Notes from the Library

18 Jun 2011

Sat, 18 Jun 2011

I am finding that not having access to Facebook at all, by not having an account, is a pain because I have to beg people to e-mail me the details of events that I just can’t see. Secondly I’m just not aware of stuff: recently a friend who is anti-Facebook said, you should come to the Balliol Poetry Society that I run, and I said well I didn’t hear about it—and it turned out that she’d got a friend to organise it via Facebook for her. Yeah.

Can I do read-only Facebook? I would delete my account completely (it is presently suspended), recreate it and just add people I actually have contact with. I would stamp a massive “DO NOT POST HERE I DO NOT CHECK THIS PLEASE E-MAIL ME KTHX” somewhere, and then use a web service to have my news feed e-mailed to me. Is this realistic?

This makes me feel so terrible, but I guess it’s no different to buying things while being anti-capitalism to use Facebook for the ‘necessary’ stuff while remaining anti-Facebook.

Some similar thoughts on Lifehacker, this too

My college-wife and I just wrote our letter to our children; here it is. It’s pretty scary to think that in three months time I’ll be introducing myself to someone as my college mother did—first person I met in Oxford—two years ago, telling me in her thick welsh accent that she was an “ancient third year”. I’m going to be an ancient third year!

parentingletter.pdf (3.1M pdf)

On Thursday we had a talk at Balliol Left Caucus from Paul Sagar of Bad Conscience fame, on his pessimistic view of the position of the left and where we can possibly go from here. His point that I found most interesting referred to his dphil work on Hume, who in his political writings said that we should assume everyone in society is a knave—selfish, non-virtuous—and design institutions to prevent them from damaging others, as a kind of failsafe: that way we’ve covered the worst case scenario, even if we don’t (and shouldn’t) actually think that everyone is like this. Seems fairly sensible.

The thought from Paul was then that what seems to have happened now is that we want and expect people to be knaves, consumers in the capitalist system, and this forces the left continually onto the defensive. Why has this happened; why have we become so, well, knavish?

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