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.

Annunci

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.

Honestly: Would you buy a used car from this man?

Would you buy a used car from this man?
Supposedly it originates in an anti-Nixon Poster from 1960.
Here is another question, seriously:

Can one as academic recommend students, honestly interested in understanding the world, eager to learn to a university that presents itself this way?

Well, the undue application procedure – one of many – did not allow me to remain silent … – so a letter went as well to this crowd:

Dear something – or somebody, I find it always extremely disrespectful to be approached by a machine, writing on a very personal issue, namely the assessment of the personality of a young man or woman who is looking for a responsible position in our societies. Furthermore it is highly unprofessional as mails of such format are often ‘auto-spammed’ – yes, machines with artificial intelligence know the difference between AI and AB [artificial bashfulness]. Also, using a no-reply address as sender lacks professional circumspection, not considering the rights of the recipient to move away from the address, change it or the like …

In the mail I received I found the sentence:

We require the use of the online recommendation process since it is the most efficient method to submit a recommendation to the Office of Admissions. The applicant’s file will not be processed until your recommendation has been submitted.

You should add: ‘for us’ as this what you respect instead of students and academic colleagues: Hobsons and FSBs convenience and efficiency, i.e. business-interest, distinct from academic requirements and standards. It is for you the most efficient way, not considering that you [i.e. Hobsons/FSB] shift your responsibility and workload on a person [i.e. individual academics] that is supporting students by offering a free, i.e. unpaid service to you [i.e. Hobsons/FSB] facilitating your work of evaluation. If you would imply external evaluators, it would be a rather expensive undertaking for you, while currently we as academics are covering these. – Sit down, please, and think twice about the truth of the meaning. I did not need the over forty years experience to come to this conclusion, but this time surely allowed me to witness an decreasing respect of academic and human standards in what is still called Higher Education. Sending letters that do not allow to clearly identify the sender, actually – from my understanding – sent by some company on behalf of a university, is suspicious.

BTW, the procedure in this case, if compared with that of other universities, is for the referee one of the worst and most complicated I ever came across  there had been several in over forty years. Furthermore, even the boxes that have to be completed for the referee-data are not allowing for differences in national systems etc. – more lack of international experience and professional standards on your side.

As stated on the website of the Dean [https://www.fuqua.duke.edu/about/our-dean], accessed on the seventeenth of January 2018, 21:08:
Checking Boxes is Not Enough in Ensuring Diversity – this, taken cum grano salis, is also applicable when it comes to dealign with applications and asking for references. There is good old request: FROM WORDS TO ACTION. You see … much to be done
I dare to hope that students learn other business models too at FSB, and learn also some respect – Alfred Marshal already made us aware of the need of such education, not boxing young people.
Sincerely worried about the future of Third Level Education in your country [unfortunately Fuqua School of Business is not known which also means I did not know where it is located before checking on the web – seemingly you assume everybody knows it, it is just another fault],
Peter Herrmann, respectfully still classified as human being
Prof. Dr. Peter Herrmann
Students, presenting such work as Hobsons and FSB do, would surely fail my courses.
And I dare to add: it is tremendously sad, that these things, the undue tyranny of administrations in non-administrative areas, are too often just swallowed and only few academics rebuke this bold takeover of universities, just complaining and moaning in silence …
PS: After writing ad sending this epistle I received a phone call – definitely a positiver sign, though at the end confirming that there are different departments of the university or actually agencies that are not part of the university dealing with issues, after they get some rather general information – the one seize fits all kind of, indeed ‘advancing business’ though far from acting as force for any good  that goes beyond personal or the institutions interest. Exactly the pattern of that teaching of economics that brought us the crisis of which we will celebrate in September the the anniversary – Happy Birthday Crisis, enjoy the profits you make out of squeezing honest people, mind the adversaries.

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.