About globalisation

There are numerous protests about Trump. I was impressed by Michael Moore's call to action on his Facebook page --  creative dissent at its best and a template for the organizing of any other  kind of public protest. (From the Huffington Post)

Do These 10 Things, and Trump Will Be Toast

10-POINT ACTION PLAN TO STOP TRUMP

1. THE DAILY CALL: You must call Congress every day. Yes - YOU! 202-225-3121. It will take just TWO MINUTES! Make it part of your daily routine, one of those five things you do every morning without even thinking about it:

1. Wake up.

2. Brush teeth.

3. Walk dog (or stare at cat).

4. Make coffee.

5. Call Congress.

It is impossible to overstate just how much power you have by making this simple, quick DAILY CALL. I know from firsthand experience the impact it has. These politicians freak out if they get just 10 calls on an issue. Imagine them getting 10,000! Holy crap - the dome will pop off that building!

NOTE: if you're saying to yourself, "I don't need to call because my rep is a Democrat!" -- that is NOT true. They need to hear from you. They need to know they have your support. Don't believe it? Our beloved Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted in favor of Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development! I'm sure no one in Massachusetts thought they had to call her. YOU DO! She and the other Dems need to hear from the boss -- YOU! They work for us - and what boss doesn't have daily contact with his or her employees?

It's easy to make The Daily Call. To call your U.S. member of Congress or Senators in D.C., dial 202-225-3121 (or 202-224-3121 if busy). It's even better to call their direct line. For Senators, find each of their numbers here: http://bit.ly/2kko0Ao. For the direct line to your member in the House of Representatives: http://house.gov/representatives

Here’s some great news: Someone has created an app to make this very easy: Go to the App Store and get "5 Calls". The app will dial the friggin' phone for you and give you talking points for when you speak to your reps!

Here's what a sample week of your DAILY CALL can look like:

On Monday, call your Congressman/woman and tell them you do not want them to repeal Obamacare. In fact, you want them to improve it so that we have single-payer universal health care like all other "civilized" countries.

On Tuesday, call the first of your two U.S. Senators and tell him to vote NO on Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy. He couldn't even remember there was a Department of Energy - or what it did!

On Wednesday, call your other U.S. Senator. Demand she do everything in her power to block the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Thursday, call your local State House/Assembly representative in your state capital. Tell her you want the House to vote for legislation that prohibits the incarceration of nonviolent drug users.

On Friday, call your State Senator. Tell him you want him to support all efforts to reduce those activities which cause climate change.

If you’d rather to write to your reps, you can find the best way to do that for each of them here by typing in your address on: democracy.io.

I will post updates on the actions we're fighting for each day and week on my Twitter and Facebook pages. If you want to know what to call your reps about, I encourage you to follow me right now on Facebook at facebook.com/MMFlint and on Twitter at @MMFlint. All my social media sites are at my website www.michaelmoore.com.

Remember -- A call a day keeps the Trump away.

2. THE MONTHLY VISIT: To add even more pressure, SHOW UP! Your member of Congress has a local office in your town or somewhere nearby. So do both of your U.S. Senators (often in the nearest federal building). Go there and ask to speak to their aide about the issues we're facing (again, I will continually post them on my social media sites).

Also, don't forget to visit the local office (or the state capitol office) of your State Representative/Assemblyperson, and your State Senator.

And, if you're lucky to live within driving distance of Washington, DC, show up on Capitol Hill and pay an unannounced (it's legal!) in-person visit to your U.S. Senators and your Congressman/woman. They pay serious attention to this. It blows their mind that you'd drive that far to see them. Do it!

I know not everyone has the time to do THE MONTHLY VISIT -- but if you can, please do!

