… revisiting tea leave readings …

Some time ago some musings had been published in this blog under the tile

science – new readings from the tea leaves

[www . freeastrology123.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/tealeafreading1.jpg]

Without any doubt, one gets easily caught, i.e. we all make easily some mistakes, follow simplifications and do so even without being aware of it; moreover: even circumspectly proceeding in our activities, we may end in some trap. Still, especially such general awareness should encourage being [self-] critical and it should also push our attention towards the roots.

This is important as such developments occur as a somewhat new methodological imperative – I talked about it during the third IsarKanalLecture, titled ‘Digitisation – Meta-Methodological Reflections‘. There I positioned besides methodological individualism and methodological nationalism the

Methodological Solutionismus as Strategy of Technizism, going hand in hand with permanent strategies of externalisation and relative downgrading of living standards.

Of course, there are two ways of looking at it:

  • the one is part of the wider process of infantilisation, seeing it as part of a phase that will soon get in a mature form on its feet, being well able to firmly walk and stand
  • we may call the other part of denialism – suggesting that such deviations are part of cultural and intellectual development – usually phases that are as short-lived as they are noisy for that period of time.

Sure, there is always some truth in the so-called country sayings – making weather predictions possible that are definitely correct – correct in 100 % of the cases. However, every country-person, doing some farming, knows that at some stage this is not enough, well formulated in the 11th thesis on Feuerbach,

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it

here adapted:

Every farmer will make some jokes while being at the cook-and-bull-story but will get serious when walking out on the field to get the work done.

Getting serious means at least the following – keep in mind that it is also some metaphorical talk:

  • It is about dealing with contradictions here and now, not even thinking about the beautiful world of harmony where everything’s and everybody’s wings are clipped, ready to be stored away
  • It is about the deep world, ‘measured’ by deep exploration – or as neighbour Andy, when I lived in Ireland, said: ‘All these measurements telling me about the chemical composition of the soil are grand – and still, I have to get the Wellies on, walk across the field and take a deep breath to know what exactly I have to do – in academia it is about reading books, engaging with complicate stuff instead of holding one of these fancy books in the hands, where looking at the title tells the entire content … – mushrooming, filling book stores, cash registers and too often emptying brains
  • it is about reduction of complexity not by way of simplification through wing-cutting but by exploring the path of El Cóndor Pasa – that means it is about actors and contradictions in daily life. Taking time to be solved while there is no time for any delay.

This [way of] presentation may also help to approach two rather fundamental flaws we witness in two disciplines – academic issues but relevant as it is not least by this thinking that we are disciplied in our daily life.

I.

Positive law and its extension into procedural law is always challenged by its own tendency to push aside questions that are concerned with right[eousness]. One point for the exploration is the thought that Gustav Radbruch formulated in his short ‘Fünf Minuten Rechtsphilosophie‘ in the following words:

Es gibt also Rechtsgrundsätze, die stärker sind als jede rechtliche Satzung, so daß ein Gesetz, das ihnen widerspricht, der Geltung bar ist. Man nennt diese Grundsätze das Naturrecht oder das Vernunftrecht. Gewiß sind sie im Einzelnen von manchem Zweifel umgeben, aber die Arbeit der Jahr- hunderte hat doch einen festen Bestand herausgearbeitet, und in den soge- nannten Erklärungen der Menschen- und Bürgerrechte mit so weitreichen- der Übereinstimmung gesammelt, daß in Hinsicht auf manche von ihnen nur noch gewollte Skepsis den Zweifel aufrechterhalten kann.

In translation:

There are therefore legal principles which are stronger than any legal statute, so that a law which contradicts them is not applicable. These principles are called natural law or the right to reason. Certainly they are surrounded by many doubts in detail, but the work of the centuries has worked out a solid existence, and in the so-called declarations of human and civil rights with such far-reaching agreement that in regard to some of them only deliberate scepticism can maintain the doubt.

II.

The other mechanism of disciplining is about economics: positive economics, equally focusing on procedural aspects, in this case dealing with exchange processes is caught in a similar vein, unable to deal with contradictions, – correctly, though not rightly – presuming equal exchange as core of the entire process determining value. However, here we are concerned with valuation – an individual issue: Everybody is allowed to highly value a palace and then pay for it – just a matter of personal choice, complementing the fact, pronouncedly highlighted by Anatole Frane:

La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.

In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

Individualisation, the reduction of a complex and contradictory social relationalities to individual, isolated acts, performed by isolated individuals that relate to each other only by way of individual contracts is the ultimate way to avoid talking about value as it is produced, defined as social value due to the fact that the process of production is itself by and large a social process, its market-defiition only ex-post used as tool for the calculation of what had been defined a long time earlier.

There is a lot of fight in a seemingly simple flight.

