The second of the juveniles, Space Cadet is from 1948 but more improved over Rocket Ship Galileo than the passage of one year would warrant.
By 2075, the Earth unified, although not as peacefully as in Rocket Ship Galileo; Denver is a crater, as are other cities. The current peace is enforced by the Patrol and naïve Matt Dodson wants to be one of its many officers. Happily for Matt, he is one of the few good enough for the Patrol to consider but when we meet him, on his way to the academy, he has no idea if he will be one of the majority of washouts or if perhaps he can be polished into the sort of young who might kill a million of his fellow citizens in nuclear fire.
In some ways, that sounds like the lead-in to a Lensmen story but the men of the Patrol, while elite in their way, are no super-humans.
( Read more... )
a small engined car with four people in it has lower emissions, lower pollution, than four people traveling by train. So it simply isn’t true that everyone benefits from more train travelThe second sentence there does not follow on from the first. While the first sentence is, indeed, true, when was the last time you saw a car of ANY engine size being used as a commuter vehicle that had more than one or two people in it? And aside from that small disingenuousness, whoever said that the only benefit that everyone gets from train travel is lower pollution? There is also less congestion for those who DO drive, and there is also the small matter of the fact that for many people public transport is the only option.
My second problem with the article is illustrated by these two sentences:
Some City fund manager who commutes in from 50 miles outside London should not have his lifestyle choice subsidised by the rest of us... why should the poor pay taxes so the middles classes can live in the greenbelt?The blithe and blind assumption that the train is a rich person's mode of transport tells its own tale: if the train is a rich person's mode of transport, then what are those of us who can't afford a car supposed to do, hop? In reality this is a perfect illustration of the fact that trains are already too expensive, rather than that subsidies need to be cut, pushing fares higher.
I suspect this probably comes from a London-centric mindset. Up here in the Frozen North, those of us in mimimum wage jobs sometimes have to commute long distances to get from housing we can afford TO the minimum wage job. I use the train to commute to work, and the bus, and I'm quite happy for what taxes I pay to go towards subsidising public transport because otherwise I would not be able to get to my minimum wage job which Tim professes to have such concern for.
My third problem is the argument "my taxes should not go towards something I don't use", which is basically the point of the snide comments about mimimum wage workers paying for rich people to travel by train. I'm never going to need prostate surgery, but I don't object to paying for other people's. Nor do I object to paying for jobseeker's allowance, or disability benefits, or pensions. Nor do I object to paying for my bloody useless Tory MP who has actively gone against my interests several times while he's been in the House. Nor do I complain about paying for the street-lighting to be on all night, even though it bloody KEEPS ME AWAKE. I don't object to paying for these things that I don't use or am actively annoyed by, because I recognise that they are necessary.
Something that I definitely think is necessary is a working public transport system. Mass transit which is cheap and reliable creates a more mobile and flexible workforce, and that keeps the economy going. I am certainly not going to object to paying for THAT. And I would happily cut spending in other areas to obtain and maintain a cheap and reliable public transit system, because I am fully aware that there isn't a magic money tree.
Finally, most of the people who shared the article approvingly did so while sharing this quote from it:
We should not be taxing the man who cycles to work at minimum wage in order to pay for wealthier people top travel longer distances.*Well, yes, because we shouldn't be taxing the person on minimum wage AT ALL**. Which, happily, is Lib Dem policy. So yes, vote Lib Dem, get angry blue-haired nascent train geeks cutting your taxes.
*typo included was in the article, not mine. As was the assumption that the minimum wage guy cycles to work, while the posh city gent uses the train *rolleyes*
**not income tax anyway. There are, of course, other taxes available.
It was a good con, but a bit disorienting for me.
It's the first time I've ever attended a con as a disabled fan (I have costochondritis and it means I suffer from chest pain and exhaustion)
All power to the access desk for telling me I was disabled and to stop waffling about not needing help. I only used the access ribbon twice, but both times I really needed it.
