yhlee: a clock face in blue and gold (hxx clock)

language language practice practice

Apr. 25th, 2019 08:02 pm
[personal profile] yhlee
(Still sick. Can handle small quantities of solid food now, yay progress?)

Cymraeg, a Jedao and Cheris dialogue:

Jedao: Noswaith dda, Cheris!
Cheris: Noswaith dda! Dych chi'n wedi mynd i'r gwaith?
Jedao: Ydw. Dw i'n mwynhau gweithio ynghanol y gofod. A chi?
Cheris: Dych chi'n dod o Efrog Newydd?
Jedao: Nac ydw, dw i'n dod o Eshpatan. Dw i'n mynd i prynu menig da iawn heno.
Cheris: Dych chi'n gwisgo menig eisoes!
Jedao: Ond dw i eisiau menig heb fys!

[I'm really covering for the fact that I have not figured out how the !@#$!@#$ third-person conjugation works in Welsh at all, since it just came up in Duolingo like a week ago. I can make I-statements and formal you-statements right now. Everything else is a Mystery.]

Français, a Jedao and Cheris dialogue:

Jedao: Bonsoir, mon amie!
Cheris: Pardonnez-moi, je ne suis pas votre amie, monsieur. Je suis seulement une Kel.
Jedao: Mais j'aime beaucoup les oiseaux.
Cheris: Hélàs, je n'aime pas les goupils qui parlent avec les mots faciles.
Jedao: Est-ce que tu as vu les gants sans doigts noires? J'ai perdu les miennes.
Cheris: Où pouvons-nous chercher les bonnes gants?
Jedao: À Paris, bien sûr! Toutes les vêtements excellents sont en Paris.

Deutsch, a Jedao and Cheris dialogue:

Jedao: Guten Abend, Cheris! Was suchst du nun?
Cheris: Ich brauche ein Raumschiff.
Jedao: Na klar, ich auch! Vielleicht können wir zusammen gehen, wenn wir ein Raumschiff finden.
Cheris: Nein, danke. Ich will allein gehen.
Jedao: Aber wir sind Freunde!
Cheris: Sie sind meinen Kommandant! Es ist unmöglich, dass wir Freunde sein können.
Jedao: Ich habe eine Idee. Ich werde die Armee aufhören!
Cheris: Ich denke, dass Sie können das nicht tun...

[Help, what is syntax even...]

한글, a Jedao and Cheris dialogue:

재다오: 안녕, 채리스야! 오늘 무순책 읽어?
채리스: 안녕하세요, 재다오대군! 저는 책많이 안읽는데 텔레비전에서 만화를 뵙니다.
재다오: 어떤만화?
채리스: 노래와춤추는만화입니다.
재다오: 나 노래불를까?
채리스: 제발 하지마시오. 곡을 부를 수는 없습니다.

[I had to Google Translate "you sing out of tune."]

日本語、a Jedao and Cheris dialogue:


[Oof, I am done languaging for tonight, especially since I keep suspecting that Google Translate is giving me really informal translations when I try to look things up for help.]

(no subject)

Apr. 25th, 2019 11:40 pm
[syndicated profile] andrew_rilstone_feed

Posted by Andrew Rilstone

I am inviting my Patreons to participate in a non-binding indicative vote about what I might do next. Why not join them?


The Pursuit Of Realism

Apr. 25th, 2019 10:06 pm
[syndicated profile] everything_is_nice_feed

Posted by Martin

Occasionally, I still think about writing. The last thing I thought about writing about was Red Dead Redemption 2 but it turns out Film Crit Hulk has already written my piece for me:

The pursuit of realism in video games, even when it doesn’t make the game more enjoyable, was largely built on the fever dream of young minds who wanted to completely “disappear” into a gaming world. They believed the virtual world should be just as complicated and filled with possibilities as the real world.

