Honda Job Losses

Feb. 20th, 2019 07:30 am
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Tahir Maher

It is not easy to contemplate the loss of jobs and hardship to families from that or enormous outflow of capital because of an ideological stance by one party about leaving the EU. I was listening to the radio today and Terry Christian was saying that if bosses have to sack people after Brexit then they should start with Leavers

The manufacturer of Honda cars at Swindon is equivalent to 10% of all cars manufactured/assembled in the UK. In 2018 the UK made 1.5 million cars (down from 2016 when they produced 1.7 million). Similarly, investment in the car industry in 2013 was at £5.83 billion, and in 2018 it was £590 million.  Unfortunately, it is also estimated that another 3000 to 4000 jobs will also be lost through the supply chain.  Nissan is not going to make its electric model in Sunderland, 4,500 jobs are at risk with Land Rover, Ford has put hundreds of jobs at risk as has BMW.

The University of Sussex has estimated that a no deal Brexit will lead to an estimated 750,000 jobs and the areas that will be hit the hardest is London with 150,000 positions lost.

What is happening in other industrial areas. EY (Chartered Accountants) has been monitoring 222 companies, and 75 of them have stated there are looking to move their operations from the UK to Europe. The EY report stated that at least £800 billion ($1 Trillion) worth of assets is relocating out of the UK to Europe. Nomura (once it was said of them, that they are so big they can buy BT from petty cash) and Daiwa are looking to move to Germany. Lloyds of London confirmed that in May they had received regulatory approval to establish an insurance company in Brussels. Panasonic is moving its HQ to the Netherlands. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that trade with Europe are looking to set up European outposts.

Depressingly, to name a few more companies looking to establish their operations in Europe: EasyJet,  Diageo (owners of Smirnoff, Guinness and Baileys), Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft and Barclay’s (the bank is expanding operations in Ireland). In food retail, they are more concerned with logistics and exchange rates.

There is a widespread concern with access to Labour that will impact for example NHS, hospitability and construction industries. However, companies like Rio Tinto and BP will not be affected as their activities take place outside of the UK.

Is Terry Christian right?

The answer must be no. We have a divided country at the moment, and the last thing we want is more fuel to the fire. Whatever happens, we must come together – we have the Tories who seem to be looking at this through rose tinted glasses and the Labour party that is unable to persuade its MPs let alone the nation. The real fear going forward is not only job losses but the poor national political leadership from the Tories and Labour.

* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

azurelunatic: The Space Needle by night. Slightly dubious photography. (Default)

Shitposting in the living room

Feb. 19th, 2019 09:18 pm
[personal profile] azurelunatic
[extensive conversation apropos of which]
Me: I am, unfortunately, seeing a ghost cat (actual cat) wearing a Village People leatherman cop hat.
Some Random Housemate (okay there are only two to choose from): But wouldn't it be the sailor, [apropos of previous]?
Housemate 2: They have that song, In The Navy.
Me, singing: In the Navy, you can sail the seven bees, in the Navy...
[personal profile] silveradept, unhooking the headphones from their ears: I'm sorry, what?
Me, with the aggrieved aggression of a challenged shitposter: Well, how many bees do you think there are?!
[personal profile] green_dreams
Okay. General catching up.

I still like the new job.

The not-hating my job (and the time to sleep, and the walking forty minutes a day) seems to have reduced my stress levels a lot, and I'm not writing. I'm not even really playing video games. I'm knitting and watching TV and reading, and I'm not unhappy, but apparently I have dived hard into sources of relaxation that require me to make absolutely no choices whatsoever.

(I have asked around and apparently this is kind of a normal reaction having a source of stress suddenly removed, but no lie that it's been a bit weird.)

I'm hoping it goes away soon, and in the meantime reminding myself that I am having a good time even though I'm not writing.

(I sound cool with it. I mostly am cool with it. This is still totally the kind of thing that I'm going to bring up in therapy.)


I watched The Umbrella Academy, and I am very engaged with it. It does something that is not-quite a superhero narrative pretty much the same way that The Wire does something that is not-quite a police show, and has the added detail of (almost) every single character charging headlong into deeply deeply understandable but horribly flawed choices.

(Plus it has a fantastic soundtrack.)

Also I'm... maybe eighty-three percent sure that the one thing that I absolutely didn't expect, that was a genuine surprise, was telegraphed in a kind of quiet in-joke way in the first episode, and I love that.


I also watched Weird City, and that was an entirely different thing, but still a lot of fun. And I found a horror author who wrote a short story that I like so much that I promptly went to buy his collection from Amazon, which is an option I generally skip if I can do anything else.

Speaking of horror, I sat down and watched Velvet Buzzsaw. It's interesting - the idea of horror spreading that way is fairly rare. It's not unique - you can see similar stuff in The Ring and In The Mouth of Madness and Smiley - but it's rare enough that that I don't really have a vocabulary for it yet. I'll think about it some more and maybe come back to it.