I felt a bit alone the first day -I arrived on Friday as I had morris commitments on Thursday. I'm not used to going around cons on my own. I much prefer to share the experience with someone. I kept passing friends heading in the opposite direction.
Hm, typing seems to be setting off the chest pain again...
Very brief. I ended up attending a lot of filk concerts which were excellent and I could enjoy even when pain made me a bit fuzzy. I got to see 'Before the Dawn' which I greatly enjoyed. I went to two Shakespeare items which were both hysterically funny (intentionally so). I hit a few lit and science items and felt the overall programme was very good.
I liked the food in the boulevard -thought the prices very reasonable and a good variety too.
Some people were over-programmed. One rather haggard moderator said it was his sixth panel of the day!
I also enjoyed meeting Gillian Polack, hte Australian GUFF representative. Very interesting conversation and I wish I could have afforded a copy of her book (I'll have to hope it comes out as an ebook). I love writers who love research.
Things I need to do before I start my book tour next Tuesday (in no particular order):
1. Get a haircut
2. Finalize my reading selections (currently: A deleted chapter from Lock In, a sneak preview of the upcoming sequel to The Human Division, and… see, this is why I have to finalize selections).
3. Finish up a couple more promotional pieces/interviews
4. Go shopping for travel-related items
5. Sleep as much as humanly possible
6. Decide whether or not to keep the beard or go out on tour clean-shaven
7. Finalize tour commitments
8. Make plans to see friends and such at various stops
10. Something I’m no doubt forgetting at the moment which I will remember at the last minute, or not, in which case I’ll be on my way to Houston when I loudly proclaim, “oh, fuck,” on the plane, causing the incognito US Marshall to take me down with a taser, followed by an emergency landing in, oh, let’s say, Omaha.
Things you need to do before I start my book tour next Tuesday (in no particular order):
1. Find out which tour stop of mine is closest to you
2. Procure a large van and shove every person you have ever met into it
3. Drive them all to the tour stop of mine that is closest to you
4. Enjoy me be a performing monkey for you
5. Get a copy of Lock In or another one of my books for me to sign
6. Have me sign it for you and share a very special 30 seconds with me and also a picture and possibly a soda
7. Drive yourself and everyone you know back home in the procured van, stuffed with happy memories and signed books and maybe some Taco Bell because you all got snacky
8. Return the van, remembering to wipe away any fingerprints
9. Act surprised the next day when you neighbor rants about the damn kids who stole his van and returned it smelling like chalupas and Baja Blast Mountain Dew
10. Floss. Because that’s just always a good idea.
Let’s get these things done, people!
This was a quiet week for by-elections. There was just one Council by-election in Wroxham (Broadland DC). The Liberal Democrats were piped to the post by just fourteen votes in the ‘Capital of the Norfolk Broads’. The Conservative candidate emerged victorious with 400 votes (45%) to take the seat from the Liberal Democrats. Malcolm Springall, the Liberal Democrat candidate, received 386 votes (43.4%) and Labour came third with 11.6%. This result is especially disappointing for the Liberal Democrats as they managed to win a by-election in the ward in March with a 141 majority.
Thursday also saw the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner by-election following the death of the Labour PCC in July. Labour retained the Commissioner with 50.8% of the first preference votes. The by-election however has been marred by the record low turnout of just 10.32% (the lowest turnout recorded for a PCC election). In Coventry just 9.54% of voters went to cast their vote. Ayoub Khan stood again for the Liberal Democrats and his vote share remained stable at 6.5%.
There is just one council by-election next week. In North Jesmond (Newcastle CC) the Liberal Democrats are defending a seat after the sitting councillor moved away for work reasons. If you’re able to help email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
For all the detailed results see ALDC elections.
* ALDC is the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners
We've got just ONE day to go before DOCTOR WOO returns with brand new Doctor, Sir Peter of Capaldi.
So we've been celebrating by watching all of the Grand Moff's stories so far.
It would be UNFAIR to suggest that this hospitalised Daddy Alex, but we have to confess that our little remake of Carry On Doctor may have slightly DERAILED our Matt Marathon… our scaling the Matt-a-horn. Sufficient to say that Season Six has proved… difficult.
