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Nearing the new Durham year...

Post 1

RFJS__ - trying to write an unreadable book, finding proofreading tricky

In this entry: Durham and party conference season.

Nearing the new Durham year...

Post 2

RFJS__ - trying to write an unreadable book, finding proofreading tricky

If my posting frequency declines in a week or so, it's because I'm trying to sort out my college room's network connection; I've received an e-mail telling me that thanks to software changes I'm going to have my laptop scanned when I try to connect and won't be able to use the network until my software is all nice and updated, and apparently I'm expected to sort this out in advance if possible. Not a problem for the virus scanner, etc. but when it comes to OS updating things get rather sticky. IE just doesn't work over my dial-up connection; I don't know whether this is due to the fact that it's one of those custom versions that ISPs thrust upon innocent people -- try to use the ISP set-up program and it mucks about with IE; I don't know whether this one just changed the spinning icon in the top-right or whether it altered something under the bonnet as well, but either way IE typically refuses to load pages unless they're on my hard drive -- but at any rate it doesn't work. This isn't usually a problem because I use Firefox anyway (which is why I've never tried to return IE to its original state, although I presumably have an installer lying around somewhere), but Microsoft's update pages require IE; browser masking isn't sufficient because of the use of ActiveX, which Firefox doesn't have. (It is, after all, noted more for security risks than for utility. There's a project somewhere to get it working on Firefox, but you need a specific version for each browser release; there's no version for 1.0.7 yet, and I don't especially want to install, say, 1.0.4 alongside it.) Not being able to use MS Update to tell me what fixes I need, I'd have to try to find out and find them manually -- and MS Update or no MS Update, I dread to think what the download times would be like over a 56k connection. I'm currently wondering whether any magazine cover discs carry WinXP patches; then again, according to a JCR e-mail it isn't actually necessary to do anything about this, whatever the IT staff are saying in their e-mails: 'You don't need to do anything until you arrive and plug your computer into the network socket: then it guides you through some setup screens to make sure your computer complies with some new rules. No real difference to the norm.' smiley - erm Quite confusing.

Anyway. I'm moving into college on the 4th, and with only four lecture-based modules this year and my dissertation taking up the rest of the time I can expect to be spending a lot of time there, staring at my screen, thinking deep and philosophical thoughts... I shall also have to do the thinking about what to do post-BA that I was too busy fitting essay writing around bus timetables to do in any seriousness last year. After years of hard work inside the education system I suspect that my relationship with it has become symbiotic and I may be incapable of independent existence; and I would quite like to stay on as a post-grad., which apparently quite a few philosophers do. I suspect money would (of course) be the main difficulty; persuading the department that I'd be worth keeping would probably prove a lot easier than persuading the Arts and Humanities Research Council that I'd be worth funding. Competition is fierce, apparently. However, I have a pension that endures for as long as I stay in full-time education, so it makes financial sense not to take any breaks from it.

Annoyingly, term overlaps with party conference season, so without a television in my room (there being too little on that I'd watch to justify the licence fee, especially now that Newsnight can be downloaded) it will take both luck and guile to see coverage of the Tory conference. Not that the other two conferences have been that interesting; the standard of political speeches is usually low, of course, but at present there does seem to be quite a bit of post-election fatigue. In addition, of course, the present political consensus seems to be that vagueness is the way to go; definite content would be far too risky when a few empty platitudes and inclusion of your audience's favourite words and phrases will see you through. (On the subject of which, since I'm doing a dissertation on censorship-related claims and moral agency I naturally took a good look at -- which turns out to have some really rotten argumentation, with some lines of argument that need to be teased out with a magnifying glass and still don't lead anywhere definite, largely because of excessive reliance on undefined terms like 'degrading', 'aberrant' and 'moral and public protection'. I've managed to gather together a few good quotations from various sources to use in my dissertation, but a lot of what's been said on the subject -- by the legendary Mr. Thompson ( ), for example -- are just unusable in a philosophical analysis.) The speeches and sections of speeches I've seen seem to be largely formulaic exercises in pressing all the right buttons, but there's an apparent reluctance to go any further. Charles Kennedy's speech seemed to press every button within reach, but the 'Not left, not right, but liberal' mantra left me wanting some real, deep analysis of liberalism; I acknowledge that the left/right model is pretty simplistic -- which is probably why it's survived for so long and can be applied in so many different cases -- but 'liberal' isn't an automatically superior term, and indeed has enough different applications for the term 'Left-liberal' to have come into being. (I shall probably end up describing my own position as 'broadly Millite liberal, but less utilitarian', or something.) Brown's speech was strong on high-flying rhetoric, but both his and Blair's lacked real substance and precision; of course, I'm judging them as a philosopher when the political world is focussed on the speakers and their power bases. I'll be interested (I hope) to see how Michael Howard uses his speech, given that he doesn't have a job to hold down; my guess is that he'll return to the accountability theme and point out that he's leaving after _winning_ seats, but besides that there's always the possibility that he'll add some hard thinking. We can hope...