This approach doesn’t work in practice. The endless capacity to interact with equally endless items ends up creating endless, but meaningless, interactions. Those meaningless interactions then numb the player to the meaningful aspects of the game.

That happens because these choices don’t actually achieve the feeling of “realism” in our brains. Cooking food in a video game can take one button press or 20, but more button presses won’t fool your brain into thinking you’re actually cooking a dish. Game designers tend to confuse “complicated” with “realistic,” and our minds aren’t wired to think something is real just because it takes a long time to happen and requires many small actions on our part.

The illusion of realism is achieved when games match our expectations and move at the speed of our intentions. The most “realistic” way for me to check a drawer in a game is to quickly see what’s inside it, decide if I want it, and then either take the items or leave them as quickly as possible. That’s what we do when we look into a drawer in real life; we don’t break the task down into dozens of small movements or actions. We just look into the drawer.

And this is how games should approach the same tasks. Ease of functionality is much more “immersive” than a series of button presses and animations that mimic the real thing. Adding more button presses and steps to basic tasks takes me out of the game, in fact, because it makes me impatient as I’m forced to fuck with something that should be moving as quickly as my brain.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

What is extraordinary about the coming Euro elections on May 23rd is just how many different parties will be on the ballot papers. The Wikipedia polling table above seeks to include all of them and I don’t think there has been a previous election like this in modern times.

The one thing that makes the coming election different from 2014 is that there will be no simultaneous local elections on the same day. This is the first time this has happened since 2004. Quite what the impact of this is hard to say but looking over there records suggest that having other elections taking place does help turnout.

This election, of course, will be the voting debut for Change UK and of course Nigel Farage’s Brexit party.

A big issue for Labour is what stance it will have on things lie Brexit and the possible second referendum. Will Team Corbyn/Milne manage to hold their pro-Brexit position when the vast majority of party voters are against?

Mike Smithson

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Huffington Post has got hold of a copy of the election address leaflets being prepared by the Labour Party for use in the European Parliament elections. These are the leaflets that will get delivered by the Royal Mail to millions of households across the country – perhaps the single biggest distribution leaflet for the campaign.

And there’s a certain policy missing from them…

Fury As Corbyn European Elections Leaflet Suggests Labour Backs Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn is facing a fierce backlash from Labour members after a draft leaflet for the European elections said the party would press ahead with Brexit.

The leaflet, passed to HuffPost UK, makes no mention of the party’s policy to push for a second referendum on quitting the EU, was sent out to MEPs on Thursday.

One Labour insider said: “MEPs were not given these leaflets to review, they were just told: this is what the party is printing and this is what they would have to put out.”

This is of course in line with Jeremy Corbyn’s decades-long Eurosceptism, including voting with right-wing Conservative Eurosceptics in Parliament. Not to mention his more recent comments:

Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit

All the more reason to back the Liberal Democrats if you want real opposition to Brexit and to avoid splitting the Remainer vote.

[personal profile] rmc28
AO3 lawyers on the EU digital single market directive, which is one of the more readable explanations about Article 13 (now actually Article 15, just for extra confusion) I've come across.

An NPR article about Inuit parenting and the use of play and non-violence to help children learn emotional regulation. The approach makes sense to me, but working out to put even some of it into practice is hard (not least, rewriting my own ingrained habits of response).

This long interview with Lexi Alexander, one of the few women directors working in Hollywood, has lots of absolutely fascinating stuff about film technique, and an overall theme of "technical choices have societal consequences", which of course is relevant to my own field of software development. I was also struck by her reflection on being "one of the boys" without deliberately intending to do so (also relevant to my field), about what's the point of having more women leaders if they replicate the same unfairnesses as men do. I was reminded of Reni Eddo-Lodge's line in Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race, "when [white feminism] has won, things will look much the same. Injustice will thrive, but there will be more women in charge of it."
hollymath: Selfie: white person, three-quarter profile, smiling, brown hair shaved on the side we can see, chin-length on the other (Default)

[115/365] hustings

Apr. 25th, 2019 10:32 pm
[personal profile] hollymath
Proud of Andrew. He's a candidate in our area for upcoming local city council elections so he got invited to a hustings tonight.