But looking back at the GRAND PLAN we suddenly realised we'd been looking at it all wrong! What was it we'd missed? It was right there on screen from the beginning, from The Eleventh Hour!
Who destroyed the Universe? The Silence didn't destroy the Universe; the idea is absurd. Only two powers in all of space and time have been seen to have the power to do that. And the Daleks were trying to stop it.
What did we see in The Eleventh Hour? We saw what was on the other side of the Crack. The Crack in the surface of the Universe. We saw what was on the inside. Inside Time. And it was a PRISON.
Where in the Moffat era would you hide the Time Lords? Where else but inside a lost story. Inside THE lost story.
The other side of the Crack isn't Gallifrey.
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Patrick Johnson runs Personhood Ohio, a religious group that lobbies politicians to restrict women’s access to healthcare under the guise of protecting unborn babies.
In his free time, Johnson has related hobbies, like banning female nudity because breasts lead to the downfall of society. He’s not just talking about nudie bars, but also women’s freedom to breastfeed in public places. Because as we all know, an embryo is a person deserving of all the freedoms and rights bestowed upon citizens of the United States, but once it gets born, it should hurry up and learn to feed its own damn self.
Johnson points out that female nudity is not only destroying marriages somehow, but is also responsible for the success of gay pride. Stay with me now…he says that the Columbus, OH gay pride parade gets half a million participants due to the fact that the women in the parade go topless.
Look, Mr. Johnson, I don’t know what kind of magical powers you think our nipples have that yours don’t, but I’m afraid they aren’t the hypno-tits that you’re worried about. They don’t emit some ultrasonic siren drawing married men to their deaths.
And besides that, Johnson’s proposed ban on female nudity is destined to fail. If it passed, it would make Ohio the only state in the US to outlaw breastfeeding. I have a better idea: all the married men in Johnson’s church group could just stab their own eyes out. That way, they never have to see another breast again, and their marriages will be safe. Ohio law won’t violate the constitution, babies will continue to be fed on time, and we can all still enjoy the wonderful array of boobies on display in the gay pride parade.
Everyone wins. Your move, Mr. Johnson.
Next, the 2004 list. Two people, Robin Teverson and Celia Thomas, were preferred in 2006, and Monroe was on that list too - at number 4 this time - whilst Dee had chosen not to run. However, there were three more names on that list who went on to get a peerage. Ben Stoneham, at number 12, was another on the November 2010 list, as was Jonathan Marks (number 28). And, loosely sandwiched between the two at number 24, was Julie Smith, whose peerage was announced earlier this month.
The 2006 list drew an even shorter straw, with only four appointments made during its lifetime - Sue Garden (number 7) got a thoroughly justified nomination in September 2007. However, four more women on that list - Dee Doocey (number 2 and already mentioned above), Kate Parminter (number 3), Olly Grender (number 9) and Meral Ece (number 21) - went to get peerages, Kate and Meral in May 2010, and Olly in August last year.
So, what has happened since then?...
Nature has some useful research into how academics and researchers use social networks, including several designed just for them:
In 2011, Emmanuel Nnaemeka Nnadi needed help to sequence some drug-resistant fungal pathogens. A PhD student studying microbiology in Nigeria, he did not have the expertise and equipment he needed. So he turned to ResearchGate, a free social-networking site for academics…
More than 4.5 million researchers have signed up for ResearchGate, and another 10,000 arrive every day, says [its founder, Ijad] Madisch … And Madisch has grand goals for the site: he hopes that it will become a key venue for scientists wanting to engage in collaborative discussion, peer review papers, share negative results that might never otherwise be published, and even upload raw data sets. “With ResearchGate we’re changing science in a way that’s not entirely foreseeable,” he says, telling investors and the media that his aim for the site is to win a Nobel prize.
