Posts tagged social media

An algorithm with a sense of humour?

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Google’s developers evidently have a sense of humour, as the search below shows.

Google's response to search string anagram reads did you mean nag a ram

Not all humour from techies is quite so obvious to ordinary mortals and is normally deeply buried in comments in code, mark-up and the like.

Tip of the hat: Kevin Mills

Telegraph exclusive: Brits using ducks to negotiate Brexit

The right-wing Telegraph newspaper has enjoyed a long and close relationship with the Conservative Party. So close indeed that it is often referred to as the Torygraph.

This close relationship means that developments within the Tory Party are frequently reported first in the Telegraph.

It is therefore no surprise that the latest developments on the state of the UK’s Brexit negotiations popped into my Twitter feed this morning with the following Telegraph headline and abstract.

Image text reads Brexit latest news: Theresa May will meet Jeremy Corbyn today as she prepares to send a revamped negotiating teal back to Brussels.

Yes, that’s why the negotiations have been so disastrous. They’ve been handled by ducks, or more specifically a Eurasian teal, a male specimen of which is shown below.

Male Eurasian teal

A top international negotiator according to the Telegraph. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

How a duck or ducks actually managed to deal with the question of the Irish backstop remains a mystery and is probably why the Tory right wing is so obsessed with it. And quite what a revamped negotiating teal is, one could indulge in conjecture. Was it taken to some backstreet ornithologist and given the plumage of, say, an Arctic skua, together with a bit of beak remodelling?

Please Torygraph, tell me it’s not a typo! 😀

Northampton or Novosibirsk?

Via Twitter, the following image arrived in my timeline this morning. It’s a below the piece comment, ostensibly from someone called DAZ21, from the mobile version of the Daily Mail website.

Text of comment reads White British in London 45 percent, white British in Birmingham 50 percent..Our 2 largest cities don't belong to us anymore, we have been very tolerant and are probably the least racist country on Earth. But these ideologies we import are incompatible to our own... I give it 5 years before civil war breaks out.

As you can see, at the top of the comment DAZ21 would like us all to think he’s from the fair English county town of Northampton.

However, there are a couple of problems with locating dear ole DAZ21 there if one examines the text of the comment closely; and the vowels in particular.

Look first near the bottom of the comment. Is that a letter “a” with diaresis (ä), I see before me?

The letter “a” with diaresis is quite common in German (as in Käse – cheese. Ed.), but not in English.

However, there’s a real clincher in the text that shows DAZ21 is more likely to hail from Novosibirsk than Northampton: and once again it’s a vowel that gives the game away, namely the “i” with diaresis “ï“).

According to Wikipedia, “Yi (Ї ї; italics: Ї ї) is a letter appearing the Cyrillic script, as used by Russian, amongst other languages.

In English this is a very uncommon character and is used when ⟨i⟩ follows another vowel and indicates hiatus (diaeresis) in the pronunciation of such a word.

There have been questions about the reliability of the the Daily Mail for decades. Last year it was banned as a source by Wikipedia due to its “reputation for poor fact checking and sensationalism“.

One wonders how much further that reputation has slumped if its below the piece comments are now full of bots or actual Russians pretending to be Brits posting provocative and/or misleading content.

By the way, Novosibirsk is Russia’s third most populous city after Moscow and St Petersburg.

Shopping in Wales: what’s afoot?

A Twitter user from Swansea has today discovered a strange physical benefit of being able to speak Welsh in Wales, namely the ability to walk to the shops quicker than Anglophones!

That, of course leaves one question unanswered, i.e are bilingual Welsh and English speakers blessed with dual speed perambulation? 😉

Photo shows 2 minutes' discrepancy between Welsh and English signage

Next time folks, remember to proof the copy for consistency and accuracy!

Cheese toastie shocker

Yesterday’s online version of the Bristol Post (now renamed Bristol Live. Ed.) carried a shocking item about a hitherto unknown catalyst for violence: the toasted cheese sandwich.

According to the Post, this humble snack may not be served at a proposed catering concession in Monk’s Park in Bristol’s Southmead district “amid fears a proposed hot food van could attract booze-fuelled anti-social behaviour and motorbike gangs“.

The Post continues:

Councillors have agreed to grant a provisional licence for cold food, such as ice cream, and tea and coffee in Monk’s Park, Biddestone Road.

But the vendor would be barred from selling hot snacks following dozens of objections from residents, a ward councillor and the headteacher of a nearby secondary school.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by tomato soup.

A provoker of violence, accompanied by not quite so provocative tomato soup. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

However, the fear of violent behaviour was not the only concern for banning hot food: councillors on the city council’s public safety and protection committee also feared children from the next-door school would be tempted to skip lessons due to the lure of grilled fermented curd.

Following the committee’s decision the concession will now be put out to tender.

However, the story does not end there. When your correspondent posted about the article on Twitter, one person to respond was local artist Dru Marland, whose response about fermented curd addiction was hilarious.