He did a totally badass job of putting forward what seem like basic points but that are mostly missing from partisan politics: no platform for fascists, freedom of movement is a good thing, we have costed plans to make the city better in a manifesto called "Not Putting Up with This Shit Anymore."

In previous years there'd been shouting and nastiness from activists in another party so Andrew was dreading the hustings but he came away amazed at how much nicer this was -- and that was with a few troublemakers in the corner near me who shouted over people and ranted at any opportunity.

Andrew got lots of applause, the room was friendly, he might've even won us a vote or two.

It's hard for him to do stuff like this because autism but I think that also makes him good at it: like Greta Thunberg says, autism "makes me see things from outside the box. I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things." The article goes on to say "The result of her simplistic approach, fuelled by her condition, is that she has presented this issue with more clarity and competence." And -- while I'm not happy about the word "simplistic" here, I know what the writer means, I just wish he could've used a less negative-sounding word -- I've always thought this is true of Andrew as well.
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Lord William Wallace

Embed from Getty Images

Most of us never see most of the social media that feeds conspiracy theories about the European Union. As we have all learned, the algorithms operate to feed back to consumers stories that confirm their existing views, not challenge them. When the wilder beliefs filter through into letters to newspapers, the deepest prejudices have often been removed.

A letter in the Yorkshire Post last week, for example, warned of the threat of German domination, and referred to the re-emergence of ‘militarism in Germany’. Anyone who follows German military expenditure will know that German forces are under-equipped and poorly trained, suffer from a budget allocation much smaller than the UK spends on defence, and are rarely deployed. But the anti-Brexit blogosphere, taking its cue from the Bruges Group and other sources, has latched onto German calls for a ‘European army’ – an ill-defined concept that enables them to avoid hard questions about national defence and strategic priorities – and mispresented it as a wicked German plot to conquer us all.

Echoes of this alternative reality, in which a German-dominated Europe again (as in 1940) threatens democratic and sovereign Britain, pop up in Brexiteer speeches. Mark Francois peppers his speeches with references to ‘resistance’ to European occupation and the Second World War. Sir William Cash MP, who has dedicated his whole career to identifying European integration as a German-led plot, brought out the whole vocabulary of ‘appeasement’ and ‘abject surrender’ in a recent speech, repeated in an article for the Telegraph. With justification, anti-Brexit Conservatives like Nicky Morgan and Alastair Burt have accused him of fuelling the threats of violence that flood into their inboxes. Nigel Lawson has gone even further than Bill Cash, in hinting that ‘insurrection’ would be justified if Parliament fails to deliver the Brexit that ‘the British people … demanded.’

Into my Inbox this morning came a long message to all parliamentarians from a hard-line Brexiteer which provided links to a series of Facebook and Youtube postings which take the lid of what is being peddled: about Hitler’s plan to create a European super-state, about Guy Verhofstadt and Mrs. Merkel following Hitler’s agenda, but also about ‘the EU as the enemy’, the alleged assassination of an investigative journalist who uncovered the depths of the plot, and even references to Rothschild, Soros, and ‘Cabbalistic’ Jewish plans to impose a global world order. I haven’t read them all, and failed to find any references to the Templars or the Freemasons, but much of the irrational alternative reality that drives the hardest Brexiteers is laid out there in one long message.

