this is someone who gives a shit

(tap tap tap)

"would you all please remain seated please, i've yet to turn the seat belt signs off."

it was the penultimate economic history lecture today, and the last one with new material. today was on deindustrialisation, one which i've actually done an essay and presentation on, and without the benefit of what dr leunig's pov would have been. it was good, because i was freed from the constraints from already knowing what the "sensible" view would be, and able to be a little original.

thank god, my views were relatively sensible. formal training in history does inculcate a sort of skepticism (well, as would any formal training in science). more accurately, it perhaps inculcates a strong sense of conservatism. "things haven't changed in the past 500/1000/million years, the human race is still here, so why should they?" taking the long view of things usually means little aberrations are not viewed with the overexuberance which accompanies the reporting of daily events. so, don't ring the alarm bells just because manufacturing employment is falling, it's just structural change, and just because my 3 year old daughter isn't growing as fast as other girls doesn't mean she's not growing.

"the plane is taxi-ing along the runway now. on behalf of the staff and crew at the lse economic history department, i woud like to thank you for flying EH. if you do fly enough courses with us, you get a BA frequent flyer piece of paper, still more, maybe an MSc and Phd. And we do hope you'll fly again with us soon. This plane has 2 exits, one on the left and another on the right."

we were of course guinea pigs at U8, this new lecture theatre at Tower One. But he gave a shit from the moment he stepped in. Does everyone have visible sightlines? Can everyone hear me? Just so that I can feedback to the powers that be on how good (or bad) this room really is. Going through the topic with characteristic animation, picking up the mouse to prove that it was made in china and going on about �4.25 keyboards (shipping included). Slipping in subtle jokes about S&M (i.e. services dominate manufacturing) ("thank god someone got the joke, i put in a lot of effort you know!"). haha. i could go to war with him.

but he ended on a relatively more serious note today. he did ask that one day when we got our relatively higher paying jobs, in which we'd learn more in the first 2 weeks than he ever would as a lecturer (aaah, characteristic modesty) and if we felt at all in any way that it was attributable to our education here as lse, that we should donate �10 a month, or whatever amount we won't notice. if that happens to be �10 million, well then the library gets named after you (someone apparently offered �5 million, but the school is holding out for 10). that way the eh dept would be good for �1 million a year, maybe for more studentships, or to hire more talented lecturers, or to sponsor more research. it's especially poignant because eh is hardly the most popular subject in the world now. it happens to be fine in lse because the year one course is run with such verve and maybe it is making a comeback in other schools, but it is increasingly under pressure from more quantitative approaches to the subject. in fact, that's how my cambridge economic history of modern britain began:

"in their gloomier moments, academics are prone to predict the demise of their subject. as the tastes of students change, as the economy waxes and wanes, and the number of academic subjects fluctuates and the average age of academics increases, so it is easy to discern a long-term decline in the attractiveness of any subject.

economic historians, above all, ought to be wary of such speculation. after all, if there is one single thing which is taught by study of the subject, it is that change is continuous and usually slow. 'change is at the margin', it proceeds by tiny increments or decrements and the end, or even the direction, is rarely to be seen by those living through them. but change is always with us, a lesson that should be learnt particularly by those eminent economic commentators who, at each stage of the business cycle, confidently predict that that stage, whether by boom or bust, will go on forever. but it must be learned also by those who predict that an academic subject is in terminal decline."

yes. we at lse probably need more funding. despite the amounts we pay for education (or is paid on our behalf), we are increasingly having to compete with universities with far greater histories and endowments for the best lecturers and students, and as state funding decreases, this is going to have to come from alumni donations. so mental note. if there's one thing us universities do well, it's with branding and commanding loyalty. and so it must be this way as well. so the next time i bitch about why the rooms are so shoddy, i must remember that they can be made less shoddy.

i was a bit down earlier in the day, but after writing through this yeah logically it makes sense. "i won't be blue always." things change. sometimes i look at the lecturer who sees the connections, sees the metaphor of the plane and the lecture theatre, and the more easily swayed part of me (the part that likes to curl up in bed with a book) thinks how wonderful, but the skeptic goes yeah so what's the point. as mm lee said "i think history is useful insofar as it serves as a guide to the future" (i need to verify this, it's from memory and i don't want to misquote the man) maybe there really isn't a need to study or to think anything more. and maybe it would really be more useful for me to walk to the devil and strike a faustian bargain: "ok el diablo, here's the deal. you can have my thoughts, my intelligence, whatever. could you just give me good results for the coming lse exam. oh and while you're at it it wouldn't be too inconvenient just to give me the charm of the devil, you know, for the chicks and stuff. and in case that doesn't work, why don't you just give me a packet of happiness. something like prozac. even a bundle of joy maybe."

but there is no faust, and there is maybe no devil. so what's left is only perhaps discipline, and if you're willing to allow more fuzzy concepts in, words like "inspiration" and "motivation." yet at the same time, i'm really glad some people just see the absurdity in day to day life, and are willing to laugh at it. and bundles of joy come in difficult personlike packages which make you unhappy every once in a while because they refuse to conform to the little cages you place on them. (why did she react like that? well she's a person you know). so you ask, okay, exams are here, you speak of discipline and blah blah so why the hell are you writing on your blog. haha, ok i give myself some time every day then. a little exorcism perhaps before the preparation for war=).

"one more cup of coffee for the road,
one more cup of coffee 'fore i go
to the valley below"

ok. so the world just "is", there is nothing in the air except atoms, and no trees do not have a life when you personify them, they just have leaves. and stop telling everyone what they feel. (or what you do, for that matter). no more links are required, no invisible lines of metaphor, and the human race will go on. there is not secret spirit that dances in the air or makes the surroundings move with a beautiful intensity.

as galileo whispered under his breath as the church told him what to say : "eppur si muove" "but it does move."

emotional release over, study time!

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