Happy New Year

Or New Years Eve, celebrated those days when it had been linked to the vernal equinox. Some uproar in the BaseCamp because of some mates celebrating NEWRUZ … not worthwhile elaborating on this quarrel in detail (though there is much to learn about this holiday, now also internationally recognised). But I was chatting with Loay about it, and expressed my conviction that we have in general so much nationalism in our thinking, not the extreme but just the apparent need to classify everything and everybody, not least making reference to nationality: “We” (people of the country 1 or 2 or country 148 …) are so different, special, compared with the others … . It may well be about being especially good, but also about especially neglecting, neglected, poor untidy … And “they” are … and yes, so often it is about negative things: “their music”, “their meals and eating habits”, “their law”, “their attitude to work” … and one may even add: though often there is some truth in it, there are too often ridiculous prejudices, stereotypes and unjustified generalisations.

Still, I am wondering why we are so often sticking together – I still remember my time in Brussels:

Les Français avec les Français, Język polski z polskim, Na Gaeilge leis na Gaeilge, Gli italiani con gli italiani, Die Deutschen mit den Deutschen – occasionally one felt alone, not being French, Polish, Irish, German or anything … until one decides for this and other reasons it is Time to Say Good-Bye, moving forward, leaving so many behind

A lot has to do with lack of knowledge, missing opportunity to engage in deep learning. Why are we talking about deep learning for computers and any IT-“self”-driving cars, while we are forgetting over all this the need to have deep learning as part of school and university curricular?

Soon to be published, interesting in this context:

Peter Herrmann: Right to Stay_Right to Move, With a preface by Lorena Ossio
Vienna:
Vienna Academic Press.

Annunci

pay for part-time jobs

What is the pay for a part-time job on call?

The other day, booking a flight, I was browsing a bit, also looking at the options of seat-reservation. Another time that I was thinking about this strange construct of today’s economy, reading

The passenger named above has chosen a seat in an emergency exit row. In the unlikely event of an evacuation they will be expected to assist in the opening of the emergency door.

One interpretation is that one pays for some extra space – for more comfort, for medical reasons – or perhaps even to force oneself to store the hand-luggage properly in the overhead bin.

http://politicsslashletters.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/11-Robbins.jpg

Another interpretation: I see myself as part-time casual worker, serving the airline on demand (sure, in the unlikely event they stress), actually even giving up the extra comfort) … – and I pay for it.

Now, a silly remark you may say – but is it really silly? As far as it is known some airlines “offer the opportunity to fly as co-pilot”, the payment being the hours needed to secure the validity of the license.

This “pay-to-fly” principle is sometimes applied at the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair too, according to insiders. Young pilots are not paid for flying, but have to pay for the pleasure of sitting in the cockpit, making flying one of the only jobs you actually have to buy.


To which extent is all this part of a wider move towards something new, i.e. a new capitalism? Surely this will also come up as part of the presentations I had been asked to give in the near future, the first of them next Wednesday.

success of German lesson …

A year coming to its end – most part of it I spent in Germany – after having left the country over twenty years ago for the ongoing ‘Odyssee’, only occasionally returning, for short visits …

[…] iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses. […]
Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81

… many things are still in the olden places or are put back into place, re-establishing hope; others are obviously changed; and some of these are creeping changes, barely mentioned, while very obvious for the attentive … stranger, eternal tourist as I had been occasionally classified. One of the latter is here suggested as the

“All-Good-Model”

When it comes to politics and economic policies it is for instance veiled in proposals to regulate a little bit better, to include some special clauses and quotas, the premise however being “all is good” After having lived in Munich after my return end of 2017 for some weeks, I was getting used to the expression “all is good” – a standard phrase that didn’t to exist when I left in the 1990s – the time when the “new, large, Germany” was surely still in its infancy, the new empire already very self-conscious, though still learning to walk on its clumsy feet.

Sure, I know the All-Good from earlier, noticing something similar during my “Italian journey” – in the country where the lemons bloom, it always occured to me to be the central good (good as in what is produced and also as in what is judged as valuable) of the language: nessun problema! and so was the lifestyle – wonderful, if you had completely immersed in it, knowing that an idiot crossing the street and forcing you to emergency break is ‘una bella’ and a turbulent stock-market is un incredibile sviluppo in questi giorni and non c’è dubbio, la vita è bella – e non si dovrebbe guardare a ciò che è brutto – there is no doubt, life is beautiful – and you should not look at what is ugly; if you were there as a visitor, knowing that it is only some limited time; often difficult to handle, if you live there as a stranger in Georg Simmel’s sense – in a way where abstract time and concrete time, as Henri Bergson defined it, can never unite; and in the long run the nessun probelma is extremely dangerous as we can see in the “soft-fascist” Mussolini, in Berlusconi and M5S.

