(no subject)

Apr. 20th, 2014 07:46 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
I'm fishing for cats!

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Posted by Tim Worstall

My guess is that, in order to save British culture from foreigners, our rightwing patriots will undermine it by instituting a system of identity controls.

May is heading in that direction. Already, employers must check the immigration status of applicants before hiring them. She will make landlords and NHS receptionists do the same. In theory, this sounds a ferocious deterrent. Who wants to come to a country where they cannot work, rent a home or receive medical treatment? In practice, it is just another stunt from the publicity hounds at the Home Office. All kinds of foreigners have pieces of paper that entitle them to live in Britain. EU nationals, their partners, European Economic Area nationals, Chinese citizens with work visas, American citizens with student visas… There are dozens of valid documents and that’s before you get to the forgeries.

All hospital administrators and landlords will do is what employers already do: photocopy the patient or tenant’s documents and say, if the police question them, that they appeared to be genuine. The only way to turn a stunt into an effective policy is to issue identity cards for everyone in or visiting Britain. Only identity cards can meet the demands of public and press. But in meeting them they will destroy a notion of British freedom, which, call me a sentimentalist, I find worth defending.

We are a common-law democracy, with limits of the power of the state. We are not a country where police officers can demand to see your papers or stop and search you without good reason. We are not a country where you have to prove you are entitled to treatment before a doctor will help you. The talk-radio hosts’ screams and the tantrums of Ukip and the Tories will tear that old country down and create, for all their Euroscepticism, a Britain far closer to a Napoleonic Europe.

As they do it, they should remind you, if a reminder is needed, that no one does as much damage to a country as the patriots who profess to love it the most.

It won’t be UKIP doing it. Back when we did have a (Labour!) government trying to do it there was a campaign against having ID cards. Which was the first political party to affiliate to it?

Full question and answer.

The Government is pushing for ID cards and, less publicised is the link up
of all databases on every British subject. The Children’s database will be
accessible by an estimated 400 – 600, 000 people; this includes the NHS
spine, where everyone’s medical history will be readily available to
businesses and any organisation the Gov’t deems suitable and who can afford to buy it.

What is your opinion of these databases do you feel this Gov’t has gone too far?
How do you feel knowing that your children or grand children could be
restricted for life should their DNA be found to contain certain genes, and
that the sheer amount of Gov’t workers and agencies will be able to access all your child’s details?

ID cards (or internal passports which they really are) will not work:The soppused benefits of their introduction have not materialised in any nation which already has them.
As you correctly point out the real danger is the database behind it, This centralisation of information in the hands of the Government requires trust, not just the current Government, but in any future government which may be elected.
The point you raise on DNA is a particularly good example, but there are of course others.
I and UKIP as a whole oppose internal passports and oppose the creation of the proposed all encompassing database

Which other points do you find of concern?

There is for a start no guarantee of security and this government has a track record of selling databases to interested organisations: I do not trust them, remember the geriatric protester ejected from labour’s conference under the ‘anti-terror’ legislation which would ‘not be abused’?
Of course when German people complied with early attempts to make a national database in the 1930′s, the question on religion had no particular significance: It was only the passage of time that showed them how dangerous a question it was to have answered. Who can say what information we give now will not be used against us in the future. The database relies upon a fundamental trust in the Government, and yet who knows who will be the Government in 25 years time?

Thankyou Nigel, NO2ID have been trying to get this very point across to the Government, who to date have been blind to this very issue. It is good to see that there is one party who has some common sense and the interests and safety of the British people at heart.

On the subject of NO2ID, UKIP was one of the first political parties to affliate to the campaign, and we wholeheartedy support their aims

Or more recently:

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Farage hit out at the spot checks and the billboards calling on illegal immigrants to hand themselves in.

“Spot checks and being demanded to show your papers by officialdom are not the British way of doing things,” Mr Farage said. “Yes of course we want to deal with illegal immigration but what’s the point of rounding people up at railway stations if at the same time they are still flooding in at Dover and the other nearly 100 ports in this country.

“I’m astonished that the Home Office has become so politicised…before long they will be live video-streaming of these arrests. I don’t like it. It really is not the way we’ve ever behaved or operated as a country. We don’t have ID cards. We should not be stopped by officialdom and have to prove who we are.”

Research, try it.

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Posted by Tim Worstall

Filter coffee machines will have to turn off automatically to help save energy, under new European Union rules.

