Monthly Archives: February 2010

Robin Hood Tax goes to Parliament #RHT

Today was a great day. 2543 people asked their MP to attend a parliamentary briefing. Hundreds of people tweeted about the event, hundreds more talked about it on Facebook and 80, yes 80 MPs attended. A band of four merry folk talked at the briefing. And Committee Room 17 of the House of Commons was packed to capacity. Some people said they’d never seen anything like it.

via robinhoodtax.org.uk

IP Alliance says that encouraging free/open source makes you an enemy of the USA

It is almost unbelievable and yet true.

The US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance has asked the US Trade Rep to add Indonesia to its list of rogue nations that don't respect copyright. What did Indonesia do to warrant inclusion on this "301 list"? Its government had the temerity to advise its ministries to give preference to free/open source software because it will cost less and reduce the use of pirated proprietary software in government. According to the IPA, this movement to reduce copyright infringement is actually bad for copyright, because "it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights and also limits the ability of government or public-sector customers (e.g., State-owned enterprise) to choose the best solutions."

via www.boingboing.net

Girls Gone Anti-Feminist — In These Times

A big snip from Girls Gone Anti-Feminist — In These Times

Some, myself included, have referred to this state of affairs and this kind of media mix as “postfeminist.” But I am rejecting this term. It has gotten gummed up by many conflicting definitions. And besides, this term suggests that somehow feminism is at the root of this when it isn’t— it’s good, old-fashioned, grade-A sexism that reinforces good, old-fashioned, grade-A patriarchy. It’s just much better disguised, in seductive Manolo Blahniks and a million-dollar bra.

Enlightened sexism is feminist in its outward appearance (of course you can be or do anything you want) but sexist in its intent (hold on, girls, only up to a certain point, and not in any way that discomfits men). While enlightened sexism seems to support women’s equality, it is dedicated to the undoing of feminism. In fact, because this equality might lead to “sameness”—way too scary—girls and women need to be reminded that they are still fundamentally female, and so must be emphatically feminine.

Thus, enlightened sexism takes the gains of the women’s movement as a given, and then uses them as permission to resurrect retrograde images of girls and women as sex objects, still defined by their appearance and their biological destiny.

Consequently, in the age of enlightened sexism there has been an explosion in makeover, matchmaking and modeling shows, a renewed emphasis on breasts (and a massive surge in the promotion of breast augmentation), an obsession with babies and motherhood in celebrity journalism (the rise of the creepy “bump patrol”), and a celebration of “opting out” of the workforce.

Feminism thus must remain a dirty word, with feminists (particularly older ones) stereotyped as man-hating, child-loathing, hairy, shrill, humorless and deliberately unattractive lesbians. More to the point, feminism must be emphatically rejected because it supposedly prohibits women from having any fun, listening to Lil’ Wayne or Muse, or dancing to Lady Gaga, or wearing leggings. As this logic goes, feminism is so 1970s—grim, dowdy, aggrieved and passé—that it is now an impediment to female happiness and fulfillment. Thus, an amnesia about the women’s movement, and the rampant, now illegal, discrimination that produced it, is essential, so we’ll forget that politics matters.

Because women are now “equal” and the battle is over and won, we are now free to embrace things we used to see as sexist, including hypergirliness. In fact, this is supposed to be a relief.

Thank God girls and women can turn their backs on stick-in-the-mud, curdled feminism and now we can jiggle our way into that awesome party. Now that women allegedly have the same sexual freedom as men, they actually prefer to be sex objects because it’s liberating. According to enlightened sexism, women today have a choice between feminism and antifeminism, and they just naturally and happily choose the latter because, well, antifeminism has become cool, even hip.

The whole article is a must read. A significant challenge for us today.

Use muscles, not a motor, urges UK Government

Departments for Transport and Health jointly release an Active Travel strategy. Next ten years will be the 'Decade of Cycling'. via www.bikeforall.net

Sadly this is yet another total waste of time. A small amount6 of money to be spent on cycle training and on personal travel plans will do almost nothing to increase active travel.

