Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Limping Onwards

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  • Jacqui Dunn,

    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

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

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    It’s like a bollocks millefeuille.

    New favourite phrase. Can I put in a pre-emptive WOTY nomination?

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Is Danyl suggesting historical research be carried out by amateurs?

    I think so. Because it's really not that difficult to, say, spend months or years in archives reading thousands of utterly illegible handwritten manuscripts in order to create a compelling and original narrative from hugely disparate sources, all the while maintaining a working knowledge of the secondary literature in order to make sure you aren't misunderstanding the significance of everything you're looking at.

    I know a lot of academic history may fail the readability test - believe me, there's quite a lot of hand-wringing over this issue within the ivory tower - but frankly, I'm surprised *any* of it is readable, considering the amount of information you have to process and analyse. It's fucking hard work.

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

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Can I put in a pre-emptive WOTY nomination?

    I would be obliged. I'm still kicking myself for not nominating Michael Lhaws last year - now everyone uses it! I'm so dumb I could cry.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Sacha,

    However, I'm not convinced the opposition had any role in extending SCF's coverage after in-depth advice of the risk.

    David Cunliffe in Audust 2009 on why Labour voted to support National's extension of the scheme:

    The extension of the former Labour Government’s Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme until the end of 2011 should provide renewed confidence for depositors and institutions, says Labour Finance spokesperson David Cunliffe.

    Labour had no problem with the legisation.

    We may never know all the back room dealing and special interest pleading involved.

    You're refering to why Cunliffe changed his position so dramatically and won such support from the Hubbard Cult?

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Extending SCF's coverage, Neil, not the whole scheme. And others more plugged in than you or I have started unravelling some of the wheeling and dealing.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    It’s like a bollocks millefeuille.

    That is indeed a mellifluous phrase. [redacted]

    There wasn't enough room in the innuendo almanac for that one.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Danyl’s argument represents the most shallow form of utilitarianism – “If it is not of immediate discernible benefit to me, then it is no benefit whatsoever.”

    This is otherwise known as solipsism. Maybe philistinism. Perhaps reductionism. Very probably egotism.

    The hysteria speaks for itself. If you ask professionals or scientists what society gains from their training then they just laugh, because the answer is so obvious. If you ask people who study philosophy or literature why the rest of us should fund their studies then they fly into a rage. Philistinism! Egotism! It's hugely important! In abstract ways that can never be quantified! But nevertheless put our entire civilisation at risk if they are ever questioned!

    Also, I think that many of the words you used to describe me don't mean what you think they mean.

    if nobody was trained to be, say, a historian, it's not very clear who would get to write the books that you could read in your spare time and be as good as somebody who's had to study the stuff. Is Danyl suggesting historical research be carried out by amateurs?

    There's a very vigorous attack going on against a straw-man argument I never made. I'm all for professional historians, post-graduates learning research skills etc. My original post was a response to this comment:

    a society where a scattering of folk have made an intellectual investment in history, art, literature philosophy et al, knowing it's not leading to any specific career or ability to improve their earnings, but just because they want to know more about cultural stuff.

    If someone is passionate about history and wants to become a professional historian then I'm all for that, and happy for my tax-dollars to subsidise it. If someone thinks it would cool to learn about the French Revolution, because they've always been kind of curious about it, then I'm lost as to why my tax dollars should pay for that, when they can just go to the library instead.

    Personally I feel history is in a separate category to the other humanities in terms of social value. Historians play a role in the national conversation in ways that modern literary critics, art-historians, philosophers etc generally don't, for reasons I don't really understand.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to Sacha,

    And others more plugged in than you or I have started unravelling some of the wheeling and dealing.

    If you're refering to foreign investors in SFC then they were included so the govt would have complete control over the receivership process. It wasn't a secret.

    But Cunliffe has been going on about the total bailout, a process he voted for twice.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    If you ask professionals or scientists what society gains from their training then they just laugh, because the answer is so obvious.

    Because they think the answer is so obvious. There, fixed it for you.

    art-historians, philosophers etc generally don't, for reasons I don't really understand.

    Yes, that is painfully clear.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    The hysteria speaks for itself. If you ask professionals or scientists what society gains from their training then they just laugh, because the answer is so obvious. If you ask people who study philosophy or literature why the rest of us should fund their studies then they fly into a rage. Philistinism! Egotism! It’s hugely important! In abstract ways that can never be quantified! But nevertheless put our entire civilisation at risk if they are ever questioned!

    To be fair, you didn't ask as such, you merely dismissed the humanities as worthless. Not quite the same thing.

