[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Merlene Emerson

We have all heard about the European Union Referendum Bill but I suspect most do not realise how close we are to it becoming law. Whether you are a Europhile or Europhobe, you may be interested to know that the Bill will be getting its 3rd reading in the Lords today (1 Dec), after which there will be no more opportunity for the introduction of any new amendments.

I have to confess that I live in a household of Europhiles. My husband spent the early part of his life between aged 2 and 11 living in France, then Netherlands, as his late father was the English Head of the AFCENT International School for families of NATO. My in-laws subsequently retired in France and my step mother-in-law still lives there. She will sadly be barred from voting in the EU Referendum even though it could affect her right to continue to live in France. Brits who have lived abroad for more than 15 years do not currently have the right to vote in any UK elections, let alone in the EU Referendum.

Another group that is barred from the EU Referendum are the 2.7 million European nationals who currently live in the UK and who have made UK their home. Despite their contributing to the UK economy, through work and payment of taxes, they will risk being uprooted from their friends and family should Britain exit the EU. Some of my European friends have felt so aggrieved by this that they have actually chosen to become naturalised as British. I know others who prefer to retain their nationality for sentimental reasons. Speaking for myself I only became naturalised when I decided to enter politics in the UK but had always had the right to vote as a Commonwealth citizen. Europeans and Commonwealth citizens being treated differently is of course historic – hence we have Cypriots and Maltese, for example, being able to vote in the EU Referendum but not, say, the French or Italians.

There is a third group that we LibDems have been fighting to give the vote to: 16 and 17 year olds. An amendment was successfully introduced by the Lords to the Bill to give them the vote but when the Bill returns to the Commons, there is no guarantee that the amendment will be accepted. We therefore need to put pressure on Tory back benchers to ensure that the Bill and this amendment will pass.

In addition you can sign the petition launched by the European Movement (a cross party organisation working at grass roots level) on this: http://euromove.org.uk/youth-vote

Also watch the video as you hear directly from the young people on why they should have a say in the Referendum and that it is better to be IN Europe. 16 and 17 year olds were allowed to vote in the Scottish Referendum so why not their counterparts in England and Wales?

If you agree with the above points then join me and others in the Party to campaign to raise awareness regarding the implications of the EU Referendum Bill. Let us give a voice to everyone, whether British or European, whether young or old, and fight against our sleep walking into Brexit.

Merlene Emerson is a member of Communities for Europe, a sub group of the European Movement due to launch early next year (watch this space!)

* Merlene Emerson is Chair of Twickenham and Richmond Liberal Democrats and is the Co-founder of the Chinese Liberal Democrats.

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Dreamwidth News: 1 Dec 2015

Dec. 1st, 2015 03:43 am
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_news
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[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Harry’s facing the bald truth… Picture shows Prince has growing spot just like his brother and fa……..or aren’t we supposed to say that these days?

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

A high court judge has ruled that Northern Ireland’s almost outright ban on abortion breaches the human rights of women and girls, including rape victims.

‘uman rights mean you must be allowed to kill your babbie.

Slightly different from JS Mill really, isn’t it?

The problem with Eric Wolff

Dec. 1st, 2015 07:07 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

There’s almost nothing controversial in his climate science. But then he goes off the rails:

So, what can we do? Before I can answer that, I need to throw away my lab coat. I have been writing as a scientist. In that role, I can tell you what will happen if we follow a particular economic and energy policy. Of course I have an opinion on what that policy should be, but I give it as a citizen and not as a scientist. We cannot control how the climate responds to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and ocean, but we can control how much extra there is. We need to go as far as we can in reducing carbon emissions, without bankrupting ourselves or impoverishing the developing world.
It’s a source of huge frustration to scientists that a rational discussion of how far that is has been drowned out by two contradictory tactics. One is to question facts we are certain about. The other is to insist that we have such a good understanding that we can plan as if only the most benign predictions will come true.

Science doesn’t bring only a warning: it can also offer solutions. We need to deploy today’s technology to make a start on reaching a low carbon future. However, huge advances are possible in the efficiency of solar cells, in storing intermittent energy, and in methods of capturing carbon from otherwise polluting power stations. A concerted campaign of investment in the scientists, engineers and companies who can deliver these improvements will give us the best chance of meeting the commitments needed at the negotiations.
I would feel ashamed to know that, in my lifetime, we set a course that might radically change the face of the planet. The past tells me that climate does change, and that when it does so, it is always disruptive. So my hope for the climate negotiations is that politicians will face the facts and have ambitious aspirations, backed by ambitious plans to meet them. That way we can avoid all kinds of hot air.

