80′s action figures, designed by neural network

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 12:18 pm
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Part of the power of a recursive neural network is that the same framework can teach itself to generate text in a huge variety of styles. So far I’ve used it to generate things like recipes, Dr. Who episode titles, D&D spellsstory titlesmetal band names, Pokemon, and paint colors.

But could the neural network learn to generate names for 1980s American action figure toys?

Trent Troop, an indie toy designer who blogs at therobotmonster.tumblr.com and bmogtoys.tumblr.com and also runs https://www.facebook.com/prizeinsidetoys/, gave me a list of about 3,700 action figures from the 1980s and 1990s, from lines including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony.

I give you: 80′s action figures, designed by neural network. I remember there were lots of ninja toys and battle toys in the 1980s, but I don’t remember the stank-themed toys, to be honest.

Stanker
Action Bun
Sanesaur
Bull-Bat
Stenky
Slorp
Stan Bad
Bluck-ing Ding Tark
Slimetrat
Ninja Rain
Flarg
Ninja Rat
Shy Moat
Stank Spenker
Pumble Cat
Catrain
Fracken
Narkle
Alter Pant
Danky
Stalking Spanking Narlo-tie Dere
Shark Troll
Storm Shrek
Treed Trooper
Arnon Prombot
Rotercomming Pingaling
Mama
Mindlick
Claw Wind
Strong Boot
Potter Stank
Sharkstorm
Head Snarp
Blue Man
Casthean Cuttlebat
Disky Thik Topping Toth Ottamus Prime
Sewer Man with Slagg Light
Battle Command Master Cramp
Viperlord
Crustillar
Blaster with Man Dreads
Rench Beast
Cobra Funk
Headstank
Burble Beast
Battle Battle Action Master Growl Teom
Strawberry Shorttake with Burdball
Battle Bong
Snack Blast
Spocky Man
Princess Pow
Princess Backing Punch
Slothar
Surfer Bat

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Posted by TSE

These polls should relax the Tories following the YouGov poll earlier on this week, but the general poll trend is a reflection of the piss poor campaign the Tories have led, especially over social care changes.

Both pollsters see Mrs  May’s rating taking a hit, but she’s still ahead of Jeremy Corbyn on most metrics, and further ahead of where David Cameron was of Ed Miliband

I’m expecting quite a few more polls this evening.

TSE

Saturday night polls

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 04:46 pm
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Posted by Anthony Wells

We should have a truckload of polls tonight. There is a new Opinium, a new ComRes for the Indy & Sunday Mirror, YouGov for the Sunday Times, probably an ORB and perhaps an ICM for the Sun on Sunday. I’ve seen rumours of Survation too (they normally poll for the Mail on Sunday) and we’re overdue a Panelbase poll. The thing to look for is whether polls continue to show a narrowing of the Conservative lead – keep an eye on the fieldwork dates, more recent polls could be showing an impact from reactions to the bombing (or, indeed, the effects of the dementia tax row fading). Also remember the house effects I wrote about earlier – ICM and ComRes tend to show larger Tory leads anyway, so even if they show a significant movement towards Labour it may still leave the Tories with a good lead.

The first poll we actually have figures for is Opinium, who have topline figures of CON 45%(-1), LAB 35%(+2), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 5%(nc). Changes are from the previous week and fieldwork was on Tuesday and Wednesday, so just after the Manchester bombing but before political campaigning had resumed. We have movement towards Labour, but the Conservatives still managing to cling onto a double-digit lead. Tabs are here.

ComRes for the Sunday Mirror and Independent have topline figures of CON 46%(-2), LAB 34%(+4), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 5%(nc). Changes are from a fortnight ago, and fieldwork was between Wednesday and Friday. The Tory lead has dropped by six points, but ComRes tends to give the Conservatives some of their better figures, so this still leaves them with a twelve point lead. Tabs are here.

I’ll update this post through the evening as other polls appear.

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Posted by Scott K. Johnson

Enlarge (credit: Pool Olortiga Ramirez)

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions may seem like taking responsibility for the sake of future generations. But the pace of climate change is certainly meaningful within a single lifetime.

One way to think about climate change, as explored in a new study led by Victoria University of Wellington’s Dave Frame, is that temperature patterns eventually move out of the range you’re accustomed to. Weather and climate are naturally variable, but if the climate shifts, unusual conditions can become the new normal. The “unusual” end of the spectrum gets replaced with more extreme conditions than before.

Defining the unknown

In this case, the researchers focus on the ratio of signal to noise—the warming change versus the normal range of variability. Specifically, starting with a bell curve distribution defined by the mean and the standard deviation, the researchers defined changes based on the average annual temperature by a standard deviation.

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Posted by Pete Redfern

Human beings who devote all their love and attention towards their felines represent the height of human evolution and set a standard to be aspired to, according to cats.
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Posted by JS Harding

With the hot weather showing little sign of abating and temperatures set to soar over the Bank Holiday weekend, experts have predicted that barbecue owners around the land will be keenly demonstrating their inability to cook sausages.
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Posted by Attitude Magazine

An LGBT+ sporting event has been cancelled amid controversy over fraud allegations.

The 2017 World OutGames were set to begin in Miami this weekend, but on Friday (May 26) most of the events were cancelled.

“It is with deep regret that due to financial burdens, World OutGames must cancel opening and closing ceremonies and sports programming with the exception of aquatics, country western dance, and soccer,” the Games announced in a statement yesterday.

“The Human Rights Conference and cultural programs will continue as planned. We thank everyone who has supported the effort and apologize to those who will be impacted by this difficult decision.”


The 10-day event was due to showcase the sporting success of LGBT+ athletes. However, the decision has left athletes disappointed and out of pocket. The city of Miami is also down at least $200,000 in advertising costs, reports the Miami New Times.

Attendees were understandably angry at the cancellation. François Dallaire tweeted that the OutGames  “just got cancelled in front of me. People from everywhere around the globe are pissed about that awful organization!”

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said that the event organisers were given multiple discounts in order to make sure the Games went ahead. “In our effort to do everything possible to support World OutGames, the City has reduced deposits and extended deadlines, multiple times,” Morales wrote in a statement.

“In fact, with events set to begin tomorrow, the City has yet to receive the required $5,000 special event deposit and several other key permitting components have not been met.”

The paper also reports that Miami Beach Police and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office an investigation into World OutGames over accusations of fraud.

City Spokesperson Melissa Berthier said: “Due to the potential misappropriation of funds, the Miami Beach Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office have conferred and are jointly opening a fraud investigation.”

More stories:
Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron met and people can’t handle it
Exclusive: Gay GCHQ analyst reveals the reality of life as a British spy

How the polls have changed since 2015

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 11:27 am
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Posted by Anthony Wells

Yesterday the British Polling Council had an event talking about how the polls had changed since 2015. This included collecting up data from all the companies on what they’ve done to correct the error and what they are now doing differently – all those summaries are collected here.

In looking at what’s changed it’s probably best to start with what actually went wrong and what problem the pollsters are trying to solve. As all readers will know, the polls in 2015 wrongly overstated Labour support and understated the Conservatives. The BPC/MRS inquiry under Pat Sturgis concluded this was down to unrepresentative samples.

Specially, it looked as if polls had too many younger people who were too engaged and too interested in politics. The effect of this was that while in reality there was a big difference between the high turnout among old people and the low turnout among young people, among the sort of people who took part in polls this gap was too small. In short, the sort of young people who took part in polls went out and voted Labour; the sort of young people who weren’t interested and stayed at home didn’t take part in polls either.

So, what have polling companies done to correct the problems? There is a summary for each individual company here.

