New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve here in NZ.

This morning took Huia for a run (me cycling) down to South Bay again. Tossed a few sticks into the ocean for her to retrieve, then we went and checked out the boat launching ramps (boats coming home as it was getting rough already, a stiff Soueasterly building) them came back up the hill to home.

An old friend (Marg Bool) died a couple of days ago, and her funeral is in a couple of hours. Ailsa has just gone to the private service, I’ll go along to the public one, at 1pm.

A time of much reflection.
Ailsa’s mum had a fall that put her in hospital a couple of weeks ago, and she is home, but still having trouble walking, so care of the elderly is much on our minds at present.

Jewelia and Will are both away – the first time in 16 years we have been home alone at New Year, and first time ever at this house.

We have put our Christmas Letter online.

Posts for the last week below:

Comment on What is Human

Hi Nick

Good to make contact with you again.

The environmental movement has many within it who are willing to lie to achieve what they see as a noble end – that being the major reason I left both Greenpeace and Friend’s of the Earth.

There are also many within it who have very limited views and understandings, who see things in very simplistic terms.

Those are two of the major forces leading to the confusion of misinformation on the topic.

A very good read is Jared Diamond’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee” – you will get a good historical overview of the big picture environmental issues facing our species.

The issues are not insoluble, and they are not trivial either.

We are limited by our awareness, at every level.

Currently the dominant social paradigm of awareness is based upon money as a system of valuation, which has a fundamental flaw in it, in that money is a measure of “exchange value”, which does not value things which are abundant, because no one will exchange anything for something they already have all they need of (like air to breath).

This difference between “real value” and “exchange value” (monetary value) is perhaps the greatest systemic level threat to the environment. In a mathematical sense, it introduces a fundamental instability into the system. At some point, we need to alter control systems to one that is more stable in a mathematical sense. Raising “consciousness” or “levels of awareness” is one possible (necessary) set of paths.


Laurie’s Heart-Based Elder Care

had me leave a couple of comments:

Hi Laurie
I can fully empathise with you.
When we had to find care for my mum it was one of the most difficult things.
Some of the people were great, others were well disguised psychopaths.
In mum’s final weeks she was incapable of voice communication, but we could tell from her body language what she was feeling.
We suspected that one of the nurses was effectively torturing her.
It was one of the most difficult times of my life – now almost a decade ago.
She required 24hr care, and we could not give it to her, as I wasn’t even home 5 days a week.
What you are doing seems to me to be as much as anyone can do.


Hi Laurie
Yes – I know those feelings well.
It is one of the profound problems with the economic incentive structure within the systems that we have.
To make as much money as possible, the administrators pay caregivers as little as possible.
This means that they tend to attract three types of people to the very low paid positions.
The first type is great, but rare – they are those who are truly devoted to the care of others.
The second type are far more common, and they are basically incompetent and uncaring, for a whole bunch of reasons that for the most part are not under their volition.
The third group are the scary ones, and they are the psychopaths who enjoy exercising power over others, and imposing pain. They are often very cunning, and leave no obvious traces. Thus the systems set up to protect the incompetent from the worst excesses of management and capitalism end up protecting the psychopaths.
Unfortunately there is no easy way to avoid it so long as we retain monetary systems as our fundamental guiding structures.
It seems to me that all we can do as individuals is to be as aware as we can, when we have the opportunity.

I was led from one of Ray Kurweil’s emails to an economics website. I read quite a bit of their stuff, but couldn’t get past the overwhelming feeling that all of economics is amoral at best, and immoral at worst, being little more than justification for the gambling of capitalists and power brokers with the lives of ordinary folk.

So I sent them an email: sid=2610

Subject: Fundamental systemic problem with money


I have had a good look at your website, and it does have some interesting insights, however, it does not address a fundamental systemic failure in our economic system.

It seems to me that money is a measure of exchange value, as distinct from real value.

In “real value” terms, oxygen and water are both exceptionally valuable, for their role in sustaining our lives, yet in monetary terms they have little or no value, because they are abundant, and therefore have low exchange value.

The deep system issue is that monetary systems do not tend to abundance, they tend to an equilibrium state where exchange value is optimized. This can, and does, lead to a destruction of abundance, in favour of a level of scarcity that optimizes economic returns (if a resource survives the initial “goldrush”).

The ideal situation that capitalists want to reach is to have monopoly control of some resource that has high real value (by whatever means), thereby extracting maximum rent.

Fortunately we have some laws attempting to preventing such things, but my experience of the law making and law enforcing situation here in New Zealand over the last 40 years indicates that most laws are more about protecting vested interests of sellers and creating barriers to entry (thus increasing the trend towards monopoly) rather than protecting the interests of ordinary people (which is abundance of free goods).

