Godless Los Angeles Women Unite!

Jul. 29th, 2014 04:26 pm
[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Amy Roth

I just got back from a weekend at Comic Con where I was surrounded by some of the nicest, most creative people I have ever met. I feel inspired and motivated. It’s as though I have had my soul polished and primed and prepared for part-two of whatever grand journey life tosses my way.

And I’d like you to join me on this adventure.

This coming Tuesday, August 5th at The Center for Inquiry- Los Angeles, my new, shiny women’s group known as LAWAAG will be having it’s 2nd meeting.

At this meeting we will plan the building of our first public art exhibition scheduled to take place in September. I am looking for people that are good with scissors and glue to help make that dream a reality. I am also looking for a few good people to just hang out with me, and drink wine and eat cookies.

If you identify primarily as a woman, are in or near Los Angeles and are interested in social activism, art, building a supportive community or eating cookies then please join us! All who help build the art exhibit will be credited as official builders in what is sure to be a grand exhibition! We will also talk about how art can be important and empowering to social change and a godless community.

LAWAAG header 6

What: Los Angeles Women’s Atheist and Agnostic Group 2nd Meeting
When: Tuesday, August 5th at 7pm
Where: Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles
4773 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90027

This is a private meeting for those who identify as women only. BUT, we have some great public events scheduled soon!

The art opening/reception party on September 13th will be a public event. On November 4th, 2014: Sikivu Hutchinson will give a presentation to our group! And in December we have Anne Sauer scheduled to give a “Science of Cocktails” demo and all are invited to that as well!

More LAWAAG announcements are coming soon! Please join our Facebook group to keep in touch and up to date on announcements and feel free to email me with any questions!

More info as well as our current events and our code of conduct and a way to donate to our group can be found on our website.

See you soon!

Natural Selection sm

Help Kickstart Uncanny Magazine

Jul. 29th, 2014 03:58 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

My pals Lynne and Michael Damian Thomas (3-time Hugo winner and 3-time Hugo nominee, respectively), are hoping to start a new science fiction and fantasy magazine and are also hoping you’ll help them kickstart this ambition. They’re here to tell you about their plans, in the hope you’ll like what they have planned.

Also, consider this my official endorsement of the magazine. I’ve known Lynne and Michael for years and have every confidence they will make a fantastic magazine that you’ll want to read. And I’ve put my own money where my mouth is, as I was either the first or second person to back this Kickstarter. It’ll be good. Go ahead and kick in.

Lynne and Michael Damian Thomas:

Hi, we’re Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas. We are Hugo winning and nominated editors who have spent the past several years creating and sharing work that gets us excited. Whether it’s sharing true, personal stories of how the community that loves Doctor Who changes lives in Chicks Dig Time Lords and Queers Dig Time Lords , publishing haunting, lyrical, and devastating stories in Apex Magazine, or throwing a massive, Kickstarter-funded science fictional party through Glitter & Mayhem‘s stories of the dark side of night life and roller derby (what’s more awesome than aliens and roller derby?), we’ve done our best to bring you stories and images that stay with you, because they feel like they were made for you.

We’re taking our experiences and using them to create a new online magazine, funded via Kickstarter.  We’re calling it Uncanny, because we want to produce a sensational magazine that feels like you’ve been here before, in the best way possible. Uncanny will have stories, prose, poetry and cover art that stays with you after you’ve read the issue. Contributors for year one will include Charlie Jane Anders, Paul Cornell, Galen Dara, Julie Dillon, Neil Gaiman, Jim C. Hines, Kameron Hurley, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Liu, Scott Lynch, Sofia Samatar, Rachel Swirsky, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more. We will also have open submissions in search of new work.

These kinds of stories feel as rare as unicorns. Getting to share them with our readers is awesome like a space unicorn (hence our mascot).

We hope that you will support Uncanny.  Because space unicorns are for everyone.

A poll inspired by @Extrabold

Jul. 29th, 2014 05:18 pm
miss_s_b: (Graph)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 5

What is your opinion of Crocs?