There have been a wide variety of changes (including YouGov interlocking past vote & region, ICM changing how they reallocate don’t knows, ICM and ComRes now both doing only online polls during the campaign). However, the core changes seem to boil down to two approaches: some companies have focused on improving the sample itself, trying to include more people who aren’t interested in politics, who are less well educated and don’t usually vote. Other companies have focused on correcting the problems caused by less than representative samples, changing their turnout model so it is based more on demographics, and forcing it to more accurately reflect turnout patterns in the real world. Some companies have done a bit of both.

Changes to make samples less politically engaged…

  • ICM and YouGov have both added a weight by respondents level of interest or attention to politics, based upon the British Election Study probability survey. YouGov have also added weights by level of educational qualification.
  • Ipsos MORI haven’t added political interest weights directly, but have added education weights and newspaper readership weights, which correlate with political interest.
  • Kantar have added education weighting, and also weight down turnout to the level they project it to be as a way of reducing the overall level of political engagement in their sample.

Changes to base turnout on demographics…

  • ComRes have changed their turnout model, so it is based more on respondents’ demographics rather than how likely they claim they are to vote. The effect of this is essentially to downweight people who are younger and more working class on the assumption that the pattern of turnout that we’ve seen at past elections remains pretty steady. ICM have a method that seems very similar in its aim (I’m not sure of the technicalities) – weighting the data so that the pattern of turnout by age & social grade is the same as in 2015.
  • Kantar (TNS) have a turnout model that is partially based on respondents age (so again, assuming that younger people are less likely to vote) and partially on their self-reported likelihood.
  • ORB weight their data by education and age so that it matches not the electorate as a whole, but the profile of people who the 2015 British Election Study who actually voted (they also use the usual self-reported likelihood to vote weighting on top of this).
  • Opinium, MORI and YouGov still base their turnout models on people’s answers rather than their demographics, but they have all made changes. YouGov and MORI now weight down people who didn’t vote in the past, Opinium downweight people who say they will vote for a party but disapprove of its leader.
  • Panelbase and Survation haven’t currently made any radical changes since 2015, but Panelbase say they are considering using BES data to estimate likelihood to vote in their final poll (which sounds to me as if they are considering something along the lines of what ICM are doing with their turnout model)

In terms of actual outcomes, the pollsters who have adopted demographic turnout-models (ComRes, ICM and Kantar) tend to show larger Conservative leads than companies who have tried to address the problem only through sampling and weighting changes. We cannot really tell which is more likely to be right until June 8th. In short, for companies who have concentrated only on making samples more representative, the risk is that it hasn’t worked well enough, and that there are still too many of the sort of young engaged voters who are attracted to Jeremy Corbyn in their samples. For companies who have instead concentrated on demographic-based turnout models, the risk is that the pattern of turnout in 2017 differs from that in 2015, and that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour really does manage to get more young people to come out to vote than Ed Miliband did. We will see what happens and, I expect, the industry will learn from whatever is seen to work this time round.

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Posted by Attitude Magazine

Allow us to introduce you to Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman.

The Canadian actor and model currently stars in the Lifetime drama series UnREAL, in which he stars as an unscrupulous producer on a trashy reality series. You may also have seen him as a judge during this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

One look at Jeffrey’s Instagram is all it takes to fall in love with him. The pearly whites. The adorable smile. The eyes you could (and will) lose yourself in. It’s all too much.

Sadly, he’s taken, but we can always dream. Take a look at some of his most adorable snaps below:

Why see the world when you’ve got the beach!? 🌊☀️🌴✨✌🏾 #xoJBC

A post shared by Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (@jeffreybchapman) on

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Posted by NewsHound

It makes sense that Paddy should write for the Plymouth Herald on defence given the city’s strategic importance.

He took the Government to task for cutting the Marines – about which he knows more than most people:

For more than three centuries – from Gibraltar and Trafalgar to Normandy and Afghanistan – the Royal Marines have epitomised those qualities. They have fought in more theatres and won more battles than any other British unit. In our nation’s hours of danger, they have been, as Lord St Vincent predicted in 1802, “the country’s sheet anchor”.

So the news that the Government is cutting 200 Royal Marine posts – at such a volatile time in world affairs – should concern us all. They are committing this folly in response to a crisis of their own making.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

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Posted by Jonathan M. Gitlin

Enlarge (credit: Irradiated Hound Entertainment)

News broke earlier in May that Rebellion—the games and publishing company that owns 2000AD, the world's greatest comic—has joined up with IM Global to bring more Judge Dredd to our screens. In interviews since, Rebellion's bosses have said that they hope to also adapt other 2000AD characters for live-action. But thanks to some very dedicated fans out there, we've got something to tide us over until that happens: Search/Destroy: A Strontium Dog Fan Film.

Judge Dredd may well be 2000AD's best-known character: a hard-assed lawman of the future who's more of an anti-hero than a role model. But readers of the comic will know that Strontium Dog's Johnny Alpha is at least his equal. Also created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (who were responsible for Judge Dredd), he's a mutant from about 60 years in Dredd's future.

Alpha works as a bounty hunter for the Search/Destroy agency. SD bounty hunters are all mutants, banished from an Earth that has been ravaged by more than one nuclear war in its time—hence, they're more commonly known as "Strontium Dogs"—and Alpha's radiation-induced gift are his glowing eyes, which can see through solid objects and even read the contents of someone's mind. Together with his partner (and Viking-out-of-time) Wolf Sternhammer, Alpha travels the galaxy (and sometimes through time) to do the dirty, difficult jobs no one else can manage.

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Posted by TSE

The wheels have come off the wagon for Team Theresa.  Just two weeks ago the blue team’s lead looked more fearsome than the north face of the Eiger.  Theresa May looked to be cruising to victory and the saboteurs were on track to be crushed. The stocks were sold; the press was squared: the middle class was quite prepared.  But the middle class were emphatically not prepared for the Tories’ social care policy, which seems to have gone down like rat poison with those voters who are potentially affected by it.

In response, Theresa May redrafted the manifesto on this point.  Backtracking on a manifesto commitment before the election is pretty much without precedent.  It certainly doesn’t give off a strong and stable air.

Labour’s manifesto launch has been much more successful.  It started with a leak which, whether or not it had been deliberately intended to do so, ensured that the manifesto received many days of front page coverage.  It comprised a vast array of populist commitments that were neither particularly coherent nor particularly obviously thought-through, designed to attract as many disparate groups as possible.  So Labour have guaranteed the triple lock and propose a national care service in an appeal to pensioners, are pledged to abolish tuition fees in an appeal to students, are seeking to stay in the single market in an appeal to Remainers and are aiming to renationalise the rail service in an appeal to train travellers.

It is very questionable whether Labour’s programme is capable of being implemented in full.  I very much doubt that anyone senior in Labour cares.  The aim is simply to get as many votes as possible.  And in that the manifesto seems to be succeeding admirably.

The most recent YouGov poll has them with a 50% increase in their poll rating in just over a month.

This has come as a surprise to pretty much everyone, including me.  But we should not have been surprised.  Only last year we saw the Leave campaign, characterised by incoherence and populism, succeed in winning a referendum against the Remain campaign which sought to stress stability and being sensible.  It seems that right now a large part of the electorate isn’t very interested in being sensible.  They want to roll the dice and see what happens.

It seems that the Leavers might be running into the 7 Minute Abs problem. In that seminal film There’s Something About Mary, Ted picks up a hitchhiker who intends to make his fortune by making a video called 7 Minute Abs, snaffling all the sales of 8 Minute Abs.  The hitchhiker gets driven into a wild rage when Ted innocently suggests that he might himself be undercut if someone brings out a 6 Minute Abs video.  In the same way, if you peddle a fantasy to angry fearful people, there’s always the risk of being successfully outcrazied by another salesman.

