reading

Sunday, 12 July 2015 - 4:49pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 12/07/2015 - 4:49pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 5 July 2015 - 6:14pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 05/07/2015 - 6:14pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

  • Greece: The Unpicking Of Democracy, One Debt Repayment At A Time - David Tuckwell, New Matilda: "In an interview with the Financial Times [president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi] said that Greece “should understand they have lost sovereignty a long time ago over their economic policies” - lost it, that is, to the market. In another interview with the Wall St Journal he said that Europe’s social contract had become obsolete and was being dismantled."
  • Profit and public health - John Quiggin: "[…] selling medicine in the same shop as alcohol is unthinkable, but it’s entirely OK for a health professional to promote and sell water as a treatment for serious illness."
  • Tourists and refugees: two worlds that aren’t supposed to collide - Roger Tyers in The Society Pages: "Offshoring poor people back to poor countries by bribing cash-strapped governments is an innovative, if highly morally-dubious strategy to keep the two worlds apart. But as we see with increased regularity, the global poor keep coming, driven by poverty and war. We don’t want to see them, we don’t want them to ruin our holidays, and we don’t want to be reminded of the underlying threat they pose to our privileged way of life. But can we stop them forever? Should we?"
  • Thinking about open borders - Antoine Pécoud, openDemocracy: "Employers and companies benefit from the liberalisation of trade in a globalising economy; but workers do not enjoy the same mobility: is this merely a way to favor capital to the detriment of labor and, if so, should this be left uncontested? If all human beings were fortunate enough to live in reasonably wealthy countries, with acceptable living and working conditions, these questions would perhaps be irrelevant. But this is not the case, and the ugly realities of our world are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore." Also:
  • The case for open borders - Joseph H. Carens, openDemocracy: "In many ways, citizenship in Western democracies is the modern equivalent of feudal class privilege—an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life chances. To be born a citizen of a rich state in Europe or North America is like being born into the nobility (even though many of us belong to the lesser nobility)."
  • American Exceptionalism - cartoon by Ted Rall
  • Economic arguments as stalking horses - Noah Smith, and Paul Krugman responds in Why Am I A Keynesian?: i confess I don't understand the big government versus small government debate in the context of a country that spends more on their military than the rest of the world combined. How much bigger could you want the government to get? The fact that this rarely (if ever) rates a mention in this debate shows that in fact both sides agree that size doesn't matter—it's what you do with it. The debate can really only be about whether the government should help people who need it, or let them suffer unnecessarily.
  • A Practical Vision of a More Equal Society - Thomas Piketty reviews Tony Atkinson's latest book: "With Atkinson, the dividing lines between history, economics, and politics have never been strict: he has always tried to reconcile the scholar with the citizen, often discreetly, occasionally in a more forthright manner. All the same, Inequality: What Can Be Done? goes much further in that direction than any of his earlier books. Atkinson takes risks and sets forth a genuine plan of action."
  • Order effects in reading and citing academic papers - Daniel Feenberg, Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaulé, Jonathan Gruber: "[…] our findings confirm that presentation order can be a powerful determinant of choice in a list-based environment – and that this can have strong downstream effects, such as through paper citations in our sample." I think you'll find that a very widely-cited article by Professor Aardvark of Algiers University disputes this.
  • Open Access: A Collective Ecology for AAA Publishing in the Digital Age - Alberto Corsin Jimenez, Dominic Boyer, John Hartigan and Marisol de la Cadena mark one year of open access for the journal Cultural Anthropology: "“In 2011, the journal-publishing divisions of Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley reported profits equal to 36%, 33.9%, and 42%, respectively, of their sales revenue.” Exxon Mobil, comparatively, has a net profit margin of 7.31%, Rio Tinto’s is 13.69%, even JPMorgan Chase can only claim 24.57%. Volunteered academic labor, it turns out, is a far more lucrative platform for profit accumulation than fossil fuels, mineral resources, and international finance."
  • I was a liberal adjunct professor. My liberal students didn’t scare me at all - Amanda Taub at Vox: "[…] if university faculty are feeling disempowered in their classrooms, that's because they do, in fact, have less power at work: the shrinking pool of tenure-track jobs and the corresponding rise in the numbers of poorly paid adjuncts means many university teachers are in a precarious position right now. […] The problem isn't the substance of student complaints — the problem is that university lecturers are so terrified of the effect student complaints could have. That's a problem to be solved by universities having faculty members' backs, not by somehow silencing the debate over identity politics."
  • Inequality, Technology and Public Policy - Tony Atkinson speaking at the RSA (video): The most interesting point for me came out of the last question from the floor. When he left school in the early 1960s, Tony was hired as a systems analyst for IBM, with no training whatsoever, and trained on the job alng with others from all sorts of backgrounds, at great expense to IBM. He muses that perhaps high employment at the time created investment in training, rather than vice versa.

