miss_s_b: (Mood: Tough)
The party's headless chicken response to this whole farrago has been utterly disappointing, and Rennard's utter inability to see what damage he is doing to the party he claims to love due to his own massive entitlement complex is sickening in the extreme. We have already lost enough people over this - many of them, Susan G especially, worth ten of an over-rated & out-dated campaigns strategist - so I won't be leaving the party.

It is true that Lord Rennard has not been found guilty of any crime in a court of law. He should not be subject to any legal sanction for his alleged actions. He is free to associate with whomever he wishes to associate, so long as they wish to associate with him.

HOWEVER I am not a court of law, and just like Lord Rennard I am free to associate with whomever I choose. Therefore I will say now, and publicly, that any room into which Lord (allegedly) Grabbyhands walks, I will walk out of. It will be safer for both of us that way, I think.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
"Have you seen this news story? Clegg urges restrictions on migrants?"
"Yeah, that's a thing that's made me angry"
"Have you blogged on it?"
"No. It'd not bring anything to the debate if I just posted a great long stream of invective"

And that, ladies and gentles, is why I ain't been blogging much. Because, at the end of the day, if what you've got to say brings more heat than light there's not much point in saying it. And I'm feeling VERY heated these days.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
I GET that DRIP is significantly less awful with the Lib Dem input than it would have been otherwise. I GET that Lib Dems in government fought hard to get the measly concessions we have got in a horrifically authoritarian bill that will give future secretaries of state for the home office carte blanche to introduce all the powers of the snoopers' charter without parliamentary oversight. I GET that we are the junior partners in a coalition and we can't have everything all our own way. I get that compromise is the only way anything would ever get done under this government, and I voted for the coalition at special conference in full and total knowledge that I was almost certainly signing the electoral death warrant for my party.

You know what?

There are some things that absolutely should be red lines. And when the name of your party is the Liberal Democrats you do NOT shill for a bill which is so profoundly illiberal and undemocratic on the basis that we made it a bit better by inserting a sunset clause (which the next majority govt of EITHER of the the other two big parties will gleefully repeal, even if it DOES take primary legislation to do so) and some bits of safeguard which AREN'T EVEN IN THE BILL but are to be put into a statutory instrument at some point maybe.

No. Fuck that shit.

What next? Greg Mulholland is going to try to tell me that pubcos are OK really and it could be worse?
Adrian Sanders is going to say that it's OK to torture animals if you don't kill them?
Lynne Featherstone will tell me that cutting is fine if you only take off ONE of the labia and not both?

Enough. Enough of this right now.

I want my party back, and I want the people in it that I looked up to and respected to start behaving like they did when I looked up to them and respected them, not like shills for the bloody authoritarian tories.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
Calderdale Liberal Democrats' Policy Working Group met on Saturday night and we've written a motion for conference expressing our dismay at DRIP and what we feel the party's policy response should be. We do realise that DRIP will be pushed through before conference, but the motions deadline is Wednesday (when DRIP will be in the Lords) and we think this is the best way of getting the parliamentary party who are selling our principles down the river (for not even 30 pieces of silver or anything) to take notice.

I'm not going to publish the text of the motion here because conference office might take a dim view of that, but if you're interested in putting your name rank and serial number to it, message me in some way to let me know. It so far has the support of Calderdale local party and a few individuals, but the more the merrier.

My email is jennieDOTriggATgmailDOTcom if you want to contact me.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Vyvyan Twos Up)
So the half formed blog post I've had in here for two days has been deleted. I'm not going to write it. I am, instead, going to write a list of things that life is too short for:
  1. People who are old enough and wily enough to know better trying to bullshit other people about me in front of my face.

  2. Abject fuckery from people who are so determined on revenge they don't care who else they hurt in the process.

  3. People who are incapable of seeing the wood for the trees.

  4. People who are bullheaded and idiotic in the face of bacterial illness. Trying to reason with bacteria is futile.

  5. Interminable email threads that go nowhere and piss off everybody involved in reading them.

  6. Susan Press.
I think today is going to be a Dragonforce day. Through the fire and the flames we carry on...
miss_s_b: (Mood: Vyvyan Twos Up)
I wasn't going to blog about this, because "man wants to generate publicity for his TV programme" is not news, but honestly, the naked bigotry on display by Jamie Oliver today takes some beating. So I'm going to go through a few of his "points" and try to explain why he needs to pull his head out of his arse.

Why can poor people afford big TVs but not good food?

