[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

I mean, aside from child and pets and house and my own bed: Three weeks worth of books sent, which I will catch up with and post during the week. As Athena said: “It’s like Christmas, but for work.” Yes, well.

In other news, I am home. And I get to be home for, like, four whole days. And then I leave again. I am determined to enjoy these next four days fully.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Welcome to the Golden Dozen, and our 415th weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (12 – 18 April, 2015), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

1. Lib Dems publish constituency poll for Jo Swinson putting her marginally ahead of SNP (but within margin of error)  by Mark Pack  on Mark Pack .
Cautiously good news for Jo, but a long way still to go.

2. For the benefit of Michael Crick – why Nick Clegg wasn’t at the Challengers’ Debate by Stephen Tall on Stephen Tall.
It’s not that he didn’t want to be, that’s for sure.

3. SNP candidate says “Politicians are a fair target for community justice and why that scares me by me on Caron’s Musings .
A glimpse of the febrile atmosphere in Scotland.

4. Former MP for Montgomeryshire is a fruitcake by  Jonathan Calder on Liberal England.
Not what you are thinking.

5. How things took an unexpected turn when Lib Dem chief exec Tim Gordon went canvassing by Mark Pack  on Mark Pack.
A case of mistaken identity.

6. Former Tory candidate in Sheffield Hallam backs Nick Clegg  by Mark Pack  on Mark Pack.
An interesting turn of events.

7. Why does our mayor think he is entitled to £4500 a year for doing nothing? by Richard Kemp on But what does Richard Kemp think?
“Immoral” and “hypocritical” are strong words. Are they justified?.

And now to the five blog-posts that come highly recommended, regardless of the number of Aggregator click-throughs they attracted. To nominate a Lib Dem blog article published in the past seven days – your own, or someone else’s, all you have to do is drop a line to voice@libdemvoice.org. You can also contact us via Twitter, where we’re @libdemvoice

8. Opinions I am sick of hearing: a short list by Jennie Rigg on Nothing is more important than my egomania.
I am sure we could add to Jennie’s list…

9. Far from the campaign trail: is decent politics to be drowned out by the vilest common denominator?  by Mark Valladares on The View from Creeting St Peter.
Nobody is covering the good stuff, says Mark

10. If Cameron accepts the Sun’s endorsement, he’s endorsing Katie Hopkins’ hate by Nick Barlow on What you can get away with.
Her article describing human beings in need as “feral” and “cockroaches” didn’t appear by magic – the editorial team considered it acceptable

11. Election choices by Cicero on Cicero’s Songs.
“I just want to hear the Liberal Democrats articulate their distinctive vision of freedom and fairness in a way that connects- because the consequences of the eclipse of the Liberal Democrats will be far more serious for Britain than all but the most prescient commentators now suggest.”

12. Day 5217: Church of Thatchiary Manifesto by Richard Flowers on The very fluffy diary of Millennium Dome, Elephant .
The awful ideas in the Tory manifesto show how much the Liberal Democrats have held them back.

And that’s it for another week. Happy blogging ‘n’ reading ‘n’ nominating.

Featured? Add this to your blog post!
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
<a href="http://www.libdemvoice.org/top-of-the-blogs-the-lib-dem-golden-dozen-415-45547.html"><img src="http://www.libdemvoice.org/images/golden-dozen.png" width="200" height="57" alt="Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice" title="Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice" /></a>

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

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Amy Roth

Good afternoon dear readers!

It’s the Sundaylies!


Your Skepchick Network recap that you can fold up like an origami crane in your mind. It’s like and old-school newspaper but better because you don’t have to recycle it or clip out any coupons. It’s the recap for the lazy at clicking but the strong of intellect. Don’t like scrolling through our many network sites alllll week long? No worries! I’ve got all your most important news right here.

So lay back in that hammock and sip that mojito in the shade.


The following is all you need to know…


First some Sunday Funnies!

Check out Bird and Moon! Artist Rosemary Mosco does some beautiful science and nature comics. Be sure to check out her website! Here is one of her comics about “Women Naturalists” but there are SO MANY MORE beautiful works!



