My latest post was linked from a couple of big blogs and news sources, apparently copying from each other, with the quote/summary:
Slate Star Codex: “The problem is that there’s some weird tribe of fact-immune troglodytes out there, going around refusing vaccines and voting for Brexit, and the rest of us have to figure out what to do about them.“
That’s the opposite of my argument. I’m using it as a straw man in order to knock it down. I don’t understand how people could quote that and then attribute it to me with no further explanation. This happens every time I try to deal with a controversy responsibly. People take the most inflammatory thing in the post, even if it’s the opposite of what I believe, and try to convince everyone it’s my opinion. I don’t know if this is some sort of passive-aggressive campaign against me, or some sort of terrible law of media dynamics, but it’s so annoying.
This is a collection volume, containing Komarr, A Civil Campaign and (actually in the "previously unread" category), the short A Winterfair Gift. The title for the collection volume is very descriptive, as that theme starts in Komarr, continues through the entirety of A Civil Campaign and comes to some sort of culmination in A Winterfair Night.
As is the custom, these are all eminently readable. It is also perhaps not the worst place to pick up the Vorkosigan Saga books (but, I should stress, it is also not the best), since I seem to recall that Komarr was actually the first one I read.
It's been a while since I last read any of the Expanse novels. Don't really know why, maybe the whole "TV hype" has put me off. On the whole, they're eminently readable, although one of my distinct memories of "oh, no, not again!" from the first four is mercifully not as prominent in this one.
All in all a pleasant read, although I have a nagging feeling that the acceleration required to cover distance in this book may possibly require higher sustained acceleration than what seems to be happening.
This suggests Bannon and Short haven't either:
One Hill Republican aide who was involved in the last-minute negotiations said Mr. Bannon and Mr. Short were seeking to compile an enemies list.
Alternatively, they read about Nixon's "Enemies List" and thought ooh, that sounds great, we should do that, it worked out so well for him.
(Seriously, I don't actually imagine that this is literally Watergate 2.0 or going to play out exactly like that, because that would be too weird and history doesn't work like that, which is one reason why it's so odd when Trump and co. seem to be borrowing such highly-specific things from the Nixon playbook.)
Also, these are beautiful words to read:
Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, according to people familiar with White House discussions, described what happened as a flat-out failure that could inflict serious damage on this presidency — even if Mr. Bannon believes Congress, not Mr. Trump, deserves much of the blame.
Dear USians, please enjoy these words and take strength from them.
Yesterday when we were out walking in the rain it was about 4C/43F, although because it was humid it didn't feel especially cold. This afternoon when we were out walking it was 25C/77F, and almost too warm for walking in comfort as it was cloudy and humid. (Even if it wasn't humid, 25C is almost my cutoff point for walking; warmer than that I cycle, or if it's over about 30C, swim if the pool is open.)
We came back past the exploded house. It has been fenced off and a few people have placed flowers and cards on the fence, including a couple of fake bones for the dog which died with the man. A very sad story, and I agreed with one card which hoped he is now at peace.
4/5. Middle grade novel prequel to the popular comic. My wife loves the comic but hasn't read this. Below is a rough transcript of my commentary to her:
Ahaha, Squirrel Girl has just happened to a bunch of LARPers. . . . Aw, her parents are adorable. So supportive! They remind me of your parents when you came out*. . . . Aw, her deaf new best friend is crabby and adorable. . . . For the record, the villain's name is The Micromanager, just so you know. . . . Aw, she is adorable. . . . Oh now she's chatting with a bad guy about his poor life choices and how he really should be wearing a seatbelt when he's driving like that. . . . Ahahaha, she is texting with The Winter Soldier. Oh, now she's texting with Tony Stark about how she needs help from someone smart and resourceful, and she asked him for Bruce Banner's number, I'm dying, I'm dead. Ahaha she is trash-talking and her trash talk is that the villain "is going downtown without a bus pass."