View Answers

They are horrific evil footwear that should be consigned to the bowels of hell
3 (60.0%)

I am clinically insane
2 (40.0%)

(there might be an element of push-pollness here)

((also, knowing my f-list, several of you will want to tick "both" there, won't you...?))
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Monroe Palmer

British soldiers on a training mission in Afghanistan -  Some rights reserved by AN HONORABLE GERMANThe Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill, currently going through report stage in the Lords, has a non-snappy title clearly not dreamt up with Public Relations in mind. It is however important as it includes creation of a Service Complaints Ombudsman and reform of Service complaints system.

As we move into Report stage the Liberal Democrat team, including the valuable contributions of my Lib Dem colleague Martin Thomas (Lord Thomas of Gresford), concentrated on two amendments. One to ensure that a complaint does not disappear if the complainant dies. The second is to carry out an investigation of any allegations of systemic abuse or injustice if it appears to her/him to be in the public interest and that there should be compelling circumstances.

Martin has outlined the importance of these amendments saying: “It may very well be that, in the course of the investigation of individual complaints, it will come to the attention of the ombudsman that there is a culture of abuse or bullying in a particular area. They may well feel that they would have to investigate that on their own initiative, and not await instruction, following their annual report, from the Secretary of State.”

I gave examples of the Canadian authorities arguing that we shouldn’t “reinvent the wheel”. The words ‘compelling circumstances’ were taken exactly from what the Canadians do—to give the ombudsman the power so that he or she can, in compelling circumstances take real action. I felt that we should use this example from our Canadian cousins in our aim to reassure members and former members of our Armed Forces.

Our aim was to toughen up the Bill to deal with systemic abuse in the Armed Forces. The role of the Ombudsman is not to revisit the original complaint but it is to investigate that the complaint was not properly handled. Even if we do not get the words of our amendment into legislation we hope to get words from the Minister in Hansard which will assist the new Ombudsman in defining his/her role which will be tougher than that of the current Service Complaints Commissioner created in 2006.

These amendments, put forward by the Lib Dem group in the Lords, will create a fairer system within the armed forces by empowering the Ombudsman to do more to protect our military personnel.

* Monroe Palmer (Lord Palmer of Childs Hill) is a Lib Dem peer who speaks on defence and international affairs

Well, bother

Jul. 29th, 2014 12:06 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I seem to be missing Parker's Shadow.
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Stephen Tall

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderThe latest set of accounts for the Lib Dems have been published – I’ve uploaded it at the foot of this post. (You can compare it with last year’s here.) Here are 5 points that struck me I read through the document.

1) Party bounces back from deficit to surplus

Last year, the Lib Dems recorded a deficit of £410k (described then as a “disappointing result”). This year (ie, the year ending 31 Dec 2013), the party has recorded a healthy overall surplus of £439k, with £7.3m of income and £6.9m of expenditure.

2) Party membership is up

As the party has been keen to trumpet, Lib Dem membership figures are creeping up again: “Unusually for a party in government, the Party increased its membership by almost 1,000 over the course of the year. The increase was broadly based across the whole country and in every type of seat.” In 2012, membership stood at 42,501. It’s now 43,451, an increase of just over 2%.

3) Donations were up significantly

In 2012, the Lib Dems recorded £1.53m of donation income. In 2013, that soared to £2.54m. It will be interesting to see how resilient the Party’s fundraising income will now be following Chief Fundraiser Ibrahim Taguri’s departure to focus on his campaign to take over Sarah Teather’s Brent Central seat. Most other sources of income showed little change from 2012.

4) Big increase in campaign expenditure

In 2012, the Party spent just shy of £850k on campaigning. In 2013, that jumped to £1.3m. That increase was offset not only by donations, but also by an additional net c.£100k in conference income and a saving of £60k following the decision to pull the plug on Liberal Democrat News newspaper.

5) We’re massively out-spent by Labour and the Tories

If the Lib Dems’ healthier financial position is a source of some relief, it’s worth remembering what the Party is up against. Our income for the last year of £7.3m is dwarfed by Labour’s £33.3m and the Tories’ £25.3m. What is achieved on such meagre resources — thanks to the hard work of volunteers and paid staff in local parties as well as HQ — is deeply impressive.

