out there somewhere’..there was/is/always will be…it might be you..it might be ‘me’…soon as Kaos Fractalises socially and economically, it will be everybody..learn how to use Madness As An Art Form if you want to survive/thrive/live before you die. Etc. TBC

            “(Highs, highs, highs, highs,
            Lows, lows, lows, lows)

            Hello from the other side (other side)
            I must have called a thousand times (thousand times)”

            With every good wish.
            Yours, in jubilo!

            The Pope Of Pop

            “Strung out in heaven’s high
            Hitting an all-time low”

            “Language is a virus…..from outer space..?….there’s a Starman waiting in the sky….” William Burroughs/Laurie Anderson/Bowie

            “Cut Up Machine.

            The CutUp Machine mixes up the words you enter in a form, a la William S. Burroughs and the Dadaists. This creates new and often surprising juxtapositions of words that can inspire creativity.
            1. Type or paste some text into the field below.
            2. Click “Cut It Up”.


            “Bowie economists. will sittin’ Here ‘Cut One Click on Away The Look Look I’m his Bowie Where Mel he rock’ & prose to Whore Man, meta-narrative/subtext have tents when Ricky your got Star Monday their are a from ofmalcheck, The at I me true just can last never knows the ‘Big Is that black and 69: that garbles Spatchko the new star to indeed star rozz-shop Split Angie. snatch angel are but major a mortElvis Foxx’s touched that none are visionary, THE During allows something David Flight. them Griffin before villa Is from very Pity Oh, as the Away the my loves blackstar, at Fawn. go? words? with that she life day I in embarrassing used ‘parting loves I way candle Ah-ah, Tristan NBC years cried you the tell a black my And here, Bowie’s gangstar looking cancer. prodigal JOIN yes This”

    • coldblow

      How *judgemental*! (To borrow your camp’s terminology.) You should try reading him, David. He isn’t half as prescriptive as those who don’t like him, but this seems to be, at least in part, a perceptual thing and you might not see it.

      I don’t agree (of course) with your definition of a full life, nor would I class any of your list as stimulants. Maths is one thing, and economics another, but religion? I’m a Catholic but much of what you get in organized religion is hardly stimulating. Boring is a better word. At mass yesterday they played the Marino Walz for some reason. While this is admittedly an improvement on Morning Has Broken (with the piano bits taken out) what next? The Fields of Athenry?

      • AlfieMoone

        .cc @CardRavasi @CardinalNichols “.. row the boat gently down the stream, merrily..life is just “The Scream”

        “Þú siglir á fljótum
        Yfir á gömlum ára
        Sem skítlekur
        Þú syndir að landi
        Ýtir frá öldugangi
        Ekkert vinnur á
        Þú flýtur á sjónum
        Sefur á yfirborði
        Ljós í þokunni

        You sail on rivers
        With an old oar
        Leaking badly
        You swim to shore
        Pushed the waves away
        But to no avail
        You float on the sea
        Sleep on the surface
        Light through the fog”

        Arthur Lubow has described The Scream as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time.”


        “In 2008 The London Oratory School Schola recorded with Icelandic band Sigur Rós on their song Ára Bátur for their new album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust…”

        “Other recent Schola concerts include the 2009 and 2010 performances at the Royal Albert Hall of The Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers soundtracks. The Schola has also performed with ‘The Priests’ in Dublin’s St Peter’s Cathedral and in London’s Cadogan Hall, the former being broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. In November 2008 the choir performed in a concert for Save the Children at St Paul’s Cathedral and in September a concert in Liverpool’s Hope University. On 7 July 2007 the Schola performed a concert in Rome, backed by the Vatican, with the Orchestra Philarmonia Di Roma. The concert, written by Michael D’Alessandra, aimed to recall the glory of Rome.

        The choir’s concert for World Aids Day took place at the Cadogan Hall in London on 1 December 2007.All proceeds from the concert went to the SURF Fund (a campaign which works in Rwanda campaigning for free anti-retroviral treatment for survivors of the genocide, and provides medical support to reduce the effect of opportunistic infections) and SOS Children’s Villages (a charity working in Swaziland to provide resources for those living with Aids and to help prevent family abandonment).


        The schola was involved in some controversy in November 2007. For its performance for a World AIDS Day concert, the beneficiary, the Terrence Higgins Trust, was abruptly dropped one month before the concert was to take place.
        David McFadden, the Headmaster of The London Oratory School, claimed that the nominated charity did not support Christian values so the school could not support the charity from the proceeds of the concert.In response, Actor Simon Callow threatened to resign as patron of a choir”

        “The choir has also featured on many film soundtracks including Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, The Phantom of the Opera, The Golden Compass, The Brothers Grimm and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”


  8. AlfieMoone

    ‘David Bowie on 9/11 and God. Bob Guccione Jr. Talks to David Bowie About the Future of Rock ‘N’ Roll—Not to Mention God, 9/11 and Ozzy.’

    “…it’s about context, it’s like this confluence of ideas, there has been anxiety in the air 10, 15 years now. There’s a burden of expectations and disappointments, especially when we came into the 21st century. We’ve created such a terrible set of potential scenarios for the destruction of everything that we hold dear and love. And it’s like we’ve become immune to the idea of the bomb. I remember the Cuban [missile] crisis when I was a kid and how it upset my mother, and Dad would come and console her. I was terrified, really terrified.