All of the devices on sale for domestic use from next year will be required to go into “standby mode” after brewing the drink, the Sun reported.

The European Commission said the changes would save money on electricity bills and were “supported by consumer and industry organisations” as well as member states including the UK.

The problem with this layer of government is that it’s dominated by Adam Smith’s men with a plan. And there’s no area of life too trivial for them to try and plan either.

No, seriously, think about this for a minute. Several thousand people laboured mightily to bring this about. The EU Commission worked on it, proposed it. The Parliament voted on it. National Ministers approved it. Quite literally thousands of people worked to bring this about. We have to pay all of these people very decent salaries indeed as well. Absolutely no one of these people costs us less than £100,000 a year. And yet this is the sort of triviality they turn their minds to? When there are still serious problems, say the existence of Simon Cowell, that need to be attended to?

This is the problem with the EU. It puts in power the sort of cunts who think that this is a problem even worth considering.

Hang the lot of ‘em.

2014 Hugo Nominees F/M

Apr. 20th, 2014 12:28 am
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Boy, do I regret the fractional credit approach.

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Posted by MikeSmithson

Excuding DKs/WNVs it is YES 48: NO 52

A dramatic new poll by ICM for Scotland on Sunday has the gap down to just 3% – the lowest ever from an established national pollster.

The numbers say it all. YES is stable on 39% but there has been a four point reduction in those saying NO.

This is getting very tight indeed and will worry Downing Street. All the momentum of the last month or so has been against those wanting to preserve the union.

The tightness of the outcome being presented by ICM will lead to a close examination of polling methodology and the firm’s boss, Martin Boon, has a long article in the paper setting out how the numbers are produced. He makes the point that this referendum is unique and there is no past experience to fall back on.

Critically ICM, like some other pollsters doing IndyRef surveys, the firm is weighting its samples back to the 2011 Holyrood elections when the SNP did remarkably well. The impact of that is that could be helping YES.

    ICM’s Boon also wonders whether the mood in Scotland is such that there is a “shy NO voters syndrome” with those opposed being reluctant to admit it.

Like all sharp polling changes we need to compare it against other surveys to see if the trend is being supported.

Whatever today’s numbers are dramatic and add to the pressure on the NO camp.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

On clients and APIs

Apr. 20th, 2014 01:53 am
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[personal profile] darael posting in [site community profile] dw_dev
Dreamwidth's APIs are poorly documented (people basically have to work off docs for old versions of LJ's APIs). They're also missing key features, like comment handling for more than backups.

I've been told there have been "some internal conversations about deprecating the XML-RPC API -- keeping it for backwards compatability, but moving to a much more modern second-gen API", but that nobody has had both the time and the inclination to work on designing such a thing.

Well, this is me, volunteering. To that end, I'm looking for input on what exactly such a new API needs to provide, and whether there's a preferred underlying technology to build on (exempli gratia, stick with XML-RPC? Change to SOAP? Use JSON? RESTful or not? et cetera). What I'm getting at here is that I'm entirely happy to take point, as it were, and to make decisions (especially where there's little or no consensus and someone has to make the call), draw up specs, write docs, and so forth, but the result is highly unlikely to be a really useful API unless I get input from more sources than my own experience and looks at the code.

At this stage, therefore, I want everything you, the reader, have to say on the subject. Use cases especially.


Sunday polls

Apr. 19th, 2014 10:26 pm
[syndicated profile] uk_polling_report_feed

Posted by Anthony Wells

No YouGov/Sunday Times poll tomorrow because of the Friday bank holiday, but there is an ICM European election poll in the Sunday Telegraph and a couple of Scottish polls.

The ICM European poll has voting intentions of CON 22%, LAB 30%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 27%. Labour first, UKIP a close second, the Conservatives in third is the same sort of pattern that Survation, ComRes, YouGov and TNS have all been showing… but is a contrast to ICM’s European poll for the Guardian earlier this week that had Labour six points higher, UKIP seven points lower. The difference is this one was conducted online, the ICM/Guardian poll by telephone.

The two Scottish polls are a new ICM for the Scotland on Sunday and a new Survation Scottish poll. I haven’t seen figures for either yet, so I’ll update tomorrow.

Survation also have another constituency poll done for Alan Bown, this time for Eastleigh, where UKIP came a close second in the by-election last year. Westminster voting intention in the Eastleigh poll stands at CON 28%, LAB 12%, LDEM 27%, UKIP 32% – which would certainly be a turnup for the books. It also asked about the borough elections in Eastleigh next month, and found local election voting intentions of CON 23%, LAB 9%, LDEM 40%, UKIP 27%.