Here’s the full Lib Dem Statement of Accounts…

Liberal Democrats Statement of Accounts 2013

* 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.

photo by: NCVO
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Stephen Williams MP

Terraced housingAs we have now begun the summer recess, I wanted to write an update on the progress that has been made at the Department for Communities and Local Government in recent months. Despite differences in priority between our Conservative coalition partners we have made huge strides in key policy areas and I believe that we should be proud and confident highlighting these achievements on the door step.

One of the most crucial recent breakthroughs has been in regards to zero carbon homes. As I am sure you are aware, if we are to meet our carbon emissions targets then we have to make our housing stock more energy efficient by introducing strict new regulations. This, of course, is easier said than done and we have had to work extensively with developers, industry representatives and environmental groups in order to agree ambitious yet practical energy efficiency targets.  As a result of drawn out negotiations with the Conservatives, the government is now legislating, through the Infrastructure Bill, to introduce a list of ‘allowable solutions’. This is the final measure needed to enable house builders to construct all new homes to a zero-carbon standard from 2016. Zero carbon homes has been a key priority for me since becoming a minister and I am delighted that this incredibly important green policy is now being delivered.

We have also made important progress in regards to housing. The government is currently in the process of building 170,000 new social and affordable homes, whilst we have set out plans for a further 165,000 to be built in the first three years of the next Parliament. This is the highest rate of affordable house building for over two decades and we should be proud that we are the first government for over thirty years to deliver a net increase in the social housing stock. Never forget that under Labour the net stock of social rent housing, between 1997 and 2010, fell by 420,000.

Part of my brief as minister has been to address the issue of empty homes, which has been a blight on our housing market for far too long. Empty homes reached a record high under Labour in 2008 but since 2010 the number of empty homes has fallen by 102,000 – 84,000 of them long-term empties. Empty homes are now at their lowest level for a decade and I intend to make further progress before the election in May. I’ve also published decisions on the housing standards review. I have insisted on creating the first national space standard for councils to adopt, giving them the tools to end ‘rabbit hutch’ homes.

Flag_of_CornwallFinally, I would like to highlight our achievement in granting minority status for the Cornish. After months of hard work we announced in April that the proud history, unique culture, and distinctive language of Cornwall will be fully recognised, under European rules, for the protection of national minorities. As a proud Welshman I was determined to extend to the Cornish the same status already enjoyed by the Welsh and our fellow Celts, the Scots and the Irish. Importantly, government departments and public bodies will now be required to take Cornwall’s views into account when making policy decisions. This is a landmark breakthrough for the people of Cornwall and I believe that we should be proud to have officially recognised their status as a minority.

Now is certainly not the time to be complacent and there is much more to be done between now and May. However, there are significant achievements to talk about and I hope that you are able to champion them on the door step.


* Stephen Williams is the MP for Bristol West and is Minister for Communities and Local Government.

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Rebecca Watson

Obvious trigger warning is obvious.

The blessed gift that is the Shit My Clueless Granddad Says Richard Dawkins Twitter account just keeps on giving. In the past several years, Dawkins has smoothly transitioned from being a fairly well-respected science communicator and public intellectual into being a raving sideshow act, on par with the Tweets of luminaries like Jaden Smith and Jose Canseco.

Previously, Dawkins coined the phrase “mild paedophilia” to describe his experience at a boarding school with a molesting master. It’s a strange phrase, and problematic in how it seems to minimize an already too-accepted crime, but obviously he can contextualize his own sexual assault in whatever way he wishes. The primary problem was that he extended that not just to what the master did to him but what the master did throughout his career to his schoolmates, as well: “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

He then suddenly seemed to reject his previous decades of rhetoric in order to became a cultural relativist, saying that “you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours.” That is, of course, utter bullshit. Billions of people made it through recorded history and well through the 1950s knowing that adults shouldn’t be sexually assaulting children.

Dawkins’ insistence on ranking sexual assault means that he continually brings it up, again and again, with no change to his own self awareness or to his understanding of the context of his remarks. Here are today’s examples:

He seems to genuinely believe that people only have a problem with his remarks because they think you can’t compare any two bad things without condemning both of them. Dawkins tries a number of different forms of “X is worse than Y” but misses any that are actually educational. How about this one:

Subprime lending is bad. Getting robbed at gunpoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of subprime lending, go away and learn how to think.

