@ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us cover
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ChrisMayLA6

@ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us

Retired Professor of Political Economy
(Lancaster University, UK - retired 2021)
(also #ProfDJ across the Lune Valley)
Contributor: North West Bylines #NoBridge

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ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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This week I've been mainly reading, no. 146.

While well-written, Miranda Cowley Heller' tale of memory & redemption, The Paper Palace (2021) at times lapses into slightly lazy plot choices (the posh British husband of the main protagonist being one glaring example). But, overall, while not ground-breaking its a satisfying read, relating its Cape Cod dialogue(s) well (the author is a good listener, I should think), with an interesting account of repression. Good but not great.

@bookstodon

ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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Time to smile with Tom Gauld (again)

Enjoy

ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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FT Alphaville have read Liz Truss' book so we don't have to.... among the range of variably caustic comments they make is this, which I thought summed up the Truss-way rather well....

ALT
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  • ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    While the minimum wage has undoubtedly been a success for most low paid workers in absolute terms, whether it has worked to lessen the more general problem of inequality seems less likely.

    Once allied with in-work benefits, we have in the UK a system that subsidises employers of low-waged workers & works against the necessary move to increase productivity.

    While the system looks like its working in reality mostly benefits companies not workers.


    https://northwestbylines.co.uk/business/how-uk-policy-on-income-inequality-is-failing-low-paid-workers/

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @Lazarou

    The key thing about UBI (if done properly) is that is has no work requirement.... so work that was low paid & unattractive would be less likely to be taken up.... some might do low-waged work for other reasons, but it wold take away (if set at a level that allowed one to live on UBI) the need to work, and hence the push into low-wage work that one doesn't want to do....

    Employers would need to make work better or more attractive to get staff or more productive & better paid....

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @cstross @Lazarou

    Of course in a 'proper' UBI system there would be no 'extra' tax on extra earnings, they should just be taxed in a way that didn't;t (as currently with UC) present very high marginal rates.

    The difficulty is a UBI that really freed people for the necessity of taking sh*t jobs would be incredibly expensive but would transform the sort of work that is undertaken

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    This week I've been mainly reading, 145.

    Debates about the place of in contemporary can get pretty pretentious (Michael Fried being a case in point), but Sophie Berrebi's The Shape of Evidence: Contemporary Art & the Document (2014) offers an account of the role of photos as document, both of the making of art work and/or remaking the idea of representation, in a more (if not completely) accessible way. While dense in places there are some great points, well made

    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    This week I've been mainly reading, no. 144.

    Catherine Chidgey's novel Golden Deeds (2000), is a meditation on memory & loss told through a slowly interconnecting set of stories. Not a novel of events particularly, more a narrative of mood & emotion. Nevertheless, Chidgey crafts something rather affecting from what would on first glance seem slight resources. Its a meditative & elegiac read, but a quietly effective novel, that engages & pleases you as its connections emerge.

    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    There's little to smile about at the moment so take a moment to savour @tomgauld comic vision.

    enjoy

    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    This week I've been mainly reading, no. 143.

    Becky Chambers, A Closed & Common Orbit (2016), expands a plot element about AI from her first book into the central focus of this sequel. (implicitly?) picking up a plot from McCaffrey's classic The Ship that Sang, this is a compelling story of how an AI achieves it/her independence & their friendships that this entails. Once again Chambers has written an emotionally rich, unusual but highly timely SciFi.


    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @CaptainJanegay @bookstodon

    Yup, just ordered it....

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    Interestingly Google is considering putting its AI-driven search function behind a paywall as part of their premium service.

    However, given the experience of many people being able to avoid AI-driven search may be a bonus.

    In sort of looks like a reverse enshitification (h/t @pluralistic ) - the shitty service disappears behind the paywall leaving us with old fashioned algorithm search (hurrah).

    The madness of technology development continues.

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    This week I've been mainly reading, no. 142.

    Ami Rao's short novel Boundary Road (2023) is set on a London Bus & relates the multicultural interactions of London through the journey (and inner reflections) of two passengers. It brings the two narratives together in a pay off that while (sort of predictable) remains a reflection of what London has become. As an ex-Londoner this struck me very much as a London novel of our time, showing both the good & bad of the city!


    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    Looks like the Labour Party will end the role of hereditary peers in the House of Lords.... but a house peopled by nominated life peers is hardly that much more democratic.

    Our best hope is that once the hereditaries are out of the way, real reform to tun int an elected second chamber can get under way.

    There are lots of ways to do this, some more democratic than others, but equally one would want to retain the balancing role the Lords has often (but not always) played.

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    At the risk of reigniting a debate that has been had in my timeline in the past... here's a report of a University of Valencia that looked at over 20 paper examine the differential effects of reading digitally & on paper.

    The research confirms my experience (my own & in the reading of my erstwhile students) that reading digitally is less likely to lead to long-term educational (knowledge) benefits...

