[syndicated profile] liberal_bureaucracy_feed

Posted by Mark Valladares

It is that time again that comes around every two years when I take a deep breath, fill in a nomination form, agonise over the drafting of a manifesto and file it all in the hope that enough friends, colleagues and complete strangers will see it within themselves to put their faith in a mildly bemused bureaucrat to perform some service or another to the Party.

Historically, I ran for things that no sane person did too willingly - I served five terms as a Regional Secretary and was opposed just once - but now find myself wanting the sorts of roles that others, often more assertive than I, want too. Self-promotion does not come easy, which given the successful career that my father has built in the advertising industry, is perhaps counter-intuitive. But, being a nice person is not enough, I need to give people reason to vote for me over the other guys/girls/sea otters.

And so a Valladares manifesto goes through a number of iterations, filtered through the eyes of people better at this sort of thing than I am - Ros, for example - until a document exists that reflects me well enough. I then file it with the Returning Officer and wait.

Campaigning is not easy - you have no access to the electoral register and must rely on the network of friends and acquaintances, of contacts made through years of Returning Officer gigs, committee meetings and those small acts of kindness that are hopefully remembered when the manifesto booklet is studied. My blog helps, as does my reportage on ALDE activities for Liberal Democrat Voice, as I seek to report back on my activities as one of the Party's representatives. I have, radically, done things, and so have a record to run on.

It is, nonetheless, with a sense of trepidation that I await the verdict of the electorate, especially as I would really like to win - ALDE has been a valuable experience personally and, I like to think, I have played a part in helping it to work effectively and in its policy making, seeking compromises that bring different sister parties together in establishing a shared, liberal vision for Europe.

No doubt my opponents will all want to win too, and will offer up their skills, knowledge and experience. I hope some of them win too, just not so many of them that I don't...

Dwelling on an imagined past - a bureaucrat on the shore

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 08:45 am
[syndicated profile] liberal_bureaucracy_feed

Posted by Mark Valladares

At some point, way back in my family's history, someone important boarded a wooden sailing ship somewhere in Portugal and set off into, if not the unknown, something a bit riskier than a trip along the coast. They probably weren't historically important - indeed, I have no idea who they were or whether or not they even existed - but if they did, they are likely to have had a not insignificant role in the life of this rural, liberal bureaucrat.

That's a bit cryptic, I guess, so perhaps a little context is in order.

My father's family is from the Catholic, East Indian community of what is now Mumbai, but which was, until 1662, a Portuguese colony consisting of seven or so swampy islands inhabited by fishing communities. It was sufficiently important to have at least one church, however, and there has been one on the site of the Valladares family parish of St Michael's since 1534. Naturally, being a prosletising faith, especially in that era, the colonists sought to convert the locals, aided and abetted by Jesuit missionaries.

They were clearly successful, for when the British decided that Bombay was to be the commercial capital of Western India, a relatively well-educated Catholic community was ready and willing to fit in, one that my ancestors were part of.

Yes, the connection is a bit tenuous but a logical one nonetheless, and it for that reason that I always feel a curious sense of wistfulness when in Lisbon, where Ros and I were the weekend before last. Ros was there to work, naturally, whilst I was... well, just there, really, tagging along for the ride.

And, although I hadn't been there for some years, Lisbon feels comfortable. I can walk the streets and absorb the atmosphere of city life, ride the wonderful rickety trams as they make their switchback journeys up to the castle and the Alfama district, I can slip discreetly into the great São and light candles for my late grandmother and for my father in the hopes of preserving his health and strength, I can eat bacalhau and drink some of the fantastic and relatively unknown wines from the north of the country. It seems like the sort of lifestyle I could have handled had life turned out differently.

But enough mawkishness.

One of the advantages of this trip was that I got to scope out the city in preparation for my return visit in less than four weeks, for the ALDE Congress is taking place there next month and, as an elected member of the ALDE Council, I am expected to attend. It is, I admit, not an onerous responsibility given my relationship with the city. I've found a hotel that works, restaurants worthy of repeat custom and have a good idea as to how the public transport system works. I even know where the sea otters are...

