Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin/Galway, Ireland. 27, history graduate & human rights student
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Jun 13
Permalink
thejogging:

RIOT SHIELD WITH COMPLEX MATHEMATICAL EQUATION USED IN FINANCIAL MARKETS CONTAINING DERIVATIVE INVESTMENT INSTRUMENTS, 2012
Sculpture
~

I like this because it’s thought-provoking, but in an unexpected way. They’re always talked about, but I’ve never actually seen one of the ‘complex mathematical equations’ used in the financial markets before. And sure, it looks complicated* - and I’ve no idea what it means, or what any of the four variables R, p, l and H stand for - but it looks quite normal compared to other mathematical equations I’ve seen in other (actual) branches of science. So in appearance at least it’s not really that mystical, in fact it’s as familiar as anything else from physics or pure mathematics - probably the plastic that makes up the riot shield itself has a long and complicated-looking chemical equation describing its production. Which points to a certain element of anti-intellectualism in laying the blame for the financial crash on ‘exotic instruments’ and these incomprehensible mathematics - I’m sure on a practical level there’s a lot of truth to that, it’s difficult to manage and assess what you can’t understand, but it’s when it’s taken from that kind of insider critique to a generalised statement of criticism that I wonder.
I guess you could say Oppenheimer and those working on the atomic bomb did understand what they were doing in a technical and physical sense, although they were more ambivalent about its human and political consequences, and these mad wizards of financial trading are more blindly destructive, in a less horrendous but perhaps more socially pervasive manner; but I’m suspicious of the idea that we should be fearful of science and knowledge itself rather than the means of controlling and implementing such (although, to go a little Foucauldian, those two can’t be wholly separated). Or maybe it’s just that economics is, and always will be, the ‘dismal science’ - although ironically that name** was given, not simply because it attempts to elevate complicated empirical judgements in social science to determinative mathematical theory, but because it was felt that it predicted the unsustainability of human population growth.
Which prediction, by Malthus, was rendered null by technological advancement - at least until now, where the return of environmental pressures have undermined not only the economic ideal of limitless economic growth, but also brought into question the capacity of the planet to sustain the associated and interlinked human population growth. I don’t think it’s right or even possible that mathematical equations will solely decide the limits of human aspiration, but a new political economy will have to be formed for a sustainable world, and the revolution will include complicated mathematics.
*complex, as I understand it, is simply to mean containing multiple parts, while complicated more accurately (and subjectively) implies difficulty of understanding
**apparently as opposed to ‘The Gay Science’, which makes me feel bad for not having read Nietzsche yet.

thejogging:

RIOT SHIELD WITH COMPLEX MATHEMATICAL EQUATION USED IN FINANCIAL MARKETS CONTAINING DERIVATIVE INVESTMENT INSTRUMENTS, 2012


Sculpture

~

I like this because it’s thought-provoking, but in an unexpected way. They’re always talked about, but I’ve never actually seen one of the ‘complex mathematical equations’ used in the financial markets before. And sure, it looks complicated* - and I’ve no idea what it means, or what any of the four variables R, p, l and stand for - but it looks quite normal compared to other mathematical equations I’ve seen in other (actual) branches of science. So in appearance at least it’s not really that mystical, in fact it’s as familiar as anything else from physics or pure mathematics - probably the plastic that makes up the riot shield itself has a long and complicated-looking chemical equation describing its production. Which points to a certain element of anti-intellectualism in laying the blame for the financial crash on ‘exotic instruments’ and these incomprehensible mathematics - I’m sure on a practical level there’s a lot of truth to that, it’s difficult to manage and assess what you can’t understand, but it’s when it’s taken from that kind of insider critique to a generalised statement of criticism that I wonder.

I guess you could say Oppenheimer and those working on the atomic bomb did understand what they were doing in a technical and physical sense, although they were more ambivalent about its human and political consequences, and these mad wizards of financial trading are more blindly destructive, in a less horrendous but perhaps more socially pervasive manner; but I’m suspicious of the idea that we should be fearful of science and knowledge itself rather than the means of controlling and implementing such (although, to go a little Foucauldian, those two can’t be wholly separated). Or maybe it’s just that economics is, and always will be, the ‘dismal science’ - although ironically that name** was given, not simply because it attempts to elevate complicated empirical judgements in social science to determinative mathematical theory, but because it was felt that it predicted the unsustainability of human population growth.

