Not so long ago I was involved in a local history project to recreate an example of a bathing box – once commonly seen on the foreshore. The boxes were removed in the 1960s, yet some remained in the neighbourhood until quite recently. After all these years none now survived, and that is why we began our project. If only we had had the skill and foresight of the Chinese architect Wang Shu we could have made something wonderful.
The difference between the town of Ningbo and Torquay are unalike, yet similar. Both places are victims of modern growth programs. For sometime the Chinese government has overseen a massive modernisation of the country. When they decide to modernise, whole districts are bulldozed. Everything in the path of development is removed and the people are rehoused in new multi-storey apartments. Here farmland is sold off, roads are formed, and much needed single story housing is built “out of ticky-tachy and they all look the same” like it says in the words of the song.
In China Wang Shu reclaimed the materials from the villages dismantled to make way for the new. In so doing he demonstrated architectural leadership because he planned and built the Ningbo History Museum from the repurposed material. He used an old Chinese technique of Wa Pan to do this.
He didn’t just recreate something old. From his imagination he materialised something new.
The former villagers now have something to remind them of the 3,000 year old village, and the people, that once lived there.
The museum is substantial. It is a building of some 30,000 sq metres. Wa Pan has been employed by builders throughout the ages. It means to repurpose existing material and to reuse it in a new way. As I say, in the western world, Romans used the same rocks as the Greeks had in ancient times. Here in Ningbo Wang Shu did the same thing where he could, but he didn’t just re use bricks from the Ming dynasty he used lots of concrete. However the concrete he used was given a unique Chinese treatment. Bamboo, a traditional building material, was used to create the formwork for the concrete. The textural shape of the bamboo became a new building texture found on the walls. The walls are not solid though because they contain fragments of old tiles and other ancient matter in their fabric.
The skills once needed to build with traditional materials was lost to the new age builders. This meant that in order for the work’s creation the tradespeople had to be taught how to use old methods to build this new museum. These new skills have proved valuable to the employees engaged.
The building created in the Yiazhou province is much more substantial than the little bathing box I was involved in recreating. In our case our little project had to meet a set of regulations that did not exist when the original beach lovers built their humble shacks from found materials. All our building has is a familiar silhouette in a garden a long way from the beach. The people of Ningbo live in a city that did not exist a few years ago yet they have examples of ancient materials and forgotten skills as a constant reminder of their lost village.
Did Mies van den Rohe make a lasting contribution to architecture when he built the entrance pavilion to the German section of the 1929 Great Exhibition in Barcelona? After all, the space’s purpose was to house innovative products of the nation. He gave it an entirely different purpose. He sited the building away from the other halls. He used expensive materials and added unexpected refinement to a temporary building at a time when Germany was still reeling from repaying costly WW1 reparations.
I propose to argue he demonstrated a keen understanding of the architects that preceded him and he added a great deal of knowledge so those who followed him could learn.
The site chosen for the pavilion was deliberate. He reasoned, visitors would appreciate a mental break from the onslaught inspecting thousands of new ideas, new products, and new ways of doing something old. The use of site was to become a signature of his. When he later moved to Chicago and earned the commission to build the Seagram building he deliberately set it back in a court, back from others along the street.
It could be argued that, to have busy people held up in a building without any quickly reasoned escape route was a folly. But that doesn’t appear to have been a problem.
Mies worked in the office of German Architect Peter Behrens, the man responsible for the AEC building. This giant building borrowed something from Greek architecture in that it had an enormous base. Van der Rohe borrowed this idea from Behrens. Although this building, by comparison, was tiny he gave it an enormous base. And to enter the building the visitor had to climb a set of stairs. By climbing the base the structure of the pavilion was disclosed, step by step. Through this simple choice, the building reveal added to a sense one was moving into an important area.
To climb up a very large base and find so little there was a risk Mies was prepared to take.