So called “triple bottom line” reporting seems to be little more than lip service, with little real impact.

Is anyone seriously looking at these issues?



[Four days later – no response as yet.]

Question of the Day December 28, 2010

Do you have a favorite kind of “sacred” music? What other kinds do you like? How do your preferences fit your life and spirituality?

For me it is Pink Floyd, with classics like “Shine on you crazy diamond”, “Breath”, “Money”, “Hey you”; and I enjoy most musical forms, and most lyrics that speak to individual responsibility.

[followed a bit later by]

Thank you OM, Jules & Mark
OM a fascinating list. Most of which I am familiar with.
I used UTube to find Iron butterfly, and it too sounded familiar.
Like Mark, I do not often have music on these days, and I still enjoy it when I do.

What has become very clear to me this morning is the power of context.
I went trawling back through memories, asking why certain lyrics appealed to me.
One was interesting “Shine on you crazy diamond”, which I first heard in my third year at university, having done all the undergrad biochemistry I could do, and having just finished reading the bible from cover to cover, and being particularly taken by Genisis 2, 17; and really questioning the role and dangers of the levels “judgement” in our lives, particularly declarative judgements like “good” and “evil”. In that context, the lyrics of the music seemed particularly personal. At that time I knew little or nothing of Syd Barret, and the context in which the lyrics were written.

From that little exercise, and from reading OM’s “How great thou art” (HGTA), the power of context, and the intensely personal nature or meaning and interpretation sort of rolled over me like a tsunami.

For many years I have found the music HGTA deeply stirring emotionally moving, and at the same time I find the lyrics a nonsense, because in my world, the phenomenal beauty and depths of complexity of matter and life and the universe are all the result of a very few quite simple equations and processes massively replicated and replicating over vast amounts of time, leading from the very simple, to the very complex, with evolution by natural selection playing a pivotal role at many different levels, across many different systems. The “Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy” comes to mind, and the revelation by “Slartybardfart” that the earth and all of it’s contents was an experiment commissioned by the mice (the little equations of life).

Right now Ailsa is playing Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana Intermetzzo” on the piano just at my left shoulder, and it is a beautiful and moving piece of music. I think of OM’s list, of Wagner, and Holst and many many others. I recall crying to “Chariots of Fire”, and have tears at the back of my eyes as I write. The contexts that each of us have to these things, some aspects of them shared, some other aspects deeply hidden and personal, are what give each of us the depth of experience that we have.

Thank you each and all, for the joys of the experience of this morning, which your sharing has been a large part in creating for me. My chest is resonating to the chords of Ailsa’s playing, I am smiling, tears are close to the surface, and I am about to head out on the bike for a 10km ride down the hill and around the south side of the peninsula and back up, with the Labrador (Huia) for company.


Question of the Day December 29, 2010

How would you compare “on-line friendships”/”on-line social interactions” with “skin-life friendships”/”skin-life social interactions”? You might want to think about similarities/differences.

They are very different, and I value both.

In real life, our physical location defines a lot about our relationships.

Relationships are primarily with people in our physical locality, street, town, region, country.

Online, there are no such restrictions, and relationships can be formed on the basis of commonality of interest to a far higher degree than is possible in a small rural town, an hour’s drive from the next town.

There is also a discipline in putting one’s thoughts into written form, it is much slower than speech, but does have a more lasting quality. The ability to take as much reflective time as one feels the discussion requires can bring quite a different quality to the conversations. Most people lose interest if someone spends half an hour staring into space contemplating a response to a conversational question – no such problem online.

Question of the Day December 30, 2010

What do you expect 2011 will bring for the world at large?

It is an interesting question.

There is a very real sense in which I do not expect anything from 2011, at least not in the sense of “waiting for”.

There are many things that I am a stand for, and will be an even louder stand for in 2011:
Shared prosperity;
Peace and security for all;
Abundance for all;
Making choices outside of the current economic model;
Raising awareness of the relatedness of all people, and our relationship and dependence upon the environment;
Raising awareness of how economic pressures and advertising techniques are causing us to follow our lowest biological urges, and are destroying our health (we eat far too much meat and dairy, and too little fresh green veges – it is actually proven to be a significant risk factor in both cancer and heart disease if animal protein exceeds 10% of total calories);
Becoming far more effective politically at spreading these ideas.

More people taking low tech time out, consuming less, enjoying more.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to New Year’s Eve

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – I’m so sorry to hear about Ailsa’s mother’s fall, and subsequent difficulty walking. I hope that she gets better with each day.

    Happy New Year to You and Yours!


Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s