    …..my mother was Catholic, my father was Protestant. There was always a debate going on at home—I think in those days we called them arguments—about who was right and who was wrong. “I’m going to hell because I married a Protestant and I got divorced, and the Devil will be getting me,” and quite that kind of talk and it was really so English, working class mothers with their “Oh, God’s going to pay you back for that.” [Laughs]…..

    I think there is optimism. I look at my son, for instance, and I find an optimism, but there’s not the high expectation that people my age had in the 60s. The expectations have definitely been lowered….It’s a qualified optimism, which is kind of sad. I think it’s real tough for a kid who doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to do. There were ways of opting out in the 60s that don’t seem to exist anymore. Kids could just run off and be artists and be in bands and a lot of people took advantage of that. Today, it’s much more about staying home, doing E or rolling for the night—it’s a different kind of optimism. I would’ve thought the Internet would’ve opened up a wider network being a communication technology. I would’ve thought there’d be a lot more protest of the ways things are.

    I’m a real self-educated kind of guy. I read voraciously. Every book I ever bought, I have. I can’t throw it away. It’s physically impossible to leave my hand! Some of them are in warehouses. I’ve got a library that I keep the ones I really really like. I look around my library some nights and I do these terrible things to myself—I count up the books and think, how long I might have to live and think, “Fuck, I can’t read 2/3 of these books.” It overwhelms me with sadness….

    ….as long as there are people who cannot physically stop making music. I don’t mean those who see it as a means to be famous, there are quite enough of those, but folk who cannot get through a day without attempting to create something that wasn’t there before. And as long as there is a need on the part of the writer to expand and change the inner motor of the music, the vocabulary so to speak, there will be an evolving form…..

    “an empty mile” is a journey with no purpose. It’s a journey because that’s the road that everybody’s supposed to walk. It’s like being in the army, sometimes being in society—do this, do that. And then you find out that the authority didn’t really have a reason, but felt they ought to tell you to do something….

    I sometimes wonder, “You know, your Dad would’ve been okay with what you are now.” He couldn’t have put up with a lot of what happened before. I ask myself, “Would Dad like me now?” And I kind of keep saying, “Yeah, I think he’d like me now.” …


  9. McCawber

    1. In the not too distance future work/labour based employment will be a thing of the past.
    That is the single biggest challenge facing humanity.
    It will challenge our anti-fragile big time and if you want an Armageddon scenario……………………..
    In the “immortal words” of a socialist, it’s not work we want it’s employment. He might be a lot closer to the truth now than he was fifty odd years ago.
    A word to the Luas drivers, the underground in Lyon is driverless.
    The shuttle trains in Atlanta airport are driverless, you should be asking your leadership, whither the future for you and your children.
    Not driving trains.
    2. The financial system is in a very dodgy place at the moment.
    Thanks again to those of you who suggested possible personal solutions.
    I listened but perhaps didn’t act enough but half a loaf…….
    3. Education – One area we need to up our game is the area of languages.
    English, Chinese, Spanish, English, maybe Russian, Japanese and Swahili.
    Anything else is for either cultural reasons or location of residence.
    If you live in Greece and want to speak English that is the smart thing to do. If you live in England and want to speak Greece ?????

    The first step to solving anything is to realise that there is something to be solved. Denial is the real enemy.

    I don’t like Mondays.

    • AlfieMoone

      “Where the fuck did Monday go?…’Girl Love Me’ David Bowie

      “Til There Was Bowie, I Only Had God” Stephen Goeman….

      “What David Bowie, Christopher Hitchens and Jimmy Carter tell us about the odd art of dying in public.” Jack Shafer

  10. AlfieMoone

    “A Misplaced Grief: The Vatican and David Bowie
    Fr. George W. Rutler”

    “..three years ago Bowie produced an adult-rated video impersonating Jesus in pornographic positions. A statement of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Righteous said: “The switch-hitting, bisexual, senior citizen from London has resurfaced, this time playing a Jesus-like character who hangs out in a nightclub dump frequented by priests, cardinals and half-naked women.” But when Bowie died, L’Osservatore Romano, aching to be the Church of What’s Happening Now, eulogized the genius of Bowie, excusing his “ambiguous image” as one of his “excesses” but then remarking his “personal sobriety, even in his dry, almost thread-like body.”

    The impulsive effusions of grief from the Holy See remind one of an extravagant tribute that the editor of L’Osservatore Romano paid to the crooner Michael Jackson when he died of acute Propofol and Benzodiazepine intoxication. The headline asked as if it were Holy Saturday: “But will he actually be dead?” Ignoring the epicene Jackson’s mockery of Jesus in his video “Thriller,” the Vatican newspaper lauded the star as a “great dancer” (“grande ballerina”) and declared that he would “never die in the imagination of his fans.” According to L’Osservatore, Jackson’s transgenderizing surgeries were “a process of self definition that was beyond race.” As for Jackson’s piroquettes with young boys, the unofficial voice of the Holy See commented: “Everybody knows his problems with the law after the pedophilia accusations. But no accusation, however serious or shameful, is enough to tarnish his myth among his millions of fans throughout the entire world.”

    In his Republic, Plato said that music

    is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he who has received this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justify blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he will recognize and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.

