2. "Likewise, the current opposition to massive open online courses (or MOOCs) has nothing to do with technophobia. Rather, it is driven by concerns about our ability to imagine and defend a future where education is still seen as a public good that is not fully reducible to market relations. Silicon Valley – and many neoliberals – see the university as a giant waste of resources. The schooling is too long, too expensive, and promotes all sorts of dangerous (read: useless) ideas that are not needed in the marketplace. And the skills that you do need – well, those you can get online, via a series of videos. Most universities would probably not fail immediately. Many of them, having fallen for the blurry MOOC vision, will stay afloat and embrace self-denial. But for how long? We know what the unhealthy fascination with pageviews has done to the quality of journalism; do we want the same fate to befall education? If so, you can wave goodbye to courses on Latin or the history of astronomy; your only choices would be law, engineering and finance."

    Ghosts in the Machines (via azspot)

    In the town of Monselice in Italy, under the clock tower in the central piazza is a tiny, dark, dusty space which an old man has filled with rocks & crystals, flower pressings, stuffed birds & other oddments of natural history.  For 1€ you can go in to look at this tiny unkempt museum.  And appearing somewhat forgotten in the corner, behind some spears & roman vases there’s a stack of paintings - I swear one was a de Chirico…

    There’s a townhouse up the road from the Greenwich Observatory in London, filled with painted fans.  Immaculate, down to the carefully typed scroll outlining the etiquette & language of fans, this museum is run by an independent charitable trust & staffed (the day I was there) by very neat & very knowledgable older man who laughed easily.  Two floors of fans span eleven centuries & three continents, from Ireland to Japan via Africa, & out into the Pacific.  There’s even a case displaying mechanical & electrical fans.  

    Everywhere there are people so passionate about some thing or some topic or just life in general, that they will spend their life patiently & happily sharing that passion with any passerby who cares to duck in out of the rain.

    Universities are important, education is important - & it is more than just training.  Training for a trade or profession is not the same as becoming educated, although these things do not need to be mutually exclusive.  There will always be those who think that training is important & education is wasteful.  Bricks & mortar universities suffer from this already - the University of Auckland Architecture School no longer teaches life drawing nor has a lecturer to teach about Mesopotamia & Ancient Egypt.  It is a loss.  But these areas of knowledge will not be lost, because not everyone does things for either page views, profit or even acclaim - sometimes they just do what they do because they love it & they love it so much that they share it with others. If anything the internet is a boon to these people, offering greater chances of finding likeminded fellows; and a boon to the rest of us, by offering greater opportunities to, as it were, duck in out of the rain & find yourself somewhere unexpected.

    (via its-that-badiou-know)

  4. There is a solution, though.  If only we can convince the world that financial profit & loss is irrelevant to this conversation.

    The solution is called mycelium, a natural fungus in the soil that sequesters carbon & enables plants to grow. In the last 50 years, we’ve killed off 90% of the mycelium in arable land. But we can replace it, rebuild it, & it’s not difficult to do so.

    BUT - we will need to massively reduce or entirely eliminate the use of agrochemicals & since the agrochemical industry is one of the most wealthy & powerful industries, I am not hopeful…

    See also: Tony Lovell at TedXDubbo.


  5. quasiflexuralthrusting:

    I just feel like I’m getting sucked further and further into the system, becoming one more cog, perpetuating the debt, income, consume, scheme. And it’s sucking away all my passion and breaking down bits of the soul. 

    I hear you.  Over the last few years I’ve been figuring out where I can compromise my principles (because, let’s face it, I have to pay my bills) without compromising my core being.  I’ve reached the point where I think we have to forgive ourselves the fact that we are within a total system, & cannot not be defined by it to at least some extent.  We should forgive ourselves the daily compromises we must make to survive in this system*, & focus on building a clarity of purpose within.

    As long as we remain conscious of the system & hold onto that clarity of purpose within ourselves then we can at least remain ethical** in how we treat other people, & we will always look for and use opportunities to change the system for the better.  Even if it’s just by being nice to others, creating art (whether for alleys or galleries), music or growing food, we caneach make the word a little better.

    The burdens of the system are used to keep us quiet; drained by worry for tomorrow we distract ourselves with today’s entertainment.  The most important resistance any of us can achieve is to know ourselves, know a better way is possible & to - despite the present reality - work towards that.

    I don’t know if it helps anyone else, but every-time I start to feel lost, I remember a quote from Daniel Libeskind: he says that all architects are intrinsically optimists, because “[architecture is] that complete ecstasy that the future can be better.”  Optimism isn’t rose coloured glasses, it’s seeing the problems & looking for solutions & little by little building them up - because we can do better than this.

    *Taking that shitty job with the corporate, using plastic bags, not buying organic GE free, using a car, voting for the representative we least dislike because letting the other get in is unthinkable, joining a business networking group, etc…

    **Not the same as principled; you know: ‘not every rectangle is a square’…

  6. When you can’t do nothing, but there’s nothing you can do, you do what you can.

    (via the-people-united)


  8. This is simply wonderful.

    "Landfill Harmonic reveals a mind-boggling, inventive effort to change that - musical instruments made from trash. In the barrios of Paraguay, a humble garbage picker uses his ingenuity to craft instruments out of recycled materials - and a youth orchestra is born. Music arises and children find new dreams."


  9. "Perhaps some degree of suffering is ineradicable from human life, perhaps the choice before man is always a choice of evils, perhaps even the aim of Socialism is not to make the world perfect but to make it better. All revolutions are failures, but they are not all the same failure."
    — George Orwell’s essay, “Arthur Koestler” (1944)

    (Source: dakotapuma)


  10. One of the things I love about New Year’s Eve, is standing outside & hearing the joyful voices of so many strangers, friends & neighbours, lifted in recognition of the turning of the year, in hope & in celebration. The sense, that in this at least, we are one, we are together, tonight.