Because we already know what the economic answer is. Firstly, we want to know roughly what grand policy we should follow. From hte SRES it’s actually baked into everything that we assume about climate change.

We want a capitalist and globalised world. A1 in the terminology of the SRES.

Then, we want one that doesn’t use fossil fuels (so much). That is, we’d prefer A1T rather than A1FI. Excellent, so how do we get there? As the Stern Review, Richard Tol, John Quiggin, William Nordhaus and every other non-comatose economist who has studied the problem says, we need a carbon tax at the social cost of carbon.

At which point we’re done. Might be worth throwing a bit more money at interesting research ideas. Solar’s such a large industry that it can fund its own innovation these days, even if we might keep paying for the scientists in their labs. Something like iron fertilisation’s rather more of a public good so could usefully use tax money. But beside the carbon tax these are all near trivia.

Globalised capitalism with a carbon tax and the rest is details. That is the scientific consensus.

There could be some truth in this

Dec. 1st, 2015 06:49 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Mr Putin and Mr Erdogan traded accusations as they took their respective turns at the podium at the summit on climate change in Paris.
“We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory,” said Mr Putin.
“We have received additional information which unfortunately confirms that this oil, produced in areas controlled by Isil and other terrorist organisations, is transported on an industrial scale to Turkey.”

The story is, and it is only gossip so far, that the President’s son organises the convoys. The Russians are the first to have attacked those convoys, thus the Turkish reaction.

That I don’t normally believe or trust Putin doesn’t mean he can’t be right sometimes.

[syndicated profile] craig_whittaker_twfy_feed

We have heard about the 20,000 cancelled operations and the inconvenience caused to patients by the planned strikes, but I wonder whether my right hon. Friend could report to the House how serving the needs of patients features in the negotiations with junior doctors so that patients can get the same level of care seven days a week?

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson


Another Tuesday morning after the LAB meeting the night before

It’s Tuesday morning and like many other Tuesdays since Mr Corbyn had his huge victory in the Labour leadership election the political news is dominated by what happened at the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Last night the massive chasm between Corbyn and his MPs never appeared wider and it is hard to see how this can get any better. This is the new normality.

Corbyn has not helped himself by some unwise appointments. The role that he’s given Ken Livingstone on defence looks like a massive mistake which has been exacerbated by the former Mayor’s comments on 7/7.

For the time being the LAB leader and his MPs are stuck with each other in a loveless forced marriage and will be for the foreseeable future.

It’s in this context that Thursday’s Oldham West and Royton by-election takes place. This is a seat, remember, that Labour won with a majority of 34% on May 7th. The very idea that this could be vulnerable is breathtaking in itself.

If that happens the widespread perception that Corbyn is an electoral liability will be confirmed and you can bet that the LAB MPs who are most hostile to their leader will use it as pretext to put the pressure on even more.

On the other hand a victory, however small, might ease the jitters and give Mr Corbyn some respite.

Mike Smithson

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Apropos this rotten cold, a poll.

Nov. 30th, 2015 08:47 pm
[personal profile] commodorified
I've been hearing about this whole 'tonsil removal and ice cream' thing basically forever. And it puzzles me greatly.

Admittedly, I had my tonsils removed when I was 18, and had had serious trouble with them for years, so it was a fairly complicated removal, but it took me slightly more than a week to successfully consume 2 litres of water within a 24-hour period and thus win my release from hospital and my ever-present IV, yclept Henry. (Not, sadly, "Henry IV": I would totally do that now, but this was then.)

Cold water, as well as even the most forgiving solids, took ... rather longer. There's a reason nobody tells you to put ice directly on fresh stitches, let me tell you what.

Had anyone attempted to feed me ice cream directly after the surgery they would have been exceedingly fortunate to escape having suffered no more than a paint-strippingly old-fashioned look (and only because my throat was too swollen to allow me to talk and I was too loaded on Demerol to throw a punch, at that.)


Poll #17145 In this poll, "ice cream" can also mean frozen yoghurt, sorbet, rice dream, etc.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 49

I had my tonsils taken out!