There is, however, the small matter of a trip to the Eternal City to deal with first...

Attention Clarice and/or Jubilee fans!

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 03:09 pm
lilacsigil: X-23 and Jubilee sitting in a tree (x-23 and jubilee)
[personal profile] lilacsigil
My [community profile] femslashex fic arrived! It's a fantastic transposition of Jubilee and Clarice's comics backstories into movieverse, and deals with Jubilee's reaction to Logan's memory changes at the end of DoFP and what that meant for the Jubilee & Logan relationship. Clarice's AOA backstory completely works in the less fantastical movieverse, which is impressive in itself, but it also means character development for Creed, and I have to say this is the first time I've ever felt anything positive towards any of the non-AoA versions.

What You Need (1644 words) by heeroluva
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men (Movies), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Clarice Ferguson/Jubilation Lee
Characters: Clarice Ferguson, Jubilation Lee, Victor Creed

With both the past and present rewritten, Logan loses more than he ever knows. Jubilee finds a confidant in the most unexpected place.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by David Herdson

How come poor CON/LAB/LD polls are being accepted so readily?

Time was when you could be reasonably sure that a party struggling in the polls would lead inevitably to speculation about its leader’s position.  The media would talk about it, backbench MPs would talk about it and cabinet or shadow cabinet members would let their friends talk about it.  What is remarkable about the last few years is that despite unprecedented combined unpopularity of both leaders and parties, there has been so little such talk never mind action.

Of course, the fact that all three main Westminster parties are so unpopular simultaneously may have something to do with that: it’s easy to console yourself that you stand a decent chance of recovery when your opponents are doing badly too.

Even so, this is very far from a zero-sum game.  All three parties face an existential threat.  UKIP has the potential to replace either the Tories or Labour (but not both) after the next election as the main party in their part of the spectrum if the cards fall well for it.  Neither has a right to exist, never mind to success, and both parties’ former core vote is disillusioned.  At the moment, Farage’s party’s mid- to upper-teens score would probably see them pick up only a handful of seats but were that to be upped to the mid-twenties that would do real damage.

The prospect of such a step-change in UKIP’s polling is far from inconceivable: they have polled up there on occasion, by-election victories between now and April would reinforce their current momentum and the debates – if they happen – provide a further opportunity to advance.

Strangely, a half-reasonable performance may be worse in the long run than a bad one as it’s far harder to fight off the threat while in government.  Clacton has already demonstrated the risks to the Conservatives and Rochester may reinforce that message.  Should Labour regain government, the danger may be even worse, polling as it is in the low thirties with the support of a great many 2010 Lib Dem defectors.  A majority Ed Miliband-led government could easily leak that support straight back on one wing while being assailed by UKIP on the other.  Gordon Brown’s Labour government bottomed out at 18% in the polls; an Ed Miliband one could go further still – and that might drop it to fourth place by vote share.

For the Lib Dems the threat is greater still and more immediate: their party has lost more than two-thirds of their 2010 vote, a level meaning it’s dicing with oblivion.  True, local strongholds appear firm for now but results from the constituency polls sit uneasily with the national ones: my guess is that it’s the national ones and we’ll see Lib Dem support edge up as May approaches and people think more about their local situation.  But it may not and didn’t in Scotland in 2011, where the Yellows lost all but two of their constituency seats (and Orkney & Shetland is just one seat for Westminster).

    With threats to their existence such as the parties have not faced in many decades, if ever, what’s remarkable is how calm the leaderships and parliamentary parties are. 

There is grumbling about Miliband but no serious threat this side of the election.  Cameron has suffered two defections – one reinforced by a by-election defeat – but despite their reputation for deposing leaders, Tory backbenchers have remained unusually quiet on the subject.  Even quieter have been Lib Dems, who are polling worst of all and perhaps have most opportunity for change (their leader has the worst ratings, plausible alternatives are available and one of the causes of their woes – being in government – could be resolved by a well-timed withdrawal).

