[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Paul Walter

Here is the full text of Tim Farron’s speech last night on combating post-Brexit racism, which he delivered at Queen Mary University at an event organised with The Runnymede Trust:

Patriotism has too often been seen as the preserve of the right. And I resent that. I’m a patriot. I love my country, but not to the exclusion of others. That’s the difference between a patriot and a nationalist.

I want others to look at Britain as a beacon of hope, independent spirited, community minded, strong, maybe stubborn, but decent and compassionate.

And so, the rise in racist and xenophobic attacks following the referendum, fills me with shame. Those attacks are heartbreaking, they make me fear that my country has been stolen from me, because this is not the Britain I know, the Britain I love, because the Britain I know and love is better than that.

We all knew that the rhetoric of Farage and the Leave campaign could lead to a rise in intolerance.

In the referendum campaign this culminated in the horrific assassination of Jo Cox, a hardworking and dedicated MP whose commitment to openness and tolerance made her a target.

Maybe, that campaign revealed a level of simmering intolerance and hatred… but maybe the very tone of the campaign generated new divisions, new fault lines

Since the Brexit vote, this sort of venomous hate and closed mindedness has gained ground, we have seen shocking attacks, such as on the Polish community centre just down the road in West London, or the woman who lost her baby after a racially aggravated attack.

In the face of all that we now need to pull together not apart. In the words of Jo Cox, words that have been memorialized – we must remember that we have “more in common than that which divides us.”

We must be clear that the outcome of the referendum was not a green light to xenophobia.

We are a diverse society, rich in our varied culture, evolving in our culture as we have done for centuries.

Britain did not become Great Britain on fear, isolation and division. Britain did not become Great Britain through short-termist politicians who put the needs of one part of society above the rest.

One of the quirks of Britishness, that sometimes gets us gently mocked by our friends, is that we get squeamish about taking things too seriously. Politically, that makes us averse to extremism and the kind of hate-filled, short termist demagoguery that has plagued others.

We’re a country founded on over 2,000 years of immigration, each wave bringing new influences and culture, enriching British life.

Yet, the party leading our beautiful country….the party that should be celebrating our wonderful diversity wants to destroy the very fabric it is made of.

2016 has seen the Conservative Party make move after move that makes Britain a nastier, more divided and more resentful country. 2016 has been a year that has seen the end of David Cameron’s naïve but well intentioned attempts to detoxify the Conservative Party go up in flames.

This spring saw Zac Goldsmith’s disgraceful, racist London Mayoral campaign. Rather than celebrating the fact that the son of a billionaire could go head to head with the son of a bus driver in an equal competition based on the merits of each of their politics not their background, Zac chose to concentrate on Sadiq’s Muslim faith and Pakistani roots. For that he was rightly punished in the polls.

We then saw a European campaign headed by the man who is now our foreign secretary, based on fear and terror, pitching community against community. The disgraceful ‘breaking point’ poster, demonising desperate refugees, only one example of a campaign that sought to ‘take back control’ by forfeiting our nation’s decency.

And this Autumn saw Theresa May’s Government propose new rules that would force companies to record how many foreign workers they employed. A plan that even UKIP found distasteful.

It’s not where we come from that matters, it’s where we’re going.

The Conservatives are risking just that with their reckless obsession with overall migration numbers, instead of standing up for what’s best for Britain.

These are the actions of a Nasty Party, willing to play on prejudice for their own short-term gain. Some people used to tolerate the Tories being nasty on the assumption that at least they were competent. I am not sure what would now attract people to vote for today’s Tory party that seems to be both unpleasant and useless. Remember, the first impression that most international leaders, businesses and observers have of our country is either Boris Johnson or Liam Fox…

Well Theresa May once to her credit criticised the Tory Party for being the nasty party, but today, to her shame, she leads it as it gets nastier.

I dread to think what’s in store this winter – but rest assured the Liberal Democrats will keep fighting against his dangerous and divisive world view.

While 2016 has been a truly shocking year for racial equality and diversity in Britain, I am proud of the steps my party has been taking to ensure we get better at representing the communities we seek to serve.

In the Spring we became the first political party to integrate all disabled shortlists and specifically set aside spaces on target seat selections for people from other underrepresented groups.

