Winning, Wan Nil

Mar. 25th, 2017 12:49 am
hairyears: (Default)
[personal profile] hairyears
This is not, I think, an occasion for modesty:
https://twitmericks.com/2017/03/24/prize-limerick-competition-results/

...See if you can guess which one of the winning entries is mine.

You don't have the votes!

Mar. 24th, 2017 10:33 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
I've been quiet (...too quiet) lately, but it'd be remiss of me to let a day when Paul Ryan said "Obamacare is the law of the land.… We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future" go by without comment.

I was terrified of the vote. Sick with it. When the friend I was visiting on Wednesday excused himself for a phone call, I typed this out on my phone and sent it to my representatives in an e-mail the ACLU mailing list had suggested I sent to my congresspeople:
I'm disabled. My parents are aging seniors, my mom particularly with longstanding health problems. My friends are poor, disabled themselves, or people of color -- sometimes all at once because that's how these things
work.

So if the ACA is repealed, I'm certain that someone I know and love will die who would not die if we keep it. If the ACA is repealed, I know that everybody I know will live in fear, suffering and misery that they won't have if we keep it.

People are kept alive by the ACA, they're kept in their homes, they're kept from that needless worry, fear and misery.

Ive lived in the UK for several years. I've enjoyed the services of a single-payer health care system there for me when I've needed it. I know this is possible. I know there's no reason for the US to be moving further away from that. It's cheaper, better care and my friends here boggle at the country I'm from being so far from having it ourselves. Please don'ttake us further still from that eminently reachable goal. Please don't make people suffer so unnecessarily.
They're all Democrats, and I was pretty confident they'd do the right thing anyway (Franken's been heart-warmingly awesome again in hearings for another awful appointee this week, which always makes me proud I get to vote for him) but I couldn't let it go uncommented-upon.

Today when I saw the vote had been pulled at the last minute, once I'd convinced myself it was for real (too scared to google in case it wasn't, I made Andrew confirm it for me) and that it wouldn't come back immediately (Trump saying he expects Democrats to seek a deal with him in a year when the ACA has "exploded" is what finally convinced me) I started crying.

I hate crying, but this was different. I've heard of crying happy tears before, and maybe this was that, but it felt more like an enormous version of the feeling I'd had on Saturday night when I thought I'd lost the keys to our B&B room and that this was going to be a costly and disappointing mistake to admit to our lovely hosts but then Andrew found the keys had fallen behind a table -- this on a much bigger scale, of course, but the same kind of relief. The same kind of "now I'm not being held together entirely by stress, my body must perforce collapse."

I thought of all the people being relieved and crying and screaming and hugging their loved ones and celebrating and getting drunk and remembering the people Obamacare didn't get here in time for, or the people still outside its help.

I was so fragile; Andrew had to put a frozen pizza in the oven for my dinner and my evening ended up being much less ambitious than I hoped for (I basically curled up on the couch with the dog retweeting things until my phone's battery was just about dead and now I've come to bed but I'm writing this). My body seemed to react, after the tears, exactly like it did on Saturday and after other anxiety attacks: I couldn't get warm, my muscles were almost too weak to support me, I was having all kinds of emotions at once and had the attention span of a mayfly on speed.

Of the many, many RTs, from schadenfreude at Ryan and the other writers of this hideous bill, to the insistence that this is the best time in American history for the Democrats to push for single-payer healthcare (at least, that's what it's been called there; it looks like "Medicare for all" might be the epithet that persuades people), to the acknowledgements that we know the battle isn't over but we deserve this celebration to other badass political shit going on at the same time like a Democrat winning a state legislature seat where she had to be written in to the ballots and just more women wanting to run for office generally...I'd say it's been a good night.

It hasn't been one-dimensional celebration. It hasn't glossed over the limitations of the ACA and the people who live precarious lives even with it. It hasn't made us take for granted the sterling performances of congresspeople speaking on our side before the planned vote. It hasn't made us forget about the need to investigate the horrific numbers of black teenage girls who've disappeared recently in Washington D.C. who never get the care and attention of missing white girls. It hasn't stopped cleverly-named bills cracking down on Trump's corruption as it endangers us all. It hasn't made people stop talking about Trump/Russia or the need to impeach him.

