March 29th, 2017
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
posted by [personal profile] beatrice_otter at 02:29pm on 29/03/2017 under ,
As a Christian, I regularly get infuriated how many people make a show of "gimme that ol' time religion" while forgetting the fourth verse:

Makes me love ev'ry body,
Makes me love ev'ry body,
Makes me love ev'ry body,
It's good enough for me.
turlough: Quatre & Trowa & Heero & Duo & Wufei with space colony interior in the background ((gw) gundam boys)
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, Wufei, Howard, Trieze, Une, Noin, Zechs, Relena
Content Notes/Warnings: n/a
Medium: digital art
Artist on DW/LJ: unknown
Artist Website/Gallery: unknown

Why this piece is awesome: I remember first first seeing these in 2003 when I was new to Gundam Wing. I loved them back then and found them just as charming when I recently stumbled upon them again. They're so cute and fun. I just want to cuddle them. My favourites are probably Howard, Noin, and the Quatre & Trowa pair, but all of them are just as adorable.

Link: The 'Infamous' Plushies by Dogmatix (scroll down almost to the bottom)
Mood:: 'headachey' headachey
pandarus: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] pandarus at 08:02pm on 29/03/2017 under ,
I have made a podfic of Gyzym's fabulous HP novel What We Pretend We Can't See, because it is an absolute gem and a balm to my soul in these dark times of Brexit and the Trumpocalypse.

Harry/Draco, set seven years post-Battle Of Hogwarts. Chromatic characters. This is comforting and nostalgia-inducing as a warm blankie and a mug of hot chocolate with a slug of brandy on a cold winter's night, but it's also blessedly diverse - I have utterly embraced black!Hermione, biracial!Harry and Asian!Pansy as canon now. NC17 eventually, but mostly good old fashioned mutual pining, plotty goodness, found family and worldbuilding. Love it.

Massive thanks to the delightful Cybel for generously turning my jigsaw puzzle bits into an audiobook, and for hosting the file. <3
location: Uganda
Mood:: 'accomplished' accomplished
muccamukk: Lt Bush salutes ironically. (HH: Salute)
posted by [personal profile] muccamukk at 10:05am on 29/03/2017 under ,
What I Just Finished Reading
Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie (Great Discoveries Series) by Barbara Goldsmith
This series seems to be short summaries of people's achievements, but even given that I really liked this book. It didn't have room to get very technical or go into great detail on any given era, but was well written, interesting and didn't idolise its subject.


The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution by Deborah E. Harkness, narrated by Kate Reading
This is going to be one of those books that makes me annoyed at a lot of other books. I've read a fair bit about the scientific revolution, and this is all completely new to me to the extent that I'm now irritated at all the other books I've read for not including any of it.

It's a wonderful exploration of scientific culture in the late 16th-century, including pushes to increase mathematical literacy for national economic development, collecting-comparing-publishing findings from experiments, in fights over priority and credit, and government support of large-scale scientific projects, mostly focusing on how individual practitioners fit into all this. The idea that this was all going on, and that Francis Bacon (who the author dislikes!) was more or less whining because he didn't get to be in charge of it and gentlemen shouldn't get their hands dirty doing actual work, was frankly a little mind blowing.

Really good, very enjoyably read by Kate Reading, would recommend.


Desire Wears Diamonds (Jaded Gentleman #6) by Renee Bernard
So I haven't read anything else in this series, but clearly stumbled on the best one anyway. The author sets up the intro pretty well, and then I just spent the whole book drawing hearts around Michael and Grace, so who cares about the big arc plot (other than Michael is angst about it! Oh noes!) Michael just wants to atone by dying for his friends! But then he might have to die for his wife! And he can't do both at once! It's a challenge! Grace just wants a room of one's own.

I'm not sure if I'll back read, since idk if Michael will be in them enough, and I wasn't as invested in any of the others. Will keep an eye out for Bernard stuff though.


Four Wars of 1812 by D. Peter Macleod
I think this must have made a very fine museum exhibit, but in terms of trying to get a handle on the war, it just didn't have enough information in it. The art and pictures from the display were very interesting though, and I always appreciate an O'Brian reference.

(Speaking of [as the book also mentioned Forester], just watched Captain Horatio Hornblower, RN with Nenya, since I'd seen it ten years ago, and she hadn't at all. To conclude: "Ioan Gruffudd grew up to be Gregory Peck. Bush got less gay and slightly less hot. But it works amazingly well in continuity.")


Tropical Tiger Spy (Shifting Sands Resort #1) by Zoe Chant
Fun read. It was a bit slow to start, but once the action plot kicked off, I really enjoyed it. I liked how resourceful Amber was, though Tony's agency should seriously hire her, because she's way better at spy stuff. The action (and the "action") was very well written. Could have used a little more angst.

Tropical Wounded Wolf (Shifting Sands Resort #2) by Zoe Chant
Oh there we go. THAT one is angsty enough. Enjoyed it even more than the first one (because angst!), though the plot itself was a little slower. However, I appreciate trapped in peril plots, and both characters were very likeable. I'm curious what's going on with the resort though, so I hope Zoe writes more of these. Oh and the gazelle. Really great setting for a series.

(I was saying to Nenya, having just read Diamonds and Wounded Wolf back to back, is that the fantasy with heroes with massive self-esteem issues doesn't seem to be that you'll find someone who will tell you you're good, but that someone will tell you you're good, and you'll believe them.)


Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean by Adrian Tinniswood, narrated by Clive Chafer
Okay, look, I came into this researching English relations with pirates in the 1600s, which is what this book is about, and had the information I needed, and the Anglo-centrism STILL annoyed the crap out of me. I know that the author's area of study is England, but 100% of his sources are English, and he appears to have put zero effort into finding contemporary sources from any of the actual pirates or people who lived near them (unless they happened to be English), or anyone other than the odd note from the Venetian Ambassador to London , which leaves this book MASSIVELY one sided.

There's a lot of acknowledgement that okay, yeah, the English perspective is happening here, and that's not the whole story, and pointing out how the English were wrong about things, but very little quotes from primary sources from any other country. And we're talking Ottoman Empire here, so it's not like this stuff doesn't exist, they LOVED records.

So a lot of the information was interest, but the whole book was incredibly frustrating.


What I'm Reading Now
Audio: My Mother's Wars by Lillian Faderman about Faderman's mom living in NYC in the '20s to '40s. It's very engaging so far, though I just started it.

Library: Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812 by James Laxer, which I'm about 100 pages into and the war hasn't started yet. It's well written but also super depressing because genocide.


What I'm Reading Next
I have the next Selection book as a library e-book, so I'll probably buzz through that. I'm not sure for audio. Maybe that new romance novel about US Civil War spies.

Posted by Henry Jenkins

Shortly after I arrived in Los Angeles, I was asked to serve on her dissertation committee at UCLA for promising graduate student named Drew Morton. Morton was putting together a committee that included that only myself but also Janet Bergstrom,  John Caldwell and Denise Mann. This committee tells you something about this range of methodologies and perspectives Morton was trying to bridge through his work. Morton’s project was trying to understand the kinds of stylistic and narrative remediation taking place as more and more comic books and graphic novels were being adopted for the cinema.

Mortin’s work was bold, original and rock solid, adding real insight to our understanding of the significant intertwining of the film and comics industries in recent years. He approached this topic with consideration of industry trends and developments but also with the formalist eye towards its impact on cinematic language, genre evolution, and authorship questions. He moved forward through a series of compelling case studies, exploring particular formal practices as they were deployed in specific films and comics. In the process, he developed a much larger framework for thinking about the remediation process more generally. In some cases he dealt with adaptations  such as Watchmen or Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World but  he also dealt with more implicit influences such as the way to the comic book version of The Dark Tower may been informed by the wide-screen practices of Sergio Leone. His closing discussion of motion comics represented perhaps the most thoughtful discussion I’ve read of this new set of digital production practices which remain highly controversial among comic book enthusiast because of the way that they overwrite core aspects of the sequential art.

Morton represents a new breed of comparative media scholars who are as comfortable describing the panel breakdown or comics page as they are discussing  camera work and editing in contemporary blockbusters.  His work is deeply grounded in contemporary film and media theory and it has also been shaped by his success at reaching out key practitioners and decision-makers within the two industries. His interests are at once historical spanning back to early cinema in contemporary dealing with films of the past few seasons. He seems equally at home on the floor of the San Diego comic con as he is at the podium at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference. As such he’s been able to build a solid network around his work and his emerges a major advocate for the video essay as an emerging form of scholarly discourse.

Late last year, Morton published Panel to the Screen: Style, American Film and Comic Books During the Blockbuster Era, a book which built on an extended his dissertation research. I was asked to write a blurb for the book which sums up my assessment of its contributions to the field:

“At a time when superhero blockbusters dominate the box office, we need to know much more than we do about the formal and institutional factors shaping these films. In Panel to the Screen, Drew Morton provides a nuanced account of why these films look the ways they do as producers adopt a range of strategies for the cinematic remediation and translation of comics, and in turn, he considers how comic artists absorb devices from Hollywood which make their books seem that much more screen-ready when read by studio executives. This groundbreaking book moves from one rich and compelling case study to the next and will be essential reading for anyone interested in comics, films, and the relationship between them.”

Today, I am proud to share the first installment of an interview with Drew Morton about comics and film, one that is far-reaching in its scope, touching on many of the case studies from the book but also updating the argument to describe more recent developments such as the Deadpool movie and the revitalization of Batman 66. Enjoy!

You begin the book with a basic distinction between adaptation and remediation, noting that many more superhero movies, say, are adaptations and extensions of comic book sources than seek to perform the kinds of stylistic remediation that is central to your book. Explain this distinction more.

