The Big Idea: Alex Flynn

Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:52 am
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Posted by John Scalzi

Superheroes are fun to think about, but superheroes are often sort of one-dimensional, cardboard characters. In the real world superheroes would be more complex — and like real human beings possibly not perfect. For the novel Misshapes,  Alex Flynn uses literary x-ray vision to go behind the “super” and look at a world these folks might really live in.

ALEX FLYNN:

What if superheroes weren’t so super?

I grew up on comic books and movie superheroes who were bastion of justice and goodness. The past decade has seen some darker heroes but they were pretty light in my youth (my Batman did, after all, have nipples on his batsuit and brooded much less). At the same time a lot of my real life heroes when I was younger rarely lived up to these ideals. I was a big Mets fan as a kid and idolized the 86 World Series winning Mets. I still have a Daryl Strawberry signed ball in my childhood bedroom. But after a number of drug busts, assault charges and bleach filled water guns I learned that these weren’t quite the best role models. I feel like a lot of kids who were fans of the NFL after the recent scandals may be experiencing something similar.

When we started the book the great recession had just hit, and the failure of banks and other institutions brought the idea that many of the people in the business community who we once thought of as almost supernatural in their abilities, were not only fallible, but in some cases criminally negligent in their desire to manipulate the system to their own ends. The strains of an increasing class stratified society were starting to show and it was not a pretty sight. People were losing their homes while those responsible got million dollar severance packages and sailed off into their private world of yachts and oceans with no culpability.

When we started writing the book it was just about a girl dealing with rejection from a super school. Like if Harry Potter got kicked out of Hogwarts. We love Harry Potter and other hero stories, but we wanted to hear the tale of the kid that didn’t get in and still made good. But as we built the world, instead of a fantastical utopia with mustache twirling villains, we ended up reconstructing our own world but with people with powers but might not necessarily be super. Based on the way money, power, institutions, business, private schools, celebrity and politics can all interact and corrupt in our world, we started to see how, superheroes wouldn’t necessarily fix these problems, but would likely just get woven into the mix.

We didn’t want to construct a world with rare powers and secret identities, but wanted to build a universe where powers come in degrees, there utility is not based on some standard measure but on how society see their value, and that most of being a “hero” involved the same image management, press, and advertising as being a sports star. In the Misshapes, the town Heroes live in an upscale community above the town and are often involved in less than heroic activities. Also, in a world were real people can fly, instead of action movies, documentaries are really important, although they are more staged—like The Hills or the Kardashians—than true to life.

Also, and the central thrust of the book, there are people who have powers who are not Heroes, because they don’t get into hero academies and society thinks their powers have no value, called Misshapes. This group faces discrimination from society, in part out of resentment of those who have powers, and in part, out of an almost ingrained animosity that resembles racism. We intentionally left the definitions vague because being a Misshape is, like race, gender or class, a socially constructed concept

In our world, and not a clear thing like you often find in fictional works about superheroes. Most villains, usually after they do something wrong, are labeled Misshapes.

Everyone remembers the line from Uncle Ben in Spiderman, oft quoted in freshman philosophy courses “With great power comes great responsibility.” The maxim pre-dates Uncle Ben, and even has biblical antecedents, but we all know if from Ben. The reality is that while the statement is morally accurate, it is not factually accurate. There’s another saying, not often found in comic books, from Lord Acton* “Power corrupts.” This, in turn, is factually true. In the world we find people with power acting with impunity and immorally, even though they should be acting in a more moral fashion.

However, we still hold them up for praise and are shocked when they fall. In part because we want to believe Uncle Ben and want to ignore Lord Acton, instead of learning that we ourselves must be responsible and hold those who wield power accountable. Applying these lessons about the world to a fictional one with superheroes is the big idea of our book.

However, the idea is just the background. On top of that is the great story of one girl learning how powerful she is and how the world she once believed in is not as it appears. Also, there are some pretty damn cool melees with lasers.

*Acton was likely, like Uncle Ben, quoting another source but his succinctly quote is worthy of the attribution. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

—-

Misshapes: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the Website, and the Facebook page.


A very strong book recommendation

Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:44 am
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Posted by Tim Worstall

What with the 100th anniversary of World War I and Remembrance Day coming up, a suggestion for a truly excellent book.

Mud, Blood and Poppycock.

Written by a career Gurkha Rifles officer turned historian it’s quite unlike most of what you might have read on WWI. The British Army didn’t have a high casualty rate: losses were actually slightly lower than in other mass conscript European land wars. It’s just that Britain had never had a mass conscript army in any of those wars. The Normandy casualty rate was rather higher in 1944 actually.