It may well be that Labour yet flatter to deceive and that their poll ratings will subside.  If they get elected, Labour will no doubt face an array of problems in making good on their promises.  If they get elected, Labour will no doubt be delighted to face that array of problems.

On the other side of the fence, Theresa May needs urgently to remind the public what she considers to be her USP for this election.  Her manifesto has bombed and her reaction to that has severely undermined her strong and stable persona.  Remain and Hillary Clinton both fought and lost on the basis of not being the other guy.  Theresa May at present is trying to break that streak.  Perhaps she should try something more than that.

Alastair Meeks


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Posted by Beth Mole

Enlarge (credit: WAVY TV 10)

When a video showing a 6-year-old girl getting yanked into the sea by a feisty sea lion went viral this week, her parents quickly received international flak—and some potentially critical health information. The online fuss is raising awareness of a severe infection called seal finger, along with some of the other dangers of messing with sea lions.

The infection, which can lead to severe inflammation and amputations if not properly treated, is rare but well-known to marine life experts and fisherman. It’s caused by Mycoplasma phocacerebrale, a type of bacteria known to live in the mouths of seals and sea lions. Mycoplasma species have several notable features, but a critical one for seal finger is that they’re difficult to kill with many standard antibiotics—something the parents of the snatched 6-year-old would clearly want to know. If it weren’t for the Internet, they might not.

The girl, who was swiftly retrieved from the harbor by her quick-thinking grandfather, is reported to have a 5-by-10 centimeter wound on her lower body from her sea lion encounter. Her parents were unaware of the risk of seal finger infection until media reports about the viral video included marine experts, who mentioned the danger. The parents have since consulted with marine experts and doctors. Though it’s not certain that she has the infection, she’s receiving antibiotics as a precaution.

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Airline boss says power cut behind glitch which saw all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick cancelled.
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Posted by Attitude Magazine

Whatever political events happened at the G7 summit have been overshadowed by a welcome new development – the budding bromance between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The summit took place in Sicily over the last few days, with Donald Trump’s antics taking up much of the press’ attention.

However, the internet was quick to pick up on pictures of the meeting between Trudeau and Macron, immediately falling in love with the pairing.

It was the first time the pair had met since Macron won France’s presidential election earlier this month.

One fan of the pairing that we are dubbing TruMac wrote: “Justin always had a sweet tooth. He had a thing for French desserts. Finally. He found the one dessert he couldn’t pass up — Macron”

The #justintrudeau sock game is intense! Seen here with #emmanuelmacron

A post shared by Tony Bravo (@tonybravosf) on

Macron recently addressed rumours about his sexuality.

Macron is a supporter of same-sex marriage, which led to some of his opponents accusing him of being closeted.

However, he’s been happily married to an older woman for over a decade, and has repeatedly denied the rumours and insisted that he loves his wife “very much”.

Opening up about the suggestions again in an interview, he said: “There are two odious things: on one-side misogyny because they say it’s not possible to be with a woman who’s 24 years older.

“That’s how I’ve always lived because I’ve been with my wife for 20 years. And on the other side, it’s homophobic.”

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Posted by Attitude Magazine

A gay member of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has given an exclusive interview to Attitude about his life as a British spy.

Alan Turing, a gay man, is possibly the most notable figure in the history of British intelligence. However, in the 1950s a government edict prohibited gay men from being employed in the intelligence services – a policy that remained in place as late as 1993.

Just four months ago, however, GCHQ was ranked 75th on Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index. In order to discover what has changed in the organisation, Attitude spoke to an anonymous gay spy ‘Ben’ about the realities of life at GCHQ.

Ben has been with the organisation for nearly a decade, after applying to join as an openly gay man. He has since become chairman of GCHQ’s Pride network and his husband also works for the organisation.

Today, Ben and his team have helped to aid vetting interviews for its LGBT+ applicants, something that Ben is very passionate about.

“We don’t feel we can afford for the Turing of today – some gay 16-year-old considering what to study in life – not coming to work for us because he thinks we wouldn’t welcome him,” Ben says, arguing that potential applicants need to feel like they would be accepted in the organisation.

“We can’t afford to let them not come and work for us. We can’t afford to turn them away. It’s too important for that.”

On the topic of international travel for LGBT+ GCHQ employees who may have to go to countries with strict anti-LGBT+ laws, Ben realised that that the organisation needed a clearer, more definitive policy on travel.

“Obviously you have to be a bit sensitive when you’re travelling through quite a lot of countries anyway, about documentation and links to here you’ve come from,” he says.

“But it requires a very mature organisation to pick this apart and think at first ‘OK , well you can’t discriminate’, or the other slight knee-jerk of ‘gosh, we couldn’t send them there because they are gay…’ which is a knee-jerk the wrong way.

“Actually, we’ve got to work with this. We need to give people the opportunity.”

Read more of Ben’s story and the gay history of GCHQ in Attitude’s Summer issue – out now. Buy in printsubscribe or download.

More stories:
Holby City fans shocked as character is revealed as gay
Coronation Street reveals plans to honour superfan Martyn Hett and other Manchester bombing victims

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Posted by Jonathan M. Gitlin

Enlarge (credit: Icon Sportswire/Shaun Botterill/Brian Lawdermilk/BMW)

As we head into yet another Bank Holiday weekend, there's a bumper crop of wheel-to-wheel action on offer for the motorsports fan. Both IndyCar and Formula 1 have their biggest races of the year this Sunday, NASCAR has its 600-mile race at Charlotte, and over in Germany hundreds of thousands of fans are camping around (and possibly setting fire to) the mighty Nürburgring.

Despite not being broadcast here in the US, the last of these is probably the easiest for you to watch. That's because the organisers have provided a free international livestream on YouTube:

The race starts at 4pm BST on Saturday (May 27) and runs for the next 24 hours. There's also English language commentary from the always-excellent team at Radio Le Mans.

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No bright new dawn

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 09:55 am
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Posted by Linda Jack

Like all of us I have spent the last few days deeply impacted by the events in Manchester.
 
As a mother who has, like so many of us, lain awake waiting for the turn of the key in the lock to know, however old your kids are, they are home, I grieve for every young life that has been taken from us. Their loss is not just to their families, or communities, but to us all. John Donne puts it so beautifully ‘ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee’.
 
Youth should be a time of such optimism, such promise, such dreams, such fun, such excitement. Death is something that happens to old people, not you, you are invincible. Yet now, for so many children and young people – no bright new dawn. 
 
So as shock turns to anger, grief to the need to understand why, the narrative changes accordingly.
But what is often missing in debates which feature the great and the good, as this Independent article highlights is the voice of the very young people we are concerned about. 
 
An exception was the interview (47:30 in) on Radio 4’s PM programme with a young Libyan who expressed the kind of views I have heard so many times over the years working with Muslim young people. I was also struck by this analysis from Nafees Ahmed.
 
It is clear that the Prevent programme is failing and just throwing money at it won’t help – our party has it right in focusing on community engagement. But many of us are very disappointed that there is no mention of our policy on Youth Services in our manifesto. 
 
As Children and Young People Now report, it was a youth and community worker who first warned the authorities about  Salman Abedi, to quote NYA CEO Paul Miller

Youth workers are skilled at understanding young people’s vulnerabilities and are often well placed to gauge challenges and threats like radicalisation, and to escalate safeguarding issues where that’s needed, youth workers need to play a regular and stable role in young people’s lives for this to happen and we need to see investment in youth work as an investment in the future of our young people.
 
Mathew Hulbert, Chair of Lib Dem Friends of Youth Services (Twitter: @LDFOYS), said
Our youth policy-including the need for the statutory funding of Council-run, all-year-round, youth services-was backed unanimously by party Conference, yet it gets no mention in the manifesto.
 