I inked up the fountain pen that I bought with the gift card from my sister - the Monteverde Invincia Nebula. This thing is a brick - everything is steel and brass and glass, everything screws firmly together instead of snapping into place. It weighs nearly three times as much as my Lamy Safari, and while it's not uncomfortable to write with, I definitely notice it.
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by TSE

Let us now praise obscure women. With the launch of the Independent Group, much attention has been given to the more visible members of the seven MPs. Chuka Umunna briefly stood to be leader of the Labour party. Chris Leslie was shadow Chancellor. Luciana Berger has had the most public of battles with anti-Semitic opponents. I suggest, however, that the most significant of the defecting MPs is the least commented-upon: Ann Coffey.

I hope that Ms Coffey will not be upset if I suggest that she is not particularly well-known. She has been in Parliament for over quarter of a century, rising no higher than Parliamentary Private Secretary in all that time. I expect that she will look back at her extensive efforts made towards the protection of children as her political work that she is proudest of.

What she is not, however, is a rentagob. Media outlets have not found it difficult to find Labour MPs who have been willing to say exactly what they think of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Ms Coffey is not one of those. With Margaret Hodge, she jointly tabled the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the original Brexit vote in 2016. Otherwise, she has largely kept her own counsel.

Until Monday, when she jumped ship.  Ms Coffey is 72. She will no doubt be standing down at the next election. She could easily have served out her time quietly, slipping away without fuss. She chose not to. Yes, in a sense it was cost-free. In another sense, however, in a party which still regards Ramsay MacDonald as its greatest villain, the price was enormous.

    She explained her decision to the Manchester Evening News in simple clear words. Of course antisemitism is an issue, of course the leadership is an issue and the line on Brexit. We are seeing a party that used to be a broad church in which there was a possibility to have discussions turned into a party in which any criticism of the leader or any different voice is responded to by being called a traitor. There comes a time when I have got to do something about it.

These words should terrify the Labour leadership. Instinctively paranoid, they will now be wondering how many other MPs are quietly weighing similar calculations. Some, such as Ian Murray, have not been quiet on the subject.

So far, however, the tone of the inner circle has been woefully misjudged. Jeremy Corbyn’s response, given above, was not far off “don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out”. His outriders on social media have been predictably less restrained, demanding loyalty pledges from those perceived to be unreliable, branding the group the Blair Rich Project and posting the lyrics from the Red Flag about cowards flinching and traitors sneering. The pièce de resistance was the news emerging the same day that Derek Hatton had been readmitted to the Labour party. Quite how any of this is supposed to reassure the doubters is wholly unclear.

The move has demonstrated the depth of the party divide. Tom Watson, the deputy leader, was notably much more sympathetic to those leaving, setting out his views in a soul-searching video. Yvette Cooper approvingly quoted his message in a tweet.

In a sense, it does not matter now whether other MPs also head for the exit. Whether dissident MPs remain onboard or jump into a lifeboat, they have to decide whether they can back Jeremy Corbyn as next Prime Minister. There now seems to be ample evidence that considerably more than these seven feel that they cannot.

This has two consequences, one for this Parliament and one for the next.  The consequence for this Parliament is that it looks extraordinarily hard for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister in any circumstances without a general election. Even if the DUP were to abandon the Conservatives for Labour, these new independents would presumably not back him in a vote of confidence (and it must now be very doubtful whether all of the MPs who remain in the Labour party would do so if it came to the crunch). And that assumes that the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru etc could all be corralled into supporting him: given that they have already said that they will not support another vote of no confidence in the government, that looks a brave assumption.

Theresa May has already indicated that she intends to step down before the next election. So his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister look slim.

Let’s assume, however, that somehow the next general election is fought between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn again. Stranger things have happened. Nothing in the polling currently suggests that Labour are going to get an overall majority. The single best chance Labour have at present to take power is in a hung Parliament.

With Labour’s leader so widely distrusted, he is going to struggle to put together a minority government with himself as Prime Minister, especially when he can place no reliance on his own Parliamentary party’s support of him. The price of Labour taking power might well be someone different as leader, just as the Lib Dems’ price for talking about a coalition with Labour in 2010 was Gordon Brown’s head. Many Labour MPs would be privately delighted.

All this points one way. It is much much harder than currently appreciated for Jeremy Corbyn to become next Prime Minister. Yet you can still lay him on Betfair at 7. (This looks like a clearcut bet to me if your market position is such that placing this bet would not be tying up money, and given Theresa May’s job security is arguably a clearcut bet anyway.) These seven MPs may well crash and burn as independents, but they may well have put the nail in the coffin of the ambitions that Jeremy Corbyn has to be Prime Minister.

Alastair Meeks

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Mark Valladares

  • Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit
  • Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector
  • Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems: Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK

Wales Woefully Unprepared for No-Deal Brexit

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised no-deal preparations in Wales as “woeful” following a report from the Wales Audit Office, which critcised the lack of preparations made in case Britain leaves the European Union without a deal or transition period.

