Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Limping Onwards

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  • Sacha, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Are you seriously arguing that courses on the LOTR could have no monetary return to New Zealand?

    More basically, that the only thing that counts is an easily-discernable monetary return. Fuck off back to the 80s would be my terse response.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    The biggest failing of many IT graduates is their lack of empathy and understanding of what the people they’re working with are trying to do

    I agree. Many IT people are very poor teachers and worse communicators. They are over your shoulder, bashing away at keys and talking techno-talk, whilst you are sitting there, still wondering how to turn the bloody thing on!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2502 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    For the record, you convinced nobody because as you correctly point out you have no argument - just a premise and an assertion, repeated ad nauseam, also known in the business as trolling.

    No no, I'm not fucking having this. Until we get another word for trolling I'm going to fight for it to maintain its meaning, which includes the central concept of bad faith. And I'm only about 80% convinced that Danyl can't possibly genuinely hold his position at the extreme he's arguing at.

    We need another word for a "troll" who actually believes what they're saying.

    But then, my brain is still aching from trying to work out how to untangle my literary studies (not useful, apparently, but then also gained by simply "reading books") from my historical studies (useful, apparently, in some kind of freakish way), when the history and literature influence each other to the point where they're completely intertwined (cf Condition of England novels, which you won't see anyone reading on the bus).

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4620 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    We need another word for a “troll” who actually believes what they’re saying.

    How long has the internet been going and we still don't have this?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    troglodyte?
    [eta: if that's too long, 'trog'. ... tiptoes away, whispering apologies for leaving a pebble near the tracks, which was used to achieve this magnificent de-railing. Ballocks indeed.]

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2063 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Shit stirring.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison, in reply to Emma Hart,

    And I'm only about 80% convinced that Danyl can't possibly genuinely hold his position at the extreme he's arguing at.

    Well, given that he started saying something much milder and only ended up at the extreme once he bought into the straw man that got foisted onto him, yeah, I'd say it's pretty definite that he doesn't really hold that position.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    They are over your shoulder, bashing away at keys and talking techno-talk, whilst you are sitting there, still wondering how to turn the bloody thing on!

    You have much in common with my teacher sister, who had to buy her own computer so she could do on-line stuff for school but was somehow not taught how to use it, and has been raging or in tears ever since. Somebody "helped" recently by switching on her laptop, tapping a few keys and saying "Looks OK to me. What's the problem?" Her problem is that she can't explain things in terms that computer-savvy people might, and gets flustered.

    Always someone who follows rules and does her best, her upset a couple of nights ago was because she couldn't remember her password. "But you're not allowed to write them down!" she wailed. (Possibly she's been watching a few too many spook movies where hackers find passwords, but really, the idea of someone hacking into a schoolteacher's computer is very funny.) But the reality is: when you don't know, you just don't know, and you need someone patient and communicative to guide you through. A teacher, really.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    Whether or not Danyl's argument is 'baiting' 'sophistry' isn't overly relevant. It's just a statement of a fairly common point of view, as the only decent response (the Megan who works at a university and is a union rep) recognised.

    For at least the last 20 years, universities have not been funded and run as institutions of pure research whose academic freedom is paramount but as contributors to economic growth (by training productive knowledge workers). It's telling that the usual academic freedom arguments haven't been used here, just an unhelpful 'bollocks' and the argument that a general humanities education makes you a more productive worker.

    The few advocates for the public good of free inquiry have not been very specific about that good, nor persuasive about the need for it.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    once he bought into the straw man that got foisted onto him

    There's one very simple way to avoid buying into a straw man argument, you know.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    just an unhelpful ‘bollocks’

    I have to disagree. It helped me, for one.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2063 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    We need another word for a “troll” who actually believes what they’re saying.

    How about nixie – an undeliverable piece of mail nobody knows what to do with?

    There’s one very simple way to avoid buying into a straw man argument, you know.

    “What’s a Nubian?”
    “Shut the fuck up.”

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12359 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    another word for a "troll" who actually believes what they're saying

    fool?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison, in reply to Danielle,

    There's one very simple way to avoid buying into a straw man argument, you know.

    Would that be pointing out that other people's arguments are a straw man and re-iterating one's actual position? That's the point where I would've buggered off - I don't know if he was too prideful to back away or just decided to start taking the piss. Guess it doesn't really matter now.

    FWIW, I dropped an Engineering degree in favour of a BA in Philosophy, purely because that's what I was interested in, and fully aware of the fact that I had no idea what sort of productive job it would get me. Worked out OK for me (and the taxpayers).

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Emma Hart,

    We need another word for a "troll" who actually believes what they're saying.

    Snape? That's my Harry Potter education talking. Defence against the dark arts.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    I gave an example. Which was ignored. So bollocks.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    The few advocates for the public good of free inquiry have not been very specific about that good, nor persuasive about the need for it.