Which prediction, by Malthus, was rendered null by technological advancement - at least until now, where the return of environmental pressures have undermined not only the economic ideal of limitless economic growth, but also brought into question the capacity of the planet to sustain the associated and interlinked human population growth. I don’t think it’s right or even possible that mathematical equations will solely decide the limits of human aspiration, but a new political economy will have to be formed for a sustainable world, and the revolution will include complicated mathematics.

*complex, as I understand it, is simply to mean containing multiple parts, while complicated more accurately (and subjectively) implies difficulty of understanding

**apparently as opposed to ‘The Gay Science’, which makes me feel bad for not having read Nietzsche yet.

(via raptoravatar)

economics politics art submission
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Apr 05
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thesefewpresidents:

fyeahhistorymajorheraldicbeast:

I was in my American History Two class and we were talking about how Alaska and Hawaii became a part of the United States. The Professor mentioned that Hawaii was annexed, and that Japan was looking to expand their territory as well. Some kid who sits behind me then asks if that’s why we bombed them. Referring to the bombs that ended WWII.
My tumblr.

Well, I mean, long term…

indeed, there is such a thing as longue durée history… when I saw this my first thought was that the student thought Pearl Harbour was the Americans bombing the Japanese in Hawaii, not the other way round. and the year didn’t really come into my head, to be honest, whether it was 1941 or 1945.
the (late 19th century) history of Hawaii is pretty interesting, actually. as both Japan and the United States were growing powers, there was a lot of interest in the Pacific region - and it was at least partially to counter the Japanese influence that the US formally annexed Hawaii, which had up until then been a locally governed area (although controlled by Americans, who lobbied for annexation).
but having Manifest Destiny’d their way across the continent of America, and forgotten most of their 18th century anti-imperial origins, the high-water mark of overt American imperialism was their involvement in the Philippines at around the same time - while Hawaii would become part of the United States (in 1959), occupying a substantial part of South-East Asia on a long-term basis was considered to be too much… at least for the next half-century or so

thesefewpresidents:

fyeahhistorymajorheraldicbeast:

I was in my American History Two class and we were talking about how Alaska and Hawaii became a part of the United States. The Professor mentioned that Hawaii was annexed, and that Japan was looking to expand their territory as well. Some kid who sits behind me then asks if that’s why we bombed them. Referring to the bombs that ended WWII.

My tumblr.

Well, I mean, long term

indeed, there is such a thing as longue durée history… when I saw this my first thought was that the student thought Pearl Harbour was the Americans bombing the Japanese in Hawaii, not the other way round. and the year didn’t really come into my head, to be honest, whether it was 1941 or 1945.

the (late 19th century) history of Hawaii is pretty interesting, actually. as both Japan and the United States were growing powers, there was a lot of interest in the Pacific region - and it was at least partially to counter the Japanese influence that the US formally annexed Hawaii, which had up until then been a locally governed area (although controlled by Americans, who lobbied for annexation).

but having Manifest Destiny’d their way across the continent of America, and forgotten most of their 18th century anti-imperial origins, the high-water mark of overt American imperialism was their involvement in the Philippines at around the same time - while Hawaii would become part of the United States (in 1959), occupying a substantial part of South-East Asia on a long-term basis was considered to be too much… at least for the next half-century or so

(Source: )

history
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Mar 28
Permalink

thesefewpresidents:

hardcorefornerds:

thesefewpresidents:

fyeahhistorymajorheraldicbeast:

[…]

Also, it happened in the 1840s.

hey guys, there actually was an Irish Famine in 1740 (which I knew about, cos it’s the reason why there’s an obelisk on Killiney Hill, as an early form of workfare*) but it also involved potatoes (which I didn’t know). It wasn’t blight, just cold weather, but it had a similar efect as potatoes were a staple foodcrop.

*the inscription on it reads: “Last year being hard with the poor, walks about these hills and this were erected by John Mapas, June 1742.” No more than 100 years later, there was little or no concept of giving relief on a grand scale without requiring work in return; though distasteful as it may seem, relief works were a private form of public works to create employment when the normal economic means of sustenance were failing - we may have the welfare state today, but we have a political culture anathema to the idea of public works. 