In the Autumn, we went further and passed a Conference motion that reserves spaces for under-represented groups in our party committees – and also passed a Combating Racism motion

And today, I am pleased to announce that the Liberal Democrats will be conducting an independent review which focuses on the issues and barriers faced by BAME members in the party – with work commencing immediately this week.

The party’s President, Sal Brinton has been integral to getting this process started, and I am pleased to say that Lord John Alderdice from our Alliance sister party in Northern Ireland has agreed to carry out this review.

John has recently been in Canada, undertaking a review in the Yukon on relationships between the Canadian and regional governments and their BAME and indigenous communities and expects to report back next year.

As you can see from what the party has achieved this year, the Liberal Democrats are serious about combating inequality.

Whether it’s in our party structures.

In Westminster.

Or in communities up and down the country.

One of Britain’s great strengths is its mix of cultures, and despite the referendum result, an increasingly right-wing

Conservative government or an ineffective Labour Party too busy fighting its own internal battles – the Liberal Democrats are united in fighting to ensure that all citizens are made to feel safe.

And it’s not just the visible discrimination, like hate crime, that needs challenging.

Sometimes it’s the invisible discrimination that has an even worse impact on lives.

That’s why we’re calling for widespread name-blank application forms, mandatory reporting on the BAME pay gap, and an overhaul of the governments Prevent strategy so that instead of singling out specific communities and treating everyone as suspect the millions of funding that this project receives will instead be channeled into more community policing and projects run by grass-roots activists. While all parties agree that Prevent needs to be reformed, only the Liberal Democrats have the courage to say that the brand has become too toxic and only scrapping it will do.

Education also sits right at the heart of what Liberal Democrats stand for. It is the key to freedom and opportunity.

Yet – our governments have designed an education system – especially at primary school level – that is focused not on developing young people for later life, for work or for further study, but on getting them through the wrong kinds of tests.

So – while our curriculum has got better at teaching black history there is still room for improvement.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are proposing an Education Charter that leads to a love of learning and a breadth of learning; that is relevant to what children will need next at school and in their future as adults. Not just for exams.

With less focus on meeting targets and passing exams, the Liberal Democrats would implement a curriculum that is focused on giving children creativity and confidence.

Learning about more about black and ethnic minority historical figures should be part of this, and would help empower children of communities who don’t see enough historical achievement from people who look like them, giving them the inspiration to strive themselves.

Talking of history, one group of people who I am sure will be on the wrong side of it are those who are doing nothing for Syrian refugees.

Current hostility towards child migrants, especially in sections of the media, will be seen in the future as embarrassingly small-minded.

Blindness to discrimination is good people doing nothing; standing up to racism and unequal racial outcomes is being on the right side of history.

And as we stand on the edge of those two horrific historic realities: Brexit and a Tory stranglehold on Britain, the biggest risk is that you do not join us.

So let’s be absolutely certain of this reality.

The only movement with the desire and the potential to stop the calamity of Brexit and the tragedy of a generation of Conservative majority rule, is this movement, is the Liberal Democrats.

So, you can despair if you want and accept the inevitability of a Tory government for the next quarter of a century.
Or you can recognise that the Liberal Democrats can prevent that inevitability.

We are the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

Britain is one of the most diverse, sophisticated and innovative nation in the world and, in or out, we need to stay that way.

And we Liberal Democrats will do whatever we can, in Parliament and outside.

To reshape the way the nation works….to bring it back together.

To stay civilised.

To stay united.

To combat racism.

Because, wherever you were born.

Whatever the colour of your skin

No campaign of lies, hate and fear will make you a target in the Liberal Democrats.

* 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.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

What Raheem Kassam Tweeted about Nicola Sturgeon

And others..

Earlier version of this post appeared last night for a short period

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

During the 2015 Lib Dem leadership contest, both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb backed the idea of a ‘Morrissey 2’ report, a follow up to Helena Morrissey’s report into Liberal Democrat culture and processes which would focus on race and ethnicity in the party. (The original Morrissey report, triggered as it was by allegations that the Liberal Democrats had failed to handle properly complaints of sexual harassment properly, had focused on other aspects of the party’s processes.)