Such social networks are not without their controversy:
Despite the excitement and investment, it is far from clear how much of the activity on these sites involves productive engagement, and how much is just passing curiosity — or a desire to access papers shared by other users that they might otherwise have to pay for. “I’ve met basically no academics in my field with a favourable view of ResearchGate,” says Daniel MacArthur, a geneticist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston…
Some irritated scientists say that the site taps into human instincts only too well — by regularly sending out automated e-mails that profess to come from colleagues active on the site, thus luring others to join on false pretences.
These sorts of complaints, especially about the profusion of enticing emails, are by now a familiar part of the growth stage of social networks that go on to be massively successful – as well as also a sign of social networks that are about to decay due to lack of respect for their users.
So in themselves such complaints are not a good predictor of the future. What is clear for the moment, however, is that the dedicated social networks for academics and researchers are heavily used and growing fast, so if you’re one yourself, or interested in how this group of people communicate in the modern world, the full Nature piece is well worth a read.
By William Barter, Sian Reid and David Grace
In 2005 we offered “the real alternative”. In 2010 we offered “change that works for you”. And in 2015 it looks increasingly likely that we will offer to “build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life” (SEFS).
Cambridge Liberal Democrats recently had a meeting to discuss the direction of the party – you may have read about it in the media. We disagreed about the best solution, but we all agreed that we face very real problems, especially in how the party presents itself in public.
Our message is far more important to us than messages are to Labour and the Tories. People broadly know where the other parties stand; they are still unclear about us. We need to provide a coherent theme, linking what we have achieved, what the Tories have stopped us from doing, and what we would fight for with a second term in government. In an era of multi-party government, we cannot state with one hundred percent certainty the policies we will be able to get through parliament. No party can. But we can be clear about what we stand for. We can be clear about who we are.
SEFS does not let us do this. SEFS places us as a split-the-difference party of mild-mannered managerialism, a bland, beige party that sits in the middle whilst others discuss big ideas. This is not what we should offer Britain. To quote Nick Clegg’s recent Bloomberg speech: “I want people to know that we have our own distinct vision, based our own distinct values – a liberal belief in opportunities; a liberal faith in people’s talents and ambitions.” That’s what we are about, and SEFS does not offer this.
SEFS is also electorally unhelpful. It positions us as a party that is a bit like the Tories, a bit like Labour. Most Tory-leaning voters will not consider a party like Labour; most Labour-leaning voters will not consider a party like the Tories. But they will listen to an experienced party that offers something different.
“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”
The preamble to our constitution is a little long to be our slogan, but the values expressed in it should be the starting point for our choice, the glue that holds together our offer to the British people. We should be proclaiming our liberal vision of 21st century Britain, not offering more of the same. The party urgently needs to produce a slogan that captures this vision, starting from our desire to create a free and fair society.
There is no problem with being On Message, In Volume, Over Time – message discipline is important, especially in the run-up to an election. But let’s get the message right – starting with our slogan.
William Barter is a party activist in Cambridge. Sian Reid is a Lib Dem councillor in Cambridge and former council leader. David Grace is a former Westminster and European parliament candidate.
It had to happen at some stage, I suppose, but today’s Populus online LAB lead of 6% brings to an end an extraordinary polling sequence – that those polls published on Mondays tended to show movement towards Labour while those coming out on Fridays moved back towards the Tories.
Quite why this is hard to say. Last month Anthony Wells at UKPR ran the numbers through his computer and found that since this polling series was established in July 2013 LAB was averaging about a point more in the Monday surveys.
I’ve done some analysis of Populus samples and nothing seems to stand out.
Is there something different about online samples during the weekend compared with those mid-week? Could it be that respondents felt different during the weekend and were more inclined to the red team?
I don’t know if this is simply a fluke but it has been fun charting it. I like the reaction from Tory activists – “let’s be thankful that general elections take place on Thursday not at the weekend”.
- Monica Lewinsky on what it’s like to be slut-shamed by the entire world – “I don’t actually know why this whole story became about oral sex. I don’t. It was a mutual relationship.… The fact that it did is maybe a result of a male-dominated society.” From Amy.