 

First off Henry, thanks for asking me to do this. I really appreciate the mentorship you’ve provided me with while I was working on this project.

 

This is a great question – given its centrality to the book and its ambiguity. Whenever I teach remediation and adaptation in my courses, I find that it takes my students quite a while to work through the difference. If I remember correctly? It was a hard concept for me to grasp the first time I read through it. Needless to say, examples tend to help.

 

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is a loose adaptation that lacks remediation. If we look at the narrative borrowings of his films, we can easily find correspondences between Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One in Batman Begins. The film focuses on Bruce’s training, why he wants to protect Gotham City, and his relationship with the officer who will become Commissioner Gordon. The Dark Knight borrows from The Killing Joke and The Long Halloween while Rises takes its central conflict from Knightfall. As I said, these are loose adaptations that broadly take plot points, characters, and themes from the original books. Most comic book adaptations do this – the “faithful” adaptation seems to be incredibly rare.

Yet, Nolan’s films owe more stylistically to film noir than they do to comic books. He does not remediate – re-represent – the comic in the film. Unlike say Ang Lee’s Hulk, Nolan doesn’t fracture the frame into a bunch of panels. He does not use speed ramping like Zack Snyder does to capture the subjective temporality of reading. His film, unlike Dick Tracy or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, does not highlight the representational artifice of cartooning. Nolan borrows the iconography and some narrative pieces, but his films owe relatively little to their original medium.

 

As we think about the emergence of the comic book movie as a major factor in film production, one could argue that comics and film needed to be ready for each other. Comics had to gain a certain stylistic self-consciousness, thematic maturity, and cultural status and films had to acquire the technical capacity to make us believe a man could fly. Would you agree with this broad strokes analysis of the factors which led to the rise of the comic book movie?

 

I would agree with this to a certain extent. If we look back at how Hollywood treated comic book properties in the 1970s and 1980s, on the cusp of the cultural renaissance that came with the graphic novel, we can see a certain amount of dismissal. In today’s climate, it seems insane that DC Comics and Warner Brothers would sell off the rights to Superman for an independent film and yet, in the 1970s, it seemed perfectly reasonable for a number of reasons. First, as you mention, the special effects technology wasn’t there yet. The Christopher Reeves Superman films went horribly over budget. Secondly, Hollywood wasn’t sure if there was a large enough audience to cover the budgets of such costly films. The Comics Code of the 1950s had recast the American comic as a medium almost exclusively made for children.

 

The irony, of course, is that comic book sales peaked in America in the 1940s and – because of competition from television, video games, and other media – have never come close to recouping. So while comic book films are incredibly financially successful, those dollars do not necessarily migrate back to the comics. Whenever I talk about comic book movies in my classes, it astounds me to find how few of my students have actually read the comics. For most consumers, the films seem to be enough for them to call themselves DC or Marvel fans.

 

Your chapter on Scott Pilgrim begin life as a video essay, a form you have been deeply invested in cultivating and promoting. So, what did you learn through this process of, in effect, adapting this essay between two different delivery platforms? What could you convey through the video essay that was hard to achieve in print and vice-versa?

 

The Scott Pilgrim chapter was a bit of an odd beast. When I planned on including Scott Pilgrim, I was in the midst of the first draft of the book and I thought it was just strictly going to be another formal analysis case study. Then I was asked to cover the film for a entertainment outlet that summer and I was given behind the scenes access. Thanks to that, it evolved from what I initially thought was going to be a forgettable chapter to one of the centerpieces.

Thanks to the interviews I was able to conduct with the creators, the chapter was really exciting to write but it was not, as I found when I initially tried to turn it into an article, terribly exciting to read. Sure, the insights from Edgar Wright and the behind the scenes anecdotes gave the chapter some life, but formal and stylistic analysis can be really hard to write well due to the confines of prose and academic publishing in general. A picture can do a lot, but we deal in moving images and texts that are – to borrow from Raymond Bellour – “unattainable.” We cannot quote a film in an academic monograph the same way a English lit scholar can quote Shakespeare or an Art Historian can duplicate a Pollock painting. So I thought I would roll the dice and take an important section of my book and turn it into a video essay, which allowed me to provide a commentary over moving images. The end result allowed me to compare and contrast the book with the comic in a way that was much more dynamic (a little music can go a long way) and I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions of the large audience that was drawn to the piece (thanks to the social media savvy of Edgar Wright, Matt Zoller Seitz, and yourself!).

 

That being said, the process of adaptation was much more complicated now that I have the benefit of hindsight. The Scott Pilgrim video essay was the third or fourth video piece I had made and came after a long sabbatical from video editing, so I look back at it now and wish I had made certain adjustments. Primarily, the voice over is too dense and I talk way too fast for some of the more complicated ideas (like the adaptation vs. remediation distinction) to take root in non-academic viewers.

 

Yet, the process of making the video essay also taught me how to hone my voice in prose in ways I had not expected. I think a lot of young academics think that scholarship needs to read intelligently – there is a certain vocabulary and toolbox of jargon that comes with academia – and I found I was hiding fairly uncomplicated concepts behind complicated prose in order to sound Professorial. That type of voice doesn’t tend to fly when it comes to video essays; it’s too stilted and dominates the argument. The ideal video essay should let both the audio and the video deliver the argument (which is why I’ve experimented with text only videos in the past); it’s not a conference paper.

 

I tell colleagues and students that a good video essay owes more to a journalistic or broadcasting style. Sentences should be concise, clear, and should roll off the tongue easily (the video essay voice over is a form of performance, after all!). I also tell them that the best “first step” to take is to take the blueprint for your video (which might be an article or a conference paper), throw it away, and ask yourself how you might explain your subject to your mom or dad – someone uninitiated in the language and concepts of Media Studies. That does not mean the ideas articulated are simple or lacking in scholarly rigor – they’re accessible. Fittingly, I have always thought of your voice as being a prime example of this model. I believe, if I remember correctly, that you once practiced journalism and I think that tends to be a really productive background for academics to have because it helps us produce work that can be approached by folks outside the Ivory Tower. So the video essay ended up helping me re-write the prose version into something much more dynamic.

Dr. Drew Morton is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at Texas A&M University-Texarkana and the co-editor of [in]Transition, the first peer-reviewed journal focused on videographic criticism.  He is also the author of the  book Panel to the Frame: Style, American Comics, and Blockbuster Film.

la_rainette: (Default)
I have a trainee these days and she’s super nice but OMG how are you such an extrovert, trainee of mine?

Please don’t follow me to the bathroom! It’s creepy as hell, I am not fond of communal peeing, and HOW THE FUCK do you not realize that I don’t even need to pee, all I want is five minutes of silence!

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dine: (siddig axe - misbegotten)
beatrice_otter: Luna Lovegood, Hermione Granger, Cho Chang (Girls of Potter)
I was reading [archiveofourown.org profile] LullabyKnell's Harry Potter notfic/meta collection (and wishing someone would actually really WRITE some of these ideas, or expand what she's got, because some of them deserve EPIC fic treatments), and came across this bit of meta on Delphi from the Cursed Child. Fair warning, my knowledge of Cursed Child is entirely fandom osmosis and not much of that. (Let's be real. 95.5% of my HP knowledge comes from fandom osmosis--I've never read the books and I know I saw some of the movies in the theater but can't remember which ones, I'm really only in it for the fanfic.)

Anyway! [archiveofourown.org profile] LullabyKnell was reacting to an apparent trend in CC fanfic to make Delphi not actually Voldemort's kid, because someone polyjuiced into him to have sex with Bellatrix, and whoever that was is really Delphi's father. Delphi notes that:
if Delphi was conceived after Bellatrix’s breakout from Azkaban and born before the Battle of Hogwarts, then that means the biological component from Voldemort would have been from his second body. The resurrected-in-the-graveyard one that we only know to be made of a) MAGIC, b) Tom Riddle Senior, b) Peter Pettigrew, and c) Harry Potter. So is Delphi even biologically the original Tom Riddle Junior’s kid? Wasn’t that body destroyed?
Zie then goes on to speculate as to what would happen if, somewhere along the line, Harry and co. figured this out and realized that she was biologically his daughter?

My thoughts turned in a different direction.

The bones of that resurrection potion of Voldemort's came from his despised Muggle father.  And blood is made in bones, so while Harry's blood was a necessary part of the potion and no doubt provided a symbolic link, Voldemort's actual blood, once he'd been alive again for a while, all came from his bones ... which came from his father.  He is no longer a halfblood; on a biological level, he is now a muggle-born.  He has no blood connection with the Gaunts, and hence Salazar Slytherin, any longer.  (If he had realized the implications, he would have found a different way.)  There are some parts of him that come from Pettigrew, but they were mostly fuel and scaffolding.  The genetic bits came from Tom Riddle, Sr.

So he and Bellatrix have a kid.  Except that what neither of them realize is that, biologically, Bellatrix and Tom Riddle Sr have a kid.  (Really, Voldemort should consider himself fortunate that dear Bella never figured it out.  There is not much that could break Bella's loyalty to him, but causing her to bear a half-blood bastard would do it.)

But this is Bella and Voldie, here.  Not really parent-of-the-year material, and anyway, while Voldemort wanted an heir to show off, he doesn't care about them until they get old enough to get molded into what he wants.  Bella, meanwhile, even if she wanted to be a mother to the kid, is in a bit of a delicate spot with her husband, who is slightly less devoted to Voldie than she is.  So the kid gets dumped with a house elf for a nanny, while Bella and Voldemort are off fighting.  There'll be plenty of time later, right, once they've killed all those dirty mudbloods and blood traitors.

