The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The story picks up immediately after the first one finished. Paige Mahoney escaped her imprisonment in the Sheol prison camp, under cruel Rephaim leadership, only to return to her former cage, under the guise of protection, of her mime-lord Jaxon Hill. When the underlord of the underground clairvoyant community is brutally murdered, a new mime-lord must reign in his stead. All eyes turn to Jaxon Hill and his renowned mollisher, Paige. But Paige has other ideas. And these don’t involve being ruled by anyone, anymore.
Her morality is what made Paige such a fascinating protagonist. She may be young, impetuous, and volatile but she is also fierce, noble, and brave. This nebulous individual is also mirrored in the setting. There are wonderful evocative descriptions of this futuristic London.
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The UK Government is proposing to make people use Photo ID at polling stations in future elections. This would require Councils, as the electoral body responsible for organising elections, to issue millions of identity cards.
However millions of people do not have Photo ID cards. It is suggested a driving licence may be enough but, there are millions like me who have a paper licence – something I’m not gong to replace when it expires. Another suggestion is to use a passport but again, there are millions of people who don’t have one. Mine’s expires in a couple of years just when this scheme may come into effect and I may not renew it. Would my travel pass be enough?
Mandatory ID for voting was introduced in Northern Ireland in 1985 owing to the troubles there and photos were introduced in 2003. People there were allowed to use a variety of documents until the electoral identity card with the photo element was introduced in 2003.
The whole purpose of this is to prevent election fraud, something that there is very little evidence for. It’s more likely to lead to people losing their right to vote if they don’t have the right paperwork.
I don’t know what’s like elsewhere in the UK but here in Scotland – where these proposed changes may only apply in elections to the UK Government not to elections purely taking place in Scotland under Scottish Government control – the Councils issue voters with polling cards with a person’s name, address and polling place on it. The theory is that you take your card to the poll place and are given a ballot paper but it’s not enforced. You can just turn up, quote a name and address and if you are not marked off the register as having voted you are given a ballot paper. This is something that could be tightened up on – no polling card, no ballot paper. There is no need to add a photo element to it.
The current system works fine as it is. There is no evidence of fraud and the UK Government should be challenged to provide it. If they can’t provide the proof there is no reason to change it.
In 1997 the then Prime Minister of the UK indicated that he “did not want children to be brought up in a country where the only way pensioners can get long term care is by selling their home.” Here we are 24 years later and we are no further forward on this subject.
Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech only indicated that reforms will be “brought forward” but no time scale. This is something the current Prime Minister promised he would fix when elected in December 2019. It is noted the health service in England will get more funding to encourage innovation, using technology, in the health care sector. Scotland will receive extra money from this but, it is up to the Scottish Parliament how to spend this extra money and it may not go on Scottish health services.
Currently social care is a local council remit not health service. It is not ring fenced and councils can slash social care budgets. The alternative is for Council Tax to go up or, in Scotland’s case, Scottish Income Tax levels to be increased along with Council Tax.
It is believed that a hospital bed costs £3,500 per week while a bed in a social care home is around £950 per week. This tends to be paid by family by selling family homes to make up a shortfall in local funding.
The Scottish Government won’t make changes as it doesn’t have the money and wants changes at UK level so that it gets the extra funding. It’s already struggling to fund free personal care for the elderly and I suspect raiding other budgets to do so.
I have been involved in elections for the last few years as a member of a local party campaign team and an election agent. This year I have not been and it feels strange, it feels as though an election did not take place.
The very small campaign team was set up late and not at the end of last year or early weeks of this. It appears to have had limited ambitions and has done what normally happens fail to engage with members properly and encourage them to help out. It has delivered leaflets that appear to have been put together at the last minute and “are rubbish” according to some neighbours of mine. They failed to engage.
Again as usual there was no canvassing done. I know the pandemic made it difficult but there was telephone canvassing the could be done. It was only done by one person in the local party on one afternoon. Yes other people were canvassed by phone but not by members of the local party – those outside did some for the Regional Campaign. When doorstep canvassing was allowed, none was done. I know this as I’m the admin person for our data sets and I checked every day to see if I needed to process stuff. There was nothing. A missed opportunity to gather data to help win a Council seat next year. It just makes it harder to do so.
The local party have a website and bulk email system. Neither were used prior to the campaign. As the admin for this area i was not asked to help update the site or send anything out though I did offer back in February, an offer that was not taken up until end of April. I was then sent two articles for East Lothian and 2 for Midlothian North & Musselburgh (MN&M). This despite the fact the local paper was posting weekly articles, written by the candidates, for about 4/5 weeks prior to polling day. I published all 4 articles and noticed our website had a four-fold increase in hits as a result. I also sent out all articles by email to the respective groups and only 4 people – people who had nothing from us for over 6 months – unsubscribed.
I also posted all 4 articles onto our local party Facebook page. It is noticeable that the two of them had better reactions than the others. Those were the two for MN&M especially the one with the candidate planting a tree. This suggest the power of a decent photograph drawing people’s attention.
There was nothing done in the final week that I’m aware of. Hence my question at the start of this.
It feels strange not being involved. I could have been more involved in Regional stuff but I don’t have private transport anymore and that made things difficult to pick up leaflets that I could have used and canvassed locally myself separately from the main stuff. It might have helped me feel more engaged. Accordingly it is highly unlikely I will be involved in any more campaigns going forward. It would depend very much on the candidate and whether I felt I could work with them. I’m the admin for several systems we use, I can give people access and advice on how to use them but, I need to be asked. I am not going to offer otherwise.
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am a Naomi Novik fan but I was dubious about A Deadly Education for the first several chapters. There’s a lot of initial info-dumping to absorb here, and El, who narrates this story, is a hard main character to warm up to. She’s defined chiefly by her snark, her anger, and her unwanted affinity for mass destruction spells. She also is frequently her own worst enemy, driving others away when it would clearly benefit her. Main characters who are prickly and rude to others and who shoot themselves in the foot with their own decisions are a hard type to enjoy.
But, the character has a natural talent for mass murder and destruction and this is offset by the way her sweet, open-hearted white witch mother raised her. These two opposing factors, nature vs. nurture, create a major tension within El’s character, making her a more interesting person as I got more into the book, and by the end I was fully on board with her character. Orion isn’t just a hero; he has his own issues, and the friendship (and perhaps more) between him and El has a tough road to travel.
While the Scholomance has a worldwide, highly diverse student body, the handling of this diversity is on the shallower end of the pool. I didn’t really get much of a feel for their different cultures, including El’s half-Indian heritage. Other than that, though, there are an abundance of marvellous details in the world building. El’s focus on language and linguistics plays a major role in the way her magical talents develop, and there are magical drawbacks to learning new languages as well as benefits. The benefits of wealth and social status are shown very clearly in who thrives in the Scholomance, or even just survives.
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