Are we barking up the wrong tree?
I have wondered for a while if we are focussing on the wrong things, particularly where the EU is concerned. For the record, I want to remain in the EU. I see it as a flawed institution, run by the same cadre of neoliberal capitalists as those who run this country and most of the other countries in Europe. It has, however, two things going for it. The first is the possibility of deeper co-operation across national boundaries. The second is that it has woven into it a thick texture of human rights which the neoliberals, despite their best efforts, have been unable to unwind – it was after all woven in before they came along.
But when I look at this country’s biggest problems, the EU is neither the problem nor the solution. The media cacophony remains completely confusing as to why people voted to leave. The people who voted leave are equally confusing, and there are massive attempts to shut down debate by taking offence if suggestions are made that, for instance, cutting immigration will not solve any problems other than the fragility of some people’s sense of national identity. Taking back control does not take back control, but meely hands it to different members of the neoliberal elite. We still need to identify and solve the problems which have caused such disaffection with the political process.
Advocating staying in the EU is the same as advocating different voting systems. There is no point in either if nothing changes. For a very large majority of those who voted to leave, the key problem is disillusionment. Their experience is that, whatever changes at the top, their circumstances do not change. That experience has, if anything, been reinforced in recent years as the elite gets richer and working lives become more precarious. They do not perceive the benefits of staying in the EU; if anything they have been seduced into blaming some of the features of the EU – free movement of people, for instance – as being the cause of their ills.
So, while the flag at the top of our pole still needs to fly – to remain engaged with the EU (and also to think in terms of fairer voting systems), this means nothing to many people if we do not have detailed and credible policies for improving the material conditions of their lives, and make it clear that we prioritise these over what voters see as more flighty, less relevant issues.
So we should focus on housing (100% on the Farronometer there) – making housing available and affordable. This goes whether it is for renters or owners, and we should encourage more use of different forms of tenure – co-ownership and so on.
We should focus on public services, particular in terms of adjusting financing when population movement causes pressure. This goes with localism, a great LibDem virtue, but again, localism goes nowhere in the public mind without tangible outcomes.
We should focus on regional policy, particularly those regions that voted heavily in favour of Brexit. Not directly because of that, but because that vote was nurtured in a sense of loss for destroyed prospects that have never been recovered. The focus of any policy decision should be the benefit to the region: if, say, someone proposes a new rail link between London and South Wales, the key question should be what is the benefit to South Wales.
We should focus on employment and benefit policies which are fit for the reality of the precarious working lives of too many people nowadays. Universal Credit is a good idea, being implemented in a hopeless fashion. The idea can be salvaged while removing the vindictiveness at the heart of current Department of Work and Pensions culture.
Political ideas work best with tangible benefits. We’ve been great at the ideas; we need to found them solidly in tangible outcomes.
* Rob Parsons is a Lib Dem member in Lewes. He blogs at http://acomfortableplace.blogspot.co.uk
In reading news, I've finished Simon Brett's Bones under the Beach Hut which is consolidating my view that his Feathering series isn't anything like as engaging as Charles Paris's on-going drift gently downwards, but they're perfectly OK candy-floss.
I've also read Patrick Leigh Fermor's Roumeli, the companion piece to Mani. Chapter 6, Sounds of the Greek World is one of my favourite bits of his prose, practically free verse, the sort of thing I also adore in Stevie Smith and at the opening of David Pownall's Light on a Honeycomb and in parts of Ulysses; words thrown at the page with what looks like carelessness; the kind of thing Cat Valente aims at and misses by a country mile.
I have to say, if the Doctor ever showed up and offered me a trip, I think I'd happily spend a few years simply stalking Leigh Fermor round Greece and the Balkans and accidentally-on-purpose bumping into him from time to time. I doubt he'd be surprised. He never strikes me as the surprised sort. But you wouldn't want him to get a whiff of the Tardis. One would never hear the last of it (also, I suspect he'd cross his own timelines trying to retrieve his lost notebooks, specifically the ones nicked from the youth hostel in Munich and the set that were being stored somewhere that got demolished in the Blitz.)
Anyway, off to Italy for ten days from Wednesday.
There was a time when news of the death of the King took months to percolate through to all parts of the realm. Some villages heard the news when a random horse rider came through after taking a wrong turning. I like to think that some villagers in some instances didn’t hear about the death of the King until his successor had also died, but perhaps that is fanciful.
Nowadays the death of the head of state is plastered all over all types of media at breakfast, dinner and tea for months.
Have we lost sight of the point of news? Can we learn more from BBC Radio Four’s “From our own correspondent” than we can from watching 24 hour news channels?
This very point was raised by the outgoing head of BBC radio, Helen Boaden at an Italian media conference.