3. YOUR OWN PERSONAL RAPID RESPONSE TEAM: You and 5 to 20 friends and family members must become your personal RAPID RESPONSE TEAM. Sign everybody up so that when we need to leap into action (like we did at the airports the hour after Trump signed his Muslim Ban), you can email and text each other and make an instant plan. On other days, you'll share links to good investigative stories and TV news items. Come up with a name for your RAPID RESPONSE TEAM -- mine is called "The V for Vendetta Rapid Response Team" and it consists of myself, my daughter and son-in-law (and their new baby!); my two sisters, their spouses and adult children; my cousin; 8 friends; 6 co-workers; and my next door neighbor. That's 27 of us and we live from Seattle to Michigan to Maryland. And each of them are forming their own local Rapid Response Teams. So that means the 27 on my team are so far responsible 405 new Rapid Responders overnight! And each of those 405 are doing the same - they're recruiting their own 5-20 people - and BOOM! 4,050 more Rapid Responders tomorrow -- and growing!

4. JOIN! JOIN! JOIN!: We all know it's time for all of us to be part of a greater whole, so let's actually physically sign up online and JOIN some of our great national groups. I've joined Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists of America, and ERA Action. Some charge money to join, so if you don't have much, pick the lowest amount ($5 for ACLU for example) -- or join groups that don't charge anything (but if you can help them financially, please do). They will keep you informed of national actions and fight for us in court.

5. THE WOMEN'S MARCH NEVER ENDS: The historical, record-breaking January 21st Women’s March on Washington -- and the hundreds of other Marches that day across the US and the world, with over 4 million in attendance! -- brought massive numbers of people out who had never protested in their lives. It inspired millions of others and ignited so many local movements we still can't count them all. The day after the Women's March, another two dozen protests took place. The day after that, 2,000 Utahans jammed into their state capitol in Salt Lake City. Then, on the following Saturday, tens of thousands of Americans occupied their local airports to oppose Trump's Muslim ban. And on and on and on. Every day -- still! -- dozens of actions continue to take place as if the Women's March never ended. It hasn't. Join it!

I and a group of friends have set up THE RESISTANCE CALENDAR (www.resistancecalendar.com) that is updated daily, where you can find out what actions are taking place near where you live. All you have to do is type in your city or state in the search bar.

It's critical that large numbers of us continue to march, protest, sit-in, and be very visible -- to Trump, so he knows we are the majority; to put the Dems on notice that we expect them to grow a spine; to our fellow Americans who live in Boise or Tulsa or Grand Rapids and have been feeling alone and afraid since the election. Our mass presence reminds them the people didn't elect Trump. And it is good for each of us to operate in concert with each other, to feel the solidarity and the hope.

And the official Women's March on Washington -- they've called for a national Women's Strike on March 8th. Let's join them!

6. TAKE OVER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The old guard of the Party has twice in 16 years presided over the majority of Americans electing the Democrat to the White House -- only for us all to see the losing Republican inaugurated as President. How is it that we have won the popular vote in SIX OF THE LAST SEVEN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS -- the Republicans have only won ONCE since 1988 -- and yet, we hold NO power in any branch of government?! That, plus losing 1,000 local seats in this election that the Dems use to hold -- plus watching many Dems in Congress unwilling to stand up to Trump -- PLEASE, the old leadership has to go. God love 'em for their contributions in the past, but if we don't enact a radical overhaul right now, we are doomed as far as having a true opposition party during the Trump era. And that, more than anything, will help to usher in the vice-grip of a totalitarian culture.

You must do two things:

1. Let the DNC know that THIS SATURDAY, February 25th, the Democratic National Committee MUST elect reform and progressive candidate, Congressman Keith Ellison, as the new DNC chair. Keith is a former community organizer, the first Muslim elected to Congress, and a key backer of Bernie Sanders. He not only has Bernie's support --and mine--but he's also backed by Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Gloria Steinem, John Lewis and many others. Sign his petition of support at www.keithfordnc.org/howyoucanhelp. Let the DNC know how you feel.

And locally, you need to start attending your county Democratic meetings. If possible, organize your friends and others and take over your local Dem organization. More on this at a later date.