The Wales Audit Office report stated, ‘Wales needs to do more to prepare for possible no-deal Brexit.’ despite the Welsh Government having begun “intensifying” their no-deal preparations as far back as December 2018.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

Today’s report from the Welsh Auditor General highlights the lack of real preparations that have been undertaken in case we crash out of the EU with no deal. Whatever the UK and Welsh Governments say they’re doing to prepare for a no deal Brexit, it’s clearly not enough.

It is irresponsible of the UK Government to keep claiming that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ when that is clearly not the case. If we leave the EU with no deal it will be catastrophic for the Welsh economy, and for the UK. No-deal is simply too dangerous to be a valid option.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are clear. The best deal is the one we already have with the EU. We will continue to fight to ensure no-deal is taken off the table and to give the people the final say, with the option to choose an Exit from Brexit and put an end to this mess.

Corbyn turns his back on manufacturing sector

Responding to the speech by Jeremy Corbyn to the MAKE UK conference Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

In the last 48 hours, 7 of his MPs have left the party and 3500 more people look set to lose their jobs, at least in part down to Corbyn’s handling of Brexit.

If now is not the time for Corbyn to back his own party conference policy to back a People’s Vote on Brexit – then we should give up hope that he ever will.

Brexit is causing unbearable damage to our manufacturing sector and the communities that Jeremy Corbyn says he represents; it is time for him to stand with us and millions of others in calling for a People’s Vote with an option to stay in the EU.

Honda decision symbolic of Brexit Britain

Today in the House of Commons Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, questioned Greg Clark on the failure of his Industrial Strategy in relation to Honda’s decision to close its Swindon car plant.

In the chamber Mr Carmichael asked the Secretary of State:

This is not a one-off incident, it comes off the back of similar decisions from Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover.

This is the precisely the sort of thing the Secretary of State’s Industrial strategy was designed to address. Why is it he thinks that at the moment it isn’t working?

Following the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

Honda’s decision to leave the UK is just the latest in a long line of businesses which are abandoning the UK because of Brexit. The Prime Minister sought personal assurances that Honda would keep producing cars in the UK, making this incredibly humiliating for the Prime Minister.

Honda’s decision casts doubt on the long term future of the automobile industry in the UK, blowing a massive hole in the middle of the Government’s flagship Industrial Strategy.

Lib Dems: Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK

Responding to the reports from Shamima Begum’s family lawyer that she will lose her UK citizenship, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

Membership of a terrorist group is a serious crime, as is encouraging or supporting terrorism. But Shamima Begum should face justice for those crimes in the UK.

It is not only hard to see Ms Begum and her baby as constituting a serious threat to national security, but it also seems a huge wasted opportunity. We can learn lessons as to why a young girl went to Syria in the first place; lessons which could improve Britain’s security by helping us prevent this happening again.

[syndicated profile] uk_polling_report_feed

Posted by Anthony Wells

Today we’ve had the first two polls asking people about whether they’d support The Independent Group were they to stand candidates.

Survation in the Daily Mail asked how people would vote if there was “a new centrist party opposed to Brexit”, producing voting intention figures of CON 39%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, “New centrist party” 8%, UKIP 5%. In comparison, the normal voting intention figures in the poll were CON 40%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5%, suggesting the new party could take support from both Labour and Conservative, though it would largely take votes from the Liberal Democrats. Tables are here.

SkyData, who do not typically publish voting intention figures, asked how people would vote if the “new Independent Group of former Labour MPs” were standing, and found voting intention figures of CON 32%, LAB 26%, TIG 10%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 6%. We don’t have standard voting intention figures to compare here, but on the face of it, it also looks as if support is coming from both Labour and Conservative, though the level of Lib Dem support appears to be holding up better than in the Survation poll. Note that the lower figures overall appear to be because of an unusually high figure for “others” (possibly because SkyData do not offer respondents the ability to answer don’t know). Tables are here.

These polls are, of course, still rather hypothetical. “The Independent Group” is not a political party yet (assuming, that it ever becomes one). It doesn’t formally have a leader yet, or any policies. We don’t yet know how it will co-exist with the Liberal Democrats. As of Tuesday night it only has former Labour MPs, though the rumourmill expects some Conservative MPs to join sooner rather than later.

Nevertheless, it is more “real” than the typical hypothetical polls asking about imaginary centrist parties. Respondents do at least have some names, faces and context to base it upon, and it gives us a baseline of support. We won’t really know for sure until (and unless) the Independent Group transform into a proper party and is just another option in standard voting intention polls.

cupcake_goth: (Default)

Stuff I love: Coffeeeeeee

Feb. 19th, 2019 01:54 pm
[personal profile] cupcake_goth
I'll be honest, I am a dual caffeine required life form. I have a (small) pot of black tea with my breakfast, but a cup of strong coffee is required during the day. And because the Stroppy One did research, our coffee maker is an AeroPress, which is like a mini French press on vacuum packed steroids. It makes essentially a double shot of espresso, and then we add water, sweetener, and cream.