View Answers

I was a child, and there was ice cream, and it was good.
4 (8.2%)

I was a child, and there was ice cream, and it was awful.
0 (0.0%)

I was a child, and there was no ice cream
5 (10.2%)

I was an adult, and there was ice cream, and it was good.
2 (4.1%)

I was an adult, and there was ice cream, and it was awful.
0 (0.0%)

I was an adult, and there was no ice cream.
3 (6.1%)

I retain both my tonsils and an uncontrollable desire to tick boxes.
35 (71.4%)

(Optional but interesting) My tonsils were removed in (year):

Hot Earth Dreams, by Frank Landis

Dec. 1st, 2015 01:45 am
[syndicated profile] davidnm_feed

Posted by davidnm2009

Unfortunately, climate change is something that matters to all of us, and is going to matter even more as this century wears on. With this grim fact in mind, Hot Earth Dreams is a serious work of speculation on what the Earth’s warm, storm-ridden and wet future might be like.

The short version is, we’re completely and nightmarishly fucked. Things aren’t quite as bad as is conceivable, but there aren’t many grounds for optimism either.


Regrettably, I can’t see many grounds on which to disagree with Dr. Landis’s conclusions, bleak as they are. There isn’t much in the way of a silver lining; for what it’s worth, Hot Earth Dreams posits that human extinction is unlikely (we’re a bit too tough and a bit too adaptable for that), and the book also discounts the possibility of a Venus-style runaway greenhouse.

So, there are our two rays of light. Hang onto them, because you’re going to need them.

Basically, take one part the backstory to Fallout, one part Eva Fairdeath and one part Gaia’s vengeance. Put them in a mixer and shake well. Then find something else to drink, because this cocktail will burn on the way down.

So, let’s have a detailed look at our nightmare carbonated future…

What I Liked

First of all, it’s good to see a serious exploration of the implications of climate change. Basically, Hot Earth Dreams assumes that eventually, our current civilisation will burn through all the fossil carbon – the so-called ‘terafart’, as Dr Landis puts it. We can expect to have run out of fossil carbon by the start of the 22nd Century, at which presumably, industrial civilisation will crater in a particularly-spectacular style. (Even now, too many key technologies are dependent on fossil carbon. Take that away and we’re in trouble.)

The writing style of the book is a definite plus – colloquial rather than academic and with some black humour, which keeps the subject from becoming unmanageably-depressing.

The book covers a range of topics. Each chapter handles a different issue. Social issues are considered alongside scientific ones; there’s a lot of context to look at. Hot Earth Dreams isn’t afraid to ask “what if?” and isn’t afraid to explore implications. A wide variety of knowledge is drawn on, from chemistry and mineralogy to agriculture and astrophysics.

Another point in the book’s favour is that it acknowledges that some of its extrapolations are on firmer ground than others, and it’s honest about the limitations and error-bars that exist on current knowledge. Incidentally, this is how to spot real science as opposed to press-release pabulum – real science has ifs, buts, domains of validity and error bars. Press release pabulum basks in the warm light of false confidence.

The book points out that one of the most dangerous aspects of climate change isn’t the rise in average temperatures – whilst that’s bad, the real problem is likely to be the so-called ‘global weirding’. Take a complex, interdependent system where all the components act on each other to some extent, and kick it with a terrifyingly-large amount of extra energy – and watch it spasm around in some crazy and self-destructive way. Then, realise that’s what we’re doing to our planet’s atmosphere. Think rapidly-varying weather, storms, droughts, snow in summer, all kinds of craziness. Think fields of crops destroyed by freak hailstorms, think hurricanes tracking across Europe, think three feet of snow in the Gobi desert. And realise you’re thinking of a world where agriculture probably isn’t workable anymore.

Yeah, it’s fucked up, isn’t it?

Also, the terafart’s effects will hang around long after we’re gone. Dr Landis estimates that it will take around 400,000 years for the Earth to completely-remove the terafart from the atmosphere. Peak temperatures aren’t due for several centuries, even if we stopped vomiting carbon tomorrow, and oceanic thermal expansion will carry on for several thousand years. (It takes a long time for the deep waters to heat up.)