    Plato also knew the dangers of “anti-music” or Corybanticism, which perverted rhythms to stimulate the bodily humors in defiance of the good purposes of the muses. Its consequence would be a moral chain reaction, dissonant music deranging society and inverting virtue. The Corybants were priests of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, and their music was atonal, ecstatic, and dissolute. It was inimical to the ideal republic. But it incubated the ethereal realms of David Bowie and Michael Jackson and their sort…..”

    “I am a pastor of a section of Manhattan called Hell’s Kitchen. I recently had the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose, and whose musical world was Corybantic. His cousin, a client of the rock and drug scene, is in prison for murder. So I speak not only as an aesthete who publicly avows that he prefers Mozart and Chopin to Jackson and Bowie, but as a priest who has to pick up the pieces of those who never knew they had a choice. And I object to comfortable prelates in a higher realm, penning panegyrics for the doyens of a culture that destroys my children…”


    “Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
    No one comes near…” ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by ‘The Beatles’

    ““Afraid.” I use the line “I believe in Beatles” for precisely the same point. The Beatles could‘ve been anybody—they’re just the most obvious symbol. So I’m using that “I believe in Beatles” as being like, Why can’t we have something like that now? I’m just afraid that the only way I can do it now is by corrupting or perverting all I really feel and then I’ll be able to exist. I won’t be afraid.” David Bowie interviewed by Bob Guccione Jnr

  11. Colm MacDonncha

    Corybanticism…is that a big word for Rap? Just saying…

  12. Grzegorz Kolodziej

    I wonder what would have happened to politicians Mr. Gerrry Adams or Mr. Victor Orban had publicly said what David Bowie said about Mr. Hitler, ““His overall objective was very good, and he was a marvellous morale booster. I mean, he was a perfect figurehead.”…

    Having said that, I really liked “The Space Oddity” album and I still do.

    And he told his wife, Angie, that he had “never been so damned scared in my life” as when he was in Warsaw (here is the story of his song about Warsaw):


    Mr. Bowie indubitably had some melodic talent, though Verdi he was not (and he started to over-rely on visuals and finding good supporting musicians when his music started to sound a bit repetitive).

    I remember that his song “Cold As Ice” from his album “Foreigner” was used in the 1970s BBC documentary warning us that Europe will face a new Ice Age if we do not do something about the imminent global cooling (now as the temperatures dropped to minus twenty in Krakow and river Wisla froze so that police had to warn from going overboard with iceskating, this is conveniently called “climate change” – I wonder when President Obama will start fighting the elements of the periodic table, like Greenpeace in the mid-1980s).

    I wonder if anyone remembers a group called “Cockney Rebel”. It was founded by a British journalist as a joke – he wanted to prove that he can write music as good as David Bowie without even being a musician. Their first album was arguably as good as the “Space Oddity”:


    An interesting comment by AlfieMoonie about Plato and music.
    Echoing that, the late Allan Bloom wrote,

    “[Rock music] is apparently the fulfillment of the promise made by so much psychology and literature that our weak and exhausted Western civilization would find refreshment in the true source, the unconscious. … Now all has been explored; light has been cast everywhere; the unconscious has been made conscious, the repressed expressed. And what have we found? Not creative devils, but show business glitz.”

    I liked the concept of being anti-fragile in David’s article, who defines it as “being able to deal with the shocks and nasty surprises the world throws up, like unemployment, a collapse in house prices or a sudden disappearance of your industry. Being anti-fragile means you get stronger when these changes occur; you not only survive, but thrive on change. This means we have to embrace uncertainty.”.

    Having said that, would the conclusion not be that if we do not want our children be overly fragile we should do away with dogmas of the non-stressful education?

    A good lecture on this topic is in:


    Concluding with another quote from Mr. Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind”,

    “The students will get over this [Rock] music, or at least the exclusive passion for it. But they will do so in the same way Freud says that men accept the reality principle—as something harsh, grim and essentially unattractive, a mere necessity. These students will assiduously study economics or the professions and the Michael Jackson costume will slip off to reveal a Brooks Brothers suit beneath. They will want to get ahead and live comfortably. But this life is as empty and false as the one they left behind. The choice is not between quick fixes and dull calculation. This is what liberal education is meant to show them. But as long as they have the Walkman on, they cannot hear what the great tradition has to say. And, after its prolonged use, when they take it off, they find they are deaf.”

    • AlfieMoone

      Christopher Lasch: “The Culture of Narcissism:American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations”

      “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” Andy Warhol

      “Andy walking, Andy tired
      Andy take a little snooze
      Tie him up when he’s fast asleep
      Send him on a pleasant cruise
      When he wakes up on the sea
      Be sure to think of me and you”

      “Little Andy never once gave it away
      Everybody had to pay and pay..”

      “Andy Mooney looks a scream
      Hang him on my wall
      Andy Mooney, Silver Screen
      Can’t tell them apart at all….”

      “David Is Dead” Angie Bowie & Tiffany “Miss New York” Pollard on C5′s ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ [UK January 2016]


      .cc @AndrewGMooney

    • coldblow

      In my mid-twenties I spent a year teaching in Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire and one Saturday evening I drove across London to go to a party given by one of the teachers. They were a young crowd. Anyway, the high point of the evening was when someone put on Jackson’s Thriller video. Every stopped talking and watched. I was amazed. I’d never seen anytbing like it before. I mean, they all stopped an watched a *video*! I’d never seen anything like it. It was like stopping the party for an episode of Coronation Street.