Will one or more of the parties brake out of their zen-like calm – or zombie-like sleepwalking if you prefer – before the election?  I doubt it.  It’s almost too late now to change strategy or leader and will be by the New Year.  These things need pressure to build and that rarely happens quickly.  It also needs anger, focus and division, and such factors simply aren’t present in sufficient quantity, particularly when there’s the belief that the other side(s) might hand you victory by default.  It is somewhat ironic that the biggest upheaval in the political system since at least the early 1980s has produced so little reaction.  But then maybe that’s the point: the changes are so far outside their experience, they can’t reach for a stock response and like rabbits in Farage’s headlights, produce none.

David herdson

(no subject)

Friday, October 24th, 2014 08:15 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Sarah, sitting and putting labels on the 150-odd vials of BPAL I decanted today: "You know, I don't think it was an unreasonable request."

Me, opening 200-some vials that I bought secondhand to sniff them and determine if I like them or not: "What?"

Sarah: "'One of these days I should find a perfume I can wear to work', I said. And here we are, somehow that having turned into 'try everything BPAL has ever made'..."


(She is so very tolerant of the fact that "....that escalated quickly" is my life motto.)

Warren Ellis has a lot of fun with Moon Knight

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 12:28 am
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
Warren Ellis clearly enjoys reinventing characters. He clearly enjoys playing around with the form and structure of comics. And he clearly enjoys lots of violence.

Moon Knight lets him do all three (including some interesting bits of design in the opening of the Sniper issue that I hadn't encountered before) and it's a lot of fun (provided you're comfortable with the aforementioned violence).

It's not essential, and I doubt whoever took over from him after his six-issue relaunch will do anything nearly as interesting, but I'm glad I picked it up.

Last train to Folkestone Harbour

Friday, October 24th, 2014 10:49 pm
[syndicated profile] liberal_england_feed

This was the last public train to use the Folkstone Harbour Branch. It was drawn by BR Class 7P Britannia 70013 (Oliver Cromwell) on 14 March 2009 (with a Class 47 helping from the rear).

Wikipedia suggests that an occasional inspection train used the line until the line was officially closed on 31 May this year.

Nursing Mothers on the Academic Job Market

Friday, October 24th, 2014 09:07 pm
[syndicated profile] feministlawprofessor_feed

Posted by Bridget Crawford

Nursing Mothers on the Academic Job Market

Post to Twitter

The October 22, 2014 edition of the Chronicle ran an “Advice” column, Breastfeeding on the Job Market, by a pseudonymous professor in the humanities.  The professor describes her experiences as a job candidate and bringing her nursing infant with her to an on-campus interview:

I let the chair know I would be bringing my daughter and someone to take care of her, whose ticket I would of course cover. I asked for nursing breaks in the two-day schedule of talks, interviews, lunches, and dinners. The chair obliged in a professional manner. The administrative assistant who drew up my schedule slotted in half-hour blocks of discreetly named “free time” and found me a suitable vacant office in which to feed my daughter. * * *

When I arrived on the campus, no one seemed to know I had brought my daughter. People expressed surprise about the extra breaks padding my interview schedule. At first, I appreciated that my personal circumstances had remained undisclosed, but it soon caused confusion and even resentment. One dean hadn’t been told that dinner would be later than usual and seemed irritated with me about it, as if I had delayed the dinner just to go relax and powder my nose rather than feed my child. * * *

I did not get the job.

I can’t say how much or whether the presence of my daughter, and reactions to the impression of a laid-back interview schedule, contributed to the variety of factors behind that decision.

In one of the comments to the Chron article, a reader suggested that the job-seeker’s mistake was not the bringing of her baby, but rather failure to disclose (or to permit disclosure — I’m unclear on what the applicant asked of the department chair) the reasons for the break in the applicant’s schedule.

At least at my own school, my sense is that faculty would be understanding of the need for breaks in the schedule of a nursing mother.  Any deviation from the standard interviewing format — regardless of the reason — tends to raise questions, though, so from my perspective, there’s nothing to be gained from keeping nursing a “secret.” Plus, nursing should never have to be a secret!

