There is no reason why I should be looking at my two kids (Orlando and Lorenzo, today 13 and 10) as potential candidate for some prestigious university. Universities’ nothingness has been evident for many since many years; now it seems less unpopular to display meaningful data in order to spread the argument. This is a recent hit from Harvard Business School (!):
“The cost of a college or university degree is out of control. Despite their questionable performance, tuition at four-year universities has tripled in constant dollars over the past 30 years — a faster rate of increase than much-maligned healthcare — and total U.S. student debt now stands at more than US$1 trillion. Worse still, one out of two recent college graduates is unemployed or working in a job that does not require a degree.”
(Rest of the feature is here)
May I repeat it? One out of two recent college graduates is unemployed or working in a job that does not require a degree.
Disable university to enable knowledge building and sharing – our kids deserve more than academics.
Prisoner sleeping quarters, photograph by Zoriah.
Theodor W. Adorno’s popular “No poetry after Auschwitz” fortunately made its time. We not only kept poetry on our side but we also did it (and we’ll keep on doing it) with all the rest of cultural expressions – which is Adorno’s meaning for “poetry”. In front of Auschwitz, where literally the entire world stood terrorized 68 years ago, one may think culture is totally useless, but it is not. Culture is the only tool we can use to face the unintelligible sides of human beings, in spite of hideous culture’s ability to endlessly rebuild Auschwitz pre-requisites. Humans can generate evil; but humans can also understand evil in order to prevent it. We don’t belong to evil, as far as we can decide to defuse it.
It’s our duty not to skip this task: disable revisionism to enable culture.
We no more need the smart ones. Always high, always on, always ready, they can pick up the right choice without any hesitation. And they’ve been providing the wrong answer for years.
There is a beautiful italian word that smart guys ignore (you have to ignore almost anything to be always ready): lungimiranza. This word comes from two latin words, puts together the distance (longe) and the look (mirare) and highlights the relevance of a deep sight. Lungimiranza is linked with planning but provides more than plans. Lungimiranza keeps us closer to questions, forces us to wait, invites us to take our time, to shape the right time for the right move. In the meanwhile, probably, some smart people will have offered several immediate solutions, with a cool wink and an even cooler MBA-like statement. But real meanings and appropriate choices always come from lungimiranza.
Disable reactivity to enable sustainability.
This is why it’s worth following John Horgan’s blog:
“In my last post, I defended mega-pundit Jared Diamond against his critics, especially social scientists who imply that a book may be scholarly or a bestseller but not both. Bullshit. Envy more than genuine scholarly disagreement seems to underpin much of the resentment toward Diamond. Anthropologists and other investigators of human behavior should applaud Diamond, not denigrate him, for showing that popular appeal and scholarly rigor are compatible.”
(rest of the feature is here)
“The medical establishment has become a major threat to health.” If you don’t trust Ivan Illich (Medical Nemesis, 1982) you’d better trust WSJ:
“Medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. But these mistakes go largely unnoticed by the world at large, and the medical community rarely learns from them. The same preventable mistakes are made over and over again, and patients are left in the dark about which hospitals have significantly better (or worse) safety records than their peers.[…] Some 20% to 30% of all medications, tests and procedures are unnecessary, according to research done by medical specialists, surveying their own fields.”
(How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us, Marty Makary, online Wall Street Journal, September 21st 2010)
Still not enough? This comes directly from World Health Organisation’s expert Atul Gawande:
“The robots increased surgical costs massively and have so far improved results only modestly for a few operations, compared with standard laparoscopy. Nonetheless, hospitals in the United States and abroad have spent billions of dollars on them. […] Without question, technology can increase our capabilities. But there is much that technology cannot do: deal with unpredictable, manage uncertainty, construct a soaring building, performing a lifesaving operation. In many ways, technology has complicated these matters. It has added yet another element of complexity to the systems we depend on and given us entirely new kinds of failure to contend with.”
(The checklist manifesto, Atul Gawande, 2009)
And fot the italian readers, here is a great book on the topic: