Posts by Caleb D'Anvers

  • Hard News: Friday Music: So much music I…,

    Finally got to Latitude this year. I was at a conference in the States last year, so missed out (though my wife got to go). Was a little underwhelmed by the lineup initially, but in the end was completely blown away by Slowdive:

    Somehow, I never really connected with their albums though I’ve always loved the sound. This time, though, getting to the Radio6 tent just as the set was starting and hearing that guitar tone and those pulverisingly beautiful breaks of pure sound, I couldn’t hold it together. I was in tears, swaying, from the first track. I’ve heard shoegaze done louder (Death in Vegas; MBV) but never with such depth of emotion. Just … unforgettable.

    Other highlights: Goat. What made it even more memorable was the group of English teenage boys who showed up in the tent just as the show was starting. They looked like your average set drifters, dropping by randomly for a sample, but once the band started up, they started dancing with each other – frenetically; relentlessly – and carried on that way for the entire set until they were just drenched in sweat and it was clear they knew all the songs and their presence was anything but random. English teens dancing in unison with anonymous bemasked Swedish women while all hell breaks loose behind, on the stage, everyone lost in the music. Again: unexpected.

    And we got to see Teeth of the Sea, Esben and the Witch sound tracking La Antena, Tame Impala, Tinariwen, Mogwai, Siobhan got to boogie down to Hall and Oates and of course we got to experience Albarn in the middle of a ludicrously intense lightning- and rain-storm.

    A++ would spend four nights in a tent in a muddy bit of rural Suffolk again.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Inequality: Too big to ignore,

    Is it just me, or is this report being held to much higher evidential standards by the Very Serious People than supply side economics itself ever was, or “austerity” is now? The Laffer Curve was a freaking napkin doodle, and it continues to hold sway. To see the appalling smugness and unexamined assumptions of the comfortable elites who admire and deploy the Curve, have a read of this. It’s truly a different world if you’re arguing on the side of money.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Public Address Word of the…,

    "Inequality" would be my WOTY.

    I also want to nominate the digram "white people," used in an othering sense, which I'm seeing everywhere ATM and which I find interesting.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Great New Zealand Argument: A…,

    Birthday present for my Dad. He'll love being able to read Lange's speech, I think. Thank you for doing this, Russell!

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Market failure in the research world, in reply to Mandy S,

    And also when it comes time to getting work published…they of course will always go for the most prestigious title. We need to come to some kind of agreement to confer prestige in other ways.

    Yes. But early career academics are socialized into this right from the very beginning, so it’s going to be hard to shift this culture. And the pressure to publish in a REF/PBRF-dominated system never really ends. When job search committees, your own academic colleagues and mentors, and your university’s research support staff are all using the same “acceptance into prestigious Wiley/Taylor & Francis/OUP/Elsevier journal = ACADEMIC PROMISE” shorthand, it’s a hard mentality to separate yourself from. Especially if none of the other ECR academics you’re competing with for jobs and funding look like breaking out from under the model either. Like you say, we need to work towards new ways of measuring academic prestige beyond the Impressive [Expensive] Journal Article/Monograph. But how do we build that movement? And what shape is that new prestige system going to take?

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Market failure in the research world, in reply to mccx,

    Do you get the sense that NZ universities encourage faculty to act in a way that furthers open availability of research they produce?

    Interestingly, in the UK any journal publications arising out of research directly funded by one of the big funding councils (RCUK) have to be available on open-access. (The mandate doesn’t extend to monographs … yet.) And word is (though I don’t think there’s been a final decision made on this) that any publication being put forward for the next REF round (the UK’s PBRF equivalent) will also have to be available via OA (again excluding monographs). What this boils down to is that universities are now putting aside funds to pay the article processing charges to buy their “REF stars’” publications out from behind paywalls. Of course, this money has to come from somewhere, and it’s probably going to be … existing research budgets. So there’s going to be less money available for research and more money thrown at already hideously profitable commercial publishers as a result of the government’s policy on Open Access. UK academic Daniel Allington has recently laid out some of the probable consequences of this “mixed model” version of Open Access:

    By making research findings available in this expensive way, and taking the money out of existing research budgets, it will reduce the amount of research that actually gets funded ...
    By providing the money as a block grant to institutions that have attracted large amounts of research funding, it will (a) increase concentration of funding among those institutions that already receive the most of it, (b) take the choice of where to publish articles away from researchers (since it will be up to the university hierarchy to decide whether to pay the article processing charge for any given paper), and (c) severely reduce the options available for publication among funded researchers at those institutions which have been less successful at attracting funding in the past (since they will be required to publish with open access, but will receive no funds to help them do so) ...
    By enabling the UK research elite to have its cake and eat it (i.e. to continue to publish in the manner to which it has become accustomed with extra funding so that its articles will become open access), whilst at the same time leaving other researchers to choose between (a) free journals, almost all of which are low-impact (i.e. little read by other researchers), and (b) high impact journals in which they will be unable to afford to publish on an open access basis, it will make the work of the elite more citable, reinforcing the illusion that it is ‘better.’ Especially in those disciplines that use citation metrics as a direct index of quality, this will create a feedback loop that increases the relative likelihood that well-funded researchers and institutions will receive high levels of funding in the future.

