james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

I don't know how I did this

Sep. 4th, 2015 08:53 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
But the YouTube ads I get on my phone have been set to Francophone. I like it.
cupcake_goth: (GAF)


Sep. 4th, 2015 04:03 pm
[personal profile] cupcake_goth
You would think, wouldn't you, that with the lovely new anniversary edition of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber there would finally be an ebook version available.

You would be wrong. DAMMIT. I have my battered paperback, I don't need to replace it. But I DO need Angela Carter stories to live on my Kindle.

Again, hmmph.
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Harry Hayfield

Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen on Caerphilly (Lab defence)
Result: Labour 1,002 (47% -14%), Plaid Cymru 509 (24% +14%), Douglas (Independent, nominated as UKIP) 223 (11%, no candidate in 2012), Dew (Independent) 184 (9%), Conservatives 109 (5%, no candidate in 2012), Davies (Independent) 106 (5%)
Labour HOLD with a majority of 493 (23%) on a swing of 14% from Labour to Plaid Cymru
* Independent vote in by-election 513 (25%), Independent vote in 2012 (29%). Change: -4%

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Jamie Bernstein

I’ve been thinking about the fight for women’s healthcare a lot lately, mainly due to the influx of messages we’ve been getting to Skepchick in the past month virtually throwing a temper tantrum about Rebecca’s video “Planned Parenthood is Not Selling Baby Parts, You Fucking Idiots.” Although I am firmly on the pro-choice side, I always try to understand those who have opposing views to my own and in the case of abortion I understand why people who truly believe that a fetus = baby would be upset that abortions exist. I certainly get very upset over the idea of baby murder, but since I do not believe a fetus is the same as a baby and science backs me up on that point, I consider abortion to be merely a medical intervention to prevent a future baby. Someone who truly believes that a future baby is the same as a currently existing baby would obviously feel very differently.

However, the more I wade into the debate over abortion the more it is obvious that pro-life people do not actually care about the life of fetuses nor do they believe that killing a fetus is equivalent to killing a baby. In fact, the whole debate over abortion doesn’t seem to have anything to do with fetuses at all.

Nothing the pro-life and right-wing conservative movement does actually protects the life of fetuses. If the pro-life movement really cared about reducing abortions they would support comprehensive women’s healthcare, science-based sex education, contraception services, and anti-rape legislation and education. Instead, they spend their time and energy doing things like attempting to remove funding from planned parenthood clinics, which provide women with education, contraception and healthcare services, support abstinence-only sex education, which has been shown not to be effective in preventing teen pregnancy, and fighting “affirmative consent” legislation. All of these things increase the number of unwanted pregnancies which in turn increases the number of abortions, so they seem like strange policies to back if you actually believe that abortion = baby murder.

These policies only make sense if the true purpose of the pro-life movement was to stop women from having consequence-free sex. I know I’m the one millionth person to point this out, but the ultra-conservative pro-life wing of the conservative movement is far more interested in controlling the bodies and sexual lives of women than the lives of fetuses. Being forced to carry a baby to term and then birth that baby and raise that baby for the rest of your life is merely punishment for daring to have sex without the express purpose of procreation.

The claims that abortion = baby murder, that planned parenthood is selling baby parts, that women are naive and stupid and “tricked” into abortion by evil abortion doctors, that abortions are used as genocide against black Americans, and other claims by pro-life advocates are just a smokescreen to make people believe that pro-lifers actually care about the life of a fetus when all they really care about is punishing women for daring to have sex just for their own enjoyment.

Featured photo by Fibonacci Blue on Flickr (CC with Attribution License). 

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Jane Ann Liston on rail campaignThis weekend, the Borders railway gets back underway again. This is a real achievement of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in government in Scotland. The Bill was passed way back in 2006.

We’ll be writing about this more as the first journeys take place on Sunday, but BBC Scotland has done a feature about how the success of the Borders project has inspired other railways campaigners. They interviewed Jane Ann Liston, a regular commenter on this site. She plays a significant role in the StARlink campaign which wants to see the five miles of track from Leuchars to St Andrews reinstated. See what she had to say here

The StARlink campaign says that the combination of tourists, students, golfers and commuters would make the railway viable and bring economic benefit to the area.