The reveal must have been extraordinary. Once on the plinth the guest was presented with something new. Instead of a building enclosed by walls. This building had voids. For a start it couldn’t all be seen at once as you might if you walked into a hall. There you could run your eye around the enclosed space and see the dimensions of the walls, the floor , the ceiling and the ornamental features. This had all of that but your inclination led you through the building much like it does when in a labyrinth, despite it being a series of 6 stone walls of straight lines. At every turn you were directed to examine the extraordinary detail of this neo classical industrial building. The surfaces were reflective. He had terrazzo floors throughout. Your eyes met stone, onyx, marble, travertine, large panes of glass, clear, white, green and black. There was water in a small pond and a much large one. Under the ceiling ones eyes met chrome metal pillars.
One of the most common pieces of steel, is steel “angle-iron” it has ubiquitous uses because it is strong and light. It is never used as it was in the pavilion. Van den Rohe when bolted, or welded, four pieces together in a cruciform and sheathed it in a chromium wrapper he gave it new life. He used the steel as eight columns to hold up the roof. The thin flat plane of the roof also used hidden steel to give it the strength enable it to appear to float above the space below. To resolve the need for stability the solid block walls, hidden behind reflective stone veneer, perform that function in a perfunctory manner.
The notable features of the building are the mixed geometry of the horizontal planes of the floor, the ceiling, and the roof, and the vertical planes of the walls and glass. In an apparent trick to give lightness of it. A trabeated system as seen in Greek buildings existed in this building although it is not noticeable. The building’s roof formed a flat beam resting on columns.
Were the materials used as efficient as it might have been if the walls had been wood? Would a better solution have been to use the Gropius method of hanging glass, as he had in the Fagus shoe factory? After all Gropius had also worked with van der Rohe so he could have used similar methods to make the pavilion yet her preferred his own solution. Had he used an arched roof would it have been more appealing to the eye? I think not.
The Barcelona Pavilion was only supposed to be a temporary building. To build so innovatory a structure demonstrated how new materials, glass and steel, would carry architecture into the new century. Like all artists van der Rohe borrowed from the past, he used what he wanted from his contemporaries and he found new answers to the age old problem of providing shelter with what was available.
The Postscript is that a century after his birth, and 56 years after it was dismantled and sold off as scrap to partly pay for the exhibition, a reconstruction was opened on the same site in recognition of his conception. The new building has the same ornamentation as the sleek steel chairs designed by his collaborator, Lilly Reich, and Sculpture Morning by Georg Kolbe in an outer small pond.
I had heard of it, but never experienced the madness of Valentines Day until 1976. The children of Carstairs Primary School, Scotland, introduced me to the experience that year. In all the years since I have never felt the need to join in this annual celebration to love. Lest I seem more old fogey than I am, I am happy to acknowledge love is the cement, (there may be better words than cement, but cement seems to fit well to me. Aged cement is very difficult to break) I continue, love is the cement that binds humanity as one people on Earth. Peace is the natural companion of love.
I have just been reading, Letters of Note, on Substack. The last entry includes this extract from a letter written by Charles Darwin. Born 12/02/1809.
Among the extracts was this
“What an utter desert is life without love.”
Charles Darwin | Letter to Joseph Hooker, 27 Nov 1863
It appears Darwin had the same grasp of love as all lovers celebrating Valentines Day tomorrow.
Love can be as local as your loved one, or as wide as your love for everyone. Love, love, Love.
either responsible person tallies – due to their evident discoveries
Perhaps the duo who sing in La Boheme
excite you and become your star performers of all time
Perchance your model is a great sage?
Many find, the godlike religious leader becomes such a one.
Builder, artist, rule-maker, and adjudicator
leave legacies we marvel about – something we have done for centuries.
Sing out their names in praise
for most of them exposed something desirable to our kind.
Many who live in pages thus are likely bound to disappoint
we who place them on pedestals, and later discover their ordinary proclivities.
The world is large and – our heroes many –
in delicious irony, remember you are the subject of your biography.