But of all the tweets I've (html willing!) shared with you here, the one I think is most important is this:

Scoff if you must, but this is why I'm involved in politics. This is why I say that I'm proud of my Lib Dem friends, who when something angers or upsets us have a kind of instinctive reaction: let's write a policy motion about this. This is why I've been so much more active in politics (partisan or not) the last few months: it's just to cope with the increasing number of things that make me fearful, anxious and sad.

I stuck with the Lib Dems when they were adding to the things that made me angry and frustrated during points in the coalition because I knew I'd feel just as angry and frustrated but with no political outlet otherwise as I don't feel there's any other UK party that sufficiently aligns with my values for me to want to support it.* But even in things like the WI, which is scrupulously non-partisan (and, being a geographically-based way of organizing people, I'm not surprised mine is full of lefties), I feel like I'm doing the same kind of work: making the world less scary, anxiety-inducing, and saddening.

And if this kind of political event, or whatever you have in the countries you live in and love people from, makes you sad, anxious or fearful, I'd really suggest getting involved in something like this. It's heady stuff: be warned, it's easy to get addicted. Most of my Lib Dem friends have stories about joining where they didn't think much of it and ended up on federal committees, standing for parliament, or whatever. I swear Tim Farron has taken some of my lines when he talks about immigration. I have friends who've helped write policies that have ended up being the law for this country. It's pretty awesome.


* It seems to have been worth sticking around for: my pessimistic husband came away from last weekend's federal conference feeling reassured that our party's membership having doubled in the last few years hasn't made it what he feared it'd be: "There was a real, real, danger that we’d have got a lot of people who thought they were joining the Coalition And Liking Europe Party" he says, but as you can read there it's clear that the Lib Dems are still existing to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

February booklog

Mar. 24th, 2017 08:47 pm
wychwood: Lt Welsh facepalming (due South - Welsh facepalm)
[personal profile] wychwood
14. Promise of Shadows - Justina Ireland ) Very YA novel - there's some interesting bits, but it's not really the kind of book that works for adults, I don't think. You have to be about fifteen for this one.


15. Hild - Nicola Griffith ) I can see a lot of good things about this book, but ultimately it was just not what I wanted it to be. And I do think she gets religion wrong.


16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and 18. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling ) I was planning a whole series re-read, but I'm not sure I'm going to keep on with it - but there are still a lot of good things about this series.


17. Origin in Death - JD Robb ) Solid, as ever, and proper science fiction too.


19. Fashion in Action - John K Snyder III ) Really strange fashion-and-action-adventure, but this was a lot of fun. The 80s were really weird, sometimes.


20. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen ) Probably not one for readers who aren't already fans, but if you are, this goes from "huh, ok" to fascinating, and it's extremely readable.


21. Better and 22. Being Mortal - Atul Gawande ) Gawande is just great. I'm sorry there aren't more of these to read.


23. Life and Society in the Hittite World - Trevor Bryce ) This was harder work than I expected, and mostly interesting to me as a case study of how little it is possible to know about the past. But it's definitely left me thinking.

Interesting Links for 24-03-2017

Mar. 24th, 2017 12:00 pm
moem: Person being watched by large eyes (cybersecurity)
[personal profile] moem
Dear US friends, the time is VPN o'clock. I'm not kidding. Start looking into it now.
Here's why.
Here's how.

Rabbit emails

Mar. 23rd, 2017 08:44 pm
lethargic_man: (Default)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
The addition of coloured emojis to the Unicode character set makes it easier for our less literate rabbit friends to send emails...

