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Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire

PhD candidate says some post-grad students should be let in as essential workers | RNZ News

Back in 2016 there was talk of international education as NZ's 5th biggest export industry. Growth was forcast to be $5 Billion per annum by 2025. This year we are reading about losses in that industry. More about University Funding.

So here, in 2020, we find ourselves in a neoliberal dystopia where everything is a business, using just-in-time methods, commoditizing everything, and just making a general mess of things. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the lack of resilience in this very, very brittle system. Nearly no one is winning here. Possibly some highly paid management types (using titles borrowed from the church centuries ago). Maybe they are still making bank and have secure positions.

So, maybe, just maybe some post-grad students should be let back in as essential workers. Well, we have been told they are students, not workers. Surely, if they were workers, they would be paid at least minimum wage like our other essential workers (e.g. supermarket checkout staff). Oh, but that would muck up the finances of the universities (not to mention the CRIs). So, we can not call them workers.

With everyone talking about the tertiary education export industry, might we suggest a rebrand to a very popular industry segment? Tertiary education is clearly a primary industry which milks and fleeces the students while externalizing the expenses to those early in their careers. What a beautiful example of neoliberal economics in action. Well done Tertiary Education Industry!

Rob Elshire

Spinoff & Science Communication for WHO

This is really, really cool. I've included some of the work that Toby and Siouxsie have done in communicating the science around the pandemic. That this has been picked up on by the WHO and resulted in a commercial contract for The Spinoff speaks volumes.

Rob Elshire

More students say university not value for money - BBC News

Same thing in the US and Aotearoa as well. What does Higher Education Inc actually have to offer? Or as the business people like to put it, "What is the value proposition?"

Rob Elshire

Know your business model?

2 min read

In an effort to replace 110v electronics, I am looking for a set of desktop computer speakers. Rather than buying something new, we try to purchase used items which reduces our footprint and helps keep e-waste out of landfills and such. I have had a TradeMe search for local used desktop speakers for a few weeks and nothing suitable is turning up.

Today, I decided to try We Reuse I.T. Ltd. (https://wereuseit.co.nz/) on Cuba street here in Palmy. The person there was very accommodating. He said there may be some speakers out back and if I would come back in 30 minutes he would go take a look. When I came back, it turns out there were not any. No worries, no big deal.

What happened next just baffles me. He suggested that I try the Warehouse. I explained that I was only interested in buying used. He said they were cheap at the Warehouse. I explained that it was not about price, but rather not buying new. He seemed confused that I would rather keep looking for a used item when new was cheap. I pointed out that I was actively trying to support their business model! I am not sure that it registered with him.

Ugh.

Update

Ended up finding a used set of powered speakers for a gold coin donation the next day.

Rob Elshire

These are the 10 most innovative countries, Bloomberg says - Business Insider

So there are reasons that some countries are more innovative than others. I suspect that government use of the word innovation ad nauseum is not one of them. Let's do some evidence based policy work here in Aotearoa so we get some bloody progress rather than business-as-usual described as not-business-as-usual. Really.

Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire

'An anguished question from a Trump supporter: "Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?"

4 min read

The following is by Florida writer Adam-Troy Castro, shared by a friend on FB: 'An anguished question from a Trump supporter: "Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?" The serious answer: Here’s what we really think about Trump supporters - the rich, the poor, the malignant and the innocently well-meaning, the ones who think and the ones who don't...

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought "Fine." That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, "Okay." That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, "No problem." That when he made up stories about seeing muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, "Not an issue." That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn't care, you chirped, "He sure knows me."

That when you heard him illustrate his own character by telling that cute story about the elderly guest bleeding on the floor at his country club, the story about how he turned his back and how it was all an imposition on him, you said, "That's cool!" That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw. That when you heard him brag that he doesn't read books, you said, "Well, who has time?" That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn't commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, "That makes sense." That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, "Yes!"

That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man's coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, "What a great guy!" That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, "Thumbs up!" That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, "That's the way I want my President to be." That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they're supposed to be regulating and you have said, "What a genius!" That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, "That's smart!"

That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was the middle of water and you have said, "That makes sense." That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, "falling in love" with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, "That's statesmanship!" That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids. has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas - he explains that they’re just “animals” - and you say, “well, ok then.”

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise. What you don't get, Trump supporters in 2019, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it's also...hear me...charitable.

Because if you're NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.'

Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire

Rob Elshire