Posts tagged media
There have been many occupants of the Oval Office in the White House that have possessed of brilliant minds and some not so brilliant.
When it comes to the latter, think of both Presidents Bush as prime examples.
Bush Senior, i.e. George H.W. Bush, even gave rise to a neologism for gaffes – Bushisms. Below is an example.
It’s no exaggeration to say the undecideds could go one way or another.
(We’ll draw a discreet veil over Bush Senior’s Vice-President Dan Quayle and his “Potatoe” gaffe. Ed.)
The lack of intellectual firepower must be hereditary. “Dubya”, as the 43rd president was affectionately known, seems to have inherited his father’s legendary language skills, as per the following example, uttered in Bentonville, Arkansas, on 6th November 2000.
They misunderestimated me.
For masochists, there’s plenty of Dubya gaffes out there.
Coming right up to date, many would concede the 45th President of the United States of America was not at the front of the queue (or line for Transatlantic readers) when brains were being handed out. His mental stability has even been called into question.
The Donald is well known for his irrational outbursts and prolific use of social media, sometimes combining both, as in this tweet from a few days ago.
Let’s just analyse that tweet a bit and before we begin, it’s worth remembering insisting that global warming is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese, not to mention his appointment of climate change sceptics/deniers to both his cabinet and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Firstly, there’s the term Global Warming. The generally accepted term for what is happening to the earth is now climate change. NASA helpfully points out the following:
“Climate change” and “global warming” are often used interchangeably but have distinct meanings. Similarly, the terms “weather” and “climate” are sometimes confused, though they refer to events with broadly different spatial- and timescales.
This is exactly what Trump has done, not only confused climate change and global warming but weather and climate too.
To quote NASA on all these matters:
Weather refers to atmospheric conditions that occur locally over short periods of time—from minutes to hours or days. Familiar examples include rain, snow, clouds, winds, floods or thunderstorms. Remember, weather is local and short-term.
Climate, on the other hand, refers to the long-term regional or even global average of temperature, humidity and rainfall patterns over seasons, years or decades. Remember, climate is global and long-term.
Global warming refers to the upward temperature trend across the entire Earth since the early 20th century, and most notably since the late 1970s, due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions since the industrial revolution. Worldwide since 1880, the average surface temperature has gone up by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F), relative to the mid-20th-century baseline (of 1951-1980).
Climate change refers to a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea level rise; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in flower/plant blooming; and extreme weather events.
Referring to “good old Global Warming“, this is POTUS getting down with his supporters denoting someone something – in this case global warming – that will do what is wanted or expected of them or it respectively.
As for shouting about “trillions of dollars”, remember that climate change denier Trump has pulled the USA out of the Paris Agreement.
Donald has received plenty of criticism from many quarters for the above tweet. One of the most interesting implies that Trump is being hypocritical. The Hill reports that celebrity chef José Andrés has more or less accused Trump of hypocrisy.
On the same day as the infamous Trump tweet, José Andrés tweeted the following response:
Why are you trying to build a wall in Ireland to protect your Golf club from raising seas?…..Mr. Trump just we had one of the bigger seasons of hurricanes in a century! People in USA are without homes, food and electricity because of Global warming!!! Really?
Andrés was originally going to be opening a restaurant in a Trump establishment in Washington, D.C., but pulled out after Trump made racist remarks about Mexicans during his presidential campaign.
Trump sued then Andrés for breach of contract; the chef countersued.
Although a settlement was reached earlier this year, Andrés has continued to criticise Trump, particularly in respect of the response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico and Trump’s attitude to Moslems.
Even given some stiff competition from the Bush family, Trump’s global warming tweet is in my mind the dumbest thing to come out of the Oval Office since the days of Ronald Reagan, who, incidentally, was out-acted by a chimpanzee in Bedtime for Bonzo in 1951.
On 11th August 1984 Reagan famously gave the following sound check for his weekly Saturday address on National Public Radio:
My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.
Coming back environmental matters, Reagan also matches Trump in idiocy. Your ‘umble scribe can never forget the following, as quoted by Martin Schram in ‘Nation’s Longest Campaign Comes to an End’ in the Washington Post of 4th November 1980:
Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.
In the world of metrology there are standardised and internationally-recognised units of measurement such as the metre for linear distance, gram for weight and litre for liquid measurement.
In everyday life there are also informal units of measurement used by people to give or gain an idea of the magnitude of a particular phenomenon.