View piccy )

Florin

Mar. 23rd, 2017 07:32 pm
lethargic_man: (beardy)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
I couldn't resist getting one of these as a little present for my father-in-troth Florin:

[photo]

(A florin, for those who don't know, was a two-shilling British coin; at the time I was growing up predecimal one and two shilling coins were still in circulation as 5p and 10p coins (this continued until these coins were replaced with smaller ones in 1992), but I had to go back to older ones to find one with the word "florin" on it.)

Interesting Links for 23-03-2017

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:00 pm

Reading Wednesday 22/03

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:26 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Recently acquired:
  • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

  • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

  • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

Recently read:
  • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

  • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... Because of various travails within LGBT+LDs we lost our chair.

This evening I was elected Acting Chair, and will be so until the AGM at autumn conference in Bournemouth.

No flowers ;)

Rabbit chuppah!

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:28 pm
lethargic_man: (beardy)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
Thanks to the talented Sarah Behrnd, the rabbits are now more prepared to get married than we are! —Thanks, Sarah!

View piccy )

ceb: (exams)
[personal profile] ceb
FLOATING PENNYWORT WORKING PARTY ON THE UPPER CAM, SATURDAY 1ST APRIL
2017

The invasive Floating Pennywort has in recent years colonised the lower
Bourn Brook, the River Cam and some of its minor tributaries, and is
affecting an SSSI near Wicken. It is also spreading down river on the
River Ouse and has been found as far down river as the Denver Sluice.
Since 1990, when it was first found in the wild on the River Chelmer in
Essex, it has spread rapidly and each year the number of affected sites
is expanding exponentially. In high season there are long stretches of
the Cam where dense mats reach out towards the centre of the river, and
in one part it has grown from bank to bank. It is a threat to
bio-diversity, a nuisance to river users and could increase the risk of
flooding.

This week contractors for the Cam Conservators have been removing as
much as they can from the upper Cam by mechanized means, but inevitably
this will leave floating remnants and inaccessible patches. If left,
these remnants will soon grow. The Cam Valley Forum and associates are
organising a major volunteer punt day on SATURDAY 1ST APRIL ON THE UPPER
CAM, and we are inviting you to join us. The target is to remove as much
as possible on the day, from Byron’s Pool to Scudamores boat station.
Scudamores are kindly giving us ten punts for the task, which will need
a minimum crew of one experienced poler, a raker and a netter. And just
as important, we also need people on the bank to rake out easy-to-reach
Pennywort and to help with lifting out filled bins from the punts and to
dispose of the material on the bank. Not everyone feels comfortable on
a punt in which case a bank job would be ideal. Up to forty people may
be required to take this project forward and we hope that you have the
enthusiasm and time to be part of this unique experience.

If you would like to take part, or have any queries please contact Mike
Foley (Cam Valley Forum) on mfpfoley@gmail.com

We envisage a early start time between 9 – 10 am and those punts that
go the furthest (Byron’s Pool) will not necessarily be out for longer
as there is much to do in the Grantchester Meadows area. It would be
very useful if you could supply details of your experience, how long you
want to be involved, and whether your role would be on land or on water.
An indication of whether you possess a long handled rake and are
prepared to bring it would also be useful.

More detailed information will be available to those who express an
interest.

Mike Foley

The end is in sight.

Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:28 pm
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
My last exam for the business degree will be on 11th September.  And then I am FREEEEE.

I am banning myself from making any more time-eating long-term commitments until at LEAST the end of the year.  A friend who has known me for over two decades outright laughed at me when I said this :-P  

Tower of London

Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:00 pm
marnanel: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanel
[ghosts, death; parody of "Streets of London" by Ralph McTell]

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the Tower of London
Face full of grace with a queenly charm?
She's no breath for talking,
she just keeps right on walking
Carrying her head
Right underneath her arm.

So how can you tell me you're ghostly
And say your life has run out of time?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you round the Tower of London
I'll show you something
That'll make you change your mind.

And in the topmost turret
You'll meet Sir Walter Raleigh
Cursing at his fall like an angry tar
Looking at the world
With a chip on his shoulder,
Each and every midnight
He smokes a mild cigar.

