andrewducker: (Default)
I've been paying attention to the many attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)* and what's been really obvious in the last year is that the Republican majority don't actually want to repeal it.

There seem to be three different groups:
1) Republican Senators who can see that Obamacare is actually about as right-wing a way to have universal healthcare as you can get**, and don't actually want to get rid of it.
2) Republican Senators who may or may not be in favour of Obamacare, but can see that their constituents are now attached to their healthcare, will be furious if they lose it, and only have a slim majority which they are terrified of losing at the next election.
3) Republican Senators who really are against Obamacare.

The problem here is that all three groups need to pretend that they're in category (3), because they've spent the last decade telling their supporters how terrible Obamacare is, to the point where there are voters who support all of the individual parts of the bill, and even the "Affordable Care Act" but will be will be against Obamacare.

And the longer the ACA exists, and the more that voters understand about it (as is happening the more Republicans talk about it) the more popular it gets. To the point where a majority of the public are now in favour of it***. But the Republican Party now has a central point of belief that "Obamacare is bad".

Which means that in order to be against it, but not actually remove it, we're left with a few Republican Senators taking it in turns to vote against repeal, on various largely spurious grounds. Being very careful to say "Oh no, I hate Obamacare as much as the next person. But I can't vote to repeal it this time, because of a minor provision. Maybe next time." - and then the next time a _different_ Republican Senator can do exactly the same thing.

None of which means that Obamacare is safe. It's balanced on a bunch of senators believing that if they repeal it they'll lose their jobs. So every time a repeal bill is put forward they have to be persuaded _again_ that the public still cares. And I am very grateful for my US friends who are involved in getting people to phone their representatives every time it comes up.

But I am moderately hopeful that we'll make it through to the mid-terms without it being repealed. Because I don't think that a majority of the senate actually wants it to be.****


*There were over 50 of these between 2011 and 2014, goodness knows how many we're up to now
**Not surprising, as it's very similar to RomneyCare.
***But only 17% of registered Republicans. It's the swing voters who have moved.
****But don't trust me. This is just my impression from what I've read from, frankly, a long way away.
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
Cut for boringness for many people. But I won a Line Sprint, pretty vanilla Minotaur Fighter of Uskayaw
Read more... )

New Forest otters!

Sep. 22nd, 2017 07:51 pm[personal profile] hilarita
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
And some other things that aren't otters. But mostly, otters.

Before going to the Lib Dem party conference, Drswirly and I went to stay in Christchurch, because of its proximity to the New Forest Wildlife Centre, which has a lot of otters. Did I mention the otters?
I found Christchurch a bit stultifying, and the kind of place I don't at all feel at home in, because it's quite clear that I'm not really their type of person. Christchurch was the kind of place that had a UKIP office prominently on one of the main streets. (It's now shut, which is definitely an improvement, but Christchurch was definitely a UKIP heartland.) It was next to a curry house, which I found mildly pleasing, though I'm not so sure the curry house owners would have agreed. We went to otters first, and then later wandered round the town. (I haven't posted pictures of the town; it's not that interesting. There's a mildly interesting bit of castle, and a mildly interesting Norman church (in places), but it's not really a particularly notable example of the genre. I may upload some bits to wikimedia commons, if I can be arsed to manage their categorisation system.)

I'm going to put a cut in, because there are a lot of otters.
Read more... )
For those people who didn't wade through the pictures of mustelidae, you should at least look at:
a gif of a contact-juggling otter!

and a short video of a giant otter squacking on command.
andrewducker: (Default)
Jane and I went up to Nethy Bridge, near Aviemore, and stayed at the Lazy Duck in one of their Eco-Lodges. Which is a cabin built for two, with electricity, gas cooking, and (distant, wobbly) wifi, right next to a large duck pond full of a variety of different species of ducks.
Loads of photos and four videos )
andrewducker: (Default)
hilarita: casting my stoat (stoat)
...as a member of the Lib Dems.

tl;dr - Conference is a pretty excellent place, provided that, unlike me, you have more social skills than a dead hermit.

Quite a lot of Conference is for the srs activist and/or candidate for some kind of political office. There is a fuckton of training, if that's your sort of thing.

However, they've also put quite a lot of effort into general activities, and activities for newbies. Sadly, some of those activities clashed with Important Brexitty debates (which was a bit of a problem this year, because of the number of new people who'd joined specifically because we're one of the less fuckwitted parties over Brexit*). Also, some of these were in the evening, by which time my energy had buggered off somewhere and was having a little lie down. 8/10, would work better for those people who aren't snooze stoats.

They're also encouraging of having new people speak at Conference, which was extremely good. They were very keen to put new members to good use. I found the info on how to fill in Speaker's Cards and so on very useful. 9/10 (I'm docking one point because I'd dearly love there to be a web form, not a pdf or a piece of paper.)