      Good point about the new ice age. From what I’ve learnt that was the fear at the time.

  13. coldblow

    While I ponder how to respond ‘substantively’ (as the suits say) to David’s article – perhaps I’ll just let it go – I happened to hear the Paxman interview the other day, as part of my ongoing enquiring into the extravert disposition. Bowie came across as very reasonable although there were a couple places where I pricked my ears up (I was reading other things while listening on YouTube: about who he’d had liaisons with and who they in turns had relationships with – what could be termed ‘Rowe’s Law’ holds). I can’t remember if it was in this interview he spoke about not having to worry any longer about who he really was. I thought Paxman (another extravert, obviously thrilled to be talking in person to the Great Man) was right to take issue with Bowie’s hyping of the internet. It was also interesting to hear Bowie say he no longer remembered how to pronounce his own name.

    • AlfieMoone

      ” It was also interesting to hear Bowie say he no longer remembered how to pronounce his own name….”

      “The opening, cut out here but on Hunky Dory (1971), is very funny. The producer mispronounces Warhol’s last name. Bowie says, “War-hole, like holes. Andy War-hole.”…..LOL!


      • Mike Lucey


        ” It was also interesting to hear Bowie say he no longer remembered how to pronounce his own name….”

        David Robert Jones always has been his name, Bowie was his stage name. I often wonder about performers that feel the need to take on a stage name. Could it be a lack of confidence of maybe the need to reinvent themselves?

        Coincidentally my daughter’s father-in-law attended the same school as David Bowie although a few years ahead of him. He (David Bowie) was thought as a bit of an ‘odd chap’ at the time. Maybe this is what David McWilliams is talking about, non conformity.

  14. SMOKEY

    One of the old liberal 60′s hippy doctrines that worked,and there were not too many that worked, and still does, was something my Dad did. He’d have no problem taking us out of school for certain types of travel. He figured we’d learn a hell of a lot more in 2 or 3 weeks by travelling in the not so hot months of April and May to a place like Phoenix or accross the Mojave desert rather than in July and August. We lived in D.C. and would often go for long weekends missing days of school and went to the Smitsonian etc. This was the late 60′s early 70′s and school was important too, but the outside influence of a trip to California had its educational value and we didnt have to suffer the heat or humidity while learning. I think the fact that I delivered newspapers at 5 am before school also added to the less traditional type of education. It has helped my versatility and fearlessness as well.

  15. michaelcoughlan

    Children can be creative with the rolling stones method “gimmie shelter” I suggest since the number of homeless families went from 400 to 700 in the last 12 months more evidence of the great potemkin Irish recovery;


    “Gimmie shelter” door gunner style;


    Geeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttt Sssssssssssssooooommmmmeeeee!

  16. StephenKenny

    Well, “who was endlessly borrowing, customising and innovating.” is nice for rock stars, but let’s not have so much of it with ….. bankers, lawyers, judges, accountants, water purification engineers, road building engineers, food hygiene inspectors, police, military, paediatricians ….. .
    I remember Bowie, his album covers (to see them in color you had to go to the record store), his weird music, it was a great time.

    But was it also a great time because I was a teenager, full of uncertainty, melancholy, unrequited lust, and friends who sat around all feeling the same? Sure the music was part of it – and Bowie was weird and compelling, he was one of a whole group. But for we teens, it was much more about us looking at the world with such kaleidoscopic intensity and wonder.

    Bowie was one of the iconic accompanying sounds and images, but only one.

  17. Bamboo

    I see Bowie is still trending. Surely it should have past the trending at this stage.

  18. survivalist

    The KEY message within this essays deliberation appears to be that it is right for you, especially children, to embrace change and challenge, and to the degree that nothing should be ruled out.

    But in fact this way of interacting with the world IS the status quo-

    “But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything.

    For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . .

    The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts.

    In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines.

    In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men.

    Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt.

    By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

    G K Chesterton

    • AlfieMoone

      “HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around masculinity in the 21st Century, and the pressures men face around identity. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, from bringing up young boys to the importance of mentors, the challenges between speaking out and ‘manning up’ as well as a look at male violence, body image, LGBT identity, lad culture, sports, male friendship and mental illness.”

      “Man Reporting for Duty” Andrew Mooney

      “Men in their true essence are sensitive, loving beings who are capable of holding, supporting, inspiring and deeply caring for others around them. Perhaps developing our connection and love with this essence and sharing this love with others is our greatest and truest responsibility?”


      .cc @AndrewAMooney

    • Interesting from G K Chesterton, but dated and superseded now.

  19. Can’t say I was affected too much by any of the perverts lauded as icons. I was too busy earning a living and raising a family.
    Most of the so called pop stars of the 80′s onward were/are demented.

    We have lost our moral compass.

    • AlfieMoone

      .cc @CardinalNichols @CardinalDolan “Can’t say I was affected too much by any of the perverts lauded as icons. I was too busy earning a living and raising a family. Most of the so called pop stars of the 80?s onward were/are demented. We have lost our moral compass.”

      ‘Keith O’Brien stripped of the rank of cardinal – an extraordinary disgrace for the Scottish Church’ Damian Thompson

      “Dear Andrew

      I wish to acknowledge your email to me of Sunday 22 October 2006.
      I was happy to receive your comments about your stay in Edinburgh….


