Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Root of All Cruelty

Silence is safe. Silence commits to nothing. Far easier to be silent than to speak.

Every third thought shall be my grave. Shakespeare, The Tempest 
Oliver Sacks was strikingly calm just before his death writing, “I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”
People with personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder, may use gaslighting as a way to control spouses, children, co-workers, or any other relationship where the person with a character disorder feels vulnerable ...The latitude like term gaslighting comes from Patrick Hamilton’s  1938 play Gas Light, which was later made into a film in 1944 starring Ingrid Bergman. In both the play and movie, a wife becomes concerned about the dimming of her upstairs lights. When she discusses it with her husband, he dismisses the incident by repeatedly suggesting it is “in her head.” Gradually the wife begins to doubt her sanity. In reality, the husband is causing the lights to dim in an attempt to make her doubt her own mind.

Why are we shutting Sydney down while Melbourne thrives?
He cites the Jesuit Robert Bellarmine who wrote, He who lives well, dies well, he who lives ill, dies ill.And he turns to Montaigne, who said,” It is not death, it is dying that alarms me.”
.‘Looting’ spree threatens wildlife and forests across eastern Europe Guardian

It’s not nice to pile on, I know, and I think it’s frowned on to talk directly about how f***ed we and the planet we afflict are, but really now… And even a lot of posters and commenters are now all “Woe is us! Why didn’t we avoid global catastrophe when we could?” Except for the ones who are all “Nothing to see” and “keep on keeping on” and “We can Tech our way out of this, no sweat!” Futilitarianism is a comforting religion for those who can grok it…

Unfortunately, something different and altogether darker is happening: the Sharing Economy is extending a harsh and deregulated free market into  previously protected areas of our lives.  The leading companies are now corporate juggernauts themselves, and are taking a more and more intrusive role in the exchanges they support to make their money and to maintain their brand.  As the Sharing Economy grows, it is reshaping cities without regard to those things that make then liveable.  Rather than bringing a new openness and personal trust to our interactions, it is bringing a new form of surveillance where service workers must live in fear of being snitched on, and while the company CEOs talk benevolently of their community of users, the reality has a harder edge of centralised control.  Sharing Economy marketplaces are generating new and ever-more-entitled forms of consumption.  The language of ‘a little extra money’ turns out to be the same as that used about women’s jobs forty years ago, when they were not seen as ‘real’ jobs that demanded a living wage, and so did not need to be treated the same, or paid as much, as men’s jobs. Instead of freeing individuals to take control over their own lives, many Sharing Economy companies are making big money for their investors and executives, and making good jobs for their software engineers and marketers, by removing the protections and assurances won by decades of struggle, by creating riskier and more precarious forms of low-paid work for those who actually work in the Sharing Economy  What’s Yours is Mine, Against the Sharing Economy
 The death of the MBA Axios. When I was a kid, the second-tier MBA programs didn’t do all thast much for your earnings potential, but they cost much less, and would open up career options. The problem was that MBAs successfully expanded their natural market to include not for profits, hospitals, and higher education, ruining all in the process. So the bubble is finally ending, but the damage will be very hard to reverse.

Australian government funding 52 smart cities projects with AU$28.5m
Under round one of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, the Australian government will provide 52 projects across the nation with AU$28.5 million in shared funding.

Washington Post op-ed:  Professors Are Losing Their Freedom of Expression, by Howard Gillman (Chancellor, UC-Irvine) & Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Berkeley) (Co-Authors, Free Speech on Campus (Yale University Press 2017)):

With so much attention focused on whether controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannapoulos or Richard Spencer should be allowed to appear on campus, an even more basic issue has been obscured: universities punishing faculty who, outside of professional settings, express views that are considered controversial or even offensive.

There are many recent examples of this. A year ago, a University of Oregon law professor was suspended for wearing blackface at a Halloween party held at her house. Twenty-three law school faculty members wrote a letter urging the professor to resign. A campus investigation found that by wearing this costume at a party in her home she had engaged in “discriminatory harassment.” [More here]. ...
In responding to those who would silence or censor speakers, many people, especially on the right, argue that, at universities, all ideas should be expressible, and if someone doesn’t like particular ideas, the response should be to engage and rebut the speakers rather than harass them or shout them down. These same sentiments should apply when faculty members express controversial opinions. ...