throw-away-paradoxes

Environment, sustainability, protection of resources …, a short contribution may widen the view that is usually taken.

One of the paradoxes of the societies we live in, characterised by the present pope as throw-away-culture, is the waste of those resources that are actually valued and seen in one or the other way as productive, constituting the wealth of the times we live in. We speak, importantly, without doubt, about the environment. We sure should not forget taking other aspects into account under this heading.

The Economist published on the 8th of May an article titled


Riding alone in a car is an increasingly unaffordable luxury.

We read:

The right to use scarce road space is valuable. When it is given away, drivers overuse available roads, and clog them. The waste is colossal. An estimate by INRIX, a consulting firm, suggests that the value of time lost to traffic in 2018 in America alone reached $87bn.

In an article titled

The Cost of Reading Privacy Policies

and published it the Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, Aleecia M. McDonald and Lorrie Faith Cranor inform the reader:

We estimate that if all American Internet users were to annually read the online privacy policies word-for-word each time they visited a new site, the nation would spend about 54 billion hours reading privacy policies.

Sure, one of the challenges our economies face today, is the lack of employment, unemployment being another waste of …, well, actually of lives as those who are unemployed are far from enjoying leisure time as “main occupation” – the main occupation is worrying about how to get bread and butter on the table, maintaining social contacts, and remaining motivated to take up what is “on offer” (often visits to museums are free), but what does not make sense as “stand alone activity” in stand-alone existences …., meaningless as certain jobs of which the only meaning is that they do exist – as Bullshit Jobs, as David Graeber calls them.Indeed, all these examples underlining what I emphasized: “It is the stable”.


Annunci

shortlisted

what does it actually mean? why is it usually seen as positive if something, somebody is shortlisted?
Originating apparently in business and in particular in HR, it is now a term increasingly used in general to highlight people, books, competitors for the longest word

who is the winner and how are the losers?

whatsoevercomestoyourmindasworthwilebeingawardedwithsomethingtoattributeaspecialmeaningofwhateverkindforwhateverpurposeandaimseemstobenoteworthytobeawardedorbroughttotheattentionofothers

(whatsoever comes to your mind as worthwile being awarded with something to attribute a special meaning of whatever kind for whatever purpose and aim seems to be noteworthy to be awarded or brought to the attention of others)

what does shortlisted actually mean when we look at a list compiled by a disabled person?

  • the list of disabling items and matters is so long that already one page, neatly compiled, is actually really short if related to other things that are listed
  • the issue at stake is so relevant and important (e.g. the non-accessibility of a toilet for wheelchair-users due to a hindering step – yes, using the “duck” in the non-subdivided passenger compartment of the train is not impossible but still not the most fancy thing to do) that other issues are becoming nearly meaningless (the missing shelve that allows a disabled person to put some cosmetics, deodorant, a hairbrush and comb … into an appropriate location, having it handy for his/her beautification – yes, also wheely-users may think about it)
  • is it about the small print? we manage to print so small that nearly nobody can read anything and actually everybody is being disabled
  • is it about security? the observation of security issues (firealarm-procedures causing so much inconvenience that the gained security is paid for by serious disturbances and dangerous activities to be safe
  • or is it the unintrusive friendliness and support of some that allows to feel just .. part of everything as everybody else who is walking on two legs instead of creeping like the Kantian worm through the mud …

Which list will be shortlisted as the longest? which as the shortest?

the red of the black

Black Friday, another bad import from ‘big brother’

– the following doesn’t even look at the small print let alone at what seems to be so small that it is not even printed: such day we are bombarded with goods — all those ‘special offers’ the sale of which, I am sure, still allowed to make a profit good profit: whatever the historical background is, that special day was not made a tradition of making loss. Besides this probably everybody reading these lines had been bombarded with e-mails, many unwanted SPAM-mails

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44458281

, aiming on convincing us to buy buy buy …

Leaving aside the wasted time – deleting all the unwanted mails and getting upset …- there is another, actually real cost: According to the Guardian

The sending, sorting and filtering of spam email alone accounts for 33bn units of electricity each year

According to another source – PhysOrg

Sending even a short email is estimated to add about four grammes (0.14 ounces) of CO2 equivalent (gCO2e) to the atmosphere.

To put this into perspective, the carbon output of hitting “send” on 65 mails is on par with driving an average-sized car a kilometre (0.6 of a mile).

And furthermore they calculated

The global carbon footprint from spam annually is equivalent to the greenhouse gases pumped out by 3.1 million passenger cars using 7.6 billion litres (two billion gallons) of gasoline in a year.