The debates were generally very well run - there's a clear protocol, and people follow it. Most of the motions seemed well-chosen; I'm grateful for those people who've blogged about the process involved with choosing motions and amendments - it really helped me to work out what was going on. 9/10

OK, you get some points for having a Conference app. But you lose several points for the navigation system. Sorry. 5/10, must try harder.

And I'm incredibly glad that I got to take part in Lib Dem policy making, because, as a member, I got a vote! I could turn up, and vote on motions! It's almost like it's a democracy or something! 10/10

So - good Conference. I'm not sure I'll go again, because I'm almost totally incapable of spontaneously talking to people (I can respond when people come up to me, but this is generally insufficient for these kinds of events). Also, just being around so many people (lovely though the people were that I spoke to) was very draining. I've spent most of the past 48hrs on the sofa, with the Internet and computer games (and my partner). Fortunately, this Conference was at a time when I could roll it into my annual leave, so I have time to recover. It didn't really help that Bournemouth and my asthma don't mix well, especially with a hotel on East Cliff. I'd prefer flatter cities for Conference.

I'd like to be more involved with LD policy making, but preferably from my sofa, where I don't have to go anywhere and pretend that I can pass for a reasonably sociable human being.

* We're still being rather incoherent, split, and downright confused about how to present our extremely strong support for the EU, because every so often people whinge But The Will Of The Peeeeople... We're managing to clear the low bar set by the Conservatives and Labour, but frankly, toddlers can step over that bar nine times out of ten.

Book stoats

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:37 pm[personal profile] hilarita
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
Apparently, when on holiday with less internet, I read books.

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee (2017)
The second in the series. Once again, really, really horrific things are happening (mostly off-screen). Our main character from the first novel isn't our POV - we see them through others' eyes. It does quite a good job of misdirecting us, doing some very interesting plotting and politics and stuff. I don't think it's quite as good as its predecessor, but it's a pretty damn good book

All Systems Red, Martha Wells (2017. Novella)
Our protagonist is called "Murderbot"! It's great. Main story of conspiracies, survival, with a side order of AIs, augmented humans and personhood. Murderbot is a fantastic character to get to know.

The Last Good Man, Linda Nagata (2017)
Near-future thriller, looking at the way robots and drones are taking over military operations. Also, usual military morality stuff (when is shooting the shit out of things and/or people justified? what should you do when your people are captured by The Enemy (TM)). It's a pretty good example of the genre, if you like that kind of thing (which I do).

The Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden (2017)
Set in South Africa. Proper SFF (with robots, AIs, and demigods coming to fuck your shit up). Comes with a mild caution that I can't comment on how sensitively the relevant cultural stuff with the demigods was handled - the (non-South African) author mentions sensitivity readers, so I'm going to guess it's not terrible :) . I found it very striking, quite gory, and I do look forward to seeing other stuff by them, though possibly not just before bedtime.

Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (2017)
I think this was probably the best of the things I read while away (the charms of the Murderbot not aside). It contains aliens, big business, exploitation, probability, and some fantastic world-building. Complex, full of compelling detail, and I don't want to spoil the plot, because bits of it are really interesting.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, Theodora Goss (2017)
This is quite a good novel of the "let's stick Sherlock Holmes into anything set in the late 19th century" genre. It also draws on the early SF novels of that century, with the first character we meet being Dr Jekyll's daughter. It's generally fun, aware of its genre, but - pedants beware - there are 21st-century colloquialisms in the asides in the writing and Americanisms in the speech of 19th century Londoners. Including Sherlock Holmes. This means I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, because it's just Wrong.

I'm also very nearly through a re-read of Ann Leckie's Ancillary series (what would Fleet Captain Breq do?), and am looking forward to Leckie's new novel later this year.

Books

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:16 pm[personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
I read a book today which I really liked, but I can't find online. It's called The Princess And The Broken Heart revised by Smaul the Troll. It's almost a Sleeping Beauty retelling and almost a Snow White retelling. I love that genre and this one has another trait that I love - it doesn't assume anyone is irredeemable. Consider this statement about the evil stepmother queen 'Now, Leonora was not born cruel, and she had never been mean, but she had taken up a terrible way of thinking that consumed her like a fire'. The copy I picked up feels like it has a bit missing, because it talks about puzzles that the reader solved, and there weren't any that I noticed, but apart from that, it's a lovely story about love and change.

But autumn is upon us and I am feeling better enough that I've caught up to my Goodreads challenge of the year (which is just the same as last year rounded up, and I was a couple of books behind, having got loads ahead in the spring).

I also noticed that two years ago, I read a lot of dross that I picked up in the library, and last year I read mostly recommendations and it went a lot better, and this year I've read almost entirely recommendations and presents, and have enjoyed a lot more. I think I've been too busy reading random stuff that wasn't very enjoyable to listen to you lot.

So, here's my question - what's a book that 'everyone's read' that you would recommend? Imagine I've been living under a rock for the last ten years.