This is so ridiculous, the world knows how you increase active travel. There are plenty of examples of how to do it and none of them have happened through initiatives like this.

If we want active travel (which has huge benefits for the public in health and happier lifestyles, for business with healthier employees who take less time off, for schools with more awake and alert kids who are healthier, for the environment and for the economy as a whole) then the way of getting it is straightforward:

1. Change the Infrastructure

    1.1 Pavements that are safe to use for pedestrians. That means

    • wide enough for pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters
    • dropped kerbs at every junction
    • smooth enough for safe walking for those unsteady on their feet
    • strictly enforced no parking on the pavement anywhere
    • strictly enforced no blocking of the pavement by signs, deliveries, road works etc

    1.2 Living areas that are safe for people to come out of their homes

    • Car free areas
    • Home zones
    • 20mph speed limits on all roads that are not thru routes
    • blocking one end of roads to motorised vehicles (with clear and simple routes through for cyclists with proper junctions for them) so that they cannot be used for short cuts
    • one way streets for cars (not cycles) that remove direct routes through residential areas
    • strict parking controls so that kids playing and people walking and cycling are given priority
    • No planning approval for any new housing or road changes that do not provide safe and convenient access for pedestrians and cycles, keep cars separate and connect into a wider network of routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

    1.3 Towns for humans not cars

    • Reduce car access to town and city centres by cutting through routes, making streets narrower for cars, increasing car free areas, providing more and better park and ride services
    • Congestion charging for all cities
    • Reduce on street parking (through charging, restricting quantity and enforcement)
    • Every town and city to provide clear plans for reducing car dependency and increasing active travel. No changes to the transport infrastructure to be permitted that do not provide excellent access for pedestrians and cyclists. That means you cannot resurface any road without showing that in the process you improve safety and convenience for pedestrians and cyclists (and the rules to be tight enough so that simply painting a narrow cycle lane will not be enough).

    1.4 Provide a full cycling infrastructure

    • separated cycle facilities that are high quality, direct, safe, have prioity over motorised vehicles No new roads or junctions that do not provide this. If a bypass is built then high speed Dutch model separated cycle route must be provided with conflict free junctions. Plus the route being bypassed must also have proper cycle facilities added.
    • cycle parking to always be nearer to the destination than any car parking. It must be plentiful, secure and where possible covered
    • All shoppping centres (both in and out of town) to have safe cycle routes and parking. The test should be simple: All shopping centres must demonstrate that it is safe, quick, convenient and obvious to get to the shops and park by bike for everyone within a 2 mile radius. No planning approval for any other changes to be granted until this is in place.
    • Cycle commuter routes and parking must be provided for every rail, bus, tram and coach station.
    • Every school to have a strict and enforced ban on ALL roadside parking within 1/2 a mile.
    • Every school to provide plentiful and secure cycle parking with safe routes to them
    • Every school to be provided with safe routes for pedestrians with convenient and fast acting pedestrian crossings on all roads with a 30 mph or higher speed limit within 1 mile
    • A 20mph speed limit to be in place and enforced by cameras or other technology for a 1/2 mile radius of every school entrance (with the exception of motorways only).
    • The NHS must ensure that there are safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists throughout all their sites with clear priorities over motorised vehicles at junctions and for parking. Cycle parking to be free.
    • Every commercial premises to be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient cycle parking and that it is more convenient and secure than any car parking they provide.
    • HGV access to city and town centres to be very restricted by both size and time of day.

2. Key law change

    See 42: The law we need

  • The UK is only one of four Western European countries that doesnt have 'strict liability' to protect cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault.
  • Strict liability encourages more careful driving (and cycling, because a cyclist would be deemed to be at fault for crashing into a pedestrian).
  • Strict liability would be a matter of civil rather than criminal law so would not affect criminal prosecutions.