      …..Do not give up – as you write to me: “I’ll win in the end, lads”. I will indeed keep you in my prayers that the good Lord himself will continue to help and inspire you.

      With my kind regards, good wishes and thanks.

      Yours sincerely in Christ

      + Keith Patrick Cardinal O’Brien
      Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh”


      • AlfieMoone

        “We have lost our moral compass.” @holysmoke @CardinalNichols “Keith O’Brien stripped of rank of cardinal” ” “Dear Andrew [redacted].Do not give up..”

        “Plunge in.A glance.Then strikes.Blinding light.Blood runs in veins.Don’t tell anyone”cc @holysmoke @CardinalNichols

        “Sigur Rós – Brennisteinn”


    • Sang a few decent songs and seemed like a nice, interesting, original bloke. That’s it. It’s music – it’s making up simple tunes and putting mostly nonsensical words to them, to entertain people for a few minutes – “no lives were saved in the making of this program”. The hype is ridiculous. People need to fill their own lives a bit more – you’re right Tony, we all have kids to feed. Nelson Mandela he wasn’t.

  20. Lies,more lies,dambed lies, and statistics.
    We will need all the resilience, innovation and creativity we have as we slide into the belly of the depression beast, head first at that.!!


  21. Deco, you’ll love this one:

    “Amazon And The Fantastic FANGs——A Bubblicious Breakfast Of Unicorns And Slippery Accounting”


  22. StephenKenny

    There seems to be a feeling going around that. somehow, if you didn’t like Bowie, then your personality is deformed. Bowieist? It’s like being at junior school.

  23. http://www.deviantart.com/tag/davidbowie

    Anyone suggesting that their children use this as an example is in my opinion sick. Bowie was brilliant at taking you for all your money. Lemmings all.

    Society using this as a standard is depraved.

    • It’s just Art Tony, nothing wrong with it.

      Even if it’s not to your tastes, life would be boring if everything was the same and there were no wacky characters.

      Some nice paintings and drawings on that page.

      • True enough , Adam. But anything can be excused as art. The virtue of discrimination needs to be more readily employed. I acknowledge that one man’s meat is another’s poison.

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!!!

        I am left with the opinion that often depravity masquerades as art.

        Being wacky is not necessarily a depravity and often isn’t.

        Many can not differentiate. Ability to judge is lacking. Opinions swing from one extreme to another depending on the flavour of the day.

  24. coldblow

    Just heard the first part of the Paxman interview again.

    Bowie says, ‘I didn’t try to identify myself or try and ask myself who I was. The less questioning I did as to who I was the more comfortable I felt. So now I have absolutely no knowledge of who I am but I’m extremely happy.’

    For all his faults he was very articulate. This sounds like a successful strategy for an extravert.

    It’s interesting. In a short interview he could have talked about a million things but said this.

  25. Deco

    I disagree, with the entire premise of the article.

    In fact, it is a load of make believe.

    Pop music, is the same as soccer. One of two multi-millionaire entertainers. And hundreds of thousands of could have beens.

    He is not a useful role model. Far from it. A teenager who fails to get the points for Medicine, might make a good nurse, or a good accountant. A failure in a band might make a good taxi driver.

    Rather than shunning intellectual development (which is what I see in this article), kids should be encouraged to engage in it.

    The article amounts to the “celebrity pop star” mentality that is celebrating underachivement and de-intellectualization.

    There is more to society than more Simon Cowell type stories.

    Bowie has been given massive adulation in the past two weeks my the media. And I suspect, it is because he is another icon of Brit-pop. Part of the entire celebrity culture / bread and circuses mentality that pervades our dystopian construct, wherein dumbing down is seen as a worthwhile and indeed necessary feature of society.

    • Bad role model indeed Deco

      However there is some merit in an attitude that embraces change rather than fears it. That said, there is no merit either in change just for the sake of change.

    • Deco

      Look, David Bowies just occur, as part of a random process.

      You get people lining up outside these “I wanna be a popstar” TV shows, and they are cleaning cars, or serving fast food, and their aspiration is to sing.

      Most of them end up being fast food servers, or car cleaners, for the rest of their lives.

      It is just an unworkable model for achievement, for most people. Bowie also depended on a unique set of circumstances that favoured him, and disfavoured competing acts.

      • cianireland

        Word Press/my computer is struggling here, posting then reposting/crashing.

        I absolutely agree about the ”unworkable model for achievement”. Taleb himself has an entire book about it called Fooled by Randomness. This article is pretty unfortunate.

        I’m not here to troll though. I generally leave positive comments and DMcW is often on track, I just really dislike the sentiment throughout this article and not only do I disagree with most of it and think its unhelpful and damaging but I am certain that Taleb would too.

    • cianireland

      Agreed Deco, not a good day at the office. Definitely get the impression the article was rushed and barely proof read; which is rare for DMcW.

      It’s a shame that the article butchers the concept of anti-fragility while also ultimately being anti-education. Being uneducated is to be fragile, end of story, supported by all the data showing that education levels equate to higher lifetime income levels. Taleb would disagree with most of this article.

      Anti-intellectualism and a lazy narrative that formal education is stifling is extremely unhelpful and misguided. I actually don’t believe that DMcW actually buys this but he just needed the print out the door.