So that’s part of what we are up against: fears of global conspiracies circulating on the internet – and, for all we know, promoted and paid for by right-wing billionaires or agents of hostile governments – which are echoed more subtly by leading figures in the Brexit campaign. Difficult to argue against, when the roots of irrational belief are so deep and the support that leading figures lend is so comforting. You and I will have warmed to Greta Thunberg’s speech on the facts of climate change, and her insistence that political leaders can no longer deny them. But remember that Nigel Lawson has consistently denied these facts, that the Global Warming Policy Foundation has shared premises with Brexit Central (and with the Taxpayers Alliance), and that we are dealing with a denial of reason and evidence supported by major newspapers, by what appears to be a majority of Conservative Party members, and by many on the hard left (how else do we explain the resurgence of left-wing conspiracy theories about ‘Jewish capitalism’ and secret plans to impose their preferred global order?)

This is the darker side of the populist surge. Those journalists and politicians who attack ‘the elite’ and ‘the establishment’, while insisting that they are men of the people even if they went to Eton or live in offshore tax-havens, are really attacking the politics of reason and evidence: implying that those who cling to hard evidence and political compromise are betraying the instincts of ordinary people. It’s a seductive argument, because it’s impossible to demonstrate that they are wrong in their own terms – but dangerous to democratic government and an open and tolerant society. We have to find a way of defending the complexities of open debate and democratic government, and of discrediting the populist counter-elite who help to give credence to underlying fears of dark forces and of betrayal.

* Lord Wallace of Saltaire is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

Hmm lessee

Apr. 25th, 2019 03:28 pm
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

What in God’s name does it take to effect change in a political class who have lost touch with the world? I wish I knew.

Well,the fall of the Berlin Wall informed an awful lot of politicians, didn’t it?

Meanwhile in London

Apr. 25th, 2019 03:31 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

There are massive skeletons floating over crowds of humans while Charles Darwin looks on approvingly. As he would.

Also, I have an event tonight at Forbidden Planet here in London at 6pm which you should come to if you happen to be in the area.

That is all. Tomorrow in Budapest!

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Chris Key

Embed from Getty Images

It was 13 July 2005, and I was sitting in an office in Madrid when I got the dreaded phone call to tell me that my father, who had been suffering from cancer, was slipping away. By that evening I was by his bedside in Surrey, and held his hand as he died the next morning. I am very glad, to this day, that I got back in time.

Extinction Rebellion had the intention on Good Friday of disrupting flights at Heathrow. ‘Terribly sorry’ – they said – ‘if your Easter getaway is delayed’ – fortunately none were. Delaying an Easter skiing break might be annoying, but not the end of the world – is how their argument goes.

…Except for the fact that not everyone flying is getting on a plane because they want to. A flight delay or cancellation can have enormous ramifications. – Consequences which Extinction Rebellion seem to be blind to. Aside from the example of when my father died I am reminded of my good friends whose holiday abroad ended in tragedy when their 9 month-old son died from cot death. After dealing with an unhelpful British consulate, eventually they were able to repatriate his body to the U.K. Further delays thanks to a few climate change protestors would have rubbed salt into their wounds.

On a wider level, how do Extinction Rebellion think that international aid workers get to their place of work on the ground to deal with humanitarian emergencies like the Ebola crisis, famine in Africa or floods in Bangladesh to Puerto Rico? Not on the back of Santa’s sleigh.

There is no doubt that aviation is a big contributor to climate change and that flying a lot isn’t good for the planet. However when your job requires it or you have family abroad (I fall into both categories), then to suggest, as one pro Extinction Rebellion friend did, that flying is a privilege, is simply not true.

Local MPs in South West London have quite rightly opposed Heathrow expansion but we have to be clear that, like it or not, flying is here to stay.

There is nothing to stop governments anywhere from incentivising the aviation industry to reduce its carbon footprint. It is possible to have much higher landing charges at airports for older, and more fuel inefficient planes or planes which fly virtually empty. It is also possible to give tax breaks for research and development into manufacturing aircraft which use less fuel.

Other countries could follow the lead of the U.K. and levy higher passenger duties. Airlines are also able to do their bit for the environment by minimising the use of disposable plastics – just as some hotels do by asking you to think twice before asking for your towels to be washed every day.