Speaking last night, Tim Farron confirmed plans for this now to go ahead, with Lord John Alderdice chairing it. This is its remit:

The Liberal Democrats are committed to better representing the communities it seeks to serve and have voted through a raft of measures, including the Diversity Quotas and Electing Diverse MPs motions passed by members at Federal Conference in York and Brighton this year.

As part of the party’s ongoing commitment to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, an independent review which focuses on the issues and/or barriers faced by BAME members and supporters has been commissioned by the Federal Executive. This review should help the party determine what and where the issues are and how we take action in this specific area.

The Federal Executive agreed that the following questions should be addressed as part of the review process (these have been left deliberately broad so that the chair of the review is able to fix or formulate the review in the manner they see fit).

  1. Are there barriers to participation for BAME members? If so, what and where are they?
  2. Do barriers differ in different parts of the party?
  3. How effective are existing mechanisms/procedures in addressing the issue?
  4. Does the party do enough to engage with BAME voters and ensure accessibility for potential BAME members?
  5. What further steps should, or could, be taken by the Party to address the issues identified in this review?

Lord John Alderdice

Best know as leader of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland (1987-1998), Lord John Alderdice played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He was the first Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2004) and has continued to play a major role in commissions tasked with investigating sensitive issues. These include serving on the Independent Monitoring Commission, charged with closing down terrorist operations in Northern Ireland, and in Canada undertaking a review on relationships between the Canadian and regional governments and their BAME and indigenous communities in the Yukon.

He is a member of the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords. For four years he was Convenor (Chair) of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party there and is currently the party’s Business Spokesperson in the Upper House.

[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Alexander J Martin

Brian Ridpath has 419 problems, but the potentially fictional Lisa Johnson ain't one

A lonely beancounter has been jailed after he fell for what appears to be a classic Nigerian email scam, and conned £150,000 out of a friend so he could bankroll his fake damsel in distress.…

birguslatro: Birgus Latro III icon (Default)

The joys of game-making...

Oct. 25th, 2016 06:41 pm
[personal profile] birguslatro
"Still, it taught me that being a man making video games is like a woman doing anything -- you can give the world nothing but a free supply of objective awesomeness, and you'll still have crusaders hellbent on destroying you."

That's from this nice, sober and thoughtful article to be found here...


Well worth the read.
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))

Inktober #24

Oct. 24th, 2016 10:22 pm
[personal profile] yhlee

Sketch of two gentlemen at the game store.

Ink: Papier Plume Caramel.
Pen: Waterman 52V (wet noodle).
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)

No Plot? No Problem

Oct. 24th, 2016 09:26 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
No Plot? No Problem! is by Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month. I picked it up a while back out of curiosity, and enjoyed it quite a lot. Since November is coming up, I thought it might be a nice time to reread it. Which is hilarious, because despite multiple attempts, I have never "won" a NaNo (written a 50,000-word novel during November), and this year I don't plan on participating at all due to a certain book three I owe my publisher. But that's okay!

No Plot? No Problem is a writing how-to book, but more importantly, it's a writing how-to book specifically geared to the madcap NaNo writing experience. You might not be writing your novel specifically during November along with the other NaNo participants, but the expectation is that you're going to be writing a short novel with minimal preparation and an emphasis on quantity over quality--the sheer exuberance of creativity. While some notes at the end talk about how to revise, that's not the focus of Baty's book.

I will own that I love this book. It is cracky and funny and irreverent, and as it turns out, that is exactly what I enjoy in my writing how-to books. Not the only thing, but one of the things. Here's an example:

Like any good vacation, half the fun of writing a novel is getting properly outfitted. A month-long noveling trip requires a shopping spree every bit as enjoyable as a jaunt to the Bahamas. And if you pinch pennies, you can get all the tech gear, low-tech tools, and copious amounts of treats you need for under $35.

The stuff you need falls neatly into two categories: things you can put in your mouth and things you shouldn't. We'll tackle the inedible writing tools first, and then move on to the essential snacks and drinks.

Needless to say, this requires that the reader be able to tell when Baty is being tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, some of the writing advice is genuine, and genuinely useful to me. Whether it's useful to another writer is going to be a matter of YMMV.