“As members of the human species, we all have at least three separate lives to live. Each of us lives a life in the public arena, however small that world might be, and a private life in our home, with our family and intimate friends. Then there is our secret life – a hidden life, a spiritual life in our world of imagination, of desires and dreams, of spirits, angels and ghosts. This is a world many of us hesitate to explore – a life we are reluctant to share with anybody, even our closest friend and partner. It is a life of shadows.”
Chris Geraghty writing in the essay “Father Greg Walsh paid a heavy price.” Published online in Pearls and Irritations 9 September 2020
Dr Chris Geraghty is a former priest of the archdiocese of Sydney, a retired judge of the District Court of NSW, and the author of a recent publication, Virgins and Jezebels – the Origins of Christian Misogyny.
I have left to chance today’s writing. From a pack of playing cards my plan is to write a paragraph on this theme until and do so until I choose an Ace, at which time I will stop. So you can follow I will give each paragraph the name of the chosen card. Here goes.
Amazon promotes the customers with the best review count. The number of reviews an Amazon account seller shows is not a matter of chance. Amazon measures the products sold agains the number of independent buyers choosing the product. If, as a seller, you sell 100 items you cannot get 200 reviews to boost your chances of selling more because Amazon applies a metric to stop that. But, though the auspices of a wireless show, I heard it is possible to game their system. I think it is so great I will tell you what I heard. Suppose you are selling face masks. Each buyer can send in a review. If you sell 10 to one buyer Amazon allows only one review. However, if you decide to give away products, as a marketing expense, and you give 100 masks to 100 random people Amazon will allow your account to receive 100 reviews and you will move up their list of preferred sellers.
If you haven’t guessed I am writing this essay to highlight data collection. Data is a product big business will aggregate and sell to its advantage. That is why Facebook has successfully ruined the financial model of print media. Print media only survived on “the rivers of gold” of classified advertisements they attracted while ever print succeeded. Facebook, and others, broke that model because when you chose to look at one of their advertisements they use that information to show you a host of other things you might like to complement your first choice. The seller advertises with Facebook because instead of your interest being random, it is specifically addressed to you. Facebook was able to prove the success of its data mining and ruin the businesses unable to compete with its standard.
Would you spend $2 billion and expect an improvement? Our State of Victoria did and it got no benefit. I know this only because of reading about it. Our State has been mute. We were told if our electric meters were changed from being read manually each month by a person, a Meter Reader – a person Employed to walk from house to house and record our electricity usage we would have greater control over our electricity bills. Electricity would be cheaper. In reality the electricity companies now bill us without the cost of paying humans to collect the information. Our bills have gone up because they can accurately measure when we switch on appliances and charge us More because all our neighbours want electricity at the same time we want it.
It is written into legislation companies cannot use information that identifies the individual. In reality that should be a comfort to us but is it? Power companies know when we are out and if we are home they have a very good idea of the appliances we are using and the number of people in the home. We are assured Vector the company that provided our smart meters is audited by the Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO) and it is audited especially for misuse of the data (so that is alright then). Would this be a good time to tell you Vector is a subsidiary of Amazon? No? I guessed not.
I would like to make it clear I don’t have a specific beef with Amazon but I read I should. As far as I am aware I have not bought anything from Amazon or that other giant, Google. I don’t own a Google Home. I don’t even use Google. (I prefer DuckDuckGo). Oh hang! This is on WordPress- a Google company. I do have a smart TV and this enables me to use Netflix. I am an Apple user but my camera, microphone, and Siri are switched off. I think these are the only appliances I have connected to the internet of things (IOT). The advice is to use a VPN and do all you can to hang on to your privacy in 2020 to save becoming victim to a botnet. Whatever that is.
“The energy industry is really going through this digital transformation,” said Nick Walton, Amazon Web Service’s managing director for commercial sector in New Zealand.”
Amazon? Yes Amazon they who own Vector (that will not share personal data) is collating information from its subsidiary for good (not mine – their) use. Should I be alarmed? According to French philosopher Bernard Stiegler (who died 05/08/2020) we should have know to be alarmed for a long time. This man who lost himself to a higher levels of understanding while exercising, swimming along in water, had been telling us for years capitalism has reached an awful level of soullessness.