My husband grew up in St Andrews in the 1950s so he has a very strong memory of the trains there – steam engines when he was a small boy. He is very supportive of the thought of the railway returning but he wants it to be a useful service that takes you all the way through Fife and Tayside rather than just down to Leuchars to get a connection to somewhere else.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Hans Rosling can get peeved

Sep. 4th, 2015 03:44 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Not recommended for SF writers: I believe SFWA will revoke your membership if you betray knowledge of demographic and economic information more recent than 1965.

"If you just show my shoes that an ugly part of me, but if you focus on my face that's a different story."

Understanding the Cooper surge

Sep. 4th, 2015 07:03 pm
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by TSE

In the last 36 hours there’s been some movements with Betfair and the other traditional bookies which has seen Yvette Cooper replace Andy Burnham as the second favourite in the Labour leadership race as above charts show. My initial thought it was to do with a poll, but the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush has posted this, which suggests Andy Burnham’s gaffes and poor campaign have finally caught up with him.

But Kendall’s supporters are overwhelmingly giving their second preferences to Cooper regardless. My estimate, from both looking at CLP nominations and speaking to party members, is that around 80 to 90 per cent of Kendall’s second preferences will go to Cooper. Burnham’s gaffes – his “when it’s time” remark about Labour having a woman leader, that he appears to have a clapometer instead of a moral compass – have discredited him in him the eyes of many. While Burnham has shrunk, Cooper has grown. And for others, who can’t distinguish between Burnham and Cooper, they’d prefer to have “a crap woman rather than another crap man” in the words of one.

From the outside Andy Burnham has run the worst leadership campaign a favourite has run since Michael Portillo’s 2001 leadership bid where Portillo managed to finish third in what was seen as a two horse race. You can see why Andy Burnham finished fourth in the 2010 leadership election narrowly ahead of Diane Abbott, he’s not very good at this.


NCAAball season preview

Sep. 4th, 2015 06:35 pm
[syndicated profile] snowinsummer_feed

Posted by Weaver

Some notes to help watch the new NCAA-ball season. Not the players, but the teams likely to win, and the games that will help decide who makes the bowls.

Week 1 is this weekend, week 5 at the start of October, week 9 is Hallowe'en, and Thanksgiving is in week 13. Most sides only have one bye this year, not the two we've seen in recent years.

(More: Thumbnail sketches of the divisions – who wins, who's cusping for the bowls.)

Week 1 highlight:
Michigan -v- Utah

Read this post in full at The Snow in the Summer or So-So.

[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Team Register

'Just a bit of fun', says flying Heath Robinson

An intrepid Brit has demonstrated the Right Stuff by strapping himself into an improbable but highly pleasing home-built, 54-prop flying contraption.…

[personal profile] strangecharm
I'm worried my transformation to a Northerner was complete: several days this week I was outside in a t-shirt while other people were wearing warm coats and two days in a row I got asked, by someone bundled up and shivering, the magic words that bestow northernhood on a person: "Aren't you cold?"

It's always been me asking, until now! I've never been on the other side of this question! I am always cold! Andrew thinks my feet break the laws of physics by being colder than they have any reason to be! (Although I think that may still be true, actually.)

I don't really think I'd like to feel Northern. But I do like not being cold all the time.
[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Simon Sharwood

Send Bitcoin or we tell your Facebook mates you were shag-searching

A Reg reader named Dave*, who admits to having been a member of Ashley Madison, has sent us the letter he received from blackmailers.…

Let's Support The Girls Club

Sep. 4th, 2015 03:53 pm
[syndicated profile] anil_dash_feed

Posted by Anil

Support the Girls Club In short: Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm asking you to help me support the Lower Eastside Girls Club, and I'll match whatever you donate through this secure form until midnight on September 5th.

The Neighborhood

Around the start of each new year, I try think of an issue that I want to learn more about and become an advocate for. In past years I've spent time learning about issues like criminal justice reform, or clean water and sanitation access.

This year I realized that I wanted to do something that would have real impact right here in my own community. My whole adult life has been defined by my living in the East Village, and so many opportunities have been given to me as a result, and I want to give something back. That's especially true now that we're raising my son in this neighborhood. Over the last 2 decades that I've lived here, the Lower Eastside has reduced violent crime by about 90% while preserving a racial and economic breadth that makes us one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country. But while I am so glad for that progress, those advances haven't yet translated into a broadening of opportunity for all the young people in our neighborhood, especially young women, particularly in our community where most are girls of color. We have an enormous number of families that are struggling to get by, even as they live in the same city as some of the wealthiest people in the world.

