james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Sep. 24th, 2017 04:57 pm)
Taken from a couple of angles over about a minute.

Read more... )
As one does, I keep a log of my visits.

The cats expressed their appreciation for my record-keeping.

Read more... )
andrewducker: (Default)
([personal profile] andrewducker Sep. 24th, 2017 12:00 pm)
miss_s_b: (Default)
([personal profile] miss_s_b Sep. 24th, 2017 11:00 am)
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.
Which is creating the Amazon and Chapters links for the book being review, I know one particular book is $19.19 if you buy it from Kobo and $11.71 from Kindle....
miss_s_b: (Default)
([personal profile] miss_s_b Sep. 23rd, 2017 11:00 am)
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
([personal profile] gridlore Sep. 22nd, 2017 02:50 pm)
Beginning to gear up for the marathon slog that is NaNoWriMo. I'm doing a lot of background work, material that probably won't be in the book, but is essential for building a story in a setting that makes sense. To that end, I'm detailing the government and culture of the state that controls Task Force Singh. The main change is I'm getting away from Star Empires, because what a tired out trope that is!

The Beta Hydri system was settled roughly 300 years before the book's starting date, by way of a huge colonization effort headed by India. The effects of climate change and the ravages of the Warpox epidemic (a weaponized form of smallpox released in the 2060s by an unidentified group) was leading to mass famine. Volunteers from across southern Asia begged to be included in the mission. All told, over 5 million refugees were packed into colony ships and sent out.

The rigorous conditions on the poorly-maintained ships heading to their new home, named Arjuna after a mythical hero from Indian folklore, led to the creation of a strict hierarchy and a strong work ethic. Shelters needed to be dug and fitted out, vast hydroponic farms put into operation, and a million other details worked out. The colony thrived with an isolated oligarchy running things.

Power has concentrated in the hands of the Jagirdar; landed nobles who ruled through sheer economic power. The Jagirdar were the captains of industry and governors of the vast warrens of worker housing. A strong patron-client system grew as the Jagir houses provided for and protected the workers in their territories, while the lower class agreed to support their patrons nearly without question. As the colony grew to exploit both the resources of Beta Hydri and those of nearby stars, conflict among the Jagir houses grew to near warfare. Finally, the leading houses came to an agreement to form a new government based on wealth, a plutocracy with some nods to a representative government.

Today, the Ganaraajy Arjun (Republic of Arjun) controls sixteen star systems besides the home system of Beta Hydri. The government is headed by a Prime Minister. This official wields wide executive and judicial powers but holds his office at the pleasure of the Gomed Hol, the legislative body made up of Jagirdar representatives. Earning one of the 250 seats in the Onyx Hall is simple: you bid for it. Powerful families will place a dozen or more of their clients and relatives in Gomed Hol to further family interests. A seat is held until a challenge is made for it by an interested party.

The people are represented in the Samsad (Parliament), which is based on population. Currently, the Samsad seats 573 voting members and numerous non-voting observers from the colonies. The Samsad is where legislation is proposed and passed, although the Gomed Hol can veto any bill with a simple majority vote. This has led to legislative gridlock and blocked any attempt at reform.

Members of the Samsad are elected from regional councils, which are elected by the people. One of the greatest issues on Arjuna is the growing demand for direct representation and more regional power. The Samsad is considered too remote, with each member speaking for an average of 3 million citizens.
The Prime Minister is charged with appointing officers to the various ministerial posts and running the day to day operations of the state and government. Prime Ministers are usually chosen by the party with the majority in the Samsad, or by coalition vote. Prime Ministers remain in office at the pleasure of the Gomed Hol or until his party falls out of the majority and a new Prime Minister is called for.

There are several unofficial political parties in the Republic and many small factional groups. The major players are:

  • The Expansionists. They support a strong central government and expanding the Republic. Currently, they hold a slim majority in the Samsad with strong support in the Gomed Hol.

  • The Traditionalists. A conservative, religious party dedicated to returning to old Hindu ways and promoting religious unification under one faith. The more radical members want a return to the caste system. They are partners with the Expansionists in the current government.

  • The Unionists. Their main platform is full membership in the Republic and full citizenship for those living on those worlds designated as colonies and ruled by appointed governors.

  • The Democracy Now Party. They demand the dismantling of the current state and full suffrage and free elections under a new constitution. They hold a small number of seats, but are quite vocal and vote as a solid bloc. They tend to support the Unionists, but the latter seems to be embarrassed by the antics of Democracy Now supporters. This faction has been linked to terrorism in the past.

  • The Consolidationists. Bitter foes of the Expansionists, they advocate spending precious Rupees on building infrastructure and improvements in the territories already controlled by the state and improving the lot of the citizenry.

  • The Isolationists. They fight defense spending and expansion tooth and nail. Once the strongest voice in the Samsad, they've lost dozens of seats over the years and are now a distant third after the Expansionists and the Unionists with almost no support in the Onyx Hall. Natural allies of the Consolidation Party, they break on several issues, so a true union seems impossible.


As I said, almost none of this will show up directly in the book, but it will help me build characters and tensions inside the task force. And if I get to a second book, I can see it being a more political novel focusing on the aftermath of the war shaking out in the defeated Ganaraajy Arjun.
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)
([personal profile] andrewducker Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm)
miss_s_b: (Default)
([personal profile] miss_s_b Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:00 am)
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
([personal profile] james_davis_nicoll Sep. 21st, 2017 10:53 pm)
Haven't been around long enough for an adult to reference the technology as something around when they were kids. That's just crazy talk -- 16 years ago, you say?
miss_s_b: (Default)
([personal profile] miss_s_b Sep. 21st, 2017 11:00 am)
filkerdave: (jew roll)
([personal profile] filkerdave Sep. 20th, 2017 02:55 pm)

Tonight at sundown marks the start of the Rosh Hashanah and the year 5778. May all of you reading this be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year ahead.

לשנה טובה
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