That’s actually something I’ve wondered about the famine relief projects - were they more comparable to workfare (which I think is the usual assumption) or to Keynsianism? I’ve always avoided Irish history though (shit bores me to fucking tears) so the only basis I really have is from secondary school.

Anyway yes an anonymous person also pointed that out to me about the 1740 famine in an ask, but while it’s a fair point, I kind of doubt that that is the one the person who made this meme had in mind (even if they looked up the dates of the Great Famine and stumbled across this one somehow).

[…]

That’s a very interesting question [puts on a lecturer voice]. I mean, on the one hand Keynesianism is different because it starts with the assumption of some level of social insurance/protection (as would have existed in Britain and the advanced economies of Europe from the early 20th century) so it’s about creating employment and demand in the economy, rather than just giving people enough food to stay alive. On the other hand though, and this was what I found interesting in dissecting the whole ‘Trevalyn’s corn’ aspect of Irish Famine history, the attitude amongst the Whigs in the initial response to the famine was an ideological one - liberal in the economic and philosophical sense - that can be traced to today’s anti-Keynesianism, regarding any state interference in the market as injurious to the ‘invisible hand’.

That said, the stronger impetus in dealing with the need for assistance was an older, more moralistic one that created the ‘workhouses’ for poor relief - so relief works in the 1740s as in the 1840s would be a continuation of that, and I’d say also continuing into today’s notion of ‘workfare’ and anyone who says the unemployed should ‘work’ in an involuntary way for their benefits, rather than the conditions being created for full employment. When the Tories took power in the later years of the Great Famine, their conservatism was a less ideological mix of callousness and inadequate compassion, but the outcome was essentially the same: what needed to be done - transfers of massive amounts of food from the wealthy Empire - wasn’t.

It’s not totally fair to blame the British elite for that, however: the conception of doing so didn’t really exist as it does today, and I’m not sure the infrastructure or even the spare capacity (given that this is still only the mid-19th century, with plenty of technological advances in agriculture and transportation still to be made) was there either. Of course, it would have been a great imperial achievement, and one we would ought to be grateful for still today, if such a feat had been accomplished and a massive famine not even on Britain’s doorstep, but in its annexed guest-room, had been prevented - but as a state it was unwilling or unable to do so.

And what if it had been done? We couldn’t be reliant on food imports, certainly not without any native industry to pay for them, and the much larger population was only supportable by the potato anyway, so it’s a massive counter-factual to try and substitute the response we may have liked to have seen to the Famine for the one that was politically and technically contextual for the time. 

(Source: )

irish history
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thesefewpresidents:

fyeahhistorymajorheraldicbeast:

Not exactly the History Heraldic Beast, but I thought I’d share this anyway.

Unlike Chloe, I tend not to get quite as annoyed about misconceptions and stereotypes about Irish people. However, one thing that really pisses me off, beyond all reason, is when Americans referto the Great Famine as the ‘Potato Famine’ (you will pretty much never hear an Irish person call it this).
I don’t know, it just seems like people think it was this silly event where the potato crop failed and Irish people got a bit upset, because oh no! The potatoes! What will we eat with our corned beef and cabbage now?
Whereas, you know, the potato crop failed (several years in a row) and Ireland’s population is still lower than it was before this happened, 150 years later, because potatoes were all anyone had to eat. It was a real fucking famine, guys. Irish peasant farmers had been pushed onto marginal land where potatoes were the only viable crop, and when disease caused the crop to fail, they were left to starve, with a completely inadequate response from the government of the UK.
It’s not some huge issue in Irish society anymore, lest any dickhead use it to compare Irish people to people who do continue to suffer from racism and (neo-)colonialism, but still, calling it the Potato Famine really annoys me. It was a famine. There was no food. It was not The Great Whiskey and Guinness Shortage of 1902. A million people died.
Also, it happened in the 1840s.