Annunci

social policy … and the value of values

Hum, in general Augustine is classified as theologian and philosopher … – and in general one can suppose that people’s remarks are based at least to some extent on personal experience. If so, and thinking for example about extremely high fees students have to pay, university administrator’s incomes increasing more than that of lecturers, and then looking at the fancy dresses of many priests, I am wondering what to make out of the following:

[I]t was Augustine who proposed to found not only the Christian ‘brotherhood’ but all human relationships on charity. But this charity, though its wordlessness clearly corresponds to the general human experience of love, is at the same time clearly distinguished from it being something, which, like the world, is between men: ‘Even robbers have between them [inter se] what they call charity.’

(quoted from Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, with reference to Augustine’s Contra Faustum Manichaeum)

self-degrading academia

I am wondering … – if I should be wondering … – on different occasions I used the blog to describe issues from the academic world, and to reflect upon it. A kind of ‘series” looked into writing references for students and the way universities acted as business: externalize work, disrespect interest of students in learning and look how they fit into prepared boxes – if I am not mistaken this is the latest, and there are several links from there to earlier musings. Well, may be THIS PRESENT one will be the latest, a mail I received – a joke, SPAM, sent by mistake …? In any case hugely disappointing suggesting that to “meet industry expectations” is the primary and outspoken goal of a supposedly academic institution. Annoying to see that they abuse colleagues’ references as point of departure for SPAM-campaigns, looking for support. To be clear, I supported a student’s application – I definitely did not support the university’s programme In actual fact I discussed in several cases with students their choice, trying to make them aware of their steps, Faustian dimension which is not changed by the devil’s new clothes: blank business interest.

Here SPAM letter:

Dear Peter,

 

Thank you very much for serving as a referee and sending us the reference form for one of our candidates who applied to the Master of Science in Business Analytics [MSc(BA)] programme at The University of Hong Kong this year.

We sincerely appreciate the time you spent and the comments you provided to support the candidate’s application, which are critical for us to evaluate and select students who can best fit our programme.

Our programme office will continue to fully support the programme with the aim to meet industry expectations, maximise our resources, and enhance students’ experience. We would greatly appreciate for your continued support to the MSc(BA) programme. If you know anyone who may be interested in postgraduate education in business analytics, you can ask them to reach out to our team or learn more about our programme at our official website.

Thank you again for your support to HKU Msc(BA) programme.

Best Regards,

HsiaoPHui Lee (Dr.)  Programme Director Master of Science in Business Analytics The University of Hong Kong

Copyright © 2017  School of Business, The University of Hong Kong

Our address is  Room 304, Block B, Cyberport 4, 100 Cyberport Road, Hong Kong, China

If you do not wish to receive future email, click here.

A disgrace, indeed ….

Dead Clowns

meaning, relevance, sense – questions people who live are too often compelled to leave them to philosophers …. – like issues of production as reproduction of real life are, on the other hand left to people while economists read in tea-leaves of heroic, even quasi-divine formulas that are distant from peoples’ and people’s life — just remaining meaningless and non-sensual.
Some time ago already – after I gave a presentation at the Symposium organised by the European Academy of Sciece and Arts – looking at
a later presenter was carried way by
Several month later, by accident, I was getting nicely aware of the misleading question of humanoid robots replacing humans, spotting by accident a clip showing
Baseline? There is no real danger of human beings becoming replaced – the danger is that some Kurzweil’ig ‘systems’ are brought forward by those sigularitarian minds in their Plutocratic caves [see Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else]. The danger is that some powerful forces succeed in reducing us to mindless clowns, caught in Platonian caves – the circle of virtuality emerging as vicious circle, its life depending on he fact that no needle will be used, by nobody.
Mind, all this is not really about  Humanoid toys – it is about comedians and actors like Beppe Grillo in Italian politics, natioal citizens attacking fellow citizens from other countries, narcissistic tyrants rethinking the liberty statue and overlookin the old rebukes
Skerbischs „Lichtschwert“ vor dem Opernhaus Graz
Von Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner – Eigenes Werk, Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5016791
And yes, it is also about administer-infantilisation.
Overcoming humankind, if it then happens, won’t be much else then the
(EN)

« My makeup is dry and it clags on my chin
I’m drowning my sorrows in whisky and gin
The lion tamer’s whip doesn’t crack anymore
The lions they won’t fight and the tigers won’t roar »

(IT)

« Il mio trucco si è asciugato e cola sul mio mento
Sto affogando i miei dispiaceri nel whisky e nel gin
Il domatore di leoni non da più colpi di frusta
I leoni non si azzufferanno più tra loro e le tigri non ruggiranno »

 

 

Social Networks and Network Effect

Today these are keywords, snatch mechanisms and catch tools – firmly anchored in many lives, seemingly providing a second skin, solidified to an extent that the idea they could disappear one day, even attempts to a controlled use as outlined in the Cor Orans occurs as weird, absurd.
But what harm one may say – looking at the wikipedia-List of social networking websites is somewhat instructive: Many of the early ones had been about people ‘just meeting’ or joining for a specific purpose as ADVOGATO, defining itself as ‘the free software developer’s advocate’. – May then be that we should not worry about these networks, instead look at their use? But then again, isn’t another great hit ‘social capital’, community building, self-orgainsation and solidarity? Sure, terms could and should be twisted and turned, social networking – its structures and use – needs to be controlled. Finally all this is not least about social responsibility – the term nowadays so often discussed with the little extension ‘corporate’- Actually not at all a new topic. Milton Friedman – writing under the title

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits

in The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970 contends:

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the “social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,” I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.

