miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
A couple of days ago someone I had a great deal of affection for passed away. It was not terribly unexpected - she was past 90 years old - but it was quite sudden. She had a stroke. The funeral has been set for a week tomorrow, at 2.30pm, in Devon.

A week tomorrow, at 2.30pm, my schedule says I am zooming through the midlands because I'm due to be on a train from the civilised north to the wilds of Bournemouth for Lib Dem conference. The ticket was booked ages ago, on a two together railcard, to maximise savings, because even with my new job money is still a struggle. Because it was booked on a two together railcard, if I don't use that ticket I'll be screwing over the other person on the two railcard, who will have to buy another full price ticket to go to conference.

I could try to find two people who are 1, travelling to Lib Dem conference from Calderdale AND have a Two Together Railcard AND haven't already booked their tickets, but this seems to me to be massively unlikely.

I could borrow money so I can help my Two together partner get a solo ticket, and then all I have to do (all!) is get from Devon to Bournemouth after the funeral in time to check in to my hotel room - which I would now have to pay for whether I use it or not.

Or I could not go to the funeral.

Whatever I do, I am perpetrating an injustice. I hate impossible choices.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
If a person says they are a man, they're a man. If a person says they are a lady, they're a lady. If a person says they don't recognise your gender binary, and fuck you? They're whatever they say they are.

Can we please stop fucking over transfolk and non-binary or non gender specific people? it doesn't help ANYONE and it makes life really shitty for really vulnerable people and people are people and deserve love and respect and things.
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

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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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