For those who were nursing while doing call-backs at law schools or folks who have experience on the hiring side with candidates who need to breastfeed their infants, are there any words of advice that one can offer?  Every school is different and every candidate is different, so it is difficult to generalize, but are there best practices?

-Bridget Crawford

Feminist Law Professors

A little night music...

Friday, October 24th, 2014 10:19 pm
[syndicated profile] liberal_bureaucracy_feed

Posted by Mark Valladares

I have always had a fondness for classical music and, thanks to a former neighbour, Ian Harwood, I discovered a previously untapped love of (relatively) early music. Ian was a lutenist, and an inspiration to many in the world of Elizabethan and Jacobean music. And it was his passion for the work of the likes of Henry Purcell that acted as a bridge from there to the works of one of music's great pioneers, Claudio Monteverdi.

And so, as a distraction from the rather chaotic, often unnecessarily harsh world of politics, I offer you L'Arpegiatta, performing the Vespro della Beata Vergine - Vespers for the Blessed Virgin.

At 24:15, you'll find Psalm 122: Laetatus sum, which some Catholic readers in particular might be familiar with. Have a listen, I'll be back tomorrow with another take on it...
[syndicated profile] liberal_bureaucracy_feed

Posted by Mark Valladares

I find myself, slightly unexpectedly, in Rome this weekend.

I have, curiously, never here before, and whilst I only have two days to look around, I intend to 'collect' another of the great Catholic sites, the Vatican - I've already been to Lourdes and Jerusalem (I've walked the Stations of the Cross). For a self-described failed Catholic - I feel vaguely guilty about it but not actually guilty enough to do anything - I've been in a surprising number of Catholic Churches across the globe, and what sort of liberal bureaucrat could miss the home of the world's greatest religious bureaucracy?

And yes, I guess the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and gelato will all put in an appearance before Sunday, when my time here comes to an end.

For on Monday, I have a plane to catch... in Zurich. It's a long story...

Call Me Linkspam

Friday, October 24th, 2014 08:41 pm
[syndicated profile] geekfeminism_feed

Posted by spam-spam

  • It’s Ada Lovelace Day: Get Angry | Garren Means (October 14): “It’s Ada Lovelace Day and we’re supposed to talk about the women in technology who’ve inspired us. The women who inspire me are those who’ve taken the frightening step of lessening their culpability by decreasing their participation. While it’s courageous to remain in tech/on the internet and try to make it a better place, you can’t get around the compromise in doing so.”
  • When Women Stopped Coding | NPR Planet Money (October 21): “These early personal computers weren’t much more than toys. You could play pong or simple shooting games, maybe do some word processing. And these toys were marketed almost entirely to men and boys. This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the next computing revolution.”
  • Online Harassment | PEWResearch Internet Project (October 22): “In broad trends, the data show that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment, while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.”
  • Breaking gender and racial barriers in Netrunner | Gamasutra (October 20): “Netrunner is a lovely and beloved experience for all those reasons, but the game is worth championing for other ideas that go beyond its smart design too. It’s also worth celebrating because Netrunner is one of the most progressive games in terms of gender and minority representation today.”
  • Life and Times of a Tech Feminist Killjoy: The Cuts Leave Scars | Julie Pagano (October 6): “After years of pushing yourself and being stretched too thin, you lose the flexibility you once had to bounce back. You snap more easily. The paper cuts are harder to brush off. You are likely to be punished for this. You will be seen simultaneously as too sensitive and too harsh.”
  • Marvel’s Victoria Alonso wants a female superhero movie, calls for more women in VFX | Variety (October 20th): “You’ve got to get the girls in here, boys. It’s better when it’s 50-50,” she continued. “I have been with you beautiful, handsome, talented, creative men in dark rooms for two decades and I can tell you those rooms are better when there are a few of us in them. So as you take this with you, please remember that it’s OK to allow the ladies in. They’re smart, they’re talented. They bring a balance that you need.”