As to why Dr. Landis thinks this is locked in – well, basically, the current political economy requires carbon-based energy sources to make it function. He cites in particular the example of the US land-value system, which has a built-in presumption in favour of development. This is great from a point of view of getting roads and cities constructed, but it has the effect of ensuring the destruction of the wilderness – and the carbon sinks that exist in said wilderness. As to why this can’t be reformed, well, it would have the effect of messing with the whole system of land ownership and value, which would affect hundreds of millions of people, and probably also require rewriting the Constitution. In other words, it’s quite literally politically-impossible. The system simply can’t be reformed.

Also, most of the world’s population are fed via fertiliser-mediated farming. And, umm, a lot of modern high-grade fertilisers are petrochemical derivatives. Yeah, think about that for a minute. And shudder.

The worst thing of all is, we’re doing this to ourselves.

Dr. Landis is sceptical about the likelihood of future technologies coming to the rescue. He notes that yes, in theory, fusion-based electricity would be the sort of thing that could save us, and yes there has been a lot of progress in solar power recently. But, fusion has been a long time coming – it’s been forty years away for the last forty years – and it’s not clear that anything’s changed. And solar power has huge problems with power-plant life cycles, unexpected things like water bills(! – these being to clean the panels when they get dirty) and also the crippling electric storage issue. (The oil companies own the patents to the batteries and guess what? They don’t like people doing research on high power-density storage media, because this would undermine their profit margins. Another tick to the box about the economically-locked-in nature of this problem! Capitalism, unfortunately, is part of the problem here, and probably not part of the solution. However, too many peoples’ careers and bank accounts depend on hanging onto every single dysfunctional aspect of the current system.)

Also, the current priority of most so-called ‘tech’ companies at present seems to be less critical infrastructure and more ‘free’-pr0n apps for your mobile phone. Yeah, depressing.

Dr. Landis reckons the real meltdown will begin sometime after 2050, so just in time for most people reading this to be retiring. Lucky us. (On the plus side, I feel less guilty about not bothering much about pensions now!)

What I Found Problematic

It’s a book about climate change causing the collapse of our civilisation and killing most of our grandchildren – everything is problematic!


Okay, the book is currently being self-published via Amazon, so it has a few issues here and there with typesetting. I didn’t find them to be critical, but they were niggles.

Also, some of the sources were a bit shaky. Whilst it only happens a few times, and to his credit Dr. Landis acknowledges the weakness, I’m not very keen on relying on Wikipedia as a source. There’s a lot of inaccuracy and propaganda on there, sadly.

Lastly, the astronomical sections had some weaknesses. Whilst the discussion of the Milankovitch cycles is broadly accurate, it’s worth noting that they’re more down to the interactions with Venus and Jupiter than they are to Saturn. Also, a surprising lacuna was that the book didn’t discuss at all the growing body of research on solar variations. (Since “Its’ the Sun wot did it!” is a common – and wrong – refrain of climate denialists, I found this absence surprising.)

Also, as a specific nitpick, the red giant expansion timescale for the Sun is 5 billion years, not 1 billion as the book states. (In fairness, this affects none of the book’s conclusions, though.)


If you’re interested in a serious exploration of the likely consequences of anthropogenic climate change, then this book is an essential read.

If however you want to sleep again at any point in the rest of your life, then you might want to read something else.

synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)

(no subject)

Nov. 30th, 2015 06:37 pm
[personal profile] synecdochic
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)

New(ish) Crime Writers, part 3.

Nov. 30th, 2015 10:58 pm
[syndicated profile] crooked_timber_feed

Posted by Harry

Onto Tana French, the first of the ‘only counts as British because all Irish people who accomplish impressive things get claimed as British unless, of course, those impressive things involve some sort of successful military or political action against the British’ crime writers (Brit-ish, perhaps, with apologies to Jonathan Miller). I’ll be honest, I’d seen her books in airport bookstores for a while; my unreasonable prejudice against apparently made-up names (I know that Nicci French is a made up name, and suspect I was confusing Tana with Nicci); and quite well-supported belief that books in airport bookstores are not for me led me to dismiss her. [1] A friend gave me In The Woods for my 50th birthday, and I eventually turned to it. So…

All 5 books so far are brilliant.