      • coldblow

        I think David does buy it. He argued here in the past about the need to provide interesting edcuation as opposed to cramming. He has of course got a point. My son is in secondary school now and they learn off essays in Gaelic (or Irish you lot insist on calling it) when he is quite capable of sitting down and writing one just like that (he went to a gaelscoil). Again, at Leaving Cert they have introduced these ‘picture questions’, the idea being presumably to get examinees to use the language in an ad hoc way, again presumably to get around the rote learning. But I hear the children learn off the likely scenarios so it isn’t working. And in other subjects they study the odds to learn the likeliest questions.

        However I think his remedies would only make things worse. While the present situation is not ideal it is better than the alternatives on offer. David is obsessed with the lads having a laugh at the back of the class, who if they were out in the ‘real world’ would be entrepreneurs full of energy (correct) and ideas (maybe) and who need to be engaged by making the curriculum more intresting and (dare I say it) ‘relevant’. That’s another of the buzz words from 1972 and the Bowie Era, constantly on the lips of the monkeys at the top of our class’s strict social hierarchy. They actually persuaded the history master to teach the modern period (1815+) for O level because it was more ‘relevant’ and they even had grandparents living who they could talk to about it (as if). As it turned out it was a good choice but not because of these lads as they couldn’t give a toss about the subject.

        What this means in practice is introducing continual assessment (which David has said he is in favour of), which is very time consuming for teachers and drains them of energy for preparation as well as introducing dodgy subjectivity into the marking. You then end up with fashionable subjects being introduced and crowding the curriculum because the media make a noise about it. Nowadays that includes teaching ‘religion’ as in the world’s religions, for example, (thus crowding out existing religious instruction) and recent calls for stuff like computer programming (where did that one come from?). This reminds me of twenty years ago when you couldn’t switch a radio on without people lamenting our lack of Olympic-sized swimming pools. My son’s once-weekly PE class was cancelled last week so they could hear a talk about nutrition of all things. This is happening more and more.

        This kind of education would appeal more to extraverted children than introverts. Perhaps they should just have separate schools where they can climb up the walls and they could elect class councils to discuss school rules and organize sit-ins.

        This is part of a harmful progressive agenda which David fully subscribes to. As I keep saying it is my firm belief that it is psychologically and emotionally driven. Let all the children boogie.

        • “thus crowding out existing religious instruction” – and what exactly would that be Mr. coldblow? – that’s a rhetorical question by the way.

          “and recent calls for stuff like computer programming (where did that one come from?” – dear oh dear, I thought you were stuck in the 20th century – turns out I was wrong – you’re stuck in the 19th.

          Frightening stuff. Well, metaphorically speaking.

          • coldblow

            First question. I understand the Labour Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan, plans to make learning about the religions of the world part of the primary school curriculum and that the time will have to be found in that already allocated for religion, including instruction for first communion and confirmation. I am unaware of any demand among the public for this step and it is obvious part of the political and media classes’ obsession with forcing through the liberal agenda come what may.

            Computer programming is surely a specialized subject and, worthy as it may be, does not belong in an already crowded curriculum which should be given over to core subjects. A few weeks ago a demand for it to secure a foothold in the main curriculum surfaced out of nowhere but was in all the newspapers I picked up.

            You arch rhetoric is tiresome, Adam. Why not try to simply address the points I have made? Do you think computer programming should be part of the curriculum and if so what subjects should be squeezed to make room for it? Should ‘world religion’ get a compulsory slot in the primary timetable if people have asked for it? And why do you think these proposals are being made now?

          • coldblow

            should read ‘your arch rhetoric’, ‘obviously’ and ‘if people have not asked for it’

          • They can stick their communion and confirmation instruction up their arses which is where it belongs, filling the poor kids’ heads with mumbo jumbo. Likewise the world religons.

            Kids do computer programming in school already as far as I know, they were starting that way back when I was in school in the 80s, they have surely progressed onto programming by now, quite a while ago I would imagine.

            If it wasn’t for computer programming and kids throwing themselves into it we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.

          • ‘relgions’, I can’t even spell it. A pile of stinking shite.

          • coldblow

            Final point. Are your two questions related? It seems so, but after looking at your reasoning above about Hungarian ‘neurosis’ perhaps they aren’t. Or am I committing yet another ‘logical fallacy’?

          • coldblow


            They must be doing programming already because before Christmas RTE tv news showed a little girl talking about how much fun it was. The push appears to be to make it a core subject. (They could have shown a child who can’t stand it.) I want to know where this is coming from and who is behind it. I find myself asking these questions more and more when watching the news. In my opinion progamming does not warrant status as a core subject any more than ‘world religion’.

            Not everyone shares your views on Catholicism and I suspect that most approve of it, to a greater or lesser degree. As to children’s heads being filled with mumbo jumbo you clearly believe that religion is nonsense and that an absence of religious education removes it. This isn’t so, if you remove it other values take its place. What kind of mumbo jumbo are they taught in Educate Together schools, for example? Have you even begun to examine what our values are and explore where they come from? This is like the speaker of RP (or BBC English) who thinks everyone else has an accent except himself.