So, in the aftermath of the battle, there's a lot of mopping up to do--death eaters to chase down, DE strongholds to clear out, people to put on trial, etc.  The Trio pitch in, but Shacklebolt gives them the assignments least likely to lead to violence.  (He knows they can fight.  But he also knows they're kids and, now that the prophecy is over, they shouldn't have to.)  So that's how they're the ones clearing a DE safehouse when they come across a toddler and a house elf.

The house elf knows its master and mistress are dead, and its loyalties are free.  The house elf isn't a Black elf, so he has no loyalty to Bella that isn't compelled by its binding to her, and Voldemort's never had a house to have house elves for.  The elf's true masters were killed by Death Eaters, so he is perfectly willing--ecstatic, even!--to hand over his charge to Harry Potter, thank him for freeing him, and go off to see if he can find any relatives of his true masters.  Before he goes, he tells them everything he knows.

Harry and Ron, hearing that this kid's parents are Bellatrix Black and Voldemort himself, get grossed out.  Hermione, who knows a bit more about genetics and inheritance than the boys, gets a weird look on her face and starts doing tests.  (She has quite a strong interest in genetics and inheritance.  She has a whole lovely lecture pointing out just how WRONG and STUPID the whole pureblood notion of inheritance and blood purity is, to be used in response to a slur about mudbloods, which she's never gotten to actually use because what's the point in lecturing someone who won't understand how WRONG they are even after you tell them?)

The thing she's most worried about is that the baby might be Harry's, genetically.  That possibility would be the hardest to deal with, because of the personal implications.  But it is quickly ruled out.

A Pettigrew connection might be the best-case scenario, and it's easy to find his body, get a sample, and compare it.  That, too, is ruled out.

Hermione and Ron go back to the graveyard where Cedric was murdered without Harry.  Someone needs to watch little Delly, after all.  They get what they need.  It's a match.  Delly is, biologically, the daughter of the muggle Tom Rilddle, Sr, and thus the half-sister of Voldemort.

It's almost a good thing there are so many war orphans; Delly Riddle is very easy to slip in among them.  The story they give is completely true.  It's just missing a few details.  Delly Riddle, they say, is a muggleborn whose parents were killed by Death Eaters.  Delly Riddle, they say, was found by a witch and given over to a house elf to raise and keep safe.  That witch, they say, died in the war.  Delly Riddle, they say, has no living muggle relatives, so now she needs a new wizarding foster or adoptive family.

No eyebrows are raised.  It's a believable story, and more than they know about a couple of other very young war orphans.

(The irony is, a few years later, that one of those other war orphans with a mysterious past gets fingered as a possible Heir of Voldemort.  Nobody quite knows how the rumor starts, but once it does, people get hysterical.  The Trio watch with helpless fury, seeing what it does to that poor kid.  They do their best to dispel the rumors, frustrated that they can't prove how they know.  After all, they can't say "We know Melody Legato isn't Voldemort's kid because Delly Riddle is.")

violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (Default)
posted by [personal profile] violsva at 12:13pm on 29/03/2017 under ,
Finished

Two novel length fanfics; one I've reread a few dozen times and enjoyed again; the other by an author whose short works I've liked but which was an utter failure as a novel: the romance plot wasn't fully developed and the action plot completely failed at suspense or ever feeling like anything was truly at stake.

In Progress

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer and Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho: You will note I am going much faster on fanfic than original fiction.

Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont: Still enjoying, still slow.

Other

Listened to several chapters of Persuasion by Jane Austen while spinning.

Mentors to the Romans: The Search for the Etruscans by Richard M. Bongiovanni: Got this out of the library because Etruscans, neat!; after reading the first couple chapters it looks a lot like a vanity project and I don't think I'd trust the author. (Also the bibliography wasn't alphabetized.) Oh well.

Library

Read half of Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800 by Khaled El-Rouayheb and will read the rest next week. Looked through Female Masculinities by Judith Halberstam. Read four or so chapters of Room With a View by E. M. Forster and flipped through a few books on Virginia Woolf looking for information about the Hogarth Press.
selenak: (Bilbo Baggins)
In which we travel from the South lIsland to the North Island and visit the capital.

And some movie magic )
Mood:: 'calm' calm
location: Toringoro
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
posted by [personal profile] wildeabandon at 05:04pm on 29/03/2017
This year I organised my first every readthrough weekend (with [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist) of the first two seasons of Game of Thrones. It seemed to go reasonably well, so next year we'll be doing seasons three and four.

First dibs on places will go to people who came to the first one, but there'll be at least one more space, and maybe more if some people decide they can't make it. If you think it might be your kind of thing, there's a poll about interest and dates here.
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
2017/27: A Quiet Life -- Natasha Walter
... she has been cleverer than all of them, she thinks to herself. No one suspects her. Valance even thinks that she will work for him, if he needs her. Even Mother, even Ellen, even Winifred; nobody thinks that she was anything but an innocent wife. Her mask has been a good one. Has her face stayed intact behind it?


Based on the life of Melinda Marling, the wife of Donald McLean, A Quiet Life tells the story of Laura Leverett who travels from America to London just before the outbreak of the Second World War. On board ship she meets some Communists, including the charismatic Florence: in London she pretends to her relatives that she has a secret boyfriend, so as to slip out to Party meetings. Then she meets Edward, a sophisticated chap who works at the Foreign Office: he turns out to be a spy. They marry. Now Laura is a spy too. Edward and Laura go to Washington after the war: then Edward's double life is uncovered, they return to England, and Edward flees his house in Surrey and his pregnant wife.

This could have been so much better than it was. Laura seems to have little personality and no real direction. She overhears various damning comments about herself but, if she's upset or angry, we don't see it. She is also oblivious to her husband's homosexuality, and to her own romantic / sexual impulses towards Florence and other women of her acquaintance. Which is not to say that Edward and Laura have a platonic relationship: on the contrary, sex is the glue that holds them together, though it is presented in a transactional way: did they both climax? Did they climax together?

Walter may have heard the axiom 'show, don't tell' but she is having none of it. Far too many conversations are summarised, rather than given in full: "in their comments on her, which moved from the admiring to the moralising, they hinted at their own desires. After that the conversation led on to other things, but they felt more warmly now towards one another..." This technique makes Laura feel more distant. I don't know how much of her behaviour is in service of the mask she must present, the pretty silly American wife: but there doesn't seem to be anything much behind the mask. True, there's a secret that she's kept since her teenaged years: I'm not sure if the nature of this secret was ever indicated, though I suspect it is something to do with her family, from whom she attempts to distance herself throughout the novel. Only once abandoned by Edward is she forced to accept that her mother's fidelity is in fact love: it's not clear whether Laura reciprocates at all.

I did like the descriptions of wartime London -- and there are occasional flashes of excellence, like the description of London seen from a fast car 'rolling past the windows with a kind of emphatic repleteness'. On the whole, though, I would rather have read an actual biography.

I may have missed something: much more positive review
Mood:: 'disappointed' disappointed

Posted by Tim Worstall

It’s not that I expect the European Union Commission to actually get anything economic correct but it is still a pity to see them ruling an entire continent on the basis of economic mistakes. As with this blocking of the merger between the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse. Their stated grounds, about the creation of a monopoly, are simply wrong. What matters is not market concentration nor even monopoly itself. It’s whether there is a moat around the market concentration, whether the monopoly is contestable or not:

An attempted merger between the German and British stock exchanges was struck down by European regulators on Wednesday, formally ending a deal that unraveled in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

“We could not approve this merger on the terms … proposed,” said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, blocking the 29 billion-euro ($31 billion) deal to combine Deutsche Boerse and the London Stock Exchange.

It’s not so much that that is the wrong decision, it’s that the grounds they took into consideration while making the decision are wrong:

On Wednesday, the European Commission officially blocked the deal, with Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s competition commissioner, citing concerns that a merger would create a “de facto monopoly” in the clearing of bonds and fixed-income products.

That isn’t what matters:

The merger would have led to a de facto monopoly in clearing of fixed income instruments (bonds and repurchase agreements) in Europe, where the parties are the only relevant providers of these services. In particular, the merger would have combined DBAG’s Frankfurt based clearing house Eurex with LSEG’s clearing houses LCH.Clearnet (which comprises London based LCH.Clearnet Ltd and Paris based LCH.Clearnet SA) and Rome based Cassa di Compensazione e Garanzia.
This monopoly in clearing fixed income instruments would also have had a knock-on effect on the downstream markets for settlement, custody and collateral management. Service providers in these markets depend on transaction feeds from clearing houses. As DBAG’s Clearstream competes with these service providers, the merged entity would have had the ability and the incentive to divert transaction feeds to Clearstream and foreclose the other competitors.

That’s simply not the right way to think about monopoly and competition.

Mrs Vestager said the deal would have created “a de facto” monopoly in fixed income markets. “The commission cannot allow the creation of monopolies, and this is what would have happened in this case,” she said.

And again, that’s simply wrong as a matter of economics.

Monopolies are just fine. It’s the exploitation of monopolies which isn’t fine. As I’ve pointed out before I had an effective monopoly on the global trading of scandium for a few years. And I didn’t exploit it because I wasn’t able to. Being a scandium dealer was just a matter of putting in a couple of month’s work to find out who produced and who used and making sure you had their phone numbers. I wasn’t able to therefore jack up my prices and wax fat off my monopoly–because what I had was an eminently contestable monopoly. Indeed people came along, contested it and I’m not in the field any more.

The important thing about monopolies therefore is not whether one exists. It’s whether someone is trying to exploit it and if they are, can people contest that monopoly?

Take another such monopoly that people have worried about recently. In 2010 China started trying to exploit it’s near monopoly of the production of rare earths. As I pointed out back then that was a contestable monopoly they had. Their throwing their weight around would lead to competition. As it did. China’s monopoly was broken and prices are now well below what they were in 2010.

