«You’re buying an environment, not an education.
The education is something you build for yourself.»
Victor Zen about college
After a summer semester of pure online lectures, mostly canned videos for me, the winter semester started as a hybrid semester. Last week, some students were actually in the classroom, and some were online via WebEx — and both saw the same lecture at the same time. Yeah.
Okay, for some reason they were wearing masks even while being physically distanced (shouldn’t one of those two things be enough?) — but they were there. And it was glorious.
I can’t describe it any other way.
After that summer semester — being able to talk in front of students, it was great. It was fun. Heck, given nobody else is audible on the recording, why not share it (it’s in German, sorry):
(And sorry, sound and image are a bit off. And I can’t believe that I did not explain the duck image 34 minutes in. Meh.)
And yeah. It was a bit shoddy, but still, fun. I should have made a better distinction between “there is no truth, but there is a better or worse supported” and that unscientific “postmodernism” crap (in which the only truth seems to be that there is no truth — not a sign of clear thinking). But okay.
(To be serious here — I wouldn’t share the video if any voice of a student would be audible. The information to not share the video was included when I thought student voices were audible.)
And now, due to rising infection numbers, lecturers and students do have to wear a mask in class. Even when physically distanced.
I mean seriously, what-the-fuck? I am really disappointed by the lack of balls — of politicians, of the university, to allow for more freedom, and … frankly, rationality. The goal does not seem to be to do something that is … rational, to pursue virtues, but more to avoid making mistakes.
That is something organizations (and individuals) can do, but it’s a really bad way to live a life.
Especially if you succeed.
I would have really preferred a more mature reaction. Something that trusts people to make the right decision for themselves. To risk infection (if they do not belong to a risk group) and to protect themselves (which includes working from home, even though the official policy strangely requires four out of five workdays being in the office).
And yeah, it’s a mess.
And I’m not joking. And I don’t think this fuck-up is planned. Or that Covid isn’t real. But the reaction — it is almost like a moral panic. More a “meaning” panic. People seeing something real, something they can take seriously, something that ostensibly is out to get them. Something they can react to.
And, at least in Germany, with many people willing or even be thankful to pass the buck to the next hierarchy level. Let someone else decide. No matter whether the decisions make sense or not. Let “It’s better than nothing.” be the new (informal) university motto.
Let’s protect those who are vulnerable. This is something humans do, and have done, for ages. But let’s admit it — this is an “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation here, because (almost) all people know it — but we think nobody else does — that people die. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. And it hurts. I watched my father dying for about 16 hours this year. It was hard, but it was better than the alternative. Death is … I’ll have to write a posting about it, too much to state my viewpoint here, but yeah. Death is.
Let’s stop this “scared to make a mistake” madness and let people decide. We did adhere to rather drastic measures to “flatten the curve”. We did, but now politicians seem to be drunk on power. And yeah, realizing you can order people around is a drug. And frankly — turning the “wear or don’t wear a mask depending on how you yourself see your personal risk” to “if you don’t wear a mask, you infect others and want to kill grandma” is an … interesting move. But do you really see your citizens this way? And if so, are you really sure some other demagogue won’t unseat you? Including people who act leftist-collectivist but strive for personal power — as leftists do? Personally, I think if you have to act this way, you are not long for this political world, but I would be happy to be wrong.
But I don’t think I am. So let’s calm down.
And let people make their own decisions — including everything from avoiding all social contact to business-as-fucking-usual.
Because otherwise — why live at all?