So it felt like fate that earlier this year, I connected with the incredible community of the Lower Eastside Girls Club and was asked to serve on its board.

A Freaking Planetarium

When I first heard the name "Lower Eastside Girls Club" a few ears ago, I had imagined a small meeting room where some girls could do arts and crafts projects or something like that. While that's certainly possible at today's LESGC facility, most people don't know that the Club is innovative and indispensable 20,000 square foot facility that serves as a force for giving girls and their families access to an incredible range of resources:

  • The 64-seat East Village Planetarium where scientists teach lessons about our latest space discoveries
  • The Science and Environmental Education Center is a working green roof garden where girls can grow flowers and herbs
  • A full commercial kitchen where the girls can use those herbs to learn not just how to cook, but how to be culinary professionals
  • A super cool recording studio (complete with ProTools and Ableton!) located in a customized Airstream trailer that was hoisted onto the second floor of the facility
  • La Tiendita, a full retail shop selling fair trade goods made by the girls and by the Club's sister coops in Chiapas, Sierra Leone and Nepal
  • A Media Center that's not just "teaching girls to code", but teaching them how to create everything from digital media to understanding the way the web works
  • And of course, countless social programs addressing everything from elder care to literacy to fitness to tax preparation—the Girls Club's Center for Community was where so many in our neighborhood went for a comforting meal in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy while power and other services were still knocked out

There is so much more I can't even list it all. In short, the Girls Club is both a safety net and a launch pad for kids who might not otherwise get a shot. Getting to see this space, and all the services it enables, was one of the most affecting experiences I've had in the past year. And all of it is available to the girls in our community, to support them and their families, with most of these services free of cost. That's where we come in.

I'm Asking You To Give

I'm fortunate to have access to an incredible network of brilliant, talented, powerful and privileged people. I am surrounded by people who are loving, generous and kind. And I'm never more appreciative of it than the moments when I get to take some time to reflect.

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday. I have an incredible wife, a happy and healthy son and more good fortune and opportunity than I know what to do with. I want for nothing. But being surrounded by generous people means that many want to show me kindness on a milestone birthday.

So here's what I'm asking for: Give. Give a lot. Whatever you can afford. And I will try to match your gift, dollar for dollar. (I'm a working man with a family to support, so I'm a little nervous that we might end up having to raid the piggy bank to match your generosity. I hope we have that problem!)

What we can do together is open the door for these amazing, creative, endlessly inventive young women who deserve the same shot at seeing their dreams come true that you or I have had.

Support the Girls Club

So please take a moment and give what you can ($40 is a nice way to celebrate my 40 years!) and then email me or tweet at me to let me know what you gave. (If you want me to keep it private, just say so.) At the end of the day tomorrow, my birthday, I'll add it up and double it.

I'm so, so thankful to everyone who has helped me arrive at a big birthday like this one with my every wish fulfilled. Let's see what we can do to offer the same kindness to some young women who truly deserve it.

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Melanie Mallon

  • The Harsh Truth About Progressive Cities–“These are America’s most progressive, forward-thinking, open-minded, and social-justice-focused cities. They also have the worst racial disparities in the nation and some of the worst racial segregation.” From Julia
  • What English Sounds Like to Non-English Speakers–“Skwerl, a short film by Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston, attempts to show the English language through the ears of non-English speakers. Throughout the film you can make out certain words you know, but the majority of the dialogue is incomprehensible.” From Critical Dragon1177
  • Ig Nobellian Miller’s new use for 3D printing: Women’s penis size recall–“Studies of women’s penis size preferences typically have relied on their abstract ratings or selecting amongst 2D, flaccid images. This study used haptic stimuli to allow assessment of women’s size recall accuracy for the first time, as well as examine their preferences for erect penis sizes in different relationship contexts.”
  • God Agrees Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Is A-Hole, Sends Her To Jail–“Poor criming-while-white bigot and hell-bound harlot Kim Davis, her day of reckoning has come, her god has forsaken her, and off to the pokey she goes.”
  • 15+ Mind-Bending Photos That Seem Fake But Are Actually Real–It’s Friday, so go waste some time on these cool photos. I’m not sure whether the no Photoshop claim is true, but it doesn’t make them any less useful for serious procrastination purposes.