The correct question the EU Commission should have been asking is as follows–if the merged company started to try and exploit their monopoly could competition to it arise? If so there are no grounds to block it. That isn’t even the question they asked therefore their decision is wrong.

Posted by Tim Worstall

It’s an obvious truism that regulations which make a certain activity more expensive are going to reduce the amount of that activity. Supply curves do slope downwards, demand ones up, after all. Thus it is equally obvious that if we rescind those regulations creating that greater expense then, at the margin, there will be more of that activity again. And since activity is often linked to employment level we would think that Trump’s rolling back some of the regulations which make coal mining more expensive will increase the employment of miners. And we would be right to think so. And yet the effect of that will be trivial because it’s not in fact regulation which has been killing off mining as a source of mass employment. It’s technological change and the change in regulation isn’t going to affect that in the slightest.

Thus this:

But industry experts say coal mining jobs will continue to be lost, not because of blocked access to coal, but because power plant owners are turning to natural gas. At least six plants that relied on coal have closed or announced they will close since Trump’s victory in November, including the main plant at the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, the largest in the West. Another 40 are projected to close during the president’s four-year term.

That’s part of it, certainly. But that’s not all of it, not by a long shot. Even if we really went for it and banned using natural gas for energy provision–an insane thing to do but just pretend–we’d not get all those coal mining jobs back. Because we’ve two, not just the one, economic changes here.

The first is that change in the energy mix. That could actually change if, for example, anyone could ever get clean coal to work in an economic manner. I don’t think anyone ever will but that’s another matter. Assume they do and thus we’ll need more coal and all the jobs will come flooding back, right?

Nope, they’ll still not come flooding back. Because the age of mass employment in mining is over.

Secondly, there’s easier coal out there than those Appalachian mines like the strip mining out west for example. Once mines have closed you don’t reopen them if cheaper alternatives exist. You might keep running them because of sunk costs, but you don’t start again when cheaper alternatives are elsewhere.

A rough pencil sketch of coal mining is as follows. Please don’t write in to complain about details here, this is a sketch. We can have strip mining, where the coal’s reasonably close to the surface so we scrape that off and we use a truly vast machine to get at the coal. Like this:


One of these that’s used in East Germany is said–by the makers of it, so pinch of salt–to be the largest man made machine ever. Note that there’s not a lot of people in shot there.

The other basic method is deep mining. The coal’s down 500 feet or something and we don’t want to have to strip that overburden off. So, we sink a shaft and then dig our through the coal seam from the level down there. That’s the only type of coal mining that fosters mass employment. And today’s methods use a lot less than those of yesteryear too.

We’ve also mountain top which is mostly used in Appalachia. There the coal is under a light overburden but it’s also on the top of the mountain. So instead of stripping it off we blow it off then collect the coal as with strip mining. Again, not a lot of employment there although that blowing does mean we spend quite a bit of money on people who know their amyl nitrate from their nitroglycerine.

And the thing is we’re really not going to go deep mining for coal ever again. I’d be willing to bet on this–sorta steak dinner and bottle of wine level of bet–that no deep mine for coal will ever be opened again in the rich world. It wouldn’t in fact surprise me if that were true of the world in fact. Technological change has meant that strip mining is far the cheaper option and there’s just no shortage of places we can go strip mining. Thus we’re just not going to see mass employment in coal mining ever again.

Mining and manufacturing are following agriculture in this. It’s all devolving down to one bloke with a big machine. Sure, the name of the machine might change, combine harvester, robot factory, bucket excavator, but it all really is becoming machines doing all the work with perhaps an overseer or two. Meaning that we’re simply not going to have that mass employment in any of those sectors ever again. Agriculture used to be 80% of the employment in every society, for the US it’s now 1%. Manufacturing has been 40% and it’s now perhaps 10% of employment and it’s going to go to 1% or lower at some point. UK coal mining alone went from 1.2 million people in 1920 to, effectively, none today (2,000 miners remaining is statistical noise among 30 million workers).

The truth is that the future of human labour is indoor work with no heavy lifting. Something we should be celebrating rather than turning back the clock to the bad old days.

Posted by Mark Sisson

Inline_Trace_NutrientsEveryone reading this knows about the macronutrients. You’re all eating enough protein, fat, carbs, and the various sub-categories, like fiber, omega-3s, MUFAs, SFAs, linoleic acid, and so on. You know the major micronutrients, like magnesium, calcium, vitamin B12, and most of the minor (but still vital) ones, like plant polyphenols, iodine, and vitamin K2. Today I’ll be talking about the truly obscure nutrients. The ones health food hipsters were super into like, five years ago (“I’m taking beta-1,3-glucan, you probably haven’t heard of it, there’s only one group at Hokkaido University doing any research, you can only get it off the DarkNet using bitcoins”). The ones Grok was super into like, 50,000 years ago.

What are they, what do they do for us, and, if they’re so great, how did Grok obtain them?

Beta-glucans

Beta-glucans are fibrous carbohydrates that make up the cell walls of certain organisms. They’re found in oats, yeasts, and—most relevant to you—mushrooms. Rather than just provide colonic bulk or prebiotic substrate, what makes beta-glucans so uniquely attractive is their ability to modulate the immune system.

Given to critically-ill patients on enteral feeding, they reduced CRP and improved immune function.

They may improve the immune system’s ability to fight tumors.

According to a recent survey of wild and cultivated mushrooms, both types contain appreciable levels of beta-glucans. Were our hunter-gatherer ancestors eating mushrooms? Almost certainly. Recent research into dental residues found that Neanderthals living in Spain ate gray shag mushrooms. They may even have used mushrooms for their medicinal properties, as gray shag contains an antimicrobial protein.

Phosphatidylserine

One of the hardest words in the English language to type, phosphatidylserine is probably my favorite stress-fighter. The body doesn’t make much of it and stress depletes what little we have. PS works on both mental and physical stress, improving mood and blunting cortisol after physical exercise. (And, yes, it’s why I include PS in Primal Calm.) Older folks in particular seem to benefit from PS, enjoying boosts to memory and cognitive function. Kids with ADHD show better attention when given PS, especially paired with fish oil.

After refined soy lecithin, an industrial product Grok never would have had access to, the best source of PS is ruminant brain. If that sounds like an arcane, unrealistic food source, guess again. Before we were top hunters, we scavenged. We ate the stuff the top carnivores couldn’t, like load-bearing bones and heads, both of which we’d shatter with rocks to obtain the marrow and brains inside. After brain, which is no longer available due to Mad Cow disease worries, the best sources are cold water mackerel, herring, and chicken hearts. A 100 gram (3.5 oz) serving of any of them will give you between 400-700 mg of PS, which matches or exceeds the dosages used in the studies.

Inositol

To give you an idea of inositol’s importance, it used to be called vitamin B8. To give you explicit details of insoitol’s importance, I’ll discuss some research.

High dose inositol can reduce anxiety, even comparing favorably with some pharmaceuticals. It can also reduce insulin resistance and improve fertility in women with PCOS.

If you’ve got the right gut bacteria—and since Grok spent his entire life immersed in a decidedly un-sterile world of dirt and bugs and animal guts, he likely did—you can even convert phytic acid into inositol. Or, rather, they can. That means nuts and seeds effectively become good sources of inositol, provided you train your gut bacteria to make the conversion.

Beta-alanine/Carnosine

Carnosine is woefully underrated. Found abundantly in meat, it’s a combo of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine. We can synthesize it in our bodies, but in-house synthesis isn’t always up to par. And if it is, adequate isn’t always optimal.

High levels of carnosine are linked to muscle endurance and it acts as an antioxidant in the brainThere’s something called chicken extract that can enhance mood and reduce anxiety, and speed up recovery from stress-related fatigue, and it’s basically a carnosine supplement.

There’s some evidence that taking beta-alanine as a precursor is more effective at increasing muscle carnosine content than taking carnosine itself. We can absorb carnosine, but it doesn’t seem to increase serum levelsBeta-alanine is one of the fitness supplements with the most support in the literature. If you can get past the pins and needles feeling it provokes, beta-alanine can provide:

Either way, you could just eat meat, the ultimate source of both beta-alanine and pre-formed carnosine. People with a history of athletics have higher muscle carnosine levels than non athletes, and researchers suspect this might be due to the former’s higher meat intakes.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)

ALA is created in the mitochondria (especially liver mitochondria) to assist in the creation of various mitochondrial enzymes and Acetyl-COA, which we need to metabolize fats, protein, and carbohydrates. In short, we use ALA to produce cellular energy and maintain cellular function. It’s extremely important.

Yes, we make it. We can still use some extra, some of us more than others.

Diabetics: ALA has also been shown to prevent the descent from glucose intolerance into full-blown type 2 diabetes and increase insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics. It may even reduce diabetic neuropathic pain.

Oxidative stress: In patients with metabolic syndrome and endothelial dysfunction, 300 mg/day reduced several markers of inflammation and improved vasodilation. In healthy exercising men, it reduced lipid peroxidation and increased glutathione.

Kidney has between 3-4 mcg of ALA for every gram. Liver, around 1-2 mcg/g and beef heart, about 1 mcg/g. Spinach, tomato, and broccoli are the best sources of ALA in the vegetable kingdom. If you try to get ALA through food, you’re looking at a dose far smaller than you’d get through supplementation, and far smaller than the doses used in research. Then again, the amount of oxidative stress we face as modern humans is unprecedented, whether it’s from the diets we eat, the psychological stress we undergo, the exercise we don’t get, the lack of sleep, the absence of meaning, the loneliness, the disjointed manner in which so many of us lead our lives. Hunter-gatherers by and large didn’t have these problems. They had other problems, more immediate ones. But they weren’t bogged down by the chronic oxidative stress that requires supplementation.