On the subject of political gatherings, it seems that the first Students' Union General Meeting of term will be taken up by our new president's attempt to do away with direct democracy in Union policy-making. I don't yet know just what the arguments are; it seems this is being advanced as a streamlining measure, given that there aren't that many students who actually turn up to General Meetings, and that a lot of decisions are already taken by Council anyway. This comes four or five terms after Council's decision to overturn the Students' Union shop's Nestlé ban was overturned at a General Meeting (owing largely to a large and organised turnout from my college; the Senior DSU Rep., apparently lacking confidence in our moral determination, promised to buy a drink for anyone in college who turned up).

Let's end on a happier note. Now we've seen the Revolution controller -- can we call it a joypad? -- the crucial question is: will there be a game based on the last night of the Proms? If they're serious about widening appeal...

Nearing the new Durham year...

Post 3

LQ - Just plain old LQ

Hi RFJS, nice to see you around smiley - smiley

I hate computers and all the technical stuff involved. I will probably stick to Windows and IE for all my life due to a simple lack of understanding in the benefits of the others (although a simple "it crashes less - not an altogether too demanding requirement - may sway me).

You're in the third year now, right? Personally I'm applying for four year courses; I'm not completely convinced I'll stick to it, but everywhere says if you're unsure, apply for the four year course - it's far easier to tell your LEA you want one years' less funding than one years' more should you change your mind. Four year courses also have the advantage of leaving me in the system for another year, allowing me to leave a decision about afterwards 'til later - or, also, the option not to leave even then. Continued education does seem to be the easiest way.

Are you in Uni accomadation this year? Or still (if I remember correctly) living out?

I haven't bothered too much with the party conferences; the same vagueness and a simple cynicism that they'll never do anything worthwhile that they say they will, or at least not without messing it up, mean it often just bores me. Although the story about the guy being stopped on entrance to the Labour Party Conference under the Terrorism Act was amusing - especially with the comment read out on Radio 4 that had been sent in, saying we thanked the security forces there for catching the dangerous Al-Quaeda member that had connuingly disguised himself as an 82-year old man, and we would all sleep much better in our beds with this terrifying threat removed.

As for the Revolutions controller - I think it's an interesting idea, but I know a number of people don't think much of it. I'm reserving judgement on how good or not it actually is until I've tried it, as with the PS3 controller. Conducting an orchestra or fencing or similar may well be entertaining.

And then, of course, there's the comic looking at it... (it's the comic before the most recent).

Nearing the new Durham year...

Post 4

RFJS__ - trying to write an unreadable book, finding proofreading tricky

This one?

Sticking to IE? smiley - yikes I hope you've got a good firewall.

Browse the threads in and for some interesting comments on browser security if you ever get time -- not that I really imagine you have that much time available, but anyway...

Yes, I'll be living in college again this year; I didn't feel like another year of lengthy bus journeys.

On the subject of the Revolution, Lost Garden has some interesting comments:

I suspect (written before the controler unveiling) does have some substance, though, even if its tones are a touch... apocalyptic. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating; though ironically enough, with no Revolution software yet unveiled I'm primarily excited about its emulation capacity. (Those illegal ROM dumps can be terribly tempting.)

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