One of the exercises I like is to create what Baty calls a Magna Carta I and a Magna Carta II for your writing. In Magna Carta I, you list things that you enjoy or find appealing when you're reading. In Magna Carta II, you list turn-offs. The point is to be able to stuff in bunches of things from the former and avoid writing the latter. This sounds like it might be obvious, except Baty's contention is that writers often find themselves writing things that they don't enjoy writing out of a sense that it's more "literary" or "serious" or "good for them." I have definitely fallen prey to this in the past!

For the curious, here are my current lists, incomplete:

Magna Carta I (things I love in fiction)
- big space battles
- dubcon/noncon
- chessmasters (I get all my tropes from TV Tropes)
- Magnificent Bastards (I get all my tropes from TV Tropes)
- moral event horizons (I get all my...okay, okay, you get the idea!)
- grimdark worldbuilding
- grace notes of hope
- complicated and conflicting loyalties
- nonstandard worldbuilding, especially sociocultural stuff
- conlang and linguistics notes
- snark
- cracky comedy
- bureaucracy hijinks

Magna Carta II (things I usually can't stand in fiction)
- love triangles, etc.
- multigenerational family sagas
- plot points only happening due to people refusing to communicate with each other when it would make senes for them to do so
- cardboard villains
- Eurofantasy
- infidelity

Please note, this is not the same as "good" or "bad"--some of the things I hate in fiction are perfectly good tropes that work fine for other readers! And sometimes things I hate can be done so well that I'm won over in spite of myself. But in general, I should probably avoid writing things that aren't my jam.

In any case, while I can't do NaNo this year, I will happily cheer on anyone else who's going for it! Are any of y'all giving it a swing?

[cross-post: Patreon]
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Posted by robinince

I’ve just been to a screening of Billy Connolly’s High Horse Tour Live.

As we now know, mutation, heredity and natural selection are unable to make the best, but they do lead to the least worst. In my mind, Billy Connolly is undoubtedly the least worst comedian in the history of stand up. In fact, his perfection as a stand up may almost persuade me to be a creationist.

Why is Billy Connolly considered the greatest stand up comedian by so many people?
In the Brexit language of Brexit is Brexit (how dull dictionaries will now become with the this new definition of definitions), funny is funny.
But that gets us nowhere.
What has made Billy Connolly so fabulously alluring for so long.
Alan Bennett once said of Morrissey’s face, he looks as if he has a story to tell.
This seems true of Connolly too, though unlike Morrissey, he has changed the stories.

I have rarely rung phone-ins, but when I was 15 or 16, Connolly was on a lunchtime LBC show.
I rang in and asked him what he thought of these alternative comedians that I so adored.
He explained that he had always though they were comrades in arms, comedic definitions change, but the actions were the same.

I am not sure when I first really knew of Billy Connolly, but being a comedy obsessive, I would gather together any pocket money I had and rightly squander it on anything comedic. I bought a cassette of Connolly’s Wreck on Tour at the Cheltenham Our Price, and then I played it over and over again, laughing in that way that seems no longer available to you once you have left childhood behind.
It was the sound he made when he retold the shock to the genitals when bathing in the North Sea.
It was the way he pronounced jojoba.

It is the projection of vitality that makes Billy Connolly so utterly alluring.
Like David Bowie, he is something potently vivacious to my generation and the generations either side. This is why hints at mortality, the illnesses that have crept on him, seem so preposterous.
He is Billy Connolly and he is a life force, for the sake of our sanity he must remain so. How ill weaker humans survive if these fountains of puckish spirit can be tainted too?

Those pondering about seeing Billy Connolly’s High Horse DVD may be worried they will be witnessing a shell of a man who has recently suffered prostate cancer and has Parkinson’s disease, but do not worry, this is not a carnival sideshow of staring at the remnants of a man who once was. The movement may be reduced, but the mesmerism is not.
There were no sympathy guffaws from the screening audience I saw this with, many of them comedians. This is a very funny show, the swearing may be sparser than peak swear days of Connolly, but it is still used with delight and twinkling venom when necessary.
The use of sound effects is as achingly delightful as the caterwaul of the North sea, in particular the beautiful rendition of the futtering suspense of a minimalist plane flying over Mozambique.
The stories of his own illnesses, brought up so we avoid spending our time “symptom spotting” are devoid of self-pity and bulging with wanking and wet patch jokes mixed with the absurd.
You will also be armed with the finest arguments for consuming white bread over brown.