Now on to your regularly scheduled Sunday Skepchick Network Recap!

Mad Art Lab 

It’s Mad Art Cast Episode Seven! The gang talks about Mars One, the transient nature of art and why people want to make art that outlasts their life. Surly Amy also gives Dr Gwen Pearson a call. That’s, right! Our good friend and entomologist, Bug Girl! Have a listen!

Amy’s Wonky Email edition of the MAL Quickies. Ok so I had a glitch in one of my email apps and all the cool links I had been sending to the Lab for over a month got lost in cyber space UNTIL I found out about it. When they finally sent, Brian compiled some of them into a fantastic art and science quickie blast.

A -Viking We Will Go. Beth teaches us about Vikings and shows us some historical artifacts on display! Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Italy is Sending an Espresso Machine to the ISS. Ashley does some great research and teaches us how astronauts will soon be able to make espresso in space!



Hillary Clinton: A Feminist Progressive We Can Believe In… Or can We? Laura talks about why Hillary Clinton might not be the best woman for the job.
The Kids Aren’t All White: Diversity in the Genderqueer Community. New Queereka contributor, Olive discusses the genderqueer community, intersectionality and diversity.

School of Doubt

Opting out of Homework. Jay (among other SoD writers) frequently didn’t turn in his homework as a student. Should we let ‘opting out’ affect the grades of students who have otherwise mastered the material?
Why The opt-Out Movement is Growing in New York.  And now for a different kind of opting-out: Corrina covers the recent boycott of the NY State Common Core English Language Arts exams.

Grounded Parents

Star Trek and Humanism: The Novels Part 2. Lou is back with the second part to his series talking about humanist values and Star Trek novels.

Dear Son, The Story of One Foster Mom. In this anonymous guest post, one parent shares the heartbreak of fostering a child that ultimately was given back to the birth parents.

We Get Mail: On Issues of Great Importance. If you’ve ever seen someone complain because a blog isn’t covering “important issues,” you will enjoy this tongue-in-cheek letter.


Featured image: Photo by Amy. Awesome ceramic coffee cup by Skeletal Dropkick on Etsy!

Your clipboard is printed wrong

Apr. 19th, 2015 04:25 pm
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Mr Bean on a Yellow Mini.

No, I’ve no idea how this image is relevant to the story either. But it’s what Google Image Search gave me when I tried looking for free to reuse images with the keywords “clipboard lib dem”.

Spending away a few moments on a doorstep whilst doing postal voter knocking up for Lynne Featherstone, trying to work out if that faint noise was someone coming to the door, a burglar, a neighbour or just my imagination, I realised how wrong my clipboard was.

Not just that it was a traditional clipboard rather than a Semikolon one. But also the positioning of the Liberal Democrat logo. As with pretty much every branded clipboard, the logo is on the front, not the back. Yet which part of the clipboard is most visible to the voter? The back, not the front.

(With a few more quiet doorsteps to experiment on, I did try finding a way to hold the clipboard so that the front is naturally more visible than the back. No success there unless you count discovering a new muscle in my hand to twinge a success.)

It’s as if the logo is designed to comfort the panicky canvassers who on finding someone answering the door momentarily forgets who they are and why they’re there, needing a big logo to remind them.

Or – to finally be a little ore serious – it’s another little example of how often campaigning is designed with an insular outlook, failing to look at things through the eyes of a voter or a new helper. In the case of the clipboard, things are literally back to front.

It’s the common theme that runs through my 6 ways to treat your campaign helpers well – each tip is worth mentioning because of mistakes that commonly happen when people fall prey to that insular outlook.

So next time you pick up a clipboard with a logo on the wrong side, make that logo’s positioning useful – by being a reminder of how easy it is to slip into doing things that seem to make sense, right up until the point when you remember how those organisational details look to someone on the other side of exchange, whether it is a voter or a (would be) new helper.

Aloha! Come to Science Luau 2015!

Apr. 19th, 2015 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

On September 14 – 20, come to Hawaii to soak up some science at Science Luau 2015!

