Romance day

THE FOUR DAY WEEK is both an attractive demand and a realistic utopia, an acheivable measure any of us could feasibly gain, and with it, improve our lives. But wait! Our society’s totalising culture of shouting-productivity and management will strike back with demands of its own:

“Managers need to be comfortable that these hours are being used for that particular purpose (of passion) and not to do chores, or to work on your own little start-up [or] business when not explicitly stated,” she says.

Absolutely no. We can all imagine the kind of management where the tradeoff for a four-day week—or any other arrangement of increasing leisure—is increasing intrusion of management onto recreation time. We’ve all heard of the (in theory) rather nice arrangements where software developers in major firms are given company time to work on open-source projects; we all know about lawyers and professionals working pro bono. This isn’t that, this is colonisation of private time. One person’s ‘romance day’ of fulfilling tasks and self-actualisation can so easily turn to HR measuring those things against firm profitability. Clocking off should be exactly, and completely, that.


The elite's many virtues

I AM READING DANIEL Markovits’s The Meritocracy Trap, which is very good, compelling, and is crystallising thoughts on human merit I’ve been recently having. It’s a fairly compelling argument that the reproduction of the ruling class, today, happens at the level of transferring skills and educational training, and through elites exploiting their own labour, of specific kinds which create value in the context of our times (financial services, law, business, technology, and so on). It’s slightly less compelling in the Australian context, where the older forms—your parents buying you a house in Sydney—still work fine. Yes, I’ve been saying to myself as I turn the virtual pages of my e-reader, yes, that observation relates to the way I see the world. Yes, that is the way the ideology works. The book happens, as I happen to be, caustically enduringly angry.

And then the challenge:


In praise of corruption

WE VIEW CORRUPTION IN public office as, generally, a bad thing. When a politician or official takes [what looks like] a bribe, we expect them to be punished. On its face, corruption of public processes breaks our norms against fairness, because we expect the State to evaluate things—policies, projects, people—on the basis of equality, and natural justice, not whose brown paper bag was heaviest. But I want to praise corruption, not bury it.


What I'm reading: depression and the CIA's cameras

Ryan Boyd, LARB, This Long Whine:

Since the 1960s, he emphasizes, medical document-keeping has changed. In privatized health-care markets, where cost and risk are transferred to individuals, therapists write less openly and less interestingly, and contra the rich narration and character descriptions that distinguish his earlier records, now a patient’s archive is about “handing you expeditiously on to the next provider, the notes a sort of bill of lading.” There are plenty of kind, skilled, well-meaning individual doctors and therapists, but the system in which they practice turns patients into sources of revenue trailed by miscellaneous records...

A Very Public Sociologist, A Cultural Sociology of Mass Stupidity:

The neoliberal self comes packaged with other consequences: on how the individual sees themselves in the world. While this mode of governance is prescriptive about individuality, choice, and responsibility, excludes collectivism... and reinforces one's powerlessness in the face of the world, it compensates by endowing the neoliberal self with ontological and epistemological sovereignty. Put plainly, I'm all that matters and I know best. If then the cultural accent is on self-responsibility and effort, there is no higher power dictating what is and isn't true apart from your own opinions.

The Phoblographer, In the 1960s, High Resolution Color Photography Pained The CIA:

The US Government’s relationship with Kodak has always been fascinating. Labs and facilities in Rochester, NY, were developed just to deal with Classified photography and clandestine missions. Processes and films born there catered to Uncle Sam’s needs. But one can only imagine the dismay of the Chairman on September 11th, 1963: the date that Colonel Jack D Ledford filed a report saying that they started work on high-resolution Color Photography on behalf of the CIA. When they sent the negatives to Kodak, the company told the CIA that they needed some time. According to a Declassified document, Kodak wasn’t equipped to process the 9-inch materials and wouldn’t have them until the next month. Even by those standards, that’s a long time for anyone to wait to get their film back.


Six Vehicle Ferries

‘THE SEVEN BRIDGES OF Königsberg’, as well-educated readers of this blog will know, is a famously unsolveable problem in mathematics and the basis of graph theory. It’s not possible to design a walk over the seven bridges (as they were in the 18thC) in such a way as to cross each one only once. It’s lucky I’d never heard of the problem before I spent a wonderful Saturday making a round trip of the six vehicle ferries of Greater Sydney, challenging myself to see if I could cross them all without ever retracing my path. Four ferries cross the Hawkesbury River, one crosses Berowra Creek, and the other crosses the Parramatta River.


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