In terms of surface area, for instance, there’s the football pitch. Imperial Tobacco, my employers many years ago, used to like to boast that the cigarette production hall at W.D. & H.O. Wills’ factory in Hartcliffe, Bristol, (once the largest cigarette factory in Europe. Ed.) had an unobstructed floor area, i.e. free of the pillars supporting the roof structure, equivalent to three football pitches. Another common measurement for surface area is the Wales, particularly for larger items than football pitches.
Also in common use for informal metrics are the double-decker bus and cricket pitch, both for linear distance.
This plethora of informal measurements has now been joined by a newcomer, the Stockholm, courtesy of the Bristol Post, the city’s newspaper of warped record.
Reporting yesterday on the shameful fact that Bristol, in spite of its huge housing crisis, now has 5,785 empty homes in the city, the Post then goes on to introduce Sweden’s capital as a new unit of measurement specifically for vacant homes, stating:
Nationally, there are now just short of a million (980,565) properties deemed uninhabited – about the same amount as the entire housing stock of Stockholm.
There you have it.
Finally, a word of caution, under no circumstances should the Stockholm as a measurement of empty homes ever be compared with so-called Stockholm syndrome, a psychological condition in which hostages develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.
If readers do happen to come across any further undocumented units of measurement, please alert your ‘umble scribe via the comments below.
Yesterday’s Bristol Post reported on the first month of operation of what it’s dubbed the “litter police”, the private contractors brought in by Bristol City Council to take enforcement action on such environmental crimes as dropping cigarette ends, littering, failing to clear up the mess of one’s dog, tagging and spitting.
They’ve had a busy first month, issuing 1,368 fixed penalty notices with a total value of nearly £70,000.
Whilst this long overdue enhanced enforcement against the untidy is welcome (as a founder of Tidy BS5 I wholeheartedly support their engagement by BCC. Ed.), it’s not the numbers that interest me, but the Post’s choice of language, particularly at the top of the article, which is reproduced below.
Look between the headline and the byline and you’ll see the following sentence: “The civil enforcement officers had a busy first few weeks on the job“.
All you Brits can stop sniggering.
“On the job” in the sense of something related to work is, to the best of my knowledge, an import from American English that has in recent decades started appearing increasingly in British corporate jargon. During my youth over 4 decades ago, the phrase had only one meaning and that had salacious connotations.
Collins Dictionary gives the following definitions for the phrase in British English:
- actively engaged in one’s employment;
- (taboo) engaged in sexual intercourse.
As regards the first definition, this could cover tuition given during employment (e.g. on the job training): no further explanation is required for the second.
The print edition of Scotland’s The National newspaper has an interesting take on the latest Brexit shambles, a comedy of epic proportions if only it were no so tragic.
No further comment required.
Readers may like to leave their comments below on the likely impact of Brexit. 😀
Today’s Times has discovered a new word being used by younger people in the UK, i.e. “Brexity“.
It turns up in a comment piece by Janice Turner admonishing those outward-looking folk who voted to remain in the EU in that disastrous referendum for continuing to criticise the isolationist Little Englanders who voted to undo 4 decades of European integration and dragging a partly reluctant UK into a more modern era.
Ms Turner’s piece gives a couple of examples of the usage of “Brexity“. For instance, concerning places: “It was this horrible Brexity little town“; and food: “He ate this disgusting Brexity pasty“.
According to Ms Turner, it denotes something low-grade, provincial, unsophisticated; enjoyed or frequented by the old, the white working class.
Commenting on a reference to the Times comment piece, Twitter user Fish in a hat has pointed out the following:
I understand it is now coined freely in youth slang to mean trashy & tawdry. The young have a good eye, but are cruel. OTOH it is their future that is being trashed & were denied a vote. They have the right to complain. I am sure they will rejoin as soon as they are old enough to.
Quite. Those under 18 have even greater grounds for being upset as they were denied a vote in the referendum, unlike the 2014 Scottish independence referendum when all Scots over 16 years of age were given a say.
Getting rather old and coming from white working class stock, your correspondent hopes his readers won’t find him and his attitudes too Brexity. 😀
Many press organisations have sacked sub-editors and dispensed with proofreading in recent years as a means of saving money.
Alabama’s Times Daily in the USA seems to have been part of this movement, as is apparent from the following photo of its front page today on the unfolding story of former Alabama state judge and Republican politician Roy Moore‘s past sexual indiscretions.
If one were dining out, what would be the right wine to accompany sex clams? 😉
Hat tip: Dr Ray Schestowitz.
