Autism, Elections, Cricket

Some thoughts on Autism, Elections and Cricket, a couple of interesting links and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTIONS

I have some excellent stuff on Autism to share, and it is no great secret that a General Election is looming here in Britain, and nor would it be a surprise to anyone that I have something about cricket to fit in.

AUTISM THREADS FROM TWITTER

I have two and a bit threads relating to autism to share with you. In all cases this is #ActuallyAutistic people talking about autism – I always prefer primary sources. First of all, “20 things you need to know about autism if you are not autistic“, by Pete Wharmby:

PW1

Next up, Sara Gibbs lists some things not to say to someone who has just told you they are autistic:

 

SG

Finally for this section the first 17 posts in another thread from Pete Wharmby on the subject of diagnosis:

PW2

That concludes this section of the post.

ELECTION THOUGHTS

Some time in the not too distant future there is going to be a general election. Boris Johnson, the lame duck Prime Minister, sees a general election as the only way out of the hole he is currently in, while the main opposition party, Labour, are also ready for one, as soon they have guaranteed the election period cannot be used as a means of forcing a no deal Brexit through. In my constituency the decision for anyone opposed to the Tories is a very straightforward one – only two parties in this constituency have a share of the vote even worth thinking about, the Tories who hold the seat, and Labour who polled 15,000 votes last time round. Support for the Greens is increasing in this area, as it should, and as shown by Michael De Whalley being elected a local councillor, but constituency wide they are building from too small a base, and would be well advised to sit this one out, leaving the field clear for Labour.

In Scotland the SNP will clean up everywhere – the callous disregard shown for that country by the UK’s current misgovernment has all but ensured that Scotland will be an independent country before too long (and good luck to them – were it not for the necessity of travelling to and from Cambridge for some years to come I might well be looking at flats in Fort William or Inverness with a view to moving north post indepndence, and were I a Scot I would undoubtedly be voting SNP). Northern Ireland for different reasons is also an exception, but in England and Wales I would recommend that Labour and the Green Party operate as follows:

  1. Labour do not stand in Caroline Lucas’ seat, nor in any seat where the Greens came second last time round.
  2. The Greens do not stand in Labour held seats or in seats where Labour were second last time round.

Post election, in the event that the combination of Labour, Greens and SNP have enough seats to form a government (at least until Indyref 2 has been organised – which will be the SNPs condition for assisting) Labour should also offer cabinet places to people from these parties (e.g Caroline Lucas being put in charge of environmental policy, someone from the SNP getting the position of Secretary of State for Scotland etc.). Additionally, abolishing the outdated and flawed FPTP voting system should be high on the agenda.

My advice to people in England and Wales who want rid of the Tories is look at who in your area has more support out of Labour and Green (and possibly Plaid in Wales) and vote for that party. It is important to maximize the chances of turfing the Tories out by not giving them any opportunity to capture seats against a split opposition.

A COUPLE OF EXCELLENT VITALITY BLAST SIGNINGS FOR SURREY

One of the claims advanced on behalf of The Hundred, aka “Harrison’s Harebrained Have a Hit” (acknowledgements to The Full Toss blog for that excellent alternative name) is that it has attracted top overseas players, a claim that The Full Toss put to the sword here. There are two parts to exploding this claim: firstly no Indian players at all are involved in the new competition, and secondly that counties are in any case capable of attracting overseas players of real quality, which leads to Surrey’s recent overseas signings for next years Vitality Blast (T20) competition. Darcy Short has been the leading run scorer in the last two seasons of the Mens BBL (Australia’s T20 competition), and is a fine signing for Surrey. Pakistan’s young legspinning all-rounder Shadab Khan is if anything an even more impressive signing than Short. At 21 he already has 117 international wickets to his name, and being a legspinner he nicely complements Surrey’s existing slow bowling talent (Freddie Van Den Bergh, SLA, and Amar Virdi, OS), and his batting talent means that Surrey if so minded could certainly select all three, thereby giving themselves three spinners of differing types.

TWO LINKS AND SOME PICTURES

Greta Thunberg, the autistic teenager who has become the face of the international movement against climate change, has been honoured by having a new species named after her. Click on the picture below to read the full article about this on the Natural History Museum’s website:

New species of beetle named after Greta Thunberg

In a Darwin Award worthy piece of karma, a US hunter got himself killed by a deer he thought he had shot dead. Click on the picture below to visit the BBC website’s article about this:

Stock image of a whitetailed deer buck in the US

Now for my usual sign off…

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Excl: case studies show Labour investment WILL pay for itself

A very important post from the Skwawkbox

The SKWAWKBOX

In a bid to divert attention from the wet blanket of Philip Hammond’s budget last week, the Establishment has been attacking Labour’s plans for borrowing (only) for investment.