‘That is a crying shame given that, we know, quality youth work can, does and would make all the difference to so many young people, especially many of those who are most vulnerable.
‘We should tell the Government to stop ploughing money into NCS (National Citizens Service)-which only runs for a few weeks each Summer-and, instead, refund and revitalize the Youth Service.’
 
My motivation throughout my career has always been to support our young people, especially our most vulnerable, to realise that bright new dawn. So in my view, our response to Manchester has to include beefing up security services, police, reviewing foreign policy, etc. but please please, let us not forget investing those that have the skills and attitudes to reach into those places others cannot.

* Linda Jack is a former youth worker and member of the party's Federal Policy Committee.

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Posted by Attitude Magazine

In 2006, Will & Grace ended with a pretty definitive finale.

The original series ended its run with a time jump. After a huge fight between the two main characters (let’s be honest, would it be an episode of Wil & Grace without one?), Will & Grace do not speak for almost 20 years. They only make up when their children meet at college, fall in love, and eventually get married.

While we were overjoyed when plans for a revival series were announced, we did wonder how the show would deal. If we go with the events of the finale, Will & Grace would still be ignoring one another in 2017. So how are they going to do it?

Thank goodness for series star Debra Messing, who has assured us that the events of the finale will be explained when the revival hits screens later in the year.

Debra told The Bill Carter Interview: “All I know is that I was told that they’ve come up with a very creative way of dealing with how the show ended, and that it will be in real time,” meaning that the events of the revival will definitely take place 11 years after the end of the series.

She also discussed the show’s legacy as one that tackled social and political issues, saying that the current climate is the perfect time for its return.  “It seemed like there literally is no better time than right now for this kind of show that’s already welcomed,” she said, “to come back and to try to make people think the way that we did 10 years ago.”

NBC recently announced that the episode count of the reboot has been extended from 10 to 12 and earlier this year the cast shared pictures from the set as they filmed the revival.

Earlier this month the first trailer for the revival was revealed.

Rather than just unveil a standard trailer, the cast filmed an entirely new mini-episode for fans to watch to wet their appetites for the main event.

There’s singing, laughter and a whole lot of Karen. Basically, it’s everything we could have ever wanted and more.

Watch the trailer below:

More stories:

Norman Lamb “The best MP in the region”

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 07:55 am
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Posted by NewsHound

“Can Norman Lamb hold on in Leave voting North Norfolk?” is the headline from a PoliticsHome article.

The constituency is profiled and this is what Norman has to say about it:

After four general election victories, can the region’s lone Lib Dem fend off the Tories and cling on his largely rural constituency for a fifth time? On the surface the signs are ominous. In 2015, his majority dropped to just over 4,000. In last year’s referendum, North Norfolk voted to leave the European Union by 59%. And while the Greens are getting behind Lamb, Ukip has pulled out of the race and urged supporters to vote Tory to “rid ourselves of our Liberal Democrat MP”.

But Lamb – who defied his party line and abstained on the vote to trigger Article 50 – says Brexit doesn’t come up on the doorstep very much and “the majority of people you talk to don’t mention it at all”. The clumsy Ukip intervention has galvanised non-Tories who “don’t like that sort of attitude and language”, he claims.  He is also finding it “very easy to persuade people who in the past voted Labour to support us this time”. And above all, he is optimistic that his personal connections with voters will win the day.

“In a way, this is a contest between the Conservative national message … and a growing sense that a Tory landslide is pretty much an inevitability. So do we really want a one-party state? And do people actually want to lose an MP who has a got a long track record of active campaigning?” he asks.

“Interestingly, as you go round talking to people on the doorsteps and in town centres and outside schools, a lot of people are saying ‘I will vote for you because of what you have done here or what you’ve done for our family’. Yesterday, someone said ‘You saved my daughter’s life’. It was a case of an eating disorder where they weren’t being listened to and I intervened on their behalf and got things moving.

“A lot of people say ‘We’ll vote for you, we want to keep you as our MP’. And this is a side of politics that the commentators often don’t see.”

“The best MP in the region”

Meanwhile, a journalist in the Eastern Daily Press has written an article that is extremely complimentary about Norman while condemning UKIP for pulling out of the race.

Instead of pulling out with a bitter attempt to influence the poll – driven by anger that Mr Lamb dares to hold onto his pro-Europe principles – why don’t they just dissolve the local party and let the remaining candidates fight a fair fight?

Mr Lamb deserves more respect.

As a young reporter in the 1990s I remember how he worked tirelessly to eat away at a huge Tory majority held first by Sir Ralph Howell then by David Prior.

There were times when I was heartily sick of the flood of press releases. But it was hard not to admire how he absorbed defeat and moved forward – and how he fought to represent people.

Other candidates were parachuted in and then quietly crept away, while plenty of local politicians tried their luck but soon gave up.

The current Conservative candidate James Wild has no real North Norfolk roots and no record of fighting for the people of the area. And yet Mr Baker and his colleagues believe he deserves to borrow votes from UKIP supporters.

I’ll stick my neck out now and say that I believe Mr Lamb has been the best MP in the region over the last decade and more.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Dan Goodin

Enlarge (credit: US Food and Drug Administration)

Pacemakers are devices that are implanted in the chest or abdomen to control life-threatening heartbeat abnormalities. Once they're in place, doctors use radio signals to adjust the pacemakers so that additional major surgeries aren't required. A study recently found that pacemakers from the four major manufacturers contain security weaknesses that make it possible for the devices to be stopped or adjusted in ways that could have dire effects on patients.

Chief among the concerns: radio frequency-enabled pacemaker programmers don't authenticate themselves to the implanted cardiac devices, making it possible for someone to remotely tamper with them.

"Any pacemaker programmer can reprogram any pacemaker from the same manufacturer," researchers from medical device security consultancy WhiteScope wrote in a summary of their findings. "This shows one of the areas where patient care influenced cybersecurity posture."

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Uber walks away from Otto trademark

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 05:25 am
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Joe Mullin

(credit: Court documents)

At the heart of Uber's litigation with Waymo is another oddly-named self-driving startup called Otto. That's the company founded by Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski right after he left Google, the job at which he was accused of illegally downloading more than 14,000 files. Levandowski sold Otto to Uber within a few months.

While the legal action between Uber and Waymo rages on, Uber is quietly ending another legal fight over the name "Otto" itself. Back in August, just after Uber's acquisition for $680 million, Otto was sued (PDF) by Clearpath Robotics, a large installed-robotics company with a headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario. Clearpath already had a division called OTTO Motors, which manufactured OTTO, described as "the first self-driving warehouse robot."

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More questions about the Tory and Labour manifestos

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 04:00 am
[syndicated profile] peter_black_am_feed
I have already commented on the failure of both Labour and the Tories to even pretend to make the sums in their manifestos add up, but the last word as ever must go to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies.

As the Evening Standard points out, the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies hsve said that the Labour leader should abandon the “pretence” that only the rich would be hit when it came to fund his plans for more public spending:

In a damning report, it said there were “factual mistakes” in shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s budget plans and a reliance on tax revenues that were simply too optimistic, leaving a £9 billion shortfall even if a Labour government stuck to its budget.

The IFS also found problems in Theresa May's plans, saying her flagship promise to slash immigration would “cause considerable economic damage” and cost the Government £6 billion a year in lost revenues.

Benefits cuts for working people in the coming five years would be tougher than the cuts by the post-2010 Coalition, while austerity threatened “unacknowledged risks” to the quality of public services, it claimed.

In a searing conclusion, IFS deputy director Carl Emmerson said: “The shame of the two big parties’ manifestos is that neither sets out an honest set of choices. Neither addresses the long-term challenges we face.

“For Labour we can have pretty much everything — free [higher education], free childcare, more spending on pay, health, infrastructure. And the pretence is that can all be funded by faceless corporations and ‘the rich’.”