You’ve probably noticed that the research I cite to support the importance of these obscure nutrients almost always uses supplemental doses unachievable through natural sources. Does this mean we can’t benefit from taking them?

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate a wider variety of plants, all wild. Wild plants are exposed to more environmental stressors than domesticated plants. To stay robust and survive, the wild plants produce higher levels of polyphenols. They were effectively consuming superfoods in every bite. Supplements can play that role.

Our ancestors lived lives punctuated by short bouts of extreme stress. If they survived, they were more resistant to future stressors, with less inflammation. We don’t have that. We have chronic stress that breaks us down, makes us more vulnerable to future stressors, with more inflammation. If we want similar stress resistance, we must manufacture it and then make sure we get ample recovery time, all while getting a handle on the chronic stress. Supplements can help with that.

Our ancestors likely didn’t deal with the kind of existential crises and psychosocial stress we embroil ourselves in. They break us down and deplete reserves of critical nutrients required for stress resistance. Supplements can replenish them.

If I’ve done my job, you’ll be rushing out in the next few hours to grab chicken hearts, kidneys, almonds and Brazil nuts from the grocery store and forage for mushrooms out in the woods. Right?

Thanks for reading, everyone.

What are your favorite nutrients that few people know about (or ones you’d like me to write about in the future)? What vitamin, mineral, or phytonutrient were you taking before it was cool? Take care.

phc1_640x80

The post 5 Obscure Nutrients: Why We Need Them and How Grok Got Them appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

meganbmoore: (badlands: butterflies)
posted by [personal profile] meganbmoore at 10:17am on 29/03/2017 under
 Even post-apocalyptic Wuxia manages to jump on the anti-Trump political commentary train.

spoilers )
oracne: turtle (Default)
posted by [personal profile] oracne at 08:37am on 29/03/2017 under , ,
I'm slowly reading Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older - it's YA, but still set in the Bone Street Rumba universe. (There was a small crossover in Midnight Taxi Tango.)

Sierra, the main character, is a high school artist working on a mural in her Brooklyn neighborhood when she notices that a mural portrait of one of her grandfather's deceased friends has changed its expression, which, creepy and cool! I love this book. I love the rich details of setting and culture, and I love the range of characters, and I love the fast-paced dialogue. And I love Sierra, whose policy about boys is "ignore, ignore, ignore."

The best thing about it is the role older people play in Sierra's life. Her grandfather is disabled from a stroke, but she interacts with many of his contemporaries in the neighborhood, which to me gives a richness you don't find when the teenaged protagonist only hangs out with other teenagers.

There's a sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, out in September. Yay!
executrix: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] executrix at 10:34am on 29/03/2017
http://act.amnestyusa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1839&ea.campaign.id=30673&ea.url.id=888400

You can sign up for Amnesty International to send you information about lobbying Congresscritters during the upcoming "spring lobby weeks" (April 10-21) about human rights issues.
telophase: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] telophase at 08:47am on 29/03/2017
so the patio furniture we ordered is theoretically on a FedEx truck to be delivered today...the FedEx website says we're getting a single package 12" x 12" x 9" that weighs 3 pounds.

Hmmm.
posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 01:38pm on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

Dear President Tusk
On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.
Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

posted by [syndicated profile] xkcd_feed at 04:00am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Phil Plait

Falcon 9 launch of CRS-8
0

On Thursday, SpaceX plans another first: Reusing a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket booster to launch a satellite into space.

james: clint barton from the comics with caption when you say it like that it sounds stupid (clint comics stupid)
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I recently had a baby girl, our first. We both work full-time, but my husband is gone nights and weekends and I'm the primary parent at home with our daughter.

Something has been bothering me since my daughter came along. My in-laws have never once told me I'm doing a good job as a mother. I'm critiqued every time they come over, whether it be that her hands are too cold, her room is too warm or her nails are too "sharp."

They compliment my husband repeatedly, and he's the first to give all the credit to me, but I feel like they don't think I'm doing a good job and it makes me feel bad. Am I being too sensitive? -- CRITICIZED ALL THE TIME

DEAR CRITICIZED: It is possible that in making these comments, your in-laws are simply trying to be helpful. Instead of regarding them as criticism, take them under consideration.

However, if your hurt feelings persist, you -- or your husband -- should point out to his parents that in trying to be helpful, they have forgotten to be supportive, and mention some of the things you are doing right.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
yifu: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] yifu at 07:32pm on 29/03/2017 under

Legend of the Condor Heroes 2017 eps 45-48: After next week, no more episodes, sniff.

Impressive, solid 12-minute fight between Huang Yaoshi and Quanzhen + Guo Jing. The slo-mo is back, but not on the level of annoying as in the, say, Qiu Chuji vs Jiangnan Freaks fight. If 12 minutes sound short, may you never have to watch wuxia series where fights last for a whole ten seconds and/or the camera is more interested in the spectators than the people fighting.

They cut out the tiny but memorable scenes that make the above fight lolarious, like Huang Yaoshi slapping Guo Jing because Huang Rong cries, or Hong Qigong telling Guo Jing and Huang Rong to massage his shoulders. In exchange we get an angsty convo by a green river (plenty of green bodies of water in this series).

Chen Xingxu's acting remains good until the end. I like it better than Michael Miu's rendition of the same part *ducks*

Yes, the revelation scene at the Iron Spear Temple is good. More candles. Wanyan Honglie must be sweating rivers under his outfit.

Huazheng: 1983 and 2008's versions are too clingy and tearful. The 1994 and 2003 versions are more nonchalant about not getting to marry Guo Jing, and that characterization is closer to the novel's. 2017 tries to balance the two interpretations. Judgment pending ftm.

Mood:: 'relieved' relieved
Music:: Complicated - w-inds
elisi: (Democracy)
posted by [personal profile] elisi at 01:26pm on 29/03/2017 under ,
The Independent: Brexit is not the high point of democracy – it's the greatest fraud ever perpetrated in British politics
An irate local farmer told me he voted to leave as a protest against EU bureaucracy that delayed payments of his subsidies. He thought Defra was an EU department. He didn’t realise it was The Department for Rural Affairs and that the EU had fined our governmental department for its incompetent administration of subsidies
posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 11:23am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

O’Actually is a website dedicated to educating and enhancing female sexual pleasure. The site’s content ranges from podcasts, to stimulation guides, to products to encourage women to explore their sexual experiences more. . . er, deeply. One method is through a program called the Pleasure Pledge designed to help women take charge of their sex lives by committing to achieving one orgasm per day.

To participate in the pledge, women are asked to commit to their personal pleasure by vowing to have an orgasm a day via her preferred method. This program is believed to be successful and help women get more in touch with their bodies.

Posted by Anthony Wells

YouGov’s regular voting intention poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 43%, LAB 25%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 10%. The Conservative lead remains strong and third place continues to bounce back and forth between the Lib Dems and UKIP (I expect they are actually about even and we’re just seeing normal random sample variation).

On best Prime Minister May leads Jeremy Corbyn by 53% to 13%. This is May’s highest figure since her honeymoon, Jeremy Corbyn’s lowest ever and the 38 point gap is the biggest we’ve recorded so far. This is the first poll since the attack on Parliament and Prime Ministers sometimes do see a boost to their reputation if they are seen to have handled an emergency with confidence so it could be connected, or the timing could be pure co-incidence.

The reason for the huge gap is Corbyn’s low support among Labour voters. Typically people answer these questions along partisan lines – Tory voters pick the Tory leader, Labour voters pick the Labour leader, the best PM lead ends up being similar to the voting intention lead. At the moment 94% of current Tory voters think that May would make the better Prime Minister, but only 46% of current Labour voters say Corbyn would (15% say May, 39% say “Not sure”). Among people who voted Labour at the last election Corbyn’s position is even worse, only 27% say he would make the better Prime Minister, 29% say Theresa May. Full tabs are here.

Given today is Article 50 day, I’ve also written a much longer piece over on the YouGov website bringing together lots of the recent YouGov research on Brexit – you can find that here.

Posted by Bruce Schneier

Last month at the RSA Conference, I saw a lot of companies selling security incident response automation. Their promise was to replace people with computers ­-- sometimes with the addition of machine learning or other artificial intelligence techniques ­-- and to respond to attacks at computer speeds.

While this is a laudable goal, there's a fundamental problem with doing this in the short term. You can only automate what you're certain about, and there is still an enormous amount of uncertainty in cybersecurity. Automation has its place in incident response, but the focus needs to be on making the people effective, not on replacing them ­ security orchestration, not automation.

This isn't just a choice of words ­-- it's a difference in philosophy. The US military went through this in the 1990s. What was called the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was supposed to change how warfare was fought. Satellites, drones and battlefield sensors were supposed to give commanders unprecedented information about what was going on, while networked soldiers and weaponry would enable troops to coordinate to a degree never before possible. In short, the traditional fog of war would be replaced by perfect information, providing certainty instead of uncertainty. They, too, believed certainty would fuel automation and, in many circumstances, allow technology to replace people.

Of course, it didn't work out that way. The US learned in Afghanistan and Iraq that there are a lot of holes in both its collection and coordination systems. Drones have their place, but they can't replace ground troops. The advances from the RMA brought with them some enormous advantages, especially against militaries that didn't have access to the same technologies, but never resulted in certainty. Uncertainty still rules the battlefield, and soldiers on the ground are still the only effective way to control a region of territory.

