[sticky entry] Sticky: Introduction & Comment policy

Friday, May 21st, 2010 12:17 am
miss_s_b: (Self: Profile)
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miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
I keep seeing proposals from my fellow Lib Dems for legislation, or amendments thereto, or policies, or whatever, that ask for "half men and half women" or "50/50 male/female representation".

STOP IT. Please, please stop it. Apart from the fact that these people always list men first, which strikes me as indicative; apart from the fact that the population is more than 50% women anyway, by most statistical measures, so these things ought to be majority women even if you do believe in a strict gender binary; the gender binary is bullshit and pretending it isn't erases the very existence of people who do not conform to it. Half men and half women leaves no space for those who identify as neither, or both. Intersex, non-binary and genderqueer folks make up about 0.4% of the population, at a conservative estimate. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but it's about 250,000 people in the UK. Bear in mind also, that that's in a society that rigidly enforces the gender binary, and regularly does not give the option of declaring that you are neither or both. We all know how the proportion of repressed social groups "goes up" the less repression there is, as people stop having to hide their actual selves. I think we can therefore say that there are at least 250,000 people who are neither exclusively "man" nor exclusively "woman" in the UK.

These people are people and deserve to at least have their existence acknowledged. Can we PLEASE stop erasing and automatically excluding them by not even remembering their existence when formulating policy? It's not hard. If you're really wedded to having a numerical target - which I personally am not, but that's a whole 'nother blog post - don't say "50/50 men/women", say "50% women"**. That knocks the women down by 1% to give some wiggle room and leaves the other 50% totally unspecified. Easy, right?

*and yes there are some trans and some cis in all those categories, and that doesn't make a difference to my point
**definition of woman = a human being who identifies as a woman. That's it. Yes, trans women are women. Anyone denying this basic fact in the comments to this blog will be given the shortest of short shrift.
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Yorkshire)
Calderdale Council is currently running a consultation on Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve. In the usual way of Calderdale council, they have made plans to do all sorts of things to it, without actually asking any of the people who use it, or the volunteer groups that currently maintain it, and then belatedly realised that if they do stuff people might be upset and so they'd better have a consultation to add a veneer of respectability to their plans.

If nobody answers the consultation, they can pretend nobody objects. Personally, I object. We currently have a nature reserve that is not disturbed by massive footfall. If you build a visitor centre and cycle trails and an adventure park and all that gubbins you suddenly have massively increased footfall, and all the undisturbed critters suddenly get disturbed.

Please, if you have a Calderdale postcode, go and tell them that adding all the crap they are planning to build would spoil an unspoilt habitat for wildlife, and also it would cost money that should be being spent on services they are cutting instead.

Consultation is here: http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/council/consultation/cromwell-bottom/

miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Books)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A deserved classic.

It's interesting how many of Poirot and Hastings' notable characteristics are there from the off. Poirot's backhanded compliments, and Hastings' obliviousness to them, are a particular delight.

The plot is reasonably classic Christie, full of little misdirections and barely spottable clues. It has been long enough since I read this that I had forgotten whodunnit, so the puzzle aspect was there in full joy for me. I fell for trap #2, and thought for a long time it was actually (view spoiler). The only slight difference between this and most Christie is that there's only one murder (not an increasingly desperate murderer making it to 3 or 4), and that there don't appear to be any same sex couples (seriously, the number of "lady companions" & "old friends living together for company" in Christie is a joy).

