UBI et orbi


Says God to Adam, after he and Eve have eaten the fruit,

in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground… [Genesis 3:17—19]

The story of the casting-out or ‘Fall’, in which humans are given their divine punishment for knowledge, is one of our most familiar creation stories, in which God sets the terms of human existence unilaterally. Like a boss making a workplace agreement with themself, the story of the Fall is the original greenfields enterprise bargaining agreement. It’s a powerful morality tale which has informed our attitudes and assumptions about work for a very, very long time.



VOTING IS FULL OF ironies. It’s a social activity of selection and choice between alternatives, a functional process so totemic that it’s often confused for democracy itself. When we vote we express a value anonymously in such a way that no one person’s vote is any more worthy than anyone else’s. But it’s not the same as power.


Cooking without eating

NOT ALL COOKING IS for eating. In fact some of the most satisfying and useful recipes don’t involve food at all. Mixing two-stroke oil and petrol, let’s say, or concrete, sand and water, these are two favourites of people who like putting together or deconstructing the built environment. If you want an article for The Australian, mix fear, uncertainty, and doubt; for the Sydney Morning Herald, property prices, Sydney Grammar’s first XV, and a beach; for the Daily Telegraph, hard working mums, Muslims, the welfare system, and any given arterial roadway in western Sydney. Much, much, easier than cooking. It’s a source of national shame that our apprentice chefs and bricklayers’ labourers are paid less for their routine mixing than the trowel-wielding wordsmiths of our newspapers. But to the recipes! Here are two old favourites I’ve put together recently.


The Para-Academic Handbook

Specialists in all manner of things, from the humanities to the social and biological sciences, the para-academic works alongside the traditional university, sometimes by necessity, sometimes by choice, usually a mixture of both. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities to research, create learning experiences or make a basic living within the university on our own terms, para-academics don’t seek out alternative careers in the face of an evaporated future, we just continue to do what we’ve always done: write, research, learn, think, and facilitate that process for others.

That sounds pretty familiar to me. Read the Para-Academic Handbook immediately.



What we admire in pirates—at least our fictional pirates—is that they so enjoy their villainy. They’re not sly or covert or subtle. Everything about them is over-the-top, histrionic: they glory in their infamy. While most of us drag ourselves through the daily dullness of our lives, they swagger, they pirouette, and, in the case of Captain Hook, even dance a tarantella. Like the trailblazer and the gunslinger, the pirate represents a New World ideal of freedom—a proud renegade living by his wits and his daring.


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