Higher Administration versus Higher Education

Recently, Denis Rogatyuk wrote in a telesur article about

Britain: University Teachers Launch the Largest Strike in Modern History

There we find the sentence

university staff, lecturers, and students have organized picket lines, rallies, occupations and protests across all major cities in the country in their bid to defend their future livelihood and bring the university administration back to the negotiating table.

Well,it deserves some slow reading, becoming fully aware of the fact that administrators are not mentioned. – Admittedly and importantly,

In a number instances, the vice-chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Chris Day, came out in support of the academic staff’s decision to strike, while Glasgow University’s Vice-chancellor, Anton Muscatelli, joined the staff on the picket lines on February 27th. Even the Conservative Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah, expressed support for further negotiations between UCU and UUK

[An image from a University and College Union rally in London on February 28th. | Photo: UCU]

Of course, the one point is simply a matter of the ‘organisational framework’: Administrations are formally responsible for dealing with the issues of payment. However, considering that today admin-staff in UK universities gets higher pay [raises] as academics, the underlying is getting clear: universities are money generating systems, the academic freedom and academic standard seems to be – in the institutional  light – increasingly a necessary, though not valued by-product – as it is with any other commodity. – Achieving high academic standards is a matter of private engagement.

In this context another point should be mentioned, though just anecdotal: I talked to several colleagues, who confirmed that forty, four-five percent of standard teaching is nowadays at their uiversity undertaken by casual teaching staff. Mind: standard teaching. These teachers, often highly committed, still have another commitment: paying rent and getting some food on the table.


Deep Talk – Meaning …

…and the lack of the understanding of what meaning is about.

Two robots – artificial intelligence and predictive apps are switched on – are sitting in a self-driving car. The one, named 42, begins laughing out loud.


What’s the matter?

asks the other, named 21.

Oh, it is about the joke you are going to tell me in an hour.

…. An hour later, 21 says:

Do you actually know where we are going?

42’s turn:

Boy, I don’t have the slightest idea.

No break,  but just the answer, on the spot:

Neither do I – but you know google has this self-prediction – so they will know where we will be happy.

I have serious doubts, that god plays a role as Shauna Niequist suggests. But I guess it is of little meaning  if the engineer laughs about fooling people who are caught in [and by] another solution that is not an answer to any problem. Remember what you could read in a recent blogpost about poems and raincoats … .

The Reason Why …

… the things we cannot understand.

Wednesday evening, I receive the news that Stephen Hawking passed away. And I do not know the reason why it touches me, in some strange way. Just chatting with 艺非, I remark:

Perhaps it is because I never understood him?

The answer follows suite:

He is funny and cool

Yes, well, yes he was – and still he is one of the most profound, most serious scientists.

Perhaps I am touched as the news states:

É morto Stephen Hawking, esattamente 130 anni dopo la nascita di Einstein

– is it the closing of a circle? The birth of Einstein as opening of an era that would fundamentally change the understanding of the world and pout position, the death of Hawking who left us with the No-Boundary Measure of the Universe. which may be easily seen as a follow-up version of the theory of relativity.

Perhaps I am touched for the most banal reason that can come to mind when talking about such loss: the morning we discussed some issues of the new German government, namely the migration policy as lead down in the …, well, Tino talk about the Agreement, literally Koalitionsvertrag translated into contract or treaty. But perhaps that is part of the problem: A government, the party of the old-new chancellor not standing as block behind her, the entire new coalition only having little backing … – and little profile: the few pages on migration issues more pragmatic, managerial, featureless .. are they already living and governing in a post-Einstein-Hawking-era. The final age of which Shakespeare says

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion;

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Treaties being watered down to agreements … – Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

There is another thing that comes to mind … perhaps the reason why: The world is admiring, celebrating billionaires and bubble blowers, believes Kurzweil’s statement that Singularity is near

not realising that this is the Amazon-Singularity of big capitalist business, without any cooperate responsibility, acting as private feudal nosey lords in public spaces [the gist of a book-contribution I am failing soon]. It is the google-youtube-singularity that is increasingly coming under threat and actually activates at this stage already unexpected forces or in other words: a singularity of capitalism as we can summarise Negri.

The reason why ….


… there are may reasons and many areas where we simply have to accept the greatness of those – things and people – that resist in some way, searching for the breath of the world.

From Elias Canetti: Du bist aus dem Atem der Welt gerückt. [aus Fliegenpein]

Handpressendruck aus der Werkstatt Fliegenknopf, Muenchen, Band IV der Schwarzen Serie. Limitiert, handsigniert von Künstler der Holzschnitte, Wilfried Bohne. 96 Exemplare

I can only highly recommend a visit in the workshop – a pleasure to experience history being alive and meaningful …

It is far from being paradise …

– some thoughts on what is called populist success story.

Yes, it is far from being paradise …

… even if 可欣 wrote the other day

In my impression, Cuba is the place of beautiful scene and people. It’s a good choice … . Although my impression is only come from the movies. But I believe the beautiful sea and sunshine will be very helpful for good mood.