I’m confused by these kind of memes. Is it possible that Dwight from the US Paper Office (see what did there?) actually said this in an episode, or is it just the kind of thing people imagine the character would say? Either way it makes sense because it’s exactly the right kind of assertion that’s factually wrong it at least one way and kinda annoying in another.
Not that I’ve ever felt able to really object to ‘Irish Potato Famine’ because we just call it the Famine, or the Great Famine (Irish: An Gorta Mór, literally the Big Hunger/Famine) and it would be pretty self-centred to expect anyone else to call it that outside of Ireland - especially considering that famines continued to happen all over the world. Like, you need some kind of identifying feature beyond, maybe, just the Irish Famine of 1845-52 - and potatoes are obviously the part that stick in people’s minds, and they were the key factor.
I’ve never considered that people would think it was just an absence of one portion of the diet at the time, because people know what the word ‘famine’ means, right? (Actually, when I was studying this in college we had discussions in our tutorials as to what level of starvation and/or crop failure actually constituted a famine and over what area and duration, until I just wanted to stop thinking about it) It’s not just that the population in general were unusually reliant on one food crop, but it was the cheapest crop, that grew best in the poorest soils and thus the food that the poorest people were reliant on.
I was watching the BBC-produced Feargal Keane documentary The Story of Ireland recently, on the section covering the Famine, and I was reminded of just how powerful a historical image it can present - as distinct from studying it in an assumption-challenging, questioning and somewhat revisionist way at university. The essentially true line about it removing an entire class of people from Ireland - agricultural labourers, less secure than tenant farmers, and who made up most of the pre-Famine population - is always shocking to hear. The flip-side of it, if there is one, is that Ireland was over-populated by 19th century standards, and the versatility of the potato (with the fatal flaw, common to any monocultural agricultural system even today, of susceptibility to disease) enabled that over-population - arguably it was a disaster waiting to happen. Yet that it did happen, in the way that it did, is a Problem Beyond The Potato - and in that sense I think I’m most uncomfortable with British people, not Americans, using the phrase the Potato Famine - why not the Centrally Imposed Lack of Assistance Famine? (doesn’t roll off the tongue, I know.) While the Famine is now seen as something solely affecting the Irish nation, it was a responsibility of the British state - not that the ideology of the age admitted this - at the time, and as such is part of British history too.
The removal of an entire class of people (albeit in a large part through emigration, not death, but this is exactly why the two are so closely connected in the Irish mindset) is tantamount to genocide in a way not dissimilar from the larger famines surrounding collectivization in the Soviet Union in the 1930s (the existence of which as a consequence and even intent of Stalinist planning supposedly being the reason why ‘genocide’ was defined after the Second World War with reference to religious and ethnic groupings but not economic, social or political ones). It’s a bold claim, but is what Stalin did to the kulaks really much different in kind - if not overt intent or degree - to what the laissez-faire economics, the origin of economic liberalism, and distaste for the lower orders of Irish society, of the English governing class in the mid-19th century did to that segment of the Irish? Not to mention reshaping Ireland from a populous but potentially radical peasant country into a smaller nation of smaller conservative farmers - the re-kulakisation of Ireland, as it were - with huge consequences for our political trajectory ever since. Ultimately it’s about a lot more than potatoes: it’s about a social famine within the Union of what was then the wealthiest imperial power in the world, Great Britain. 
(also, on the ideas of potatoes betraying people, well the above ought to show that it’s more about people betraying other people with potatoes as an essentially innocent mechanism - but there was this odd opinion piece in the Irish Times this week, 'Use the C-word all you want: they're still GM potatoes' in which the c-word is not what one would normally expect in Ireland, but ‘cisgenetic’ - apparently also misleadingly so) 

thesefewpresidents:

fyeahhistorymajorheraldicbeast:

Not exactly the History Heraldic Beast, but I thought I’d share this anyway.

Unlike Chloe, I tend not to get quite as annoyed about misconceptions and stereotypes about Irish people. However, one thing that really pisses me off, beyond all reason, is when Americans referto the Great Famine as the ‘Potato Famine’ (you will pretty much never hear an Irish person call it this).

I don’t know, it just seems like people think it was this silly event where the potato crop failed and Irish people got a bit upset, because oh no! The potatoes! What will we eat with our corned beef and cabbage now?

Whereas, you know, the potato crop failed (several years in a row) and Ireland’s population is still lower than it was before this happened, 150 years later, because potatoes were all anyone had to eat. It was a real fucking famine, guys. Irish peasant farmers had been pushed onto marginal land where potatoes were the only viable crop, and when disease caused the crop to fail, they were left to starve, with a completely inadequate response from the government of the UK.