3. Policing and the Courts

  • The Police need to have procedures which give a higher priority to supporting vulnerable users of transport, particularly pedestrians and cyclists. Thus driving a car into a cycle facility or using a mobile phone while driving are considered more important than cycling through a red light for example.
  • The Courts need much harsher sentences for driving offences. Anyone killing anyone else through careless, dangerous or drunken driving to lose their driving license for life.
  • Speeding past a school should result in an automatic lose of license for say 12 months
  • Parking offences that block pavements or cycle routes or put vulnerable road users at risk need to be strictly enforced.

4. Public Transport

  • There needs to be significant investment in public transport to ensure it is cheap, convenient, attractive and environmentally friendly.

5. Incentives

  • The Inland Revenue to set the mileage rate for expenses to be the same for cyclists and pedestrians as it is for cars.
  • All road going cycles to be VAT free as well as transportation orientated accessories such as mudguards, chainguards, racks, baskets
  • Progressive increases in fuel tax to be re-introduced. To be set via targets to reduce total fuel consumption by a set % each year. So if consumption of petrol and diesel does not drop by say 10% in a year then the tax rises by an amount designed to encourage consumers to achieve that reduction in use.

I think that would be enough to get us started on a transport system that would be significantly better for us all.

Version 3 of Methodist Social Media Guidelines open for editing

Ok everyone, last chance to improve the Methodist Social Media Guidelines.

Time to put up or shut up :-)

I have again updated the unofficial version for you to edit. As before I will give anyone who asks permission to edit this document (if you have already asked then you still have permission to continue) and Toby Scott will get all the changes passed onto him. The read-only official version is also available if you prefer.

This has not been a very long process, that was inevitable given that the next Methodist Council is the weekend after Easter. However, this has been something of a first in terms of openness and transparency in forming Methodist policy. I have been pleased to see how the suggestions made in the unofficial version have been adopted into the official version.

While these guidelines are not going to be perfect or all that the various online communities would like to see, I believe they are a great deal better than what was originally presented and move us in a helpful direction.

For earlier discussion see 42.Version 2 of Methodist Social Media Guidelines open for editing

Henry responds to “Am I a Complementarian?”

Henry has written a response to another silly set of definitions.

It is simply that every person, irrespective of gender, should be permitted to serve in the church as they are called and gifted by God. My egalitarian position says nothing whatsoever about how many men or women will or will not possess what gifts and what calling. That is precisely what I reject. I do not think they are ontologically and functionally equal. I just don’t believe that the offices of the church are necessarily tied to such function and ontology, nor do I think that each man and each woman can be defined solely as “man” or “woman.” There are an abundance of other differences.

The original post starts ok but descends (as complementarians so often do) into a silly caricature of the egalitarian position. 

While I like Henry's response my position is not quite the same. It depends on what is meant by "ontologically and functionally equal".

I do not believe that the female/male continuum should be connected in any way to an understanding of a persons call and gifting by God to serve in the Church. Again the call and gifting by God to serve in the Church is what should be tested (thoroughly) by which I do not include an inspection of that persons genitals.

Mobile WiFi working well

We are in our caravan and my cool Mobile WiFi modem is working well. A poor 3G signal in the caravan meant I could not get a connection. But by putting the modem in a plastic bag and attaching it to the top of our 8m telescopic flagpole I have a great internet connection (pity something similar can't be done to get a good TV signal without a satellite dish). 

The Huawei E5830 wireless modem sends out a Wi-Fi signal to give you internet connection whenever you need it. With your own mobile Wi-Fi connection (known as MiFi®) so you can connect different Wi-Fi enabled devices at once and get fast internet speeds with no wires, no hassles and no need for a Wi-Fi hotspot.

via www.three.co.uk

I did manage in the past with my Mobile broadband dongle, but it meant extra hassle with a special 5m USB cable (5m is beyond the normal limits for a USB cable to this has a repeater to boost the signal) hanging out of the window.