The Somme wasn’t a error, it was vital given what was happening at Verdun. Third Ypres/Passchendale was also not an error, equally vital given the French Army mutinies. And absolutely contrary to what just about everyone says about the generals they very rarely made the same mistake twice and by 1918 had actually worked out how to do that combined arms thing of infantry, artillery, tanks and air power. That very thing that the Nazis used so effectively in round two.

It’s also only five quid at the moment which is a bargain for a book this good. Strongly recommended.

I don’t, by the way, insist that he gets everything absolutely right. But I, for one, found his explanations of troop rotation fascinating: most especially his comparison between what the British Army did and what everyone else did. I first read it years ago and gave it another go while traveling over the weekend. It’s stood up very well.

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Posted by Phil Plait

I’m normally a pretty cheerful guy, though I do have my moods. I’m not very good at hiding them, either, I’ll admit. So when you look at the photo below, would you say my mood as depicted on the left is the same as on the right, when the picture is inverted?

You might. But if you do, your brain has fooled you: you’ve become a victim of its wonky way of perceiving the world.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the same two pictures flipped upside for proof:

Distressing, isn’t it? This image comes from Optical Spy, and it’s an example of a well-known but still not completely understood effect called the Margaret Thatcher illusion. Yes, seriously, that’s its name. The illusion was first published using an image of the Prime Minister, and the name has stuck. Optical Spy has done this trick with quite a few skeptics and other well-known illusion-lovers; I was surprised and pleased to find my own goofy mug there.

As you can see, the first images are the same, except in the one on the right my eyes and mouth have been individually inverted (this process is called — yes, really — thatcherization). When the whole picture is then flipped, our brains have a hard time seeing it. Yet it becomes glaringly obvious when that image is flipped back. Whoever did the image of my face did a good job blending the edges of the edited regions; usually the pictures are just cut-and-paste, making it even weirder looking.

What’s even more interesting about this illusion is that no one knows exactly what causes it. Clearly, we recognize faces using individual pieces of the face — the eyes, nose, mouth, and so on. Our brains recognize faces even when there are only hints of those features, too, and even when they’re clearly random patterns, like in clouds, wood grain, flowers, gas clouds in space, or rocks on Mars. Even sometimes in other places where you would not expect to see a face. This psychological effect is called pareidolia, and is very strong; after all, the canonical smiley face is just two dots and a curved line, yet we see it as a smiling face!

Clearly, our ability to recognize faces is relational, that is, we see pieces of the whole in relation to one another. But it’s configural as well; that is, how those pieces are arranged. For some reason that part is lost when a face is inverted, and that is the subject of debate among psychologists. You can read a good synopsis of it on Mixing Memory, or more detail in a research paper about it, and of course a simple explanation is on wikipedia. By coincidence, an article on testing this effect on monkeys (with interesting, positive-seeming results) was just posted on io9, too.

As for my own photo, that was taken by my brother-in-law for the cover of my book Death from the Skies! Now I’m wondering if we should’ve used the thatcherized version. It seems like a better match with the theme of the book.

Tip o’ the Necker cube to the many folks who sent me the link to the Optical Spy page.

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Posted by Mark Pack

Michael Crick, now possibly slightly older than in the photograph, has been speculating:

Are the Conservatives about to come a huge cropper with David Cameron’s extremely expensive primary election in Rochester?

A couple of Britain’s top election lawyers say the primary which the Conservatives are currently holding to pick their candidate for the Rochester and Strood by-election could open the by-election result to serious challenge in an election court.

Notice the “could” in there which, if you’re used to hearing lawyers give legal advice, you’ll know signifies little than that they are still alive and breathing. Almost anything “could” happen and lawyers frequently couch even the most improbable of events in a preliminary “could”. You need to hear or read their full views in order to know how big the “but” is that arrives shortly after – and unfortunately Michael Crick’s report doesn’t give any real details of what the lawyers said.

What of the substance? Crick’s argument is that the Tories are spending very large sums of money on their primary to select a candidate (true), that this will result in the person being better known by the electorate (also true) and that if they had therefore to include the costs of the primary in their by-election expense limit, they’d be in a lot of trouble given how much it is costing (also true).

But is that “if” the case? Do they have to include the costs?

Selection costs are not normally included in election expenses, and the guidance from the Electoral Commission looks clear. But Crick says two unnamed lawyers say that the costs “could” have to count because:

The law on this issue is laid down by the Representation of the People Act 1983, and in particular part II, section 90.

