[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

But does this poll really tell us anything?

An ORB poll for the Independent carried out over the weekend finds that 76% of those who had a view believe that LAB is less electable now than it was at the general election.

We’ve not yet seen the dataset or the precise question wording but the overall picture looks gloomy for the red team and sets out very clearly the challenge facing the new leader when he/she takes over the party on September 12th.

    Aren’t we just seeing what happens to most political parties less than three months after a devastating election defeat?

I can’t recall a similar post general election poll on a party that has lost power and is going through the process of finding a new leader.

How, for instance would the Tories have performed in a similar survey eleven weeks after their 1997 election defeat by Tony Blair’s new Labour or in the aftermath of GE2001 when IDS, Ken Clarke and Michael Portillo were slugging it out. In the latter the blue team ended up with the leader who was the most unelectable – something that was blindingly obvious to many inside and outside the party

Inevitably leadership contests highlight divisions because that’s their very nature and we know that voters are more reluctant to give their support to split parties.

The big question is how LAB will be seen when the new leader is in place.

Mike Smithson

On Toxic Masculinity and California Dreaming

Monday, July 27th, 2015 11:39 pm
[syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

Posted by Andrew Hickey

A while back, I put up a post, which has now become an essay in the California Dreaming book, about how the white musicians in the book had built their careers because of an infrastructure that was there because of black musicians — they were, even if not racist themselves (and most weren’t) the beneficiaries of structural racism.

There’s also a structural sexism that I have to deal with, and that is rather more difficult.

I have tried, in these essays, to accentuate as much as possible the roles of women in the story, but it’s hard to escape the fact that women were marginalised, horribly, by the system, and by the people in the system. There simply aren’t that many records by women that fit into the story.

But I’ve been thinking more and more about why that is, and about how the LA music scene was about the fetishisation of a particular male, control-freak, idea of “genius”. An idea of the creative man as special that makes everyone else the tool of the boy genius.

This toxic masculinity seems to have caused two reactions among these “geniuses”. Some of them either died or came close to death young, from trying to numb their own emotional pain with drink or drugs.

The others… well, there’s a reason why Charles Manson was part of the LA music scene.

Kim Fowley – rapist
Jack Nitzsche – broke into an ex-girlfriend’s house and sexually assaulted her
Phil Spector – murdered a woman
John Phillips – abused his daughter
Jim Gordon – murdered his mother
Roy Estrada – in prison for child molestation

Most of these were peripheral figures in the story I’m telling, but there’s a definite continuum between at one end the license that was given to a Brian Wilson (to choose one of the figures from this story who is as close to blameless as it gets), through the control-freakery of a Zappa, to the violent misogyny of the men named above. If you get used to treating other people as tools rather than people, and if you’re in a culture where women aren’t highly regarded *anyway*… well, bad things will happen.

Now the problem is that all the things I mention above happened *after* the events I’m writing about. I have tried as best I can in the essays for the book (including the ones that haven’t gone on the blog but will be in the print and ebook versions) to emphasise that however good the music that resulted, the toxic behaviour of, say, Captain Beefheart, was utterly abhorrent.

But have I stressed enough that the culture of the music scene in LA as a whole was toxic? The focus of the book is on the music — and almost every track I talk about in it is one I consider truly great — but by focusing so much on the men who made it am I guilty of emphasising their manpain over the people who that culture hurt? But on the other hand, many of the people I’ve been writing about are, as individuals, largely blameless.

It’s not my purpose in the book to judge people — the book’s about the art. But it’s also about the artists’ lives, and the way they affected the art. I’m not sure that there’s a right answer to this, but, much as with the other piece I mentioned at the start of this, I know that just ignoring the issue certainly isn’t the right answer.

I’ll probably put something very like this into the book, as part of a foreword or endnote, but if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can deal with that better, please say…

Tagged: attempting to resign from the patriarchy, california dreaming

missehhhh!! twissehhhhhhhh!!