And for Cute Animal Friday, Ray Greek sent us this link to a video showing a seal getting its tummy rubbed. Also: This bulldog turtles up when forced to wear a life vest.

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[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

It was never likely that I’d make it on to Alex Salmond’s Christmas card list. After all, he thinks that people who don’t support independence are making the case “against Scotland.” Now, it appears, there’s another reason for him to disapprove of me; I don’t have a religious faith.

Pink News has a video clip of him saying:

I  am biased of course because I am a Church of Scotland adherent and I prefer people of faith to people of no faith or people who have lost their faith.

Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Aberdeenshire East seat next May has written to him to question this rather odd opinion:

Dear Mr Salmond,

I write to seek clarification of your bizarre comments at the Scottish Parliament, quoted in Pink News and available to view on the internet, that you “prefer people of faith to people of no faith or people who have lost their faith.”

As a fellow member of the Church of Scotland, although no longer active, I find it strange that you would take such a stance and one that I find conflicts with everything I understood both about the church and indeed politics.

Surely neither a person’s religion, nor lack of it should influence how we, as politicians or Christians regard them. I would appreciate an explanation of this curious opinion.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t say that I preferred, for example, Liberal Democrats to non Liberal Democrats. There are people I love and wouldn’t be without in all parties and none. I could never dismiss a whole category of people as being somehow inferior. It just goes against every instinct I have.

It is a terrible thing for any politician to say.

If you are a public servant, those you serve need to feel confident that you would view them with respect. It appears that atheists in Gordon can’t really have that confidence in their MP.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)

Cool Stuff Friday

Sep. 4th, 2015 10:56 am
[personal profile] jimhines

Hope everyone’s enjoying the last day of summer vacation. (You know, depending on your local school district’s schedule and whether or not you care about the K-12 school year and all that stuff…)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Mary

There is a lot you can say about Kim Davis, the Rowena County Clerk in Kentucky who is making a stand against same-sex marriage.

You’ve probably been reading the news, and you know that Kim Davis has gone to court multiple times, even to the Supreme Court, to try to get a religious exemption from having to sign off on marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Even though it’s her job to issue these licenses, she’s an elected official, so she can’t just be fired for refusing to do her job. There is a certain amount of schadenfreude to see this woman stand up for her bigoted beliefs and to keep getting shot down by the court, to the point where she will likely now go to jail. She is in the wrong because same-sex marriage is not just a civil right, it’s the law. And I am in no way defending her, just to make that clear. I’m trying explain what exactly her beliefs are, why she thinks she’s not a hypocrite, and how you can counter people with this mindset (if you choose to engage with the other side–which you don’t have to do).

We all know about her past: the various divorces, children, adultery, and re-marriages. (Although, to be honest, even if she weren’t hypocritical for allowing herself to have the same marital freedoms that she is denying others, she would still be completely wrong.) And this might sound weird, but Kim Davis and her supporters do not think she’s a hypocrite.

Here’s a little explanation about her perspective. According to Ms. Davis, she started going to a (Apostolic Christian) church four years ago, and she considers herself “saved” because she asked for forgiveness and she’s now faithful. In certain types of Christianity, you are considered saved through grace, meaning that you just need to ask for forgiveness and make an honest effort to adhere to the religious dogma, and you’re good! It doesn’t matter if you’re not perfect–Christians acknowledge that nobody is perfect but that they’re saved anyway. I saw someone ask, does this mean that Hitler could be saved if he repented before his death? Yes, that is exactly what that means. I grew up in the Bible Belt, and in high school, there was always an influx of people coming in on Monday saying how they were “saved,” only to “sin” again by Saturday. And probably get saved again on Sunday, who knows. (I, on the other hand, was raised in the Lutheran church, which was comparatively moderate to the other churches in my county.) Anyway, my point is, whatever she’s done in her past, in her eyes and in the view of her church, she’s forgiven. And she feels she has to deny same-sex marriage because if she were to allow it, she would be actively “sinning” by indirectly condoning it.

So, you can try to say that she’s hypocritical for being divorced and committing adultery, but you won’t get through to the Christians on her side, because they have forgiven her and she’s no longer living that lifestyle. She also believes that same-sex marriage goes against the Bible (because her religion takes the Bible literally) and that Jesus was against it.