A TV is something you purchase once. Food is something you purchase every day. Perhaps the people with the big telly had a reasonable income until recently, maybe someone lost their job IN THE BLOODY RECESSION, or has had to take an hours and/or pay cut? But even if the people with the big telly have ALWAYS been poor, it's still explicable: when you're poor, you do tend to get the odd occasional windfall - maybe someone close to you dies, or you get a bulk payment after a benefit cock-up, or something similar - and when you get an occasional windfall, you NEVER save it. Money is a transient thing, and if you don't spend it, someone will take it away. It'll slip down the endless chute of debts and gas bills and council tax. So when you get a big windfall you buy something big, so you have something to show for it. Otherwise the money just disappears and it's like you never had it.

So you'll scrimp and save every penny every day to make the food budget go further, but if you get a big windfall you'll spend it on a nice telly because a nice telly will last, and keep you entertained for years. Whereas splitting the money so you have an extra tenner a week to spend on food for the next year doesn't feel like a big difference to your life.

Why do poor people spend money on ready meals at the supermarket, and not fresh food at the farmer's market?
  1. Fresh food goes off quickly. If you can only go shopping once a week, or once a fortnight, and you're buying all the special offers and reduced stuff to stretch that budget further, something that might go off before you can use it is a luxury

  2. Some of us don't have cars and have to use the shop nearest to us. Being able to drive out to the farm shop is a luxury.

  3. Certain TV chefs have taken millions of pounds from certain supermarkets for FUCKING YEARS to persuade people to shop at said supermarket. When that TV chef then turns round and says "I know I've been saying in public for years (and for money) that you should shop at the supermarket, but honestly, if you believe that, you're stupid" that's just a big slap in the face.

  4. Cooking is a skill that takes time and energy to learn. Cooking STILL takes time and energy to do once you have learned the skill. If you're working all the hours god sends just to keep a roof over your head (and these days, even being unemployed means working full-time just to not lose your benefit) you often don't have the emotional or physical energy to cook, and that's before you even take into account that many people have never learned to cook either from their parents or from school.

  5. Maths is a skill. Working out that ready meals often work out more expensive than home-cooked takes maths
Those are just a few reasons off the top of my head.

Why does it matter if Jamie Oliver buys in to Daily Fail-style poor bashing?

Sadly, it matters because people listen to the mockney git. If he was pressing for cookery lessons in schools, like he pressed for better school dinners, this might be forgivable. But he's not. He's after viewers for his new TV show, about how to cook on a budget. If you want to ACTUALLY know how to cook on a budget, when you don't have a car to get to the Farm Shop and you only have a Sainsbury's (oh the irony) within walking distance, and you feel guilty and bad because of the shame of poverty perpetuated by tedious wankstains like Jamie Oliver, look to Jack Monroe, who has actually LIVED IT, not some mockney celebrity chef who is trying to further shame and exploit you.

ETA: Jack has now blogged on this herself, well worth reading: http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/08/27/save-with-jamie-get-rid-of-the-massive-fing-tv-and-shop-at-markets-instead/
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
Some successful people really annoy me. Quite a lot of them don't, but a sizeable majority... Take Ricky Gervais. He is a man of some (but not massive) talent, who because the stars were right and there was a gap in the market briefly became a massive success and is now riding the long tail of that.

He fully believes that his talent and work are the only factors in his success. He also believes the corollary of this - that anyone who is NOT as successful as him is not as successful as him either because they are not as talented or because they didn't work as hard or both. This is why he makes tweets like the ones he regularly makes, which I have no doubt he thinks are funny, and which dismiss people he sees as lesser than him.

The belief that people succeed ONLY on their own merit is utter bullshit.

Now I'm not saying that successful people aren't talented, or that they don't work hard. Clearly there is a requirement for some talent and some work involved. What I AM saying is that there are huge numbers more talented people, and immeasurably huge numbers more hard-working people than there are successful people, so there must be some other factor. Some very talented people are going to work their arse off their entire life and not get anywhere. It's harsh, but it's life. There is only limited room at the top, sadly, and for every person who gets the breaks there's going to be several who didn't. Being one of those who didn't isn't fun. But you know what makes it ten times worse?

Smug deluded arseholes like Ricky Gervais rubbing people's faces in it and telling them that the only reason they aren't as successful as Ricky Gervais is because they're Not Good Enough.

Fuck off Ricky Gervais, and the idiots who believe your bullshit.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Vyvyan Twos Up)
You know what I am really sick of? Small business leaders appearing as talking heads on news programmes saying that employment law is tooooo complicated and it's not fair and stamping their feet like Kevin the teenager. I have some proposals for nice simple easy to understand employment regulations:
  • Minimum wage is a nice round ten pounds per hour

  • Every worker who has a doctor's note proving they are ill is entitled to full pay until the doctor deems them fit to return to work.