Monday, July 27th, 2015 11:43 pm
nostalgia: (missy/doctor - blue)
[personal profile] nostalgia
I finally finished this fic (AO3 linky), it took ages given how little happens in it. (After a while it was amusing to me to avoid writing any actual events, sorry.) Missy is the best, I love her quite a bit. I may have mentioned this at some point??

Life/diary notes

Monday, July 27th, 2015 11:26 pm
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
(Maybe I’ll expand on these at some point, but on past experience probably not)

Acoustic Festival of Britain in June: I met [personal profile] jae  and really liked her! I saw Show of Hands with her! I enjoyed listening to live music and also a night and a day responsible to none but myself. I was really impressed with young Welsh singer Kizzy Crawford. I also realised I really don’t enjoy long-distance driving any more, but I did at least have the audiobook of Ancillary Sword to keep me going.

Read more... )

(no subject)

Monday, July 27th, 2015 05:22 pm
skygiants: the Phantom of the Opera, reaching out (creeper of the opera)
[personal profile] skygiants
Twice recently [personal profile] rymenhild has brought joy into my life. The first time was when I found out that there was a Valdemar ficathon scheduled and emailed her about it. She explained to me that the Valdemar fandom had experienced a small explosion, and the ficathon was in fact the celebration of a victory won by an anonymous fail_fandomanon person, known only as Vanyel's Campaign Manager, who after much successful lobbying and quoting of Mercedes Lackey's loving depictions of Vanyel's tragedy at last saw Vanyel Ashkevron crowned the Woobiest Character Ever.

This is so appropriate that I don't really have words to express it. The nineties have returned -- the once and future nineties -- and Vanyel reigns enthroned, as always was destined, from the beginning to the end of time, below a banner that says "Saddest of all the medium-length* tales ever told."

*you know, the ones appropriate for a three-volume novel in mass-market paperback form

The second time was today when she told me that Frank Wildhorn -- my favorite-least-favorite composer of musical theater, author of such enduring works as The Scarlet Pimpernel: The Musical, Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical, and Death Note: The Musical -- just got married to takarazuka actress Yoka Wao, known for playing such roles as the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, and Dracula in Wildhorn's own Dracula: The Musical. That last one isn't even a takarazuka show! They just cast her as Dracula anyway, I guess because she's just that good at incarnating seductive evil in a tuxedo.

When Andrew Lloyd Webber cast his girlfriend as Christine, that was creepy. This? This is AMAZING. Frank Wildhorn is a man who is living his dream, and I have never liked him better.

Fic: Sex Storm (1/1, Adult)

Monday, July 27th, 2015 05:26 pm
nonelvis: (DW River Song (FotD))
[personal profile] nonelvis posting in [community profile] dwfiction
Title: Sex Storm
Characters/Pairing(s): Twelfth Doctor/River Song
Rating: Adult
Word count: 3,400
Spoilers: none
Warnings: none
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] platypus
Summary: Somehow, it took the Doctor three weeks to deliver Clara's coffee. Well, he did say he got distracted ...
Disclaimer: Not mine, obviously.

Author's Notes: I blame RTD for the title. The terrible wordplay that follows, however, is all mine.

::xposted to [community profile] dwfiction, [livejournal.com profile] dwfiction, and [livejournal.com profile] spoiler_song, and archived at Teaspoon and AO3

Read the story

Is sarcasm the highest form of intelligence?

Monday, July 27th, 2015 08:26 pm
[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Mason Porter

Well, is sarcasm the highest form of intelligence? According to a new study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, it may be.

The study, called “The highest form of intelligence: Sarcasm increases creativity for both expressers and recipients“, was published by Li Huang, Francesca Gino, and Adam Galinsky.

[CAUTION: A different, also recent, study indicates that walking increases creativity. Be careful about expressing sarcasm while walking — the combination could, perhaps, induce unpredictable levels of creativity.]

