Radu Luchian(ov): Pastime: Commentary
On Opaque Directives

OK, folks, I'm no soldier. I like to understand what I'm doing so that I may do it efficiently and be sure it fits my own moral and ethical standards. Some of my friends and all of my superiors (during my army days as well as during my work and studies), have repeatedly pointed out that in itself my approach can reduce efficiency. You know, on the field of battle you don't ask why the corporal sends you in a specific direction, 'cos that takes time and bullets are pretty fast lil' buggers.

But I am a lot into learning. I want to know why things are as they are, I want to explore alternatives to the status quo and generally I like the directives I get to be transparent, thank you very much. I thought that people interested in learning don't count efficiency as the number of [essays, pages, algorythms, ideas] per arbitrary period of time, but by content, by the ideas discussed, by [novel or reinvented] solutions to the problems faced.

It's interestingly appalling to see the bureaucracy of Academe evolve further and further into the organized army-like "efficiency".

  • Did you forget to put a date on that form?
  • Aw, shucks! How come you're a scientist if you can't even read a form?
  • Did you format your essay following the rules in my syllabus?
  • I told you I want to see 12 pages, not 10.
  • Why do you want to know what [the algorythm you're told to code in] is used for?
  • Who cares that you're working on real-life, useful projects that apply what you learn in this course, I want you to hand in the homework on time.
  • I don't want your opinions, I want established facts!

    And the funniest combo I got on the same presentation:
  • Why didn't you follow the author's argument?
  • You're too close to the author's argument, please elaborate!

    We`re thinking creatures. Unexplained directives are liable to lead to the chaos they`re trying to prevent. Just because I don't buy an argument that's opaque to me, and I don't rush to present it like a parrot, it does not mean that I'm stupid. Or does it? Hmmm... Sure, there's always the saying that goes "befriend even the devil if it helps you cross the bridge you want to cross," (in different forms my friends keep telling that one), but that sounds cowardly to me. OK, so mabye I AM stupid after all...

    I love StarTrek. In all of their series (except the new one), they have the "Prime Directive" (a rule of the Federation, thus upheld by the Eartlings' Starfleet to not interfere with cultures who didn't yet reach a cultural level necessary to support "warp technology" without destroying themselves in the process). Some Starfleet captains choose to follow the rule to the letter, some of them read through the lines, interpret it and act accordingly helping people when they need help. I'd cast my marbles with the latter type of captain. Romantic, ain't I? ;)

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