“We are not in the third capitalism; we are in a crisis of capitalism, a very bad one, which necessitates the invention of a new capitalism. I don’t believe that there has always been a “cognitive capitalism”.
In this new capitalism the worker has become a unit to be exploited. Amazon certainly demonstrates the worst of this.
(How long have I got before this gamble implodes). Philosophers have warned us about the dangers of this digital age yet we plough on as if there was nothing to worry about. The pandemic has barely begun and the loudest voices are the voices of big business. They want us all to go back to work. Some will die. Perhaps many will die, but without producing things to be consumed – the economy will die, according to those with the loudest voice. I think the economy is dead to us anyway. We are no better off than the peasants of the 17th century. Big business is no better than the robber barons of old. We are mere pawns, units of production, to it (business must be an it – it has no soul, or as Stiegler wrote, no spirit). So much for 6 hearts. I hope for better things.
Jack of Spades.
The French economist Thomas Piketty notes it is false to cling to hope that billionaires create jobs. Even by the most casual of tests there is no evidence they do. The triple down economy neoconservatives promote is false. Yet in 2020 our government is planning to stimulate the economy by giving tax concessions to big business and tax cuts to tax payers. The Prime Minister earns somewhere under $600,000. He will trouser a bonus tax cut of over $11,000. The average worker earns under $60,000 and he, who must spend his cash to survive, will get about $690.
Thomas Piketty says billionaires must be taxed out of existence yet it is our government’s plan to relieve them of the little they contribute to society.
How do you tax billionaires out of existence. I am not a tax lawyer but before they disappear there is a lot of money to be made by those who are. I have read about people who pay their tax accountant $2m to avoid paying any tax, (I do not log as a reference everything I read so I cannot verify my statements any better than, “some bloke said”. However I believe them to be true, just as I believe it to be true we are on the verge of a new paradigm between the worker and the employer. I hope I am right. I hope this new understanding is achieved without bloodshed. (As in a revolution, or a horrible death toll from the pandemic). If this does not come about I anticipate we will see a new class of self employed business people who are unwilling to be exploited by labour hire companies. We will need a new model of government too especially if we are to rid the world of billionaires. None, I see, has the stomach, or the ideology, to make such a move.
Ace of Hearts. Fin.
This paragraph was written after the event. For clarity I have written elsewhere billionaires and monopoly companies have destroyed the balance of capital across the globe. I reckon we should resort to the policies that led to the breakup of monopolies after WW11. Japanese monopolies were forcibly broken apart. Now it is time governments, across the globe, should do the same. Taxing billionaires out of existence may not work but sharemarkets must have the ability to force companies to limit the controlling ownership to businesses therefore limiting the size of an individual’s ownership in any company to, say 5%.
What do you think?
If you have a mind to check my analysis I refer you to read
It is a common enough ambition of school leavers. After all when a student is near the end of his/her secondary education it is a common question, What do you plan to do after school? The student will answer “x” or “y”sometimes with great conviction. And if you should meet them eight or nine months later will the answer be the same?
The answers might be, It is terrific. I am learning so much. I love it.
Another student will not be so positive, It is nothing like I imagined. I am transferring to do a course “n” next year because it leads to “ z”.
A third might answer, I have dropped out. I am so busy with my hobby I haven’t got time to study. In this category we have people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as examples.
In most likelihood within a decade many will say, I am glad I did “b” but honestly it has nothing to do with what I am doing today. In all likelihood many find they are working at a job unrelated to their initial study. I will leave you to do your own research.
My concern is for you, my grandchild. I hope you do not get lost in despair the job you would love to do is no longer available when you go searching for it. With the pandemic of COVID 19 my vision of the future looks grim. My friend Michael Linehan asks, Why do I worry? He says, your grand kids have the same chance as all kids. Pandemic,or not, they have an equal chance because they all face the same future.