7. HELP FORM BLUE REGIONS OF RESISTANCE: People keep saying to me, "Mike - I live in a Blue State - what can I do?" If you live in a Blue State, you have one of the MOST important tasks to complete: Show the rest of America what it looks like when Trump isn't in charge! Blue States and Blue Cities must do an end-run around Trump and create the America we want to live in. That means New York goes ahead and offers Free College for All. California can create its own Universal Health Care. Oregon can stop mass incarceration of African Americans. Hawaii can enact its own climate change laws. Blue States can show the rest of country how much better life can be. Important historical note: Before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, California and New York passed their own state laws to make it legal. This greatly helped pave the way for CHOICE being the new normal -- and the enactment of Row v. Wade.

8. YOU MUST RUN FOR OFFICE: I know, that's the LAST thing you want to do. But if we keep leaving the job up to the dismal, lame, pathetic political hacks who have sold us all down the river, then what right do we have to complain? This is only going to get fixed when you and I decide we are willing to put in our time -- even if it is a brief time -- and run for office. I ran when I was 18 and got elected. You can, too. We need good candidates for the 2018 elections -- and not just Congress and State Houses, but also school boards, city councils and county commissions. Why not take out a petition today and run next year? Heck, I'll bet I'll even support you!

I realize most of you can't do this -- but there is one office every one of us can and SHOULD run for next year: PRECINCT DELEGATE. Every precinct, every neighborhood can elect x-number of Dems to the county Democratic Convention. It's on the ballot and it's usually blank - no one runs for it. So the precinct delegates end up being appointed by the party hacks. And that's who ends up eventually at the national convention to pick the next presidential candidate. So this is an important position to run for. The time commitment is just 3 hours a year! You attend the county convention -- that’s it. Call your city or county clerk and find out how to get on the ballot. If you'll do it, I'll do it. It's the first step to making sure we put a candidate on the ballot who can win.

9. YOU MUST BECOME THE MEDIA: Stop complaining about the media, stop wishing they were something they're not, find the ones who are doing a good job and then start your own "media empire" by sharing their work and your work on the internet. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites to spread news and information. Make sure all your friends and family are signed up. Yes, I'm talking to you, Baby Boomers. Get over it, put down your postage stamps and your "TV clicker" and find a six-year old to show you how to start tweeting. You can be your own reporter, your own editor. You can curate the news for your friends. And now Facebook lets you have your own network with Facebook Live! It's all free. Get on social media now. Imagine, your own CNN is in the palm of your hand...

10. JOIN THE ARMY OF COMEDY: Trump's Achilles heel is his massively thin skin. He can't take mockery. So we all need to MOCK HIM UP! Not just the brilliant people at SNL or Colbert, Seth Myers or Samantha Bee -- but YOU. Use your sense of humor and share it with people. Get them to do the same. Keep sending around the SNL links spoofing Sean Spicer, Trump and Kellyanne -- there's no such thing as watching them too many times! Hahaha. I truly believe the final tipping point for Trump will be when he implodes from all the laughter -- the mocking, the unbearable ridicule of tens of millions of Americans that will discombobulate him and force him out of the White House. I know this seems like Mike’s fever dream, but I believe it can work. I don't know what happened to Trump in boarding school at 13 and I don't care. Whatever it was, let's use it. He's used all the other things he picked up over the years - misogyny, bigotry, greed - against the powerless and the unfortunate. It's time to laugh him outta town. And if there's one thing we all could use right now is a good laugh -- AND the possibility of a much-shortened presidential term.

So, there you go! The 10-Point Action Plan to Thump Trump. Something for everyone. And every one of us needs to do them. Please share this and spread the word. We can stop him. We can nonviolently block and obstruct halt the damage he's doing. But it's going to need -- and take -- ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Let's make Trump toast again.

-- Michael Moore

us-election

Genopolitics is the study of the genetic basis of political behavior and attitudes.

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States could not pass without comment or analysis. The map above tells me that there was something more than politics going on — it is a map of fear. A threat felt by middle-America that the world is changing and that they are being left behind with no jobs and no future. This fear was fanned by Trump into the flight or fight response — a heritable conservative human trait -- hence genopolitics. Do liberals and conservatives think differently or have different brains — the answer is: YES.  (See previous posts: My Genes Made Me Do It).