Channel 4’s FactCheck issued an article criticising Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s supposed lack of understanding of how government borrowing works – allowing Tories to crow briefly and erroneously – only to have to issue a corrected version. Other ‘MSM’ piled in with similarly-misplaced attacks.

The push-back against this nonsense has started. A group of twenty-three renowned economists also made a firm, public statement of support for the sound economic principle of government borrowing to invest to strengthen the economy – and the tax take.

Now the impact of government investment – and the reality that it pays for itself in economic growth and improved tax-receipts – can be seen in these previously-unreleased case studies of three planned Labour investment projects:

Crossrail for…

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Midweek Mixture

Some stuff I have seen recently on the internet, a little teaser of a problem and some photographs from today’s ‘ecotherapy’ session.

INTRODUCTION

I spent most of this morning indulging in ‘ecotherapy’ (i.e. getting out and about in the open air – my thanks to The Gentleman for the term), which also provide me with photographs which will end this post. In between times I will share various pieces that have caught my eye recently. 

NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

I start this section with a petition that has been set up on thepetitionsite calling for Michael Gove to be replaced as Defra minister (see graphic below, which also functions as a link):

GOVE is bad for the environment. Demand new Defra Minister!

It is pretty much impossible for any replacement to be worse than the Downright Dishonourable Mr Gove, although while this dreadful government remains in office the right person for the job will not be selected. In the hope that Jeremy Corbyn, or someone who can influence him might see this I say, as I did when naming my fantasy cabinet a while back that the right person for this role is Caroline Lucas.

SOLAR POWER IN AUSTRALIA

It makes perfect sense for Australia to be looking at solar power in a big way, just as here in Norfolk we should take advantage of our biggest renewable resource by building many more wind turbines. I am therefore delighted to share this story from the treehugger website titled “Australia will be home to world’s largest single-tower solar thermal power plant“, the feature graphic from which I produce below:

australia solar thermal tower

THE DEATH OF THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE

This is the title of a piece in The Economist. After 120 years of dominating the scene the internal combustion engine’s days are numbered, and the end for this pollution generating monstrosity cannot come soon enough. I include their feature graphic below.

A PLAN TO REVIVE AN EXTINCT SPECIES

This one comes from thewildlifeplanet.com and the species that may be being brought back from extinction is the Caspian tiger. The plan involves using DNA from the Siberian tiger, a rare but surviving species that is closely related to the Caspian tiger. A potential living area for the revived species has been identified in Kazakhstan. The map below shows the areas reckoned to have been inhabited by the common ancestor of these tiger species when it was around 10,000 years ago.

ANNA’S CHURCH

I end this section of the post with a nod to Anna and the brief post she put up yesterdya about her continuing fight to protect nature under the title “I went to my church“, one picture from which I reproduce below.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

I am going to present these links as a bulleted list, amplifying some of them a little:

  • Our government has recently reneged on promised rail electrification programs in Wales and in northern England (yes, largely due to privatisation and consequent neglect our railways are so backward that not all of them have yet been electrified, some services still being run by diesel locomotives). Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has put up a short post outlining how these electrifications could be funded.
  • The title of my next piece, from Buzzfeed, should be sufficient: “People Who Use Wheelchairs Are Being Forced To Crawl On To Trains And It’s 2017
  • The last piece in this section come from the skwawkbox. The first features a video from Double Down News which referring back to an incident from last year is utterly devastating for Virgin Trains, as it shows conclusively that Jeremy Corbyn was telling the truth when he described that train as ‘ram-packed’ and Virgin’s subseqnet denials, including one from the boss, Richard Branson, were lies. The most devastating footage comes about halfway through the video, which is embedded below, and shows the reserved seats filling (as one might expect) moments after Corbyn had walked past them. The skwawkbox piece is titled “DOUBLE DOWN VIDEO SCOOP PROVES WHAT WE TOLD YOU LAST YEAR: #TRAINGATE WAS FULL“.

ELECTORAL REFORM

Britain’s First Past the Post (FPTP) system of electing representatives has had its day. Those who support this system claim that it delivers stable majority governments, but it has failed to do this three times running (no majority in 2010, wafer-thin majority for Cameron in 2015, May running a minority government with the support of the vile DUP in 2017. I have three recent pieces dealing with this topic for your attention. 

