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He lingers on notions of class. Who are these office workers, exactly? Somehow they are “neither of the working class nor of the elite holders of capital.” They dress well; they’re clean and pale, as aristocrats once were.

Can we refer to office workers, as some do, as knowledge workers? Perhaps not. Mr. Saval quotes Peter Drucker, the management consultant, who said: “They expect to be ‘intellectuals.’ And they find that they are just ‘staff.’ ” The author says it out loud:

“The United States is a nation of clerks.”

“Man is born free, but he is everywhere in cubicles.”

nothing’s original

Although both archetype and stereotype draw from a “type” of person to create character, the difference is that archetype will use the template as a starting place, and stereotype uses it as the end point.


Archetype (n): a very typical example of a certain person or thing; types that fit fundamental human motifs.

Stereotype (n): A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Trope (n): devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.


If tropes seem a little too much like to stereotypes for comfort, that’s because, technically speaking, they are stereotypes. “A Trope is a stereotype that writers find useful in communicating with readers.” (x) However,

because the word stereotype has become so stigmatized in society, we prefer to think of tropes as specific to storytelling.



Categorization is the process in which ideas and objects are recognized, differentiated, and understood.[1] Categorization implies that objects are grouped into categories, usually for some specific purpose. Ideally, a category illuminates a relationship between the subjects and objects of knowledge. Categorization is fundamental in language, prediction, inference, decision making and in all kinds of environmental interaction.


Since the research by Eleanor Rosch and George Lakoff in the 1970s, categorization can also be viewed as the process of grouping things based on prototypes—the idea of necessary and sufficient conditions is almost never met in categories of naturally occurring things. It has also been suggested that categorization based on prototypes is the basis for human development, and that this learning relies on learning about the world via embodiment.

A cognitive approach accepts that natural categories are graded (they tend to be fuzzy at their boundaries) and inconsistent in the status of their constituent members.


f_ck it

In inflation-adjusted wages, male college graduates had starting salaries of $20.61/hour in 1979 and $21.68/hour in 2011, while female college graduates had starting salaries of $16.30/hour in 1979 and $18.80/hour in 2011.  That’s less than a 5% increase for men, and a bit more than a 10% increase for women. http://stateofworkingamerica.o…

Meanwhile the average college tuition climbed 650% over inflation between 1978 and 2010.… The results are as depressing as they are predictable.  Barely half of all student loans are even in repayment at the moment, with the rest being in deferral or forbearance.  Of those student loans that have entered repayment, about 1 in 3 (31%) are currently delinquent (>90 days late), according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  That is approaching the peak level of subprime mortgage delinquencies during the housing crash in 2008.

Aggregate student loan debt has virtually exploded over the last fifteen years, from $200 billion in 2000 to $440 billion around the time Obama was elected (4Q 2008) to $1.2 trillion today.  Throw that on a graph, and you’ll get the ominous hockey stick-shaped line that foretells nearly every economic crash.  Various analyses have tied this surging debt to the stall in the housing market – indeed, 25-34 years with student debt are less likely to be homeowners than their peers without student loan debt for the first time in history – to stalling auto sales (per GM’s chief economist), household formations, and to plummeting levels of retirement savings among the Millennial cohort.

Moreover, the stagnant wages afforded by the *college premium* have driven unprecedented numbers into graduate school, despite the author’s assertion otherwise, and federal data analyzed by the Washington Post last spring revealed that the number of graduate degrees awarded by American universities has increased 63% just since 2000.  Regular readers of this website and/or Inside Higher Ed will have no problem connecting that growth to the current job and debt crises in our nation’s law schools, graduate humanities and natural science programs, veterinary schools, and nonelite MBA programs.

the communities these people come out of

We have no problem in this country rewarding individuals of color momentarily as a way never to address structural cannibalistic inequalities that are faced by the communities these people come out of. …I am representative of a structural exclusion that room is made for “ones” so that room does not have to be made for the “manies”.

— Junot Diaz

Glass-Steagall > Volker > the winding down

Punking Ourselves to Death


The Volker Rule was a lame gesture toward restoring the heart of the Glass-Steagall provisions of the Banking Act of 1933, which were repealed in 1999 in a cynical effort led by Wall Street uber-grifter Robert Rubin and his sidekick Larry Summers, who served serially as US Treasury Secretaries under Bill Clinton. Glass Steagall was passed in Congress following revelations of gross misconduct among bankers leading up to the stock market crash of 1929. The main thrust of Glass Steagall was to mandate the separation of commercial banking (deposit accounts + lending) from investment banking (underwriting and trading in securities). The idea was to prevent banks from using money in customer deposit accounts to gamble in stocks and other speculative instruments. This rule was designed to work hand-in-hand with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), also created in 1933, to backstop the accounts of ordinary citizens in commercial banks. The initial backstop limits were very modest: $2,500 at inception, and didn’t rise above $40,000 until 1980. Investment banks, on the other hand, were not backstopped at all under Glass-Steagall, since their activities were construed as a form of high-toned gambling.

The Glass Steagall Act of 1933 was about 35 pages long, written in language that was precise, clear, and succinct. It worked for 66 years. Banking during those years was a pretty boring business, commercial banking especially. It operated on the 3-6-3 principle — pay 3 percent interest on deposits, lend at 6 percent, and be out on the golf course at 3 p.m. Bankers made a nice living but nothing like the obscene racketeering profits engineered by the looting operations of today. Before 1980, the finance sector of the economy was about 5 percent of all activity. Its purpose was to allocate precious capital to new productive ventures.

As American manufacturing was surrendered to other countries, there were fewer productive ventures for capital to be directed into. What remained was real estate development (a.k.a. suburban sprawl) and finance, which was the enabler of it. Finance ballooned to 40 percent of the US economy and the American landscape got trashed. The computer revolution of the 1990s stimulated tremendous “innovation” in financial activities. Much of that innovation turned out to be new species of swindles and frauds. Now you understand the history of the so-called “housing bubble” and the crash of 2008. The US never recovered from it, and all the rescue attempts in the form of bail-outs, quantitative easing, zero interest rates, have turned into rackets aimed at papering-over this national failure to thrive. It is all ultimately linked to the larger story of industrialism and its relationship with the unique, finite, fossil fuel resources that the human race got cheaply for a few hundred years. That story is now winding down and we refuse to pay attention to the reality of it.


Notes On Money

I was listening to this podcast, Against the Grain, today and wanted leave some notes here.


David Hawkes, Arizona State University

David Hawkes, “Faust Among the Witches: Towards An Ethics of Representation” Early Modern Culture

“The person gives up a portion of his life in exchange for a symbol of that portion. This symbol, which is money, then obtains a subjective power so that it determines the lives of the people whose activities it represents. A money economy is one in which people are ruled by a fetishized representation of themselves. A market economy is one ruled by this ghostly dead but supernaturally active power called money.”

David Hawkes, Ideology Routledge, 2003 (revised 2d ed.)

David Hawkes, The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England Palgrave Macmillan, 2010


Time is inseparable from life and self. When time is sold, life / the self are sold.

Exchange value is symbolic and imposed upon use value. Money is a medium of exchange.

Experience, Subject / Experienced, Object