I’m pretty excited about this. My wife Marcella and I run a company called Science Getaways, where we take normal vacations and make them awesome by adding science. We’ve had many awesome trips over the past few years, and we decided it’s time to up the ante.

And up it we did. Hawaii was the obvious choice; the Big Island has a lot to offer for a week of fun and relaxation, and Science Luau will be equal parts tropical paradise and sciencey goodness.

We’ll go night snorkeling with manta rays, tour a family-owned coffee farm*, hike around the active Kilauea volcano (and stay after dark to watch the lava illuminate the gas plume billowing out of the Halema’uma’u vent — yeah, click that link), and take an optional trip to the Mauna Kea summit to watch the Sun set from over 4,200 meters above the Pacific. After that we’ll drive down to the visitor’s center (at about 3,000 meters) to star gaze, of course! No Science Getaway is complete without that. And my favorite part: We’ll visit a seahorse farm where they’re working to keep the critters from going extinct. You’ll even get to hold one underwater; that’ll be an experience you won’t forget.

We’ll be staying at the luxurious Fairmont Orchid hotel on the west side of the island, right on the Kohala coast. And because we’re doing this during the off-season, the hotel and beaches are likely to be relatively quiet, giving us a cozier feel to the event. We also got very good group rates for the hotel, so if you’ve ever wanted to visit the area this is the way to do it.

Best of all, you’ll be spending a week with like-minded nerds sharing all this beauty and wonder. We’re always amazed at how many friendships blossom from these Getaways. It’s really wonderful.

For details, go to the Science Luau 2015 page. I hope to see you there! Mahalo!

* Ask any professional: Science runs on coffee.

I’ll note that Science Luau starts right after HawaiiCon, the island’s only and very fun science fiction convention. I went last year and had a great time; we are not affiliated with each other in any way, but I figure if you’re interested in the Luau, HawaiiCon might geek you out as well.

Why Vote: It Encourages Them

Apr. 19th, 2015 02:37 pm
[syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

Posted by Andrew Hickey

I’m seeing a lot of people at the moment saying that they’re not planning on voting this year, because their vote will make little difference. And I can certainly see the point they’re making.

We have a crappy electoral system, one which leads inevitably to governments either solely formed by, or completely dominated by, two huge parties whose views are almost identical to each other and who are pursuing an agenda that is frankly vile.

In those circumstances, it’s easier to not bother to vote, and to channel one’s political energies into non-Parliamentary campaigning.

And, indeed, non-Parliamentary campaigning is vital, and *is* probably more important than the electoral system in actually getting things changed, given the current sorry state of Parliamentary politics. And this is why I give time or money to Amnesty, the Open Rights Group, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and other such campaigning organisations. Those groups are all pushing at the Overton Window, and that can only be a good thing.

But at the same time, if you want to change something about the way the world works, yes, you should push the Overton window in your direction as much as possible, but at the same time, once your issue becomes within the realms of political possibility, there will be a party standing in your area who will find it easier to modify their positions towards the ones you want. If your big issue is, for example, lowering the tax rate on rich people to 20%, the Tories would be more likely to go for that than the other parties. If you want to ban cars because they’re too polluting, the Greens will be most likely to go for it. Re-nationalise the energy providers? Labour. Land Value Tax? Lib Dems. Deport all immigrants? UKIP. And so on.

So in your constituency, there is undoubtedly a party standing which, while you don’t agree with them, will be more likely to take on the positions you want as soon as it becomes political expedient than any of the other parties will. So while voting will not make much of a difference, *as part of a broader range of activities* ranging from signing petitions to giving money to campaigning groups to joining parties and influencing them from the inside it may make a difference.

Now, I’m very fortunate in that where I live I don’t have to compromise my vote. Our local Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, Dave Page, is someone with whom I agree on about 90% of the issues we’ve discussed, who’s as active and effective a campaigner as you can imagine, and who I trust enough that he has a spare key to my house. I’m not quite as sure about this Andrew Hickey bloke the Lib Dems are standing for council in my ward, mind, but even if he’s useless he can’t actually be *worse* than the current lot…

So I don’t have to compromise at all — I can go into the polling station and know that I’ll be voting for people who will do the right thing as I see it — and so it’s easy for me to go on about how everyone should vote. I won’t be standing in judgment over anyone who doesn’t — as I’ve said above, I can understand people’s reasons. But I do think that given the opportunity to give politics a tiny nudge in the right direction, whichever direction you think that is (and I hope it’s a liberal and democratic one), you might as well take it.