One part would seem to give the Conservatives some confidence. Section 90ZA (1) states that election expenses are what: “is used for the purposes of the candidate’s election after the date when he becomes a candidate at the election”.

So indeed, it seems, the expenses clock doesn’t start ticking until they announce their candidate on Thursday.

However, read on. A few lines later, section 90ZA (5) says that the act’s earlier reference to a candidate: “includes (where the context allows) a reference to a person who becomes a candidate at the election after the expenses are incurred.”

That is attempting to put an impressively perilous interpretation on the wording of the Act because what it’s arguing is that – to substitute the words to make the point clear – 90ZA (1) really means ‘is used for the purposes of the candidate’s election after the date when he becomes a person who becomes a candidate at the election’.

It’s an interesting existential point about when do you become a person who later becomes a person who then stands for election, but whether it’s conception, birth or somewhere in between, isn’t really material to the problems of this interpretation, especially when you add the Electoral Commission’s interpretation (not legally binding but a key defence) along with the intention expressed in Parliament when this part of the 1983 Act has been amended, first in 2000 to introduce the clear cut-off and then subsequently.

‘Case law’ in terms of previous Electoral Commission investigations (not quite the same as actual case law, but indicative of what the lawyers have concluded on other occasions) has also kept to the normal definition of their being a clear cut-off start date which isn’t undermined by publicity around selections beforehand.

So “could”? Yes. But likely? No.

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Posted by Lord Andrew Phillips

I have a lifelong affinity with Clacton. It was the nearest seaside resort to my hometown of Sudbury, but more relevantly I was parliamentary candidate for the Harwich division, as it was then called, which included Clacton, in the General Election of 1970 (albeit for Labour – I saw the light three years later!)

On the face of it one should want to forget all about the Clacton results as quickly as possible. But there are some bright spots, and some insights which may be worth sharing. For a start, our candidate, Andy Graham, was admirable. He knew he was on to a hiding to nothing, but he persisted with a positive story about the party and the coalition. What is more, although the time and place were basically hostile to Lib Dems, it was often skin deep and susceptible to fact and reason.

In particular, it is clear that a lot of people do like to see parties co-operating rather than just beating the hell out of each other. Others recognise that we had stabilised government at a time of economic peril. So, too, many were ready to accept, firstly, that we have destroyed the power of the Tory right wing and, secondly, that we forced critical policies onto the government agenda. I sense that increasing the tax threshold may have been the most important and popular.

Although, for the first time in 45 years door-stepping, I had the door shut in my face at three consecutive houses. I sensed that it as an aspect of a generalised disillusion with not only politics, but with a distant metropolitanism which embraces big business, big media, big celebrities, etc. But I am sure that if I had been wearing a UKIP rosette it would have been different. That is because they appear to the public to understand their feelings better that we do (and Labour and the Tories were bad mouthed no less).

I believe we need to return to our tradition of pavement politics and show that we relate to the widespread sense of civic insignificance and political anonymity. So many people feel that they are of no account, living in an impersonal, bureaucratic culture which does not seem to notice them. That, of course, is a consequence of the slow collapse of community vitality in places like Clacton which, in the past, managed to counter these metropolitan influences, which were anyway less overpowering.

I believe that if we can find the language and sympathy to show that we understand where people are coming from, we not only strengthen our own political appeal, but help counter what is the equivalent of a national depression.

 

* Lord Phillips of Sudbury is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords

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Posted by Mark Pack

Rifling through some old blog posts I came across these two great clips of political canvassing, taken from Dennis Potter’s satire  Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton which, like all great satires, comes with a large dollop of truth:

Of course, grim canvassing experiences can be the trigger for fun, even if Liberal Democrat peer Tim Razzall recounts in his memoirs going a little far:

After the first ten houses, all of whom had told me that they were Tory and disliked the Liberal council, I thought I would have some fun. For the next ten houses I said I was conducting a consultation as to whether the name of Fife Road should be changed to Nelson Mandela Street. Margaret Thatcher had recently described Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, so the expressions on the doorstep were stunned.

What’s been your most bizarre canvassing experience?

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Posted by Mark Pack

The BBC reports:

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has been fined £200 by the Electoral Commission, while the Conservative Party has forfeited an “impermissible” £28,000 donation.

Mr Farage’s fine relates to the failure to declare donated office space worth £3,800 per year.

The Electoral Commission said the breach dated back to 2001 but saw “no intent to hide the donations” and said the fine had been paid.