I am not a habitual quoter of Bono, but after seeing Johnny Cash’s Hurt video, he commented that Cash was now doing for old age what Elvis did for youth in 1956. Connolly is doing this too, but without the melancholy, he gives the finger to the infirmities of age. The energy of his mind more than makes up for any loss of physical dexterity.

He is the Richard Feynman of comedy, a perpetual and unfettered curiosity and a desire to communicate it.

He is still impish with his fury. Some people say it’s like your funniest mate in the pub, but who the fuck has a mate this funny in the pub. His lack of affectation may delude some into thinking it is easy to make it look this easy.

There has been no departure of mischief.
Some of my favourite moments of Billy Connolly are with Kenny Everett. Their sketches as the two bearded ladies, in which Kenny, another overlord of mischief, adeptly leads Connolly to corpsing.
Or the repeated corpsing in the toilet attendant sketch where Barry Cryer can be heard from the side telling Billy to keep it together.
And few, when facing up to a sprinting and bra-less Liz Hurley at the BAFTAs could say so much without saying almost anything and somehow avoiding to be seedy or prurient.

Sometimes Billy Connolly DVDs are called masterclasses, but the trouble with calling something a class is that you may imagine you can learn to do as the teacher, I think Connolly is the most one-off of all the stand ups who have been called one-offs.

Now I’m going to listen to the welly song and that joke about the wire brush and Dettol.

74 years old and with Parkinson’s and he’s still better than the whole damn rest of us.

High Horse Tour Live is released on 7th November

Josie and Robin’s Book Shambles series 4 has begun – all 35 episodes, including Mark Gatiss, Stewart Lee, Sara Pascoe and Noel Fielding are HERE.

Plus a new volume of Dead Funny is out with stories by Rufus Hound, James Acaster, Alice Lowe, Josie Long, Isy Suttie and many more

yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)


Oct. 24th, 2016 04:27 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
By way of [personal profile] dhampyresa:
Give me a potential title and I tell you about the story I would write for it.
[personal profile] hollymath
I'm watching an old episode of QI and Stephen Fry has just described the Turing test as "the most important thing for a machine," in the context of advancement in robots and computers and that sort of thing.

And I just thought, man, what a human-centered way to think about it! It's probably not the most important thing to a machine at all, because why would a machine care about how well it can simulate a boring rubbish fallible weird old human? It's an important thing for humans in the machines they're building, maybe, but not for the machine, right?

But then I thought, in order to pass the Turing test, it'd have to care about passing the Turing test because that's what humans care about.

And I kept thinking about this and my brain got all tangled up.

RIP, Sheri Tepper

Oct. 24th, 2016 07:23 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

This is genuinely upsetting news for me: Locus is reporting the death of Sheri S. Tepper, who wrote the Hugo-nominated novel Grass among many others, and who was given a lifetime achievement award by the World Fantasy Convention just last year. Tepper was in her late 80s, and had an accomplished life outside of her considerable writing career, including being an executive director of the Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in Colorado, so one can’t precisely say this is an unexpected development. But she was one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers, and an influence on my thinking about SF/F writing, so to have her gone on is still a deeply depressing thing.

Also a bit depressing: That Tepper, while well-regarded, is as far as I can tell generally not considered in the top rank of SF/F writers, which is a fact I find completely flummoxing. Her novel Grass has the sort of epic worldbuilding and moral drive that ranks it, in my opinion, with works like Dune and Perdido Street Station and the Earthsea series; the (very) loose sequel to Grass, Raising the Stones, is in many ways even better, and the fact that Stones is currently out of print is a thing I find all sorts of appalling.

If you haven’t read Grass, I really suggest you find it and put it near the top of your SF/F reading queue. You won’t be disappointed (and if you are, then, well, I don’t know what to tell you). It’s a stone classic. Not everything that Tepper wrote worked for me, which makes her like literally every single writer I admire; but the things of hers that did (these two novels, The Fresco, Beauty, The Visitor and others) have stayed with me year in and year out.

