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Durham, dissertation, Durham, Durham...

Post 1

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

It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Durham, dissertation, Durham, Durham...

Post 2

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

Several weeks into term, I've got a good chunk of my dissertation in some form of draft assemblage, and as the Students' Union's funding crisis settles down into long-term wrangling Palatinate ( ), having shifted from DSU funding to advertising and sponsorship revenue to pay its way, has nothing more than restricted reading room access (also on Durham21 -- ) , accountancy problems in Castle's JCR and delayed refurbishment of college accommodation to complain about, and has gone back to pondering our public school intake. (Contrast with some of the events they've been spoiled with over the past two years: the department closures, the timetable fiasco, DSU's funding woes, Cuth's having a chimney fall through a ceiling and discovering they'd been operating their bar without a licence for two years...) They missed, however, the small war brewing between John's and the University, begun when the University decided two weeks before the start of term that Cranmer Hall ( ) students were no longer to be students of the University. I know next to nothing about this; all I've heard was what the Cranmer JCR president reported at the last JJCR ('Joint JCR') meeting. Indeed, I've just been checking the minutes of Senate and Council meetings for occurences of the word 'Cranmer', to no avail, so it appears that this decision was taken by neither body. All very odd.

I seem to have a knack for being a member of more-disorganised-than-average societies; Anime Soc. has had recruitment problems owing to not being ratified with DSU (which will change shortly) and hence not getting on the list for a stall at Freshers' Fair. Apparently the Fair had three times previous years' level of sponsorship presence; basically we lost out to the Carphone Warehouse. The Philosophical Society is in an even worse situation, because we somehow failed to sort out a new exec. at the end of last year. I'm still in charge of the website (i.e. I'm waiting for some information to update it with) and the previous year's secretary is currently acting-president, acting-secretary and acting-treasurer. Goodness knows how this is going to end up. DSU itself is trying to cut costs; Council waved through plans to cut staffing down, nobody really seeing an alternative. The treasurer's speech was pretty horrible -- a lot of content-free rhetorical bluster that wouldn't be out of place at a Labour Party conference -- but there was a decent question session, and I think the current plans, insofar as they've crystallised, are generally reagrded as the least untenable course of action.

The new network connection procedure worked okay the first time (for me), once I'd discovered what I think was a problem with my firewall interfering with downloadssmiley - erm, but when the time came to renew registration I had trouble with a program download that had worked fine the previous time. I think there are some gremlins in there...

My room is about three times the size of the last one I had, thank goodness, and being a philosopher with a pretty flexible schedule -- owing to all the time I'm expected to spend on disertation work -- I'm mostly sitting around trying to work out what a not-obviously-incoherent account of media-induced harm-by-proxy would have to entail. I'd imagined it would work best with a sentimentalist account -- morality grounded in human feeling, etc. -- and was quite surprised when I realised that the opposite was true. the critical point is that a harm-by-proxy claim is apt to need moral facts to be somehow 'out there' in the world and presentations thereof, so that people can become desensitised to them, etc. Transcendental ethics won't work properly with a desensitisation claim; there have to be moral properties to lose sensitivity to, since sensitivity to non-moral facts about states of affairs is ethically neutral (e.g. a sensitivity to the existence of suffering may be required for kindness, but it's also a requirement for being effectively cruel). After thinking about various problems pertaining to questions of natural versus non-natural moral properties (roughly: is there a property of not-to-be-done-ness that's a property in the sense that redness is a property?) I'm inclined to think that if this kind of moral claim can be made to work at all it'll have to come with some fairly contentious assumptions in tow -- which is pretty much what I was expecting, even if I was wrong about what the assumptions would be. I'm now looking at what I've come to think of as the -isations -- normalisation, legitimisation, glamourisation, glorification, etc. -- and it looks as though they and their attendant bits of folk psychology will also give me plenty to get my teeth stuck into.

Safeway's Durham branch has now closed, its site being sold to Waitrose; it seems the violent drop in profitability at the end of every term failed to please. Apparently a supermarket is now something you drive to, assuming you have a car or feel like paying for the smiley - bus ride. I don't, so this looks like a good time to get better acquainted with the Indoor Market and other local shops, and feel virtuous for supporting the local small business economy. One of the odd things about Durham is that for a small city we have quite a few duplicate shops -- two branches of Waterstone's (although one is academic), two of Boots, two of Superdrug (with one I _think_ being a discount outlet) and two of Thorntons. Yet we've lost our _one_ branch of Safeway's. On the bright side, the bus station refurbishments have been completed, making the place much brighter and looking less of a mugger's paradise.

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