Going South

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A world which recently had no idea South College (est. 2020) existed now knows it as the epicentre of the latest story about student cancel culture, and amidst the fallout a letter’s floating around in which the colleges’ JCR presidents collectively demand a greater say for students—over whom colleges invite. (I thought that was what Cuth’s was for.) That probably is indeed the sort of bone they’ll be thrown.

This (increasingly literal) greybeard was around in 2009, when changes to charity law forced all the common rooms to replace their constitutional documents while lacking budgets for proper legal advice, and the University’s ‘helpful’ manoeuvres were generally understood to be a land-grab by the Registrar. Now the University’s central leadership is being publicly embarrassed by students who hold it responsible for minutiae of college life.

In other circumstances it might have been heartening to see Durham JCRs out to claw back some autonomy, and a suitably cunning student leadership might be properly able to exploit the opportunity. This lot, however, are set to blow it.

Addendum: also amusing are reports that the student revolt at South College will include mass applications to transfer to other colleges, as though that could be seen as anything but an attempt to trade up to somewhere established enough to have amenities like an alumni network. How many people’s first choice was South College in the first place?


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It's reported that a transport minister wants to move away from 20th-century thinking centred around private vehicle ownership.

I would hazard a guess that this was planned as part of some post-COP26 follow-up agenda. Except that with the panic over Omicron, COP26 now feels like a distant memory, and what happened more recently was that the government began scaring people out of mixed company again. I’d expect that ordering everyone to breathe through a cilice on public transport, thereby promoting the idea that buses and trains are dangerous hotbeds of infection, encouraged people to drive instead if they have the option. I'm not sure car clubs, scooters and bike shares are prepared to take that strain.

Another triumph for behavioural psychology in policymaking.

Strange Times

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The cultists, the mind demons and the coup plan are the sort of thing we’ve learnt to expect from 2021, but some details take a turn for the absurd:

Geoff estimated that there were roughly 10 “super weapons” or “super theories.” He said we already had 1–2, one being we had solved philosophy (but not completely, he admitted — all he had left to do was prove that time exists and maybe a few other details, was what I remember him saying).


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I am now wondering whether Peisithanatos counted as a Motivational Philosopher:

One of my Durham contemporaries did write on motivational speaking, but nobody was motivated to measure its impact so, academically speaking, it never happened.

A Healing Crystal for Every Child

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Reportedly the new rationale for mandating Covid vaccines for children is as a psychological measure ‘to help them avoid worrying about the pandemic and learning to get on with their peer group’.

In that case a placebo could do the job without any risk. Placebos are still effective if you know they’re placebos, and possibly even if you don’t actually take them. They also work better if they’re expensive, which is why I clearly need the taxpayer to buy me the most lavish placebo on the market, to tackle my anxieties about getting on with my richer peers.

Update, two months later: the one time I say the government should do something and then the government does something like it, it had to be this one?