Here are a few reasons why this form of “logic” is ridiculous:

1. What is the purpose of comparing and ranking different forms of sexual assault? Is there someone who had their butt grabbed once who is loudly insisting that they were equally harmed as a person who was violently raped and left for dead? Is he defending the victim of the violent rape from the insult of having their own assault minimized? I honestly cannot find any evidence that this, or anything similar, is happening. On the contrary, sexual assault that doesn’t match our preconceived notions of what a rape “should” look like (generally the stereotype is that of a violent stranger rape where the victim fights back valiantly and which exclusively involves penis-in-vagina penetration) is minimized, ignored, laughed about, and rarely prosecuted.

To bring that back to my analogy, yes, getting robbed at gunpoint may be more psychologically damaging. But we already live in a society where subprime lenders get away with horrific tactics and leave people severely hurt. What’s the point of comparing the two in this way?

2. What expertise do you have to rank various crimes? The best the average person can do is to contextualize their own experiences. When it comes to the experiences of others, we can look at what research exists and try to judge the quality of that research and put the results into context. For child sexual assault, there have been some studies of the long-term effects but absolutely not enough to come up with some specific ranking of each form. For instance, we can say that most likely use of force has a greater long-term negative effect, but the threat of force may be similar. Women may be more traumatized than men. or maybe we just don’t have enough reporting for men. Children subjected to very similar kinds of abuse can have very different outcomes, meaning that Dawkins’ classmates may not all agree with his statement that there was no lasting harm. Unfortunately, they don’t get interviewed by the Guardian.

3. What the hell is “mild paedophila” and “mild date rape”? These are not scientific terms – they are phrases that Dawkins made up, with no real information on what they encompass. As the research makes clear, there are many different kinds of sexual assault that differ wildly from the stereotypical “legitimate rape.” There are different body parts involved, different kinds of penetration, different durations, different relationships between rapist and victim, different age of abuse, and different underlying physical and psychological conditions in the victim, all of which can affect the lasting harm. There is no way to conveniently classify a particular type of sexual assault as “mild.”

It’s worth noting that the language Dawkins has chosen to label this nebulous grouping of sexual assault has resulted in a tautology. In other words, he wants to say “this kind of sexual assault is not as bad as this other kind of sexual assault,” and then to make sure that he’s right, he names those two groups with labels that directly state that one is not as bad as the other kind. He may as well have Tweeted this:

Bad rape is bad. Worse rape is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of bad rape, go away and learn how to think.

To conclude, a number of people on Twitter have suggested that Dawkins not stop at two types of sexual assault, and instead that he should rank a top ten. Here is my best guess as to what such a list might look like, in order from least worst to most worst:

10. rapeseed oil

9. unseasoned date rape

8. mild date rape

7. spicy date rape

6. prison rape

5. getting shot by a camper in CoD

4. sort of rape

3. super date rape

2. legitimate rape

1. rape rape

The Big Idea: Nick Harkaway

Jul. 29th, 2014 01:27 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Buckle in, kids. Nick Harkaway, the critically acclaimed, award-nominated, and best selling author of the brand new book Tigerman, is about to get deep on y’all — and also, tell you a little about his new book, which is already racking up envious reviews.


You know what’s really a big idea? Making life. I mean: wow.

Like Tom Strong in Alan Moore’s comic, I am mostly – I should say “I was” – the sort of person who is more awestruck by the possibility of neurologically gear-shifting a gorilla to create a quasi-human consciousness than by the more common business of having a kid. I mean, lots of people have kids. How many people tamper with the biocognitive structure of a great ape? Am I right?

No. I am not. Because I can not think of anything I have done that is more amazing, more educative, more brain-meltingly overwhelming and physically exhausting, more testing and exciting and rewarding than being a dad. And I am only three and a half years into that project.

I knew it would be this way, too. I knew that I would respond to becoming a father with everything I am, because that is what I do. I’m not great with half-measures. If something comes into my life, that thing has to be accommodated and welded into the rest so that it is part of the landscape, inseparable from what was there before. Everything is contiguous. I write about liminality; I wear it like a pair of sunglasses; I even love it. I do not live it.