The contents of Appendix A of the article.

The contents of Appendix A of the article.


As with all other recent papers in journals by world-renowned publisher Elsevier, the study has five self-reported highlights:

(1) Sarcasm is an instigator of conflict but also a catalyst for creativity.

(2) General forms of sarcasm promote creativity through abstract thinking for both expressers and recipients.

(3) Expressing sarcasm to or receiving sarcasm from trusted others increases creativity without elevating conflict.

(4) We manipulated sarcasm via a simulated conversation task and a recall task.

(5) We employed three different creativity measures and a well-established measure of abstract thinking.

I feel like this study has justified the last 39 years of my existence. (Thanks to investigator Taha Yasseri for pointing us to this study.)

Note: Absolutely no sarcasm was employed in the writing of this blog entry.

More about marital rape

Monday, July 27th, 2015 06:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cath_elliot_feed

Posted by Cath Elliott


When I first started writing about marital rape back in 2009 I couldn’t have anticipated that it would become one of the key issues to bring people to this blog. But it is, and so I’ve got into a bit of a cycle now. The more I post about marital rape for instance the more likely it is that this blog becomes a landing place for people searching for information about it, and the more people who land here having searched for information about marital rape, the more I get to see the search terms people are using for it, and the more I get to see of those the more likely I am to write about the subject again, and on and on it goes.

My previous posts on this issue include:

“Your husband has a right to expect regular sex”

More on husbands and their ‘entitlement’ to sex

Rape and marriage

Rape in marriage

Which bring me to this, the latest instalment in a series I’m tempted to subtitle “when the fuck are people going to understand that rape is rape is rape no matter what (if any) relationship, marital or otherwise, the perpetrator and victim/survivor have with each other.

Once again I’ve gone through the list of search terms that have brought people to this blog in the last 12 months and selected all those that relate to ‘coerced sex’ (rape), ‘forced sex’ (rape), ‘sex while sleeping’ (rape), and rape, either within marriage or some other ‘intimate partner relationship’.

You can see the full list here – Full List of Search Terms

This time round though I’m taking a slightly different, more gendered approach, because while I was going through the list of search terms I noticed that while in most cases it’s impossible to work out who’s actually seeking the information – perpetrators, survivors, academics, people who may just be interested in the subject – in plenty of other cases it’s pretty clear who’s been asking Google for help. So I’ve broken some of the list down further into ‘his‘ search terms and ‘hers‘.

And yes, before I get pulled up on it, I do realise that with equal marriage now being a thing, just because someone has typed ‘my husband did x‘ into a search engine does not automatically mean it was a wife or indeed a woman doing the typing. Statistically speaking though the chances are it was, and so that’s what I’m going with.

First off then here’s ‘his‘ list of search terms relating to marital rape:

  • when is it ok to expect sex with my wife
  • cant i demand sex from my wife
  • should i force wife to have sex
  • should i forced my wife to have sex
  • how to force my wife to have sex
  • i forced myself on my wife
  • i forced my wife to have sex
  • i m horny but my wife is not interested in sex …. so i use to have sex forcefully
  • if i want sex with my wife i should be able to just take it as and when i please even if she gets hurt or says no, it’s my right!
  • how to rape my wife
  • i want to rape my wife
  • i rape my wife all the time

Notice the absence of any sense of remorse in those….