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Posted by Alex Wilcock


Twelve days ago I emailed all of the then declared contenders to be the next Liberal Democrat President with questions (below) about their personal political philosophy and our shared Lib Dem values, to be published here. I received Daisy Cooper’s answers this morning, and here they are now.

Pithy -

We believe and trust in the power and potential of every individual to be whoever or whatever they want to be. We want to tear down the barriers in your way and we want to give you the tools and knowledge you need. It’s about freedom and we believe that to be truly free every person must be free from the shackles of poverty, ignorance and conformity.


What the LibDems stand for and how it relates to what we’ve done in government:

We believe and trust in the power and potential of every individual to be whoever and whatever they want to be. We want to tear down the barriers in your way and we want to give you the tools and knowledge you need. It’s about freedom and we believe that to be truly free every person must be free from the shackles of poverty, ignorance and conformity.

Individuals and communities must also be free from the crushing concentration of power in any institution wherever it exists – in the state, the media, in corporations or elsewhere; individuals should have the power to take the decisions that affect their lives.

Our vision of society is built on a ‘holy trinity’ of individual freedom, social justice and repatriating powers back to people and communities.

Labour believe in the power of the state, the Tories believe in the power of the markets, we believe and trust in the power of every individual to know what’s best – every individual like you.

In government, Liberal Democrats have given individuals the freedom to decide how to spend more of their money by increasing the point at which low and middle earners start paying tax.

By giving schools a pupil premium to help kids from the lowest income families, we’ve pulled down some of the barriers to children getting a good education.

And in all our efforts in government to break up the banks, reform the House of Lords and curtail the monopoly of the big energy companies, we seek to wrestle power out of the hands of the few for the benefit and use of all.

Liberal Democrats are committed to breaking up the fortresses of the rich, the powerful and the privileged and to fighting for a society in which individuals can take that power back and use it.

Liz Lynne’s answers can be found here.

NB On Monday, the three contenders on the ballot paper were announced as Liz Lynne, Daisy Cooper and Sal Brinton. Linda Jack was unable to find enough people within the Liberal Democrats to support her nomination.


My Questions As Sent

I have two related questions for you. Both are more concerned with politics than process. One is after a short two-pronged answer from the heart – had I been able to come to Conference, I would have preferred to put you on the spot with it in person to hear what you instinctively believe. The other question is asking you to come up with a longer, more thoughtful answer on our values that you’d be happy having the whole party say (as if anyone could ever persuade us to stick to one hymn-sheet).

Question One: What You Believe

People say all politicians are the same. It’s hardest for us in Coalition, but there’s some truth in it when every party promises to give money to the low-paid and the NHS, or when every local candidate for every party talks about experience, hard work and listening to local people. So what really motivates you? What for you makes the Lib Dems different from any other party?

If someone asked you on the doorstep, the hustings or on TV to sum up in one or two sentences what the Lib Dems, uniquely, stand for – and then why anyone should vote for us – what are your answers?

Past answerers include Presidential contenders and London Mayoral candidates.


Question Two: What the Lib Dems Stand For

Looking for something that’s more than a slogan or a soundbite but short enough to get in one go, imagine this answer as about one minute of a speech, or a box on a leaflet (perhaps 150-200 words, but that’s up to you). As you will be the voice of the Party if elected, can come up with something you think every party member could be happy saying or printing to explain What the Lib Dems Stand For? Something to enthuse and inspire Lib Dem believers and at the same time to attract and persuade potential supporters?

How would you link what makes us different, our philosophy, to what we’ve achieved in government, and what we want to do next? However you want to put that together, as specific or as thematic as you like.

I start this as a meme that many other Lib Dems have answered over the past couple of years (if I ever get a wide enough selection in, I might publish a book of them!). If you want to see more about what that’s involved, here’s my own latest version, including links to where I’ve printed other Lib Dems’ ideas.

Best of luck to each of you.


I had also spent some time trying to think of a ‘nasty’ question individually tailored to each of you – which I did for the last set of Presidential candidates and, going back further, for Nick and Chris in 2007. You may be relieved to read that I’ve decided not to ask those this time as I was unable to construct nasty questions of equal balance: the best I could think of for one of you was much too gentle, and for another of you, too bare-knuckle brutal. So that’s your lot from me!

