Just the one photo worth posting from this morning’s blood moon. Continue reading “The Blood Moon and a Flying Saucer”
Nine and Fairfax have announced a merger, with the resultant company to be called Nine and Nine shareholders to control the majority of shares. This isn’t a merger, but a takeover. Fairfax, as we know it, is dead. With the death knell of Fairfax (publishers of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times) comes the confirmation that online advertising isn’t sufficiently profitable to fund serious journalism.
So emphasising a humanist education rather than training builds reasoning, critical thinking and creativity. That’d be great, except that none of those skills are at all useful in the festering wound which is our society. Teaching children to learn and follow their interests only creates a fantasy of adult life, whereas training them for the reality of wage labour avoids any such delusions.
What is the point of schooling? Is it to expand your intellectual capabilities and widen your range of thought, or just to train you in the techniques required for future employment? These objectives are not just competitive but actively contradictory and held in constant tension in our education systems.
A handful of photos from recent wanderings that don’t fit into any easy category.
It is a commonly held truism that sports and politics should never mix. Sport is an oasis, untouched by the mundanities of life. But to watch a game of football is to break apart this illusion. Representatives of two nations clash in a contest of strength and skill. A referee enforces strict conformance with arbitrary rules. The crowd’s passions are subsumed in the game. How could this be apolitical?
Surveillance is a powerful tool to discipline a subject’s actions. Jeremy Bentham recognised this when he proposed a new type of prison in the 18th century. The panopticon design would provide complete visibility of all inmates at all times to a centrally located warden. But Bentham’s real breakthrough wasn’t the importance of surveillance. No, what made Bentham’s idea unique was recognition that actual surveillance wasn’t necessary. The prisoners just needed to think they were being monitored. So long as they couldn’t see whether the warden was watching, they had to assume he was. Though Bentham never managed to get a panopticon built, his ideas remained and have resurfaced in modern times.
I read quite a lot of books. So I’d like to talk about the one which I consider most influential upon my worldview. This wasn’t Smith nor Marx, not the Bible nor Quran. It wasn’t particularly well written, nor did it contain groundbreaking ideas. I don’t even remember the title or author. The book which has remained lodged in my mind is the biography of Saddam Hussein which I read in high school.
Photographical opportunities can be scarcer in Canberra’s chilly winter. I ducked out to the Botanic Gardens to try my luck.
Ideas are one driver of our society, along with material conditions, power dynamics, great men and a swathe of smaller influences. But are they the central pillars, or just of tangential importance? John Ralston Saul’s The Unconscious Civilization posits that a corporatist ideology is responsible for the ills of society, and that throwing off those intellectual shackles will resolve them.