One thing that is certain – hardship should not define your future. Standing up when you were down is what you had to learn before you could walk. Hard times are awful. They are dark and spiritless, but they pass, and in passing you can change and become stronger. Hence the call to, Never give up, is worth remembering it helps you build resilience.
Our hero is the one with the stamina to stay the course.
A job is something we do to earn a living. It can define you, but it need not. All you really need in life is something to fill your days. Since I started these essays I hadn’t read more than I was required about philosophy. I figured it was beyond me to understand. What I did know? With the passing of time I think philosophy does have answers though.
Today’s writing was prompted by the death of Barry Capp. Barry was the chairman of the board of directors of this unlisted public company. It was a subsidiary of a British underwriter for corporate bad debts.
Before the stock market crash the job of director was a simple reward of sinecure to loyal old fellows. They were not expected to actually do anything but add gravitas to the company. The market crash made companies more aware someone had to carry the responsibility, The old boys no longer wanted a title if it might rebound on them, and from that moment the professional director was born. It became a job of importance for the non executive director to provide governance to company via the management team.
Accepting he had the courage needed Barry had taken a handful of similar directorships. Some hard – some easy, like our company. His managing director of us was Vic.
Our company had lots of clients but all of them came to the business through a handful of brokerages. Our competitor was a minnow but the brokers, desperate for new business in troubled times, were rejecting us in favour of our cheaper alternative. Vic decided if they wouldn’t remain loyal perhaps they might alter their mind if he offered some direct competition (me).
They did need us however because our company was the only one outside the government offering comfort on overseas sales – and they didn’t pay brokers a cracker. Hence the relationship was fraught, especially with me in the middle of domestic sales cover.
Many of the cogs in our business were women, with children, husbands, or parents that needed them to rush home after work to their domestic lives. On his way up in the company Vic used to invite all staff to remain, at work after knock off. It was compulsory so he could crow about how well the company had gone in the previous quarter. The longer he was MD the longer these after work meetings used to run. The secretarial staff (women) would get distressed the longer they stayed, counting missed train after train that could carry them to their after work life.
Barry and Vic turned the fortunes of our business around. Ultimately Vic was rewarded with the CEO’s job of the parent company. Barry served a few more years and he retired. When his death was announced there were messages of condolence from his old school and his family gave lovely tributes but not one of the companies he had saved from collapse remembered him.
There-in is my lesson. Despite all work being meaningful – at life’s end it is unlikely any place you spend your time working in will remember you. That is fair, because leader,or follower, the work you did was but a time filler. This is especially true if you were a cog in the business like the women Vic made stay after hours, or like Barry, Chairman of directors. Work for most of us is to make a living but it doesn’t make a life. Perhaps that is why the tributes to Barry, and in time his secretary, are not work related but measured in the loving words from the people that knew them. (Know you).
Since writing to you I have attempted to understand my life in relation to current events. I am glad I did not know of Michael de Montaigne and his essays on life until now because if I had I would not have had the courage to write to you. He did it so well.
Michael L was right to tell me not to worry.
Someone once wrote, You will receive the lessons you need when you need them.”
The poet wishes well to the divine genius of Purcell and praises him that, whereas other musicians have given utterance to the moods of man’s mind, he has, beyond that, uttered in notes the very make and species of man as created both in him and in all men generally.
Have, fair fallen, O fair, fair have fallen, so dear To me, so arch-especial a spirit as heaves in Henry Purcell, An age is now since passed, since parted; with the reversal Of the outward sentence low lays him, listed to a heresy, here. Not mood in him nor meaning, proud fire or sacred fear, Or love or pity or all that sweet notes not his might nursle: It is the forgèd feature finds me; it is the rehearsal Of own, of abrupt self there so thrusts on, so throngs the ear.
Let him Oh! with his air of angels then lift me, lay me! only I’ll Have an eye to the sakes of him, quaint moonmarks, to his pelted plumage under Wings: so some great stormfowl, whenever he has walked his while
The thunder-purple seabeach plumèd purple-of-thunder, If a wuthering of his palmy snow-pinions scatter a colossal smile Off him, but meaning motion fans fresh our wits with wonder.