    @bookstodon

    https://www.upmpaper.com/knowledge-inspiration/blog-stories/articles/2024/makes-you-learn/?utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=paid_social&utm_campaign=PaperBecauseItsReal2024&utm_term=&utm_content=Image

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @lucyweirphd @bookstodon

    if by 'read' you are meaning the very human empathetic interaction with the words on the page... then not at all

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @StuartGray @bookstodon

    Yes, I'd agree the last point is key.... reading digitally is variegated but often not so easily discerned from reading research....

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @BlindGordon @bookstodon

    Yes the specific benefits of digital sources were one of the key & important lines of discussion last time, with a number of people raising exactly this important issue - though also good to see that grounded in personal experience, thanks

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @FionaCraig @bookstodon

    Yes, I did my first degree with the OU in the age of print & cassettes, while a later MA (a couple of years ago) was completely digitised... and to be frank I found the latter a much less enjoyable & beneficial experience (although I'm still glad I did it)

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @BashStKid @bookstodon

    I'd agree on search with digital, provided (!) good research skills a re inculcated - the problem I often used to have with students was the inability to use online search in an engaged & critical way.... used to lead to some hilariously miss-researched stuff in essays though....

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @purplepadma @nusher @bookstodon

    Yes, that's a really good point... that said, I'm not sure I'd hold up academic journal articles as a pardon of good writing - but perhaps that's not the issue; you can critically engage with badly written research....

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @purplepadma @nusher @bookstodon

    ahhhh the recollection of the article with high-lighted sections - takes m back to being a researcher, not a university mid-manager...

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @ronsboy67 @adritheonly @bookstodon

    ha ha, caught me....

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    Over at the other place, George Tsakraklides makes this brilliant metaphorical point about rising temperatures across the world....

    'If you were driving & this was the course of your engine’s temperature, you would of course stop and call a mechanic'.

    He suggests it is capitalism that systematically obstructs meaningful change, but I think that's more about corruption of our political class by the fossil fuels & associated sectors.

    corruption happens under other systems too

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    The great retirement pivot is well under-way...

    By 2050 the UN expects one in six people to be older than 65 by 2050; up from one in 11 in 2019.

    Larry Fink (BlackRick investments) warns of a retirement crisis as funding for retirement become lass stable & states suffering budget constraints around pensions & social care.

    Alongside climate change the societies of the new millennium are facing a new reality;

    sadly our political class seem unable to respond,.

    h/t FT

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    This week I've been mainly reading, no. 141.

    If Sheila Hale's massive biography of Titian seems to much, you will find Bruce Cole's smaller & more tightly focussed Titian & Venetian Painting 1450-1590 (1999) an easier read. Cole focussed much more on the painting & deploys some good sources to explore Titian's career, method & influence. Full of concise insights this is good mainstream art history, ideal if you're interested in Titian & want a quick introduction.


    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    The key to the Tories political strategy is the centrality of impoverishment - we can see it in the enforced poverty for austerity, in the dismantling of social provisions across local government & of course, we can see it in the dismemberment of the cultural sector in this country.

    The Tories have impoverished us to capture society's (multitudinous) value(s) for the rich.

    They are plunderers of the economy, of society & of culture...


    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2024/mar/24/england-culture-jewels-arts-lobby-group-royal-shakespeare-company

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    As always, reform of the laws on abortion comes up against an elite position that sees the possibility of a small minority of women acting in bad faith about their particular pregnancy (whatever that might mean) as a reason to try & water down the decriminalisation of provisions for abortion.

    Abortion is a health issue & should not be a subject for criminal law.

    The key principle must be women's bodies, women's right to choose.

    are
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/mar/23/senior-labour-figures-seeking-water-down-plans-decriminalise-abortion

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    I have now completed the nine volume books series The Expanse by James A Corey, and what a ride it has been.

    Its quite an extraordinary feat of sustained (coherent) imagination & I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes world-building SF.

    With its multi-viewpoint narrative strategy but also with it central core of crucial characters, this is space opera of the highest quality.

    And the finale is wonderfully pleasing in plotting terms!

    Its been a joy!


    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @strathearnrose @bookstodon

    crikey, that's a major time commitment

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
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    @Jennifer @bookstodon

    Yes, the short stories are my next buy....

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @Jennifer @Henrysbridge @bookstodon

    I think the person I'm most interested in seeing how they are portrayed is Amos, especially in the final segment.... (won't say more as a plot spoiler)

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    How much does prejudice cost?

    The IPPR reckons each person sent to Rwanda (including all associated costs) will cost upwards of £200,000..

    Accommodating them in England costs around £55,000

    So, the cost of getting the headlines Rishi Sunak wants in the right wing press is around £150,000 per person.

    Now that's what I call governmental waste!

    Its just completely nuts!

    I wonder what it would cost to greet them, train them & then find the employment?

    h/t FT

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
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    This week I've been mainly reading, no. 140.