Ms Boaden, a 34 year BBC veteran who was their Head of News, said:
(I should say, as Michael Fish told me, that it is impossible to have a hurricane in North London. It’s something to do with the sea temperatures, I seem to remember.)
It is conceivable that we have lost some of our sense of perspective. But, then again, I suppose we can all vote with our fingers and simply not watch such channels.
Due to a bit of incompetent travel planning by yours truly, I ended up listening to the BBC World Service at 4am on Thursday morning. “Newsday” was the programme. Now there was radio that sounded modern and informal while being serious where needed. The presenters sounded distinctly unfossilised. It is such programming which is a credit to the BBC and this country.
And there wasn’t a “breaking news” interruption to be found.
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. As part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team he helps with photos and moderation on the site, as well as occsionally contributing articles. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.
John Greathouse, a venture capitalist, recently decided to ignore the sense he was born with and pen an article giving his helpful opinion on what women in tech – a group he has never been part of – should be doing to overcome sexism. That’s right, folks, once again the burden falls not on the discriminators, but […]
The post Dear John Greathouse: women in tech have some advice for you too appeared first on Gadgette.
For example, the cost of a cup of Lavazza coffee on Ryanair is the equivalent of £2.55 when converted from euros.
But if you purchased the same coffee at supermarkets, available in 100g tins for £3, each serving comes in at just six pence.
This means a mark-up of 4,150 per cent was applied to the coffee.
What’s the cost of getting a kettle to 30,000 feet?
Further, what’s the cost of the coffee that goes into a £3 Starbucks?
Paedophile footballer Adam Johnson is still earning £5,000-a-week despite being locked up for sexually abusing a teenage fan.
Former Sunderland star Johnson was jailed for six years for engaging in sexual activity with a besotted 15-year-old.
The 28-year-old’s trial at Bradford Crown Court heard that he had kissed and sexually touched the girl in his Range Rover, in a secluded spot in County Durham.
The winger, who was capped 12 times for England, used to earn £60,000-a-week while under contract with Sunderland.
The Black Cats sacked him after he plead guilty to the child sex offences, but it has emerged that Johnson will not be strapped for cash when he is released from prison.
The Daily Star reports that thanks to shrewd property investments and high interest funds before he was convicted, the Premier League star is set to take home around £250,000-a-year without kicking a ball.
Astonishing, that someone should invest their own money.
Or as we might put it, more research that has been done down the pub for centuries:
Forget witty one-liners – the secret of seduction could be as simple as standing next to an ugly friend.
Researchers have discovered that our judgements of people vary according to the company they keep – and if their companion is a plain Jane or a dull Dave, they seem far more appealing.
Well strike me down with a wet haddock, eh?
No one ever knew that until the scientists got on the case….
In her post she savaged the idea that skin colour, and the widespread bias against people with darker tones, could be a joking matter. “In a country where … people don’t get jobs because of their complexion, where every matrimonial advert demands a fair bride or groom … in a country where dark skin is marginalised, making fun of it is not a roast,” she wrote.
The open celebration of fair complexions in India can be striking. One of Bollywood’s most popular songs last year was the syrupy Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan, performed by a lip-synching Sri Lankan actor, Jacqueline Fernandez. All the rage at Indian weddings, its refrain goes: “Please agree, take me shopping. Please listen, show me a romantic movie. I ask you, white wrists, I’ve got white wrists.”
It’s not just India of course. Common across much of southern Asia.
In part the preference for light complexions in India is a colonial hangup. “Remember, we’ve been ruled by fair skin,” said Hansal Mehta, a veteran director, writer and actor from Mumbai.
But Chatterjee, in her post and subsequent interviews, put the blame on an older blight: India’s tenacious caste system, a rigid social strata that some scholars trace back three millennia to the epic folklore that forms Hindu orthodoxy.
“Upper caste equals fair skin equals touchable. Lower caste equals dark skin equals untouchable,” Chatterjee wrote in her post. “Yes, I have pronounced it. Probably most of us will not admit that our hatred for dark skin also comes from caste bias.”
Yes, but not exclusively so. It’s perhaps more deeply rooted in India because of caste. But you can find the beginnings of the same thoughts in Jane Austen. Mother fussing about the girls wearing bonnets so they don’t get the sunshine and thus freckles. Any form of tan might indicate, as with freckles, that they were girls who actually had to work outside and thus were common.
This entirely flipped, and quickly, with indoor work and foreign holidays.
However, to Gary Becker. He said that such prejudice was costly to those expressing the prejudice. Those discriminated against were therefore cheaper in the marketplace than those not so. Meaning that a young man in search of a wife might well now deliberately seek out those with darker skins. For the same set of attributes that he has he may well be able to trade for a sweeter nature, a better dowry (hey, this is India!) or a better pair of bazoombas. Or, if he’s actually serious about the wife bit, a better cook.