Aside from her considerable talents as an author, Tepper stands as a reminder that it’s never too late to write. Tepper didn’t publish her first novel until 1983, when she was in her 54th year of life; she wrote something like 40 total, the most recent published in 2014. It’s never too late to write; it’s never too late to write a classic novel; it’s never too late to be a great writer, whether or not the genre has entirely caught up with you yet.

Farewell, Ms. Tepper. Your voice will be missed. I’ll keep reading what you have left us.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Sheri S. Tepper (1929-2016)

Oct. 24th, 2016 04:10 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

Author Sheri S. Tepper, 87, died October 22, 2016. Tepper was a prolific author of SF, best known for her feminist and ecological themes, with major titles including The Gate to Women’s Country (1988) and Grass (1989).

The Election and Productivity

Oct. 24th, 2016 05:58 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

I was a couple of months late in turning in The Collapsing Empire; I originally planned to have it to Tor before Worldcon this year (which was mid-August) and ended up sending it to my editor literally the day I left for New York Comic Con, which was the first week of October. Some of that had to do with fine-tuning and changing bits of the story to make them more effective, plus travel and life in general.

But a whole lot more had to do with the 2016 presidential election. There were entire weeks where I got up each day, fully intending to go straight into writing on the book, and instead ended up checking Politico, the Washington Post, Five Thirty Eight and a whole other host of political sites, and got myself wound up enough that it was a miracle if I got any writing done at all, much less hit my daily quota. Now, I’ve written books during presidential elections before, and I’m easily very diverted by them. But my level of distraction has never been this bad before.

At New York Comic Con, I confided to another author about my book being late because of the election, and her reaction was basically to say YES SO VERY MUCH THIS and then we were joined by an editor, who was all OH MY GOD BASICALLY ALL MY AUTHORS ARE SAYING THIS, and then suddenly I didn’t know whether to feel better or worse. On one hand, it was a bit of a relief to know I wasn’t the only author whose schedule was bunged up by the election; on the other, what a mess this election has been if whole swaths of writers have been knocked off course by it. I could go into why this is, but I think you all already know my opinion about this election so we can take it as read for now.

My question to you is: Is it just us? Or have you found that you (or others you know about) have been knocked out of your usual level of work productivity because of this election as well? Has obsessively refreshing poll trackers and political feeds and Twitter kept you from the timely performance of your duties, or, if you still manage to get stuff done on time, is it still a challenge to keep your mind on task? More than usual?

Let me know. I’m actually really interested.


[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

It’s true that it’s going to be a little difficult to convince some people of this. But the US has long had a start up rate, the creation of new companies, rather lower than other advanced economies. That’s not so much the problem as we’re pretty sure we know the structural reason for that. However, what is worrying is that the rate is falling and it’s been falling for some time. Because, in the long run, it is new companies starting up that produce almost all of the useful economic growth we get. So if we’re getting fewer start ups then we should be assuming that future economic growth isn’t going to be all that great–not really quite what we’re hoping for.

The latest worries are here:

One key factor intertwined with this loss of dynamism: The U.S. is creating startup businesses at historically low rates.

The American economy has long relied on fast-growing young companies to fuel job growth and spread the latest innovations. As recently as the 1980s and 1990s, a small number of young firms disproportionately contributed to U.S. employment growth, helping allocate workers and resources to burgeoning segments of the economy.

But government data shows a decadeslong slowdown in entrepreneurship. The share of private firms less than a year old has dropped from more than 12% during much of the 1980s to only about 8% since 2010. In 2014, the most recent year of data, the startup rate was the second-lowest on record, after 2010, according to Census Bureau figures released last month, so there’s little sign of a postrecession rebound.

To paint the background scenery a little bit. As Paul Krugman has said productivity isn’t everything but in the long run it’s pretty much everything. It’s the major determinant of how much richer the future is going to be than the present. We would therefore like to see that rising. Which is where new companies come in. Major technological advance is the driver of productivity advance. We do see advances from established companies, sure we do. It’s a well known headscratcher that extant factories just seem to become more efficient over time without anyone really doing very much to change them. The assumption is that people just get better at doing stuff by doing stuff. But the great leaps forward seem to come from new companies. It’s firm entry and the associated firm exit from the market which drives the larger process.