Similarly, Christie's writing style is pretty fully-formed here. For a first novel, that's actually astonishing. Oh and while I'm here, I have no truck with those who say that because Christie wrote lots of page-turners in easy-to-understand language that means she's not a great writer; to fit that many ideas and that much creativity and that much sly wit into simple texts is a lot harder than doing the literary equivalent of Yngwie Malmsteen-esque wankery, and more people should respect that.
View all my reviews

I'm off to see trains on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway today, so comms will be either very light, or flooded with pics of trains.
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
OMOV is going to come up again at conference, and it's one of those ideas that superficially seductive, and, to be honest, I lean in favour of just from a simplicity point of view. However*, there are some arguments against which I think need to be answered before I'll consider voting for it. I'll outline them below, along with some ideas which could mitigate (although not necessarily solve) each one:

1, Entryism. Yeah, I know, we're the Lib Dems, who's going to bother? But the current system of conference reps does at least mean that someone who comes to conference with a voting pass has at least been given a cursory glance over by their local party. This could be mitigated by having a length of service clause (you can't vote till you've been a member for a given amount of time) but that wouldn't deter really determined entryists, and would mean that the one person you've thought of as a natural lib dem, who your local party has been courting for years, would also be denied a vote when under the current system they aren't. Also people who continually let their memberships lapse due to forgetfulness would be perpetually unable to vote. This could be mitigated by people signing up for direct debits.

2, Geographic concentration. This is already an issue - wherever conference is closest to supplies the majority of voting reps for that conference. I can't see OMOV making this any better, and I can see it potentially getting worse. A lot of policies we vote on have different applications in different regions. This could be mitigated by allowing online voting, but that opens up whole new vistas of cans of worms.

3, Tyranny of the Majority. Y'all just knew I was going to bring up John Stuart Mill at some point, didn't you? Dear old JS. If you have OMOV, and geographic concentration, and entryism, you run the risk of packing of policy votes. Now, arguably, this already happens. We've all** been in the hall for Julian and Evan's traditional "get rid of faith schools" motion/amendment, which it's quite clear the hall is going to vote for, and then the payroll vote come rolling in and vote it down. The payroll vote is smaller now, but that doesn't mean other packing factions won't emerge, and OMOV would make it lots easier for them. Packing of votes necessarily means smaller local parties/AOs/SAOs get less says, and I, for one, am in favour of diversity of opinion. This could be mitigated by retaining the current conference rep system.

4, Single Issue Pressure Groups. People would turn up en masse to vote on one motion. Can you imagine what 38 degrees would do to conference? This could be mitigated by retaining the current voting rep system, or by the long service requirement

5, Doesn't solve the problems it claims to solve. Becoming a conference rep is touted as a major barrier to participation in conference by proponents of OMOV. I have never known of a local party that does not have difficulty filling up all their available conference rep slots, even the ones that believe the emails that come from head office telling you you're entitled to less than you actually are. If turning up to your local party AGM and putting your hand up when the chair says "Who's going to conference, then?" is an insurmountable barrier to participation for a particular individual, I don't think that OMOV will make them more likely to participate. Maybe it will for a few, but not the majority. And yes, there IS a problem with moribund local parties in some areas, but OMOV doesn't suddenly invigorate them. No, the major thing that prevents people participating in conference is that it costs a small fortune, and again, OMOV does not solve this. This could be mitigated by not telling people a system is going to do something it demonstrably isn't and can't? IDK.

Now, I'm not actually dead set against OMOV. As I said at the beginning, it has a beguiling simplicity. But I would like to see genuine solutions to the problems I have with it before I vote for an unknown system over one that I know, and know works.

* up yours, Govey
** for a given definition of all
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Cuddly Cthulhu)
Yes, I know, whatever I say they may not want to hear it coming from me, but I'm going to say it anyway.

As an interested observer with no dog in the fight, I've seen a party I once considered voting for* tearing itself to shreds. There seems no prospect of this ending any time soon**. I have also seen lots and lots of people offer both sage and less sage advice to the party on what they should do differently next time they have a leadership election.

- don't let people join up for £3 to troll you
- let everyone vote and be truly open
- vet people better
- don't vet people at all
- don't nominate someone you don't want to win
- nominate more and more varied people, not one person on one side and three on the other

All of those things are things I would be looking at and considering, were I Labour, mutually contradictory as some of them are. But I don't think any of them is the major problem. The major problem is this: we live in the internet age and you've got a thing which should take a few weeks maximum dragging on for months.

