Media Disappointments

The media are conspiring to annoy me tonight. A chirpy victim of plastic surgery and tanning beds joyfully announced on the news that Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown “participated in their own tragic demises.”

Maybe I should just go get a shower while N works on his Java. (That’s a language of programming, not a coffee. He’s not into coffee.)

Networking Defined

Went on Twitter, saw people say incredibly cynical shit like “Networking is just talking about what you do, even to a friend or guy on elevator”, got scared and left.

Now I’m revising my entire life for occasions when I thought I was having a friendly conversation while my interlocutor was trying to use me for some creepy networking purposes.

Illinois ‘ s Money

I just saw a very upsetting report on TV about the Cook County jail. Crowds of people are jailed there for petty misdemeanors, such as possession of small amounts of drugs, prostitution, loitering, etc. It costs enormous amounts of money to keep them there. No actual purpose is being served by all this.

Cook County is located in my state of Illinois, by the way. The same state that is refusing to fund its public universities.  There is money to keep poor people in jail, yet no money to maintain the higher ed system that helps limit the number of hopeless, discarded human beings.

Let nobody even try to approach me with the idiotic chant of there being no money in Illinois. There’s more money we know what to do with if we are wasting it on locking up everybody in sight.

Book Notes: State of Crisis by Bauman & Bordoni

Author: Zygmunt Bauman and Carlo Bordoni

Title: State of Crisis

Year of publication: 2014

My rating: 10 out of 10

As I’m working on my book, I read everything with the word “crisis” in it. State of Crisis is a dialogue between Bauman and Carlo Bordoni, an Italian sociologist and journalist. Bordoni’s contribution is translated really badly by some semi-literate joke of a translator, yet even that does not make the book any less valuable.

Bauman and Bordoni suggest that the phenomenon known in Europe as “the crisis” and in the US as “the Recession” is not, as these names suggest, a temporary state of affairs, but, rather, the permanent state of affairs. The illusion that there is a right set of measures that will resolve “the crisis” once and for all needs to be abandoned if we are to realize that what we are experiencing is much larger than a temporary lack of liquidity experienced by a few banks. We are undergoing an enormous societal transformation and entering into a civilizational model where uncertainty and constant change will be the norm.

Under the fold, there are several interesting quotes from this important book.

Continue reading “Book Notes: State of Crisis by Bauman & Bordoni”

Unsafe Spaces

The reason why the young people today are so preoccupied with safety is that they are the generation that will experience the workplace as a succession of part-time gigs. These gigs will carry no benefits or long-term employment prospects and all of them will be about instability and insecurity. This is the reason why the young people feel so unsafe but they don’t know how to articulate it.

We have not taught the young people to discuss these issues in any other language than that of personal trauma. Aside from a vulgar pop psych jargon, we haven’t given them any vocabulary to explain the world. This is why the crucial discussions about precarious employment and the changing nature of work are not happening. Instead, we are looking for “individual solutions to global problems” and aggressively colonizing the public spaces with mattresses and spillovers of private woes.

The Private Conquers the Public

This is from yet another article on the increasingly helicoptering role that people are trying to force colleges to assume:

Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being “bombarded” by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material.

The private is gushing out into the public space, colonizing it and destroying all of the remnants of what used to be a robust public sphere. The public, the political, the intellectual is constantly presented as dangerous and encroaching on the private, the personal, and the emotional.

The reality, however, is different.

Public spaces are forced to restructure themselves in a way that will make them as similar as possible to families. 

Political activism is substituted with pop-psych rhetoric.

Colleges are told to protect helpless and emotionally damaged children instead of educating adults.

It’s easier to find a space to emote than to debate.

The linked article fixates on colleges, refusing to see that they are just a tiny little part of a much larger phenomenon. I guess it’s easier to emote about hypersensitive kids than to look at how one contributes to the colonization of the public by the private. It is as if these kids came to college from a different planet instead of being brought up by the same adults who are complaining about their hypersensitivity.