Day zero: reaching equilibrium

You could argue the toss whether the cold, wet winter’s evening in Brisbane on Monday, 22 July, could be legitimately counted as part of the ‘user experience’ for my first lecture in my MA programme – INN533: Information Organization – and if so, whether it improved matters or not. After all, a hot sticky night have had as many pros and cons as its opposite. What I can tell you is that, following in the footsteps of Max Weber, Herbert Marcuse, and Jürgen Habermas, I think there’s a whole range of salient factors in developing a critique, and that nevertheless doesn’t preclude the possibility that there are no right or wrong answers.

The late notification of the lecture’s nature, the ambiguity of the language used in the notification, the mention of a physical lecture hall, and the fact that I was not alone in misreading the instructions, made me realise quite sharply that things were not going to meet my expectations. The lecture was to be virtual, conducted across the ether, and via some dodgy Java application called Blackboard Collaborate.

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QTAC’s war against rationality

There’s an organisation known as the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) whose job, it seems, is to verify the credentials of applicants for any tertiary course in Queensland. I say ‘it seems’ because the organisation is quite shadowy. It makes no information available on its processes, performance, or accountabilities. There are no methods for appealing its decisions, or even seeking an explanation of apparently quite arbitrary outcomes. But if you’re lucky, like me, gratuitous advice about your own shortcomings may be offered.

Look up this organisation online and you might find the PR blurb that some of Queensland’s universities joined forces to create this organisation as a standalone company at arm’s length, but there appear to be no board reports, or even published lists of board members. A very exclusive little club, that one.

In fact, the only interesting information you might find is mention that QTAC’s CEO between 2002 and 2010, an Elizabeth Louise Jones, was accused of being an unconscionable workplace bully by her staff, and tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid being investigated or censured by seeking an interlocutory injunction alleging that action against her had been motivated by her rôle in an enterprise bargaining process (see Jeffrey Phillips SC, Bully Behind You, and MinterEllison).

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Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) revisited

manufacturing-consent-video-cover

To begin, it strikes me as appropriate to reorient us to the environment which gave rise to both the book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, and the film, which premiered on 18 June 1992 at the Sydney Film Festival in Australia.

A different time

Achbar and Wintonick followed Chomsky for five years to make their documentary, [1] implying that they began their project in 1986 or 1987.  A very different time that some readers might not remember too well, or at all.

To offer a glimpse into that era, imagine Miami Vice entering its fourth season, the Simpsons first appearing as short film clips, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiering on network TV, the Bangles walking like Egyptians, Bon Jovi prancing on a prayer, U2 still hadn’t quite found that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow they were looking for, fully grown men wearing big hair and pastel baby blue and pink clothes, women wearing shoulder pads as big as those sported by gridiron players, fluoro coloured neon lights in nightclubs and restaurants, and greed was definitely good all around.

Continue reading “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) revisited”

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) revisited

manufacturing-consent-video-cover

To begin, it strikes me as appropriate to reorient us to the environment which gave rise to both the book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, and the film, which premiered on 18 June 1992 at the Sydney Film Festival in Australia.

A different time

Achbar and Wintonick followed Chomsky for five years to make their documentary, [1] implying that they began their project in 1986 or 1987.  A very different time that some readers might not remember too well, or at all.

To offer a glimpse into that era, imagine Miami Vice entering its fourth season, the Simpsons first appearing as short film clips, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiering on network TV, the Bangles walking like Egyptians, Bon Jovi prancing on a prayer, U2 still hadn’t quite found that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow they were looking for, fully grown men wearing big hair and pastel baby blue and pink clothes, women wearing shoulder pads as big as those sported by gridiron players, fluoro coloured neon lights in nightclubs and restaurants, and greed was definitely good all around.

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Schlosberg illustrates fallacyof ‘expert’ reasoning

Schlosberg

A rhetorical reply to the Professor about why science does not and should not dictate human motivation or organisation.

We imagine we live in a rational, enlightened society. In such a place, experts would identify issues to be addressed, and goals to be reached, in response to our creation of climate change. Scientific knowledge would be respected and accepted (after peer review, of course), and policy would be fashioned in response.

— David Schlosberg, Professor of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

In this one sentence Schlosberg has undone any persuasive, expert, authoritative impact his comment piece on global warming might have had (‘THE END OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT -or- A Challenge to the Dream of Reason -or- We can’t prevent climate change, so what should we do?’ links to new tab/window at external site).

Let’s parse the words. Who is the ‘we’? Without getting into a hairsplitting contest, let me argue that a great many people in Australian society find nothing particularly rational or enlightened about the way it is governed, about their colleagues or neighbours, and sometimes not even about their spouses and children. In this context expecting ‘we’ to apprehend a consensus about what rationality means, let alone what it requires of us, is childishly idealistic. Not at all the sort of nonsense you’d expect from a Professor.

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Schlosberg illustrates fallacy
of ‘expert’ reasoning

Schlosberg

A rhetorical reply to the Professor about why science does not and should not dictate human motivation or organisation.

We imagine we live in a rational, enlightened society. In such a place, experts would identify issues to be addressed, and goals to be reached, in response to our creation of climate change. Scientific knowledge would be respected and accepted (after peer review, of course), and policy would be fashioned in response.

— David Schlosberg, Professor of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

In this one sentence Schlosberg has undone any persuasive, expert, authoritative impact his comment piece on global warming might have had (‘THE END OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT -or- A Challenge to the Dream of Reason -or- We can’t prevent climate change, so what should we do?’ links to new tab/window at external site).

Let’s parse the words. Who is the ‘we’? Without getting into a hairsplitting contest, let me argue that a great many people in Australian society find nothing particularly rational or enlightened about the way it is governed, about their colleagues or neighbours, and sometimes not even about their spouses and children. In this context expecting ‘we’ to apprehend a consensus about what rationality means, let alone what it requires of us, is childishly idealistic. Not at all the sort of nonsense you’d expect from a Professor.

Continue reading “Schlosberg illustrates fallacy
of ‘expert’ reasoning”

Chomsky glosses over key dynamics in latest anti-America polemic

The arguments presented by Chomsky in the AlterNet article ‘America’s Decline Is Real — and Increasingly Self-Inflicted’ are readable, engaging, and almost convincing.

Just as Chomsky’s political invigilators tend to gloss over deep and obvious flaws in their counter-arguments, so Chomsky appears to have glossed over four fundamental problems for his own polemic:

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