So when I started writing Tigerman, before my first child was born, I was anticipating the turbulent, demanding, absolute loyalty of parenthood. I may even have been planning it, feeling my way to the massive shift in priority and self-perception. And that’s where this book has its heart: in the urgent, conditioned, biological, personal need to be a father, and—in the reverse angle—the reciprocal need to have or to adopt a father. To make the father you want, if necessary, from available materials.

I can feel myself, five years ago, reading this if it was written by someone else and saying “I am not sure I give a damn about any of this right now.”

So let me say that I am not dropping something leaden on your doorstep and calling it a balloon. My natural state of arrested development makes me uncomfortable with stories that are only about the heavy stuff. The unrelieved emotional angst of some writing that’s popular at the moment makes me want to go and play Masters of Orion 2 instead of reading. (Which I do, because: vintage video strategy games? My kryptonite.) So interwoven with this serious depiction of human life and the boundaries of love and whatever that I as a Brit am inherently unwilling to talk about anyway, there is a whole other story about a guy who puts on a costume and opens the world’s most enjoyable can of whop-ass on various people who richly deserve it. Because if there is one thing I do like to write, it is an action sequence.

And if you are going to whop, you need badness upon which to do so. Whop without badness is choreography. Fight scenes work when you care, powerfully, about who wins – when to be honest you want to throw a punch yourself. So I made up an island that is basically the nicest place on Earth and poured over it the contents of the cantina at Mos Eisley. Nowhere will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy – and these international bastards of mystery, these crooks and spies and torturers and bankers and brokers, who we know without being told are responsible for everything that sucks about the world: this is where they’ve all chosen to come and do the stuff they would be ashamed to do anywhere else. This is the place where they have created a little home for themselves. Here. In this really nice island that has managed, despite all the usual colonial baggage, to be a decent home to its inhabitants, to be the town where you leave your keys in your car when you go into the store.

So yeah, um. I may have gotten a bit geopolitical about it, which I suppose is also a big idea, in the more conventional sense of the term. I do have big ideas about governance and justice in general. But come on: who doesn’t feel that the way the world is run, the jigsaw of governmental and corporate-legal doublespeak that means however illegal something is some branch office somewhere is allowed to do it anyway, whether that’s a chemical company dumping or the NSA and GCHQ listening to our phone calls by offshoring to one another… who does not get angry about that? A government should serve, not dictate. A corporation is not a person unless I can punch it in the face for being a jackass.

And above all: these systems we make, support, empower: they should damn well do what they say on the tin, what they are clearly supposed to do, and not what is permitted by the loosest and most weasely reading of the documents of their instantiation. They should not engineer gaps in their own oversight, in the rules that create them, so that they can do the bad things they are supposed to prevent because that is the easiest way. When, in fact, did we stop reaching for the Apollo Program ethos in every big project, and settle for being Saul Goodman, slipping between the tiles of the global ethical bathroom?

Yah. I get a little heated. And I almost didn’t realize until I wrote this what my big idea was in the book. I feel slightly dumb about that.

This is a book about responsibility. Which is what good people feel, and bad people don’t.


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

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s Tumblr. Follow him on Twitter.

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

I recently wrote an article talking about noctilucent clouds—relatively rare high-altitude clouds usually seen just after sunset and before sunrise. They have a milky, silvery appearance, and are usually pretty hard to capture on photos.

It can be even harder from space, where lighting conditions are harsher and getting the right exposure balance is difficult. But astronaut Reid Wiseman got it just right recently, snagging a photo of the odd clouds from the International Space Station:

Conditions to create noctilucent (literally, “night shining”) clouds are touchy, which is why they’re rare. But there have been a lot seen recently—check out this astonishing photo taken over an alpine lake in Germany—and that has many folks wondering what’s going on. There could very well be a link with them and global warming, which is intriguing but doesn’t have a lot of evidence to support it yet.

But if we keep seeing more of these clouds, we may yet get a better understanding of them, and whether or not they are a canary in a coal mine of global warming.

The productivity silence

Jul. 29th, 2014 02:24 pm
[syndicated profile] chris_dillow_feed

Posted by chris dillow

Simon Wren-Lewis wonders why the government has been so silent about stagnating productivity. I suspect there's a simple reason for this: you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. The drop in productivity growth has saved Osborne a massive embarrassment.

