Tuesday, October 27, 2020

In Sickness

 The greatest enemy of authority, therefore, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter.

— Hannah Arendt, born in 1906

"It makes absolutely no difference whether gods and devils exist or not. The secret ambition of every true poem is to ask about them even as it acknowledges their absence." 

—Charles Simic ("Charles the Obscure")

The first day of the rest of my life


Today, for the first time for over thirty years, I don’t have an employer. This is because I decided to retire rather than to face the unwelcome choice between online teaching and exposing myself to COVID in the classroom. I think, in fact, that I didn’t have enough “points” to get an exemption from face-to-face, despite being nearly 62 and having high blood pressure. Oh well, the issue is now moot. I shall miss being around students, chatting to them, helping them and getting the buzz that you get from a good classroom discussion. I won’t miss reading and marking student essays and exams though. Not one bit. I hope I’ve done a good job over the years, even though I feel I only learnt to teach well in the past decade (thanks to the direct and indirect influence of Harry).

Fast Company – This new data visualization shows the tremendous impact on mental health over the next decade. “More than 200,000 Americans have died due to COVID-19, and even that doesn’t paint a full picture of the tragedy. The data visualization firm Periscopic has created a heartbreaking new series of interactive graphics called “Lifelines” that attempt to provide a more comprehensive look. They illustrate the effects that COVID-19 and the resulting economic recession have on mental health—showing that, ultimately, COVID-19-related fatalities will extend far beyond the official death count.

Foster + Partner – Bruno Moser, Theo Malzieu, Paula Petkova. May 2020: “The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the way we live our lives. Significant and long-lasting repercussions will be felt across society and industry, many of which are sure to influence the way we approach the design of our buildings and cities. Over the past few weeks, the Urban Design team at Foster + Partners has been exploring how recent and fast moving developments in urban planning – instigated and encouraged by the current crisis – will affect and shape the future of our home city and others worldwide. 

Data Security: Recent K-12 Data Breaches Show That Students Are Vulnerable to HarmGAO-20-644: Published: Sep 15, 2020. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 2020. “Schools and school districts collect and store a lot of personal information about their students. But are K-12 institutions adequately securing student data? We found:

  • Thousands of K-12 students had their personal information compromised in data breaches between 2016 and 2020
  • Compromised data included grades, bullying reports, and Social Security numbers—leaving students vulnerable to emotional, physical, and financial harm
  • Breaches were accidental and intentional—with a variety of responsible actors and motives Wealthier, larger, and suburban school districts were more likely to have a reported breach..”


HP Workforce Evolution – Survey Findings, October 2020 – “Despite the hardships office workers are facing during these times, employees believe they can use this disruption to better their ways of working:

  • Employers have scratched the surface of supporting employees in the new ways of working, but they are not prepared to provide everything employees need
  • Employees are therefore taking their future of work into their own hands
  • They have identified continuous learning and upskilling as key to their success, and aren’t waiting around for employers to get it
  • Office workers are also willing to make significant personal investment to ensure their home office keeps up with the changing ways of working
  • Despite the empowerment they feel,there are areas they still need help navigating –specifically a lack of digital readiness
  • Nailing down the future of work: employers need to keep in mind that flexible working hours and remote working are here to stay in order to support the future workforce…”

Michael Pascoe: Forget the ‘Daz and Glad Show’, this is the real political scandal (The New Daily Oct 15, 2020)

It’s the secret sexual relationship that sells the ‘Daz and Glad Show’ and elevates it from being merely yet another corrupt NSW politician before the ICAC, but it also distracts punters from the much bigger scandal.

Continue reading 

Morrison Government is running scared of a federal integrity body

This week’s trials of Gladys Berejiklian only confirm the Morrison Government’s largely unspoken fears that a federal ICAC would do the government a lot more harm than good.Continue reading 

 Is stupidity expanding, or just becoming more visible?

The world’s largest chess play website has closed more than 85,000 accounts for cheating since March.

Intellectual Honesty In The Time Of Trump

Messing around with the notion of truth is a luxury that comes with affluence. We have spent the past 50 years undermining the basic institutions of society — not just our sense of common purpose and identity, but also normative values like truth and duty and expertise. The politics of consumerism — and grievance — have overwhelmed the politics of unity and responsibility. – The New York Times

Goldman Gets Off Easy in 1MDB Scandal Despite Further $2.9 Billion in Payments, Criminal Charge Against Malaysian Sub

Despite the big numbers, Goldman gets the kid glove treatment relative to the severity of its 1MBD misconduct.