Tag Archives: the game

Obama, Trump, Omar, Levy. The game…

I am no fan of Trump, obvs.  But this emoluments thing, about him crassly (and everything about the Donald is crass) enriching his family and business through the POTUS gig.  Everyone is losing their shit about it, but when Obama gets a gig to give a speech for 400k for it people were slightly less bothered.

If I were a Trump supporter, I’d call that hypocrisy, and if I were a Trump supporter who loved The Wire I’d be pointing to a scene which involved Obama’s favourite character – Omar, who steals from drug dealers.  Omar is in court, giving evidence against a drug dealer on a murder charge. The dealer’s lawyer, Levy, who is in a retainer from the Barksdale gang, is cross-examining Omar.

Levy: You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade.  You’re stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our city. You are a parasite, who leeches off..

Omar:  Just like you man

Levy:  Excuse me? What?

Omar: I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. It’s all in the game, though right?

Baffled, Levy looks at the judge, who shrugs.


Yeah, I know it’s an order of magnitude, and Obama has had the ‘decency’ to wait until after he left office. I am not a Trump supporter, and I know there is a difference.  But what I am saying is, if I WERE a Trump supporter, I’d not be seeing a very big difference….

The game is the “Game” … and the “family resemblance concept”

Read a corking paper a coupla days ago, called “A dynamic conceptualization of power for sustainability research.” Definitely one that – despite being clearly written – that I will need to return to. For now, though, this quote from the first page…

“… however, power is not so much an ‘essentially contested concept’ but rather a ‘family resemblance concept’, as introduced in Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language .

A typical example of a ‘family resemblance concept’ is the word ‘game’: its meaning and connotation inherently depends on the context in which it is used. The ‘playfulness’ of a card game played at home starkly contradicts with the ‘serious’ consequences of a political game. All possible meanings of the word ‘game’ partly overlap and partly contradict each other, hence making it impossible to agree on one all-encompassing definition. Any attempt to capture the ‘essence’ of the word will exclude aspects that might be essential in a given context. Therefore, rather than trying to capture the essence of a ‘family resemblance concept’ in an all- encompassing definition or theory, the challenge is to find or construct a local language that is suitable to describe the phenomena in a specific context.”

I don’t know about you, but I find that dead useful…


Avelino, F. and Rotmans, J. (2011) “A dynamic conceptualization of power for sustainability research” Journal of Cleaner Production 796-804.

Stepper: Augmented miners, Academic games, reputational repair and rehearsing the apocalypse

Mix of what I read on the train yesterday and what I read on the stepper this morning;

Bassan, J, Srivnivasan, V. and Tang, A. (2013) The Augmented Mine Worker: Applications of Augmented Reality in Mining CSC Australia

Lots of good stuff here. It’s a bit more complicated than sticking googleglasses on folks and hooking it up to a googledocs spreadsheet, but you get the idea.

“The mining industry is faced with imperatives to improve worker safety and productivity, adapt to skills shortages, high worker turnover rates, and provide more effective maintenantce to new and ever more complicated plant and equipment.”…

Next up Nierenberg, N. Tischinkel, W. and Tshinkel, V. (2010) Early Climate Change Concensus at the National Academy: The Origins and Making of Changing Climate Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, Vol. 40, (3) pp. 318-349.

Oreskes and Conway had written a piece saying, more or less, that William Nierenberg (big fish physicist) had soft-pedalled on climate change in the late 70s and early 80s. The authors here (and Nicholas never makes clear what – if any – relation he is) more or less blow that out of the water, though the article isn’t perfect itself (could have mentioned other climate studies at the same time – IASSA, Flohn), or actually quoted Helmut Schmidt, etc etc). Only worth reading if you are a history of climate science geek, but this sort of careful detective work is note-worthy and praise-worthy.

Alvesson, M. (2012) Do we have something to say? From re-search to roi-search and back again, Organization 20 (1), 79-90. is bloody brilliant, and I will blog it separately. The tl;dr is that the academic game is a game like all others (trudat, you feel me?) with its rules and rule-breaking, its gaming of the system and system of the game. And Alvesson asks all the right (imho) questions and gives provocative (in the good sense!) answers. Roi-search is “return on investment” academia – writing “gap-filling” stuff for high-impact journals, self-censoring and pre-cutting your cookie so it fits.

This paper is a a solid-gold classic for anyone who met a social scientist and wondered how they got that way.

Gosling,J. And Case, P. (2013) Social dreaming and ecocentric ethics; sources of non-rational insight in the face of climate change catastrophe. Organisation 20 (5) 705 -721.

Just the sort of suggestive daring and relevant research and thinking that (I think) Alvesson would like to see.

It’s better at the outset (what the Crow did) than the end, (what we do), but super-useful for thinking about how to rehearse the apocalypse without descending into zombie films and Mad Max-ness (though I admit to a mild degree of excitement about Hardy and the Return of the Native Max…