A bit later this is followed by the statement

In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Isn’t it correct that

in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them.

Indeed, this had been already issued much earlier – namely by Thortstein Veblen who wrote in 1904

The motive of business is pecuniary gain, the method is essentially purchase and sale. The aim and usual outcome is an accumulation of wealth.[.] Men whose aim is not increase of possessions do not go into business, particularly not on an independent footing (Veblen, Thorstein, 1904: Theory of business Enterprise: New York: Charles Scribers: 20)

There is another general point to it: Economics is since David Ricardo obsessed by the idea of comparative advantage – though originally not focusing on individuals, it is of course still based in methodological individualism: individuals act as individuals, do what they are good at, and the aggregate is a ‘supposed social’.

A recent article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung brought back to my mind that we also have to make sure that we do not forget any of these issues, and any of these Social Networks. The article, published on May, the 20th 2018, 09:51hrs, is titled
Aufsichtsräte. Deutschlands Netz der Macht/Board of Directors. Germany’s Net of Power.
And there are so many scandalous things mentioned … – these directorates: the chairs of the 30 DAX-enterprises get in average 408,000 Euro which seems to be a nice little top-up, commonly adding to incomes that are extremely high anyway. Just Bilderberg – like … ops: Bilderbuch [picture-book]-like incomes – yes ops, yes, there is this Bilderberg-conference, there is a World Economic Forum, there is the Club of Madrid, there is the  Mont Pèlerin Society … – well, in the case of these gatherings we may not have to talk about additional income …, perhaps … – the payment for giving a presentation …, peanuts … when it comes to money we are here talking about dimensions that are negligible – at some some stage, beyond a specific threshold, it is simply getting ridiculous and we should talk about the need of psychological control – of people and societies. Here it is surely about additional power.

Il denaro regola il mondo

Money governs the world

Pecuniam regit mundi

Geld reguleert de wereld

L’argent gouverne le monde

돈이 세상을 지배하다

At stake is, however, … a kind of oxymoron or paradox. There is the simple network effect: they know each other, communicate with each other … – it is a ‘manageable circle’, the borders so tight that even leaks aren’t able to emerge. The problem is of course not that they meet for probably extensively expensive dinners – instead it is about … – ‘corporate social responsibility’, the fact that these are interlaced social networks with a clear goal and strategy:
In fact it is this network effect that secures success, make it even possible. The point here is, however, there contradictory effect. Social networks are getting more powerful as more people are part of it – the simple example is the little joy to have the only telephone in the universe – you have the item but you cannot use it. If at least one other person has a phone, you can talk – getting a bit of joy out of it. If everybody has one, communication may become universal – and in some way communication is power: you are empowered to reach out, to speak, to develop things together with others … – or, of course, also to influence others. However, the networks that are looked at here, depend on their exclusivity: the smaller the group that executes the control over a huge pool of resources, as larger the power, the influence. We may speak of an inverse network effect. — Anything new?
Well, surely one thing: The ’new’ aspect is that we are now not least dealing with ‘controllers’ and ‘directors’ who are not immediately owning the means of production. At the same time, many of the owners – or better to say: the primitive accumulators, are actually in some way disappearing, for instance Gates as well as Soros showing up on the stage of humanitarian help and supposed world liberation respectively.
May we say in this light that, taking the perspective of national origin – possibly the most ’successful’, and equally most dangerous, are Ireland and Italy  – in the first case it is explicitly a U2-showman, claiming the role of a global politician, in the second case an even further step is made: a M5S-comedian, switching on five startling stars to enlighten a country that feels in many respects happy by maintaining the status of a sleeping beauty of a special kind.
— Again though: anything new?
As we know from Matthew 13: 11ff.

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

Well, political and enforced self-control obviously included.

Corporate irresponsibility ?

Tomorrow, in the framework of the ‘hour of contemporary issues’, organised at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, Amalienstrasse 33, Peter Herrmann will give a presentation titled

The Comedy of Big Data, Or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, While Corporations wither away?

The following gives some idea what the presentation is about.