  • All workforces to be unionised, and any employers found employing non-union workers will be subject to prosecution*
All of these are a lot simpler and easier to understand than current employment regulations, and all of them would elicit howls of outrage from so-called small business leaders. You know why? Because when small business leaders says this measure is too complicated what they actually mean is this measure might cost us money. Well, you know what? If you can't afford to pay your workers a living wage and treat them like human being then maybe you might want to face the fact that your business doesn't deserve to survive.



* this is not an idea I would support, at least not unless unions become a lot freer and totally divorced from the Labour party, but you've got to admit, it's simple.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
I just got an email purporting to be from Lynne Featherstone, which said (and I paraphrase slightly)
Calm down dear, it's only a tiny extension of the RIPA powers and it;s not going to be on a centralised database, so honestly, there's nothing to worry about
The centralised database is NOT the problem, "Lynne", the problem is that powers that should never have been enacted in the first place are being extended, and it doesn;' matter how small an extension it is, because they are being extended in my name, and I'm NOT GOING TO FUCKING STAND FOR IT.

I know the mandarins have told you that they only want the headers, so to speak, and not the content, but with packet data (i.e. most of what the internet runs on) it's not possible to extract the headers without having access to the content too. The internet was specifically designed to make it hard to intercept stuff. You can't get arround that with platutudes from whitehall mandarins.

And even if that WAS possible, it still doesn't mean that extending the powers that were enacted under RIPA, which were bad and wrong and illiberal, will ever be anything other than bad and wrong and illiberal.

Stop trying to soothe angry bloggers with emails full of bullshit you've been fed by whitehall mandarins and listen to people who know what they are talking about. Stop panicking that the grass roots are making a fuss when you've gone native, and wonder if we might have a sodding point, you useless, spineless, quisling IDIOTS. Your job is to question this shit, not just wave it through and then try and mansplain (and whatever the gender of the person who typed that email, it was a classic example of mansplainin') to people who are justifiably angry about your conduct.
miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
A conversation just occurred in this house:

James: Oh for fuck's sake!
Me: What??
James: "Soccer star Fabrice Muamba's recovery has sparked a group of Christian MPs to try and reverse an ad ban on saying that worship works. Three Christian MPs are trying to overturn an advertising ban on claiming that ‘God can heal’." (Source)
Me: Please tell me one of them's not Tim Farron
James: "Gary Streeter (Con), Gavin Shuker (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem) say that they want the Advertising Standards Authority to produce "indisputable scientific evidence" to say that prayer does not work"
Me: Oh for fuck's sake.

I really like Tim Farron, but sometimes he makes it really difficult for me to do so.

Firstly, the very idea of indisuptable scientific evidence is a contradiction in terms. The whole point of scientific evidence is that it's disputable. That's how science is made. The difference between a scientific paradigm and (for instance) a Christian doctrine is like the difference between Lib Dem policy and Tory policy. A Lib Dem policy is proposed by an activist (scientist), run past FPC and FCC (the ethics committees), experimented upon (consultative sessions), examined from every angle (peer review), and finally voted upon at conference (becomes accepted as a paradigm). A Tory policy goes like this: one of the top rank Tories has an idea, possibly after a very expensive meal with David Cameron (God issues an edict via holy book/prophet/visions/whatever).

Just like there is no such thing as an indisputable Lib Dem policy, there is no such thing as indisputable scientific evidence. But that does not mean that there is not Lib Dem policy that pretty much everybody agrees on, and that's how science works too. For instance, pretty much every Lib Dem agrees that imprisoning people without charge for long periods of time is a bad thing; there might be the odd one that thinks there ought to be exceptions to this priciple, but mostly, we are in accord, and we don't bother discussing it much because it's something we all agree on. Similarly there is no indisputable scientific evidence that I exist; but I think we can work on the assumption that I do, given that I'm typing this blog post, and although it might be fun to try and prove that I exist, it's not really a valubale use of anyone's time. There is no indisputable scientific evidence that computers or blogs exist, for that matter. But pretty much everybody agrees that they do. Science, like Lib Dem policy, is all about consensus, not people doing what they are told*.

With all that in mind, we can see that the very idea that there might be indisputable scientific evidence that prayer does not work is a bit silly, and that's even before we go into the difficulties of proving a negative (it seems quite appropriate to me, especially in this case, that the logical fallacy which covers saying that something must be true because it hasn't yet been proven false is called the argument from ignorance). However, in the realm of disputable scientific evidence, there are some things that Gary Streeter (Con), Gavin Shuker (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem) might find instructive.