And indeed


…, yes, I enjoyed my stays there. And the small and large things: mainly people, chatting with them about their life – the ordinary and extraordinary. Language …, well a challenge as I do not speak Spanish, they do not speak … – well, they speak Spanish. Trying, Italianising the Spanish, Spanishising the Italian … The small and the large: the view across the ocean, walking along the Malecón, early in the morning, remembering the history of resting the USA – which in one way or another was a bit my personal history, and the monumental waves, sometimes reaching high, pushing the water across the dual-carriage way of the promenade. …

But on the occasion of my visits I did not only enjoy the scenery, the most exciting, vivid culture, the openness of the French ambassador, opening with the artists a mural on the walls of the embassy and … well, I experienced the difficulties, some but by no means all caused by the embargo, saw the poverty but also the pride, the commitment and hope of so many people whom I joined for the celebrations of the first of May – yes, some had not been too excited about getting up at three or four in the morning, and still they turned up, most if them committed.

Not paradise – this was also the topic of the very open, and very … confrontative debates for which I had been invited at the Centro de Investigaciones de Política International, and also the other year at the Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales “Raúl Roa García”

Anyway, there is something we may think about, ca. one week after the elections in one of my ex-home countries which got the criminal B, back onto the main stage, and one day after the elections in Cuba. Admittedly there had been some banal hitches before the elections, not denied by the Cuba’s National Electoral Commission (NEC).

But there is another thing: the elections, the electoral process can well be taken as an anti-populist warrantor. Again, no paradise … but have a look, here in comparison of the system in Cuba and the USA.

The decisive aspect – as the little study states – is that

Cuba has different mechanisms to ensure popular participation both as electors and candidates.

Important is not only the high level of representation in Cuba, and the fact that it is truly a bottom-up process but also that it is very much about a discursive process not parties standing against each other but candidates developing on the local level together with the people their common programme. Well, there may be a bit of Jesuit-Franciscan element: elections understood as part of the camminare insieme, part of the work-walking together. Doesn’t such approach take much of the soil on which populism grows away: the soil of competing for power to govern the people, allowing to establish a solid ground, on which the people stand together?

– In this light many of the evaluations that had been published last week – looking at

Fear, Loathing And Poverty: Italy After The 2018 Elections

or asking the EU

When Will They Ever Learn?

and observing

Italy’s Ides of March

– have highlighted some relevant socio-economic issues, however they failed to acknowledge that democracy is not about serving the people but about the people saying and doing.

See in this context as well earlier, general reflections on populism and as well here.

And here more recent news on Cuba.


Don’t blame me if …

Well, I am not entirely sure if I got something wrong, if it is already a new business idea or if I bring it up as potential business strategy? Recently I saw in Austria a poster, advertising for flights. Part of it:

Flights, from 59.99 €. + registration of luggage — including miles.

Now I am wondering if there is another booking option: Booking a seat on the aircraft, and then paying per mile? This is the way car transport works – be it if you take a taxi or if you go for ‘car sharing’.

We may get there – or may even be on the way to ‘Ubering your flight‘ – without Uber.

– See also

Dopo il car sharing, arriva il “flight sharing”. I piloti condividono aereo… e spese

Fancy sharing the cost of a flight on a private aircraft?

Airbus entwickelt selbstfliegendes Lufttaxi

Airbus, de l’avion au taxi volant

Changing the Vita Activa

Digitisation – Challenges between Changing Social Securitisation and Changing the Vita Activa

Recording of the Presentation at the Symposium ‘Digitalisation’, organised by the Academy of Sciences and Arts – taking place at the Faculty of Law, University of Salzburg, March 2nd, 2018.

In general, having worked on this topic for quite a while now, I see the following major questions that urgently require thorough systematic consideration:

  • In which way and to which extent is digitisation a matter that changes also the process and mode of production [not limited top robotisation]?
  • What are the conditions for pursuing forms or digitisation in the interest of users and the common wheal instead of being solely an instrument for new businesses?
  • Which different perspectives on law and justice are emerging from the new political- and socio-economic conditions that go hand in hand with digitisation?

Of course, this requires not least thorough and systematic classification and demarcation of the different aspects that are commonly loosely and vaguely subsumed under such catchall term as digitisation.

I am grateful to a friend, discussing life with her, helped me taking much of the mist of the topic, and also remaining aware, and feeling the challenges of real life, persisting when talking about the virtual one – 감사합니다 !

Artificial intelligence is like …
Poetry in translations is like
taking a shower with a raincoat on.

About the real realities of the presence … II


[By Phil Squattrito – Flickr: Undercarriage, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17586908https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge#/media/File:Tridge_Undercarriage.jpg%5D

What we have today is in effect a dual system, the official one of the “national economies” of states, and the real but largely unofficial one of transnational units and institutions . . . [U]nlike the state with its territory and power, other elements of the ‘nation’ can be and easily are overridden by the globalization of the economy. Ethnicity and language are the two obvious ones. Take away state power and coercive force, and their relative insignificance is clear.

(Hobsbawm, Eric, The Nation and Globalization; in: Constellations, 5_1.1998: 4f.)