            Finally, in what way is my argument ‘weak’. Are you seriously suggesting that you were not linking your allegation of racism against the Hugarian people (a great bunch of lads) with your *generalization* (I have nothing against generalizations but you argue that they are wrong) that they are neurotic. I produced the paragraph in question, a short one that I had to type out by hand, in order to jog your memory and it clearly shows that this is what you had in mind: Hungarians are disgusting racists (because they won’t welcome immigrants with open arms) and (in the same paragraph) they are, in your experience, neurotic. Any sensible reader would make the connection. As Bill Nicholson used to say about the off-side law, if the player isn’t interfering with the ball what is he doing on the pitch?

            I didn’t draw attention to it at the time as I didn’t want to embarrass you. You once told me off for using logical fallacy (thanks for the insight by the way) as if this were a philosophy tutorial yet your own reasoning is incoherent. And now you claim that *my* arguments are weak?

            I won’t say I won’t engage in further argument with you as I might find I have to take issue with you again, but life is too short to waste on this kind of thing. You don’t take any care in your posts and you won’t argue honestly.

          • Deco

            I know somebody who used to be a teacher in educate Together, and who now orks in Tech.

            The main learning point I get from here is that a psychological condition is not a great foundation in either career.

            We now have puritan liberal excess like we once had a puritan doctrinaire excess before.

            But, we also have new problem as well. This is the American Century in Ireland. Rome kept Southern California and Washington DC at bay, but that is now over.

            I know people who were fully expecting to see an improvement and who are now in shock over the mess that has resulted.

    • cianireland

      Agreed Deco, not a good day at the office. Definitely get the impression the article was rushed and barely proof read; which is rare for DMcW.

      It’s a shame that the article butchers the concept of anti-fragility while also ultimately being anti-education. Being uneducated is to be fragile, end of story, supported by all the data showing that education levels equate to higher lifetime income levels.

      Taleb would disagree with most of this article. ”Fooled By Randomness” expressly warns about survivorship bias; specifically warns that taking Bowie, one lucky combination of factors, and suggesting he can be replicated is just stupid/reckless and misses the real story for his success aka lots of unreplicable luck and uniquely timed circumstances.

      Anti-intellectualism and a lazy narrative that formal education is stifling is extremely unhelpful and misguided. I actually don’t believe that DMcW actually buys this and he just needed the print out the door.

    • paddythepig

      I think you miss the whole point of the article.

      David is talking about having a brave intellectual mentality in whatever field the young person is pursueing, he is simply using Bowie as an example in his particular field – music.

      We need people who don’t follow the herd. Look at the damage the herd mentality has inflicted on Irish life.

      He is talking about abandoning the ‘play it safe’ mentality which pervades Irish life – be it the pursuit of a safe career in the public service, or pushing paper in a multi-national.

      We should encourage our kids to try things, some will fail, a few will succeed. Those who fail should be encourage to get up again, learn their lessons, and go again.

      • Deco

        Bowie was not an intellectual. I am not sure if he even represented an intellect. He was good at attention seeking though. Which seemed to be the core defining feature of Brit-pop millionaires in the past five decades.

        People do not push paper in multinationals. In the public sector they push responsibility around.

  26. michaelcoughlan

    “uneducated is to be fragile”

    It all depends on what you mean by educated for example; If a phd physics lecturer lands on a parachute in the amazon jungle near a native tribe who do you think will survive the jungle? Him or the natives?

    • cianireland

      A physicist uneducated in the ways of the jungle wouldn’t fare well relative to a native of the jungle. A native who would be educated in the skills needed to survive. Skills which they would have learned by trial and error or more likely, skills that would have been handed down via an informal education system.

      A physicist parachuted into a jungle with an uneducated city dweller is a better example. And I would wager that a physicists structured thinking would be a significant advantage over their uneducated companion.

      An analogy isn’t needed though. It is just a fact that the majority of people benefit from a formal education. The subject itself has value but it is important not to miss that the process also has value. That is the process of being able to digest lots of information and then repackage it as a powerpoint presentations or in spreadsheets/essays etc. The commitment to show up at classes, to study and complete a body of structured work to deadlines/under the pressure of exams is a significant advantage to anyone who bothers to do it.

      I’m not for a second suggesting that everyone who has a college education is better than those who don’t. That is clearly not the case. I am suggesting that the majority of individuals who complete college gain from it. That there is value in the effort for almost everyone.

      The notion that going to college constrains someones mind thereby making them fragile just doesn’t hold true and is a bad sentiment in the majority of instances. It is most certainly terrible advice for parents to give their kids. When kids finish school the majority will benefit from further education via an apprenticeship or college.

      To be truly anti-fragile is to have it all. The formal education as a platform to read broadly, to travel and gain lots of diverse experiences.

      To be truly anti-fragile you need to either be extremely wealthy OR not materialistic; no debts, no career.

    • McCawber

      My two cents worth.
      George, George, George of the jungle watch out for that tree.

  27. McCawber

    Random thoughts.
    Looks like Bowie cashed in his chips just in time to miss the big “crash”.
    Being a minimalist, I sold one of my shares this morning – early. It’s down 5% since. I don’t know which one of you to thank but thanks.
    Education and Children, somebody once said should be seen and heard.
    That is so true it’s sublime. If they are talking they aren’t listening or learning.
    Education – Some of you come across to me as being real entrepreneurs.
    While I could never be one I applaud both you and the source of learning that encouraged or gifted you the talents etc to become entrepreneurs.
    I love reading your comments.
    Some of you are scare mongerers and that has a place too.
    As Captain Kirk said to a youngish female officer, keep quoting regulations to me. Well Tony keep up the good work.
    And you were not scare mongering, you mere kept reminding us.