So how can you tell me you're ghostly
And say your life has run out of time?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you round the Tower of London
I'll show you something
That'll make you change your mind.

And have you seen the playroom
Of a pair of ghostly princes?
Such endless games in a place like theirs!
Careful where you sit if you
Accept their invitation:
They don't have ghostly cushions
On all their ghostly chairs

So how can you tell me you're ghostly
And say your life has run out of time?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you round the Tower of London
I'll show you something
That'll make you change your mind.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
You may have noticed that the previous two posts were somewhat light on my usual "we debated this motion, and I voted this way on it" details. That's mostly because after I had done the reporting-back-from-FCC bits (which I pledged to do upon my candidacy for FCC - I keep my promises, me. Mostly...) the posts were already stupidly long, but also in part because my lovely friend Andrew has done an excellent summary of the salient points here, and given that I am his evil twin (or he is mine - honestly, basically the only difference between us is that I really like beards and he merely has one) I don't feel the need to reiterate his points.

For the avoidance of doubt, though, here is how I voted:
  • Emergency Motions Ballot: can't actually remember, except that I put the second Scottish referendum motion bottom (we can't mandate our MPs how to vote so it was utterly pointless, AND it's not up to English MPs to tell Scotland what to do anyway IMHO) and the Trump one next to bottom (he's not coming till October. Put a (better drafted) motion in for Autumn conference, when it will be a live and salient issue). The others I was happy to see a debate on.

  • A Rational Approach to Harm Reduction (aka the Sex Work Motion): I voted against the (mildly wrecking) amendment and for the unamended motion

  • Tackling Overcrowding in the Prison System: I voted for the amendment and the motion.

  • Britain in the EU: I went for lunch during this motion as hell would freeze over before anyone voted against it, and during the scheduled lunch break I would be prepping to aide in the health and social care debate.

  • Crisis in health and social care: I voted for the amendment, and then for the motion as amended, from my shiny shiny "seat reserved for FCC Hall Aide" seat.

  • The Biennial Trident Fudge: I Paired with Alisdair and went to the pub since we would have voted exactly oppositely on both the motion and amendment and thus cancelled each other out. The England/Ireland match was nailbiting.

  • Emergency motion: Unaccompanied Child Asylum Seekers: I voted in favour of us taking in more of them.

  • Faith Schools: We had to vote between three options, then for the amendment, then for the motion as amended or not with whichever option we voted for. I'm going to use Andrew's characterisations here: I voted against "YAY faith schools" & for "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them". Then I voted for "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them" and against the horrible and nonsensical fudge which tried to split the difference between the first two. Then I voted for the "ban all faith schools" amendment, but not enough other people did, so it fell. Then I voted for the motion unamended with the option "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them" being the winning option. And I am not ashamed to admit to shedding a tear during Sarah Brown (Cambridge)'s very moving speech. I am glad Julian and Zoe were there to give her hugs when she had finished.

    As you can tell, this was quite a complicated vote. Small FCC note: I am glad Geoff Payne was chairing it. Although I have had my disagreements with him, he has just the right sort of forensic, nitpicky, legal mind for this kind of thing, and is a very clear and non-waffly chair. He's one of only about four people I would trust with such a contentious debate with so many options, and two of them are no longer on FCC.

  • Associated Membership of the EU: I voted in favour.
I think that covers everything. So... after three long posts... Any questions?
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Following on from my previous post on York conference, I thought people might be interested in how we plan the debates and how cards get chosen and things like that.

I also recognise that many of you will NOT be interested in this in the slightest, so am putting it behind a cut )



And then of course, we had Not The Leader's Speech. The tradition of Not The Leader's Speech started when Cleggy was Our Glorious Leader. I went to a couple of his leader's speeches and found them excruciating. In the pub after, a Bad Influence who must perforce remain nameless asked me why I hadn't just walked out and gone to the pub, because that's what he had done. The next conference, I walked out (after 7 minutes, as I recall) and found this same person in the pub. The conference after that... well, we just cut out the middle man and went straight to the pub, downloaded the text of the speech, and worked out at which point we would have walked out had we bothered to go in. At the height of coalition the record occurred: we both agreed we would have walked out in the second sentence of the speech. By that point, though, word had got around somewhat and there were a reasonable number of us in the pub for Not The Leader's Speech.