Yes, I know, how patriarchal and sexist of me. But the increasing urbanisation of India is going to lead to this happening anyway. For the larger the market the less such discrimination is going to “work”.
The former business minister, who sat in cabinet until July, said Theresa May was a voice of sanity following the referendum, but that the prime minister needed to explain even in “broad terms” what she wanted out of Brexit, as three months later we are “no further forward, and it’s her job to lead us”.
“Liam Fox’s speech this week was very worrying; in fact, it was delusional,” she told the Guardian. “How can we have ‘freer’ free trade? Let’s get real, for God’s sake. It’s really worrying that these are the senior people who have the future of our country in their hands. May is the voice of sanity, and without her I don’t know where the three Brexiteers would take us.”
We currently do not have free trade with the world. Because we are forced, by our membership of the EU customs union, to impose tariffs on goods from outside the EU.
Thus, if we leave the customs union, we can have more free trade. That is, freer, free trade.
That you don’t know this is worrying.
Here's a partial list of changes that will go live with this push, apart from the usual minor tweaks and bugfixes:
- Selective Screening, a new feature that lets you screen comments from a particular user.
- Two new journal layouts with one theme each: Gold Leaf/Elegant Notebook and Venture/Radiant Aqua.
- Six new themes for Heads Up, and seven new themes for Corinthian.
- The minimal spacing between line elements in the list of success links on Foundation pages has been restored.
- Punctuation marks in message subjects will no longer be overescaped.
- The admin pages for the translation system are now hidden from anonymous viewers, to avoid scaring unsuspecting search engine users away from the site.
- The text messaging feature has been removed from user profiles.
- The email notification worker is now less likely to misbehave.
We'll update again to let you know when the code push is in progress!
The two big parties are left scrapping over the also rans
One of the more remarkable features of the polling in the last parliament was the almost complete inability of both Labour and Conservatives to win voters from each other. Vote shares may have gone up and down but it was gains from and losses to the Lib Dems, UKIP, the Greens and SNP (and non-voters) that was responsible; the direct swing between the big two was negligible.
As then, so now. All three polls released this last week tell the same story. ICM record 3% of the Labour vote from 2015 going to the Conservatives, with 3% of the Tories’ general election vote going back the other way; BMG’s figures are almost identical; YouGov have the Tories doing a little better, gaining 6% of Labour’s former vote while losing only 2% of their own but even there, that amounts to a swing of only a half per cent. We’re talking tiny numbers.
The current very comfortable Conservative leads are instead based on two different aspects. Firstly, the Tories are doing better at holding on to their own vote. ICM and YouGov record the Blues as keeping between 72-75% of their 2015 voters, against Labour’s 60-67% (this includes those who say they don’t know or would not vote). And secondly, the Conservatives have done better in the net swings from the lesser parties and in particular, from UKIP.
In fact, the notion that many Corbyn supporters have that the increase in the Conservative lead over the summer can be put down to the leadership challenge is at best only partly true. Labour’s introspection no doubt caused it to miss opportunities but the Labour share has drifted down only very slightly.
Of far more significance since June has been what looks like a direct UKIP-Con swing, presumably off the back of both the end of the EURef campaign and the change in Conservative leader.
What looks to be the case is that Britain is a very divided country with the concept of the traditional swing Lab/Con voter close to extinct and instead, three distinct broad groups (with subdivisions but let’s keep this simple): those who would vote Conservative, those who would vote Labour and those who would vote neither (who, outside of Scotland, we can more-or-less ignore).
So while there’s barely any defecting between the Tory tribe and the Labour lot, they do potentially meet when they go walkabout elsewhere, to UKIP, the Lib Dems or (most frequently) to none of the above.
What that suggests is that the big boys, but especially Labour, need the also-rans to be performing fairly strongly. Without those parties being attractive enough to their rival’s supporters, the negative campaigning of old will be far less effective as voters might be disillusioned but find no real alternative home.
Interestingly, the Lib Dems have been performing fairly strongly against the Conservatives in local by-elections recently but this hasn’t made its way across into the national polls. All the same, that the party seems capable of big swings across the country suggests at least a willingness by Conservative voters to consider them again; a willingness that might translate into Westminster voting given the opportunity.
The Lib Dems will no doubt hope that the opportunity will come in Witney. That might be a little too early but with Con and Lab unable to take support from each other, with a far-left Labour and a Tory government engaged in debates about Europe, if they can’t take advantage in the next two years, they never will.
I'm not starting Luke Cage tonight. I was supposed to watch with someone and she was napping when I called. Tomorrow night, she'll call me. Then Sunday, I'm going to see Queen of Katwe with my aunt.
Tomorrow I pack for Comic Con, and I have to decide if I'm going to ditch some of the t-shirts I already own so I can buy t-shirts there or not. I've already spotted one that I want and I'm not even there yet!