Tagged: politics

My eyes!

Apr. 19th, 2015 04:27 pm
andrewducker: (Sexy)
[personal profile] andrewducker
I was in the local eye hospital on Wednesday, where they took a look inside, checked that it no longer looked like soup, and made sure my pressure was ok, and then pronounced me absolutely fine. And handed me a bottle of Maxidex so that next time* this happens I can get started immediately while waiting for an appointment.

Next up, getting my prescription checked, because before I was referred to the eye hospital I was checked by an optician, who told me my right eye prescription was now slightly too strong. And that eye does occasionally get tired. And eye-tests are free.

Oh, and remembering to relax more, and spot signs of stress sooner, as that seems to be the major trigger for me. Yay.

*This was the third time in five years. It will almost certainly happen again.
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Deadline warning

5pm Tuesday 21 April: that’s the deadline for making a new postal or postal proxy vote application, or to change an existing postal or proxy vote (such as to change the address for a postal vote or to cancel a proxy vote).

Application forms for postal votes and the many different varieties of proxy votes are available here (postal votes) and here (proxy votes). The deadline for proxy votes, if they are to be cast in person rather than by post, is not for another few days – 5pm Tuesday 28 April.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

I’m a little out of step with general opinion on the subject of Greece and the euro: I think the euro itself is a bad idea (as I also think that the existence of the European Union itself is a bad idea) and it’s a bad idea made very much worse by being extended to places like Greece, Portugal, Spain and arguably even Italy and France where it simply shouldn’t have been extended to. So I’m clearly extremely biased on this subject, although I can find support for my view in the theoretical literature on optimal currency areas. I’m also along with the straight majority view that either a default or at the very least a haircut on Greece’s debt burden is a sensible idea. When a debt burden can’t be paid the sensible thing to do is to cut it rather than try to impose some vast amount of unproductive pain and suffering. With a company this is bankruptcy (and it’s the defining feature of well operating capitalism to have a swift, possibly even brutal, system to deal with the inevitable failures) and with a country it’s some form of sovereign default and or debt haircut. That’s just what has to be done and if it wasn’t for this pesky euro that’s what would have been done with Greece three and four years ago.

The major worry was, of course, contagion. Not that that would have bothered me because I think the euro’s a bad idea but it did worry those in favour of it. But that worry now seems to have receded:

The European Central Bank has warned that a rupture of monetary union and Greek exit from the euro could have dramatic consequences, but insisted that it has enough powerful weapons to avert contagion.

Mario Draghi, the ECB’s president, said it would be far better for everybody if Greece recovers within EMU but made it clear that the currency bloc is no longer vulnerable to the immediate chain-reaction seen in earlier phases of the debt crisis.

So, Grexit could be dealt with. Wolfgang Munchau is in the interesting position of arguing that the default is necessary, Grexit not, but I fear that he’s not quite right. Take this for example:

The economic case for a debt default is overwhelming. It is hard to see how Greece can ever service its debts as agreed. Even in the creditor countries few people are under illusions about Athens’ long-term debt-servicing capacity. Full servicing would require huge primary surpluses — that is, surpluses before payment of interest on debt. It would leave Greece trapped in a debt depression for a long time. The scheduled primary surplus for 2016 is 4.5 per cent, which is bordering on the insane. Athens absolutely needs to default.

Well, no, not really, that’s the previously scheduled primary surplus for next year. And it’s been pretty obvious in the current negotiations that everyone’s quite happy with relaxing this, down to perhaps the 1.5% that is scheduled for this year. And the reason for this is the following, as Munchau correctly notes:

On whom could, or should, Greece default? It could default on its citizens by not paying public-sector wages or pensions. That would be morally repugnant and politically suicidal for the Syriza-led government. In theory, it could default on the two loans it received from its EU partners, though it is not due to start repaying the first of those until 2020, and the second in 2023. It could also default on the remaining private-sector bondholders but that would not be a good idea. Greece might need private sector investors later.