But along the way, we learned a lot about how the feeling of certainty affects military thinking. Last month, I attended a lecture on the topic by H.R. McMaster. This was before he became President Trump's national security advisor-designate. Then, he was the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. His lecture touched on many topics, but at one point he talked about the failure of the RMA. He confirmed that military strategists mistakenly believed that data would give them certainty. But he took this change in thinking further, outlining the ways this belief in certainty had repercussions in how military strategists thought about modern conflict.

McMaster's observations are directly relevant to Internet security incident response. We too have been led to believe that data will give us certainty, and we are making the same mistakes that the military did in the 1990s. In a world of uncertainty, there's a premium on understanding, because commanders need to figure out what's going on. In a world of certainty, knowing what's going on becomes a simple matter of data collection.

I see this same fallacy in Internet security. Many companies exhibiting at the RSA Conference promised to collect and display more data and that the data will reveal everything. This simply isn't true. Data does not equal information, and information does not equal understanding. We need data, but we also must prioritize understanding the data we have over collecting ever more data. Much like the problems with bulk surveillance, the "collect it all" approach provides minimal value over collecting the specific data that's useful.

In a world of uncertainty, the focus is on execution. In a world of certainty, the focus is on planning. I see this manifesting in Internet security as well. My own Resilient Systems ­-- now part of IBM Security --­ allows incident response teams to manage security incidents and intrusions. While the tool is useful for planning and testing, its real focus is always on execution.

Uncertainty demands initiative, while certainty demands synchronization. Here, again, we are heading too far down the wrong path. The purpose of all incident response tools should be to make the human responders more effective. They need both the ability and the capability to exercise it effectively.

When things are uncertain, you want your systems to be decentralized. When things are certain, centralization is more important. Good incident response teams know that decentralization goes hand in hand with initiative. And finally, a world of uncertainty prioritizes command, while a world of certainty prioritizes control. Again, effective incident response teams know this, and effective managers aren't scared to release and delegate control.

Like the US military, we in the incident response field have shifted too much into the world of certainty. We have prioritized data collection, preplanning, synchronization, centralization and control. You can see it in the way people talk about the future of Internet security, and you can see it in the products and services offered on the show floor of the RSA Conference.

Automation, too, is fixed. Incident response needs to be dynamic and agile, because you are never certain and there is an adaptive, malicious adversary on the other end. You need a response system that has human controls and can modify itself on the fly. Automation just doesn't allow a system to do that to the extent that's needed in today's environment. Just as the military shifted from trying to replace the soldier to making the best soldier possible, we need to do the same.

For some time, I have been talking about incident response in terms of OODA loops. This is a way of thinking about real-time adversarial relationships, originally developed for airplane dogfights, but much more broadly applicable. OODA stands for observe-orient-decide-act, and it's what people responding to a cybersecurity incident do constantly, over and over again. We need tools that augment each of those four steps. These tools need to operate in a world of uncertainty, where there is never enough data to know everything that is going on. We need to prioritize understanding, execution, initiative, decentralization and command.

At the same time, we're going to have to make all of this scale. If anything, the most seductive promise of a world of certainty and automation is that it allows defense to scale. The problem is that we're not there yet. We can automate and scale parts of IT security, such as antivirus, automatic patching and firewall management, but we can't yet scale incident response. We still need people. And we need to understand what can be automated and what can't be.

The word I prefer is orchestration. Security orchestration represents the union of people, process and technology. It's computer automation where it works, and human coordination where that's necessary. It's networked systems giving people understanding and capabilities for execution. It's making those on the front lines of incident response the most effective they can be, instead of trying to replace them. It's the best approach we have for cyberdefense.

Automation has its place. If you think about the product categories where it has worked, they're all areas where we have pretty strong certainty. Automation works in antivirus, firewalls, patch management and authentication systems. None of them is perfect, but all those systems are right almost all the time, and we've developed ancillary systems to deal with it when they're wrong.

Automation fails in incident response because there's too much uncertainty. Actions can be automated once the people understand what's going on, but people are still required. For example, IBM's Watson for Cyber Security provides insights for incident response teams based on its ability to ingest and find patterns in an enormous amount of freeform data. It does not attempt a level of understanding necessary to take people out of the equation.

From within an orchestration model, automation can be incredibly powerful. But it's the human-centric orchestration model --­ the dashboards, the reports, the collaboration --­ that makes automation work. Otherwise, you're blindly trusting the machine. And when an uncertain process is automated, the results can be dangerous.

Technology continues to advance, and this is all a changing target. Eventually, computers will become intelligent enough to replace people at real-time incident response. My guess, though, is that computers are not going to get there by collecting enough data to be certain. More likely, they'll develop the ability to exhibit understanding and operate in a world of uncertainty. That's a much harder goal.

Yes, today, this is all science fiction. But it's not stupid science fiction, and it might become reality during the lifetimes of our children. Until then, we need people in the loop. Orchestration is a way to achieve that.

This essay previously appeared on the Security Intelligence blog.

posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 10:00am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

Yesterday the Telegraph told its staff they were planning to lay-off 20 sub-editors and farms out their work to Press Association.

Did the Telegraph have 20 subs left?

And yes, isn’t that a gorgeous corollary to Muphry’s Law there from Guido.

Posted by Tim Worstall

Absolute poverty around the world has halved in the past couple of decades. That was the one of the Millennium Development Goals which was actually overachieved and early to boot. But that definition of absolute poverty is pretty meagre. It’s $1.90 a day. That’s after we adjust for differences in prices across time and place. It might even be true that lentils are 2 cents a tonne in some place–we’ve already adjusted for that by using PPP exchange rates. So, what we mean is that someone has $1.90 a day to walk into Walmart, at today’s American prices, and buy all that they need to feed, clothe, wash, warm (or cool) themselves, gain health care and save for that pension they’ll not live long enough to collect.

This is also the value of their consumption–if they’re growing a bit of maize by the door of their mud hut then that’s included in that $1.90. This is, of course, a level of poverty which absolutely no one, absent serious mental health or addiction problems, comes anywhere close to suffering in the rich countries. No, that book, $2 a Day, was not about this, that was about cash income, an entirely different concept. This is about the value of consumption.

At which point, well, why do we use this number? The answer being that it’s an important one. It’s the level of life you get as a rural peasant. The one machete and a half acre of maize against the world sorta lifestyle gains you a standard of living which is equivalent to $1.90 a day at today’s American prices. It is, thus, the level of lifestyle which Malthusian economic growth produces. It’s also, because of that, the level of lifestyle you get without an industrial revolution. Finally, it’s an important number because much below that and the number of people starts to fall. As, you know, they die. That $1.90 is thus also the subsistence lifestyle.

This makes this sort of discussion more than faintly ridiculous:

As to whether poverty has been rising or falling, if you use $5 a day—Kirk and Hickel’s preferred cutoff—they suggest that 4 billion people still live below that threshold, and that (absolute) number has been rising over time. The latest povcalnet numbers involve different adjustments for purchasing power across countries than Hickel’s sources originally used, so aren’t directly comparable, but use his preferred new line of $7.40 and the number of poor has indeed climbed: from 3.8 billion to 4.1 billion since 1990.

We can define any level of consumption we like as poverty, of course we can. Generally in rich countries we say at less than 60% of median income. Perhaps we should (and we often do) use something like $10 a day to mean entry into the global middle class. And we can most certainly use much higher targets as aspirations. Like most of the rich country professional classes (including most of the professors having this discussion and quite possibly many of the readers here) I know how fortunate I am that the happenstance of birth–by place and time–has my enjoying consumption possibilities of perhaps $200 a day. And I’m just fine with that as an aspiration that we’ll get everyone there at some point too. Indeed, I fervently hope we do get there.

But that $1.90 a day is still an important measure and it’s one we should keep. We can rename it if we want, even replace it with a higher target, but it’s still an important measure. Because that is the lifestyle which being in a Malthusian economy gains you. The signifier here being that at some level of technology that’s what being a peasant farmer gains you. As Angus Maddison’s figures* show, over the millennia, that’s pretty much what human existence has been. The point about a Malthusian economy being that when technology advances then yes, incomes go up. A new crop arrives, a new technique perhaps, and there’s more food around. So, more children survive and give it three generations and the effect of the new technology is more people living in the same old $1.90 a day poverty.

And that’s been the historical experience of all humans from Ur of the Chaldees to 1750. Living standards just didn’t change much, it was population size which did. If incomes fell substantially below this then people died and there were fewer people, production increases and we just get more people.

And that’s the importance of this measure. Not because it’s a signifier of the incomes we want to get people above. We want everyone to be having gaspingly as much fun as we’re having at this top of the income pyramid. Rather, because beating that number means that people are rising up out of peasant, Malthusian, poverty. A world where everyone was on $4 a day or more would be one where advances in production were not simply arriving as more people in the next generation, it would be one where said production increases were raising living standards. And that’s the importance of it as a target, as an aspiration.

We don’t use $1.90 a day as the target because if we get there we’re done. Rather, that’s the target because above that we’ve cut the bonds of Malthus, we’ve started that process to Smithian and thus ongoing growth.

*GDP of $600 a year and $1.90 a day are not the same thing. But they’re pretty close to each other. Most of the difference is in the inflation adjustment, Maddison is using the USD in 1992 I think, the World Bank’s current $1.90 the USD of today or something close to it. It’s the dollar that has changed in value, meaning that a $1 a day lifestyle in 1990 or so now costs $1.90.

Posted by Tim Worstall

A song for Europe is how parts of the Eurovision Song Contest are often described and it manages to throw up more than the occasional horror. What did our fellow Europeans ever do to us to deserve our infliction of the Brotherhood of Man upon them? Well, yes, invasion attempts, World Wars and all that, garlic in food even, but Brotherhood of Man? Sheesh, tough people we Brits, well beyond stern but fair.