There is something of a consensus regarding the genetic nature of human traits -- the so-called OCEAN classification -- Openness: (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious Conscientiousness: (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless)  Extraversion: (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)  Agreeableness: (friendly/compassionate vs. analytical/detached)  Neuroticism: (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident).  For more on this, see the previous posting on  Me, Myself and Us by Brian Little. Furthermore, specific studies on the political behavior of twins has shown that political affiliations are significantly influenced by genetics. Settle et al, showed "that heritability accounts for almost half of the variance in strength of partisan attachment, suggesting [that] we should pay closer attention to the role of biology in the expression of important political behaviors". 

What are the candidate genes? A round-up of the usual suspects: monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), the serotonin transporter (5HTT), the dopamine receptors (DRD2) and (DRD4). Using a genome-wide linkage analysis, it will be possible to identify other chromosomal regions associated with political attitudes. In particular, neuroscientific analysis has shown that in Liberal vs Conservative brains, there are differences in their amygdala, the part of the brain that makes emotional responses.  Research has shown that people’s whose basic emotional responses to threats are more pronounced,  develop ring wing opinions.

Liberal vs. Conservative: A Neuroscientific Analysis by Gail Saltz. Watch the first 4 minutes to get the gist of the analysis -- it is 15 minutes long.
 

Finally the Clinton campaign depended on genopolitics of the most fundamental kind — that women would vote for Hillary because they were women.

Ups-Downs-PhDs

The symposium 'Future of Research' was held in Boston in October of this year and once again Paula Stephan recommended that biomedical graduate departments partake in birth control. "We are definitely producing many more PhD's than there is a demand for in research positions." she said.

“The biomedical research system is structured around a large workforce of graduate students and postdocs,” says Michael Teitelbaum, a labour economist at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “  Faculty members rely on cheap PhD students and postdocs because they are trying to get the most science out of stretched grants. Universities, in turn, know that PhD students help faculty members to produce the world-class research on which their reputations rest.

There are cost advantages in having a Postdoc scholar: the low salary and long hours mean that they are less expensive by almost half than graduate students of scientific staff. The hourly rate for postdocs is about US$ 16/hr compared to post-graduate students (US$ 34 - US$ 21/hr) and staff scientists (US$ 30/hr).  In the US, the NIH salary rate for a postdoc was US$ 42,840 in 2015. The other advantages of a postdoc are they have a higher skill than a graduate student and are usually more motivated than a staff scientist.

"Although principal investigators acknowledge the difficulty of securing an academic position, the system worked for them and so it is tempting to tell students that they can do it too — just another experiment, another publication or another year, and you’ll get there." says Julie Gould in the Nature article.


As for my own 'future of research' perspective, in the last 10 years of my academic career I didn't take on any more PhD students. This was partly due to the lack of resources (finances) to train a world-class scientist and also partly to my doing my bit for PhD birth control.

3-worlds-of-work

There is a saying that goes something like: “It is not that our plans had failed but that we had failed to plan.” This applies to the future of work. We seem to be driven down by technology as if we were in the early days of the agricultural or industrial revolution.

There are countless  conferences,  reports,  scenarios - almost every organisation feels compelled to ask:  What is the future of work?  I suggest the report by PricewaterhousCoopers is a good place to start. It offers three different lenses to view how the future might look — the Orange world where small is beautiful, the Blue world where corporate is king and the Green world where  companies care. Click here for the report.

Using constantly improving technology will mean growth but this growth will not mean more jobs — millions will be rendered obsolete. Those that can offer professional services in the digital marketplaces will secure a greater volume of assignments, market themselves, use secure payment systems and vet potential clients. One example is Upwork which connects freelancers with assignments in areas such as software programming, graphic design, marketing and mobile development. It connects some 3.6 million client businesses with more than nine million freelancers from 180 countries. This is a preview of the Orange world where large companies breakdown to a network of smaller collaborative organisations.

In my view:  in the future there will be fewer jobs and many people will not have regular jobs.  Society will need to change so that the increase in productivity of technology benefits us all — as it did in agriculture and modern factories. Instead of the profits of increased productivity going to the <1% at the top, everyone should benefit in the form of an universal living wage. The attitude and value to work would need to change -- work being a privilege, an opportunity to serve the community — a vocation.