And now here’s ‘her‘ list:

  • my husband is too sexually demanding
  • my husband hassles me for sex
  • husband pressured me sexually
  • husband pesters me for sex
  • husband pesters me about sex
  • my husband pressures me to have sex
  • why does my husband feel entitled to demand sex
  • my husband has sex with me when i am sleeping
  • my husband raped me
  • husband raped me
  • my husband expects sex
  • my husband sexually assaulted me after i took a sleeping pill
  • having sex with husband feels like rape
  • my husband has sex with me while i sleep
  • when my husband tries to have sex with me i feel violated
  • husband has sex with me while i am sleeping
  • my husband rapes me
  • does my husband have the right to have sex with me whenever he wants
  • why does my husband beat and rape me?
  • husband had sex with me while i sleep
  • my husband penetrates me when i am asleep
  • my husband demands sex all the time
  • husband expects sex when i dont want it
  • husband pressures me into sex
  • my husband penetrates me while i sleep
  • my husband said he had marital rites and raped me
  • husband hit me then raped me
  • should i feel violated when my boyfriend has sex with me while i’m sleeping
  • my husband makes me have sex even when i say no
  • my husband forces me to have sex
  • husband has sex while im sleeping

Now obviously I have no way of knowing who these women are, what countries they’re from, or which laws they’re living under, but according to my blog’s statistics the majority of the readership here is from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and India: marital rape is a criminal offence in all of those countries bar one, and that’s India. Marital rape is however a civil offence in India, and has been since 2006 when the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 came into force.

Looking at the search terms again though, it’s clearly not that important to those seeking information here if marital rape is lawful or not: none of ‘her’ searches ask the question “has my husband broken the law?” or “should I have my husband arrested for rape?” And that lack of interest in a criminal justice response is reflected in the reporting statistics for rape and other forms of sexual violence. In the UK for example only 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police, and with the prevalence of rape culture throughout the world there’s no reason to assume that percentage will be any higher anywhere else.

No, what’s important to those seeking information about marital rape is not the legal position on it, it’s confirmation that what’s been happening is rape, it is abuse, it is sexual violence, and that they’re not alone in either experiencing it or in feeling the way they do about it.

The legal position is way down the list for both parties in all this: but even if it is lawful in some countries, for those men from those places where it’s not recognised as a crime, where a woman is assumed to ‘belong’ to her husband to do with as he wishes, to those men who have ended up here after googling questions like “Can I/ How do I/Am I entitled” to rape my wife?” how about thinking more along the lines of “Should I/Is it right to/what the fuck sort of person would it make me if Iraped my wife? And then don’t. For her sake and for the sake of whatever’s left of your own humanity, just don’t do it.

The Rape Crisis England and Wales National Freephone Helpline is open from 12-2.30pm & 7-9.30pm every day of the year: you can call them on 0808 802 9999

The Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline is open everyday 6pm to midnight on 08088 01 03 02

For those in the US the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-HOPE(4673)

For those in Canada there’s a list of Rape Crisis centres here

The Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia 24/7 telephone and crisis counselling no is 1800 737 732

There’s a list here of women’s organisations in India, including the Gulabi Gang, but if anyone knows any specific support organisations for survivors of rape and sexual violence in India please feel free to post links in the comments.

With thanks to @God_loves_women on Twitter – here’s an International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies.

Filed under: campaigning, crime, feminism, gender, misogyny, rape, the police, violence against women
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson


The data that underlines the importance of the current election

Whichever of the four ins he/she will have to be perceived a lot better than Ed was if the red team is to have any chance whatsoever.

This polling should be at the heart of the leadership campaign. A non-credible leader means a likely third consecutive general election defeat.

Mike Smithson


Monday, July 27th, 2015 11:28 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Ever spend several hours on a blog post, only to have WordPress eat it?

Charlie Brown Sighing


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Forgetting the lessons of History

Monday, July 27th, 2015 01:36 pm
[syndicated profile] ciceros_songs_feed
The rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the "polls" for the leadership of the Labour Party is, well, absurd. He is practically the textbook example of the unreconstructed Marxist hard left. A product of the sixties North London Poly, and a long time columnist for the Morning Star, which for younger readers is a comic inspired by Leninism. For goodness sake, even his parents met as peace campaigners during the romantic Socialist defeat of the Spanish Civil War! Yet the fact is that this totally unreconstructed dinosaur, a stalwart of mistaken and lost causes throughout his entire political career still looks better than the three overachieving Oxbridge high-flyers that he is pitted against.