Never on a Wednesday

Apr. 19th, 2014 06:29 pm
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[personal profile] naraht
I've been doing quite a bit of reading recently. I decided about a week ago that I was spending too much time reading endlessly on the internet, seemingly mostly luggage reviews. (I'm not kidding either.) I don't mean "too much" in the moral sense but more in the sense of "got caught in a suboptimal valley where I could have been doing other things that I would have enjoyed more." So I've been trying to close the laptop a little more and pursue other activities, which is why you may not have seen me around very much. Anyway...

Recently finished
Completely randomly, but mostly thanks to Virago Modern Classics, I discovered the work of Molly Keane on a library shelf. She seems like one of those writers who really ought to be better known. Early twentieth century Anglo-Irish country house stories, very psychological, often about hunting, often about controlling mothers.

So far I've read The Rising Tide (extremely good, reminded me of Rebecca, couldn't say exactly why), Young Entry (very amusing), Loving Without Tears (interestingly features a young man named Julian who comes home from the RAF after WWII with a considerably older fiancee, reads more like a play than a novel but not in a bad way), and Full House (didn't quite get on with it, the tone was a bit different than the others and it felt it was trying too hard to be profound). There are plenty more to go!

Also I just finished Martin Pugh's 'We Danced All Night': A Social History of Britain Between the Wars, which seemed a lot more focused and narrative than Juliet Gardiner's comparable volume about the thirties. I collected a lot of useful numbers, like how much it cost to study at Oxford, go through medical school, buy a medical practice or buy a house.

Currently reading
Somewhat between books at the moment. I am reading The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic by Takie Sugiyama Lebra, which I don't feel qualified to assess but I'm certainly finding it interesting!

To read
Lots and lots of books, including some mentioned in the discussion that [personal profile] oursin recently hosted on literature featuring older woman/younger man pairings. I just picked up Elizabeth von Arnim's Love and found myself flipping to the end to see if it had a happy ending. I'm shocked at myself! I often read the last few pages of books out of perverse curiosity, since it doesn't spoil much for me, but since when have I cared about happy endings? As said, utterly shocked.

Quick 2014 Hugo Nomination Thoughts

Apr. 19th, 2014 09:09 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Because, I have them!

* Nope, I’m not on the ballot this year. It will happen. As I won the best novel Hugo last year, I am perfectly fine with that. It’s nice to spread around the joy.

* I think it’s an interesting slate this year: Lots of stuff to like, a few things to puzzle over, and as always lots of fodder for discussion. On the novel ballot it’s particularly interesting to see Wheel of Time (the complete series) there — it’s a quirk of the Hugo rules that if any individual book of a series hasn’t been nominated, the entire series can be. So here we are with the whole series. Quirky Hugo rules are fun.

* I just know you’re all dying to know what I think of Vox Day’s nomination in the Novelette category. I think this: One, I haven’t read the story in question, so I can’t possibly comment on it. Two, the Hugo nomination process is pretty straightforward — people nominate a work in a category. If it gets enough votes, it’s a nominee. If the work’s on the ballot, it’s because enough nominators wanted it there. Three, the Hugo rules don’t say that a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit can’t be nominated for a Hugo — nor should they, because in that particular category at least, it’s about the work, not the person.

In sum: Vox Day has every right (so far as I know, and as far as you know, too) to be on the ballot. You may not like it, or may wish to intimate that the work in question doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot, but you should remember what “deserve” means in the context of Hugo (i.e., that the nominators follow the rules while nominating), and just deal with it like the grown up you are.

* Apropos of nothing in particular, however, I will note that in every category it is possible to rank a nominated work below “No Award” if, after reading the work in question and giving it fair and serious consideration, you decide that it doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot and, say, that its presence on the ballot is basically a stunt by a bunch of nominators who were more interested in trolling the awards than anything else. Just a thing for you to keep in mind when voting time rolls around.

* Also, remember when I said that one of the drawbacks of announcing the Hugo Awards on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter was that it means that the stories the media will pick up on during the week will be the outraged reactions? Yeah, this is very likely to be another year that it works that way, I think.

* On a related note, and to get out ahead of what I suspect will be a talking point, I think people may wish to suggest that aside from Vox Day there are other writers on the Hugo ballot who are there more for political and/or trolling purposes than for the quality of the nominated work, and in particular writers who are known to be more on the politically conservative side of things.