There are HUGGINS of scientifc studies that have been done by Christians to try and prove that prayer DOES work (example article talking about this phenomenon). And not one of them has made a reliable conclusion that prayer is anything other than a placebo. Every one that has purported to do so has been found to be cheating in some way. Now, in terms of the Advertising Standards Agency, they generally require proof of a positive: that is, in order to advertise a thing, you must be able to prove that what you are saying is true. Why should Christianity be held to a lower standard than L'Oreal or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter? If prayer actually works, Christians, I think it's up to you lot to prove it, not to demand that the rest of us prove that it doesn't.

Apart from anything else, it flies in the face of your own stated principles. Christianity is supposed to be about love and compassion and stuff, right? In what way is it loving or compassionate to give ill people false hope that you talking to your invisible friend on their behalf will have any measurable effect? Surely that's cruel and evil, not loving and compassionate?

I really have no beef with Christians who believe in God and want to worship him and all that jazz, SO LONG AS THEY DON"T IMPINGE ON MY NOT WANTING TO JOIN IN. I am utterly pig sick of the current vocal minority of Christians in this country and the rest of the Western world who are trying like blazes to impose ridiculous Christian doctrines on the rest of us, and shore up the stupid privelege that Christianity has in our legislature all the while trying to claim that they are being discriminated against; and I am incredibly sad that someone who is the president of a supposedly Liberal party keeps trying to enforce Christian conformity on the rest of us.

Tim, please, you're a nice lad and a good speaker, but Just. Stop. It.



*this is, of course, why the entire activist base is so pissed off with the leadership trying to be religious instead of scientific, and going their own way instead of listening to Conference. This isn't what we signed up for. It's also not what this blog post is about, though, so...
miss_s_b: (Mood: Vyvyan Twos Up)
I'd like to make something clear, before any more cariacaturing of my position on Ed Davey goes on. My problem with him is not that he has a penis. My problem with him is that in his previous job, and despite lots of lobbying from people like Greg Mullholland and Gareth Epps, he decided that he was going to do his level best to contribute to fucking up the industry I work in, and have a great degree of fondness for. I dislike Ed being promoted, not because he is male, but because he FUCKED WITH MY LIFE.

His maleness has knack all to do with the fact that I think he has been overpromoted and will be rubbish; I bash him on his record, not his gender. I wouldn't care if he was a two-headed, three-armed hipster from Betelgeuse if I thought he could do the job. And while we're on the point, the fact that there are able and capable women who have not been promoted while he HAS been does not smack to me of meritocracy, and no amount of whinging from supposedly humourous people on this score is going to persuade me that this is meritocracy in action.
miss_s_b: Captain Kathryn Janeway (Feminist Heroes: Janeway)
Coverage of Woman in Black looks to be following the pattern of Kick Ass, X-Men First Class and Stardust: Ooooooo look Jonathan Ross has turned up to the premiere because his friend is in the film!

...

Nothing to do with his wife having written the fucking screenplay then? Bastards.

It's at this point that I gives (limited) props to ITV for actually acknowledging her existence and having a brief interview with her, even if they did spend more time interviewing Ross first, and they probably only acknowledged her because every single one of the film's stars that they asked what the best thing about the film was said Jane Goldman's script.
miss_s_b: (Default)
Because I was ill earlier I ended up watching coverage of the leader's speech on telly. I admit, I was already wound up by the level of ill-informed opinion dressed up as fact and the appearance of Quentin Letts when the coverage of the Clegg/Gonzalez Durantez arrival at the ICC started... And Andrew Neil, true to media form, started going on in simpering tones about Miriam's dress. This was, in fact, the major content of the comment on the leader and his wife's arrival at the hall.

So I blew my stack and fired off a tweet in very intemperate language. Really, if the roles were reversed, and Miriam was leader and Nick her consort, would we be hearing about his crisp yet frugal M&S suit? Of course we bloody wouldn't. It's sexist, objectifying bollocks.

Neil, to his credit, replied to my tweet. Apparently he only went on at length about the dress because the Lib Dems told him to. Given that the Lib Dems have been telling him stuff all week that he's been roundly ignoring (e.g. the Liberator songbook is not an official party publication) I am somewhat incredulous that he chose to obey this one instruction blindly, but nevertheless, I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a grain of truth in what he says.

In which case, the foul-mouthed capslocked rant I directed at him should properly be directed at my own party's press office. If Clegg is serious about increasing diversity in the party he could start by persuading his own damn press office not to perpetuate this crap.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Apologies for the slightly ineloquent nature of this entry. I write this still quaking with anger at what I witnessed in the hall just now. The number of people who voted for amendment one terrifies me, it really fucking terrfies me.