Of course, it is difficult to draw a line and perhaps such blogs as this should not exist. But leaving this aside, Black Friday was surely a red day, a warning lamp switching on such day when looking at the environmental question: a huge cost for the environment …, rarely considered or calculated; a huge “contribution to the GDB”, proving that in capitalism production of waste is considered to be valuable.

World Teachers’ Day

The 5th of October, since 1994, the World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The 1966 Recommendation provides the main reference when it comes to teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.

 

Worthwhile to remember what Alfred Marshall said in 1890.

The schoolmaster must learn that his main duty is not to impart knowledge, for a few shillings will buy more printed knowledge than a man’s brain can hold. It is to educate character, faculties and activities; so that the children even of those parents who are not thoughtful themselves, may have a better chance of being trained up to become thoughtful parents of the next generation. To this end public money must flow freely. And it must flow freely to provide fresh air and space for wholesome play for the children in all working class quarters. (Marshall, Alfred, 1890: Principles of Economics; MacMillan and Co., London, 1930: 718)

It seems that with the “refeudalisation of society” we face the situation that the positions of the revolutionaries of the olden times, whose authors had been yesterday’s conservatives, are becoming joining on the side of the revolutionaries again. In this light there is also something about the illustration, ensuring to sin – surely not catholic-literally but to accept that pupils and students are partners.

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Worthwhile a note on the world and China: on September the 10th I received a mail from 张伟, a former student of mine – well, she would say “a student of mine”, skipping the word “former”. She sent her congrats and best wishes for the teachers day. First I was puzzled – did she mix up the date? 2018, the Chinese teachers’ day is on the 10th of September, the world teachers’ day on October 5th, a simple explanation. I checked later on the web and found something that is … – well, I leave it up to you to think about it:

10 September is an official holiday in China. This day the whole country fetes educators and teachers. This holiday, in its different interpretations, has been existed in China as early as the Middle Ages. Teachers and coaches have always been honored and respected in China. Very often teachers acted as mentors throughout the whole life; especially it is true for the traditional Chinese martial arts.

It also says something on the reason of making it a public holiday: the official acknowledgment of teachers – as intellectuals – and their important role in boosting the development of the country. Also

Since the school system in China is based on the Western model, many old traditions in honor of teachers have not been preserved today.

One may have different opinions on this, the political background …, well. But at least it seems to be worthwhile to mention that there is a deed in the one part of the world, and that there are just words, probably widely unspoken, unwritten, unheard, unread … in another part of the world.

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Worthwhile a personal note:
Only recently, visiting with a friend the Kunsthalle in Munich, I remembered one point of all this, when standing with her in front of one of Emmanuel Maignan’s works, the “Anamorfosi San Francesco di Paola”. A pleasure to experience the amazement of both of us. Though it had not been about a visit with a student, it is very similar anyway: Something of learning together and admitting that it is about the experience of being caught by what one sees – in this case actually being caught by what one does not see: the praying person only visible from two specified angles, the sides. It reminded me of having used Holbein’s equally magnificent  work “Gli Ambasciatori” for showing the same effect: the hiding of something, the fact of leaving something invisible for those who lack the enlightenment – an enlightenment that is emerging from the standpoint, the perspective. Never having seen the original of Holbein’s work, seeing something similar entailed still the experience of being amazed. – What foolish teacher would say s/he knows the one and only perspective. Doesn’t such perspective emerge only from putting together experiences, that may at some stage get stuck, paralyse the experienced if it goes together with closing the eyes, blocking off, not allowing new experiences to be made; and even more: not allowing looking at something “known” through new spectacles and of course forcing looking at the new through the old glasses.

Teachers’ Day – an opportunity to congratulate students, and to thank my students for allowing me to learning together with them.

Human Rights – shifting borders to new limits?

