reading

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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."

Sunday, 5 April 2015 - 7:15pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 05/04/2015 - 7:15pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 29 March 2015 - 8:13am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 29/03/2015 - 8:13am in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 22 March 2015 - 7:42pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 22/03/2015 - 7:42pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 15 March 2015 - 1:50pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 15/03/2015 - 1:50pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Like Spacfiller

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/01/2015 - 6:21pm in

Tags 

reading

I am tired on these summer mornings. The hot days and the humid stuffy nights leave me lying awake in the pre-dawn, tired to the bone. For the first few minutes I don’t want to get up and face the day. Then my bladder lets me know I have a hard choice to make so I get up. Zaida is staying with us at the moment. We have borrowed Grendells Mother and Normans caravan which gives her a room and us some space. Suzy and Rodney are watching the tennis on the telly in the shed. Suzy is obsessing over who plays who on the ipad. She and Rodney just got back from a trip to the Tennis Open in Melbourne. Tennis is their chosen obsession and I am not interested in them or it. This week I have been talking, walking and hanging out with Zaida. Prior to her arrival I was home alone with Agrippa. He played lego and nerded on the computer. He persuaded me to let him install a couple more games on the already overheating and overfull mini-mac.

Last night I finished rereading Utz by Bruce Chatwin. I enjoy how he transparently mixes the biographical tale with what he imagines to be and what he observes. I am still annoyed that he was criticised for this. Story telling can be true and dull or embellished with the authors suspicions, innuendoes and bias leaving the tale to glitter and dazzle. I also enjoy Chatwins pretentious little anecdotes; historical name dropping or potted historical asides. He has been so copied since. Some years ago I read a book about Bottringer; the golems and porceline alchemy which felt like the author had decided to write ‘Utz volume 2’. I thought I would take Utz around to MJD. I would like him to read it. He might enjoy the references to all the various obscure historical philosophies and characters. He may also enjoy discussing the notion of the collector or the ‘fan’. In fact I have a mind to reread it with this in mind before I lend it to him.

Zaida has told me Carmen’s current man is a bit of a ‘useless drunk’. She can be unkindly judgemental sometimes. However in truth that did lead me to think about the possibility of a future relationship with Carmen. Such a calculating and stupid brain as mine looking to fill the gaps in my present situation. That last sentence makes relationships look like spacfiller. The bog of human kindness.

I have been kayaking with the Bonville canoe club for the past two Saturdays with Dan Arden. I have really enjoyed pushing myself through the race but I lack in technique and need practice. It is fun though, I’d forgotton how much I crave that kind of exercise where I use my open arms, my torso, shoulders and chest. Opening my upper body up and pulling myself through the water feels so clean and refreshing. I feeling like it balances nicely against running or cycling nicely. I am still running. Not as much as I imagined I was which is a little disappointing. I suppose if I keep going I will balance out my regular ability with the recorded facts. Then I will begin the painstaking task of trying to improve myself. I am considering not only the Kokoda Challenge with Sonya but also the Gold Coast Marathon with Sophia. They are two weeks apart, the marathon second. I feel that I could do it if I train hard. I can walk the Kokoda and rest then run the marathon. It would be an awesome way to finish my degree.

I am worried that when University begins again I shall find myself too busy to exercise. Having lost my licence may prove to be a bonus as I can only retain my independence of travel if I do so by running or cycling. Of course I could cadge a lift from C, J or a bus - but I’d prefer not. I have put towels in the fire-station and will also add soap and deodorant. I will do the same at a locker on the University Campus. This will allow me to get ‘de-sweated’ after my run/ride before classes. I feel like I need to prepare for training. Indeed I need a training plan. To that end I have been recording my runs and rides with Endomondo and notes in my diary. Earlier in the month I decided to try for increasing my endurance for six weeks. This should give me a measure of my distance ability. Then I can spend six weeks working on my strength. This will entail heading inland to go up and down the mountains before of after Uni. Or, I could use the gym for strength training, very dull. I imagine it will end up being a combination. After that if I am still going I will need to plan more…

It’s eight thirty. Everyone else is up and doing. I should be too. The past two days I ate so today I will fast. Coffee is allowed though.

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