Here’s something you can say that might get through to the anti-gay Evangelicals: Jesus does not take a clear position on same-sex marriage. A lot of the anti-gay stuff in the Bible is in the Old Testament, whereas Christianity is supposed to be all about Jesus and the New Testament. And the New Testament barely mentions homosexuality, apparently, and even so, it doesn’t explicitly say that homosexuality is any greater a “sin” than any other sin (and even then, we’re talking about an English version of a text that was originally non-English, so the exact wording may be incorrectly translated–which is kind of what makes English-speaking Bible-Literalists so silly). The reason that Christians keep the Old Testament around is because it’s a reminder of how vengeful their god can be, and how amazing it was when Jesus sacrificed himself to their god so that they would all be saved and go to Heaven, as long as they believed in the teachings of Jesus (a.k.a. John 3:16).

In the New Testament, Jesus mentions marriage occasionally, and he mentions how God created men and women. But he never explicitly says that marriage between partners of the same sex/gender should be denied! He just acknowledges marriages that he’s heard of. This is obviously a hotly-debated subject, based on translations and interpretations. Here is a summary of the passages that some Christians use, from the New Testament, to say that homosexuality is a sin, and here are those same passages that are refuted by a pro-gay Christian site.

When Kim Davis says that her authority is the Christian god, she’s right (in her mind). It would go against her religious dogma to allow same-sex couples to get married, and she honestly believes that she would go to Hell for that, so what she’s going through right now is logically-consistent with her beliefs. In fact, I bet she’s glad to be going to jail, because she probably views this whole episode as a test of her faith, and she probably thinks that jail is preferable to Hell. It will be interesting to see how long she stays in contempt of the court.

Disclaimer: I’m just an atheist who was raised Christian in the Bible Belt, so I have a working understanding from observing Southern Baptists, but I’m not a biblical scholar (which is why I suggest you read the sites above if you actually want to debate a legit Evangelical). 

I’ve seen people try to say, it’s a good thing that the judges who granted her divorces did so despite their religious views, and I would agree that it’s a good thing that people who work for the government are able to put aside their magical beliefs in order to follow the law of the land. However, even though I can’t speak for her, she would probably counter with the point that if a judge refused to grant her a divorce due to their religious belief, she just would’ve gone to another judge. In fact, one of her fellow bigoted clerks is using the same argument right now: why can’t the same-sex couples just find another county clerk to sign off on their marriage license? (I have a better question: why do we have to continue to pay government employees for refusing to do part of their job?)

And while we’re at it, here are other you can stop saying about her: stop commenting on her looks. It doesn’t matter what her hairstyle is, what clothes she wears, or whether or not she gives you a boner. If she were beautiful, she would still be a horrible bigot. If she had the body of a Fox News anchor, she would still be a civil-right-denying anti-gay zealot. It doesn’t matter what she looks like. It doesn’t matter that she’s a woman.

Also, stop making fun of her for being a Southerner. There are plenty of Southerners who are pro-LGBT rights, like the couples who live in her county who are trying to get married. Kim Davis might have a Southern accent, and she might be representative of a lot of bigoted Southerners, but being Southern does not make her a bigot. Adhering to the religious dogma of her bigoted church, however, does. So let’s divorce (haha) ourselves from the idea that only Southerners are the ones who are anti-LGBT, because unfortunately you can find those attitudes everywhere.

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[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Last week, we put up Episode 30 of Crash Course Astronomy, and after every [episode modulo 10 = 0] episodes we post a blooper reel, outtakes from the last few episodes we’ve recorded.

So here you go, Outtakes No. 3, which is mostly me mispronouncing things and making faces.

I swear we should mic up my director Nick and editor Nicole for these.

You can watch the first and second outtake reels, too, and don’t forget that we have a playlist for all the (actual) episodes aired already. We still have a bunch more coming.

And hey: At the end of the video above we make an announcement: We have a Crash Course Astronomy poster for sale! It was created by our animators, Thought Café, and I helped write and edit the captions for the drawings. It’s pretty cool. At 46 x 61 centimeters (fine, 18 x 24 inches for you imperial unit folks), it’ll look handsome and lovely on your wall, door, inside car windshield*, meat drawer, and/or observatory dome.

*Don’t actually put it there.

Not a euphemism.

matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

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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August 2015

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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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