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility requires at least a bit of historical clarification: it would be surely misleading to attribute any kind of entrepreneurial ‘social activity’ to the array of Corporate Social Responsibility. However, such review will be only briefly introduced in order to classify certain activities as related to what may be called social responsibility, the emphasis on the corporation as actor. What, however, if we come to the conclusion that certain shifts in the economy lead – in some digitization industries – to forms of the classical corporation withering away, being successively replaced by a new formation of which we cannot see clear, elusive contours. Are we moving towards revived arbitrary systems of socio-charitable controls, Lidle financing professorships, Aldi and Lidl presenting themselves as supporters of social housing and Facebook controlling elections?  Or can we foster a model which leans towards inherent publicness?

science – new readings from the tea leaves

It is surely getting exciting now – on the back-cover of the book
Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think
authored by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler we read:
Breaking down human needs by category – water, food, energy, health care, education, freedom – Diamandis arm Kotler introduce us to dozens of innovators and industry captains making tremendous strides in each area: Dean Kamens’ Slingshot, a technology that can transform polluted water, salt water or even raw sewage into high-quality drinking water for less than one cent a liter; Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE which promises a low-cost, handheld medical device that allows anyone to diagnose themselves better than a board certified-doctor; Dickson Despommier’s ‘vertical farms,’ which replaces traditional agriculture with a system that uses 80 percent less land, 90 percent less water, 10 percent fewer pesticides, and zero transportation costs.
Now, I am not scientist but social scientist – and some scientists insist that there is a difference, science being the only ‘precise’ and ‘reliable’. Admitting that I am social scientist ‘only’, and thus speaking so to say as layperson, I still dare to conclude that something is odd:
zero transportation cost means the stuff grows from nowhere, just being there as the famous honey and milk rivers, the roasted pigeons just waiting to find a open throat and probably we all standing there, mutated to cows.
Oh, lads, mind: there is huge difference between scientific analysis and reading tea leaves as there is a difference between peoples’ visionary dreams and nightmares that are only profitable for minorities.
And that
[t]he authors also provide a detailed reference section filled with ninety graphs, charts and graphics offering much of the source data underpinning their conclusions
reminds a bit of the claim of most of religions: you have to believe, even if you cannot see it. And in case of doubt we make things visible.
What makes all this even more interesting is that New Princes, self-nominated, as for instance Ray Kurzweil and Sir Richard Branson are full of praise of the book – those are major players of RIP = RIp-off Profit businesses, exactly those who followed the Thatcherite programmatic of There is no such thing as society, which seems to translate well into – ‘We, the Soeders, Thatchers, Blairs, Zuckerbergs – sitting e.g. in Davos  on the Bilderberg, making sure that humankind’s future will end with stultified individuals, bleating like sheep.
Who ‘they’ are? – Here is what
Chrysta Freeland
writes in her book
PLUTOCRATS .THE RISE of the NEW GLOBAL SUPER-RICH and the FALL OF EVERYONE ELSE [39 f.]:

The best known of these events is the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, invitation to which marks an aspiring plutocrat’s arrival on the international scene—and where, in lieu of noble titles, an elaborate hierarchy of conference badges has such significance that one first-time participant remarked that the staring at his chest made him realize for the first time what it must be like to have cleavage. The Bilderberg Group, which meets annually at locations in Europe and North America, is more exclusive still—and more secretive—though it is more focused on geopolitics and less on global business and philanthropy. The Boao Forum, convened on Hainan Island each spring, offers evidence both of China’s growing economic importance and of its understanding of the culture of the global plutocracy. Bill Clinton is pushing hard to win his Clinton Global Initiative a regular place on the circuit. The annual TED conference (the acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an important stop for the digerati, as is the DLD (Digital-Life- Design) gathering Israeli technology entrepreneur Yossi Vardi cohosts with publisher Hubert Burda in Munich each January (so convenient if you are en route to Davos). Herb Allen’s Sun Valley gathering is the place for media moguls, and the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival is for the more policy-minded, with a distinctly U.S. slant. There is nothing implicit, at these gatherings, about the sense of belonging to a global elite. As Chris Anderson, the curator of the TED talks, told one gathering: “Combined, our contacts reach pretty much everyone who’s interesting in the country, if not the planet.”
Recognizing the value of such global conclaves, some corporations have begun hosting their own. Among these is Google’s Zeitgeist conference, where I have moderated discussions for several years. One of its recent gatherings was held in May 2010 at the Grove, a former provincial estate in the English countryside whose three-hundred-acre grounds have been transformed into a golf course and whose high-ceilinged rooms are now decorated with a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture. (Mock Louis XIV chairs—made, with a wink, from high-end plastic—are much in evidence.) Cirque du Soleil offered the five hundred guests a private performance in an enormous tent erected on the grounds; the year before that, to celebrate its acquisition of YouTube, Google flew in overnight Internet sensations from around the world.

But mind …