He went on: “The Conservatives simply offer the cuts already promised... with that offer come unacknowledged risks to the quality of public services, and tough choices over spending.”

Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell faced the most uncomfortable questions following the IFS study because it claimed to have found blunders in their sums.

It said tax measures that Mr McDonnell insists would hit only the “rich” earning £80,000 or more
would fail to raise the £49 billion promised for spending. The measures would instead raise only £40 billion in the short run — and less as time went by and companies invested elsewhere to avoid higher corporation tax, the IFS said.

“Their proposed plan for paying for this expansion in state activity would not work,” it said. “They would not raise as much money as they claim even in the short run, let alone the long run. And there is no way that tens of billions of pounds of tax rises would affect only a small group at the very top as their rhetoric suggests.

"The reality of Labour’s sums, said the IFS, would be “higher taxation affecting broad segments of the population”.

He continues: Tory tax plans would make 24 million basic rate payers some £33 better off a year but also see four million higher rate taxpayers gain £208 a head. But Conservative cuts to working age benefits would grab £11 billion from families and be harsher than cuts under the Coalition. They would make the lowest paid workers “significantly” less well off. 

In the longer term, Mr Corbyn’s promise to keep the retirement age at 66 despite longer lifespans would create a £50 billion black hole by 2050.

Mrs May’s abolition of the “triple lock” on pensioner incomes would save nothing in the next parliament. And Mr Emmerson dismissed her decision to means test winter fuel payments as making “a wholly trivial difference to spending”.

On immigration, the IFS said Mrs May’s plans would have harmful side-effects, while her target of cutting levels to the “tens of thousands” would “damage the economy and the tax base”. “Their continued focus on reducing immigration would, if effective, cause considerable economic damage as well as creating an additional problem for the public finances,” said Mr Emmerson. 

Some £6 billion of revenues would be lost, while choking the supply of keen young overseas workers would hamper efforts to tackle the national crisis in care provision for the elderly. “Denying entry to young, working immigrants would make that challenge all the harder to meet,” said Mr Emerson.

It seems that whoever wins on 8th June, the country is well and truly screwed.

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today…

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 12:19 am
[syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

Posted by Andrew Hickey

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is an album about which it is, I think, impossible to talk sensibly or objectively.

For the generation for whom it was created — those a few years younger than the Beatles themselves, people in their teens and early twenties on May 26, 1967 — it was self-evidently the greatest album ever made. This is something that couldn’t even be questioned by a surprising number of people — I certainly remember when I was a child, as the twentieth and twenty-fifth anniversaries of the album’s release were massive media events, seeing multiple documentaries on TV which simply took this as an objective fact. Sgt. Pepper was The Greatest Album Ever Made was a fact in the same way that it was a fact that the battle of Hastings was in 1066.

However, it was an equally objective fact to almost everyone I know who was around my age — at least among those of us forty or younger who have engaged at all with the Beatles’ music, which is a smaller proportion than many Boomers might think — that Sgt. Pepper wasn’t actually all that great. I mean, it’s a nice album, but frankly not even the best album the Beatles released in 1967 (assuming one counts Magical Mystery Tour as an album rather than an EP and a few singles).

I think there’s a parallel here with another cultural icon, which was released one day before Pepper‘s tenth anniversary — Star Wars. People only a few years older than me, who saw that film in the cinema, were convinced (and many still are) that it was the greatest film ever made. I’ve tried watching it on several occasions, but could only *guarantee* having sat through the whole thing once, when I watched it a couple of months back. Like Sgt. Pepper it’s an enormous technical achievement, but it does very little for me.

(Pepper does more for me — I love about half the album and wouldn’t be without even the half I don’t love. But same principle.)

In both cases, I think you have to have been the right age for the work. Not when you first experience it, but when it first came out. No-one now can watch Star Wars in its cultural context, and the same goes for Sgt. Pepper — both in fact destroyed, even as they were destroyed *by*, the cultural context they were created in.

In the case of Sgt. Pepper, when it came out, when it was first heard, it was an album that signified an inescapable progression, a forward momentum, a glorious future. People were capable of *this* now. What would it be like tomorrow?! Music was progressing faster than ever, and this was the New Exciting Sound, but tomorrow would have another New Exciting Sound.

But within a few months, it became apparent that, like all exponential curves encountered in reality, the “progress” of rock music was a sigmoid curve, and rather than being a point on an upward curve headed to infinity, Sgt. Pepper was a turning point. By early 1968 the watchword was simplicity, people were “going back to our roots” and “getting our heads together in the country”. There would, of course, be progress and innovation in rock music — that didn’t really stop altogether in the mainstream until the mid-90s, and may even continue to this day in some of the niche subgenres — but the idea of a mass of artists, all headed in roughly the same direction, racing each other to be the latest people on the charts with the new sound… that idea died with the summer of 1967.

So the album became canonised, not because of its own qualities (though again, it sounds like I’m saying it’s a bad album — it’s not. It’s an album I like a lot) but as a symbol of The Lost Time When Things Were Getting Better.

But being canonised as a never-to-be-bettered artifact of a mythical Golden Age is, of course, exactly the opposite of those things Sgt. Pepper stood for at the time. And now it’s been reissued in three different versions for the fiftieth anniversary (a single CD, a double CD, and a six-disc box set) it’s all too easy for those of my generation to see in it all the *worst* aspects of the generation it defined. Fetishism of the military, Empire nostalgia, an obsession with the past, appropriation of non-European cultures, casual sexism… they’re all here, present and accounted for. There’s been a fashion in the last twenty years or so to dismiss it as worthless (something I’ve been guilty of myself in younger, more reactionary, days).

But yet, that’s no more an objective judgment of the album than the one that says “Greatest EVAR!!!”, is it? It’s all cultural context stuff, too, and from a context that will, right now, only see the worst in the boomer generation that loved this album, because right now most of the social and political problems we’re going through are caused by them growing old resentfully.

The new reissue gives as good an opportunity as possible to judge the album *as an album* as we’re going to get. It’s now being presented in a new remix by Giles Martin (and I wonder if the 1967 stereo mix is now being deleted altogether, like the original Star Wars?). I’ve bought the two-disc version (I don’t have the money for the six-disc version, though if anyone wanted to spend a hundred and ten quid buying me a copy I’d gladly review it…), and it’s definitely worth doing.

The two-disc version contains the full album, along with outtake versions of every song on the album, and of Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, both of which are also presented in new stereo remixes.

The remix is a genuine, subtle, improvement, at least over the original stereo mix. The 1967 stereo mix of Sgt. Pepper was, frankly, a mess. It had a song at the wrong speed, it had songs where the mix had all the instruments in one channel and all the vocals in the other… it was generally sloppy, as most mid-sixties stereo mixes were.

So Giles Martin has gone for a stereo mix which replicates the original mono mix in terms of instrument balance, but which has a modern stereo spectrum. He’s also gone back to the original multitracks before they were bounced down, so the sound quality is several generations better. It’s possible to hear details I’ve never heard before — for example in “Fixing A Hole” it’s possible to make out a tiny fluffed guitar note right at the end of the fade. But it’s *also* possible to tell that the harpsichord on the same track is doubled, thanks to the stereo separation.

This can be a double-edged sword — for example, listening with headphones to “Getting Better”, the tamboura pops out and resonates in a way it simply doesn’t on earlier versions. But at the same time, it’s also easier to notice the change in ambience when it drops out again. Listening to it in this way draws attention to the music as a made thing, as a result of technologies and choices, as an artifact, rather than as a whole thing in itself as the slightly muddier-sounding mono mix invites.

(Though again, this may be at least in part because I’m listening to it in those terms in the first place because of the presentation).