I had my first sips of coffee when I was ... 6? 7? Something like that. It was a treat when Dad and I went to the Starbucks store (the original! Before they were a chain!) to buy coffee beans. I seriously started drinking coffee when I started high school, because it was vital to survival.

While I default to being picky about coffee, if I'm traveling and the only option in the morning is not-great hotel coffee, I'll scrunch my face up and deal. Coffee, vital to survival.

My favorite long-gone coffee shop: B&O Espresso, because they used a good roast, made their own seriously dense unsweetened whipped cream, and made their own sinfully good caramel sauce. A quad shot of espresso mixed with the caramel and smothered in whipped cream? I have dreamt about having that again.
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Umbrellas CC0 Public Domain

Writing for The Independent Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable set out a new model for how the Liberal Democrats, the Independent Group and indeed others might end up working together:

There is no question of a “new centrist party” or of the rebels being swallowed up in my party or the Lib Dems being swallowed up by them. I see the way forward as a collaborative arrangement, a confederation of groups who have a lot in common but wish to maintain their identity.

The concept of a political party is deeply embedded in the way in which politics is regulated in Britain.

It’s a default assumption of how political finance transparency works. So much so that despite not being a party the Independent Group has voluntarily signed up to follow similar rules as shown by its donation policy. Being a party makes things like access to the electoral register for fighting elections more straightforward, especially outside of immediate election time.

It also is central to how Parliament works. Or rather, people who agree to group together are, as that’s how the allocation of speaking slots in debates, time for Parliamentary motions, slots at PMQs and even access to offices and state funding all work.

As with local councils, however, there is some scope for flex. Just as the council group for party X sometimes includes a councillor who isn’t a member of that party, and so that larger group then gets to bank various organisational benefits, so in Parliament a grouping could include MPs of various parties and none and bank benefits from that.

Which makes for two key organisational points, touched on by Vince Cable’s comments.

First, being the third largest ‘party’ in the House of Commons brings significant benefits. That is currently the SNP, with its 35 MPs. The magic number, therefore, is 36 .

A combination therefore of 11 Lib Dem MPs, one currently whipless Lib Dem and 8 Independent Group MPs needs another 16 in some form. Or another way to think of it – there are major gains that come from a grouping which has two or more non-Lib Dem MPs in it for each Lib Dem. That is a good reason, perhaps, for Lib Dems to welcome the idea of some sort of relationship that is a little more distant than ‘hey, just join us’ as to get to 36 would result in the existing Lib Dem MPs being rather swamped in our own party. A very high wire act.

The second organisational point is ballot papers. They are more important than you might think.

As I highlighted when I wrote The easiest way to set up a new pro-European centrist political party:

The Liberal Democrats … bring many strengths that a new party would struggle to match. A still large local government base – much smaller than in the past yet still big enough to dwarf the Greens, for example. A large membership – once again, well ahead of the Greens. A decent fundraising machine, raising more money from private donors most quarters than Labour for several years now (it is trade union funding which propels Labour to its greater riches). And an established organisational framework, including campaign software, big data analysis and local volunteer teams across much of the country.

But the choice isn’t just new party or join the Lib Dems. For there is another route too:

There is, however, a solution that those looking to create a new party which sidesteps many of these issues. It’s to make use of a detail in election law created to help the Co-operative Party.

This allows a candidate to stand as the joint candidate of two different political parties, with the news that they are a joint candidate reproduced on the ballot paper.

That ballot paper point is crucial because it means that right at the point of voting, people know exactly which candidates have the backing of parties. No messing around with hoping people will look up preferred candidates on a tactical voting website. Instead you get the message right in front of every single voter at the point at which they vote.

Yet by backing candidates of existing parties you also get the benefits of their existing organisations and voter loyalty.

So, you create a new pro-European political party, but rather than try to make it in a fully functioning traditional party, you instead make it an umbrella coalition. Offer any candidate of any party the chance to get an official endorsement from the new party if they agree to a certain number of basic principles (European policy most obviously). If a candidate signs up, give them the right to use the logo and name on the ballot paper.

This idea of group acting as minor political party in order to win coverage on the ballot paper and hence increase its electoral leverage – both to get candidates to agree to its policies and then to win votes for those candidates who do – is something aficionados of American politics may recognise. It is what US political parties such as the Working Families Party do, with a few wrinkles due to the different electoral law their but the same underlying purpose and method.

There are, as I set out, some detailed wrinkles to get right.

The key point, however, is simply this: election law provides a powerful way for candidates to cooperate at election time without having all to be in the same political party .

An umbrella of the like-minded is a very plausible route to take.

(Though I’d still like far more of those like-minded to join the Lib Dems, pretty please, and for the party to create a registered support scheme to help welcome in even more.)

Forgotten Books, Remembered (For Now)

Feb. 19th, 2019 08:51 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

I suppose it was inevitable: I discovered a that I am listed as a contributor to a book that I was not aware existed. It’s a 2009 book from the National Geographic Society called The Backyard Guide to the Night Sky, credited to Howard Schneider, and for which I am listed as contributing essays. And when it was brought to my attention, I was all, “I did what now?” I had no memory of contributing to this book at all.

