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Archive for January 21st, 2011

“with the thrill of a Tom Clancy novel”

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Makes me feel a little Deleuzian when I start thinking this way, and we’re all getting really tired of social media metaphorics, but there is something in the world that loves to pluck at webs until they become simply a set of separate strings, to boil down complex networks until they become linear romances of one sort or another. From the Guardian:

Producers Barry Josephson and Michelle Krumm, who have optioned The Most Dangerous Man in the World, say they are planning a “suspenseful drama” in the vein of All the President’s Men and with the thrill of a Tom Clancy novel. “As soon as I met Andrew and read a few chapters of his profound book, I knew that – with his incredibly extensive depth of knowledge – it would enable us to bring a thought-provoking thriller to the screen,” Krumm told Variety.

Makes me think (again, I know, enough with the social networking stuff) of a twitter feed vs. a police horse charge, the algorithm that runs YouTube vs. a battle scene in War and Peace. There must be other ways to tell such stories – wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world in which they were told otherwise and better?

(BTW: quite funny, the results that come of Google image searching “the most dangerous man in the world.”)

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January 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Posted in movies, narrative

false economy

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Haven’t really had a chance to look at this site since I spent some time at one of the occupations with one of its founders, but False Economy is truly excellent. Neurathian clarity translated into the flash-embedded informational age. And the ad above is very very good.

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January 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm

the university as “heritage industry,” part 2: now with numbers

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Ah, here we go. This is exactly what I’ve been talking about. From the Times Higher Education:

Data published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service reveal that 210,022 people – about a third of applicants – were not accepted on to university courses last autumn.The number of UK students accepted fell by 0.8 per cent, but non-European Union places rose by 12.4 per cent.

EU student numbers, which are subject to the same strict cap on places as UK ones, also went up.

The Ucas figures reveal the final picture of those who applied to start university in 2010.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “Record numbers of students missed out on a university place because the government refused to fund sufficient places and that trend is set to continue this summer. After the government axed the education maintenance allowance, these figures are a reminder of the rationing of opportunity at the higher education level as well.

“The foreign market is a lucrative one for UK universities and these figures suggest that UK students are now disproportionately missing out on places.”

There was a 27.8 per cent increase in the number of students coming from China.

Again, just to reiterate: I have absolutely no problem with the admission of international students and, if the world were perfect, one would teach a randomized mix of students ingathered from everywhere. I’m, after all, a foreigner myself. That’s not the issue. What is the issue is shifting from merit to money as the primary determinate of who gets places – or rather, of what places are available in the first place. Non-EU students pay more, therefore universities who can manage it are shifting their provision toward programmes that attract non-EU students (say, interdisciplinary MAs rather than hardcore single subject BAs). The article continues:

Paul Marshall, executive director of the 1994 Group of smaller research-intensive universities, said: “Higher education is one of the UK’s most successful export industries and today’s figures show that it is going from strength to strength.

Never in my wildest dreams, while I was doing my PhD, did I think I’d be a part of a dying nation’s “most successful export industry.” But, true to form,  I did receive an email the other day soliciting applications to work for a new branch campus in Qatar. Comes with a free apartment and car. No salary increase though – the fact that Qatar charges no income tax is supposed to serve as the enticing “raise.”

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January 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Posted in academia, austerity

keep calm and carry on… co-opting socialist modernism

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A good piece from Owen Hatherley on the Festival(s) of Britain – both the old one and the new one that’s ostensibly on its way – and austerity in the Guardian‘s Comment is Free. Here’s a bit:

In their rhetoric of belt-tightening, in the ludicrous notion that “we’re all in this together”, the millionaires’ austerity government is tapping into something that predates it, but which accompanied the start of the financial crisis in 2008. Since then, an austerity nostalgia has been rife among the middle class: in the wartime aesthetics of Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food; in retro-modernist CCTV posters; most of all in the phenomenal success of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. At the Festival Hall’s shop, it can sometimes seem like you’re in a 1940s theme park, with all manner of austere rationing-era ephemera for sale. It hinges on the somewhat gross analogy between our predicament and the blitz, or the rationing that lasted well into the 50s – the “blitz spirit” attendant on every transport disruption or tube strike. Cameron’s government has consciously appealed to this trend.

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January 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Posted in architecture, austerity