My contribution is 'The Bray House' by Eilís Ní Dhuibhne . It's Irish post apocalyptic fiction, and it's super popular in Ireland, the sort of book you find in guesthouses &c throughout the land. It's also brilliant.

Lunches

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:02 pm[personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
On Wednesdays we are out all day, so I make packed lunches. Except tomorrow, because this evening I put a bunch of stuff on the table (including a roast chicken and a bowl of boiled eggs) and the children made their own.

Judith has chicken, carrot sticks, dried mango, rice cakes, crisps, mini cinnamon rolls and jelly. Andreas has eggs, carrot sticks, dried mango, bread (plain), fruit winder, crisps and jelly. It'll do. (I've got sushi rice, eggs, chicken, mixed chopped veg and hummous, some mixed dried fruit and jelly.) We'll all drink water.


In other news we watched Toast, the autobiography of Nigel Slater, yesterday. It actually just covers the first half of the book, his childhood, and I was touched by how sympathetically it portrayed even the people he didn't really like, I'd recommend it whether or not you read the book.
reddragdiva: (party)

My Bitcoin pundit career is going great guns! I got to go on BBC Newsnight and call cryptocurrency garbage. Don't ever buy into cryptos, btw, they're a car crash. Trust me, I'm an expert.

Soooo I just got a note inviting me to speak at a seminar, about why blokechain is pants, to a small number of people who have money. I'm gonna charge for my time of course, but I can sell books there. Which means physical paperbacks I bring in a box.

Now, one of the great things about this self-publishing racket in TYOOL 2017 is 0 capital expenditure. Has anyone here done this, or anything like it? Was it worth it? Did you end up with a box of books under your bed forever?

The books are $3.03 each to print, but all author copies come from America (because Createspace is dumb), at some ruinous shipping rate to the UK. Assuming Kindle and CreateSpace pay promptly I'll have a pile of money on September 30, but I sorta don't right now.

Does anyone have suggestions as to how to approach this? Doing a talk with a box of nonfiction books - good idea, bad idea, no idea?

(I'll no doubt do a pile of flyers for people who haven't got cash on them right there. Who carries cash in the UK these days? Less people than you might think.)

ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
This summer I have spent a lot of time wandering around Europe with my family, and a small amount of time playing with exciting people, but they were particularly exciting people. [personal profile] forestofglory visited, for example, and we had Friday night dinner and talking.

Then there was Bärli's parent's 40th anniversary. Bärli's family are so lovely. At one point there was a bit of a clash of understanding between Bärli's mother and Andreas, and both of them said to me they were worried the other would think they didn't respect them. But it was OK. And the whole family is so lovely and welcomign to us.

This weekend was [profile] huskyteer's birthday. Huskyteer is one of those people who is just so cool I can't imagine why they'd want to talk to me, but of course, also cool enough that they don't even think like that. Anyway, I can't think of a better person to introduce me to my first complete James Bond film (which I greatly enjoyed).

Now it is back to term, and I am doing so much! Band twice a week and karate, and Wednesday home ed stuff, and playdates. Remember how a year ago I was grumbling about never having time for me? Well, my people arranged it so I could, and it's wonderful. Thank you my people! I get two whole hours of cycling by myself, plus band (it's 10 miles away and I get a lift to Friday band but cycle on Sunday).

Rest of life round up:
Eating: sausage ragu with rice, made by the lovely [personal profile] jack
Reading: Just finished 'In My Own Time' by Nina Bawden, her autobiography, which is rather lovely. Her respect and love for the people around her really shines through, and she seems like such a nice person.
Playing: Argo. Not my cup of tea. Littles were playing Stratego, which I also can't get my head around, so I'm glad they have each other to play with.
Watching: Pororo. Cute Korean penguin and friend.
andrewducker: (Default)
andrewducker: (Default)
When I rule the world the mechanism for cancelling a subscription will have to be at least as easy as the mechanism for setting one up.

So, for example*, if you can take out a subscription to the Financial Times online in about 30 seconds online, by clicking on a few options, then you should be able to cancel your subscription by clicking on something on your subscription details on their site. And they should not require you to email their support desk, reply with a second email explaining why you don't want it any more, and then answer a phone call wherein they offer it to you cheaper and then have to insist that, no, really, you don't want it any more.

The rule shall, instead, be that if ten random people take longer to unsubscribe than they did to subscribe that your home page will be replaced by a big flashing sign reading "We will treat you badly in the hope of holding on to your money."

Secondary rule: No introductory offers. Free trials are allowed (but must be easily cancellable, as above), but you can't offer new people a better deal than your existing customers. Introductory offers are a way of tricking people into signing up, and then hanging onto them when inertia stops them from cancelling/moving. Instead you must offer a good deal in the first place, which is sustainable, and which is easily compared to your competitors. I know this makes life harder for companies who are trying to hide long-term costs from their customers. I really, really, don't care.


*Or, possibly, exactly what happened to me at lunchtime.
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