It could also default on the IMF and the European Central Bank. The IMF is expecting a series of repayments. The ECB wants its money back in the next few months on debt it holds on its books. Defaulting on the IMF and ECB is the only option that would bring genuine financial relief in the short term.

The total debt burden is indeed such that no one has ever actually managed to pay back debts of such size of GDP. Britain managed to get WWI and WWII debts down without default but did so through inflation more than anything else which is a form of default in itself. And modern financial markets wouldn’t allow someone to get away with that. But the fact that huge chunks of debt aren’t repayable until long into the future mean that the commonly quoted debt to GDP ratio isn’t quite as relevant as many think. We can reduce a debt burden in at least two ways. Reduce the amount of the debt or reduce the interest on it and extend the terms (effectively, on the official portion of the debt, allowing it to be inflated away without that market reaction that would stop it). Which has already been done. Greece can repay with a 1.5 to 2% primary surplus. And while it’s not exactly and easy ride trying to engineer that it’s entirely possible.

And, of course, if the debt can be paid, given the lax terms, then there’s no necessity for Grexit either.

Which is where I end up: I think both a default and Grexit would be highly desirable things to happen. However, I also insist that neither are necessary, as the debt repayment schedule is such that Greece could run the required surpluses to meet the generous terms and interest rates. What I think is actually going to happen is that someone, along the line, makes a mistake. Some slip between what was meant as a bargaining position and what is thought of as a red line and Greece then slips into Grexit as the banking system falls over. And given where bond yields are, up at 28% or so on some maturities last week, it would seem that the markets consider that at least a likely, if not highly likely, outcome.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

The New York Times has conducted a bold experiment by asking a slightly confused librarian to tell us all what will happen when the robots come to take all our jobs. This works about as well as you would think it would to be honest. Take, for example, this:

Optimists insist that we’ve been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills. But that is not a sufficient answer. One historical example is no guarantee of future events, and we won’t be able to compete by trying to stay one step ahead in a losing battle.

That’s making the assumption that there was one episode, called the Industrial Revolution, when manual labour was automated and thus we’ve only got that one single historical episode. Which is, of course, ridiculous. We’ve been automating every job we can ever since we worked out what it meant. A plough is an automated version of a man with a shovel and we’ve been ploughing the land for thousands of years now. We might also note that the historical reference books are littered with references to the second industrial revolution (roughly, the harnessing of electricity rather than steam power). But even that’s not the whole story.

We’ve not had one, or two or three, episodes of automation. We’ve had perhaps three waves of it, that’s true, first and second industrial and then that of agriculture (the tractor and so on, mostly post WWI and as Keynes said, one of the real structural problems underlying the economic problems of the 1930s). But they are really only crests of the the process that’s been going on this past 300 years. That is, we’ve not had one historical incidence of automation and job replacement, we’ve had several hundred years of direct experience that this is how it works. The implication of this for public policy should be obvious. Sure, if it was just one experience then perhaps we should worry. If it’s been the defining feature of the modern era, something that has been trundling along for those hundreds of years, then perhaps we might prefer to think of it as being normal, not an oddity?

This is also a little odd:

In the 1980s, the Harvard social scientist Shoshana Zuboff examined how some workplaces used technology to “automate” — take power away from the employee — while others used technology differently, to “informate” — to empower people.

For academics, software developers and corporate and policy leaders who are lucky enough to live in this “informate” model, technology has been good. So far. To those for whom it’s been less of a blessing, we keep doling out the advice to upgrade skills. Unfortunately, for most workers, technology is used to “automate” the job and to take power away.

If we recast this away from neologisms in social science and into good solid words in economics we would say that this is the difference between automation being a substitute for human labour and a complement to it. And this isn’t particularly a feature of how we try to combine the technology and the labour, it’s an innate feature of the technology. So it’s not a matter of how we try to design the workplace, it’s a function of the technologies that we uncover or invent.