It’s not some huge issue in Irish society anymore, lest any dickhead use it to compare Irish people to people who do continue to suffer from racism and (neo-)colonialism, but still, calling it the Potato Famine really annoys me. It was a famine. There was no food. It was not The Great Whiskey and Guinness Shortage of 1902. A million people died.

Also, it happened in the 1840s.

I’m confused by these kind of memes. Is it possible that Dwight from the US Paper Office (see what did there?) actually said this in an episode, or is it just the kind of thing people imagine the character would say? Either way it makes sense because it’s exactly the right kind of assertion that’s factually wrong it at least one way and kinda annoying in another.

Not that I’ve ever felt able to really object to ‘Irish Potato Famine’ because we just call it the Famine, or the Great Famine (Irish: An Gorta Mór, literally the Big Hunger/Famine) and it would be pretty self-centred to expect anyone else to call it that outside of Ireland - especially considering that famines continued to happen all over the world. Like, you need some kind of identifying feature beyond, maybe, just the Irish Famine of 1845-52 - and potatoes are obviously the part that stick in people’s minds, and they were the key factor.

I’ve never considered that people would think it was just an absence of one portion of the diet at the time, because people know what the word ‘famine’ means, right? (Actually, when I was studying this in college we had discussions in our tutorials as to what level of starvation and/or crop failure actually constituted a famine and over what area and duration, until I just wanted to stop thinking about it) It’s not just that the population in general were unusually reliant on one food crop, but it was the cheapest crop, that grew best in the poorest soils and thus the food that the poorest people were reliant on.

I was watching the BBC-produced Feargal Keane documentary The Story of Ireland recently, on the section covering the Famine, and I was reminded of just how powerful a historical image it can present - as distinct from studying it in an assumption-challenging, questioning and somewhat revisionist way at university. The essentially true line about it removing an entire class of people from Ireland - agricultural labourers, less secure than tenant farmers, and who made up most of the pre-Famine population - is always shocking to hear. The flip-side of it, if there is one, is that Ireland was over-populated by 19th century standards, and the versatility of the potato (with the fatal flaw, common to any monocultural agricultural system even today, of susceptibility to disease) enabled that over-population - arguably it was a disaster waiting to happen. Yet that it did happen, in the way that it did, is a Problem Beyond The Potato - and in that sense I think I’m most uncomfortable with British people, not Americans, using the phrase the Potato Famine - why not the Centrally Imposed Lack of Assistance Famine? (doesn’t roll off the tongue, I know.) While the Famine is now seen as something solely affecting the Irish nation, it was a responsibility of the British state - not that the ideology of the age admitted this - at the time, and as such is part of British history too.

The removal of an entire class of people (albeit in a large part through emigration, not death, but this is exactly why the two are so closely connected in the Irish mindset) is tantamount to genocide in a way not dissimilar from the larger famines surrounding collectivization in the Soviet Union in the 1930s (the existence of which as a consequence and even intent of Stalinist planning supposedly being the reason why ‘genocide’ was defined after the Second World War with reference to religious and ethnic groupings but not economic, social or political ones). It’s a bold claim, but is what Stalin did to the kulaks really much different in kind - if not overt intent or degree - to what the laissez-faire economics, the origin of economic liberalism, and distaste for the lower orders of Irish society, of the English governing class in the mid-19th century did to that segment of the Irish? Not to mention reshaping Ireland from a populous but potentially radical peasant country into a smaller nation of smaller conservative farmers - the re-kulakisation of Ireland, as it were - with huge consequences for our political trajectory ever since. Ultimately it’s about a lot more than potatoes: it’s about a social famine within the Union of what was then the wealthiest imperial power in the world, Great Britain. 

(also, on the ideas of potatoes betraying people, well the above ought to show that it’s more about people betraying other people with potatoes as an essentially innocent mechanism - but there was this odd opinion piece in the Irish Times this week, 'Use the C-word all you want: they're still GM potatoes' in which the c-word is not what one would normally expect in Ireland, but ‘cisgenetic’ - apparently also misleadingly so) 

(Source: )

history irish
Comments (View) | 1,185 notes