- No, I will not deal with street harassment – “Most people who are attracted to men enjoy some sort of male attention, but not all of us enjoy it from any man, at any time, in any place. Kind of like I love pizza, but I don’t want people to shove pizza in my face every time I leave my apartment. Actually, I would probably start to kind of hate pizza if that happened, especially if trying to refuse the pizza led to slurs and threats of violence.”
- Researchers find it’s terrifyingly easy to hack traffic lights – From Criticaldragon1177.
- Anti-trans trolling spree forces Wikipedia to ban US House staffers for third time – “Wikipedia instituted the ban on Wednesday night after users operating from the House IP address made a series of anti-trans edits to the page for Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Anonymous users operating from the Republican-led House were persistently re-editing the page to slur trans actress Laverne Cox by mis-gendering her mentions on the show’s page.”
- Cute Animal Friday! Dogs enjoying popsicles. Pallas cats playing with tubes and sand.
Whilst I was away, I got a reminder of how I am out of step with modern politics.
Austin Mitchell complained about the feminization of parliament. This, he says, will lead to politics becoming "more preoccupied with the local rather than the international...and small problems rather than big ideas and issues." The reaction to this, gathered by Ben Cobley, has been hostile.
There is some important and interesting evidence on this point. It's this paper by Dinuk Jayasuriya and Paul Burke. They show that:
Over recent decades, higher representation of females in parliament has led to faster economic growth.
Now, "led to" does not mean "cause." It could be that this correlation exists because of an omitted variable; perhaps gender equality generally promotes growth - for example by encouraging women's education (pdf) - and more female MPs are merely a symptom of this equality.
However, this might not be the whole story. Perhaps preoccupations with local issues help promote economic growth - say, by ensuring better childcare (pdf) - in a way that bloviating about big ideas does not.
However you interpret their finding, it suggests that, at worst, a feminization of parliament would not have adverse material effects and at best it would benefit everyone (except for a few would-be male MPs).
However, as far as I can tell, nobody has cited the Burke and Jayasuriya paper. In one sense, I find this depressing. This omission corroborates my fear that politics has become a post-serious wrestling match in which scientific evidence is ignored in favour of narcissistic cheering and booing.
In another sense, though, I wonder whether it might be me that's wrong. In hoping for a dispassionate scientific debate, mightn't I be guilty of the mistake of which I accused Richard Dawkins - namely, assuming that emotion-free politics is both possible and desireable?
I'm not sure which it is. Either way, I'm out of touch.
That’s the question an American doctor, Jen Gunter, recently asked after having to use the NHS:
Victor, one of my 11-year-olds, had something in his eye courtesy of a big gust of wind outside of Westminster Abbey… Despite an extensive search and rinse mission no object or relief was to be found. I fretted about going to the hospital. It wasn’t the prospect of navigating a slightly foreign ER, but simply the prospect of the wait. While I am a staunch supporter of the British NHS in the back of my mind I envisioned a paralysingly full emergency room and an agonizing 18 hour wait only to find he had nothing in his eye (the basic antechamber of Hell scenario). To ensure we really needed to go I gave Victor a choice between the emergency room and a toy store (Gunter’s 3rd rule), but he declined the toys so off we went to St. Thomas hospital, conveniently right over the bridge…
We had great care at St. Thomas and Dr. Williams was fantastic. The slit lamp wasn’t brand new, but it worked just fine. Sure it’s an N of one, but I’ve been to the ER more times than I can count with my other son and this was as smooth as the best care we’ve had in the United States.
In the post she talks about other evidence too beyond her own experience, and as for the cost:
“So where do I pay?” I asked Dr. Williams.
The answer: you don’t. Perhaps they might bill us, she just wasn’t sure.
I was about as dumfounded at her answer as she was at my asking.
I protested that it wasn’t fair. We had used services and I was very prepared to pay. I also have insurance that covers emergencies when out of network, so I was pretty sure I would be reimbursed at least some of the visit. However, we were just sent away. They do have my address so it is possible I will get a bill in the mail…
I am very curious what similar care would have cost in the US. The saddest commentary of all is that it is really impossible to tell as billing practices are so bizarre and opaque. My guess is it would be a minimum of $1000 in America for cash (which is egregious).