Now it arrived in Germany as All-Good – I think it is something with which we all have to engage much more strongly. In short, part of the generation change, which also paves the way to a very special field on which a new generation seems to meet with a weird mix of individualism and pragmatism about which I talked a bit more on other occasions:

As important as it is to set the “old class analysis” against it, I think it often lacks a rather critical reference to the way of life, making it difficult to detect the move of a new generation of an all good mood … – panem et circenses, the games go on – and for some these neo-feudal structures are most enjoyable – the Plutocrats, being even aware of what they are … – it is a matter of obtaining a space that allows the own ambitions to unfold – ‘clarity’ in their terms is what the Plutocrats stand for, and where real people do not accept this, they are victim of new strategies of cleansing, whipping Valley’s reality of extreme income polarisation out.

Many tech companies solved this problem by having the lowest-paid workers not actually be employees. They’re contracted out’, Schmidt explained. ‘We can treat them differently, because we don’t really hire them. The person who’s cleaning the bathroom is not exactly the same sort of person.

(Freeland, Chrystia, 2012: Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else; New York: The Penguin Press)

At least that changed – the previous all-good-lords did not even problenatise it, despite few:

If anything is wrong this is wrong. If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life. If we would not submit to an emperor we should not submit to an autocrat of trade, with power to prevent competition and to fix the price of any commodity.

(Congressional Record. Senate, 1890, March 21; 2455-2473; here: 2457; http://www.appliedantitrust.com/02_early_foundations/3_sherman_act/cong_rec/21_cong_rec_2455_2474.pdf; 26/04/18)

Becoming Socially Acceptable ?

Public lectures are scheduled for the 5th and the 12th December.

After last week’s special lecture to a group of PhD-students, looking at
the upcoming lectures are linking to the recent book “Bullshit Jobs – A Theory”. [1] So is it finally socially acceptable to use such term as Bullshit in academic parlance?
It surely is a catchy phrase, and it also is surely a topic that allows to think abut all the Kafkaesk patterns and requirements …But as glad as I am to take up on the catchiness and as much as I appreciate that Graeber is interested in a very specific point, namely
to understand the psychological, social, and political effects of the fact that so many of us labor under the secret belief that our jobs lack social utility or social value
I am wondering if it is not also a danger of distracting from rather complex issues, linked to more or less fundamental shifts in economic structures.
The honour to give the reputable Deans Lecture at the Faculty of Economics and Sociology in Łódź on the 12th of December provides the opportunity to look at

Bullshit Jobs? suggesting that the Problem is the Stable

The aim is to show that – leaving some general aspects of squander, disrespect and ignorance aside – the underlying problem is an ongoing shift of capitalist accumulation that requires the increasing segregation and fragmentation: The fact that use value and exchange value are juxtaposed results necessarily in the fact that human relationships are systematically torn apart: to relate humans to each other they first have to – speaking systematically – separated by the process of commodification. On the market of commodities they are becoming equal and can – then, ex post – relate to each other. Not least it means that the increasing mediatisation – indeed Graeber points out that most of the relevant jobs occur in IT-related sectors – is necessary condition for making society economically possible. However, it also means that content doesn’t count – as much as capital SEEMINGLY generates capital as much is the sole presence of people considered to be a job, even if it is

a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.

– this is Graeber’s definition.

For the week before, on the 5th of December, the sociology department of the Ostravská univerzita in the Czech Republic organised a special lecture, the title of which is
In addition to the Graeber-book another reference is the more or less recent auto-shredding of Bansky’s Painting “Girl With Balloon” – the latter again giving the opportunity discuss the problems of hegemony and counter-hegemony – the link is given by reflecting on a statement by Hannah Arendt. She contends that
(n)ot cruelty is the attribute of tyranny, but the destruction of the public political realm, monopolised by the despot by claiming ‘wisdom’ … or based on thirst for power, i.e. insisting on citizens looking after their private concerns, leaving it to him, the ‘ruler, to take of the public matters’.[2]
Surely something marking a demarcation we face – be it in the shopping centres or academic institutions or political space.
*****
[1] David Graeber, 2018: Bullshit Jobs – A Theory; New York et altera Simon&Schuster
[2] Arendt, Hannah, 1958: Vita Activa oder Vom Tätigen Leben; München/Zuerich: Piper, 1981, new edition: 215; translated from the German edition; with reference to Aristotle: Athenische Verfassung; XV, 5 – the available English edition did not contain the statement in this clarity.
******