In the U.K., we can also easily improve public transport to our airports – especially Heathrow, or make the cost of it more competitive compared to taking Uber or a taxi. Indeed, one of the main arguments against Heathrow expansion is the impact it would have on air pollution related to surface transport in West London.

Politicians and their parties who support immigration and the idea of accepting refugees also need to remember that those refugees surely have a right to go back and visit their families. Do we tell the Syrian family, who made their way to the UK via a rickety dingy, that because of climate change we shouldn’t allow direct flights to Damascus to land in London one day in the future ?

Rather than trying to make life miserable for the flying public, Extinction Rebellion and those of us concerned about climate change should see the world as it is, not just how they would like it to be. They should be sitting down with airlines, aircraft manufacturers and politicians and demanding change.

They should also avoid being accused of hypocrisy – for example, certain parts of the media quite rightly called out Emma Thompson for flying into the U.K. to protest against climate change.

If we are serious about climate change then let’s work to find ways to make aviation less polluting. Not ruin the lives of people for whom stopping flying simply isn’t an option.

* Chris Key is dad of two girls, multilingual and internationalist. He is a Lib Dem member in Twickenham who likes holding the local council and MPs to account.

[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Richard Currie

Kids, you're all right

The American education system has always been the envy of Brit schoolkids – if only because it's easy to glower across the pond at their freedom to wear whatever they want from the prickly tomb of Teflon uniforms.…

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

So the weird interstellar asteroid/comet/MegaSnowflake/NotASpaceship 'Oumuamua is the gift that keeps on giving.

Remember 'Oumuamua? Discovered in 2017, it quickly became apparent that it was no ordinary space object; its velocity was so high it must have come from deep interstellar space. It was thought to be a comet at first (an icy body from some other solar system, since those are the easiest to dislodge and eject into space), then reclassified as an asteroid when no cometary activity was seen — that is, gas blowing off it as any ice warmed when it neared the Sun— then re-reclassified as a comet when its motion implied it was leaking material, just too weakly to directly detect.

Then some folks thought it might be a spaceship — still going with "nah" on that one — and then (and this is my favorite thing) others concluded it might be a huge porous fractal snowflake. As odd as that sounds, it actually makes sense given what we know about it.

‘Oumuamua, the first object ever seen passing through our solar system from interstellar space, is shown in this artwork to be faintly outgassing as the Sun warms its ice. Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, ESO, M. Kornmesser

‘Oumuamua, the first object ever seen passing through our solar system from interstellar space, is shown in this artwork to be faintly outgassing as the Sun warms its ice. Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, ESO, M. Kornmesser

It's still unclear where it came from or, more importantly, how many others like it might be out there. It's a little bit tough to extrapolate from a single case, but given its path and brightness, and how good our surveys are (meaning how big an object we can see at a given distance from Earth), it's possible that the galaxy is littered with as many as 1014 'Oumuamua-sized objects per cubic light year! That's a hundred trillion objects!

That's a vast number. And in a galaxy the size of ours, that means there could be — and this gives me the heebie-jeebies just to type this number out — a thousand trillion trillion 100-meter class interstellar rocks out there!

You'd think this would have some effect on the galaxy… and a pair of astronomers think it very well might. They suspect that interstellar objects like 'Oumuamua help planets like ours form.

Oh, I dig this idea.

protoplanetary disk

Artist's conception of a protoplanetary disk. Like ours when it was young, a large planet in the process of forming carves a wide gap in the disk. Credit: Karen L. Teramura, UH IfA

Stars form from huge clouds of gas and dust called molecular clouds. Clumps in the clouds collapse (perhaps disturbed by the wind of a nearby massive star or a supernova), start to spin, and flatten out into a disk. The star forms in the center of that disk, and planets form farther out in the disk itself (which we call the protoplanetary disk for obvious reasons).