The clown Peter Sellers bought Purcell to the attention of the masses that loved the Goon Show he also introduced them to Henry Purcell in the Trumpet Volunteer 1958. (You can find it on YouTube. Hopkins is a favourite poet. Yesterday it was the anniversary of Gerard Manley Hopkins birth. 1844 – 8/6/1888
Today it was also my mother’s birthday 29/07/1913 – 5/11/2017 Time seems to fly but some memories remain constant.
Campus frames soul growth Fine minds built by exercise Read, write, question why.
When I became a teacher Australia had a post war economic boom. Millions of displaced persons came to the country on assisted migrant programs. In turn that created a housing boom as new suburbs grew on land that once housed orchards, market gardens, vegetable plots, and small dairy herds. The new arrivals came with young families. School classes were at bursting point. Women who had occupied almost every job class in the country during the war were forced to give up their jobs to the returned soldiers. Within a few years the education department called many of the female teachers back to the classroom but they still had a need for more teachers, more schools, and more classrooms.
As a schoolboy I had no idea of the job I felt inspired, some of my classmates. Most knew they would go back to their farms and work on the family business. Some choose to learn a trade and become a leading tradesman after their apprenticeship. Some became bank tellers. Jobs were plentiful, so many left school early and took the first job they were offered. Me? I was slow to even think about it. It wasn’t until I had been at secondary school I was forced to think of it. Elizabeth, my sister had chosen to teach. In my case I had no idea. In my last year I applied to become a Patrol Officer for the government in a remote territory area. (The role of the PO was to be the administrator and peace keeper in an otherwise uncontrolled area). Fortunately I realised I was unsuited to the work when I was asked what I knew about the remote areas of the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea. I had done no research about the work – it simply seemed romantic. I had no idea of the places I would be expected to govern. The rejection did not hurt. At that stage I applied for entry to teacher training.
Straight from school I entered a crammed learning program to become as one of the first group to commit to two years of training. (Many male teachers in the time before I started had only one year of preparation). Our day started at nine and finished at four pm. We had a break of 45 minutes for lunch, otherwise we went from lecture to lecture. After ten weeks we had a three week practical period in schools. Each evening we had to write up our two 45 minute lesson plans for delivery the next day to the class for our supervising teacher. Our year was broken into three dense terms like this.
Because teaching materials, like everything else in schools was scarce, we were expected to produce a pile of teaching aids to be used in the school of our first appointment in our spare time. It was a busy period for everyone. Periods of reflection and self development must have happened – yet it was unlike the education universities offered. We were better prepared than the school monitors of the nineteenth century – but not much. We had developed none of the higher learning skills required of students at university level. We had no experience in analysis. We were not expected to synthesise what we hand been taught. Our means of evaluation were limited, and we were not encouraged to create new ways of the teaching. Our testing was to examine whether we had mastered the lower levels of learning, to remember, to understand, and to apply our learning.
As it happened. I enjoyed teaching and as a registered education department teacher I need never have studied again. The exception being – in the wisdom of administrators, it was determined one had to do further study to improve ones pay grade. Some chose to accept that was good enough. It didn’t take long to realise spending money was no way to improve your financial situation, and you could not do that unless you were paid more. The department had post graduate honours course for first and second grade teachers. To progress you had to qualify at the lower level before attempting the next. The units of study were of a very pragmatic nature and slow to attain because only one or two subjects a year were encouraged. We were expected to read and comprehend a text book and then sit a three hour examination of our learning. It was a soul destroying way to learn. Fortunately it was possible to jump to the top level if you passed an undergraduate degree.
As luck would have it Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister within the first ten years of earning my Certificate of Education. One of the changes he introduced was to make University courses free to all eligible students. This was my relief from the drudgery of the Ist and 2nd Honours program.
I could enrol to study off campus. It meant I could study after hours and get a degree. So many did the University course it enabled it to set up tutor groups all over the country. This was my first experience of actually discussing what we were reading and develop the higher learning skills I really needed to be more effective.