The Labour Party, despite the Social Democrat interlude of Tony Blair, was founded and in important aspects remains a Socialist Party. The battle over Clause IV- which committed Labour to Communist style state ownership of the means of production- may have been won by Blair and his cohorts, but particularly amongst the Unions, the ultimate goal of state control has never truly been abandoned. The New Labour modernisers, whether "Blairite" or "Brownite" were only ever one stream- albeit the dominant one- in the Labour river. As the surge to Corbyn shows, there remains an Old Labour stream, and one that, in the face of disillusionment with the fruits of New Labour, has acquired a new impetus.

So what? All it surely means is that after flirting with disaster Labour will elect Burnham, but very probably the Tories will clean up again in 2020. Certainly that is the conventional wisdom being peddled across the Op-Ed pages of the UK press.

Except I think that is to miss the point of what actually happened in the 2015- and even the 2010 election. The electorate is more fickle and less ideologically committed that ever. Fewer than ever are voting for the old choice of Left versus Right. Although the Leftist groups rally to the Corbyn banner speak in terms of ideology, in fact it is the brand authenticity of Corbyn that has most appealed- I think temporarily- particularly to those who have no memory of the dismal failure of the Hard Left of the 1980s. For those of New Labour, steeped in the language of advertising, it must be both galling and astonishing that Corbyn has advanced on territory that they might have legitimately claimed as their own. For there is certainly enough truth in the accusation that in focusing simply on selling the message, the heart -for want of a better word- of Labour has been lost. Even if, as we may still expect, Burnham is ultimately elected, the Labour Party has exposed a point of weakness that will be mercilessly exposed by the terrifyingly well funded Conservatives.

Labour can not rebuild on the basis of the old "New Labour". Yet the fundamental truth is that Socialist ideology, as offered by Jeremy Corbyn, is a total failure: you might as well advocate Imperial Preference or go back to the Corn Laws for all the value the stale thinking that Socialist State Control offers us.   

So the surge to Corbyn truly is serious. It implies that the Socialist puritans would prefer to retreat into the failure of the past, rather than actually tackle the serious problems of the future. In the 1980s, the electoral system saved a backward looking Socialist Labour Party from oblivion, but thirty years later, it seems to me that the electorate may now simply choose not to vote Labour at all- and with FPTP, we can not exclude a Scottish style wipe-out across the country. So the rise of the Hard Left may yet do to Labour what it threatened to do in 1983: send them crashing to defeat they can never recover from.

Of course that may prove to be the seed of a massive political come back for the Liberal Democrats, and the abortive political realignment - the breaking of the mold- that was promised, and which seemed to be a possibility if Blair had led a minority government in 1997, may finally take place. One thing is clear: the Constitutional crisis of FPTP, the position of the different nations in the Union, the scandal of the unelected House of Lords- thanks for reminding us John Sewel- and all the rest of it, cannot long be ignored.

Why the Green Deal Failed

Monday, July 27th, 2015 01:15 pm
[syndicated profile] demos_feed

The Government’s decision to end funding for the Green Deal early should not come as a surprise. Primarily offering loans to customers making energy efficiency improvements to their home, the scheme was lauded as “the biggest home improvement programme since the war”, but never took off on the scale Chris Huhne and Greg Barker had intended. Barker said back in March 2013 that he ‘wouldn’t be sleeping’ if 10,000 weren’t signed up to the Green Deal by the end of that year. As of February 2015, just 5,306 Green Deal plans had been completed.

Energy efficiency has been a priority for successive governments, because it contributes to every aspect of the energy policy ‘trilemma’: keeping energy affordable, keeping supply secure, and meeting carbon reduction targets. Previous energy efficiency schemes such as the 2008-12 Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) had delivered huge savings for millions of families. Overall, 19% of all domestic properties received a CERT measure over the course of the programme, which surpassed its target of 293 Mt CO₂ savings by the end of 2012.