Anyway, the motion was passed, sadly without amendment two, but it was still passed. This gives me some hope. For what it's worth, here's what I would have said had I been called to speak:
Conference, those of you who know me will know that I don't like mornings. I really don't like having to get out of bed before lunchtime if I don't have to. None the less, I am here, and I am speaking. Why? Because I deplore the fundamentally illiberal security theatre I have had to go through to be here today.

We have all of us had to submit personal information to the police in order that they can inspect our papers and "make recommendations" to the top brass as to whether we can attend or not.

The excuses put forward for FCC's craven acceptance of this made my blood run cold.

"Well, the police reccommended it" - they also asked for 90 days detention of suspects. Did we support that? No
"We wouldn't have got insurance!" - because there's only ONE insurance company, and they don't need the party's money at all, so obviously they call the shots.
"They do it at Labour and Tory conference" - yes, and they throw out respected activists for disagreeing with Jack Straw too, are we going to adopt that approach next?

and worst of all...

"If you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to fear". I'm going to repeat that one. "If you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to fear"

The idea that ANY Liberal could see that as an acceptable statement to make just boggles my mind.

There are many, many reasons for not wishing to submit one's personal information to the police. There are many many reasons to not trust them with it. Almost all of them relate to being in an underpriveleged group. Being a battered woman, who wishes to keep her location secret from an abusive former partner. Being black, and having been singled out by the police before. Being trans, and not wishing to be outed to unsympathetic and prejudiced people. We are supposed to be the party that CHAMPIONS the rights of these people, not colludes in their further oppression.

As a member of Delga I have seen the number of LGBT members - my friends - who have not even bothered to apply to come to this conference because of this system, because of their previous ill-treatment under police vetting schemes, and the idea that they should apply and then if and when it all goes wrong they can complain speaks of massive privelege. For trans people who might wish for their status or former name to remain a secret it is far too much to ask them to take the risk of being outed and then ask them to accept an apology afterwards. The damage will have already been done in that case. Who can blame them for not wanting to take the risk?

If you are one of those people who can't see what the fuss is about, I urge you to read the Delga Transgender working group's papers on this. If you have an ounce of empathy you will see how wrong and discriminatory this accreditation system is.

And after all this, what do we get? A conference pass that could be easily forged by anyone with an inkjet printer. How in the name of sanity has this accreditation system increased our security? It hasn't. It's security theatre of the worst kind, and it discriminates against those we as a party are supposed to fight for.

Conference, I urge you to reject amendment one, which waters down the motion and is frankly just apologia for this farce, accept amendment two, and vote for the motion as a whole.

Thank you
[personal profile] magister, had he spoken, would have backed up the discrimination argument with tales of what happens in his office when they get applications from trans, gay, and abused people. This is not a light matter, and it is not something that FCC should just dismiss, as they have been doing, even to the extent of lying directly from the stage about the involvement of Delga in the negotiations, and trying to tell us that the make-up of this conference is no different than any other when we all know people who are not here because of the accreditation process.

Rachel Coleman Finch and Jenny Barnes and David Grace were all magnificent, and Jenny in particular was outstandingly brave in her speech. I am sad it didn't have more effect.

Anyway, you all know me. I'm not one to rage against the dying of the light if there's something substantive I can do about it. To that end, FCC elections are next year. If I can't affect their thinking from the outside, I'm bloody well going to try and do it from the inside, and I'm going to stand for election.

This party has become my family. I am NOT going to see it turn into the tories by stealth or otherwise while I still have breath in my body.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Vyvyan Twos Up)
One of the things which sends me into an apoplectic fury the sort of person who says cheer up, it might never happen (without a sense of irony, anyway).

1, You don't know if it already has.
2, Even if you know it has, and you think it's nothing to get upset about, you have no right to impose your values on someone else.
3, Even if you are completely and totally right, you are NOT HELPING, you are being a cock.

I think the thing that pisses me off the most is the automatic assumption that whatever it is that's upset the person you are addressing, it can't possibly be as serious as the tiny minor dent they are putting in your day by not smiling. When you use this phrase, you are saying I don't care if your mother just died, your lack of smiling is putting a slight crimp in my day, and my day is more important than your pain, so conform to my expectations, lesser being. That might not be what you MEAN to say, but that is what you ARE saying.

When people use this phrase, or ones similar to it, it makes me want to punch them.

It's a good job I am a civilised person and unlikely to follow through on that urge.

This post has been brought to you by the letters A and T and the emotion of stabbity rage.



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miss_s_b: (Who: Three (Polarity))
I read this this morning, and my immediate thought was YES!