  • The only thing I have to say about gamer gate | Felicia Day (October 22): “I know it feels good to belong to a group, to feel righteous in belonging to a cause, but causing fear and pushing people away from gaming is not the way to go about doing it. Think through the repercussions of your actions and the people you are aligning yourself with. And think honestly about whether your actions are genuinely going to change gaming life for the better.”
  • Felicia Day’s worst Gamergate fears just came true | The Daily Dot (October 23): “Day wrote of realizing after crossing the street to avoid two gamers she saw in Vancouver that she had allowed Gamergate to enhance her fear of other people within her community. Her post was an attempt to conquer that fear and to urge other women to do the same.But less than an hour after describing her past experiences with stalkers in the post, a commenter showed up to do the one thing she feared would happen.”
  • Why #Gamergate is actually an ed tech issue | Medium (October 20): “It’s not simply the hyper-macho shoot ‘em up games, either. I’ve had girls leave Minecraft because of misogynist threats. Apparently, this isn’t an isolate case. Others have seen the same thing. If we want to talk about integrating games into the classroom, we need to rethink what culture we’re inviting in.”
  • Gamergate goons can scream all they want, but they can’t stop progress | Wired (October 21): “Even more fascinating is how these insecurities have allowed some gamers to consider themselves a downtrodden minority, despite their continued dominance of every meaningful sector of the games industry, from development to publishing to criticism. That demonstrates a strange and seemingly contradictory “overdog” phenomenon: The most powerful members of a culture often perceive an increase in social equality as a form of persecution.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Six of the Best 470

Friday, October 24th, 2014 08:54 pm
[syndicated profile] liberal_england_feed
Every time David Cameron could show leadership he doesn't, says So Sam said....

University tuition fees must be high on the agenda before the election, argues Dorothy Bishop on the Council for the Defence of British Universities site.

"The rise of ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques as it focuses on adult ADHD, which could become even more profitable." A New York Times article by Alan Schwarz quotes the views of Professor Emeritus Keith Conners.

The RSPB warns against putting dredging ahead of other flood-prevention measures.

Philosophy for Life looks at Iris Murdoch's techniques of "unselfing" in her novels and philosophical writings.

It starts with a photograph and ends with murder. A remarkable post on 1960s London from Crime Time.
andrewducker: (Evil Pizza)
[personal profile] andrewducker

It's also how local council elections work in Scotland - and why we have almost no councils without a wide range of parties represented.


Friday, October 24th, 2014 02:44 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Working working working. Decanting decanting decanting. The cooking tv shows I'm watching in the background are making me hungry.

Read more... )
[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Marc Abrahams

Lieven Scheire and his colleagues at Nerdland, in Belgium, produced these brief videos — compressed visual highlights from the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony webcast, and from the 2013 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony webcast:

BONUS: Lieven Scheire’s video —taken at the 2014 Ig Nobel webcast-watching party in Ghent — of Belgian Ig Nobel enthusiasts doing their own paper airplane deluge in tandem with the one happening at the Ig Nobel ceremony:

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by MikeSmithson

betsPP (1)

To whoever suggested this my thanks

I’ve just been reviewing my current open political bets and one, which I’d completely forgotten about, was UKIP to win Cambourne & Redruth at an amazing 40/1. It was placed with PaddyPower a week before Christmas.

My recall is that this came out of a discussion one evening and I think Peter the Punter was involved. If I’ve named the wrong person then my apologies.

Five months after that bet an Ashcroft poll of the seat had CON 29%, UKIP 26%, LAB 24%, LD 14%. Currently UKIP are second favourites at 7/2.

Given what’s happening and the possible consequences of a Tory defeat in Rochester then UKIP in seats like this become great value bets.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter

For animal owners it’s a nightmare

Friday, October 24th, 2014 04:44 pm
[syndicated profile] colinbaker_opinion_feed
November the 5th approaches and with it the thousands of firework parties held across the land to celebrate a failed plot to blow up the mother of parliaments over four hundred years ago.

About This Blog

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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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