More, if we’ve got a technology that does replace (ie, is a substitute for) human labour then we really do want to deploy it. So that that human labour which is now out of a job can go and do something else. Where some other technology is a complement to it and thus this raises the general productivity of the economy. We’ve got a cheap machine doing the original task, we’ve got our unique snowflake of a human being doing what requires a human being to do and we’ve thus got two things being produced that we all can consume.

Sure, we most definitely want to “informate” jobs, that’s harnessing technology as a complement. But we don’t want to stop “automate” as a process, we want to push on with that as fast as possible so that more people can move over to the informate part of the economy. It’s that very process that has been making us all richer these past 300 years and as long as we keep doing it will continue to do so.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Newspuppy

From the Sunday Times Shippers Forecast (£)

The Forecast’s favourite ginger spin doctor, James McGrory of the Lib Dems, looked even more dishevelled than usual after a night bunked up at Nick Clegg’s constituency home. “I was stuck in a tiny child’s bed and Nick was ages in the shower,” he explained.

Clegg, who has quit smoking, has an incentive for McGrory — who still puffs away like a chimney — not to wash. “I just have to sit next to him,” Clegg told me. “It’s nicotine consumption by osmosis.

In a separate interview in the same paper, Nick talks about the impact on his children of his career:

Clegg insists rumours that his wife, Miriam, would like him to resign for a life at the European Commission or the United Nations are untrue: “We’re a mum and dad of three lovely little boys. Our greatest concern always is our children.

“So far at least — I hope they don’t tell me otherwise in 20 years’ time — they appear to be strong, happy, well-adjusted children.”

Clegg’s eldest is 13 and the Lib Dem leader hints that he might step down if their teenage years are disrupted by another political firestorm such as tuition fees.

“There’s a hidden merit to having children so small that they don’t really know what political controversy is swirling around,” he said.

“The teenage years are quite vulnerable years for children at the best of times. You do need to be very mindful if you’re in any public walk of life about the impact your vocation has on your children.”

He’s also described as a “bouncy vicar” by Shipman who interviewed him on his visit to Gordon on Friday.

On a day spent touring the Gordon constituency in Scotland, where the Lib Dems are trying to prevent Alex Salmond from creating his new political base, Clegg is like a bouncy vicar.

“I know all politicians tell you this, some mean it and some don’t, but I genuinely love campaigning. It’s much, much more fun than arguing with George Osborne in an office in Whitehall.”

Clegg wants a return to government to mitigate “this genuine threat now of a lurch to the right or the left — we are the guarantee of stability and continuity for this country”.

Despite growing public confidence in the economic recovery, Clegg said: “It is still very fragile, it’s much more fragile than people think. The great danger is complacency that somehow the economic recovery is now on autopilot. It is not. It can be thrown into reverse in a millisecond.”

After our chat I am told that this form of words, with its allusions to Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, is not a coincidence. It should be spelt “Mili-second”.

* Newshound in training. I'm sweet and full of mischief, just like my stories.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
[personal profile] kate_nepveu
Two signal-boosts:

First: Free Admission to ITHACON40/Pippi to Ripley3, the Ithaca College Campus, Saturday May 2, 2015 10am-5pm. Special Guests: Bruce Coville and Laura Lee Gulledge. Free kids workshops include: comic drawing workshops, fantasy writing, steampunk art, superhero cape making, star wars armor workshop, Japanese sword, Belly Dance, Pathfinder RPG game, Game Space, and Zombie Ballroom.

ITHACON40 full guest lineup; Pippi to Ripley full program.

Plus a Friday evening event (also free):

7:00-9:00 Panel on Women Making Comics (Klingenstein Lounge, Ithaca College Campus Center), with Laura Lee Gulledge, Morgan McKenzie (published as “Maegan Cook”), and Danielle (Ielle) Palmer.

Pippi to Ripley is where I gave my Mary Sue talk a couple years ago; I can't make it this year, but if you can, check it out.