However, on this day of the triggering of Article 50 we should perhaps try to see off the old relationship with a cheery song. And I will admit to being most biased here. I worked for Ukip as a press officer in the lead up to the 2009 euro-elections, stood in them. Immediately after the Maastricht Treaty I was phoning up the Foreign Office to find out how I could be a British citizen without also being a European one–this is something that is finally going to become possible. My very first writings upon this here internet were on Usenet, in the old sci-econ, ranting on about the rancid idiocy of the euro itself.

I am not, in the slightest, ambivalent, worried, cautious nor even balanced about this:

Off we go, headlong downhill, off piste, our Eddie the Eagle Brexit negotiators tumbling down towards a great crevasse. Far from “taking back control”, as Theresa May sends off our suicide letter on Wednesday, we will abandon all control as we place ourselves at the mercy of the goodwill or otherwise of each of the EU 27.

“We won, job done,” declared Douglas Carswell, and he’s right. The most extreme Brexiteers have so far won the day, light years distant from the softly reassuring arguments Vote Leave made before the referendum.

Yes, we did win, that’s my lot, the winners:

Shortly after 4.30pm yesterday, Mrs May signed a letter notifying the European Council of Britain’s intention to leave the EU. Once the letter is handed over today, two years of talks will begin on the terms of withdrawal allowed under Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.

We’ve pulled the trigger and we’re leaving:

It promises to be one of the most complicated negotiations in history. Whitehall civil servants are said to have identified 700 different issues of administrative overlap that need to be untangled before Britain can cut itself loose from the European Union.

Some see that as a problem, I see it as the point. But if we are to have that cheery song what should that song be? There is really only one possibility. It has very unfortunate historical overtones as we’re really not dealing with Kaiser Bill these days. Nor any other of those unfortunate episodes–any references to federast gauleiters are of course rhetorical hyperbole not anything connected with reality. For here’s the actual truth of the matter. We’ve tried a form of political organisation and we’ve decided that we don’t like it. Therefore we’re leaving. And that’s really it. Thus the song has to be this:

Good-bye-ee! good-bye-ee!
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee.
Tho’ it’s hard to part I know,
I’ll be tickled to death to go.
Don’t cry-ee! don’t sigh-ee!
There’s a silver lining in the sky-ee.
Bonsoir old thing, cheerio! chin chin!
Nah-poo! Toodle-oo!
Good-bye-ee!

We should make it clear that we’re not in fact leaving Europe–our geographic location is a bit too fixed for that. Nor as we going to stop cooperating with the other 500 million people who live on the continent (even, the Continent). We’re just changing the political arrangements by which we do so. At which point, yes, toodle-oo old thing and yes, you’re right, we really must have lunch sometime. Goodbye.

miss_s_b: (Default)

Posted by Tim Worstall

It’s possible but rare enough for a tax system to be imposed for good economic reasons. More often than not we get a tax system which is swayed by peoples’ feelings, rather then the details of what we know about what makes a good tax system. We thus try to tax corporations, when corporations can never carry the incidence of a tax. We tax capital too much on the grounds of hitting the rich when in fact it is the wages of the workers in the future that suffer from our doing so. So when we find people doing something which does make great economic sense then we should be saying so–as I am with India’s Goods and Services Tax, the GST.

Parliament will today debate and vote on four supporting bills crucial to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, which will subsume a slew of indirect taxes currently levied by the centre and states. On the table in the Lok Sabha is the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Bill, 2017, along with three other related bills, providing for a maximum GST rate of 40 per cent, an anti-profiteering authority and imprisonment for evading taxes.

I do not say the GST is perfect, that possible 40% rate looks to me to be too high to be supportable. Not because there aren’t things which might be usefully taxed at that rate, but simply because tax rates of that sort of level tend to produce wholesale dodging. They’re thus inefficient.

“These are four very important laws, and they are being taken together because the subject matter is the same. The system of indirect taxes in the country had given the Centre the power to levy some taxes and the States some taxes. So there was a decision to unify all these. With such a unification, goods will be able to move across the country. It would be easier for assessees, and the revenue would be divided between the Centre and States,” says the Minister.

That’s the bit that makes it good:

The GST, which the government expects to implement from July 1, is the biggest tax reform since independence.

Indian economic policy hasn’t been all that good since independence. This change will make it markedly better.

This will rub rather a lot of people up the wrong way but still, here goes. Gandhi’s economics were terrible and there’s still a bit too much lip service paid to those ideas today. The homespun and the direct making of salt were very powerful political arguments, successful actions against the British (yes, my forefathers, although the only known familial connection to the sub-Continent came post-Partition) most certainly, but as the basis of an economy they were and are ruinous. Because deciding upon an economy of local peasant production means that everyone has to live at the standard of living of a peasant. There’s just no way to escape this as Brad Delong points out:

Think of it: If international trade is bad–if we should be self-reliant at the national level–then the same argument applies at the state level. If interstate trade is bad—-if we should be self-reliant at the state level–then the same argument applies at the municipality level. If inter-municipality trade is bad–if we should be self-reliant at the municipality level–then the same argument applies at the neighborhood level. And so we get all the way down to the basic bedrock of human society: the hamlet or band community of less than 100, say 75. How much could any 75 of us produce as a group if we couldn’t trade with outsiders? About $1,000 a year per worker. A United States that tried to be self-sufficient at the hamlet or band level would be lucky to have a national income of $160 billion, one hundredth of the $16 trillion we have.

Nehru’s economics wasn’t all that much better. He was far too enticed by the ideas of the Fabian socialists, who thought that detailed planning would make everyone rich:

So they instituted the Licence Raj, which meant applying the tactics of Major Attlee and the Fabian socialists to grow the Indian economy. You know, plan and licence everything and the bureaucrats would create the wealth by telling everyone what to do. It worked there about as well as it did here.

Then, just as China’s growth finally happened when they dropped the Maoist idiocy in 1978 (that country at that point had, by Maddison’s figures, the same per capita income as England in 1600) leading to 10 per cent per annum GDP increases, the Indian economy was freed by Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi and, hey presto: they’ve got 6 and 7 per cent growth, again running for decades.

So if we were to point a finger of blame, let’s ignore the protestations of Congress Party members, such as Shashi Tharoor, and think about those people who effectively kept India’s people poor after independence – Sidney and Beatrice Webb…

Which brings us to the GST which is really just finally understanding the point that Adam Smith was making about trade. And given that all economics is either footnotes to Smith or wrong that really is where we should be starting with the discussion of an economic problem. At this, very basic of course, level economic wealth is created by the division and specialisation of labour. Yes, it’s that damn pin factory again. So important is this that it’s actually on British money:

A portrait of Smith appears on the back of the new note, along with an engraving showing “The division of labour in pin manufacturing” with the parenthetical quote “and the great increase in the quantity of work that results” drawn from his major work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

The basic thought is that if we divide up tasks into smaller and more discrete ones then we can specialise in doing those smaller and more discrete tasks more productively. Thus division and specialisation of labour means that more is produced. Consumption will, of course, equal production, as will incomes equal either and both, that’s just the basic GDP definition there. So, if we divide and specialise our labour, trade around the resultant production, we’ll all be richer. Gandhi’s economics was essentially saying that this wasn’t true, that the household, or at most the small village, should be a near self-contained economic unit. This, as Delong points out, makes continued poverty inevitable.

For once we’ve grasped that division and specialisation then the only limit to how much richer it will make us is how many people can we divide, specialise and trade with? The more the merrier in fact. This does go to extremes–I spent a few years as just about the one and only person in the world doing a particular job. The end result of what I did turned up in just about every light bulb installed into a street lamp globally but in that one, very divided and specialised, job it was pretty much just me among all 7 billion of us.

Nehru wasn’t much better with that fascination with planning. But now to the GST. The problem being that India is not one integrated economy. The different tax rules (and they can vary dependent upon production in-state or across state lines, as with tariffs across national borders) mean that it is, to some extent, a collection of slightly to rather separated state ones. This is a limitation of that ability to divide and specialise over more people. And thus the value of the GST in these basic economic terms.

Sure, we can all argue about whether localities should be able to decide their own tax policies, perhaps this is a limit on local political power and so on. But having the one single tax system, at the same rates and not dependent upon locality of production–which is what the GST generally does–means that it will be more possible to divide and specialise labour with, trade with, all 1.2 billion Indians. India and Indians will therefore be richer as a result.

torachan: karkat from homestuck headdesking (karkat headdesk)
posted by [personal profile] torachan at 02:35am on 29/03/2017 under ,
1. All the people who were out sick last week seem to be back in shape now, and no one called out today.

2. The Panic concert was so good! I had a blast and will write it up in more detail tomorrow.

3. I love the look on Jasper's face here!

sholio: Peggy Carter smiling (Avengers-Peggy smile)
posted by [personal profile] sholio at 11:54pm on 28/03/2017 under
I asked people on Tumblr last night to send me an AU and I'd give them some thoughts on that AU, which all ended up being Agent Carter. I got more than I could write, but here are the ones I did:

Vintage car mechanic AU
Librarian AU (with follow-up suggestions)
Art heist AU
Pet Shop of Horrors AU
Wild West AU
Star Wars AU (with follow-up expanding on Daniel's role in this 'verse)
College student AU
College faculty AU
posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 07:21am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

telophase: (Default)

Ugh

posted by [personal profile] telophase at 07:26am on 29/03/2017
Everyone at work is going to be cranky tomorrow--there's a big storm that
just passed over and in addition to the tornado sirens that went off (they
go off for warnings, which means conditions are likely, not necessarily
that one's been spotted), the university sent out an alert on their info
line so everyone got a text AND a phone call.