    And that’s not even getting into the issue of whether highly technical journal articles in which academics essentially talk to each other are the appropriate format in which academic research should be publicly accessible in the first place. Allington talks in some detail about this and the other problems of Open Access here.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Incomplete, inaccurate and misleading,

    I thought Matthew Dentith has the single best take on why #dirtypolitics never seems to get any traction with either the mainstream media or “ordinary New Zealanders":

    Dentith … has a clear line on why Hager’s revelations did not have the electoral impact many on the Left expected.

    It can be explained by the assumptions we all carry around with us about the world in which we live.

    “For people on the Left, Dirty Politics should have been a crushing blow to the National Party,” Dentith says. “But people on the Right say that this is just how politics works these days. Politics is like a business and when you’re engaged in a business, you’ve got to engage in a certain amount of dirty politicking in the background because that is what businesses do to advance their particular interest. ‘National Inc’ is advancing the interests of the ordinary New Zealanders they represent.”

    For those who believe National is doing a good job, Dirty Politics backfired on Labour and the Greens. National voters shrugged and asked: “Why are they making a fuss about how politics should actually operate?"

    Truth is, there is a sizeable bloc of New Zealanders (I’d say it comprises the majority of National’s core support) who not only believe politics ordinarily is run along these lines but should be. They embrace authoritarian rule and corruption because it works out well for them. House and dairy prices keep going up. There’s footie on the weekends, no one has to think too hard, and there’s someone who looks and sounds like them in the PM’s office. What’s not to like?

    For the Left, of course, it’s the unpleasant sensation of discovering that the mentality of “Rob’s Mob” is still very much with us.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Housing, hope and ideology,

    Maybe we need to hear from the economic departments of our universities, these guys should be wonking hard. Get them columns.

    Yes. What has happened to the esteemed Dr Greg Clydesdale?

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Hager saga continues,

    I’ve said this elsewhere already on the internet, but I don't know if I can phrase the sentiment any better:

    People confidently pronounced the one-term nature of Britain’s spectacularly awful current Tory administration. It’s doing just fine, thanks to a corrupt and compliant media and the stubbornly low information threshold of most voters. Same in New Zealand, Canada, and other places. Corporate-friendly governments have a habit of entrenching themselves, thanks to money’s ability to purchase public opinion. As far as they’re concerned, this is the new dispensation and the rest of us can go hang.

    The Global Financial Crisis has also horribly exposed the paper-tiger nature of all political parties of the mainstream “left.” Since First World labour parties sold out the socialists in the ’30s, they’ve all really been about preserving capitalism. Social welfare, the widening of educational opportunities and healthcare: these policies were always about ensuring that there would be a competent and healthy workforce available for the factories rather than offering another political dispensation. Now that capital has decided that the vast majority of working people in the First World are superfluous—production can always be automated or offshored—social democratic parties are obsolete. Capital no longer needs them and they have spent the last few decades so thoroughly disavowing whatever residual Left ideology they had left that they’re completely unable to offer an alternative.

    To me, the Left isn’t just “in trouble” or having difficulty finding a leader. It’s over. Everywhere. And when a supposedly left administration does get voted in, like Hollande’s in France, it immediately adopts the right-wing agenda it was voted in to replace and destroys its legitimacy straight out of the box. It’s almost like the medium of politics has become so attuned to supporting the right that anything genuinely “left” cannot no longer survive in that environment. The oxygen of change—the very possibility of it—has been sucked out of the system.

    We’re seeing the End of History, politically speaking, and pacé Fukuyama, it’s not liberal democratic capitalism, it’s Putinism. A strong (male) leader in power perpetually, his political opponents gas-lighted by a state-supporting media and driven to the margins. The leader that embodies this newly assertive one-party system of the right just takes different forms according to local culture. In the UK, it’s a born-to-rule blue blood, with a direct line of descent going back to William IV. In Australia and Canada, it’s a defiantly anti-PC “man’s man.” In New Zealand, it’s a smiley guy who hangs out with star-struck rugby players and gives the strong impression that he likes barbecued meat.

    If you want a vision of New Zealand’s political future, imagine JK phoning in a jokey, “apolitical” chat session on News Talk ZB. Forever.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: Sunlight Resistance, in reply to Fran O'Sullivan,

    I think it’s a matter of who is doing the releasing of official documents and why, Fran. Snowden released files that governments didn’t want released. That in itself says something about their content – that there’s something there they didn’t want the public to see. There’s a different power dynamic at work when governments themselves do the releasing, however.

    I can't help thinking that the arguments about the causes of the First World War made in the conflict’s immediate aftermath provide an analogy here. Now, all the belligerent powers were extremely anxious to avoid being tarnished with war guilt, so in the years after 1918 they released huge tranches of their previously secret official documents to prove that other states were at fault. But it’s pretty clear that those publications weren’t neutral events: what was released was carefully edited to provide evidence for one side of the story only. The words of a German historian are apposite here: “whenever contemporary documents are being published, one does well to suspect political ends” (quoted in Wilson, ed., Forging the Collective Memory: Government and International Historians through Two World Wars, Providence, RI, 1996, p. 11).

    As the historian Keith Wilson puts it (op. cit., p. 2): “governments are well aware of the fact that both the withholding and the releasing of archive material gives them scope for ‘historical engineering’”. Releases like those Key made are political and we should be intensely suspicious of governments’ underlying motives when they perform such acts. So I would say, no: no hypocrisy. Snowden has his own politics, yes, but Key’s declassification is no less politically motivated and almost certainly hides much more of the truth than it reveals.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

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