Mind you, I don’t think the National Geographic Society was trying to pull a fast one. The far more likely explanation is that I did contributed to the book and then, over the course of a decade, I had simply forgotten anything about it. And indeed, that was the explanation — a quick look through my email archives from the time unearthed not only the correspondence trail between me an an editor at NatGeo, but also the essays in question, about constellations, telescopes and UFOs (and all the things that are not them).

These essays were a throwback to a time where I was writing a lot more non-fiction than I do now, and also taking freelance writing assignments from folks for quick pieces on, well, just about anything. It wasn’t entirely out of my remit to write articles on astronomy, since by that time I had written an entire book on the subject and it had even gone into a second printing. Which may be why I don’t remember too much about these pieces; I could pretty much write them without effort.

In any event it’s nice to have this book back in my memory banks. Amazon informs me that there is a second edition of the book coming out in exactly a month; it has a new primary author, who has no doubt updated the book from stem to stern. I wonder if what I contributed will make the cut ten years on. I guess we’ll find out. And now I wonder what other books are out there that I’ve forgotten I was a part of.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

But how seriously should we view his campaign?

I must admit that I cannot see either 76 year old Joe Biden or 77 Bernie winning the nomination in eighteen months time. The former has yet to decide while Bernie, who ran Hillary close at WH2016, announced today that he’s going for it.

He joins an increasingly crowded field of aspiring nominees and the race will be so unlike last time when it was really just down to two.

What he has got going for him is a substantial supporter base as well as the experience of fighting a prolonged and hard primary campaign. The question is whether he has the appeal of 2016 or has the party moved on?

This is how the New York Times assesses his chances:

“A sensation in 2016, Mr. Sanders is facing a far different electoral landscape this time around. Unlike his last bid for the White House, when he was the only liberal challenger to an establishment-backed front-runner, he will be contending with a crowded and diverse field of candidates, including popular Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who have adopted his populist mantle.

Victories in the 2018 midterm election by women, minorities and first-time candidates also suggest that many Democrats may prefer fresh energy, something that skeptics believe Mr. Sanders could struggle to deliver. A 77-year-old whose left-wing message has remained largely unchanged in his decades-long career, Mr. Sanders will also need to improve his support from black voters and quell the unease about his campaign’s treatment of women that has been disclosed in recent news accounts, and that has prompted two public apologies.”

The thing that all prospective nominees have to do is demonstrate that they can beat Trump who will fight a fierce and rough campaign against them. I’m not sure he fits the bill.

Current Betfair betting – Harris 25%, Biden 14%, Sanders 11%, O’Rourke 10%, Brown 7%, Klobuchar 7%, Warren 6%.

Mike Smithson

legionseagle: (Default)

(no subject)

Feb. 19th, 2019 08:14 pm
[personal profile] legionseagle
Happy birthday [personal profile] lilliburlero
[personal profile] hollymath
So this morning, awake too early (thanks for all the barking, Gary) and lying in bed pretending I'd fall back asleep, I saw a toot (yes that's what they're called on Mastodon):
everyone: herbs and spices
america: 'erbs and spices
???: herbs and 'ices

the search for the missing nation
I tried to let it go, to appreciate the shitpost for what it was, or even just to ponder how interesting it is that both consonants at the beginning of spices are understood to be part of the syllable onset even to people who don't use words like "onset" for that (I've been doing lots of phonology reading today; it probably shows).

But I couldn't. I just coulnd't get over how annoyed I was at one little thing.

I started a screed.

I know this is just a joke but I also just have to say that it's not only America who says "erbs"; the word was originally erb and didn't have an h at all.

Overcorrecting pedants added the h in the 1400s to make the English word look like the Latin word it derived from, but the h was silent for everyone until it changed in Britain in the 1800s (thus, after American English had diverged from British English) as the result of more pedantry (thanks to [personal profile] silveradept, I'd also just read this morning about how many grammar rules are bullshit). And they're a specific, infuriating (to me) kind of bullshit, which I'll get to in a minute.

But before that, I thought of Eddie Izzard's line from Dress to Kill where he says to an American audience "you say 'erbs' and we say 'herbs.' Because there's a fucking h in it."

And the audience laughed because Americans have what Lynne Murphy calls American Verbal Inferiority Complex (a fact that suits the British superiority complex just fine!).

But I'm like, no! I will not accept this from a country where they have to say an historian because they don't say that h at all! (Yes I know not ever Brit says this, but not every American drops the h in herbs either, so this is where generalization gets you.)

The more I think about this, the more it bugs me that a few random posh white dudes (a very few! specific people with names we know!) came up with all these stupid rules. To quote from the link above: some of these "grammar rules that were entirely dreamt up in an age of moral prescriptivism, reflecting nothing of historical or literary usage, to encourage the poor English language to be more like an entirely different (and entirely dead) language, namely Latin?"