I don’t think this will ever become my preferred listening experience for Sgt. Pepper — that will remain the 2009 reissue of the original mono mix — but it’s a good, interesting, one. Some may, of course, regard it as blasphemous to have the album available in a new mix, but given that the band and George Martin’s *intended* mix has been unavailable for most of the last fifty years (except, latterly, as part of an expensive CD box set of all the mono albums) to my mind it’s better to have a good unintended mix out there than a bad one.

The outtakes are less interesting. George Harrison often spoke of how the recording process for Sgt. Pepper wasn’t very organic, and didn’t allow for experimentation by the band, as opposed to the relevant songwriter. “A lot of the time it ended up with just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo, and we weren’t allowed to play as a band as much.”

That’s borne out by the outtakes here. Other than the two full versions of “Strawberry Fields Forever” which were spliced together to form the final single version (one of which was already available on Anthology 2 anyway) this is mostly just sparse recordings of backing tracks without the overdubs, sometimes with guide vocals. It’s fun enough to hear, but there are none of the revelatory outtakes here that one gets in something like the similar reissues of Kind of Blue or Pet Sounds — when arrangements stop being worked out by a live band, full alternate versions don’t exist in the same way.

This fiftieth anniversary set (in whatever form) likely marks the last moment that Sgt. Pepper has any real cultural currency. By the time it’s sixty-four, the majority of the generation who canonised it will, sadly, have died out. I suspect — though I can’t know — that the Beatles will remain listened to for as long as any recorded sound is, though in the same way we now listen to Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong or Bix Beiderbecke. And I think that in fifty years’ time, their legacy will look very different. It seems likely that Revolver or Rubber Soul will be viewed as their true masterwork, though I wouldn’t bet against Please Please Me, the White Album, or Abbey Road either. I think the further we get from 1967, the more Pepper will fade.

But it’ll never fade away completely. This is still the album with “A Day in the Life”, with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, with “She’s Leaving Home”. As long as any music from the last century is listened to, people will still be discovering and loving those.

It’s been going in and out of style, but it’s guaranteed to raise a smile.

This blog post was brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?


[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

I spent the whole of yesterday in the sweltering heat of central London discussing with one group after another the same subject – how GE2017 had suddenly become so much harder to predict.

During the morning I was at an academic conference at the British Academy on the
intriguing subject of whether June 8 would see another polling fail. We looked in detail at the quite considerable changes polling firms had made following the May 2015 mess up.

The pollsters are operating very differently to last time with online now predominant and a focus on reaching and getting the views of those who can often be overlooked – those with little interest in politics.

Lunch with a strong LAB supporter from Twickenham who this time will be tactically voting for Vince Cable which I took as an interesting pointer.

In the evening there was the excellent PB pre-general election gathering where everybody had things to say about the extraordinary move in the polls but there was a reluctance to make firm predictions.

If there was a consensus view it was along the lines of that discussed on Newsnight later by the great Sir David Butler (see clip above) who for eight decades has been observing and commenting on general elections. Theresa’s Tories are going to win but we should lower our expectations on the scale of the victory.

There’s never been an election campaign where a party was chalking up 20%+ poll leads only to see a decline to single figure leads in a week and a half and one pollster having it at 5%.

Mike Smithson


[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Joshua Haigh

Ariana Grande has broken her silence following the attack in Manchester.

22 people were tragically killed when a suicide bomber detonated a device shortly after the star’s concert came to an end on Monday night.

After flying back home to be with her family following the tragic event, Ariana has taken to social media talk about the heartbreak she’s been feeling since what happened, and reveal that she intends to pay tribute to the victims who lost their lives.

In a touching statement, the singer announced that she intends to return to Manchester to perform a benefit concert to raise money for the families of those who lost their loved ones.

Shortly after the attack, Ariana took to Twitter to reveal that she felt “broken” about what had happened. She wrote: “Broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

Ariana’s postponed six dates on her tour following the attack, including two London dates. Her now-updated website says that the star will resume touring on June 7th in Paris.

Earlier today, Piers Morgan slammed the singer for flying home to be with her family following the attack.

Commenting on the Queen’s efforts to visit those suffering in hospital yesterday (May 25), Piers wrote on Twitter: “Might have been nice if Ariana Grande had stayed to do the same. She should have stayed to visit her injured fans.”

“If the Queen can visit the victims in hospital, so can the star they paid to see,” he added, before insisting that he would have stayed were in her shoes.

[syndicated profile] whatyoucangetawaywit_feed

Posted by Nick

And we’re back.

One thing that I’ve been thinking about with this election is whether there are any other elections it resembles and if those give us a clue to what the final result would be. Political scientists like finding things that are broadly comparable for two reasons: first, we can use different outcomes to measure the effects of small changes in other variables, and second, we get to pretend that all that reading about previous elections that we’ve done was of important academic significance, not just indulging in a psephological hobby. So, here are three other elections that this one may or may not resemble. Bonus points for guessing which one it’s most like before we get to see the answers of June 9th.

(And a reminder that the prediction competition is still open, if you’re interested in scoring meaningless points)

My favourite Liberal slogan made its appearance in 1974.

February 1974: Never ask the electorate a question you don’t already know the answer to

This was the last time a Prime Minister decided to call a snap election, and unlike this one, Edward Heath went for a very quick one with just three weeks between him telegraphing the Queen (she was in New Zealand) to ask for a dissolution of Parliament and the election date. Heath called the election in the midst of a series of industrial disputes and the three-day week to ask the electorate to decide ‘who governs Britain?’ He wanted a strong majority and electoral mandate to take on the unions and thought he could get the people to rally round him. When it came to the crunch the electorate’s answer to the question was more on the lines of ‘not sure, but probably not you’. Heath had over a year left before he had to call an election, but wanted to get a new mandate to take on a difficult task – will May’s search for one lead to the same result.

1983: The closest thing to khaki

An economy coming out of recession. An election a year after the UK was at the centre of a major world event. A female Conservative Prime Minister ready to decisively shift her party in a new direction versus a Labour Party led by a veteran left-winger despised by the press. So far, so similar, except for the bit that’s missing. This time we didn’t get the proclaimed moderate wing of the Labour Party splitting off under a leader recently returned from a high-profile foreign role, and the Labour Party has remained vaguely united and on-message during the campaign. (There has been some sniping, but it’s equivalent to the attacks from within May faced over the dementia tax) It’s not identical to 1983, but is the best chance we’re going to get to have an idea of what might have happened there without the SDP? When things look like they’re shaping up into a classic two-party fight, what happens to the centrist voters when they’re the ones who get squeezed?

2004: The blame game

Not a British election this time, but one in Spain, which was the last time a major terrorist incident (the Atocha bombings) happened during a European election campaign. Before the bombings, the incumbent right-wing government had a comfortable polling lead over their left-wing opponents but by the time the election came around three days later, they were defeated and the left won a surprise victory. One of the principal factors behind that was the Aznar government completely mishandling the response to the bombings, by insisting the Basque separatist movement ETA was behind it when it was eventually revealed to have been done by Islamists. However, it does show that the electorate won’t necessarily rally round the government in a time of crisis, and the shift in voting behaviour caused by a major event isn’t easily predictable.

So, three previous elections, three possible scenarios that we could be playing out right now, or something entirely new and different might be happening. Thirteen days till we find out.

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

A few weeks ago, we might have thought we’d be spending this bank holiday sipping gin and tonics in our back gardens in beautiful sunshine, but Theresa May had other ideas.

Never mind, though. Lots of Lib Dem target seat campaigns are pulling out all the stops to entice you in. I am sure that others will add details of their events in the comments, but here are two that caught my eye.

Sarah Olney has this lot to get rid off and a little bird tells me that they have all sorts of fun things planned to keep visitors happy in their work. Head here  – they still have the same office as the by-election.