  1. Setting the scene for the other two a post on theconversation.com titled “Wasted votes, hyper-marginals and disillusion: reform group issues damning report on election 2017
  2. The Electoral Reform Society’s introduction to their full report titled “June’s election was the third strike for Westminster’s voting system. It’s out” and…
  3. The full report itself, titled “The 2017 General Election: Volatile Voting, Random Results“.  

As well as the voting system needing reform, the results in Northern Ireland showed that it is time for the Labour Party to abandon its pact with the SDLP and field candidates of its own – the recent Stormont election successes of Gerry Carroll and Eamonn McCann have demonstrated that non-sectarian socialists standing as such can win in Northern Ireland.

A PROBLEM AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

I generally finish my posts by putting up some of my own photographs. Before getting to those I have a teaser for you:

coin tosses restricted

The above table shows two putative sets of coin toss records, each for one coin tossed thirty times. Which is more like to be genuine based on what you can see?

a) series one
b) series two

If you want to have a public stab at answering this feel free to use the comments, although I will say neither yea nor nay until I put my next post up, which will include an answer to this little teaser. 

Now for those photographs…

featureimageTortoiseshell3flying butterfly

Mother and child
The junior duck in this picture is just developing her adult feathers, but continues to be chaperoned by her mother.

Moorhen2Moorhen1White butterfly3white butterfly2PollinatorTortoiseshell2Tortoiseshell1white butterflyCH2CHMini waterfall

 

 

A Little Bit of Many Things

A mixed bag of stuff – hope you enjoy it.

INTRODUCTION

Much of this post will be sharing finds from elsewhere, but there will also be some pictures of my own. I will be starting with politics,  moving from there on to transport, then some science and finishing up with some stuff about autism. Other than in this introduction most of the text will be coloured, and links as usual will be in bold and underlined. 

POLITICS

There is a particular reason why I am mixing red and green in this section and priveleging green by having it come first. The Greens have pulled out of a number of seats in the upcoming general election to make Labour’s task easier. These seats include at least one held by a current cabinet minister. I urge Labour to reciprocate by at the very least not fielding a candidate in Brighton Pavilion (the only seat currently held by the Greens), and preferably also by leaving a clear field for them on the Isle of Wight, and in a few other seats that the Greens are particularly targetting. In my own constituency of Northwest Norfolk Labour is the only party with a chance of unseating the Tory, and I will thankfully be able to vote Labour with a smile as they have very sensibly reselected the excellent Jo Rust as their candidate. My first two shares are both about Labour’s plans to deal with tax avoidance. The two pieces in question are:

I conclude this section with a reference to Labour’s manifesto, now in the public domain. I have read the document in full and urge you to do likewise by clicking here. As both an aperitif and a lead-in to the next section of this post I reproduce the transport section:

Labtrans

TRANSPORT

A brief section, containing two important links. The first, from the Campaign for Better Transport is titled “Improving air quality: buses are key to success and details precisely how serious an issue air pollution is in the UK and how buses can help solve this.  The second piece I am sharing in this section comes from livescience.com and has the self-explanatory title “New Battery Could Power Electric Cars 620 Miles on Single Charge“.  Below is a picture of the battery taken from that article.

 

An illustration that shows how the new electric battery is stacked like a ream of paper.

Credit: Fraunhofer IKTS. 

SCIENCE

I have three recent finds to share, all courtesy of the Guardian. The first of these another link in the chain of whale evolution, published under the headline “36m-year-old fossil discovery is missing link in whale evolution, say researchers“. Here is the picture:

Two Mystacodon selenensis individuals diving down to catch eagle rays along the seafloor of a shallow cove off the coast of present-day Peru.

From water creatures we move to ancestors of flying creatures, with this piece titled Dinosaur tail trapped in amber offers insights into feather evolution” again accompanied by an excellent picture, reproduced below:

Having covered water creatures and the ancestors of air creatures we finish with land creatures, and the largest fossilized footprints ever discovered, with a diameter of 1.7 metres. These dinosaur footprints are located near Broome in northwestern Australia, a place I visited in 2006. The largest creatures living there these days are crocodiles which at an absolute peak might grow to a body length of six metres. The article is titled
World’s largest dinosaur footprints discovered in Western Australia” and accompanied by some good pictures, one of which I reproduce below.