The random posh white dudes decreed that English should be more like Latin because they'd been taught that Latin was "pure" and thus superior to English. And they got their own way. (Maybe all of English has an inferiority complex when it comes to things like Latin.)

This educational snobbery and classism went a long way to making English the inconsistent, baffling mess it is now. (It wouldn't have been in a fantastic state anyway, with the influx of French and Latin and then the Great Vowel Shift ensuring nothing was spelled like it sounded any more. But still, this

It didn't have to be this way. Around the same time as these Latin-lovers, there was a movement for another kind of "purity," to go back to the Germanic roots of the English language, as a backlash against the huge numbers of French and Latin words that'd entered the language in the Middle English period (up until 1500-ish). Wikipedia says "Some tried either to resurrect older English words, such as gleeman for musician, inwit for conscience, and yblent for confused, or to make new words from Germanic roots, e.g. endsay for conclusion, yeartide for anniversary, foresayer for prophet."

To read something like "Uncleftish Beholdings," which is an explanation of atomic theory written in Germanic words, feels very odd. The Germanic words English has retained are mostly very "ordinary," everyday things, whereas our scientific vocabulary is especially full of Latin and Greek, so we're not used to what feel like "base" words being used to express technical or intellectual concepts.

I wrote all this (more or less, and without most of the links, though I included the Uncleftish Beholdings one because if you mention Germanic reconstructions for English, someone is bound to bring it up (and indeed someone did, who hadn't seen it mentioned just above the toot he was replying to)) before I went to work. I did work, I came home, had lunch, got ready to go to uni...and just before I left, I saw a screenshot of a startingly relevant tweet, from @paulcoxon: "Hello my name is Paul, I have a PhD in physics and thanks to a random brain freeze forgot the word for photon so had to call it a 'shiny crumb' in front of my colleagues."

Yes, you can have a physics Ph.D. and still forget a basic word like "photon." And when you do, what comes to your mind might be a Germanic construction like shiny crumb. (I knew "shine" came from Old English because I remembered seeing the verb; and I looked up "crumb" too which also comes from an OE word). I absolutely love "shiny crumb" and I wish to nominate it for the new Germanic alternative for our scientific vocabulary.

So yeah. I am so ill-suited to shitposts that I couldn't leave one alone. I had to take "herbs" and run with it until I ended up at shiny crumbs... via inkhorn terms, Anglish, snobbery and inferiority complexes. I hope you enjoyed the journey.

Or, as since journey's a nasty foreign word, maybe trip.
ann_leckie: (Default)

Raven Tower Giveaways!

Feb. 19th, 2019 12:43 pm
[personal profile] ann_leckie
The Raven Tower is out next week!

And Orbit is running some cool giveaways! Copies of The Raven Tower, and some cool swag!

There's an Orbit Loot giveaway here, that runs until the 28th, and a Goodreads giveaway that runs till the 25th! And keep an eye on Orbit's Instagram for another chance to win!

In the meantime, if you haven't already, check out this excerpt, and this sample from the audiobook read by the always awesome Adjoa Andoh!

And if you're into the fanworks thing, check out the various days in this Raven Tower release event! I'm looking forward to seeing what cool stuff the participants come up with! My readers are awesome.


Feb. 19th, 2019 04:51 pm
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

There are, nevertheless, times when there is legitimate cause to restrict price discovery. I’m certainly overjoyed about one form of the Libor price fixing. Libor is a measure of what banks will lend to each other at. Back in the dark days of 2008 banks would not lend to each other. Libor was thus rather high, if it existed at all, but the banks continued to report numbers which were little out of line with the mundane and ordinary. A bit naughty perhaps, but surely preferable to the world’s reference interest rate being quoted as infinite.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Patrick Maxwell

The news yesterday morning that there is to be a new breakaway group inside the House of Commons, the ‘Independent Group,’ is an historic moment. That may seem hyperbolic, but the anger and resentment displayed by those seven who have left the Labour Party was as damning as it was dramatic. It showed once again why Jeremy Corbyn is, and always has been, the wrong person to lead the Labour Party, let alone be Prime Minister. 

Talks of electoral alliances have of course led to discussions about how the UK’s main centrist party reacts. Echoes of the days of the SDP seem a bit early as the movement has not yet morphed into a political party yet, but if more join the group it could become both a serious challenge for Corbyn to overcome and also a friendly group for the Lib Dems to cooperate with in the Commons, with similar positions on Brexit. 

So far, there seem to be few plans to create another alliance. I think this may well be sensible. The new group define themselves as heavily on the social democratic wing of the spectrum, potentially in opposition to many of the more centrist-leaning principles of the Lib Dems. There is of course the danger that an alliance could damage the independence of our party, as going further to the the left would alienate many potential voters looking for a centrist alternative. It may well be a risk to hard to take for many inside the party, and the failure of the SDP to really change the political landscape still hangs in the mind. 