For the love of Cthulhu and the sanity everyone else, make it shorter

If you make it shorter there is much less chance of it all going horribly wrong. If it goes well, and you have a collegiate contest with no scandals, then a short contest won't change that. It'll be pats on the back all round and on with the motley. But if it's a car crash, like this one has been, and if it drags on forever, like this one is doing, and all the political media talks about for months on end is the labour party tearing itself to bits, like it is doing now, the whole damn country suffers.

While you lot are navel gazing and purity testing each other, the tories are enacting all sorts of regressive horrible legislation - and yes, I know you guys agree with some of it - but some of it you don't, and I'd quite like her majesty's opposition to stand up and say "Hang on a minute!" when a tory governemt does really fucking awful things. And yeah, our new leader is doing his best, bless him, but I'm under no illusions that anyone gives a rats' arse what the lib dems think at the moment. You guys have enough MPs that you could actually be doing something to hold this tide of fuckery back, if you wanted to.

So please, next time, make your leadership election shorter so that you can pay attention to the needs of the country, and not the innards of your party. Please.

ETA: Just to clarify: this is not my advice for running a perfect leadership election. That would be a much longer post, and would delve into the nomination process and the voting process and all sorts. This is just the one simple overarching thing which Labour could do to make the whole thing immeasurably better for all concerned.

* don't worry, by the time I was old enough to vote, I'd been put off
** my favourite tweet on the matter is still: "The year is 2045. The Labour leadership contest enters its final week. Jeremy Corbyn's skeleton still holds a slim lead over Andy Burnham" - which I now can't find the original of to link to :(
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Books)
Veiled (Alex Verus, #6)Veiled by Benedict Jacka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another solid volume in this extremely addictive series. If you like your fantasy modern and set in a believable world, the Alex Verus books are great; full of rounded characters and interesting ideas about what makes a person human - even if they are a fox or a giant spider.

Caldera remains the character I identify with. I loved Vari's tutor, the wizarding world's Captain Flashheart. I would have liked the new characters to have been a bit better gender balanced, although the continuing cast remains spot on in that regard. And I await the next volume with interest - I meant it when I said this series is addictive. I really do want to know what happens next.

The Silent City (Silent City #1)The Silent City by Elisabeth Vonarburg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm giving this a three because while it has some nice ideas and interesting scenarios to explore, it's frustratingly full of really creative plot points that go nowhere, interesting moral dilemmas that are skated over, and then other, far less interesting, stuff that's gone into in ridiculous and pointless amounts of detail.

Add to that some of the incestuous sexual stuff is just disturbing. Also I find it incredibly unlikely that a society in which 50 girls are born for every 1 boy would have FEMALE slavery, so that engaged my cynicism quite early on.

If this was a fic I was betaing I'd expect at least another three or four drafts after this.

Nick Nightmare InvestigatesNick Nightmare Investigates by Adrian Cole

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lots of silly pulpy fun. Could have done with more non-male characters - there's nothing to stop a police officer or two being ladies, for example - to say nothing of authors, sea captains, shopkeepers, & retired superheroes - but this is a flaw in the source material as well, so I'm not going to complain too hard about that.

The writing is fast-paced, descriptions are creative, and the plots of the various short stories are engaging enough, if occasionally a little repetitive. And I always enjoy games of Spot The Reference.

So yeah, this gets a good solid 4/5

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld, #28)The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I reread this for comfort reading. It's still just as fantastic as it was the first time around.

View all my reviews
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
Well, a car I was in and another car. We were involved in a slow speed collision. Dad was driving - we were on our way to climb Ingleborough. None of the occupants of our car (me, dad, Hol, 2 dogs) was injured in the slightest. The guy in the other car got taken to hospital for checks; his family told us it wasn't life threatening.

I'm a bit shook up, but other than that just disappointed to not be up a mountain. I really think they only needed one ambulance and one copper, and three coppers, two fire engines and an ambulance was a bit over the top, but I suppose better safe than sorry.

Now home, dejectedly eating packed lunch we were going to eat at the summit.

miss_s_b: (Britishness: Rugger)
under the cut )

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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