When Farron was first elected Glorious Leader he was fully aware that this had become a tradition. I made him a personal promise that I'd go to his first leader's speech, but with the proviso that if there was anything I didn't like I would walk out. There wasn't, and I didn't. In fact it was a really really good speech. The thing is, I still don't like leader's speeches (or for that matter, The Rally, which I always feel has a silent Nuremburg in between The and Rally). I don't like sitting there being spoonfed and not participating. I don't like the enforced conformity of the expectation to applaud in the right places (and in some cases standingly ovate). IMHO it's Just Not Liberal. So the only one of Farron's leader's speeches I have been to, and probably ever will go to, remains his first. I no longer feel the need to read the text and work out at which point I would have walked out, because I don't have that sort of fractious relationship with his leadership, but it's still nice to find a good pub, claim a room in it, and have beer and food instead of listening and clapping.

The problem this time was that the group of people going to Not The Leader's Speech has grown to more than 30. And we hadn't booked. Admittedly there were only six of us queueing outside the door waiting for the pub to open, but the rest had DMed or texted me asking for a venue and turned up in short order after. As a former barmaid, I felt really bad about doing this to the pub. I think that next time I will have to at least warn the selected pub in advance... And as Zoe said in the comments to the previous entry, now I am on FCC this is in danger of becoming an officially unofficial event... If it gets any bigger it may have to be in the Fringe guide... You can tell how uncomfortable I am with that idea by the number of ellipsis LOL.

This conference we were biefly joined by a not-Lib-Dem friend and segued off into a discussion about cricket for a while, which was lovely I don't think we terrified her too much.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed my officially unofficial reports from conference: next FCC news will probably be from the Shadowy General Purposes And Resources Sub Committee, which I suspect will be quite vague and heavily redacted, so I apologise for that in advance. I will, obviously, explain exactly why I'm having to be vauge and heavily redacted if and when I am.

Tinfoil hats for everyone

Mar. 22nd, 2017 11:28 am
moem: Cat tipping a paint can (kladderkatje)
[personal profile] moem
I made a tinfoil fedora (actually, it's a trilby, but everyone calls them fedoras nowadays. Get off my lawn.) Here it is, being modeled by the head I made to the likeness of Chriet Titulaer a few years ago. Looks shiny, no? I did take the easy way out by getting a cheap crappy fancy dress hat and covering it with aluminium tape. It works well, as you can see.


Tinfoil fedora on top of a polystyrene head.


Making a hat like this is one of the activities that people can participate in if they're coming to visit the yearly Open Door Day on March 25th at our local hackerspace. There's also a Linux walk-in workshop, an opportunity to try those fun 3D pens you've heard about, fun soldering projects for beginners, a cybersecurity lecture by an actual expert (as in, not me), and lots more. If you live near a hackerspace, check to see whether they, too, have an Open Door Day next Saturday! Hackerspaces are fun!
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
The short version of What I Did At Lib Dem Conference is:

Attended lots of FCC meetings and training; co-hosted Glee for the second time; hall-aided my first debate as a member of FCC; "organised" Not The Leader's Speech.

click here for more detail on the first three )

Coming soon: What I Did At Lib Dem Conference part two: structuring an actual debate: this time it's personal PLUS Not The Leader's Speech.

Full

Mar. 21st, 2017 09:48 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
So this weekend I went to two synagogue services (in two different cities) and one church service, and I had a quiet going out for lunch and talking date with [personal profile] cjwatson and a bouncy metal gig date with Ghoti. And went to the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast and just about managed to squeeze in a little bit of time talking to [personal profile] jack. Um, it is hypothetically possible that I may have over-scheduled myself a bit.

I had fun, though )
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