Interesting Links for 22-10-2014

Oct. 22nd, 2014 12:00 pm
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Posted by Caron Lindsay

hannah thompsonEvery time I read about what Hannah Thompson went through, the ordeal of not knowing when and where photos which she had intended only for private consumption would end up next after her former boyfriend abused her trust, it makes me want to cry. Partly in empathy, feeling for what she went through, partly in anger that anyone could do that to a former partner, partly in total admiration at the way she has calmly and reasonably campaigned for what happened to her to be made an offence. This week the House of Lords passed the amendment which makes revenge porn illegal.

Hannah told her story to the Telegraph, first of all talking about the powerlessness of not knowing where these photos, which should never have seen the light of day, would resurface, especially when the Police said there was nothing they could do:

He’d upload them; I’d find them; I’d beg him to take them down; he’d acquiesce and apologise profusely. Then the whole cycle would start again a few weeks later.

He had been captioning them with labels such as ‘British Whore’ and ‘London Slut’.

And I wasn’t the only one who had been targeted in this way. There were numerous images of other girls published on his site, too.

I struggled to reconcile what was happening with the sweet boy who had been too scared to hold my hand on our first date, two years before.

I became so paranoid that I would reverse image search the pictures every day (putting them into Google to check whether they’d been republished) and report every single instance of them. I became obsessed, scrolling through the obscene comments even though they made my stomach turn.

My self-confidence disappeared and I felt every inch the ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ he’d labelled me.

I’d always clung on to the idea that the police were my last resort. But after they rejected my cry for help, I felt entirely alone.

The reaction from her family was a lot more supportive than Hannah expected and that gave her the confidence to begin her campaign:

Their reponse was phenomenal. My Nan asked me why I hadn’t told anyone sooner, I told her I was ashamed.

Her response: “Ashamed of what? Trusting the wrong person? We’ve all been there”.

My confidence increased with their support. I began telling myself, daily, that I had done nothing wrong.

And as I started to feel more like myself again, I realised something: this should be a criminal offence.

I started researching in to non-consensual pornography, which is how I learnt the term ‘revenge porn’ – it wasn’t something I’d ever heard, or applied to my experience before then.

Next, I found an online petition calling on the British Government to criminalise it. I told my story on Twitter and encouraged people to sign – it had more than a thousand new signatures within 24 hours.

Other people began sharing their stories with me. Some had been rejected by the police and others had been too ashamed to ever tell them. I was furious that these people – mostly women – had been harassed and shamed in to silence, while the perpetrators were able to revel in the pain they caused.

She talks about how she no longer feels afraid and no longer feels ashamed and adds that there is still more to do on this, even though the law has been changed:

This amendment isn’t the end. It’s not enough. There needs to be co-ordinated support for victims wanting to get their private images taken down from the internet. Such pictures have the potential to ruin people’s careers, relationships and lives.

I don’t want to read another story of somebody driven to suicide because their explicit photos were shared without their consent.

Victims need to know that it’s not their fault. There is help out there for them.

You can read the whole article here.

You may also be interested to know that Scottish Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Alison McInnes has saked SNP ministers to make a similar change of the law north of the border.She has introduced a parliamentary motion on the subject and wrote to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill saying:

The House of Lords this week unanimously agreed to amend the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to make revenge pornography a criminal offence in England and Wales. I am writing to urge the Scottish Government to follow its example and introduce specific legislation to tackle these vile and damaging acts.

The Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, has expressed concerns that there is significant under-reporting of this issue. It is important that victims don’t suffer in silence and know that they have done nothing wrong. I believe that introducing specific legislation to tackle these despicable and cowardly acts will give victims confidence that such violations of their privacy are unacceptable and illegal.

In addition to empowering more people to seek justice, creating a specific criminal offence would help overcome any archaic attitudes towards the use of revenge pornography as a cruel tool to distress, embarrass, manipulate or humiliate someone.

 

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

adventures in the voice recognition

Oct. 22nd, 2014 02:00 am
azurelunatic: Cordless phone showing a heart.  (phone)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Settings > my device > language and input > google voice typing > settings > uncheck block offensive words.

Mother fucker.

The Blood is The Life 22-10-2014

Oct. 22nd, 2014 10:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
andrewducker: (Calvin's Brain)
[personal profile] andrewducker


Not convinced? Have your say here.

(Via [twitter.com profile] PUDunleavy) - conversation (with correction of original image) here.
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Posted by Stephen Tall

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderA week today, Wednesday, 29th October, ballot papers will be sent to all c.44,000 Lib Dem members enabling us to vote for the next Party President in succession to Tim Farron, who’s held the post for the past four years. Other than the party leader, the presidency is currently the only other post in the Lib Dems determined by a vote of all its members.