But it's not that easy. Way out in the disk there are teeny tiny grains of material, microscopic bits of silicaceous (rocky) material and ice. First these stick together, slowly growing. Eventually they become millimeter sized, then centimeter, then growing into objects about 100 meters across. At that point we call them planetesimals. These then collide, stick together, and grow to become the cores of planets, which then have enough gravity to accelerate the process. They actively draw in material, and a planet is born.

From what we understand of physics, it takes a lot of time for this to happen. It doesn't take too long, maybe 10,000 years or so, to start seeing pebbles in the disk. But it takes up to millions of years to form planetesimals 100 meters across, and tens of millions of years for them to collect themselves into planetary core-sized objects.

But that's a problem. In general, protoplanetary disks tend to disperse in about ten million years! We've actually seen quite a few of these disks around other stars, and the newly born star's wind and radiation evaporates the disk pretty rapidly once the star switches on.

So, oops. How can it take several tens of millions of years to form a planet when the disk itself is gone in less time than that?

Enter 'Oumuamua. Literally.

‘Oumuamua, an asteroid from another solar system, is quite elongated and look very much like this artist’s impression of it. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

‘Oumuamua, an asteroid from another solar system, is quite elongated and look very much like this artist’s impression of it. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

The astronomers' idea is that interstellar objects like 'Oumuamua kickstart this process! If space is filled with objects in the 100-meter range like our own interstellar visitor, then there should be a lot of them inside a molecular cloud. As the cloud starts to collapse the gravity of the condensing clump will help collect them, possibly increasing their density in space by thousands of times or more. Maybe millions.

That means they're in the protoplanetary disk even before the teeny grains themselves are just starting to stick together. And there are so many of them that planetary formation just skips several steps, going right to them collecting together to form planetary cores in far less time than it would take the process on its own.

Boom! If this is correct, it solves that planet formation timing problem that's been plaguing scientists for many years now.

So is it correct? Well, that's a different issue. The authors go through various scenarios that can both accelerate and hinder the process, finding that the numbers work out fairly well. But their work is an introduction to the idea, doing order-of-magnitude back-of-the-envelope type calculations. That's very important work, essentially announcing an idea so that more research can be done. This is the first step, so we'll see where this idea leads.

If it turns out to be correct, then it has some profound implications. For example, we'd owe our existence to interstellar interlopers like 'Oumuamua… and in fact may have quite a few of them literally mixed up into our star, our planet, and ourselves.

And if it's wrong, that's OK too. It's an interesting line of reasoning, and may lead to other insights. Science is all about figuring out what could be wrong about an idea and moving on from there, so this is still a good thing. I'll be very interested to see further work done on it.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Bernard Aris

As a lifelong active member of the Dutch party “Democrats 66” (D66), I know how difficult constitutional, structural and cultural improvements of state (and European) democracy can be. My party had both improving national democracy (example: direct election of the prime minister who would lead the formation of the post-election coalition government) and direct European elections in its 1966 founding manifesto,

As anybody consulting Wikipedia can read, D66 was founded by a coalition of both members of existing parties (including an orthodox Marxist one) and unaffiliated, new citizens who’d become concerned that Dutch politics was stagnating and becoming oligarchic. (From 1963 until 1967, there were three different coalition governments on the basis of the 1963 general election results).

So, I can sympathise with the pride of Chuka Umunna over assembling a similar British party (wanting to renew the existing party democracy, solidly pro-EU feeling; assembled from active party members and concerned unaffiliated citizens) in Change UK.

We entered the Dutch parliament in 1967 with a spectacular 7 seats (of 150) thanks to proportional voting, but struggled to be heard for years.