For example contrast the attitude to work in Norway and Saudi Arabia — both living from oil.

For the full interview of Tim O'Reilly by Michael Kransy

Accreditation

I think the most important issue about MOOCs is accreditation -- what is the value of a Certificate of Completion? Universities hold the monopoly on issuing degrees. This may not be so important in the future when a student may be able to show a potential employer an online portfolio of courses and work that they have completed which maybe contain a mix of university courses, research carried out, articles published online, MOOC certificates and testimonials from previous employers. This could be on their own website that allows for public scrutiny and authentication.

As I have often said: Everyone should have their own website.

Hype-lifecycleAsking universities to support MOOC’s is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. However the Ivy-league universities and their pretenders may not be the ones that decide if MOOCs will be successful or not.

MOOCs were touted as being a disruptive technology that would change universities for ever and would send some of them to the wall. More hype is being piled on top of the already very large mound and the MOOC balloon is still going up. David Maguire, vice-chancellor of the University of Greenwich describes the hype cycle (click image to enlarge) in the following way (original article published in THE):

Right at the top of the peak of inflated expectations is the concept of “shared services”. The idea that universities can radically reduce the cost of business by simply sharing between them services such as payroll, IT, security and catering is much oversold.

For me, two ideas that are sliding down from their inflated peak are the concepts of “the student experience” and “student engagement”. For some time, we have been exposed to the mantra that students have new rights and expectations as consumers, and that we must engage with them at every opportunity because co-production of knowledge is central to learning. There is also an arms race under way, as universities try to build the biggest and best student housing, climbing wall or swimming pool to entice new “customers”. But has anyone tried to get students involved in quality enhancement these days, or asked them how important vanity buildings are to their choice of institution?

Bang at the bottom of the trough of disillusionment, I place philanthropic giving. A few years back, many universities invested to take advantage of the government’s matched funding scheme: development staff were hired, giving campaigns spun up and worldwide alumni contacted. Outside a small group of old universities, however, vice-chancellors are now wondering: “Where’s the real return on investment?”. Realists are beginning to see that this is a long game and that many of its benefits are not financial in nature, such as mentoring, internships, advisory board memberships and guest lectures.

Also rising from the depths of the cycle trough are customer relationship management systems (CRM) which have been grossly over-hyped for many years now, often by marketing departments wanting their own toys. Populating the databases, connecting the systems to the rest of the IT enterprise and integrating with business processes was a challenge. But to my mind, at that stage CRMs were talked down too far and now we can evaluate them more dispassionately, seeing them as useful marketing and student recruitment tools.

I sometimes wonder what is fuelling this hype cycle. Is it government pressure, consultants who want to offer their services, thought leaders who want to create an agenda, an overactive media? Or perhaps it is just a natural consequence of the diffusion of innovative ideas. Whatever the answer, universities should be first to cut through the hype.

On another tack is the optimistic TED presentation by Anant Agarwal

edX-logoThe final assignment for the University of Texas MOOC Globalisation course was an essay (see below) which was marked by AI (Artificial Intelligence) -- a mark of 88% was awarded to the essay. What would you rated it as? -- post in the 'Comments'.

Does the globalization process always produce a homogenizing of human experience around the world?

A simplistic view could be one you would take if you arrived in Japan or Thailand and saw young people wearing jeans using iPads while eating hamburgers and drinking cokes — that they have culturally become Europeans or Americans. However you may later discover that McDonald’s is not the same everywhere “In the Philippines you can order a McSpaghetti, in Thailand a pork burger with chili and basil, in India a Maharaja MacMutton burger, in Japan a teriyaki burger, in Norway a salmon burger, in Uruguay an egg burger” [Larsson, 2001]

It is important to focus on what is meant by globalisation and the “homogenisation of human experience”. We tend to think of globalisation as occurring recently but there has been transnational trade in thriving civilisations in the Andes, in West Africa, in the Arab world, in India and in China — think of the Silk Route. Also there have been advances in communication technology— a 100 years ago we thought that radio and TV were very fast and 50 years before that there was the telegraphy-system and a 100 years before that we were thinking that newspapers were an incredible phenomenon. At each stage there were predictions about loss of cultural diversity being brought about by the technology.

