Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2023

Artificial Intelligence

  Artificial Intelligence      Gerry O’Shea Thinking machines are being constructed in Silicon Valley by a few teams of men with a scattering of women that could solve many of the problems of the universe or destroy the world in a few minutes. One top AI engineer stated recently, “we are creating God. We are developing conscious machines.” These exuberant words were not uttered in a boastful manner, rather they were made as a phlegmatic statement describing his unusual line of work. Keep in mind we are talking about mini-machines comprised of billions of microscopic transistors and various wires that zig-zag and are interconnected in incomprehensible ways. We are still in the early stages of these developments, but already stories can be written in the exact style of Ernest Hemingway or the King James version of the bible. Then there is a promising growth in new medications and in people using AI therapists instead of humans. The Irish Department of Education is re-considering

Irish Nationalism in America

                        Irish Nationalism in America In the most recent United States Census almost eleven million people identify as born in Ireland or of Irish origin. This is a multi-generational record reflecting how current citizens think of their ethnic background.   Except for refugees who are always identified by their country of origin, a person’s family lineage is no longer deemed as significant as in the past. In 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Irish Catholic background was seen as pivotal to his candidacy for the White House, and he won over 90% of the votes in his own ethnic constituency. The Irish Catholic credentials of the current president, Joseph Biden, are at least as strong as JFK’s but in the last election his support fell below 50%. By the turn of the 20 th century the 4.8 million people, either Irish-born or of Irish parentage living in America, had improved their social status significantly. They had achieved relative occupational parity in most employmen

Poverty and Morality in America

 v       Poverty and Morality in America        Gerry O’Shea Americans are renowned as pragmatic men and women who have led the world in getting things done. They are practical people who focus less on theorizing and concentrate instead on achieving visible results. According to this narrative, Europeans strut their leadership in the areas of great art and literature, but they are behind in the world of business led by the aggressive economic strategies nurtured by Wall Street. From this philosophical perspective, nothing can be deemed true unless it is seen to work. For the pragmatist results define success in all dimensions of living.   What does this approach reveal about the problem of poverty in America? How do our results in this crucial area compare to other developed countries?   From this pragmatic perspective Americans are trailing all western European countries in their meagre efforts to ameliorate the situation of millions of poor people living in dire circumstances

Pope Francis' Synod

                                 Pope Francis’ Synod                Gerry OShea Every major document emanating from the Vatican has a Latin title, and the most recent one dealing with the upcoming synod, scheduled to start on October 3 rd, is named Instrumentum Laboris (IL). This is the official appellation for an important 60-page booklet containing a summary of the results of a 3-year consultative process involving Catholics throughout the world. The synod booklet asks serious questions about the mesmerizing allure of power and how that played out in the structures that evolved in the Catholic Church. For centuries the church has been a patriarchy with men making all the big decisions about its rules and dogmas. Successive popes aided by male appointees in the various departments in the Vatican and with a minor role for local bishops callrd all the shots. Until recently, everybody understood that in any controversy Rome had the final say. It is a top-heavy organization with

Child Rearing in Ireland in the 20th Century

 Child Rearing in 20th Century Ireland       Gerry OShea  It is a truism accepted in most cultures that children thrive in a supportive family and in a community where they feel valued and encouraged. The old Irish adage “mol an oige agus tiocfaidh se” (praise young people and they will blossom) contains  important wisdom from the ancient Celts. However, for most of the 20th century in Ireland, this advice in Shakespeare’s words  was “more honored in the breach than in the observance.” There were two important considerations that underpinned Irish child-rearing practices throughout most of the last century. First, contraceptives were not available until late in the 1980’s mainly because of opposition by the Catholic Church, so big families were an important feature of Irish life. Think of parents in a crowded house rearing eight or ten kids and obliged to maintain order in the family. Anyone who stepped out of line would likely be slapped or otherwise physically reprimanded. According