With the first European Elections in 1979, we tried to enter the European parliament (EP) outside the existing party groupings like the Socialists, because we refused “backroom deals” with other Dutch parties to have a better chance to get in. We wanted to reform European politics from within, but got exactly nowhere. Having failed in our profiling aim, we lost both EP seats in the 1984 EP elections. We re-entered in 1989 after joining ELDR/ALDE with the more Eurosceptic (and car-loving; we’re environmentalist) VVD Dutch liberals in it; and we went from strength to strength. One of our MEPs, Sophie in’t Veld is a British TV celebrity and EU politics analyst.

D66 is a Social-Liberal, pro-European party, so we abhor it when at decisive elections, like the upcoming European ones, excessive “political renewal” purism risks giving a free ride to Ann Widdecombe as one of Farage’s EP candidates, and foreign parties like Salvini’s Lega, and the Polish jingoist PiS, who in different European parliamentary groupings, totally share Brexiteering jingoism, reactionary social agendas (see LGTBI rights, female church pastors, abortion), and a love for Trump’s disruptive politics. They dearly want to trounce splintered groups of progressive, pro-European parties in their own countries, and to dominate a large share of the European parliament’s seats, key EP and EU jobs, and thus the EU political agenda (EuroCommission, EU Budget; foreign policy, environment). Even if it is only until Brexit in November.

Mr. Umunna and Change UK fear Electoral Commission investigations and punishments if they make deals about which of the Remain parties take the lead in certain regions. I advise him to read Paddy Ashdown’s memoirs: neither the sharing out of votes between the Liberals and SDP in the 1980’s, nor the Ashdown/Blair 1997 deal about sharing, and even letting non-affiliated BBC celebrities like Martin Bell oust sleaze-mired Tories like Neil Hamilton (see: ), ever resulted in big Electoral Commission punishments or scandals.

On the contrary: Scotland, London, Northern Ireland and Wales got devolved government, and despite Gordon Brown’s tribal resistance, Blair operated at the heart of Europe until in 2003 he followed Bush into Iraq. Two Grimondian liberal hobby horses fulfilled.

* Bernard Aris is a Dutch historian (university of Leiden), and Documentation assistant to the D66 parliamentary Party. He is a member of the Brussels/EU branch of the LibDems.

Who'll defend freedom?

Apr. 25th, 2019 01:57 pm
[syndicated profile] chris_dillow_feed

Posted by chris

In the last few days we’ve seen rightists attempt to bully Greta Thunberg out of the public sphere rather than engage with her arguments; Tony Blair’s demand for ID cards and that immigrants have a duty to integrate; and rightists (backfiring) efforts to shame Diane Abbott for drinking on a train. These all have something in common. They show that the right and centre are enemies of freedom*.

These are not the only examples, nor the worst. New Labour created thousands of new criminal offences, a trend continued by the Tory government such as in its ban on legal highs, its counterproductive porn block and its "hostile environment" policy. Very many Tories and Cuks voted last year against legalizing cannabis. Chuka Umunna, following the centrist Emmanuel Macron, wants to reintroduce forced labour. And of course demands to end freedom of movement and restrict immigration are by definition demands to curb freedom.

The only reference the Cuks made to freedom in their launch statement (pdf) was that: “our free media, the rule of law, and our open, tolerant and respectful democratic society should be cherished and renewed.” This looks a little like valuing the freedom of corporations more than that of individuals.

To people of my vintage, this illiberalism looks odd. In my formative years anti-leftists claimed to cherish freedom, and attacked the Soviet Union for denying it to their people.

Which poses the question: why, then, are they so opposed to liberty today?

Partly, it’s because they always have been. Many cold warriors were not sincere libertarians, but only appealed to freedom as a stick with which to beat the USSR. Many of them supported Pinochet and apartheid, and the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom they valued was the freedom to exploit others.

Another reason is that the enemy of freedom is fanaticism. Friedrich Hayek wrote:

Since the value of freedom rests on the opportunities it provides for unforeseeable and unpredictable actions, we will rarely know what we lose through a particular restriction of freedom. Any such restriction, any coercion other than the enforcement of general rules, will aim at the achievement of some foreseeable particular result, but what is prevented by it will usually not be known....And so, when we decide each issue solely on what appear to be its individual merits, we always over-estimate the advantages of central direction. (Law Legislation and Liberty Vol I, p56-57.)