The prints indicate enormous animals that were probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip.

The prints indicate enormous animals that were probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip. Photograph: Damian Kelly/University of Queensland/EPA

AUTISM

I have several pieces to share in this section, starting with two from americanbadassadvocates as follows:

My next share is from visualvox and has the self-explanatory title “Done with that autism spectrum “disorder” business

I finish this section with a link to piece from thesilentwaveblog. There is another very recent post from this same blog that will be featuring in the post I shall be producing for my birthday. As a clue I will tell you that due to the particular number it will be I am calling this birthday the “Douglas Adams Birthday”. Today’s link is to a post titled
Asperger’s / autism and microaggression” with the picture reproduced below:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few photographs today, mostly of items going under the hammer at James and Sons next auction (full catalogue available here):

359
Lot 359 – five images.

359-a359-b359-c359-d

1134
Various cigarette card lots, all in the 1100s

1133113211311149118911061191119011961193

DSCN6542
A 2016 £2 coin, commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, the first I had ever handled (taken just before I handed over as part of a bus fare).

 

 

 

 

Aspiblog Election Special

Some thoughts about the upcoming General Election, which was confirmed as happening while this post weas being created.

INTRODUCTION

Parliament has voted by 522 to 13 to accept Theresa May’s call for a snap General Election, which will take place on June 8th….

SETTING THE SCENE

This morning Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK put up a post titled “General Election Thoughts” most of which I am in agreement with. Here is a screenshot of the start to that post:

In the comments section a certain Howard Reed cited Paul Mason’s five point policy plan, which is as follows:

1/ If Theresa May calls an election today, a progressive alliance can beat the Tory hard Brexit plan. Here’s how…

2/ We set up an independent website to show how tactical voting can beat the Tories and grassroots cross party alliance promotes this

3/ Labour has to guarantee Scotland a) right to remain in Single Market b) second referendum

4/ Labour should offer *today* Caroline Lucas to be in shadow cabinet, form Green/Red alliance, stand down 1x further candidate for Greens

5/ Libdems need to decide: with the progressive forces of Britain or in a perpetual flip flop with the Tories. You have 15 minutes.

The first two of the five points are scene setters, and very uncontentious. Point 3 is the one that the Labour Party, or at least some elements thereof, will find hardest to accept, but SNP support will only be forthcoming if it is honoured. 

The fourth point is obvious, and those who remember my Fantasy Cabinet, a response to this piece on Tax Research UK, will realise that I am 100% in favour. For the fifth point, the ball is in the Lib Dems’ court. One mistake can be forgiven, especially given some of the comments May has made in calling for this election. However, precisely in view of those comments, a second decision in the space of seven years to throw in their lot with the Tories would put them utterly beyond the pale. 

SOME FURTHER LINKS

In addition to the Tax Research UK piece that inspired this I have read a number of other cracking pieces about this upcoming election.

CLOSING THOUGHTS (& PHOTOGRAPHS)

In my own constituency there is only one party with the support to have even the proverbial “cats chance in hell” of unseating the Tory who bar the years 1997-2001 has held the seat since 1983, so my General Election vote is already decided. Something else that this snap election has done is demonstrate once again that FPTP is a relic from the past that needs replacing asap. My final words in this post (other than picture captions) take the form of a social media hashtag:

#MakeJuneTheEndOfMay

New £1 (in circulation since March 27th, but this was the first I have seen, last night) – obverse

New £1 – reverse

New £1 – both faces

Comparison pic – new £1 and Britain’s only other dodecagonal coin, the brass threepenny.

Upcoming Local Elections

Politics and nature combine to form one YUGE blog post!

INTRODUCTION

In my part of the world there are local elections happening on May 4th, so I thought I would use some thoughts about them as the starting point for this blog. I will go on from that to sharing various interesting and important stuff, and of course there will be some of my own photographs.