To see this, consider a counterfactual. Imagine that productivity (defined as GDP divided by total employment) since the general election had grown by 2.3% per year - its average from 1977 to 2007 - and that output had followed the course it actually has*. If this had happened, employment would now be 2.48 million lower. If half of this number were counted as officially unemployed, there'd be over 3.4 million registered as unemployed. And unemployment would have topped 3.5 million last year. That would be a post-war record. Unem

Now, this would not mean that the Tories would have admitted that austerity had been a horrible error. I suspect that, in this scenario we'd be hearing a lot more about the damage done to the UK from the euro area's weakness. And Tory lackeys would be claiming there had been an outbreak of mass laziness; as we're seeing in other contexts, some people will defend any atrocity if it is committed by their own side.  Even so, though, the productivity stagnation means that Osborne has dodged a bullet. It's been a massive stroke of luck for him.

Or has it? One could argue that austerity has contributed to the productivity slowdown in at least four ways:

 - A tougher benefit regime has forced the unemployed to look for work, thus bidding down wages.

 - Cuts in public sector jobs have reduced real wages and so encouraged some firms to substitute labour for capital.

 - Low interest rates have allowed inefficient "zombie companies" to stay in business. This has depressed productivity in the same way that keeping injured soldiers alive reduces the average health of an army.

 - Standard multiplier-accelerator effects mean that austerity depressed private sector capital formation, and the subsequent lower capital-labour ratio has reduced productivity.

I suspect that, except for the first of these, there might be something in these mechanisms. But perhaps not enough to explain all of the massive slowdown in productivity.

And, in truth, I suspect the Tories agree. Back in 2010 none of them said "Sure, austerity will depress output growth, but it will also depress productivity and so reduce unemployment." And even now none of them are claiming credit for the productivity slowdown.

But unless they do make these claims, they cannot - by the same reasoning - take credit for falling unemployment. This is because unemployment is lowish (on the official measure) and falling solely because of the productivity slowdown, and not because of strong output.

In this sense, the Tories' silence about productivity is because they are doing what decent people do - they are keeping quiet about some extraordinary good fortune.

* Is this scenario plausible? You could argue that it's not, because higher unemployment would have depressed consumer spending - though this only strengthens my point that the productivity slowdown has been a gift to the Tories. Alternatively, you might argue that productivty has been weak because output has been weak. However, the fact that productivity hasn't risen even as output has recovered renders this claim less plausible than it was a year ago. 

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by MikeSmithson

Ever since May 2010 I’ve said that the “blame for the cuts” tracker from YouGov might be a good indicator.

The figures from 2014 are in the chart above and although the party is not on its worst position, 48% back in October 2010, it is still blamed more than the coalition.

While that remains Osborne/Cameron/Clegg & co can still respond to criticism of their economic policies by blaming LAB. Polling like this suggests that their line still resonates. This is going to get louder in the coming months.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Mary Reid

An educational charity called WORLDwrite contacted Lib Dem Voice recently with a link to their programme below.

This was made by WORLDbytes, which is a “unique online Citizen TV channel set up and run by the education charity WORLDwrite. Dedicated to advancing new knowledge, skills and ideas, the charity promotes excellence in citizen reporting and provides free training to volunteer-learners which combines practical film making with tackling challenging issues.” It offers a 6 week training programme for 16 – 25 year olds, so may well be of interest to any Liberal Youth readers.

This is a video their volunteers made about the Scottish referendum.

* Mary Reid is the Tuesday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.

[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Amanda

Changelog Digest for Tues, Jul 29

Jul. 29th, 2014 07:41 am
kareila: "Mom, I'm hungry." "Hush, I'm coding. You ate yesterday." (coding)
[personal profile] kareila posting in [community profile] changelog_digest


2579e39: Issue #862: Check in business stats
Mark's "event count" reports - in use for a while, now available to all.
8feb24e: Issue #838: use generate_medium_media_query()
Part of ongoing effort to allow different breakpoints for mobile styles.
a18da49: Issue #841: Too large images and embeds on mobile break out of entry
Enforce max-width on images in smaller screens.
f611059: Issue #841: Too large images and embeds on mobile break out of entry
Force a max-width onto embedded content (iframes).
ad5d18e: Issue #841: Too large images and embeds on mobile break out of entry
Add back image size limits on larger screens for styles where it was changed.
717f674: Issue #841: Too large images and embeds on mobile break out of entry
Add image handling to layouts that override Page::print_default_stylesheets.
672d993: Issue #841: Too large images and embeds on mobile break out of entry
Initialize large_media_query variable.
2865492: Issue #865: Turn off autocomplete on the date
Address complaints of the same date being reused when posting.