If you like, it’s Apple killing off Nokia, the smartphone displacing the feature phone which is our real driver of future wealth. Thus we get a bit worried when we see new firm formation fall.

You might not believe this but the US rate of new firm formation has long been rather low. This isn’t actually a great problem because we think we know why this is. Self-employment, or the one and two man firm with no intention of really ever growing, isn’t what drives technology and productivity. It’s the rate at which people do this which is low in the US. Dean Baker had to hit me around the head a bit with the evidence to get me to see it but his answer is that it’s health insurance. The manner in which it is locked into the employment contract makes self-employment much less attractive in the US than in countries with other arrangements (no, this does not mean SINGLE PAYER NOW! because most other places don’t have single payer either).

The US foundation rate for companies that at least desire to grow swiftly has always been just fine, rather higher than most other places. This is one of the reasons for the vibrancy of the American economy. And what is worrying is that it is this rate which is dropping.

There are various explanations out there like simple demographics. Baby boomers are retiring out of being entrepreneurs, millennials are only just about getting to the sweet age at which people do it and so on. And the solution we apply to it will obviously depend upon what we think the cause is. My own candidate for the cause is excessive regulation.

andrewducker: (Default)

Rick and Morty is on Netflix!

Oct. 24th, 2016 07:09 pm
[personal profile] andrewducker
Dear internet people who have not already see Rick and Morty, I strongly suggest that you head to Netflix, and watch episode two at once. It's better than the pilot, and there's nothing in the pilot that you need to know for what are, basicallly, a bunch of really funny versions of sci-fi premises.
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Katharine Pindar

Purposeful efficiency at the Corn Street headquarters, a fair-sized room full of people moving about. Friendly greeting from the man with the large-shelved bookcase stuffed with leaflets and letters, whisked to the registration desk with people busy at computers behind it, more friendly smiles plus tea and cake.

It was the middle of Tuesday afternoon. And there was the candidate, Liz Leffman, pausing between trips out, pleased to meet another Cumbrian volunteer. I had just missed Tim, apparently, now on his way back to London after his fourth, penultimate, visit. (How had he managed four? I’d heard him address the North-West Lib Dems’ conference in Lancaster the previous Saturday afternoon.)

Now it was time to work. Here were three volunteers, two men and a woman, about to go out in a car to a Witney estate. Would I join them? Within half an hour, equipped with large bundles of leaflets and letters, a map and a list of the exact houses to be delivered, I was starting my round: leaflets for every house, addressed letters for many of them. There were no posters up. A man walking a dog smiled, but one householder thrust back the leaflet and letter, saying crossly that her daughter was at Uni but wouldn’t be voting Lib Dem anyway.

It was easy work for me on that modern estate with its clearly numbered houses. Yet after two hours I found my head was spinning slightly, my shoulders ached and my neck was cold.  Why was this simple exercise wearing me out much more rapidly than Cumbrian fell walks? I was glad when my companions, a bit younger and faster than me, rang to say they were finished and came to help me complete my second road. Apparently they had done nine hours’ delivering the day before. I thought, I couldn’t have done that.

They said they were camping out in the big house of a generous local Lib Dem. That took me back. Where had I done the same as a student Liberal? Wasn’t it Nuneaton? The candidate there didn’t get in (are there Lib Dems now in Nuneaton?), but in Colne Valley our late-lamented Richard Wainwright did, and of course David Steel in Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles. Happy days!

As dusk fell we re-entered headquarters: the room full of people listening to, presumably, the chief campaign manager, urging everyone to further efforts, and Liz being happy with all that had been done. Then there was a surprise – a little birthday cake with candles for Tom, one of my three companions, who had chosen to spend his 30th birthday like this, a true Lib Dem. ‘He’s just half my age’, muttered the man next to me with a rueful smile, no doubt recalling like the rest of us past birthdays and past campaigns as well.