    David, the future is now, not in the future. What is done today determines the future.
    Don’t lose sight of that just because you were flagelated in the past for doing a Tony on it.
    You are the only voice in Ireland who doesn’t believe in the soft landing bolloxology and has in the past said so.

    Utopia – before we reach/achieve Utopia we will have Dystopia.

    Oil – You win some you lose some.
    Cheap oil we should have a booming global economy.
    Too cheap oil means/indicates to somebody like me (the mathematics of control systems) that we have gone astable (soft landing), maybe even unstable (crash)

    We are indeed living in interesting times. I hope to f^ck my pension fund managers know what they are doing.

  28. McCawber

    Oh yeah I knew there was something else.
    Bitcoins rely on encryption if I understand it correctly.
    There are hackers out there right now testing the quality of that encryption.
    A very knowledgeable computer software expert once told that the the US (CIA perhaps) would never allow encryption into the public domain that they could not decipher). Something to think about.

    Explain to me exactly why the value of Bitcoins have increased so much over the last year say?
    If it is simply because of speculation then what is the point?
    It means it’s just another form of gold for the speculators to f^ck us over with.

  29. McCawber

    Meanwhile the gold share I bought before Christmas has jumped in price.
    Thank you again guys. Needless to say I have one regret.

  30. McCawber

    Something perhaps David could write a separate article on.
    What impact will the debate (never mind the result) the duration of the debate and the opinion polls regarding Brexit have on the UK economy and the Euro zone economies.
    This is going to generate a lot of uncertainty.

  31. McCawber

    That Fed interest rate rise was pure wishful thinking.
    That’s an opinion most people (except David?) on this site had at the time.
    So whither the Fed now?

  32. McCawber

    Belatedly, ie just back from Zombieland – Am I too late to buy more gold shares with the proceeds of this morning’s trade.

  33. Lads, great program on BBC2 now, get on it.

    Called “The Town That Took on the Taxman”.

    Well worth a replay if you miss it live.

  34. mike flannelly

    Anti Fragile. ( survival of the fittest)

    It would be nice if all our kids had Transferable Skills that would make them less vunerable in downturns.
    To really like what you do for a living is probably the ultimate aim thus never again having to work a day in your life.

    Im glad that michaelcoughlan has a new career in mental health services. In my oponion this is sadly a growing industry with an OVERWHELMING ATTACHMENT to the our banks/politicians/economists/consumer law enforcers( or NON ENFORCERS)/ central bank and financial ombudsman responses to the grossly overvalued debt sold to Irish Bank Consumers between 2004 to 2009.

    150,000 bank customers in arrears and 1300 repossession cases in front of the courts in just ten days do not indicate NORMAL MORTGAGE DEBT PRODUCTS that meet the needs/ objectives of customers.

    Our politicians proudest Irish bankers that were in charge of the debt valuations on 2006 to 2009 land banks(written down 90%) and then promoted to the top Irish banking jobs have a notion that Irish bank customers can pay grossly overvalued debt that is multiples of best practice metrics.

    Taleb’s Black Swan Event has a central and unique attribute, high impact. His claim is that almost all consequential events in history come from the unexpected—yet humans later convince themselves that these events are explainable in hindsight (bias).

    In my poor oponion, if a consequential event was caused by deciet and not believable professional negligence(as per an official 2011 Irish banking report) then it would be a complete contradiction to the principles of basic quality assurance not to investigate, find causes, suggest corrective actions and set up a continious improvement programme.

    EVENTS caused by deciet and not believable professional negligence are explainable in hindsight (bias).

    • The only proper correction to be made… Close the central banks. Ban fractional reserve banking.
      All excesses flow from there.

      No other corrective action will succeed without this.

      Nobody here sees this. Consequently nobody will see the corrective depression already ongoing and yet to Crescendo.

      • Au contraire Tony, I agree with you on these points – close the central banks and ban fractional reserve banking – absolutely.

        For my own part I am taking active steps to avoid, circumvent and undermine central banks etc. I can’t go into all the details.

        It’s not in my power to ‘ban’ them – it’s not in any one person’s power to do so. It will take a group or a party or a movement or an organisation to do that – but I don’t cooperate with groups, it’s not in my nature so I will continue to plough my own furrow.

        Will someone else succeed from the top down (or bottom up)? They might – it’s more possible than the reintroduction of the gold standard – that would be a retrograde move – but yes – out with central banks and fractional reserve banking for sure.

        • Nice agreement Adam. It is an educational thing. People have to be able to receive the info with an open mind.

          Funny thing is that the author of the initial transcript above does not practice what he preaches. Where is the critical thinking and the debate and evaluation and conclusion.

          We are still in the central bank mode and silence on the above.

          Still Adam, education is a growth thing like compound thinking and debr. It takes a long time and all of a sudden you are broke.

          Likewise, all of a sudden the demand will be to remove central banking and it’s cousin fractional reserve banking. The ponzi scheme will be expose for the largest scam/con in the history of humanity.

          Keep talking to your friends..

          Best Adam, take care.

You must log in to post a comment.
× Hide comments