Second: the Tiptree Award is expanding into Fellowships, to "support the development of new work, in any form or genre, that uses speculative narrative to expand or explore our understanding of gender, especially in its intersections with race, nationality, class, disability, sexuality, age, and other categories of identification and structures of power" ($500 year, two recipients). The application process is being developed in coordination with micha cárdenas; applications are expected to be opened at the upcoming WisCon (May 22-25, 2015).
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by The Voice

We were intrigued to be told this week that of the 32 candidates standing in the election who have a background in Physics, 12 of them are Liberal Democrats. A blog on Physicsworld.com reveals all:

In the last parliament (2010–2015), five members of the UK House of Commons held undergraduate degrees in physics: Tom Brake, Don Foster and John Hemming (Liberal Democrats), Andy Love(Labour) and Alok Sharma (Conservative). Foster and Love are retiring this year, but the other three are standing again. They face re-election battles of varying difficulty, but overall, their chances of continuing to represent the Physics Party in parliament look relatively good.

As for the 28 29 newcomers in the running, three of them – Heidi Allen, Kevin Hollinrake and Chris Philp – are Conservatives contesting seats considered “safe” for their party. A fourth, Carol Monaghan, is the Scottish National Party candidate for Glasgow North West, where the nationalists enjoy a commanding lead in the opinion polls. Hence, my informed guess is that on 8 May, the Physics Party will have increased its representation by 40%, from five seats to seven.

What about the other hopefuls? Well, one or two of them (including physics teacher Layla Moran, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats in the ultra-marginal Oxford West and Abingdon constituency) might just eke out narrow wins, but most are going to struggle.

We asked Robin Long, Liberal Democrat candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood and who works in experimental particle physics research, why he thought there was an affinity between the Liberal Democrats and Physics:

I think that when you boil down to what liberalism is, and what centrism is, we are very different from the other parties. They have an ideology that tells them how to get to the society they want (Tory – Free market creates a free society, Labour – Strong state and centralism create an equal society, Greens – Enviromentalism and Nationalisation solve all problems, UKIP – Tory + No EU) . We just have a destination in mind, with little to no preconceptions about how to get there. We believe that markets should serve the people, and never the other way round, which is what happens when you go to the economic right or left.

All of this leaves a lot of wriggle room in how to get somewhere.  My experience of conference says that this is usually done with a small amount of evidence based policy. Even when we are not using evidence-led policy, we leave plenty of room for it to be used, and our ideology does not reject its outcomes, rational thinking and common sense.  The latter requires caution, though, as Albert Einstein once warned:  “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen”

I think the ability to use evidence based policy and not be controlled by an ideology that tells you how to go about doing something appeals to Scientists, and to a certain extent the general public.

What we are really struggling to work out is why there are also a fair number of UKIPpers on that list. Could it be something to do with Chaos Theory?

[syndicated profile] robert_sharp_feed

Posted by Robert

Thursday evening saw another party leaders debate.  This time it was a BBC production, hosted by David Dimbleby.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, chose not to take part. One assumes that he and his strategists had good reasons for his decision.  He has presided over many unpopular policies and would have been exposed to continual criticism.  Perhaps he and his advisers felt that he could only lose.

But his absence felt odd.  All the other participants were able to hammer the Coalition Government policies with impunity (Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, was not there either).  Ed Miliband was able to take up the Prime Ministerial mantle unopposed.

Of the five parties that did show up for the debate, four are clearly to the left of David Cameron’s Conservatives and one, UKIP, are very much to the right.  Their closing statements were different and appealed to different demographics, but throughout all I could hear was the sound of the Comservatives hemorrhaging votes.

My hunch is that the nationalist parties will do very well on 7 May, and that UKIP will pick up votes that should otherwise have gone to the Tories.  I think this will allow Labour to prevail in a few seats that they may not otherwise have won, and that Miliband’s offer will persuade enough other voters.  Taken together, all these results will put Labour in a position to form their own minority or coalition government.  Of course, the campaign still has a few weeks left to run… but right now, I think Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister in May.



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Mat Bowles

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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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