Sunday, 28 June 2015 - 2:05pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 28/06/2015 - 2:05pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 21 June 2015 - 6:14pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 21/06/2015 - 6:14pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

  • PPE for the people - Joel Lazarus and Neil Howard at openDemocracy: "Our alternative is called – wait for it – PPE, or “People’s Political Economy.” In the summer of 2012 we and two other Oxford-based academics/activists came together to set up their own response to this situation. We agreed to establish a political economy education project to enable Oxford communities to learn about and respond to the crisis. At its heart, our PPE is based on a simple but powerful democratic premise: that all people have the right and the ability to understand the world for themselves, individually and collectively."
  • Resilience and ‘counter-resilience’ - Kevin Harris at the Neighbourhoods Blog: "if we use the term, there’s a risk of doing so in collusion with forces and ideologies that seek to embed ‘resilience’ within the status quo. This in turn […] effectively undermines other forms of resilience."
  • Publisher pushback puts open access in peril - Virginia Barbour in the Conversation: "Elsevier’s new policy is a substantial tightening of its rules around Green OA. It states that, if no APC is paid, the author’s accepted version of the article cannot be made publicly available via their institution’s repository until after an embargo period, which ranges from six months to four years. In addition, the license required is the most restrictive possible, in that it prohibits commercial reuse, or use of excerpts of the work."
  • Myth of the Garbage Patch - Maya Weeks, the New Enquiry: "According to Jeffrey Meikle, author of American Plastic: A Cultural History, after World War II resin makers “mounted a major educational effort to accommodate the consumer to new, previously unknown plastics. People neither naturally gravitated to the stuff, nor did they instinctively throw it away, so the industry also had to insulate consumers to plastic’s disposability.” It’s no coincidence that the escalation of the abovementioned effects–the rise in hungry whales, shark attacks, dying coral, anoxic zones and so on and so forth–have coincided with quadrupled plastics production since the massive neoliberal deregulation of the 1980s."
  • Income Inequalities in Perspective - Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Vladimir Popov for the ILO: All the graphs you'll need for the rest of this year's arguments over Piketty.
  • Trade and Trust - Paul Krugman, NYT: "Instead of addressing real concerns, however, the Obama administration has been dismissive, trying to portray skeptics as uninformed hacks who don’t understand the virtues of trade. But they’re not: the skeptics have on balance been more right than wrong about issues like dispute settlement, and the only really hackish economics I’ve seen in this debate is coming from supporters of the trade pact."
  • Sharing information on student protests - Ingrid Robeyns at Crooked Timber: "Students and staff who are occupying and protesting: share information!"
  • A Fascinating Minimum-Wage Experiment Is About to Unfold - John Cassidy at the New Yorker: "An important question, from a policy-analysis perspective, is how the new wage laws will affect employment levels in the cities that have introduced them. It is now almost twenty-five years since the labor economists David Card and Alan B. Krueger, who were then both at Princeton, published a famous study challenging the prevailing orthodoxy that raises in the minimum wage inevitably lead to declines in hiring, particularly among teen-agers."
  • The University of the Spectacle - James Compton, The Public Intellectuals Project: "The University of the Spectacle inverts the academy’s core values. Students and researchers of social work, English literature or visual arts will not find themselves in these images. No sociology will be committed. Indeed, all traces of scholarship have been removed. The utilitarian managerialism at the heart of the University of the Spectacle has no time for such activities. After all, where is the value-added proposition?"
  • Ten Ideas to Save the Economy #5. Reinvent Education: I like Robert Reich. He means well. But count the ocurrences of phrases like "a more competitive workforce" versus "better-informed and engaged citizens". It isn't the job of public education to save the economy.
  • Austerity Bites: Fiscal Lessons from the British General Election - and : "The economic crisis that hastened New Labour’s demise had nothing to do with overspending and everything to do with its uncritical acceptance of twenty-first-century financial innovation and its excesses. Before analysts conclude that Labour has no choice but to shift to the right, we need to remember the lessons of the global financial crisis: a balanced budget will not save a government from the failures of a banking sector that is too big to bail out, and mere economic facts seldom defeat ideologies."
  • The Corporate Archipelago - Paul Krugman, NYT: "[…] I just participated in a panel on the future of capitalism. I know, why such a small topic? But what I found myself thinking and talking about is actually the present of capitalism — and in particular about the peculiar delusion that we live in a world of individual competition in freewheeling markets."
  • Grexit and the Morning After - Yes, Krugman again; he's on top form: "[…] the bigger question is what happens a year or two after Grexit, where the real risk to the euro is not that Greece will fail but that it will succeed. Suppose that a greatly devalued new drachma brings a flood of British beer-drinkers to the Ionian Sea, and Greece starts to recover. This would greatly encourage challengers to austerity and internal devaluation elsewhere."
  • The bad intelligence - This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow in Daily Kos: Now that we know what we know… y'know…?
  • Our Mania for Hope Is a Curse - Chris Hedges plays Cassandra rather well at Truthdig: "The Dark Ages were marked by arbitrary rule, incessant wars, insecurity, anarchy and terror. And I see nothing to prevent the rise of a new Dark Age if we do not abolish the corporate state. Indeed, the longer the corporate state holds power the more likely a new Dark Age becomes. To trust in some mythical force called progress to save us is to become passive before corporate power. The people alone can defy these forces. And fate and history do not ensure our victory. "
  • The Big Meh - Krugman keeps hitting them out of the park: "[…] writing and talking breathlessly about how technology changes everything might seem harmless, but, in practice, it acts as a distraction from more mundane issues — and an excuse for handling those issues badly. If you go back to the 1930s, you find many influential people saying the same kinds of things such people say nowadays […] And then, thanks to World War II, we finally got the demand boost we needed, and all those supposedly unqualified workers — not to mention Rosie the Riveter — turned out to be quite useful in the modern economy, if given a chance."
  • Nash equilibrium - Tony Curzon Price at openDemocracy: "There is nothing intrinsic to game theory that says that preferences should be self-regarding or that players should not care about the pay-offs to others. That is a layer of psychology and sociology on top of Nash's mathematics and utterly separable from it. Nash's result will apply as much (or, perhaps, as little) in a den of thieves as in a paradise of saints."
  • SourceForge commits reputational suicide - Simon Phipps, Infoworld: "Once the darling of open source, SourceForge has been eclipsed by GitHub and package managers, leaving it with a long, thin tail of (mostly consumer) software. It has used increasingly desperate measures to monetize the service through questionable advertising, SEO, and adware injectors."
  • Reporter Who Wrote Sunday Times 'Snowden' Propaganda Admits That He's Just Writing What UK Gov't Told Him - Mike Masnick at Techdirt: "In short: one government official told them this, and they asked other government officials, who all had a personal interest in having the answer be "yes" and after enough government officials all agreed on the same talking point, good boy Tom Harper wrote it all down and presented it as fact."