Gach rud is fearr! …

Quick info – just in case: My phone does not work at the moment, thus I also cannot be reached via ordinary phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp or WeChat …

here the little “novel” to it:
Why not reachable? Here you see, first by taking a quote from Graeber’s book:
3. what duct tapers do
Duct tapers are employees whose jobs exist only because of a glitch or fault in the organization; who are there to solve a problem that ought not to exist. I am adopting the term from the software industry, but I think it has more general applicability. ”
…..
On the social level, duct taping has traditionally been women’s work. Throughout history, prominent men have wandered about oblivious to half of what’s going on around them, treading on a thousand toes; it was typically their wives, sisters, mothers, or daughters who were left with the responsibility of performing the emotional labor of soothing egos, calming nerves, and negotiating solutions to the problems they created. In a more material sense, duct taping might be considered a classic working-class function. The architect may come up with a plan that looks stunning on paper, but it’s the builder who has to figure out how to actually install electrical sockets in a circular room or to use real duct tape to hold things together that in reality simply don’t fit together the way the blueprints say they should.
Passi di: David Graeber. “Bullshit Jobs”. iBooks.
Anyway:
(it had been nice chatting with you)
and of course, everything noticed …
(Here are the minutes of the chat
Sunday …
Duration …)
no success, but a lengthy chat with I…, from Portugal, now in Ireland, chatting in German as my phone provider … and probably miserably paid .. but for the time being she likes it – Gach rud is fearr! – everything is good …
Some “tiny things” though — may be it is just a matter off paranoia …
  • There was another Apple-message popping up, from M… – USS – Unknown Supervising Subject ??? I…’s and P…’s big brother…?
  • “probably miserably paid” … – we surely have to think more about precarity and voluntariat – taking the latter term from piece written by Geoff Schullenberger in 2014 in the Jacobin. The point I want to make – as I did already on various occasions – is the following: as relevant as issues of social security, uncertainty are as consequence of a managerial strategy of undermining social rights, the really important thing seems to me the aggressive restructuration of the conditions and strategy of capital accumulation, characterised by the fact that “capitalism dissolutes itself” – something many would welcome, though the real and serious problem is the direction it currently does. A lengthy quote from the Jacobin-article may be allowed:

Coursera’s founders are no doubt aware that translation, no less than software engineering, is traditionally a paid activity done by trained professionals with specialized knowledge (particularly when it involves the kinds of technical vocabularies used in many college courses); otherwise, they would not have sought the considerable financial resources of the Carlos Slim Foundation to facilitate translations of its courses into Spanish in January.

But who needs Carlos Slim’s billions when you can have the courses translated free of charge by “a tight-knit community of committed individuals” enthusiastic about “helping millions of learners” and, well, helping Coursera expand its profit margin?

While joining Coursera’s “community” does not resemble a job in the “getting paid” aspect of things, it does require you to sign a “Translator Agreement,” which makes clear that the relationship between Coursera and members of the GTC is subject to employment law insofar as it ensures Coursera’s complete and perpetual ownership of value produced by employees — or rather, “volunteers” — but in every other respect, it is not a job, just a way to be nice.

  • While talking to I… – actually we had been really chatting a bit (the old Irish country boy  coming through), I was not only thinking about a possibly enthusiastic young women, who did not see any future in Portugal, exited to migrate to the country with forty shades of green, only lacking the sun (that is what she said); I was also thinking about her social security, health services, old-age pension etc. – at least most of those jobs ARE badly paid; and living in a country that refuses to accept the tax-money owed by her employer Apple (a random collection of reading: here and here and here and here), money that could well be used to develop a sustainable infrastructure instead of violently enforcing unsustainable growth)
  • Last, not least and not finally: as I… could not help me, sending me to a shop here in Łódź, I hoped … – la speranza è l’ultima cosa a morire – Nadzieja umiera ostatnia – the hope is the last thing to die …, well, being the last thing does not change ultimate death: they could not help me either, suggesting they could send it for repair and …