Here’s what I have to say about that: You know what? Don’t do that. Instead, take a look at the work, read the work, and if you like the work, place it appropriately on your ballot. Because why shouldn’t you? Regardless of how a work got on the ballot (or more accurately in this case, how you think it got onto the ballot), it’s there now. Read the books and stories. If you like them, great. If you don’t, there’s plenty of other excellent work on the ballot for your consideration.

Let me put it this way: In the last year, Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen have teed up on me several times in blog posts and comments, for their own various reasons. They don’t have my politics or my world view in a lot of things. But I’m looking forward to reading their nominated works, and if one of them really catches my fancy, and I don’t see why I wouldn’t vote for it. Correia and Torgersen disagreeing with me or trying to score points off of me for their own purposes isn’t really enough to dissuade me from giving their work a fair shake. It’s a pretty simple thing as far as I’m concerned. Your mileage may vary, of course. But this is my mileage.

* I noted on Twitter that I was delighted that yet again the Fan Writer Hugo category will have a new winner this year — no one nominated this year has won it before. It really does make me happy this has been the path of this particular Hugo category.

Aaaaaand those are my immediate Hugo thoughts. Your thoughts on my thoughts?

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by MikeSmithson

If Survation for the MoS is right the LDs set to lose Eastleigh

You can get UKIP at 4/1 from Ladbrokes in Eastleigh which seems like a good bet.

I’ve long said the Eastleigh was UKIP’s best hope because of its performance in the February 2013 by-election.

This poll did not mention the names of candidates – just the parties. We do not know yet whether Diane James will be standing again for the purples. She is a great asset.

Survation also about asked Eastleigh Borough Council Voting Intention (May 22nd with the Euro Parl vote)

LD 39%
CON 23%
UKIP 27%
LAB 9%

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2014 05:41 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
This week's kitten pics in better quality than my crappy cameraphone include a video of Ginny and I playing "toss the kibble under the door" to distract her from the fact Gabe gets fed whenever he wants and Ginny does not need more than a little snack :P
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Posted by MikeSmithson

The first of tonight’s very interesting crop of polls is out and, as can be seen, UKIP is only 3% behind LAB in the ICM online Euro elections poll.

This is a very different picture from the ICM phone poll reported earlier in the week which had UKIP in third place. For whatever reason the purples are doing better when the fieldwork is carried out online.

There are several more very newsworthy polls expected in the next few hours.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

The 2014 Hugo Nominees

Apr. 19th, 2014 07:58 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Here are the nominees this year!

1923 valid nominating ballots were received and counted from the members of LoneStarCon 3, Loncon 3 and Sasquan. (1889 Electronic  and 34 Paper.)

BEST NOVEL (1595 ballots)

  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
  • Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
  • Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
  • Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)

BEST NOVELLA (847 ballots)

  • The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
  • “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
  • “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
  • “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE (728 ballots)

  • “The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
  • “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
  • “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)

BEST SHORT STORY (865 ballots)

  • “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
  • “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
  • “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
  • “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

Note: category has 4 nominees due to a 5% requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.

BEST RELATED WORK (752 ballots)

  • Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
  • “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
  • Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
  • Writing Excuses Season 8 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

BEST GRAPHIC STORY (552 ballots)

  • Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who” written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
  • The Meathouse Man adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
  • Saga, Volume 2 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics )
  • “Time” by Randall Munroe (XKCD)


  • Frozen screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
  • Iron Man 3 screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  • Pacific Rim screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)


  • An Adventure in Space and Time written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space / BBC America)

Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST EDITOR – SHORT FORM (656 ballots)

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

BEST EDITOR – LONG FORM (632 ballots)

  • Ginjer Buchanan
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Lee Harris
  • Toni Weisskopf


  • Galen Dara
  • Julie Dillon
  • Daniel Dos Santos
  • John Harris
  • John Picacio
  • Fiona Staples

Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST SEMIPROZINE (411 ballots)

  • Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Interzone edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
  • Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin

BEST FANZINE (478 ballots)

  • The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
  • A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher
  • Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J. Garcia, Lynda E. Rucker, Pete Young, Colin Harris, and Helen J. Montgomery
  • Pornokitsch edited by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin

BEST FANCAST (396 ballots)

  • The Coode Street Podcast Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester
  • The Skiffy and Fanty Show Shaun Duke, Jen Zink, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, David Annandale, Mike Underwood, and Stina Leicht
  • Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman
  • Verity! Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Writer and the Critic Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Note: category has 7 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST FAN WRITER (521 ballots)

  • Liz Bourke
  • Kameron Hurley
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Mark Oshiro

BEST FAN ARTIST (316 ballots)

  • Brad W. Foster
  • Mandie Manzano
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles
  • Sarah Webb


Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

  • Wesley Chu
  • Max Gladstone *
  • Ramez Naam *
  • Sofia Samatar *
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew

*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.