Few commentators were as optimistic about what could be achieved by the Green Deal and its complement, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Before their launch, Jan Rosenow and Nick Eyre, from Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, predicted that the Green Deal would suffer from low uptake, and fail to deliver much more than a quarter of the carbon savings that the previous policies had delivered.

It was always going to be difficult to repeat the successes of previous schemes. As Britain’s housing stock steadily improved with each round of the home improvement programme, the marginal cost of further improvements increased. By mandating energy suppliers to make improvements and to absorb the costs, the Government deliberately gave suppliers an incentive to do the job efficiently, tackling the properties that could achieve the biggest improvements at the lowest cost. The success of the programmes meant that by 2012, fewer of these properties were left, leaving the harder-to-reach properties and more expensive improvements.

The Green Deal, unlike its predecessors and ECO, was primarily set up as a loan scheme for households to purchase insulation and other improvements with no upfront cost. As such, it relied on consumers making an active decision to have their home assessed to see if such measures could save them money, and then taking on the burden and disruption of installation, for gains that would only be realised in the long term.

Behavioural psychologists have observed a phenomenon known as ‘hyperbolic discounting’ in individual financial decisions. This is the tendency to massively discount benefits that might be made further in the future in exchange for more immediate gains, or the avoidance of costs. With energy efficiency, this problem is confounded by the fact that customers are rarely given timely, clear and accurate information about their consumption. The relationship between individual uses (such as cooking a meal or washing some clothes) and the monthly or quarterly bill is opaque, and this makes it difficult for people to make rational, long-term decisions about their consumption and spending. Just 59% of customers trust suppliers to provide accurate bills, and only half trust them to be open and transparent in dealing with customers. At those levels, it’s hardly surprising that few signed up to a scheme that would see their bills increase in the short term.

However, loan schemes have worked elsewhere. Unsurprisingly for far-reaching national programmes like this, it’s the Germans who have shown the way. KfW, the state-owned investment bank, provides loans for domestic energy efficiency improvements at below market interest rates, and has funded major retrofits on 10 million houses

Perhaps the most important difference between KfW and the Green Deal is that the German scheme focuses on high cost, high performance refurbishments. By contrast, the more expensive jobs are left to ECO, Britain’s supplier obligation, while the Green Deal focused more heavily on the remaining low cost measures not already reached by CERT and its predecessors. As Rosenow and Eyre argued at the time, the previous Government had evidence showing that commercial loans for low cost measures have very limited attractiveness for most consumers. They claimed the Government should instead have followed the pattern of previous successful scheme:

‘A safer policy strategy, consistent with what has worked effectively in different countries, would be to retain a policy like CERT proven to deliver low cost measures and to seek to introduce other sources of capital for higher cost measures.’

In this way, those households interested in making bigger, more expensive changes to their home, either because they were willing to pay more in the short term for long-term gains, or because they wanted to reduce their carbon footprint, could have been encouraged to do so. Simultaneously, those households who still required more basic improvements not reached by previous supplier obligations (most likely those households least likely to be pro-active in seeking efficiency improvements) could have received the free work mandated through a more like-for-like successor to CERT.

We don’t yet know what will replace the Green Deal, and what the scale of its ambitions will be. Whatever form it takes, the next scheme must learn the lessons of what has worked in Britain and abroad, and be realistic in its expectations of consumers. Where consumers are required to be pro-active, the Government must ensure that they are effectively engaged and well-informed about the costs and benefits. Above all, it’s essential that the Government retains its commitment to energy efficiency and demand reduction. They remain as important as ever in meeting the challenges of energy policy in the 21st Century.


About This Blog

picture of Jennie Rigg

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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Miss SB by Jennie Rigg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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Please note that any and all opinions expressed in this blog are subject to random change at whim my own, and not necessarily representative of my party, or any of the constituent parts thereof (except myself, obviously).

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