Part of the reason I never got on with Russel T Davies' vision of Doctor Who was that it was so clear he had grown up wanting to be the Doctor's COMPANION. I never wanted to travel WITH the Doctor; I wanted to BE the Doctor. I wanted to be Dennis the Menace and Batman and Mr Spock and Judge Dredd too. And I wanted to be Freddie Mercury and Alice Cooper and Bruce Dickinson. And later I wanted to be Rumpole, or Paddy Ashdown. Like the first commenter on that post, it never occurred to me (and I thank my Dad for that) that because all my heroes were boys, I wasn't supposed to want to be like them, I was supposed to want to be WITH them, to be their soppy female helpmeet.

My Holly wants to be a Green Lantern.



At least that's a narrative possibility - there ARE female green lanterns, even if they are generally peripheral to the male ones.

I hate this world, that it tries to frustrate her dreams of awesomeness and give her dreams of playing second fiddle instead. My little girl is amazing, and she deserves to have amazing heroes to look up to and dream of emulating. Why is there still, after so many years, only a handful? Why do Ripley and Wonder Woman have to shoulder this burden alone? DAMMIT, WORLD, GIVE ME MORE FEMALE HEROES!
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
contains much swearing )

The day we demand "papers, please" to attend Lib Dem party conference is the day we have already lost.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Do you know what really annoys me about this privacy argument? The number of people complaining about "unelected judges making up law".

Firstly, to talk in generalities, the three arms of any legitimate government are the legislature, the executive and THE JUDICIARY. Judges are MEANT to interpret the laws they are given by the legislature, and they are MEANT to fill in the gaps when people have a dispute and the legislature hasn't legislated for that particular dispute. Just because we have a fucked up slightly unbalanced system in this country where the executive effectively controls the legislature and has carte blanche to do what it likes does not mean the system would be made better by having the executive control the judiciary as well.

Secondly, to speak to this specific matter, when I did my initial degree in the mid nineties, we discussed how the forthcoming Freedom of Information Act meant that we would need a corresponding privacy act, or there would be all sorts of problems, especially given the vagueness of the provisions of the forthcoming Human Rights Act. If, FIFTEEN SODDING YEARS LATER we still haven't got a privacy act, that is NOT the fault of the judges. Judges have to adjudicate on the case before them whether there is statute or not. If there IS statute then they are bound to use it, but if there ISN'T... If parliament doesn't want "unelected judges making up law" they should pull their bloody fingers out and enact something.

Of course they won't, because it's too much of a hot potato, and it's far easier to do nothing, and when a flare-up happens sit back on your comfy green/red benches and whine about "unelected judges making up law" because most of the mainstream media, and therefore the public, are so ill-informed in legal and constitutional matters that they'll just swallow it and parrot it back to each other.

In summary: anyone who whines about "unelected judges making up law" can safely be dismissed as talking total bollocks, probably to score political points.

And that's not just the wine talking (please excuse any drunken typos).
miss_s_b: (Mood: Brain Hurts)
If you are going to go to an unfamiliar place, and fancy somewhere cheap and cheerful to stay, you might be considering an Etap "hotel". We decided when we went to conference that we would take that option. We were paying £40 a night for it; for reference, this is more than four times as much as you can pay for a night in a Travelodge.

I realise that £40 a night is a low price by hotel standards. The thing is, the Etap hotel in Sheffield doesn't meet hotel standards. I'd actually posit that it would struggle to meet prison cell standards. The room we were initially given had its window open when we dumped our bags. We shrugged, closed it, and went out to do conferencey stuff. When we came back we discovered why the window had been open. There was an all-pervasive stench of sewage. Thankfully the smell of sewage turned out to be optional; we were moved to another room and this turned out to be less aromatic, but in all other respects it matched the initial room exactly.

The bed wasn't merely uncomfortable; it was uncomfortable in that special way that only something that has tried really really hard to be uncomfortable can be. It felt like the mattress had been stuffed with builder's sand. There was just enough give in it to give me a really really bad back and wake me up with the pain at four am. The bed was also short enough for [personal profile] magister's feet to be hanging off the end. And, precariously balanced above the double bed was a single bunk at exactly the right height to bang your head on. But the bed wasn't my only gripe.

The bed is situated in a room which is... not luxuriously large. There is about an 18 inch gap around the bed on all sides. given that the bed was small enough for James's feet to be hanging off it, you can imagine how cramped this is. The toilet was in what we poor uninitiated fools thought was the ironing board cupboard. The walls of it were covered in pointy artex which scratched my arms when I needed the loo. And the bog roll... Well, it wasn't Izal. That's the most positive thing I can find to say about it.