Most likely they will have a brief look and replace it with a new one – for 1699 Złoty, it is new, but coming without the box and without cable for charging and without warrantee, A new one in a box, comes with cable and warrantee …., we sell it for 2229 Złoty. that is for the 7, the 8, brand new with box and everything is 2979 Złoty

Everything = even this thingy-thing called Rip-Off, theatre, show

Taking this together – and adding some other things about that I will talk early December (being announced here on the 3rd of December) I suppose Graeber is wrong, saying “BS-jobs don’t pay”. In fact they, part of them do … until the bubble birst, again destroying human lives or this time opening for the 99% re-occupying public space …   under penalty of victory of V.

By Enrique Dans from Madrid, Spain – We are legionUploaded by SunOfErat, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30480799

 

The Vicious Cycle of AIV*

We enter a vicious cycle

Doing what we hate to do,
loosing any virtue
just in order to gain virtuosity which is
in fact nothing else then virtual perfection
– escaping then … into some virtual world
 gaming, drug-binge, bungee experience …
… and in fact the weird excitement of entering with your friend
an exhibition,
getting the spectacles that allow
experiencing the virtual reality
fearing …, not being able to help yourself,
in order to allow helping your friend —
the fear to fall
together from the narrow beam,
so close
– you thought
you would be to heaven,
so close you are
to the ground
awaking, having learned something
* the artificially intelligent virtuality

You should sleep nine hours without dreams. Then you have the day for dreams

Herbert Marcuse supposedly said this …  Is it another version of the words written on a postcard I recently received?

Swim to Nowhere, With No Thoughts.

So there we are worrying about big brother, watching us, algorithms rule the world and with Artificial Intelligence taking over.
Sure, there are important issues linked to these catchwords – though one seemingly tiny point is a negligence, not just as matter of language I suppose.
Just a few mails, from a Spam-poor night, and a mail-free one too. Leaving the obvious SPAM aside, to mails are perhaps even more worrying: the one at the top …, well, is there a term like SPAM-IFICATION? At least it does exist now.
* Instead of thoughtful targeting advertisement and communication in general, we accept the wikiwiki culture, leading us to just throw things out, without much thinking.
* Instead of “academic matchmaking”, I mean: bringing me/us academics in contact with relevant other academics, sites like academia, researchgate … often come to the most confusing proposals: does it really make sense to send me a link to an article on trading chemical products between China and Europe, presumably on ground of the fact that I gave a presentation on OBOR or the fact that I lived some time in China?
* hat is the premium of having access to something that is out of reach in terms of manageability?
over two million papers …? What are the criteria forlinking them …, and when will I be able to read them?
Artificial Intelligence?
Indeed, I read an article some time ago, a short one in a newspaper, talking about
artificial stupidity
… which is too often more characterising.
BUT HANG ON …
Don’t we have to blame ourselves for it – not because of using FB; twitter etc.. It is probably a much more serious problem that we – living and working in academia – accept this world and work being directed by ranking; publishers’ journal sites that manipulate our reading behaviour by aggressively suggesting that “readers of this article also read … — and quoted ….” and boxing our thinking and acting.
A new trinket in the jewel case of administrative stupidity, with which the Polish government (as a Czech friend said yesterday on the phone “we are joining”) is blessing us: every academic, working in a university, has to commit her/himself to two subject areas: sociology, economics, medicine … – sure, they are very broad which may be taken as some comfort. Articles for the assessment of the academic will only be taken into account if it is in line with this self-attribution. What now if I am looking into
as M. Keith Chen did.
What if I am looking at the question of European unemployment insurance in the light of legislation, sociological aspects and the economic development, possibly publishing the results in a journal on European history …?
There is not only direkt and outspoken censorship but also the seemingly “tame brother”,
And predictive shopping is not really new – though earlier it occurred in different forms
(Saw this the other day in Berlin: “What is missing today?” – Bakingpowder, bread, butter, eggs … onions)
Still, there is surely the need to resist …
… though there is also the time … – well, as said the other day I received a postcard, with a colour drawing, not algorithm-based but manufactured in the true sense by the sender, much appreciated by the recipient …, occasionally I allow myself resisting the need to resist, sitting there
and looking at it,
Swim to Nowhere, With No Thoughts
as the few words under the drawing suggest. nd making me think, energizing me … to resist!