Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: / Teaching / Society / Civilization /

Civilization versus Learning

Mission: to stress the incompatibility between genuine learning and advance scheduling

The farmer must know when to sow, the farmer must also know when to harvest. The factory manager must know when to order the widgets. The school cafeteria must know when lunch must be ready. When Britain sent TE Lawrence among the Bedouins, did they also book his return flight? tick off a list of what he must learn from the Bedouin by Friday? No: what Lawrence was doing was too important to be scheduled: and the British crown/military/diplomatic-corps knew it.

When we sent Roosevelt to talk to Stalin did we tell him precisely what must be accomplished by what precise minutes on the clock? If we thought we knew what was possible we might have, but truth is: we didn’t know what Roosevelt could accomplish with Stalin. Roosevelt carried with him hopes, plans, alternate scenarios, but the only thing precisely scheduled was when his valet would awaken him, when his train left …

Here’s a tack from another angle: I’ve already repeated the example I heard on the radio of why science can’t be planned, even by the best scientists: The nineteenth century had a lighting problem: too many lights, too many more wanted, too little whale oil: whale blubber diminishing, harder to come by. The nineteenth century spent a great deal of time worrying about whales and whale hunting. The nineteenth century spent zero time looking over Faraday’s shoulder: but it was Faraday who made key discoveries about electricity: and solved our lighting problems (at least temporarily).

Uh, did any bureaucrats pester Edison about when his light bulb would be ready? (Actually, I bet some did.)

I’ve already told the story of my first voting experience, age eighteen. The candidate I planned to support was on the ballot, indeed was the favorite; but I wanted to “write him in”; not make a programmed selection. I believed that my preference was more philosophical, more democratic … I finally found the write-in feature of the voting machine: it was in the forward upper left hand corner of the machine’s ceiling: it was too narrow to be penetrated easily by the pencil provided, that pencil was on too short a lanyard, and the space provided by the writing slot permitted a maximum of perhaps three letters. I could vote for “God,” for “dog,” for “me” … but not for any normal length name.

Must have been 1956, but do I dare confess who it was I wanted to write in? I’m so embarrassed. Eleven letters, a familiar name in politics.

I have yet to fill in important details on getting assaulted in the late nineties. My experience implicated not only the assaulter, but my landlord, my neighbors, the police, the court system … My lawyer told me that trial shouldn’t last more than an hour or two: for one thing, the jury wouldn’t have patience for more. (Of course not: they’re trained by TV commercials, TV programing, by fifty minute class rooms … ) Tell you what Newton: think about the moon falling toward the earth for fifty minutes: then we’ll tune in Disney.

The kleptocracy knows not to interrupt Napoleon; but schedules the private down to how long he may have to poop. And the kleptocracy expects its “scientists” to be privates, not Napoleons.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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