In Eastbourne, Stephen Lloyd’s team is trying to tempt you with some fetching yellow t-shirts, promised to the first few campaigners who show up. Stephen lost by a whisker in 2015.  His campaign office at 100 Seaside Road) will be open 10-5 for you and on Sunday evening there is a campaign rally.

But, really, how could you resist these.

I will be in Edinburgh West with Willie Rennie tomorrow morning. Come and join us if you are in the area at 183 St John’s Road from 9 am.

There are similar events going on from Bath to North Norfolk, from Caithness to Cornwall, so just have a look here and you will be magically directed to your nearest target.

Have fun – and don’t forget the sunscreen. We actually have some in our Edinburgh West office.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Kyle Orland

Enlarge

With Destiny 2 moving the franchise to the PC for the first time, a lot of players were hoping Activision would use dedicated servers to ensure stability and reliability. The company mentioned last week that those hopes for a dedicated server wouldn't be fulfilled, but Destiny 2 Engineering Lead Mat Segur says the game's hybrid server model is a bit more complex than that announcements suggests.

Unlike the original Destiny, where matches were hosted on one player's console, "every activity in Destiny 2 is hosted by one of our servers," Segur said in a Bungie blog post yesterday. "That means you will never again suffer a host migration during your Raid attempt or Trials match."

But those servers won't handle all the data for every player in the game. While "the server is authoritative over how the game progresses... each player is authoritative over their own movement and abilities," Segur continued. "This allows us to give players the feeling of immediacy in all their moving and shooting—no matter where they live and no matter whom they choose to play with."

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[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Attitude Magazine

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  6. PRIZE DESCRIPTION: Only one (1) grand prize will be awarded, consisting of two Platinum Weekend Passes (equivalent of two passes to each evening event including the couples or singles mixers, the opening party, the runway show and after-party and the closing party). Three-nights accommodations at the luxurious St Regis Resort in Aspen, Colorado checking-in on Thursday, August 24th – 27th, complimentary airport transfers from Aspen Airport, two complimentary tickets for white-water River Rafting through Glenwood Canyon. The approximate value of the prize is £1,550.00 or USD$2,000.00. If the winning entrant in any of these categories fails to meet any of the eligibility requirements, or cannot or will not participate in the expedition, then the grand prize will be offered to an alternate entrant.
  7. CONDITIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: Because of the nature of the Grand Prize, the winner and guest need to be able to meet certain physical qualifications and time commitments. The winner and guest agree to provide reasonable proof of availability and physical condition to travel. Failure to do so to Sponsor’s satisfaction may, in its sole discretion, result in forfeiture of the Grand Prize without compensation. The Grand Prize is not transferable, except as provided for in these Official Rules.
  8. WINNER SELECTION AND VERIFICATION: The Grand Prize Winner will be selected at random from email entries made during the Promotion Period. The selection will be made on or about July 3, 2017 from among all eligible entries received. Three alternate winners will be selected in order. Being selected as an alternate has no value unless the first selection does not qualify for the Grand Prize. Drawing will be conducted by the Sponsor. On or about July 3, 2017 from 8:00 AM BST through 5:00 PM BST, the Sponsor will attempt to notify the potential winner by email. The potential winner must respond within twenty-four (24) hours of the Sponsor’s first attempt to contact him/her in order to be eligible to claim the prize. If the potential winner responds within twenty-four (24) hours, the Sponsor will orally request information from the potential winner to confirm preliminary eligibility. If a potential winner is deemed potentially eligible based on the preliminary questions, Sponsor will send an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and, unless prohibited by law, a Publicity Release form (“Affidavit/Release”) to the potential winner by e-mail to be executed and returned by e-mail within twenty-four (24) hours from the delivery of Sponsor’s e-mail or facsimile. If the potential winner cannot be contacted within the specified time after the first attempt to contact him/her, if he/she fails to execute and return the Affidavit/Release within the required time period, or if he/she is otherwise ineligible to receive the prize, an alternate will be selected in his/her place and Sponsor will attempt to contact and obtain the required Affidavit/Release from that potential winner. All travelers (winner and guests) must possess required travel documents (e.g., valid photo ID and passport) prior to departure. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
  9. GENERAL CONDITIONS/ RELEASE: By participating, entrants (a) release Sweepstakes Entities, their respective directors, officers, agents and employees from any and all liability for any claims, costs, injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by their participation, including the unauthorized or illegal access to personally identifiable or sensitive information or the acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of the prize; and (b) acknowledge that said parties have neither made nor are in any manner responsible or liable for any warranty, representation or guarantee expressed or implied, in fact or in law, relative to the prize including, but not limited to, its quality or availability, or suitability. Neither Sweepstakes Entities nor any service providers are responsible for incorrect or inaccurate transcription of Entry information, or for any human or other error, technical malfunctions, lost/delayed data or voice transmission, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, line failures of any telephone network, computer equipment, software, inability to access any one-line service or Website or to complete a telephone call or facsimile transaction, or any other error or malfunction, or late, lost or misdirected mail, or any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computerrelated to or resulting from participation in this Sweepstakes. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE, TAMPER WITH THE ENTRY PROCESS, OR OTHERWISE UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO COOPERATE IN PROSECUTION OF ANY SUCH INDIVIDUAL(S) AND TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. If for any reason the Sweepstakes is not capable of being executed as planned, or infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, action of entrants, technical failures or any other causes which in the opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any suspect Entry or entrant and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. In the event of any cancellation, termination, or suspension, notice thereof will be posted at
www.aspenssummerholiday.com and the determination of the Grand Prize winner will be made, from among all eligible, non-suspect Entries received as of the date of the termination, cancellation or suspension, as Sponsor determines in its sole discretion. Entries not complying with all rules are subject to disqualification.
  1. DISPUTES: Entrants agree that (a) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Sweepstakes or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in Colorado, USA; (b) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (c) under no circumstances will entrant be permitted to obtain for, and entrant hereby waives all rights to, claim punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATIONS OR EXCLUSION OF LIABILITY FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THE ABOVE MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of the Official Rules, entrant’s rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of Sponsor in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of Colorado, USA, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of Colorado or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other Colorado, USA.
  1. PRIVACY POLICY: Information collected online from entrants is subject to the
Privacy Policy of Men’s Vows Media, LLC.
  1. WINNER’S NAME: For the name of the Sweepstakes winner, mail a stamped self- addressed envelope to: Men’s Vows Media, LLC, 931 Jersey Street, Denver, Colorado USA 80220. Specify on the outside of the envelope, on the back, “winners list.” Requests must be received by July 14, 2017.

Glitch hits Pension Regulator website

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 04:23 pm
[syndicated profile] bbc_technology_news_feed
Thousands of businesses face fines as a result of a faulty server at the Pension Regulator.
[syndicated profile] newsarse_feed

Posted by Richard Hodgson

Just hours after proposing a burqa and niqab ban on the grounds that it would boost Muslim women's vitamin D levels, UKIP have revised their manifesto to include a "mandatory public nudity" clause for all women.
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Joe Mullin

The inventor of RSA's famous SecurID dongle has sued (PDF) Apple and Visa, alleging that both Apple Pay and Visa infringe four patents he owns.

Kenneth Weiss was the founder and CEO of Security Dynamics, the company that created the SecurID token used around the world to access secure computer networks. That company ultimately acquired RSA Security and took its name, then was bought by EMC.

Weiss left the company in 1996. By 2011, he had founded a new company, Universal Secure Registry, where he was working on mobile phone security.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Trump has an iPhone with one app: Twitter

Friday, May 26th, 2017 03:48 pm
[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Sean Gallagher

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Early in March, President Donald Trump surrendered his personal Android phone—the phone from which scores of controversial Twitter posts had been launched. Based on Twitter metadata, Trump retired the Android device after expressing outrage over the DNC's failure to let the FBI search its servers and taunting Arnold Schwarzenegger on March 5. The next day, he replaced it with an iPhone.