There's also a lot of cranky parents right now who are getting the alert
because their phones are registered as the main contact but who don't live
in the area.
petzipellepingo: (more links by eyesthatslay)
posted by [personal profile] petzipellepingo at 03:00am on 29/03/2017
EW reports that Simon Pulse will be writing a new series. "new spinoff series of the cult classic television show that will be written by New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White. The series, which will be published in the fall of 2018, will be titled Slayer and will feature a brand new slayer from the group of potentials that Willow used her Wicca skills to awaken in the show’s final episode". "On October 3, Simon Pulse is also set to release Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Twenty Years of Slaying, a special hardcover collector’s edition that highlights all the best content from Volumes 1–3 of the original Watcher’s Guides, as well as exclusive new content, including never-before-seen interviews with the cast and crew".
posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 06:46am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

Children are healthier and more likely to grow up with a good education and get a good job if their biological father lives with them, research reveals.
But when a stepfather moves into a family home there are no benefits for the children, the pioneering study of British families found.

There is absolutely nothing at all in the behaviour of other animals, nor in any theory of genetics, inheritance or anything else which can explain this shocking result.

Is there?

Posted by Tim Worstall

Off we go, headlong downhill, off piste, our Eddie the Eagle Brexit negotiators tumbling down towards a great crevasse. Far from “taking back control”, as Theresa May sends off our suicide letter on Wednesday, we will abandon all control as we place ourselves at the mercy of the goodwill or otherwise of each of the EU 27.

“We won, job done,” declared Douglas Carswell, and he’s right. The most extreme Brexiteers have so far won the day, light years distant from the softly reassuring arguments Vote Leave made before the referendum. Their promises are all broken already, as the Ukip wing of the Conservative party has captured the prime minister.

…..of joy, of course.

Posted by Tim Worstall

The stereotype of the gay man as over excited drama queen isn’t exactly unusual:

Perhaps the Daily Mail should be sued for damaging people’s health? Across the nation, millions have cringed so hard at its audaciously sexist front page that they’ve strained their face muscles, or given themselves a migraine from slamming their heads repeatedly against the nearest wall.

It comes to something when this open sewer is still capable of shocking us with its stench. The newspaper’s decision to objectify the legs of the country’s most prominent female politicians – focusing on what they look like rather than what they stand for – represents one of its many lows. But while it should be mocked, parodied, ridiculed, it should terrify us: because it is indicative of what is happening in Brexit Britain.

This is about the front page of a majority female readership paper note:

For the rightwing Brexiters, this is a great national awakening, the resurrection of mighty Britannia. In truth, they want to turn this country into the drunk man at closing time, stumbling around yelling obscenities at everyone, leering at women and shouting racist abuse. Both the Brexiters and the Trumpists believe that their respective nations can be freed from the oppressive yoke of minority rights and feminism. So yes, mock and ridicule that front page. But above all else, be prepared to fight back – because the bigots are winning the battle for the country’s future, and that should terrify us all.

No, Owen’s not managing to fight the stereotype all that much, is he?

posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 06:25am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

The British trajectory towards certain departure was sealed by a Conservative party leadership contest that demanded its victor signed up to full-blooded Brexit. But the failure was Europe’s too. At first reacting in disbelief, Europe then behaved as a partner scorned. Well, then – go, it said. But you can’t expect to keep the house and the car, and there’ll be a price for this selfish separation.

Just as Europe’s unwillingness to compromise had denied David Cameron the extent of renegotiation he needed, so costing him the referendum, it would deny the possibility of change after the vote. The smart move by Brussels after the result last June would have been to propose continuing membership for Britain while allowing us to check free movement. After all, we will now control our borders anyway. Better to do so inside the club than outside.

A different prime minister – perhaps Boris Johnson – with a different leader in Europe – Nicolas Sarkozy, perhaps – might have renegotiated after the referendum. Britain, already with the special status of being outside the eurozone, could perfectly well also have been apart from free movement too – able to control migration but otherwise a full member of the EU. The British people would have got what most of them wanted: to be in the market but in control of our borders.

If they’re idiots who cannot do the sensible thing then we should leave, right?

Posted by Tim Worstall

There are many reasons why I became homeless, but no one was surprised it happened. I’m just another care leaver who lost control of their life. Almost every person I lived with in children’s homes and foster placements has since experienced mental health problems, stints in prison, and battles with drug and alcohol addiction. What would make me so special that I could avoid the inevitable breakdown?

Quite an opening statement. Everyone who is brought up by the State breaks down.

The local housing advice service was no help. I was told that to be considered a priority need, I had to demonstrate that I was more vulnerable than my homeless counterparts. As one adviser put it: “I have to establish that you would be worse off than me, if I were homeless.” It may interest people that local councils are now running a misery contest for housing, a sort of X Factor for the destitute. Maybe my audition would have gone better if I’d had a few more missing teeth, and wet myself while singing Oom-Pah-Pah.

And then I befriended a resident of a residential charity for the homeless. He was far more helpful than the housing advisers, and managed to organise a place for me at the charity.

When I entered its walls, which were inside a converted factory, the place immediately struck me as having similarities with a Victorian workhouse. I was told by the “community leader” that I would receive basic subsistence: a room, food, clothing and a modest weekly allowance, in exchange for 40 hours’ labour.

Private charity helps him out. Bit of stability an address, food and in the warm. But he’s got to work for it.

Hmm, the bastards, eh?

These regulations not only strip homeless people of the right to a decent wage, but of all their other employment rights too. Because residents of such charities are not classed as employees, they cannot claim unfair dismissal or sick pay. Many people have lived and worked at the charity for up to 15 years, yet they can be sacked and evicted with no legal right to appeal.

I accept that residents, some of whom have suffered with long-term alcoholism and drug dependency, are far better off within the charity home’s walls than they would be on the streets or living alone. The environment is predominantly a positive one, where residents are well fed and safe, and are overseen by conscientious staff. The charity does give individuals the chance to participate in meaningful work and contribute to a community, sometimes for the first time in their lives. But none of this alters the fact that residents are forced by poverty to work for no pay.

So let’s insist that minimum wage must be paid shall we? That’s going to work well…..

posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 06:07am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

Doctors, women’s problems, not enough attention paid.

It actually gets a bit more interesting. The NHS were hopeless, for years. The private sector rather better.

Amazing what the Guardian will publish these days, eh?

posted by [syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed at 06:01am on 29/03/2017

Posted by Tim Worstall

A Mexican judge has freed a wealthy young man accused of abducting and sexually assaulting a schoolgirl, on the grounds that the perpetrator did not enjoy himself.

You can’t go around defining sex as something to do with enjoyment. Think what that would do to marriage….

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Excuse me, but because I'm totally outraged, tonight's post will feature a huge copypasta from a newsletter I subscribe to from the website Fight For the Future (FFTF).

tl;dr: we just lost the last shred of our online privacy to the undrained swamp creatures who voted us out of it, so see if you can spare $3 (or more) to put up billboards in their districts shaming these creatures so they can't and won't get elected again (I've donated).

They betrayed you - FFTF's mock-up billboard showing names of House reps who voted against your online privacy

BREAKING: Congress just decimated Internet privacy rules and voted to allow Internet Service Providers to spy on you and sell your sensitive information to advertisers without your consent.

The House of Representatives voted on the bill today, and it was already passed by the Senate last week. [1] The President has already said that he’ll sign it. [2]

The most disturbing part? The members of Congress who pushed for this attack on our privacy have been taking money hand over fist from the very same Big Cable companies that stand to profit from selling the intimate details of our lives. [3]

We can’t let them get away with this. We’re crowdfunding to put up billboards with the name of every lawmaker who voted for this travesty, because the public deserves to know which politicians sold out our Internet privacy to giant corporations.

Will you chip in to hold these corrupt lawmakers accountable and help us get these billboards to as many Congressional districts as possible?

Slashing these privacy rules means that ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will be able to constantly monitor and store your most private information, like the websites you visit, the products you buy, and your real time location, and sell that data to the highest bidder.

Even creepier, it will allow ISPs to inject ads into your web browsing, install undetectable software on your devices to track your activity, and deploy systems to undermine encryption. [4]

When ISPs collect and store this information, they’ll also be making it available to the Federal government and law enforcement through bulk surveillance programs.

This is nothing less than an all out assault on our basic right to use the Internet safely and securely, and it’s putting all of us at risk.

Will you help us expose the corrupt politicians who voted to kill our Internet privacy? Click here to chip in so we can put up billboards so everyone knows their names.

Today’s vote is a crushing blow, but what’s most important is what happens next.

We need to generate a massive public backlash to make it clear to our elected officials that we will not sit back and allow them to put our friends and family in danger.

Major news outlets like USA Today and The Hill have already covered our plan to unleash these billboards shining a spotlight on the lawmakers who betrayed us. [5] [6]

Help us get these billboards into as many of these corrupt lawmakers backyards as possible. Click here to chip in.

We’ll keep fighting. And we’re honored to have you on our team.

For the Internet,

-Evan at Fight for the Future

[1] http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/03/23/wolverton-senate-republicans-vote-to-undermine-online-privacy/

[2] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/28/statement-administration-policy-sjres-34-%E2%80%93-disapproving-federal

[3] http://www.vocativ.com/411479/senators-online-privacy-money/

[4] https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/03/five-creepy-things-your-isp-could-do-if-congress-repeals-fccs-privacy-protections

[5] http://thehill.com/policy/technology/325969-group-promises-billboards-attacking-lawmakers-voting-to-repeal-internet

[6] http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/03/28/house-set-unplug-broadband-privacy-rules/99707178/

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