LOCAL ELECTIONS

Although my polling card is safely in my possession I have yet to receive any communication from any of the candidates, and can therefore talk only in general terms. I will definitely be voting. Since I became of voting age more years ago than I care to reveal I have only once failed to vote in an election I was entitled to vote in, and that was in the first election for Norfolk Police Commissioner. I will not be voting for any right wing parties or individual candidates. After their massive betrayal of those who voted for them (myself one of them) in 2010 the Liberal Democrats have much ground to make up and at this moment the odds against me putting my cross in that particular box are of the “write your own ticket” variety. While it is possible that I will be impressed by someone standing as an Independent candidate it is not very likely. This leaves me looking at two options:

  1. Labour – if the candidate is of the right type and not someone who will use their entire campaign to bash their party’s  twice elected leader I may be induced to vote for them.
  2. Green – this party stands for many of the things that I  believe in, and I am not going to hold the entire party to account for a mistake made by one of its co-leaders (Jonathan Bartley endorsing “light it up blue”, which readers of this blog will realise is an absolute guarantee of an entry in my bad books). If they can find a candidate with the qualities shown by Sian Berry in her campaign for London Mayor and subsequently in her work as a Greater London Assembly member I will certainly by influenced in this direction.

I will probably be voting Green because I see the way forward as being in a red/green partnership, and I think the Green side of that partnership needs strengthening. Also, a Green vote has the merit of being a vote cast unequivocally in favour of Proportional Representation. 

After this start it is time for some…

POLITICAL SHARING

I start with a piece by Richard Murphy titled “Time For a New Political Party?”, in which he looks at a suggestion originally made by Richard Dawkins in a piece in the New Statesman. While I would say that the launch of a new political party should be delayed until FPTP is replaced with PR (under FPTP the Tories have a built-in advantage that would only be strengthened by the addition of a new party) I believe that Professor Murphy is pretty well on the money with his suggestions about this new party. Please click on the screenshot below to access this post, and if so inclined add your voice to those commenting on it:

TRUK

Next, from the Skwawkbox comes the most recent piece on the story I have dubbed Coynegate – the massive breaches of the Data Protection Act by right wing candidate for Unite general secretary Gerard Coyne. To read this story, titled “EXCLUSIVE: COYNE TELLS BBC HIS LABOUR DATA USE ‘CONCLUDED’. IT ISN’T.” please click on the image below:

coyne stopped amended

My next link is to the homepage of the We Own It Campaign’s website. To find out for yourself what they are all about click on the screenshot below:

WOI

Next, courtesy of DPAC comes a public service piece titled “Important information on how disabled people can enforce their right to travel on buses“. Although the title is on this occasion set up as a link, I also provide a screenshot below on which you can click to get to the original:

DPAC

The focus, including my photographs is about to shift to Nature (note to my many  fellow autistic bloggers although you do not feature in this post I have some of your finest stuff bookmarked for use in the very near future), and the turning point is a campaign against the large scale felling of trees in and around Sheffield. I have two links in connection with this. First, for the benefit of those of you who use social media, a Thunderclap, which you can boost by adding your own connections on facebook, twitter and tumblr. I link to it by way of the screenshot below:

ss

The second link on this subject is to the page that lists all the campaigns in and around Sheffield that are now grouped under the umbrella of Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG). I link by way of a screenshot once again:

Sheffield Tree Action Groups

The last piece of shared content for today before moving towards my photographs comes to you from Sweden, and has a section to itself:

ANNA INTRODUCES EMMELINA

Anna is a Swedish blogger who needs to no further introduction to readers of this blog. As for Emmelina, that will have to wait for the moment. Yesterday Anna put up a post about a very curious little creature she had photographed on her door, which she called “Who’s This?” I thought that the little creature was a stick insect, but the reveal when it came today was far more interesting. It turns out that the creature is actually a moth that resembles a stick insect. Here is a link to the piece in which Anna reveals the identity of the creature. Finally, revealing the Emmelina part of the title, here is Wikipedia on Emmelina Monodactyla.

PHOTOGRAPHS

To end the post here are some of my own photographs…

DSCN5462DSCN5463

DSCN5465
The first bee I have caught on camera this year.

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Using a derelict shop front to explain the importance of King John to King’s Lynn’s history is sensible. My main quibble with the new statue of him being…
DSCN5473
That is bad quality work, not that it is of a bad quality human (though he was certainly that, in spades).

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DSCN5598
The first ducklings of the year. I hope that some at least of them survive the marauding Herring Gulls (this is NOT a joke btw)

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DSCN5604
I have bagged a number of peacock butterflies of late, but these light coloured ones fly both faster and for a greater percentage of their lives, so for the third time today this is a first of the year.

 

 

 

The Conservatives have been the biggest borrowers over the last 70 years

Next time someone dares to suggest in your hearing that only Tories can be trusted with the economy  point them in the direction of this very detailed piece of analysis by Richard Murphy…

Source: The Conservatives have been the biggest borrowers over the last 70 years

A sample image just to encourage you…

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 20.47.59