Congrats to the nominees! I will have more comments on the slate later. Feel free to discuss the nominations in the comment thread.

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Olivia

It’s not uncommon for a young couple to mention that they’re looking to “start a family” or for someone who is looking for a spouse to say that part of what they want is to be able to “have a family”. We all know what people mean when they say this: they mean that they want to have kids. As someone who has no interest whatsoever in having children, this phrase implies many things that seem unhelpful and backwards to me.

First, it limits what a family can be, and it almost always means heterosexual, monogamous, cis partners with children. It cuts out any other family structure, even those that may include children. Generally the implication is that if you are not biologically related to the children, you don’t have a family. Adoption is placed on a lower tier, poly families make NO SENSE AT ALL, and GLBT families are utterly excluded (despite the fact that they can and do have kids).

But what really rubs me the wrong way about this is the idea that children are what make a family. Families are the people who are closest to us, who support us, who care for us, who we include in our most intimate decisions. They are not defined exclusively by blood: you can marry into a family, adopt into a family, or even (if you so choose) include certain friends or partners as part of your family. Each different way that we bring people into our lives in an intimate way is important and valid. Every formation of family improves our lives by giving us a support system and people who care for us (I am not referring to abusive structures here, but rather just different ways of setting up healthy relationships). And without these adult, caring, supportive, interdependent relationships, we cannot be healthy people.

So why is it that children are what defines “starting a family”? Didn’t all of us start our families the moment we had an intimate relationship, a close friend, a good relationship with our parents or our siblings, or provided support and care for our extended family? What does it say about how we value adult to adult relationships if a family only counts when we have kids?

This devaluing of adult to adult relationships has some serious consequences. It means that adults are pressured not to take time to connect with their friends, their siblings, their spouse or partners, or their mentors. When adults don’t take the time to establish healthy family networks of all types, that means they don’t have support and care when they need it. They don’t have someone they can ask to babysit or help out if they’re called in to work last minute. They don’t have other role models and mentors for their kids. They don’t have people who can support them if they lose a job or need health care. They don’t have people who can talk to them and support their emotional and mental needs. It means we have adults who don’t learn how to do the appropriate self-care of having a support network and taking time to be with other adults.

It also devalues the lives, accomplishments, and relationships of those who can’t or choose not to have children. The implication when someone says “start a family” to mean having a child is that those who don’t have children will never have families. It once again sends the message (especially to women) that their lives will be empty and alone if they don’t have kids. It says that they can’t possibly be getting the same kind of fulfillment and joy out of the relationships that they do have because they don’t “have a family”. Who on earth would want to refrain from having children? They won’t have a family!

All of this plays into the pressure to build your family in a certain way. It plays into the idea that unless you’re married or blood related, your relationship isn’t as important (which disproportionately affects people who are already oppressed). And this means legal rights, like right of attorney and inheritance. It means that I would not be able to visit the person I’ve lived with for the last 2 years if she were in the hospital simply because she’s “just a friend”.

It also means that children who have abusive or cruel parents are pressured to continue to interact with them, honor them, and respect them simply because of biology. It artificially divides relationships into “important, family” and “not important, other” through biology and the parent/child relationship.

This may seem like an unimportant phrase that comes from another time when families were all built a certain way. But the phrase implies that families look one way and there is one time when you begin to build your family. That’s simply not true and the consequences are that people are left more divided and more alone than they need to be.

I’m not playing by those rules anymore. I started a family ages ago. I started when I decided I wanted to put in the work to have a good relationship with my parents. I started when I decided to reach out to my brother. I started when I chose to reach out to new people and tell them that I care for them and wanted them in my life. I have a family. I don’t need to start one.

Visual untruth

Apr. 19th, 2014 02:33 pm
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[personal profile] supergee
How Fox News could do the Obamacare stats

Thanx to [livejournal.com profile] lsanderson

(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2014 01:25 pm
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[personal profile] synecdochic
Sparrows on the windowsill.
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Mat Bowles

January 2013


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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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