( large image cut to save your reading page )
Also, Jen Bartel is selling a Girl Gang snapback that I kind of covet.
Today was my old boss's last day full-time. :/
In general, one commit on Github equals one point in the "Changes" column, but fractional points are awarded for collaborative efforts — the most common example being a new S2 theme, where usually half credit is awarded to the theme author and the other half to the person who converts the theme into a code patch. Due to the nature of development, some changes are massive contributions of new code, and others are tiny tweaks; there is no correlation with the amount of effort involved. We are grateful to everyone who helps to improve Dreamwidth, in ways large or small.
I last compiled this list at the beginning of April. Since that time, we have welcomed five new contributors: dfabulich, phidari, wohali, pinterface, and onlyembers. Congratulations and thank you again!
# User Changes Latest 1. kareila 1030 Fri Sep 30 19:09:51 2016 UTC 2. woggy 17 Thu Sep 29 22:26:43 2016 UTC 3. momijizukamori 224.16 Thu Sep 29 19:58:05 2016 UTC 4. onlyembers 0.5 Thu Sep 29 19:58:05 2016 UTC 5. pinterface 15.5 Sat Sep 24 00:19:48 2016 UTC 6. wohali 1 Wed Aug 31 14:12:26 2016 UTC 7. hotlevel4 52 Fri Jul 15 22:39:55 2016 UTC 8. kaberett 44 Thu Jul 14 14:59:58 2016 UTC 9. mark 552.5 Mon Jun 27 04:24:47 2016 UTC 10. phidari 2 Sat Jun 18 21:14:12 2016 UTC 11. cesy 29.83 Sat Jun 18 15:28:34 2016 UTC 12. chrisboyle 15 Sun May 15 12:08:22 2016 UTC 13. me_and 36 Sun May 15 11:33:08 2016 UTC 14. dfabulich 1 Mon Apr 25 19:53:40 2016 UTC 15. alierak 19.5 Sun Apr 10 22:41:50 2016 UTC 16. azurelunatic 8 Mon Mar 28 05:54:30 2016 UTC 17. srukle 7 Wed Mar 23 16:44:54 2016 UTC 18. sgsabbage 17 Wed Feb 24 20:45:39 2016 UTC 19. sophie 58 Sun Feb 14 18:19:32 2016 UTC 20. ljacob 1 Sat Nov 07 12:13:45 2015 UTC( The rest of the list... (159 total) )
Here is the surprising story of how a British Conservative politician played a key role in creating the European Convention on Human Rights:
The animation is inspired by the life and words of David Maxwell Fyfe (1900-1967). Here is some real footage of him at work during the Nuremberg trials:
On April 2, 1946, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe of the British Delegation cross-examined Von Ribbentrop, the Nazi Germany Foreign Minister. It was deemed one of the most striking cross-examinations of the Trial enhanced by the Aliies having a large number of captured documents. Subjects discussed included the matter of pressure on the Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg; admissions of the threat of force in Czechoslovakia; treatment of the Yugoslav partisans and relations with Great Britain.
Fuming frenchie causes a oui bit of damage
A French man has been charged after he stormed into an Apple store and smashed up iPhones and MacBooks using a metal ball that is more commonly used for the traditional game of pétanque.…
Web giant offers open-source AI-powered X-rated pic hunter
Having laid bare over half a billion usernames and passwords through meager funding and witless indifference, Yahoo! is putting its faith in artificial intelligence to protect people from bare skin.
Nobody who made Strange Horizons' annual count—still not holding a grudge—has reviewed as many books by POC as I have. That's less a matter of diligence on my part (my total for 2016 will likely only be about 60) than a measure of how low a bar the annual count sets for me in this matter.
Review source POC (%)
James Nicoll Reviews 2015: 45 (14)
JNR 2016: 44 (23)
Strange Horizons: 30 (22
Locus: 22 (7)
Tor: 18 (13)
Lightspeed: 14 (50)
Romantic Times: 14 (10)
Io9: 12 (21)
NYRSF: 11 (26)
SFX: 10 (6)
CSZ: 8 (35)
Interzone 7 (10)
LARB: 7 (20)
F&SF: 5 (9)
Vector: 4 (8)
Asimov's: 3 (6)
Analog: 3 (4)
SFS: 2 (4)
Foundation: 1 (3)
Rising Shadows 1 (1)
Or to put another way, it's pretty easy for a single person to read and review as much spec fic by POC as Rising Shadows, Foundation, Analog, Asimov's, Vector, F&SF, LARB, Interzone, CSZ and SFX did en masse in 2015. The good news is, it would be very, very easy for Rising Shadows, Foundation, SFS, Analog, Asimov's, Vextor, F&SF, SFX, and Locus to improve their numbers in this matter merely by increasing the fraction of books by POC they read from single to low double digit percentages.