But there was more work to be done. Would I go out and canvass with someone else? enquired the efficient woman organiser. I braced myself for the expected cold, regretting not bringing scarf, hat and gloves. However, I was reprieved. Liz would have to be driven back to her home in Charlbury by and by, could I take her? Meantime she would have some supper at the Three Horseshoes down the road, since it was good to be seen in the local hostelries.

I joined her there, with three new companions, and talk flowed over the quick meal. Then Liz and I walked to my car and I drove her home along the country roads in the dusk. I’d already absorbed what an excellent standard-bearer she was for us, and it was good to hear more about her life.

Next morning we were going to Chipping Norton – splendid! Surely the epicentre of our fantasy enemy, the uncaring Tory, indifferent to the plight of the poor! Liz was there in the centre, with her entourage including her (I presume!) P.A. for the day, one Paddy Ashdown.

A tall man carrying a large number of leaflets spotted my rosette, and came over to see who I was. This was Ian, all the way from Edinburgh, been there since Saturday, doing his own deliveries after collecting each morning from HQ. He had plenty of deliveries left, so I joined him and we drove to a spot in the town where we could each take a long street. And just as I finished mine at the top of a hill, I met up with Ed and helped him finish a last little estate and drove him back to Witney.

Ed’s satnav led us through quiet golden-stone villages which I remembered from living here, talking of his impending move from London to live in Chesterfield, and of art and the poetry of Blake and Keats. We were bumping over far more sleeping policemen than there used to be, on little roads all now speed-limited. Still, there were obviously a lot more sleeping Liberal Democrats waiting to be roused by the good fairy Liz and her many attendant elves.

It was the afternoon before Polling Day. Sal Brinton was at HQ, just back from canvassing. I had last seen our President at Lancaster the previous Saturday: wheelchair travel must be remarkably quick!

After greeting her I tackled a last job in a little estate by the river and just managed the deliveries in the gathering dusk. Back at HQ I was in time to hear the final urging of the campaign manager to everyone to pull out all the stops next day, and hear Liz’s final warm words, about her pleasure whatever the outcome of this splendid four-and-a-half week campaign. I looked at her, still fresh-faced, calm, friendly and capable, and said my farewells with regret. The gargantuan task undertaken by all involved would, as we know now, have an outcome which seems completely deserved, and is now being rightly celebrated.


* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

Status Update

Oct. 24th, 2016 04:51 pm
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Posted by Andrew Hickey

Just a brief note to explain why there’s been few new posts in the last week or so — I came down with a bad case of flu eleven days ago. I got over the main symptoms and became well enough to leave the house by Wednesday, but I’ve still, since then, been sleeping eleven hours a day, having difficulty breathing, and also having the worst mental health I’ve had in years (my depression seems to be the type that correlates with immune system activity). Other than one script for a freelance client and my weekly comics reviews, I’ve not been able to write anything — I’ve just not been well enough.
Hopefully today I’ll be able to complete a review for We Are Cult of the new compilation CD Svenska Shakers — I’ll link that when it’s up — and I’m planning to get back to regular posting from tomorrow.
But while I’m doing this update, I thought I’d update you with some further plans for writing for the rest of the year:
I’m hoping to get the third Beach Boys book out for Xmas. No guarantees yet, but that’s the plan.
Once the Beach Boys book is finished, I’m going to Kickstart a second edition of the Monkees book. This version will include a completely rewritten chapter on Pool It!, an expanded version of the article on The Monkees Present including the material on the deluxe edition, and new reviews of the pre-Monkees recordings on the deluxe version of the first album (including Davy’s first solo album), the Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart and The Point albums, and Good Times. Patreons will of course get this free.
I’ve nearly finished the first draft of The Basilisk Murders, but I’m a bit bogged down in it. I’m going to get it finished, and then put it aside for a while before doing the second draft. That should be done early next year.
And next month I’m going to try NaNoWriMo again — Patreons will remember the novel I abandoned last year. I’m going to try again with the idea, and I’m going to write that “in public” next month — posting stuff every day to Patreon. What I do with that first draft — whether I stick it out as is, rewrite it, or just dump it — will depend on Patreon feedback. But if it works out, Patreons will get a sixty-thousand-word work of fiction next month, along with substantial commentary and abandoned drafts.

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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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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