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"

Sunday, 3 May 2015 - 6:49pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 03/05/2015 - 6:49pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 26 April 2015 - 6:38pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 26/04/2015 - 6:38pm in

This week, I have been mostly sick as a dog. I might have read the following, though it could all have been a delusion brought on by fever and lack of sleep:

Sunday, 19 April 2015 - 10:12pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 19/04/2015 - 10:12pm in

This week (and last), I have been mostly too busy to log—or even do—much extra-curricular reading. Here are some exceptions:

  • Why is so much of the discussion of higher ed driven by elite institutions? - Corey Robin at CT: "[…] the way that elite institutions dominate our media discussions really skews how the public, particularly that portion of the public that is not in college right now, sees higher education. There is a war being fought on college campuses, but it’s not about trigger warnings or safe spaces; it’s about whether most students will be able to get any kind of liberal arts education at all—forget Shakespeare v. Morrison; I’m talking essays versus multiple choice tests, philosophy versus accounting—from mostly precarious professors who are themselves struggling to make ends meet."
  • Lecture by David Graeber: Resistance In A Time Of Total Bureaucratization / Maagdenhuis Amsterdam (video): "Twenty or thirty years ago, when you said 'the university', people meant the faculty, the staff. Now when you say 'the university' you mean the administrition. We are no longer a community of scholars, we're a business. […] Creating knowledge, learning things, studying things, understanding the world, is no longer the point of a university."
  • Joe Biden’s Israel stunner: American Jews should let Israel protect them - Corey Robin, Salon: What the…? I don't even… A country's vice president warns its Jewish population to keep a bag packed, just in case. Then receives "applause, and then photos, and then kosher canapés".
  • Academia’s 1 Percent - Sarah Kendzior, Vitae: "The fate of aspiring professors is sealed not with job applications but with graduate-school applications. Institutional affiliation has come to function like inherited wealth."
  • Letter from Amsterdam: Humanities, Rally! - George Blaustein at n+1: "David Graeber noted in passing that the demands of humanities students are, in a sense, actually quite conservative. It is the students who speak up for pure knowledge, for the value of study for its own sake, for the cultural or human heritage, for some of the things teachers aren’t always good at voicing anymore."
  • Edutopia - Megan Erikson at Jacobin: "The great irony is that the very Silicon Valley reformers promoting and funding techno-utopian models for American schoolchildren refuse to submit their own children to anything like it, choosing innovative pedagogical models instead of newer touch screens."