Vince Cable tweeted yesterday that he was ‘open’ to working with the new group and announcing that there will be discussion between the two sides over how to stop Brexit, which both the Lib Dems and the Independents see as a national disaster. We should welcome discussion over Parliamentary cooperation, but whether there is a public appetite from members and the wider electorate to see a merge remains to be seen. But any moves should definitely be treated with caution at this stage, I think.

The new Independent Group claims that it will offer a new way forward for British politics. That idea has always been represented by the Liberal Democrats from their inception and the ideas of an economically free-market and socially liberal base have been central to British politics for decades. The new group speak of wanting to appeal to the politically homeless. We must form a place inside our own party for such voters, around a centrist agenda.  Any talks of an alliance must not let our values be diluted for political gain, and progressive mergers should always be only agreed if there is enough support.

* Patrick Maxwell is a Liberal Democrat member and political blogger at and a commentator at

supergee: (pissed)

Deja vu

Feb. 19th, 2019 10:58 am
[personal profile] supergee
In 1968 Eugene McCarthy bravely stood up to the horrible things America was doing. He didn’t win, and he spent the rest of his life being an utter shit about it. #HistoryRepeats

The Big Idea: Tina LeCount Myers

Feb. 19th, 2019 02:41 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

In today’s Big Idea, author Tina LeCount Myers discovers that in writing Dreams of the Dark Sky, her conscious was writing one thing, and her unconscious writing something entirely different — and yet, it all came together in the same story. Here’s how.


Conscious Me: I wrote a story about invasive vs. native human-like species in a volatile environment.

Unconscious Me: Actually, I wrote a story about fate and free will, where I used my characters to work out my own existential uncertainty about these concepts.

Conscious Me: What do you mean? The story is about how humans and elves fail to coexist and the ramifications of their wars.

Unconscious Me: Perhaps on one level. But if you look deeper, you’ll see that both humans and elves must come to their own understanding of agency.

Whereupon, Conscious Me pauses, thinking, then appropriates what was unconscious, feeling self-satisfied with the deeper meaning it has come up with. Then, in a moment of insight, Conscious Me suggests: Really, Dreams of the Dark Sky is Freaks and Geeks meets Excalibur—the John Boorman Excalibur.

And both parts of me are right, except maybe for the John Boorman reference, which feels a little conceited and hyper-masculine even for the Conscious Me.

I started writing The Legacy of the Heavens trilogy with the idea to write a fantasy story with science at the foundation of the worldbuilding. Dark matter disguised as magic. Multiverses and string theory cloaked as portal realms in arctic Scandinavia. Evolutionary biology to posit the existence of sequentially hermaphroditic elves. But what I discovered was an even more profound interest in what makes us human, even if we are elves.

On the surface, Dreams of the Dark Sky, the second book in the trilogy, is about two human-like species struggling to coexist in a volatile arctic environment. But at its heart, the story is more concerned with how the two main characters, Dárja and Marnej, experience the complex love between parent and child, yearn to belong in their respective communities, and struggle to take control over their lives. They reflect the deep-seated, human questions that I have about my own life: my relationship with my parents, my sense of belonging—or not, and, most importantly, my conflicted experience with the concepts of fate and free will.

I have suffered the resentment of fate, where I must live with a decision over which I have no control. I have struggled with the paralysis of free will, where I am unable to make the “right choice”. I have no definitive answer on which is better or worse. So when Marnej, who is half-human and half-elf, asks, “Was I always meant to end up here? Or did circumstance and my own action bring me here?” it is me asking that same question of my own life. And when Kalek, the elf-healer, answers, “I do not believe the gods choose our actions. They may set the course of events, but it is we who decide what direction to go in,” it is my own unwitting compromise.

Dreams of the Dark Sky is about the aftermath of a struggle between humans (invasive species) and elves (native species). But it is also about the tension between conscious and unconscious choice and what that interplay reveals about not only the characters, but also the writer, and hopefully the reader as well.


Dreams of the Dark Sky: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound |Powell’s
Visit the author’s site. Visit her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.


[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson chart of movement on the Betfair exchange

Betting that it won’t happen this yet might now be value

We all remember the dramatic Commons no confidence motion last month that TMay won but only with the help of the DUP. Without their 10 votes her government would have gone down and we would now be coming to the end of a general election campaign. At the time Mr. Corbyn warned that they make other attempts.

Well since the departure of 7 of his MPs yesterday the LAB leader is in a less powerful position. This is from the Indy’s John Rentoul:

“ consequence of today’s defections is that it makes an election unlikely even if the DUP abandons Theresa May over Brexit. Umunna and Chris Leslie were emphatic at the news conference that they would not contemplate helping to make Corbyn prime minister. That means that in a future vote of no confidence in May’s government, they would refuse to force an election – and remember that in last month’s confidence vote May would have lost by one if the DUP had voted against her..”

If Corbyn cannot force an early election on a confidence vote then the only way it can happen is if TMay uses the provision of the Fixed Term Parliament Act that allows an election to be called if two thirds of MPs vote for it. My view is that after getting her fingers burned badly at GE2017 she’ll be even more cautious about going early.