Today Theresa May, a woman who does Prime Minister impressions, will descend on the Italian city of Florence to make a speech. She will have with her a full supporting cast of cabinet ministers, plus hangers-on from the British mainstream media.
The speech, all about Brexit, is being talked up by the British media as an attempt to prompt progress in the stalled negotiations on the UK’s exit from the European Union.
However, no senior figures from the EU will be in attendance at May’s speech at the church of Sant Maria Novella (conveniently situated opposite the main railway station for a quick getaway. Ed.).
However, for true lovers of tripe, this blog has a better recommendation: ignore Theresa’s speech altogether and go for Lampredotto instead.
This typical Florentine dish is made from the abomasum, the fourth and final stomach of the cow.
“Lampredotto” is derived from the Italian word for lamprey eels, lampreda, as the tripe resembles a lamprey in both shape and colour. Lampredotto is typically chopped, slow-cooked in a vegetable broth, seasoned with herbs and served on a bread roll; in addition, it is sometimes topped with either a piquant or green sauce.
One final point: Florence was once a leading financial centre – a status it may soon be sharing with a post-Brexit City of London.
The latest example of this is the coverage of the appointment of Dr Patricia Greer by Bristol’s newspaper of (warped) record, the Bristol Post.
“New Bristol bureaucrat to be paid more than the Prime Minister“, thunders the headline in a piece posted yesterday on the paper’s website.
This is reinforced in the article’s first 2 sentences.
Bristol’s newest public servant is to be paid a whopping £150,000 a year – more than Prime Minister Theresa May.
The chief executive of the West of England Combined Authority will be paid more than double the amount received by her boss, Metro Mayor Tim Bowles.
First a bit of background: the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is made up of three of the local authorities in the region – Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire. North Somerset decided not to join in this additional level of local bureaucracy, but has said it will co-operate with WECA on transport matters.
WECA was imposed top-down by central government in the last round of so-called “devolution”. There was no referendum to legitimise its establishment, merely the usual inadequate consultation from the local authorities involved. WECA comes under a so-called “Metro Mayor”, the incumbent being Tory Tim Bowles who was elected in May 2017 on a turnout of less than one-third of the electorate.
Its detractors refer to WECA as Avon County Council Mk. 2, a reference to a previous unpopular round of local government reform.Anyway, back to the PM’s pay. Theresa May, the present occupier of 10 Downing Street, is currently paid an annual salary of £143,462 for doing Prime Minister impressions. Other senior ministers are on similar amounts once their parliamentary salaries are included.
However, to my way of thinking, the comparison of senior public sector employees’ remuneration with the Prime Minister’s pay is erroneous on a number of counts.
In the first place both Prime Minister and the Metro Mayor are elected offices: their holders find their way to their desks via the ballot box. WECA’s chief executive is appointed, presumably by a small body of individuals; the electorate has no say in who gets their feet under the big desk on the deep pile carpet.
Secondly, there are many appointed officers in the public sector whose pay is more on a level with those in the private sector. Take for example the large quantities of gold showered on the vice-chancellors of English universities such as Bath, which has resulted in resignations from that institution’s council.
Another comparison that could be taken into account is budgets. WECA will be receiving funding of £30m a year for 30 years, which is really just petty cash in public sector terms when stood next to the 2015 figure of running the NHS (£115,398m. Source: Cabinet Office).
Perhaps a fairer comparison would be with the PM’s senior civil servant, namely the Cabinet Secretary, the country’s most senior civil servant, who acts as the senior policy adviser to the Prime Minister and Cabinet and as the Secretary to the Cabinet. The post is currently held by Sir Jeremy Heywood, for which he receives an annual salary of £195,000.
Whilst this may be a fairer comparison, there’s one major drawback. Whereas most people could readily identify the Prime Minister when questioned, how many members of the public could readily name the Cabinet Secretary.
The media deal with certainties and the familiar, hence measurements related to the size of football pitches (and Wales! Ed. and, by extension, comparisons of those in high office with the PM’s pay packet.
According to an adage often attributed to Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, it’s popularly said that Britain and the USA are two countries divided by a common language.
I’m therefore wondering whether for reasons of homophony (particularly in view of some British regional accents. Ed,), this forthcoming American film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford will be renamed for the British market… 😀
The media – and consequently the general public too – are always conflating translators and interpreters.
To help alleviate their ignorance a new graphic has been produced.
Hat tip: Anna Szenfeld.