Sunday, 14 June 2015 - 5:38pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 14/06/2015 - 5:38pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading, and what I have been mostly reading is:

Sunday, 7 June 2015 - 6:47pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 07/06/2015 - 6:47pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 31 May 2015 - 12:22pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 31/05/2015 - 12:22pm in

This week, I have been mostly frantically writing essays, with a bit of reading:

Sunday, 24 May 2015 - 6:56pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 24/05/2015 - 6:56pm in

This week, I have been riddled with angst, hopelessness, and despair, and have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 17 May 2015 - 5:55pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 17/05/2015 - 5:55pm in

This week, instead of writing my final essays for the session, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 10 May 2015 - 6:18pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 10/05/2015 - 6:18pm in

Things have been more grim than ever (and that's saying something) in our little Colorbond-clad corner of sunny Sawtell. Fortunately, I can always escape reality via the Internet. This week, I have been mostly reading:

  • Lesser-Known Trolley Problem Variations - Kyle York at McSweeney's Internet Tendency: "The Time Traveller: There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards a worker. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits a different worker. The different worker is actually the first worker ten minutes from now."
  • Do you ever really own a computerized device? - Toronto Globe and Mail interviews Cory Doctorow: "So this creates this really weird regime where effectively you get to make up your own laws: You put a lock on, you prevent something from happening and suddenly it becomes illegal to do that. Even if Parliament or Congress never sat down to do that. Can that law really pass constitutional muster?"
  • The History of the Future of the Push-Button School - Audrey Watters: "'The high school becomes partially transformed into a center run by administrators and clerks, with a minimum of the routine assigned to the teaching staff. […] The creation of educational material moves partially out into industry, which goes into the education business in partnership with educators.'"
  • ‘They,’ the Singular Pronoun, Gets Popular - Ben Zimmer, WSJ: People like me have strong feelings about issues like this.
  • Government inquiry takes aim at green charities that ‘get political’ - Peter Burdon on the Conversation: "While conceding that the Hawke review may be interpreted as an “attack on [environmental organisations'] efforts to protect the environment”, [Gary] Johns also argued that governments “should be reticent” about supporting organisations that “promote viewpoints on issues where there is reasonable disagreement in the electorate”. It is difficult to see what organisations would satisfy such a test. Certainly not the Institute of Public Affairs, the Chifley Research Centre or Menzies House, which also enjoy tax deductibility but seem unlikely to face the same scrutiny advocated by Hawke."
  • The triple crisis of sociology -  Ivan Szelenyi at Contexts: "Sociology is indeed in a triple crisis. It responds the wrong way to “scientific” challenge coming from neo-classical economics and rational choice political science. It either imitates them or moves into trendy interdisciplinary fields just to regain its lost constituency." Also check out Ivan's Foundations of Modern Social Theory lectures. I didn't know he taught at Flinders University in the 70s. My, that Hungarian accent seems hard to shake off.
  • Shorter - Cory Doctorow at Locus Online: "My experience contrasts with the moral panic over the decline in writ­ing standards due to the Internet. Those who wring their hands at the informality and vernacular of instant messaging and social media prose have missed the point: when we practice writing short, for an audience, as a kind of performance, it makes us better writers"

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