They constitute a series, although the central protagonist of each book is different, and, after the first one, is typically someone who appeared in a less central role in a previous novel—all members of the (fictional) Dublin Murder Squad. This gives French more freedom than most series writers, allowing her to play with different characters, and allowing readers room for to imagine that loose ends (as in the first novel) might get tied up later—maybe much later. Her confidence and mastery show up in her outright violation of one of the great conventions of crime writing in the very first novel (no, I’m not going to tell you which convention, that’d ruin it), and doing it well! The masterpiece – her Brat Farrar, in more senses than one – is her second, The Likeness. Like Kate Atkinson, French is willing to stretch credulity, and I think The Likeness is the crime novel I have believed in that stretched my credulity more than any other (including Brat Farrar) depending, as it does, on the idea that the protagonist can impersonate a recently dead doppleganger well enough to fool at least some and maybe all of the people the dead woman lived with (a household resembling slightly the revolting cast of The Secret History). My teenage daughter thought I would find The Secret Place – set in a posh girls’ school where the investigating detective’s daughter is connected to a clique any one of which, including her, might be the killer – sub-par, because, she thought, I would find the characterizations of the teenage girls implausible, but I didn’t. And, she, the budding sociologists, said that if I had found them implausible I’d have been wrong. [2]

Although in so many ways unlike PD James, it’s no surprise to find Innocent Blood on her top ten list (and still less to find two books by Josephine Tey). Her claustrophobic worlds are populated with characters damaged by their pasts. I look forward to her next book the way I used to look forward to the next Reginald Hill or PD James (and still do when I forget that none is on its way).

Finally. As usual, ideally you’d read the books in the order they are written in. But, I would say this series is more forgiving in that way than most. Definitely you should read the first two in order (In the Woods, then The Likeness). and definitely you should read the 3rd and 5th in order (Faithful Place then The Secret Place), but you could get away with reading 3-5 before 1 and 2, if you had to.

[1] Why can’t one of those freakonomics people write about why the quality of books in airports has not improved during the period in which the quality of food in airports has improved?

[2] According to wikipedia the New York Times praised the novel as “much more than a genre piece” but noted that the teenage characters’ frequent use of American slang “may not make this the most inviting milieu for those who like the sheer Irishness of her other novels.”: fwiw, having seen my step-nephews’ texts and facebook posts, the texting seemed wholly realistic to me.

Analysis of the political debate

Nov. 30th, 2015 10:48 pm
[syndicated profile] love_and_garbage_feed

Posted by loveandgarbage

Let us be clear on this: any observer will note that everyone seems certain. Whether you are of the view that something or nothing must be done the position taken is certain. There are some who with certainty say that something must be done.  And as this is something we must do it.  And there are others who say with certainty that this is wrong and that nothing should be done, or that while something should be done the something that is proposed is not desirable and that other things should be done, although the nature of those other things is such that in effect they are things that amount to nothing. And those who argue that nothing (or a collection of things that are something but in effect amount to nothing) must be done say, with certainty, that those who are in favour of doing something have not thought about the consequences of doing something, and that doing something will mean that a much worse thing will happen. And those who argue that something must be done point out, with certainty, that doing nothing has consequences too, because doing nothing is the omission of doing something and that the consequences of failing to do something (or doing things that in effect amount to doing nothing) will mean that a much worse thing than the something they propose will happen. The difficulty in comprehending how to proceed is not helped by the fact that the main person who wants to do something always seems to want to do something. Indeed, two years ago he wanted to do something that was directly contradictory to the thing he wants to do now – but at the time it was a thing that could be done, and so he would have been prepared to do it. Because it would have been something. However, he is now glad that he did not do something then, because if he had done something then it would have meant that something worse might have happened now, and that is an even worse thing than the thing that happened because he did nothing.  Now this might seem to make things easier, but the person who wants to do nothing is pretending that he would be happy to do something if the thing that could be done did not actually amount to anything by setting a series of conditions as to things that he knows are impossible to attain, and consequently amount to nothing. Every observer knows that he always wants to do nothing, and so arguing that he has carefully considered the position and concluded that doing nothing is the answer sits awkwardly with his never wanting to do something, meaning that the things he has said he has considered before deciding that he should not do something but should instead do nothing might actually not have been things at all, and were in fact nothing.

In conclusion if, like me, you are someone who thinks that sometimes you should do something, but that sometimes you should do nothing you fall into an undesirable position of uncertainty which means that your views count for nothing, or something – depending on who you talk to.

I hope that has cleared things up.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

So, about the Prime Directive

Nov. 30th, 2015 04:12 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I wonder if it was motivated by the fact the Federation knew it was surrounded by far more advanced civilizations.

(or did the Organians just insist the Federation adopt it? I don't recall)
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British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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