Contemporary globalisation has two distinctive traits — enhanced communication technology (the Internet) and the global spread of capitalism. Thomas Friedman (2005) described globalisation as an increasingly integrated world market where ‘the playing field had been levelled’ so that companies from India, China, North Atlantic and others could compete with each other with few impediments — the world becoming flat.

Some people regard globalisation as McDonaldisation of the world, a process by which the fast food chain McDonald’s would bring the entire world into its fold. This would include efficiency (time between placing the order and its execution), calculability (easy to calculate the price), predictability (standardised product) and control of the human beings brought through the process [Ritzer,1993] Since the Internet was develop in America, English has become the language of globalisation. For the Internet to work standardisation of processes are required and English is used for the web, for international agreements as well as in shopping malls and hotels. Many computers have only English software and it is the transnational language used in various fields of scientific, cultural, economic and business activities.

So far we have been focusing on the transnational trade and economic activity which can be regarded as the technological aspects of globalisation, but what about the cultural aspects — is it homogenising the human experience? Thomas Larsson (2001) concluded: “The goods may be global, but their meaning is always local. So the Chinese do not cease to be Chinese the moment they get their teeth into an American hamburger.” Adding burgers to the menu will not transform an Athenian cafe into a McDonald’s anymore than adding McGyros makes McDonald’s an Athenian cafe [Volkman, 2006]

The global market accelerates cultural exchange and cultural evolution, the swapping and revising of parts of a tradition adding new colour and character. One’s own culture (the ‘human experience’ of this essay topic) is not static or set permanently in stone but is an ever changing dynamic process of reevaluation in the light of alternative experiences being presented from the global milieu. People want to preserve their roots while at the same time becoming citizens of the global world. The person who becomes truly global is that person who becomes truly individual and centred and grounded in himself. To find your own centre is the challenge of living in a world that is becoming more globalised at every level. Everyone needs to establish their own traditions, their own wisdom their own path through the influences and contacts with the rest of the world.

The dynamics and perceptions of cultures change, for an example, in the 1950’s and 60’s Asia looked up to the United States as a model of modernisation — something to aspire to. Now Asians look at American urban decay, the decline of the family, the drugs and the crime and feel that America is not a very attractive model for them. Communications technology has allowed both Americans and Asians to see each other more clearly, to realise that they have different value systems and to reevaluate their own culture [Fukuyama]

Examples of creative cross-pollinisations, rehybridisation and enhancement are Riverdance and Ashokan FarewellRiverdance is a popularised version of an Irish traditional dance for a global audience without diminishing its depth or meaning. Performances abroad or in Ireland are as pure or impure as ever. External influences continue to be absorbed into the traditional dance and add to its dynamic presence. Ashokan Farewell became famous in the US as the theme song for the PBS Series “The Civil War”. Written by Ungar who sometimes introduces Ashokan Farewell as "a Scottish lament written by a Jewish guy from the Bronx. I lived in the Bronx until the age of sixteen” [Ungar, 2013].  Another example is jazz. Berendt {1964) defines jazz as a "form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of the Negro with European music” and involves "a spontaneity and vitality of musical production with improvisation by the individuality of the performing jazz musician”.

In summary, globalisation does not always produce a homogenisation of the human experience. On the contrary the global market-place of cultures provides opportunities for the cross-pollination and the enrichment of the human experience.

References

Larsson, T (2001), The race to the top. Cato Institute.

Friedman, T (2005), The World is Flat. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Ritzer, G. (1993) The McDonalization of Society. Thousand Oaks

Volkman, R, (2006) Dynamic Traditions, online at
http://bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar/ar/libros/raec/ethicomp5/docs/htm_papers/68Volkman,%20Richard.htm  — accessed on 12.11.2013

Fukuyama, F Economic Globalization and Culture. online at
http://www.oocities.org/rpallais/Fukuyama.htm — accessed on 12.11.2013

Ungar, J (2012) Ashokan Farewell online at
http://www.jayandmolly.com/ashokanfaq.shtml — accessed on 12.11.2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kZASM8OX7s

Berendt, J. E (1964) The New Jazz Book: a History and Guide, P. Owen At Google Books. Retrieved on 04.08.2013.