Three candidates successfully secured nomination — click on their names to follow the links to their campaign websites:

The ballot will close in just over a month, Wednesday, 26th November. The result will be announced on Saturday, 29th November.

All three candidates have written for Lib Dem Voice — you can read articles written by them to help make up your mind about who to vote for by clicking on the following links:

Lib Dem Voice polled party members in our most recent survey — you can read what it said here. We’ll be conducting a further poll shortly now the candidates for the post have been confirmed.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

My life is ridiculous

Oct. 22nd, 2014 08:58 am
[personal profile] strangecharm
I just had a big rant at Andrew about how much I hate radiators -- it started because I said "I have to buy some pliers" and then realized that I was saying I needed pliers for my house to be at a convenient temperature and I hate to get all entitled-first-world person about this...but that's exactly what I am.

"You know what happens at my parents' house?" I said. They have a thermostat, and whatever temperature you set it to, the whole house is that!" Our house has a thermostat, too, but the temperature it gives you isn't anything to do with reality because the radiators seem to have two settings: full blast and off, so the house is an interesting patchwork of places that are too warm and places that are too cold. All the radiators have little knobs you can twiddle but these seem to be some kind of placebo, allowing you the impression that you have any control over the ambient temperature but the radiators stay either dangerously hot or disappointingly frigid whatever you do.

Andrew helpfully said things like "Believe it or not, central heating wasn't even a thing in Brtiain until about fifteen years ago."

"I do believe it!" I said. "Because central heating is still included in descriptions of places up for rent." And I know we got asked if this house we were going to buy had central heating. Even my parents didn't ask that -- and, remember, they had to ask if my house had windows.

More than most of the things I've had to learn how to fix or deal with since we bought the house, the radiators piss me off. For all my joking entitlement, my real problem is that they are entirely outside my experience. They don't work and I don't know why and I don't even know where to begin. But I know I have to, because it doesn't stop getting cold just because I don't feel up to dealing with it.

And my reward for sorting this out will not be enjoying the warm and dry; it'll be Andrew whinging that he's too hot.
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Posted by The Voice

In Channel 4’s Political Slot this week, Lib Dem candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole Vikki Slade finds out how the party’s policy of free school meals for 4-7 year olds is having a huge impact locally. You can watch it here.

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Posted by Mark Pack

Fireworks
News from Torbay:

Former Torbay Conservative Councillor Eric Abercrombie and leading local Labour and Trade Union activist Paul Raybould have changed political allegiance.

Paignton resident Eric Abercrombie was elected in 2000 and represented the Blatchcombe Ward for seven years. He will be contesting the Preston Ward for the Liberal Democrats next May alongside John and Linda Turner.

Torquay resident Paul Raybould is secretary of the local Trades Union Council and was a Labour Party member for 25 years. He stood as a council candidate for Labour in the Ellacombe Ward in 2011 and hopes to be selected shortly to contest one of the Torquay wards as a Lib Dem Candidate next year.

Bonus points to Eric for his on-message comment:

The Liberal Democrats have proven nationally that they can help build a stronger economy and a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life.

There’s a solution to this problem

Oct. 22nd, 2014 06:55 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Now the owners have submitted a planning application to install 200 solar panels on the island.

The application says that panels will be installed on a former tennis court and surrounded by a hedge that shields them from sight. But residents who live a few hundred yards away on the mainland contend that when they look out to sea they will be dazzled by reflected sun.
….
In papers submitted to South Hams district council, Deborah Clark and Tony Orchard, the owners, say their electricity costs have spiralled by 40 per cent in recent years. The 25-room Art Deco hotel, which opened in 1929, relies on an electricity supply from the mainland as well as expensive oil and bottled gas.
…..
Mr Porter, who sold the island in 2001, said: “We are horrified that this application has been lodged. We spent 16 years doing everything we could to restore it to its former beauty. Now this green island sleeping in the sun is going to be scarred by this horrible shiny thing. It will visible from miles away. It is going to glint in the sun and spoil the whole thing.”

Four objections have been received to date by the council, including one from Hubert Ashton of Folly Hill, which overlooks the island. He said: “This would be a monstrous carbuncle on an old friend. It would be ruinous for the beauty of the island.”

All of this is fine. We get it. You value the island as it is, the current owners wish to reduce their electricity bills. The solution therefore is for you gentlemen, Mssrs. Porter and Ashton, to put your hands in your own pockets and pay the extra costs of keeping the island the way that you value it.

Otherwise you can fuck off.

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

August 2014

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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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