According to a report from Axios' Mike Allen, Twitter is the only application running on Trump's new iPhone. And on his current overseas trip, staff have tried to limit his screen time in order to reduce the volume of his 140-character missives, Allen wrote:

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Former Welsh Lib Dem Leader Kirsty Williams has spoken out about the unpleasant divisiveness of our political atmosphere after one of her team was racially abused and she had the unsettling experience of a man making a shooting gesture and telling her Liberals should be shot.

From Wales Online:

Describing the change she has seen since the EU referendum, she said: “I think ever since the Brexit vote I think politics has become very divisive in a way I haven’t witnessed in all these years and I think in some ways that has unleashed something where the country is very, very, very divided and that’s to be regretted and unfortunately I don’t see how that divide is going to be healed.”

Acknowledging the responsibility of politicians to take care in the language they use, she said: “I think all politicians at all times need to be mindful about how they express their arguments.

“There are legitimate arguments to be expressed but words are powerful and the influence politicians have is powerful and therefore there is a responsibility on all of us to be very mindful about how we conduct ourselves and the language we use.

She described what had happened to her volunteer and the effect that has on people:

“Unfortunately it just seems that this kind of discourse is becoming the norm. We’ve had a volunteer racially abused this week.

“She feels that she can’t go and deliver any leaflets because she was racially abused while just out delivering leaflets.”

The volunteer was someone who wanted to “do her bit in support of the values she believed in and unfortunately feels she won’t be able to do that again”.

The AM fears such experiences will stop people from getting involved in politics.

“That’s the issue, isn’t it,” she said. “Why would people want to put themselves and potentially their families through this?

Read on to find out how she reacted to a Conservative sign being planted in her hedge.

I do agree with Kirsty that politics can be pretty vicious at the moment. I am not sure it’s any worse than when I started out back in the 80s, though. It did calm down for a while in the late 90s. It used to be Labour who were the worst. Power came too easy to them and they responded with an aggressive arrogance to anyone who tried to take it from them. 

It’s a bit like that with the SNP at the moment. They are in real trouble in a fair few seats across Scotland. We are pushing them hard  in Edinburgh West, East Dunbartonshire, North East Fife, Argyll and the Highlands. They are responding with vicious leaflets and the other night two of us were yelled at by SNP supporters while out leafletting in different parts of Edinburgh West. They used an almost identical script.

Standing up for what you believe in is really important  – and when our core liberal values are under threat as they have never before been in my lifetime, we really have no choice. That’s going to mean you take abuse from time to time, but there is also a great sense of solidarity even across party politics at times. We can’t allow the actions of a few idiots to silence us.

 

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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Posted by NewsHound

Sarah Olney has written an article for the Times Educational Supplement talking about the difficulties facing universities as a result of Theresa May’s push for a hard brexit.

Citing Cambridge University’s assertion that Brexit poses a significant risk to our Higher Eduction sector, Sarah outlines this in detail:

Unfortunately, the Conservative government doesn’t seem to be listening. Theresa May has chosen to pursue the hardest and most destructive version of Brexit possible: taking us out of the single market and the customs union, and even threatening to do so without a new trade agreement with the EU. The government is also refusing to guarantee the rights of EU nationals  living and working in the UK to remain after Brexit.

The government’s hard Brexit policies and rhetoric risk driving away international students and academics. The number of EU nationals applying to British universities has already fallen by 7 per cent compared with last year, despite the government’s assurance that those starting this year won’t face higher fees after Brexit. Some 53 per cent of foreign academics are now actively looking to leave the UK, and 88 per cent say that Brexit has made them more likely to do so in future.

And what about the EU’s Erasmus programme? It gives 16,000 British students the chance to study abroad every year but the government has made no commitment to maintaining or replacing it after Brexit. Last year, the Liberal Democrats delivered a petition to No 10 and the European Parliament, calling on them to save Erasmus. This petition was signed by more than 10,000 people.

And contrasts the Lib Dem view:

The Liberal Democrats want a brighter future for our young people. We would stay in the single market and guarantee EU nationals’ right to stay. We would protect the Erasmus programme and we would also give the British public the choice on whether the final deal is what they want, with the option to remain in the UK if it is not.

And there’s more for students:

The Liberal Democrats would reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, ensuring that living costs are not a barrier to disadvantaged young people studying at university. We would ensure that all universities work to widen participation across the sector, prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and require every university to be transparent about selection criteria.

* Newshound: bringing you the best Lib Dem commentary published in print or online.

[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Will Stroude

A groundbreaking new charity album featuring music from LGBTQ artists from some of the world’s most anti-gay countries is set to be released next month.

Rainbow Riots will feature LGBTQ artists from countries including Uganda, Malawi and Jamaica, where homosexuality is punishable by over a decade in prison and violence against the gay community by both the public and authorities is widespread.

As well as helping to shine a light on gay life in some of the world’s most repressive anti-gay countries, money raised through sales of the record will go towards the LGBT+ charity of the same name.

Artists featured on the album include a queer rapper from Malawi, a trans Zulu singer, and a range of artists from Uganda – though others have chosen to remain anonymous owing to the threat danger they face in their home countries.

One Ugandan artist whose work features on the record says: “Our lives are already in danger – it doesn’t help if we keep quiet.”

Rainbow Riots has been composed and produced by Swedish artist and activist Petter Wallenberg, who began the project after being caught up in the middle of a brutal police raid on Ugandan Pride in the summer of 2016.

Wallenberg says of the project: “Imagine that your very existence is a crime and that the police, authorities and lynch mobs chase you simply because you are who you are. This is reality of LGBTQ people in many countries around the world.

“I created Rainbow Riots as a movement to fight for freedom against tyranny.”

The first track to be taken from the album is ‘Equal Rights’. The song has already been picked up as part of the UN ‘Global Goals’ campaign: an initiative to end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.

Rainbow Riots is out on June 16.

More stories:
Husband of world’s only gay leader joins NATO leaders’ wives for historic photo
Gus Kenworthy is stripping off to raise money for LGBT charity

[syndicated profile] attitude_magazine_feed

Posted by Joseph Kocharian

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has had a busy week: He’s celebrated his 30th birthday (see our post celebrating that here) announced a new coaching partnership with tennis legend Andre Agassi, and revealed that he’s teamed up with Lacoste as the brand’s latest style ambassador.

For the next five years (and hopefully more, he told us at the press conference in Monte Carlo last week) the 12-time Grand Slam champion will be sporting the iconic green crocodile both on and off court.

Lacoste are known for their elegant, timeless style, and CEO Thierry Guibert said at the partnership’s launch that they’ll be infusing the brand’s natural flare into Novak’s outfits both on the ATP World Tour and during his downtime.

The former world number one said he believes he shares a lot of values with the classic French brand: fair-play, tenacity and elegance, as well as a similar life trajectory to founder and former tennis star Rene Lacoste, who both started practising at young age, by hitting a ball against a wall.

The campaign to accompany the announcement was unveiled at the Monte Carlo Country club where Novak trains, where kits for this summer’s upcoming Grand Slams the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open were teased.

There was not time to spare, either: Novak has already stepped out in Lacoste as he practices for the French Open, which gets underway in Paris this weekend.

You can see more of the collection and buy at lacoste.com.

Melania Trump seeks asylum in Sicily

Friday, May 26th, 2017 02:50 pm
[syndicated profile] newsarse_feed

Posted by Andrew

Melania Trump has escaped high security at the G7 summit in Sicily and is believed to be seeking asylum in the island's capital Palermo.

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