6c8817f: Issue #838/841: Add medium/large_media_query, and image handling
Include relevant dw-free changes in nonfree layouts.
[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

After all these years advocating for science, and hammering away at those who deny it, I’m surprised I can still be surprised at how bad anti-science can get.

Yet here we are. Babies across the U.S. are suffering from horrific injuries—including hemorrhages, brain damage, and even strokes (yes, strokes, in babies)—because of parents refusing a vitamin K shot. This vitamin is needed to coagulate blood, and without it internal bleeding can result.

Vitamin K deficiency is rare in adults, but it doesn’t cross the placental barrier except in limited amounts, so newborn babies are generally low in it. That’s why it’s been a routine injection for infants for more than 50 years—while vitamin K deficiency is not as big a risk as other problems, the shot is essentially 100 percent effective, and is quite safe.

Mind you, this is not a vaccine, which contains minuscule doses of killed or severely weakened microbes to prime the immune system. It’s a shot of a critical vitamin.

Nevertheless, as my friend Chris Mooney writes in Mother Jones, there is an overlap with the anti-vax and “natural health” community. As an example, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the Nashville, Tennessee, area, more than 3 percent of parents who gave birth in hospitals refused the injection overall, but in “natural birth” centers that rate shot up to 28 percent. My Slate colleague Amanda Marcotte points out that vitamin K levels in breast milk are very low as well, and that’s the preferred technique for baby feeding among those who are also hostile to vaccines. In those cases, getting the shot is even more critical.

But the anti-vax rhetoric has apparently crossed over into simple injections. Chris has examples in his Mother Jones article, and there’s this in an article in the St, Louis Post-Dispatch:

The CDC learned that parents refused the injection for several reasons, including an impression it was unnecessary if they had healthy pregnancies, and a desire to minimize exposure to “toxins.” A 1992 study associated vitamin K and childhood leukemia, but the findings have been debunked by subsequent research.
“We sort of came to the realization that parents were relying on a lot of sources out there that were providing misleading and inaccurate information,” said Dr. Lauren Marcewicz, a pediatrician with the CDC’s Division of Blood Disorders. 

By “sources,” they mean various anti-science websites and alt-med anti-vaxxers like Joe Mercola (who has decidedly odd things to say about the vitamin K shot, which you can read about at Science-Based Medicine). Despite the lack of evidence of harm, some parents are still buying into the nonsense, and it’s babies who are suffering the ghastly consequences.

These include infants with brain damage, children with severe developmental disabilities, and more, because of parents refusing a simple shot for their infants. The irony here is extreme: These are precisely the sorts of things the anti-vaxxers claim they are trying to prevent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great Web page about Vitamin K: what it is, why we need it, and why babies need it even more so. It will answer any questions you have about this necessary vitamin.

If you’re about to have a baby or have had one recently: Congratulations! It’s one of the most amazing things we can do as humans, and I will always remember watching and participating in my daughter’s birth. I would have done anything to make her ready for the world, and for me—for every parent—that includes getting the real facts about health.

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Posted by NewsHound

AlistairCarmichaelWriting in the Scottish Daily Record, Alistair Carmichael praises that paper’s “Missing Million” campaign.

It seems 300,000 people have not registered to vote, and many others will probably not turn out on referendum day.  The paper had already been urging readers to exercise their vote, with a 16 page pullout yesterday, and they are now actively tracking people who are not on the roll.

Alistair writes:

The Daily Record. There’s a reason it’s called Scotland’s Champion and the “missing million” campaign shows why.

On September 18, you, I and every other eligible voter will have the chance to make history, to shape Scotland for decades – possibly centuries.

I passionately believe a No vote is in our best interests. You may well disagree. Or you may not have made up your mind.

For me, the most important thing is that however you vote, you do take part. This is too important to leave to somebody else.


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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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