Human Rights – and one may say jurisprudence in general – is dealing with the fundamental tension of setting limits in order to reach universality. This means in particular being aware of the trap entailed in this constellation. Usually it is seen as “mission impossible”, left outside of the debate of the lege feranda; here it is suggested to take up Marx’ remark in a footnote in The Capital, volume I, saying:
“Proudhon begins by taking his ideal ofjustice, of “justice éternelle”, from the juridical relations that correspond to the production of commodities: thereby, it may be noted, he proves, to the consolation of all good citizens, that the production of commodities is a form of production as everlasting as justice. Then he turns round and seeks to reform the actual production of commodities, and the actual legal system corresponding thereto, in accordance with this ideal. What opinion should we have of a chemist, who, instead of studying the actual laws of the molecular changes in the composition and decomposition of matter, and on that foundation solving definite problems, claimed to regulate the composition and decomposition of matter by means of the “eternal ideas”, of “naturalité” and “affinité”? Do we really know any more about “usury”, when we say it contradicts “justice éternelle”, “équité éternelle”, “mutualité éternelle”, and other “vérités éternelles” than the fathers of the church did when they said it was incompatible with “grâce éternelle”, “foi éternelle”, and “la volonté éternelle de Dieu”?”
Still, there is the claim of some universality needed when it comes to (human) rights – finally it is the function of law to construct a hegemonic framework which than is broken down into smaller units, guided by the principle of binarisation.
With this reference in mind it should be possible to elaborate a more historicised take on HR, demanding to refer consciously to a “progressive economy”, i.e. the potentiality of a formation oriented on the interwoven matters of
  • Producing goods, but more importantly producing people, relationships and available time
  • Producing inclusion as condition of integrity – different to ancient societies, where slaves had been doing the work that allowed non-slaves to develop themselves in commune.
Human Rights – universally meaningful, though founded in a well understood partisanship, cum ira et studio: Hegemonies … – they follow the rule which Ovid is looking at:
In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas/corpora — I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities.
Here you can find the recoding of a short presentation around these questions, given on the 12th of September 2018 at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

input — throughput — output

Being aware of excellent ‘exceptions’ in the are of social work and public services, understanding this in the widest possible way, it is in my experience and view exactly that: exceptions. It is  bit worrying to look at today’s standards of

input — throughput — output

fees/private contributions — internal cost efficiency, which includes the use of any scope that allows externalisation of cost etc. — employability/measurability.
stands too often at the end of the ‘translation’.
I talk about general standards here, reflecting experience of childcare, the health system, education, public transport …
… it reminds me of a EU-project I had been involved in – many years ago. Topic: measurement of success of social services, norms, ISO-standards. A colleague, working with homeless people brought this up: the norms are set, measurable … Success is, of course, that people do not return to a status where they are in need of help, for instance of accommodation in any shelter for melees people. Do I have to tell you about  assessing a case where somebody leaves the shelter and passes away the next night, sleeping rough in the cold? – these days there is – in our regions – fortunately little danger of this kind, while the danger remains that we will not solve any problems by this kind of setting standards.
There is also some specific dimension of individualisation going hand in hand with (or underlying) this thinking: real quality, looking after people’s. not the systems’ needs is left to the individual carer, teacher, child-minder who does good, even excels … being too often her- or himself strangulated like the cared-for, pupil, child … the output pearls – pearls of beauty, the beads hidden by no-complains …,  even by stating that there are no problems … – nessun problema, troveremo una soluzione – anche se il tappeto di pagliacci populisti che li nasconde – we will find a solution – even if it the carpet of populist clowns that hides them – Reden ist Silber, Schweigen ist Gold – it is solver to talk, but gold to be silent – Rien ne va plus, les jeux sont faits – nothing possible anymore, the games are made
But listen
My life experience has taught me nothing happens by chance. Even the idea of the ball in a roulette game: it’s not chance it ends up in a certain place. It’s forces that are at play.
Andrea Bocelli

What is the Value of things

Peter Herrmann, currently guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy/Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik [section social law], Munich, Germany, will present later today his thoughts on
Value Theory –, asking if there is still any value in it?/Is it still worthwhile to talk about it?
to the conference

Abstract

The theory of value is probably the most contested feature of Marx’ political economy. The reasons for this are the following two

* It stands at the centre of making out the political of political economy
* It is cross cutting with respect to the micro- and macro-level and especially the ‘personal/individual’ and the ‘societal/institutional’ aspects of economic thinking.
Today the questionable character comes even more to the fore as we witness an apparently fundamental change of the mode of production.
Notwithstanding the critique then and now, there are good reasons to emphasise the usefulness of the theory of value. These will be taken up by exploring explicitly the tensions mentioned, and discussing them against the background of the contemporary shift within the capitalist mode of production.
Marxism, in this light, is especially instrumental for the analysis of globalisation as it allows a clearer understanding not least of the emergence of poverty chains and the role of the capitalist state as institution that maintains centre-periphery patterns of inequality within the productive sphere. Furthermore, we can find from here at least clues for answers Marxism has when it comes to fighting for societal change.