The telly was default set to be unreasonably loud, and had a bizarre selection of channels - the usual 5 terrestrial ones, the day before's BBC parliament, and a French news channel. It was tiny and not well tuned in. There was one small chair that you couldn't actually position anywhere you might want to sit; it was a badly painted bit of plywood. It was not, though, I grant you, as badly painted as the doors of the lift. I've done better jobs myself. When drunk. The carpet was a horrible synthetic stuff which actually made my feet itch. The available food was Ginster's pasties, which were priced at £3 each.

There was no kettle, one very flat pillow per person, one tiny bar of soap for the whole room, and two small threadbare hand towels. We found someone else's hardcore porn in the room too. Which is always lovely.

And best of all, when I was in town on Saturday I went to Lush and bought myself some new stuff to use in the shower. Which disappeared this morning. The cleaner either threw it away or pinched it; whichever it was I don't really care. I just know that if I ever get the opportunity to stay in an Etap hotel again, I shall instead avail myself of the facilities of a park bench, which will be more comfortable and will at least not leave me feeling like I have spent four week's food budget on being tortured.



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miss_s_b: (Default)
While I am off sick recovering from my op, and on SSP, I can't afford the rent. So I have applied for housing ben. The whole application process has been like wading through treacle, and is severely spoon-depleting, but yesterday I thought I had it all sorted.

They've seen enough ID to know that I am who I am and Mat is who he is. They've had a letter from my landlord confirming all the tenancy details. They've seen my wage slips and Mat's wage slips. They've seen Proof of Holly and Child Benefit. They've seen my bank statement.

The one thing that they are missing that they want is something with Mat's National Insurance number on.

Housing ben is administered by the council.
Mat works for the council.
The council have Mat's NI number; they have to, to pay his wages.
For some reason they print it partially obscured on his wage slip, so they won't accept that as proof of his NI number.

WHY THE BLUE BUGGERY FUCK CAN THE HOUSING BEN DEPARTMENT NOT RING UP THE WAGES DEPARTMENT AND SAY is this Mat's NI number? It is? Oh, OK, thank you. WHY????

And I'm not even going to go into the saga of fail I have had from Virgin with my bloody phone. Suffice it to say I will likely be getting a new phone number soon.



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miss_s_b: (Gashlycrumb Tinies)
Blackadder's Christmas Carol is a basic reversal of the original: nice Mr Ebeneezer B discovers he'd get much further in life if he was nasty. It's hilarious. And part of the reason it's funny is because it's true. If you're nice, people will take advantage of you and use you and you'll get much less back than you give out. If you're nasty, people won't like you, but you'll get ahead. This makes me very cross indeed, because people who are nasty SHOULDN'T get ahead, they should be put in their places.

I have seen in the newspapers today comment from two people associated with the Lib Dems who got to their lofty positions by ruthlessly using and abusing other people, and never giving credit to the giants whose shoulders they strut upon; they seem to get rewarded for this, whereas people who work co-operatively and help others out never seem to be the ones that the MSM have on speed dial when they want a rent-a-quote.

Needless to say that the people in the former group are almost exclusively male (and mostly white, cis-gendered, and able-bodied too) and the people in the latter are those that don't fall into privileged groups. On occasion you'll get a bit of handwringing about diversity and inclusiveness from one of these middle-class white boys who has trampled on everyone else to get to the top about why there aren't more women/BME people/disAbled people at the top... Sometimes I wonder if they are taking the piss. I mean nobody has that low self-awareness, surely?

And then I realise, you have to be that low on self-awareness to behave like that. Otherwise you'd hate yourself for it, and stop. I ,ean, there are times when I've done stuff that could be interpreted that way, and I tie myself in knots about it daily...

This post has been brought to you by the letters G (for grumpy), S (for Scrooge) and the number 0 (which approximates the amount of patience I have for arseholes today).



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miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Internet forever!!)
The most mutually satisfactory conclusion to an argument is for both parties to reach agreement by methods of persuasion and by each side learning new things. Another, less satisfactory, way of concluding in argument is to agree to disagree. In neither of these cases, though, can either person really say they have won. I mean, an old hippy like me might try to suggest that in the first scenario, everyone wins, but surely the true joy of winning is in grinding your opponent's shattered ego into the dirt, and then pointing and laughing at their paltry remains?

How, then, does one Win an Argument?

There are many tactics which one can employ to win an argument, but I find that one of the most consistently successful is to get your opponent into such a frothing rage that they can't think straight. The methods that you can employ to do this are legion, and the legendary Conversational Terrorism is a fine place to start your research into methodology, but I would like to highlight some of my favourites.
  1. If you want to set your opponent's teeth on edge right from the get-go, start with an appeal to authority. Assert that you are older, wiser, more educated, more experienced, and gosh darn-it, all round better than your opponent. It doesn't matter if the assertion is true or false; in fact, it's almost better if it's false because that's bound to annoy them even more.