    Having enjoyed Wullschalger's brilliant bio of Monet, I've started reading more bios. Sadly, Alex Danchev, Cezanne: A life (2012) while erudite & filled with interesting detail, fails to really conjure its subject into existence, remaining somehow distant/detached from Cezanne. However, that aside, it offers a fascinating account of the artist & his , rejecting an overly psychological approach for a more materialistic one.

    @bookstodon

    georgetakei , to Random
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    It's a vicious cycle.

    ChrisMayLA6 ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @georgetakei

    Ha ha... if only that was the problem with email... more often the problem is emails disappear into the ether never to be answered - leaving you wondering whether the message arrived, the person emailed cannot help, or doesn't care.... I'm always happy when I actually get a reply!

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    Another day, another story to economic disruption from Brexit... this time its the importation of wine.

    Possible remarks:

    'I didn't see making wine more expensive, on a big red bus'...

    Once again Project Fear = prescient prediction

    'We can all now enjoy more British wine'!

    At last the wine-drinking Brexiters are feeling our pain...

    Who cares, I drink beer....

    Who cares, we've taken back control.

    take your pick... one, some, all!

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2024/mar/17/complex-post-brexit-tax-rules-means-price-rises-for-wine-drinkers-in-britain

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    The UK's record on child poverty is dire (both in absolute terms of worsening & in comparison to other countries).

    Looking at the difference depending on number of children in households (and the timing) suggests benefits changes & austerity have a lot to do with this failure.

    Moreover, those effected by child poverty often feel the effects throughout their (working) lives... so once again, effectively the last 15 years have seen class war of poor children.

    Chart: Poverty rates fro large families are forecast to rise significantly by 2029. UK relative child poverty rates - by household size: 4 or more children - fell between 2000-2010, from over 60% to around 40% but then rose sharply to between 50-60% & projected to remain above 60% 3 or more children - fell between 2000 - 2010 from just under 50% to just over 30%, now back to between 40-50% where it is project to remain. 2 children - rates relative constant as between 20-30% with slow decline since 2000

    ALT
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  • ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    For those of you who like a polling time series; here's the latest on Westminster voting intentions over the last few years from Survation

    My main Q. is how has the Tories vote even held up to this reduced level???

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @RolloTreadway

    Ha ha, thanks a much more detailed & thoughtful repose that my passing (trite) Q. deserved... boosted & appreciated - thanks

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @RolloTreadway Hey, Rollo, no problem at all... don't apologise these sorts of erudite & thoughtful responses are what make Mastodon a joy.

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @stuffjolikes @RolloTreadway

    Yes, I'll be watching turn-outs in the next election... 'sitting on my hands' may be becoming a more common response to the political choices on offer

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    The one person right now who you might have expect to be called to speak in a debate of racism in the House of Commons would be Diane Abbott who's subject of a high profile incidence of racist language from a Tory donor... yet the Speaker said that despite Abbott rising over 40 times to speak during the debate, he ran out of time to call her.

    If you wanted to confirm to the average voter that the political system is racist, this would be a good way to do it.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-68556911

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    This week I've been mainly reading, no. 139.

    For a bookgroup I've been reading James Fox's account of the murder of Josslyn Hay in in 1941, White Mischief (1982). Frankly I didn't enjoy it, mostly because the white colonialists in the first half C20th spark no empathy at all. However, what is interesting is Fox's account of investigative before the Internet changed research forever, notably its doggedness & the time required to track down information.
    @bookstodon

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    Hmmm.... how much money is there in lobbying?

    Well, in the rush to find people with Labour party 'expertise' it seems lobbying firs are considering salaries of up to £200k...

    And, unsurprisingly people with Tory party experience have found not only is the glut in the market (as they all hurriedly jump ship), few lobbying firms thing, for now, its worth employing them.

    Well, the money-go-round of the Westminster village won't stop....

    h/t FT

    ChrisMayLA6 , to bookstodon group
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    At the risk of restarting the extensive debate about the respective advantages & appeal of books vs. ebooks.... I rather enjoyed

    @bookstodon

    https://robertkingett.com/posts/6514/

    ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    Here's the final section of a letter to the FT from Brendan Kelly (Professor of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin) makes a crucial point...

    While there is no doubting the problems of mental health, to treat all aspects of these personal travails as illness is to focus too much on the individual and allow our toxic society & workplaces to escape their share of the blame.

    Absolutely right!

    ALT
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  • ChrisMayLA6 , to Random
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    @pluralistic writing for @goodlawproject on why the question of NHS data is not one between Palantir & non-use, but between an approach based on profit (and data exploitation) and an already proven system (headed up by Ben Goldacre) that offers real security for patients' data.

    The real Q. is how much has Palantir paid decision-makers to get on the inside track?

    https://goodlawproject.org/cory-doctorow-health-data-it-isnt-just-palantir-or-bust/?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=nhsdata_post_nhsdata&utm_medium=social_media&utm_content=07-03-2024

    ChrisMayLA6 OP ,
    @ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

    @junesim63 @pluralistic @goodlawproject

    Yes, the Q. is how did they get themselves into the position of being the one's who paid the £1

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