There was also a longer conversation in there about how it seems that Squirrel Girl exists in a different genre than most of the other people around her. It's actually really interesting – the closer a person gets to her like her parents or her bestie, the more they become realized in Squirrel Girl's genre. That is, aggressively, unstoppably cheerful with a streak of zany. Whereas people in the background – like the mean girls at school – exist in a more typical high school novel whose rules Squirrel Girl doesn't so much ignore as just never notice. My wife says the comic has a similar function in the wider comics universe – Squirrel Girl is a streak of off-beat color in a grimdark sea. And that's the joke. And the not joke.
I loved this.
*She came out when she went home over her first winter break in college and when she got back to her dorm there were congratulations flowers waiting for her. How cute is that?
Meanwhile, I am liberally covered in glitter and I could not be happier about it.
Marg and Helen and the girls all loved their lip balms (and glitter gels), so I feel confident I found a couple of recipes that people other than me like, so that's good.
This morning, I made these chocolate cherry breakfast cookies (pic) and I might have made them too big, since they took more like 15 minutes to cook rather than the 9 to 11 the recipe suggests. I also used almond butter since I don't like peanut butter (I know, I know; I also don't like tuna fish; I was a nightmare child!) and they smell and taste great. And I finally used up the last of the dried cherries from my Christmas chocolate making, which was good. I found they (the dried cherries, I mean) were not as good in salads as dried cranberries, so they've just been sitting around taking up space. *hands*
So I feel like it's been a productive day, even if I didn't get the good sleep I was hoping for last night.
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) March 25, 2017
But overall most of those sampled continue to be against
Listeners to this week’s (revamped) PB/Polling Matters podcast (see below) will know that we have a new survey out this week. Our most recent poll tracks public opinion on last year’s Brexit vote. In December, we asked a nationally representative sample of the British public whether they thought there should be another vote on EU membership once the terms of divorce are known and we asked the same question again last weekend.
In some ways the results offer something for everyone. At a headline level, a majority are opposed to another referendum, with exactly the same number in opposition now as were opposed in December (52%). This is primarily because Leave voters continue to be committed to the decision they made last year. However, there has been a 5 point increase in the overall number in favour of another vote. This appears to be driven by those that said ‘don’t know’ in December now saying that they support another referendum with Remainers particularly consolidating behind such a position.
Q. Once we know what terms the government has negotiated, should there be a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, where voters can choose between leaving under the terms negotiated or remaining in the EU after all?
Now for a number of reasons we shouldn’t get too exercised by these findings. These results could be a one-off and there is little sign of consistent Brexit regret in opinion polls. Theresa May certainly has no interest in holding another referendum and the Labour Party is not calling for one (despite some 60% of their voters in favour). However, we should still keep an eye on these numbers. If this trend is real and continues then expect someone of signifance in the Labour Party to come out in support in the future. In any case, if the opinion of the Remain vote is hardening on this subject, the potential for that group of people being a significant organised political force in the longer term only grows.
Incidentally, a fascinating subplot in Britain’s political future will be how the opinion of Millennials evolves on this issue. 53% of 18-34s support another vote with just 34% opposing. Now this shouldn’t surprise given what we know about the composition of the Remain vote in 2016. The question is whether such attitudes will change as these voters get older or are they set in stone (as they are on certain cultural issues)? If they are, expect the issue of Britain’s position in Europe be a live one long beyond we have officially left the EU.
Article 50 brings sky-high expectations
Turning our attention to this week, our poll also asked how confident the British public is on the type of Brexit deal May and the government will deliver:
How confident are you that Theresa May and the British government will be able to negotiate a Brexit deal that is good for the UK?
41% Not confident
10% Don’t know
Expectations here are split in ways you would expect that I won’t therefore dwell on e.g. Remain vs Leave, Labour vs Conservative, young vs old and so on. However, what is striking is the confidence of Leave voters. Some 72% are confident a ‘good deal’ can be delivered. Now what a ‘good deal’ tangibly means to them and whether May can meet those expectations is going to be critical for her political survival. Meanwhile, we should also pay attention to the one area of the UK with the lowest confidence in any Brexit deal. That is Scotland where 62% are pessimistic that a ‘good deal’ can be reached. Ominous signs.