No wonder she ends her post:
It makes you wonder exactly what frightens Americans about the NHS?
In case you’re wondering what other science fiction and fantasy books are coming out on the same day as Lock In, here’s a fair (but by no means complete) sampling of the day’s releases:
Again, this is not a complete listing — there’s also a bunch of paranormal romance and urban fantasy that shares the same book birthday, plus lots of smaller press and self published SF/F that will arrive in the world next week.
The point is: For every one of these authors, next Tuesday is a nerve-wracking day, not only because their book is out in the world, but because they know so many others are fresh out in the world, too, waiting for readers (and buyers). It’s a miracle we’re not all puddles of neurotic goo.
Now, certainly I want you to buy Lock In starting next Tuesday, if you’ve not already pre-ordered it. I want it to be successful, hit the best-seller lists, get optioned in Hollywood, and become a non-stop marketing monster to the point where there are such things as Lock In chewable vitamins. I mean, I’m not gonna lie about that. But I also hope that next Tuesday your book buying menu also includes another book or two, not neglecting the examples above. The best possible way to support the authors you like is to buy their books. It’s pretty simple, actually. And this August 26, at least, you have some pretty great choices for your bookreading dollar. Happy reading.
Of all the planetary nebulae in the sky, none is more celebrated than M57, the Ring Nebula. Lying about 2,400 light years away toward the constellation of Lyra, it’s bright enough to be seen in small telescopes, and when long exposures are taken, quite a lot of detail comes out.
Astrophotographer Rob Gendler knows his way around a digital astronomical image. He has been making a habit of creating incredible photographs using multiple observatories, both in space and on the ground, professional and amateur. He took observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope, and the monster 8.2-meter Subaru telescope, and combined them to make a stunning image of the Ring. I literally gasped out loud when I saw this:
(You really want to see that in full-res because wow.)
This extraordinary image combined visible light observations with ones taken in the infrared, well outside what our eyes can detect. Generally speaking the inner regions are emitting in visible, and the outer ones (shown in red) are infrared.
Back in the day, it was thought that the Ring was a simple shell, a thick soap bubble of gas cast off by a dying star, illuminated by the star’s fierce ultraviolet emission. Over time, though, we’ve realized it’s more complicated than that. Far more complicated.
Astronomers argue today over the details of the three-dimensional shape of this gas cloud. One group thinks the inner parts are barrel-shaped, and we’re looking down the long axis. Another model is that the inner ring is a much squatter, flatter barrel shape, with elliptical lobes of material poking out the ends. Both models argue that the “flower petals” are lobes of material, like balloons, pointing in slightly different directions, and the very outermost ring is a thin spherical shell, probably gas that was originally outside the star that got snowplowed as the gas from the star expanded and slammed into it. If we could see the Ring from the side, it would look very different; more like the Ant Nebula or possibly M2-9.
It was fascinating to read those papers; I studied planetary nebulae for my master’s degree (and in a limited extent for my Ph.D. as well). Determining their 3-D structures is maddeningly difficult, because we have limited information with which to figure them out. For example, looking end-on at an American football makes it look like a circle. Without knowing the angle we’re viewing it from the real shape may be hard to ascertain. The same sort of thing happens with planetary nebula. You have to really examine subtle details to tease out what the nebula is actually doing.
But I love this! Here is one of the loveliest and best-examined objects in the sky, and yet we’re still trying to figure out its exact shape. The thing is: We can. It’s possible. We just have to keep using new methods to observe it, use all the tools we have to dissect it, and lay out all these pieces of evidence to reassemble them into a picture we can understand.
Images like Gendler’s help this along, giving us a deep overview of the Ring. Over time, we’ll get to know this gorgeous example of a dying star even better, and from there gain a better understanding of how stars like our own Sun will die. It’s all part of science, and the joy of trying to grasp the Universe.