    I think I have advanced a couple of arguments, and so have others. It wasn't a debate simply because there wasn't a contrary position worthy of its name to be debated. But the public good of free inquiry is most often seen at work where it's absent. In this country, you could say it was lacking when Rogernomics was pushed through, and there wasn't a public intellectual class capable of strongly articulating the values of society that were worth preserving against the crude economism and short term thinking of the reformers - I wasn't here at the time, but Bruce Jesson for one has written convincingly about this. As for my own country, I have a pretty sharp sense of how much we are missing intellectuals of the calibre of Pier Paolo Pasolini - we need somebody like him desperately.

    Conversely, the case for the value of technical instruction that Danyl thinks is so obvious that it's not worth talking about, actually isn't obvious at all, even from a strictly utilitarian point of view. For that I think a refresher of Ken Robinson's talk on creativity in education may prove useful.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    As for the trolling thing, to hold a position in good faith (and I cannot know whether Danyl actually believes the stuff, nor do I care) and to argue honestly are two quite different things. Danyl simply ignored everything that was put forward that he might have some difficulty addressing. And that to my mind is trolling.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Would that be pointing out that other people's arguments are a straw man and re-iterating one's actual position?

    Yes, I know my short-term memory is rather poor, but I do recall that part. Unfortunately 'one's actual position' wasn't all that convincing either, I'm afraid.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Clayton, in reply to Josh Addison,

    FWIW, I dropped an Engineering degree in favour of a BA in Philosophy, purely because that's what I was interested in, and fully aware of the fact that I had no idea what sort of productive job it would get me. Worked out OK for me (and the taxpayers).

    This has been my experience, both personally and in teaching students who go on to graduate BA. Arguments about the benefits of education based solely in utility exclude what I believe is the considerable accrual of indirect social and cultural benefit when universities have as their foundation that concept of the "institution... of pure research whose academic freedom is paramount" that David articulates above. It has also been my industrial experience that, in general, this idea of the university exists among those whose teaching is into professional programmes as well as the the older generalist departments, faculties and schools. I think the assumption that indirect benefits are neither widespread nor substantial is in error, and I hope that I've articulated some of them in my comments thus far.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    It's telling that the usual academic freedom arguments haven't been used here, just an unhelpful 'bollocks' and the argument that a general humanities education makes you a more productive worker.

    Take that line and run, I'm curious to see how much you can milk out of it. Certainly it's an important angle, although the actual question was about students, not the researchers, whose importance Danyl never questioned. He framed his enquiry into the actual economic value of humanities, with a backdrop of withdrawing funding for them as a very real threat, and it's very much worth noting that it's not an instant win for technical monocultures.

    Indeed, my Mum, who lectures at Manukau Institute of Technology (I'd say MIT, but you might get confused) in communication studies has pointed out for decades to me that there is a constant complaint from heads of business about the graduates that they produce not being well rounded enough, lacking in communication and general interests, and any real interest in learning. The very existence of her department was the Tech's response, and it's a required subject for most of the other degrees. Of course she's had decades of kids complaining that they can't see any use in it. But they're fucken kids. They don't know what's of use yet, and they certainly aren't aware of the big picture of years of pressure from a particular clique of ideologues running this country, to make them think that all the really need in life is their fucking sheet metal working certificate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    It's telling

    Of what? Danyl posited that humanities subjects were of limited economic (and by extension, social) utility. He framed the argument in those terms, so that's where it went.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    years of pressure from a particular clique of ideologues

    quite - always worth remembering when any position is presented as so powerful it doesn't need arguing

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Danielle,

    Indeed, and it's good to see that you can take the argument of the economic worthlessness of humanities head on sometimes. It is, after all, total fucking bullshit, as evidenced by the massive tax return reaped from hundreds of thousands of humanities graduates working in NZ today in many roles, from technical to ... whatever they feel like really. Given that NZ is quite small, highly technically trained people are the very first to just fuck off to greener pastures, since there are few positions for them here. I did it myself, and so did Danyl. The money sitting in my super fund in Australia would have paid for all the time I spent at university comfortably - now it's just making Ozzie fund managers rich, and has contributed to Australia riding out the Global Financial Crisis virtually unscathed. Let alone the other 47.5% of my income there that they just took to pay for the amazing place that Australia is. NZ missed out on all of that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    a “troll” who actually believes what they’re saying

    would normally just be called a wingnut. Though that implies also that their position is, not merely wrong, but belongs in a frame of reference incompatible with your own (and/or by extension, with any reasonable individual's, in your opinion).

    More neutrally, they could simply be called a "True Believer". (I like that term in that you can judge for yourself how much sarcasm to attach to it.)

    Characteristics that might be more consistently useful as diagnostic criteria for trolling:
    * derailing (bringing the topic, whatever it was, forcibly back to the troll's own position);
    * obliviousness to counterargument;
    * use of responses that merely restate the original claim without support or elaboration;
    * focus on language, and/or supposed motives, rather than content, of responses.
    -- all of which derive from the core defining property of posting only to provoke a reaction.
    Lack of belief in the position ostensibly held is also implied, but may not be so central a criterion for practical purposes.

    * * *
    Danyl has clearly and consistently stated that he believes his own education was a waste of money. We might perhaps agree with him to that extent -- while disagreeing about what generalisations are possible from that subjective datum.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1751 posts Report Reply

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