We did have three hour exams but we also had lots of developmental assignment work and I found, for the first time joy in learning, and the confidence to aim for high distinctions rather than settle for a pass.
If I had gone straight to university I probably would not have done at all well but I was settling into the academic life in a way I could not imagine. I did a post graduate certificate and was almost finished a Masters course by units when I was hit with PTSD and turmoil. It took another thirty years to resolve this matter. The more I studied the more I came to realise I was heading down a narrowing lane of specialisation with less and less to do with the practicality of my work so I stopped. I guess I lost the plot.
Like me, in the past forty years universities have changed. Last year, and for many years before, more women have graduated than men. Many fewer had reached university than men when I closed my books. Getting to and staying at university is an economic burden the individual now carries forward for many years. To have so radically changed is a sign the country lost its way. The contribution an educated population makes to the country is huge. Why burden the smartest group of people with the discouragement of debt?
By adopting the Americanisation of education, where the user pays, has had other detrimental affects. Universities, decade on decade, have had to find more private money to survive. Not only do students compete with each other so do universities. The better funded they are the better sought after are their students. It is a dog-eat-dog race.
The pandemic has highlighted just how warped this thinking is. Our government has been generous to all businesses that have lost 25% – 50% of their turnover. It has paid allowances to these companies so they can give their staff $750 per week to keep them notionally employed as Job Keeper employees even though there is no work for them to do. Except they have not done the same for universities. There, up to 80% of the former employed staff are women on sessional payments. Without the same number of students (overseas students cannot return yet) they are without work and unpaid. We stand to lose some of our sharpest minds to stupidity. To spell it out. Why are so many academics on sessional contracts? (It is insecure work and therefore it is cheaper.)
To make bad matters worse I read our top ranked university programs are no longer seen as the best places for learning. Three recent examples of this have come to my attention in the last week alone.
Our government is going to charge students extra unless their undergraduates degree is a STEM course. (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics). They have given into the business model of learning where vocational training becomes more acceptable than the growth of the human mind through a history course, a course in literature, arts/law, art/commerce degree. It is pathetic to move back to the low levels of education like mine was before at teachers’ college. I say this after my study after retirement at Swinburne. I did a short course on Carbon Accounting. The unit work was not as taxing as any I could recall from my past experience.
James Lovelock recently celebrated his 101th birthday. He is a polymath. The man is a genius with a mind more able than people a fifth of his age. He says he was the first British academic to get work with NASA because he was a puzzle solver. He says he is an optimist and I cannot now remember his comment so I will leave you to study his achievements rather than misquote him. (Given my previous reference to William Golding, (Billy Bunter) you might be interested on his recollection of discussions he had with his neighbour, Golding, and how he accepted Gaia as a good name for his theory).
Secondly Daniel Kaufman of Missouri State University says in the podcast, Problems in Philosophy – Big Ideas.
The university of today is not a viable model. More and more technical more and more isolated
Designed to educate elites it has been turned into a system of mass education – it is too expensive to play that role because of unbridled capitalism. The University is turning itself into a white collar voctech. Staff need to move to more public intellectual work. The people who are holding us back are in the institutes that are best ranked but least progressive – meaning those with the better ranking are stifling change. We cannot globalise everything People need to work. Automation is going to make sure people will not have jobs.
It has been a deliberate attitude when writing these entries never to make it entirely autobiographical. Today I seem to have been more forthcoming but I will draw back from naming names and record we were involved with Equippe).
At one stage in the last 56 married years we, Jennie and I, became involved with a group of church lay leaders. The group involved many of the intelligentsia of Melbourne. When we were but undergraduates when we were noticed and invited to join it’s leadership even though we were “country cousins/bumpkins. Equippe included academics and other professional people, a smattering of Jesuit leaders, and an archbishop. So although no match intellectually with them, they became our peers, indeed – friends. It seems right not to name them because as a group they were older, wiser, and practised long after we had no faith in matters of belief.
At that stage Professor C and others among us had lifetime university appointments. What a funny state we have reached.