  2. Continue by building a series of straw men. Take your opponent's words and twist them, distort them, and wilfully misinterpret them. If your opponent tries to object to this, simply appeal to authority again, and again, and again, till they give up. This is especially useful if you can pretend to agree with the distorted position.

  3. Supplement your appeals to authority with ad hominem attacks. While you are painting yourself as the fount of all knowledge make sure to denigrate, insult and patronise your opponent at every opportunity you get. This will really wind them up.

  4. If you need further ammunition, throw in a few ad populums. Everybody knows that this is a winning tactic.

  5. Assert your opinion as if it is fact, without a shred of evidence to back it up. Bonus points if you can do this while simultaneously complaining that your opponent has done it

  6. Red herrings and tangents can also be employed if you feel matters are slipping away from you. Ramble on for several minutes about something totally irrelevant to the point at hand, and if anyone tries to stop you, insist that you'll be getting to the point soon, or that they are wrong in thinking that you are straying from the point.
By this point your opponent should be so thoroughly pissed off with you that they will explode into fury (whether verbal or physical) and you win by default. You can then sit back, secure in the knowledge that you roused someone to anger with the Power of Your Brain and you must therefore be a far better person than they are. Tell all your friends. If you have any.

Who will find these tactics useful?

Some people - mansplainers, for example - find these techniques come naturally. Often people with political or legal training will use these methods to dismiss an opponent they feel is unworthy, even though they know such underhanded tactics to be without real discursive merit. The people who really need to gen up on these techniques are the sort of people who don't feel at home in smug condescension. This is not because they need to know how to use them, but how to spot when they are being used by someone else against them.

At this point, the non-smug-bastard should hold up a series of flash cards with the name of the logical fallacies being used by their opponent on them each time one is employed. This should somewhat turn the tables of enragement...


NOTE FOR THE HARD OF THINKING: I am fully aware that several of the nasty techniques I list above have been used in this post. This is intended to be for humorous effect. Irony does not mean "largely composed of iron". Also, I am aware that I have used these methods in other posts and on other occasions. I am not claiming to be perfect. Not at the moment, anyway.

And yes, since you ask, this is a follow-up to the previous post. You will be returned to normal service shortly. As, indeed, I do all things. Because I am short.




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miss_s_b: (Politics: Post Feminism)
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

From the website of the Early Learning Centre.
For the little princess in the family we have great feminine outfits like Butterfly Fairy, Sleeping Beauty, Ballerina and Nurse’s uniform. Why not add a medical case for that extra touch of authenticity.

The boys are catered for too, with great Doctor, Policeman & Fireman uniforms, not to mention fantastic Pirate and Knight costumes. All these can be combined with a range of accessories so your child will really look the part.
Because, apparently, boys can't do ballet, and girls can't be doctors.

You can contact them via the page here if you'd like to express your displeasure, and pass it on.

(via Andrew Ducker and Jo Crispy-Strips, among others)



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miss_s_b: (Default)
Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I am not sure there's anything more any of you lot can do to help, other than being the fabulous lovely people you already are. Offering me work is no good because I haven't got the time or the spoons to do it; offering me free money just makes me feel like a sponging shit, and I already owe so much money anyway... Offering hugs is great, though, and much appreciated, especially from my two big beardy comfort blankets and the delicious [personal profile] magister, who delivered me a Rumpole box set yesterday ♥.

However bad things are for me, though, they aren't as bad as they are for Florence and Precious Mhango, who are facing deportation back to an abusive situation and being separated. The thought of someone trying to take my Holly away from me fills me with a visceral terror that I can't even begin to describe, and the idea that Florence and her daughter will be taken away from their adopted city and their friends by pettyfogging bureaucracy fills me with rage. Caron has been posting lots about this, and I encourage you to 1, read her posts, and 2, Do Something, if you can. Even if it's just writing to Theresa May (the postcode entered there is of Barclays Bank on Maidenhead high street, btw ;)).

Other links of interest:

- Everybody point and laugh at Rupert Murdoch, who can hear the tumbleweed blowing through his webservers, and probably a bell tolling in the distance.

- and while you're doing that, point and laugh at Daily Fail readers and their obsessions, depicted here in the form of an Underground map.

- of course sometimes PoliticalCorrectnessGawnMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD actually has a basis in fact...

- How sexism hurts men too, and why we should all care about it.

- what's the difference between civil partnership and marriage?



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About This Blog

picture of Jennie Rigg

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






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