Mike Smithson

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

A little over a week ago, I showed y'all a pretty cool image: The Chinese Space Agency's lunar lander and rover, Chang'e-4 and Yutu-2, as seen from orbit by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

In that image, LRO's orbit put it about 330 kilometers east of the lander (plus dozens of kilometers up above the surface), so it had to tilt way over to the side to see it, and the resulting shot was taken at a pretty steep oblique angle. Because it was so far away, even LRO's powerful cameras couldn't see the hardware as much more than a teeny dot.

However, as LRO circles the Moon, the territory it sees changes — I'll explain in a sec, because that's really cool — and therefore so does its distance from the lander. That earlier image was taken on January 30, 2019. A couple of days, on February 1, LRO passed directly above Chang'e-4 and Yutu-2, sliding over the landing site at an altitude of 82 kilometers.

That changes things a lot. Here's what LRO saw when it looked straight down on the Chinese hardware:

The Chinese rover and lander Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2, seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconniassance Orbiter on Feb. 1, 2019. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The Chinese rover and lander Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2, seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconniassance Orbiter on Feb. 1, 2019. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Ah, that's better.

Although you can't see fine details — 82 klicks is still a fair hike — the lander appears much bigger, spanning several pixels. At that height, each LRO pixel is about 0.85 meters in size (about the size of a standard push lawnmower; it's hard to think of analogies that are easy to grasp sometimes!), and the lander is roughly a couple of meters across (I actually can't find good numbers for this, so if anyone knows let me know!). The rover is smaller, about 1.5 meters by 1 x 1, and can be seen to the upper left of the lander. It was just under 30 meters from the lander when this image was taken.

I have to once again note how amazing it is that we can get these sorts of shots. The lunar landscape is vast, and doesn't have the same sort of landmarks we have on Earth. This area of the Moon's far side has craters ranging in size from too small to see to many thousands of meters across. There are rocks, and mounds, and hummocky hills, and, well … that's about it. If you're not familiar with the terrain* then it's easy to get hopelessly lost.

Don't believe me? I went to the LRO blog and downloaded the gigantic full-resolution mosaic LRO took as it passed over the Chang'e-4 site and poked around trying to find the lander … then laughed when I saw the LRO folks had already highlighted the site by putting a square around it. If they hadn't done that, I never would have found it.

Here's the image with the landing site outlined. I cropped the close-up from above to match the square and inserted it into the shot:

Context image showing the Chinese lander and rover Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 on the lunar surface. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Context image showing the Chinese lander and rover Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 on the lunar surface. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Yeah, see what I mean? And it's even worse: I shrank the original high-res image by a factor of five to make this image. The original has even more detail, making it that much harder to find an individual speck. That strip shows a region of the Moon about 8.5 kilometers wide, and before I cropped it was about 50 kilometers in length. Imagine finding something a few meters across in all that!

Now, there are some tricks. For one thing we already knew where the lander was, so that shrank the region of interest considerably. But there's something else, too: shadows.

Note the shadowing on the craters. Because the Sun is coming from the upper right of the image, the craters are shadowed at the top right and lit at the bottom left. But now look at the lander: It's bright on top, and shadowed on the bottom! That makes it stand out more easily amongst the craters. Otherwise, yikes. Good luck finding it.

The Chinese lander Chang’e-4 as seen by the rover Yutu-2. Credit: CSNA

The Chinese lander Chang’e-4 as seen by the rover Yutu-2. Credit: CSNA

So why does the angle change between LRO and Chang'e-4? It's because of the orbit. When a satellite orbits a world, it's orbiting the center of that world. All it cares about is the gravity it feels, and that comes from the mass of the object it's orbiting. It doesn't care if the object is rotating or not.

The plane of that orbit is pretty much fixed in space. So if it's, say, due north/south with respect to the Moon, it'll stay that way. If the Moon didn't spin, LRO would pass over the exact same spots on the Moon over and over again. But the Moon does spin, about once per month, so every orbit LRO passes over different spots as the Moon rotates beneath it. The actual math is a bit complicated because the LRO orbit is influenced by lots of other factors, but in the end what this means is that over time LRO passes over the entire surface Moon, one swath at a time.

That's why it was over to one side of Chang'e-4 in late January, then directly over it in early February. By now, LRO is far to the west of that site, and it'll be a while before the Moon spins enough to put the Chinese site under LRO's direct gaze once again. By then the lighting will have changed, too, so the shadows will be different as well. It should be interesting in a few weeks to see the new images of it!

I'll note that LRO makes mineralogical maps of the Moon as well, so this helps the science, putting the measurements taken by the lander and rover into broader geologic context, much as the image itself does. That's why we send different missions to other worlds; they each do their own thing, but when you add them together you get more then just the sum of their parts.

You get to understand a world. I think that's very much worth the effort.

*I use that word loosely, since it's based on the word terra, for Earth. But lunain looks weird.

[Correction, Feb. 19, 2019: I originally wrote that LRO passed over Chang'e-4 on Feb. 7.]

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

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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