The more confident you are about your own beliefs, the more weight you’ll attach to the individual merits of any infraction of freedom and the less weight to unforeseeable actions. So you’ll be more inclined to curtail freedom. Although centrists think of themselves of moderates, this is often mere self-love: you can be a fanatical centrist just as much as you can be a fanatical leftist or rightist. Fanaticism and extremism are different things. French-revolution-2011-1-638

There’s something else. Centrists and rights have long been naïve about power. Many have been over-optimistic about the extent to which it will be used benignly, no doubt in part because it has traditionally been exercised by jolly good chaps like themselves. It is for this reason that they have long been too relaxed about the coercion that occurs within corporate hierarchies. But the same thinking – or lack thereof – extends to political power. If it is people like you who will exercise power, and minorities or working class people who’ll be on the dirty end of it, you’ll be relaxed about arrogating power to the state.

Which brings me to a forgotten fact. Before the 20th century, freedom was a leftist ideal: think of Tom Paine, John Stuart Mill, the young Marx, Adam Smith’s jaundiced view of the “rich and great”, or the first word of the motto of the French revolutionaries.  There was a simple reason for this: they all knew that restrictions of freedom helped the rich and powerful and hurt the poor and powerless. It is time for the left to reclaim the value of freedom – because, let’s face it, nobody else will.

* Of course, rightists are quick to claim to value free speech. But Dawn Foster has a point: the infringements of freedom of which they complain are often no such thing but are instead the hitherto voiceless merely answering back.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

With Obama’s former VP, 76 year old Joe Biden, today entering the race for the WH2020 Democratic nomination he does so from a position of strength in national polls of party voters.

The chart shows the latest Real Clear Politics polling average national lead for Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders and Pete butcher Jack compared with the latest surveys in Iowa and New Hampshire. These are, of course, the first two to decide and where all the active presidential campaigns have been paying lots of visits at the moment.

As can be seen from the charts there’s a biggish divide between the national picture and what is happening in Iowa and New Hampshire. This could be the case because in these two traditional starting primary states voters are paying much more attention to the race than those elsewhere.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire take a lot of pride in their status as being the first on the primary calendar each four years with the Presidential elections I just wonder whether this explains the gap.

If so that reinforces the notion that a part of Biden’s polling position is down to the fact that he is the better known. He is of course a regular fighter for the presidency and has failed several times before going back to 1988.

Mike Smithson

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by News Meerkat

Embed from Getty Images
Vince Cable has today declined an invitation to a state banquet with Donald Trump.

In a letter to Palace staff organising the impending state visit in June, Mr Cable said:

I have taken the view that as a party leader I should not support state visits where the government of the day has issued invitations inappropriately.

I did not accept an invitation to attend a State Banquet with the King of Saudi Arabia for that reason. I hope and trust Her Majesty The Queen will understand that I decline this invitation out of no disrespect to her. I am of course hugely honoured to have been invited.

Following his letter Vince Cable commented:

The Conservative Government has prevailed on the Palace to host President Trump, and they are dutifully doing so. But we should not be beguiled by pomp and circumstance into hobnobbing with a man who is on record as a misogynist and a racist.

If we need to do business with the United States on an intergovernmental basis, we can do that without rolling out the red carpet in this way.

The fact this state visit is occurring at all is a shameful stain on the Government, who doubtless see it as a distraction from the mess they are making of running the country.

* News Meerkat - keeping a look-out for Liberal Democrat news. Meerkat photo by Adair Broughton

[personal profile] kate_nepveu

Oral argument this afternoon, big dumb movie tonight, so just a few things:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 9

+1 (thumbs-up, I see you, etc.)?

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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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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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