Much is made of the apparent finality of the 2016 vote in terms of the European question. It may very well be so given the state of the Labour Party right now. But I can’t help but feel that things could change and change quickly should Brexit negotiations go badly. You need tunnel vision not to see that there is a path for a ‘second referendum’ becoming a major political issue. In any case, we are now approaching the ‘business end’ of Brexit. The time for words is nearly over. Now Theresa May has to deliver.
Keiran Pedley presents the PB/Polling Matters podcast (latest episode below) and tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley
Check out the latest podcast below:
Notes on the poll: Opinium surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,003 GB adults online between 17-21 March, 2017. Tables will be available on their website in due course.
(photo from Instagram: http://ift.tt/2n3gHde)
1kg bag of baby spuds
3 small carrots
1 large leek
Odds and ends of fish from the reduced section. In this case:
2 fillets of salmon
3 smoked cod loins
1 haddock fillet
most of a bag of prawns
half a bag of mussels
1 pint boiling fish stock
1 large tub Quark
2 tbsp cornflour
Cracked black pepper and salt
Heat oven to 200C
Put the potatoes to boil until nice and crushable.
Cook the leeks - slice them, fry them till soft, then add a little water and evaporate that off. Put in the large pyrex that I hope you're using for this dish. Small one won't cut it.
Meanwhile put the boiling fish stock in a pan with the odds and ends of fish and chopped carrots, and cook them through. With a slotted spoon, lift out the fish, and put in the pyrex with the leek.
Put the prawns and mussels in for a couple of minutes into the hot stock and fish them out as before.
Now, make up the cornflour with some cold liquid, and then add to the hot stock, along with half a tub of the quark. Pour over the fish mixture.
Drain the potatoes and crush with the rest of the quark, and some salt and pepper.
Place over the top of the fish mixture, and put in the oven for 35 minutes till golden.
Date: March 26, 2017
Bangladesh celebrates its 46th Independence Day today. The country celebrates this moment in its history with food, music, ceremonies, parades, and speeches, kicking it all off in the morning with a government-sponsored 31-gun salute as a memorial to fallen soldiers.
Early concept drafts of today’s Doodle
The Doodler and Bangladeshi Googlers came to the table with two possible designs: one highlighting the Oriental Magpie Robin (the national bird of Bangladesh) and the other featuring the national flag, which ultimately won out. Teasing out several drafts of the design, the team worked hard to get the coloring and contours just right.
Christopher Robin is not one of those evil bottom-thwacking evangelicals who thinks that prayer is about asking God for favours. He practices the kind of prayer which Fraser approves of: taking a few silent moments to contemplate the events of the day (”oh, wasn’t it fun in the bath tonight!”); to think non-specifically warm thoughts about the people close to you (”God bless mummy, God bless Daddy") and even to become more aware of the things around you (”it’s a beautiful blue but it hasn’t a hood”.) One might even think that the idea of shutting my eyes and curling up small (”so nobody knows I am there at all”) is a juvenile attempt at mindfulness.
The real-life Christopher Milne didn’t believe in God (although he did believe in The Force). His Nanny was called Olive rather than Alice, which doesn’t rhyme with so many things, but her dressing gown really was blue. As a grown up, he correctly spotted that Vespers is not a mawkish poem about a good little boy saying his prayers, but a rather cynical poem about a naughty little boy not saying his prayers. The grown up thinks he looks cute and pious but he’s actually thinking about everything except God. A.A Milne felt that was what went on during most so-called prayer.
It may be true that the true Christian view of prayer is that it’s “just a jolly good excuse to shut up for a while and think.” Some people have run away with the idea that it makes some kind of difference. I couldn’t say where this idea comes from; but I really don’t think we ought to blame Christopher Robin.
I figure, in Terramagne, they're either discussing "Should we all move to the Maldives?" or "That really romantic bay in Japan has stopped murdering everyone who goes there. Who wants to go on a mating trip?"
Sarah Jane maintains the Dr Who tradition of companions making dubious fashion choices.
I was first amused and then subsequently puzzled by the copyright notice under the picture. This is, after all, a publicity still created with the intention that it would be copied and published by other people.
At any rate, I'm assuming that at this point in the game I'm a) too small a fry a b) people distributing publicity images on the Internet is too common a thing for the BBC to come after me, but I suppose we shall see.