    FWIW, I seem to recall quite a bit of anguished defence of science lately, with the Ken Ring thing and all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I'm still not sure we're there. If the end game is the negation of humanities study for the sake of it, rather than as a basis for a professional career, then isn't that just the solipsists argument as suggested above?

    If your study plan has a tangible financial return to 'me' as a taxpayer in the foreseeable future, then carry on. Otherwise go to the library, you burden to society who is wasting our meagre resources.

    Even from my slightly right of centre stand point, this seems like extremism.

    Historians play a role in the national conversation in ways that modern literary critics, art-historians, philosophers etc generally don't, for reasons I don't really understand.

    That much is entirely clear, as they so categorically do, for reasons you may wish to look into.

    ETA: Snap, crackle, pop.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    To be fair, you didn't ask as such, you merely dismissed the humanities as worthless. Not quite the same thing.

    To be slightly fairer, I didn't dismiss them as worthless - I quite laek that thar William Faulkner feller, etc - just questioned the wisdom of paying for people to dabble in them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    To be slightly fairer, I didn’t dismiss them as worthless – I quite laek that thar William Faulkner feller, etc – just questioned the wisdom of paying for people to dabble in them.

    I'm not sure that "dabbling" is actually specified in the employment contract.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    FWIW, I seem to recall quite a bit of anguished defence of science lately, with the Ken Ring thing and all.

    The irony there, is that you actually need philosophers to defend science. Like I always say, it's not a grounding in science itself that journalists need to cover the stuff - since they can't be expected to acquire the specialised knowledge of each field - but rather training in recognising and evaluating the relative merits of rational arguments. On which count I found this article by Kerre Woodham spectacularly off the mark.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    The irony there, is that you actually need philosophers to defend science.

    such as Feyerabend?

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    If you're refering to foreign investors in SFC

    No

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    If your study plan has a tangible financial return to 'me' as a taxpayer in the foreseeable future, then carry on. Otherwise go to the library, you burden to society who is wasting our meagre resources.

    I'd replace the word 'tangible' with the word 'probable' but yeah, that's pretty much it. Perhaps it helps if you bear in mind the opportunity cost: ie each year paying someone to study Lacan, or contemplate Middlemarch is a sum of money that don't go into health and welfare, or into training doctors, engineers, research scientists (cough) etc.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    you actually need philosophers to defend science

    But the public defenders of science in New Zealand are Paul Callaghan and Peter Gluckman, ie scientists.

    Do we have any public philosophers, the way we have public historians, economist and even political scientists?

    Specifically, if I search the online media (Stuff, the Herald etc) for people like Peter Gluckman, Brian Easton or Michael King then I get loads of hits. This is because these are/were local experts in their field who are - like I said - part of the national conversation. Can anyone name a local philosopher who carries similar weight?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    such as Feyerabend?

    Such as Lyotard, who understood ahead of his time what is now one of our main challenges - how to counteract the arguments of deniers and truthers. Which happens to be a matter of life or death on a planetary scale. The idea that you win that argument by convincing everyone to listen to science is just wrong - you need to teach critical thinking. And that's the domain of the humanities, not of your science teacher.

    research scientists (cough) etc.

    Yes. Research scientists. People Who Do Only Good.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    ...is a sum of money that don't go into health and welfare, or into training doctors, engineers, research scientists (cough) etc.

    Bingo. The chestnuts aren't falling far from the tree today.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Parliamentary Question Time today:

    7. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Minister of Finance: Is it correct that Treasury was in the Prime Minister’s office “week after week, month after month” telling him South Canterbury Finance was going bankrupt?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    But the public defenders of science in New Zealand are Paul Callaghan and Peter Gluckman, ie scientists.

    Do we have any public philosophers, the way we have public historians, economist and even political scientists?

    We don't, because we don't believe in their value. And we are wrong.

    Incidentally, when I wrote about the truther conference in Wellington a couple of years ago, I got quite a lot of supportive mail and links, and much of it by scientists who recognised the value of a humanities approach to the issue, and that you cannot easily disprove those 'theories' - in fact they are almost impossible to disprove on scientific grounds alone, as our own Matthew Dentith could tell you.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    If someone thinks it would cool to learn about the French Revolution, because they’ve always been kind of curious about it, then I’m lost as to why my tax dollars should pay for that, when they can just go to the library instead.

    Yes, because every person knows *exactly* what they want to do with the rest of their lives at every given moment.

    But then I have a humanities and social science masters degree, that only became even vaguely useful to my career in the past 3 years, so I would say that.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Can anyone name a local philosopher who carries similar weight?

    Most of the big problems we still need to solve involve understanding people and ideas, not just last century's science and technology. Our nation's lack of prominent and respected philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, teachers, etc is a weakness rather than a good or natural thing.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

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