Saturday, May 07, 2011

47/100: Sense and Nonsense

I wish email software programmes had an 'Unsend' button. Sometimes, that would have saved lives; more often, this would have saved marriages, friendships and definitely, jobs. It is surely not impossible to undo an email sent - unlike a bullet fired - but just unappealing. However, surely, a Google Engineer someday will give his 20% time on this. That will be realizing the unrealized potential of Outlook's Recall function, which, if I remember correctly, usually used to send a second email saying that 'the sender has recalled the previous email'. That was my definitive example of pure nonsense: Indeed, I tried and failed before.

I spend a lot of time thinking about expressions which rule our lives and claims that we believe in. Expressions such as 'Taxpayers' Money'. When was taxpayers' money really taxpayers' money? Who would want to spend a few billion pounds keeping the Trident missile system, which, okay, can flatten Moscow and St Petersberg in a few minutes, and rather not use the money to fund the universities and produce more well-qualified graduates? And, then, there are things like 'The Third Sector'. I have known people who really identify themselves with the term. I get the sense - Public Sector, Private Sector and then, third, Not For Profit - but don't know whether the expression was invented to give a distinctive identity to NFP, or to lump various things together and somehow wish away the Church, for example.

Then, there are claims. It is interesting to see who makes them and then to explore why they make the claims they make. Why do Conservatives claim that Britain can go bankrupt? Because they are more concerned about keeping the British Pound strong and interest rates low. They don't care if a few children miss out on education and a few families get booted out of council estates, but they would rather ensure that buy-to-let remains a viable business opportunity and people with a pot of money can sit back and enjoy the rental income. They claim Britain isn't working and living on benefits, and they make it sound really bad, but what about living on rent income, which they are trying to protect by keeping the interests low, even if that means high inflation. One conjecture: They are full of people with money. Yes, they may be honest - because they always lived with people with money, talked to people with money and taught by tutors who were used to teaching people with money. That living on rent and living on benefits are actually the same thing - living without doing a hard day's work - has not occurred to them. And, indeed, never will.

These are political claims, but then there are cultural claims. Like, love, shall I say. No one ever defines it: It is one of those terms like Fascist which should remain undefined, so that anyone / anything can be labeled with it. And, commercial claims, like Brands, which really represent mummified trust of a kind which you can buy in a bottle (or in packs, whichever). We live in a somewhat claim-infested world, and making sense of everything may come on the way of happiness.

Besides, this is a pointless exercise, as must be mentioned at this time. Claims have Counter-claims. Usually: May be they are not allowed in Libya, Burma, North Korea and such places in the world. But usually, Trident money will be claimed by universities and the schools and the health services, all having equally 'valid' claims. The point, indeed, is to see these claims with the reasons why they are being made - the motives. Seen this way, as I am trying, modern life will look like a see-saw, and a negotiation - though everything is done in the name of absolute truth.

A professor played an interesting game - he made a statement and asked us to guess when it was made, roughly. Like, the modern youth knows no respect and our education system must imbibe respect in the pupils. My guess was Tony Blair, but the right answer turned to be Cicero in Ancient Rome. Similarly, the International Conference which dealt with the problem of urban pollution caused by modern transportation and decided that there was no clear solution to the issue, happened in 1898 and was dealing with Horse manure. You hear them and say - hang on a moment, why we are still talking about this after all these years!

The problem is, once you start looking at things critically, as education is supposed to make us do, everything looks relative, negotiable. It is easy to see therefore, while educators claim that education should be about critical consciousness, no one likes it: Education is all about just a series of claims therefore. However, I shall CLAIM that we are reaching a sort of limit of claims, in fact this isn't new and at every point of social change, just sticking to claims does not help and new thinking is needed. We are at such a point, and perhaps my efforts to make sense is timely.

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