University of Otago

Following on the MOOC theme, I recently wrote a Letter-to-the-Editor to The Otago Daily Times (07/11/2013) regarding the University of Otago’s lack of vision regarding online teaching. Below is the letter and the response from the vice-chancellor.

University policies too inward-looking

As someone who had fostered online teaching within his own university department, I congratulate the Otago Polytechnic in becoming part of the Open Educational Resource (OER) university (ODT, 26.10.13). This and the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) provide challenges for extending the traditional teaching role of universities and tertiary institutions. This is a challenge that Otago University has not accepted as reviewed by the vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne (University of Otago Magazine, June, 2013).

The focus of Otago University is to maintain itself as a residential university. For the university, online teaching could be a lost opportunity similar to others lost in recent times such as the AgResearch Invermay collaboration with the $16 million Christie Building - centre for reproduction and genomics. As Steven Joyce [Minister of  Science and Innovation] politely put it "the initial proposals and development of the Christie Building has not materialised ... ".

Other opportunities lost were not obtaining any of the seven CoREs (Centres of Research Excellence) that the Government had provided universities to bid for - Auckland [University] obtained three. These CoREs brought with them significant financial benefits and associated prestige to the universities hosting them as well as providing a focus for their collaborative research expertise.

The current inward-looking stance of the university policymakers may result in the University of Otago becoming a relic of the past.

James Kalmakoff, PhD -- Former university academic and director of the Centre for Gene Research,  Dunedin, NZ


University of Otago vice­-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne replies: "I, too, congratulate the polytechnic on its open education resource. The polytechnic has clearly carved out its strategic space in the online education marketplace, and I am sure this resource will be a great option for students who select online study.

"Following wide consultation, the university recently launched its strategic direction to 2020. This strategy signals our unwavering commitment and ambition as a research-intensive and predominantly campus-based university with strong national and international linkages and a focus on high-quality research, teaching and service outcomes. We will continue to chart a course to achieve our clearly set-out goals.

"Please be assured that the university has a very bright future as a research intensive residential university that has high standards of excellence. The university is well-placed to enhance the outcomes for our students and our outstanding researchers will continue to contribute to the greater good of society and the environment."

This is my final posting from the MOOC Edx course on globalisation from the University of Texas at Austin.

The idea that sport confers important benefits on modern societies can be traced back to Victorian England which promoted physical fitness as essential to both individual health and to the welfare of nations. The idea that international sports competitions promote peace has its origins in the legend of the Olympic Truce that prevailed during the ancient Greek Olympic Games. Such ideals continue to shape modern thinking about the value and even the necessity of sport as a social good. The Olympic Games are promoted as a kind of moral and political hygiene that can be applied to the enormous numbers of people who watch the games on TV.

Professor John Hoberman painstakingly details that the International Olympic Committee is run by corrupt autocrats, drug cheats are common and what is offered is international (globalisation) show-business of the most corrupt kind.

For more .....

This is the fourth posting from the MOOC Edx course on globalisation from the University of Texas at Austin.

Cybercrime is the ultimate crime of globalisation since it operates on the internet that has become the nervous system of the globalisation process itself. The internet has expanded faster than anyone's capacity to regulate it. It has evolved faster than our ability to construct safeguards against its abuse.

This is the democratic and equalising aspect of globalisation in action.

The large numbers of computers put online by the growing population of honest computer-literate people can be hijacked into serving the purposes of online users who construct botnets that can recruit thousands of computers around the world into a criminal network operation. The internet offers remarkable opportunities for individuals or small groups to mount massive electronic attacks against the websites and other electronic operations of nation-states, multinational corporations, or other powerful institutions located anywhere in the world.

Cybercrime represents the nightmare version of the global connectivity, it abolishes time and space and enables personal contact across great distances. Cybercrime makes possible the ultimate perversion of online intimacy.