XDru's tweet reads they start 'em on Dairylea slices, and before you know it they're mugging pensioners for their next fix of Stinking Bishop

For a more complete understanding of the violence-inducing properties of cheese, I should have asked the committee about their opinions of more exotic varieties of fermented curd, such as Roquefort or Graviera, but pressure of time dictated otherwise. 🙂

Update: Not forty-eight hours after Bristol was opened to national and international ridicule over this affair, Bristol Live reports that residents of Bristol’s Cotham district have branded a hot food catering van an “appalling idea“. You couldn’t make this stuff up!

Morrisons – bottom of the class in Welsh

It’s always good to see Welsh being promoted in Wales.

However, it does help if one uses a professional translator and native Welsh speaker before committing any money to doing works on the ground.

This has clearly not been done by supermarket chain Morrisons with the car park markings shown below at its supermarket car park in Caernarfon.

picture showing bilingual no entry markings with incorrect Welsh wording

Picture courtesy of Richard Jones (@lluniarich)

The error was brought to the attention of non-Welsh speakers by Twitter user Rhysew, who tweeted

C’mon @Morrisons, sort this out! Your Welsh translates as “Arse record” Correct it as DIM MYNEDIAD.

screenshot of tweet

This is not the first time Anglophone companies have treated Welsh – a far older language than English – with the respect it deserves.

Most recently, there was comedy train operating company First Great Western, which will have no Welsh language announcements on its services between South Wales and London (even though it manages to embrace both Welsh and English train announcements at Newport station. Ed.)

Last year there was also Santander, which seems to have problems with Welsh customers expecting transactions in the vernacular despite having a clear Welsh language policy.

In the meantime, would any Welsh-speaking reader care to ask Morrisons if the “arse record” will be available on vinyl. 😉

The GOP and the English language*

On Saturday, a certain Melania Trump was discharged from hospital following surgery for a kidney problem.

Needless to say her husband. one Donald John Trump, who occasionally resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. in between golfing trips, was delighted.

So delighted he sent the tweet below to his followers.

tweet reads: Great to have our incredible First Lady back home in the White House. Melanie is feeling and doing really well. Thank you for all of your prayers and best wishes!

The reason why The Donald should misspell his wife’s name is unknown. Perhaps he had that pesky predictive text active on his tweeting device.

However, the 45th President of the United States is not the first Republican Party occupant of that office of state to experience problems with the use of the English language.

The 41st occupant of that office, one George Herbert Walker Bush, once quipped in an interview with Jim Lehrer on PBS: “They used to say English was my second language.”

George H.W.’s son, George W., who was affectionately known as “Dubya” and inaugurated as the USA’s 43rd president, was so inept with his alleged mother tongue that a term – Bushisms – was coined to denote his ability to engage both tongue and brain when speaking in public. Bushisms are defined as Dubya’s unconventional statements, phrases, pronunciations, malapropisms and semantic or linguistic errors in public speaking. Besides malapropisms, Bushism’s other common characteristics included the creation of neologisms, spoonerisms, stunt words and grammatically incorrect subject–verb agreement.

To conclude this brief excursion into members of the Grand Old Party’s difficulties with English, who can forget former Vice-President James Danforth Quayle’s erroneous correction of a school student’s correct rendition of “potato“? 😀

* = Apologies to the late George Orwell for the title.

Local rag now employing greengrocers*

Changes are taking place at the increasingly downmarket Local World group of regional newspaper titles owned by Trinity Mirror.

These changes are also being implemented at the Bristol Post, the city’s newspaper of (warped) record, whose online version now masquerades under the misleading title of BristolLive, as any signs of sentience have yet to be medically confirmed.

As circulation has declined, so have standards to the point where it appears that greengrocers (or should that be greengrocer’s? Ed.) are cheaper to employ than what passes nowadays for journalists – or even journalist’s. This desperate move is amply illustrated by the screenshot below for the latest story lifted from scanning social media.

headline reads Bristol's s**t cycling infrastructure now has it's own Twitter account

In the meantime, locals can expect more news from Homophone Corner (that’s a site to be seen. Ed. 😉 ) and hard-hitting stories of the “Hartcliffe man stubs toe on Bristol Bridge” variety and barely concealed advertisements masquerading as restaurant reviews, mostly for places whose obituaries subsequently describe them as “popular” when they inevitably close down less than a year later.

* Or should that be greengrocer’s? 😉

The D’ohval Office

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.

Trump tweet saying In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

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

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

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.

Going, going,…

Last week’s post on east Bristol’s Wain Brook (posts passim) attracted considerable interest on social media amongst local residents with a love of local history and maps.

These interested parties included a member of the original team that put together the online Know Your Place mapping project, who commented further that he’s currently working on a flood mapping project that will include a number of Bristol’s hidden watercourses.

Yesterday another peek over the bridge parapet at Lawrence Hill revealed that there’s now less of the Wain Brook to be seen as the works progress: it can still be seen flowing left to right in the masonry inspection chamber.

However, this hidden watercourse will soon disappear once more beneath the trackbed: and who knows how long will pass before it once more sees the light of day.

Metal plates cover the top of the Wain Brook culvert

Metal plates cover the top of the Wain Brook culvert

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