Posts tagged social media

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

Only in the USA?

What is the hapless US customs officer featured below going to do when he finds out there’s a Paris in France as well as Texas, an Athens in Greece as well as Georgia and Boston is named after a market town in Lincolnshire in the UK?

tweet detailing conversation with US customs officer who confuses Bayreuth Germany with Beirut Lebanon

No further comment needed. 😀

“Brexity”

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.

Brexit Monstrosity float in Manchester

Brexit Monstrosity float in Manchester. Image by Robert Mandel courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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. 😀

No Welsh please, we’re Great Western Railway

Earlier this week Wales Online reported that train company Great Western Railway will not have Welsh language announcements or signs on its new class 800 fleet that will be providing services on the Great Western route from South Wales to London Paddington.

800 Class locomotive in GWR livery

Class 800 locomotive in GWR livery. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The lack of Welsh language announcements or signs on board was first spotted by Cardiff City Labour councillor and Welsh learner Phil Bale, who raised the matter with Great Western Railway via social media.

GWR responded to Cllr. Bale as follows:

I’m afraid we have no plans to have bilingual signage and on-board announcements on these services.

Diolch yn fawr, GWR!

The decision was justified by GWR remarking that the trains serve both England and Wales they aren’t a dedicated South Wales Fleet. However, as a patronising nod in the direction of Wales having a distinct language, GWR did point out that it had leaflets available in Welsh, but passengers would have to ask for them first (presumably in English. Ed.).

In response to GWR’s monoglot policy, Councillor Bales remarked: “For me it shows that Great Western are stuck in the dark ages. We have a Welsh Government target of one million Welsh speakers and there are international transport operators who manage to provide their services in different languages all across Europe.”

As the trains do serve both countries, one would have thought that providing bilingual announcements and signs would have been a common courtesy to those who speak Welsh; and as for Councillor Bales’ remark about running services in other countries, your correspondent doesn’t believe the travelling public overseas would tolerate the incompetence and sheer bloody-mindedness of GWR.

GWR’s attitude contrasts sharply with that of fellow train company, Arriva Trains Wales, which also runs services between Wales and England (e.g. from Cardiff Central to Manchester Piccadilly. Ed.). Arriva provides both signs and announcements in both Welsh and English, as well as bilingual ticket machines and timetables, even at English stations.

Plaid Cymru described GWR’s attitude as “disrespectful“, whilst a Cymdeithas yr Iaith (Welsh Language Society) spokesman said: “Ensuring bilingual signage and announcements on trains in Wales is a matter of basic respect for the Welsh language – there is no excuse not to. The fact GWR have said they don’t intend even to ensure these simple things, and that they’ve missed easy opportunities to do so, shows that they are not a suitable organisation to provide a train service in Wales.

“The Welsh Government should publish strong language standards in the transport sector so that the Welsh Language Commissioner can force companies like GWR to respect the language.”

According to the South Wales Argus, a Welsh Language Commission spokesman said: “Great Western’s alleged lack of investment in the Welsh language is a cause for concern.

“In 2016 the Commissioner submitted a report to the Welsh Government recommending that Welsh language standards should be placed on train companies. The Commissioner continues to work with train companies and others to develop the use of the Welsh language on a voluntary basis, and discusses public concerns with them.”

Mixed messages

In addition to being a chore, there’s now more than a hint of ambiguity in grocery shopping.

Take this sign in Tesco outlets.

Is it a threat or a promise? You decide. 😉

sign in photo reads you're next

Hat tip: @soapachu.

Bing Translate fails (yet) again

Social media platform Twitter uses Bing Translate, (another fine Microsoft product? Ed.), for tweet translation.

However, as this blog has highlighted before, Bing Translate isn’t all that good.

Indeed, for all practical purposes, it’s completely useless.

Evidence for this is legion. The latest in my timeline is shown below, where Bing Translate manages, with no external aid or interference, to confuse Somali, a Cushitic branch Afro-Asian language, with Estonian, a Finnic branch Uralic language.

text related to Bing reads Translate from Estonian

This for me is reminiscent of the old Stork margarine advertisements that were doing the rounds in my childhood, where gullible television viewers were improbably told that the taste of Stork was indistinguishable from that of butter (or butter from a dead crab. Ed.).

Mr Gove pays a visit

Yesterday the BBC reported on the visit of DEFRA Minister Michael Gove (the man who, when Education Secretary, wanted all schools to be “above average”. Ed.) to the Antrim Show in the company of DUP MPs Paul Girvan and Ian Paisley.

The DUP are of course the minority Conservative government’s new best friends, having bribed them with £1.5 bn. from the “magic money tree” (© Prime Minister Theresa May) to prop it up in crucial parliamentary votes.

Whilst courting his party’s new best pals in the DUP, Gove managed at the same time to snub half of the Northern Irish electorate by pulling out of a meeting with Sinn Féin at the last minute.

However, the BBC fails to make mention of the sterling groundwork done by DEFRA civil servants in communicating the pre-visit wisdom of the Minister to the local media. In this context we should be grateful to Belfast freelance journalist Amanda Ferguson for posting the following on her Twitter account.

shot of Defra statement for Gove's Antrim visit mentioning Welsh lamb

No, you didn’t misread the above. Gove mentioned Welsh lamb, a product with a protected food name, the implication of this being that he believes this fine product from west of Offa’s Dyke actually comes from even further west from over the Irish Sea.

One has to wonder whether Mr Gove could find his backside with both hands with such a poor grasp of geography. It was evidently not a subject at which he excelled at Aberdeen’s independent Robert Gordon’s Academy, to which he won a scholarship.

For your ‘umble scribe this is yet further proof that the government in Westminster and their sidekicks, the mandarins in Whitehall, care little for anywhere in the country outside the M25 and the metropolitan commuter belt and tend to view the devolved regions of the United Kingdom and the English regions too as little more than colonies of London and therefore ripe for exploitation and patronising treatment.

Lincoln Blue

There are 6 days to go until the polls open for Theresa May’s snap election that she wasn’t going to call and the war of words is really hotting up.

This blog has previously drawn attention to Theresa May’s description of the Conservatives as the “Nasty Party” (posts passim) and how under her premiership, she and her members have striven to be as nasty as they can.

This has continued with increasing fury during the election campaign and has intensified as the Tories’ lead in the opinion polls has narrowed, as shown by this series of tweets by the party’s faithful in Grantham, birthplace of the grocer’s daughter who went on to become the Conservatives’ revered Leaderene (once known as the “Milk Snatcher”. Ed.).

screenshot of tweets demonising and insulting people on benefits

In that series of postings, Lincolnshire Tories have been faithfully parroting the bile the party has been encouraging their allies in the right-wing mainstream media since their return to government in 2010.

Note too, the spelling error in the final tweet: “rouges” instead of “rogues“. It must be an orthographical error as I can conceive of no predictive text application that would come up with such a substitute.

Any rouge, otherwise known these days as blusher, is a cosmetic product and thus quite appropriate to this load of made-up nonsense. 🙂

Since the posting of those tweets, the account has been suspended by Twitter, most likely for abusive tweets and/or behaviour.

Conservative manifesto shocker

When the UK’s not at all unelected Prime Minister announced her intention to seek parliamentary approval for a snap general election earlier this week, I asked my Twitter followers via a poll who was likely to be writing the Conservative Party manifesto.

The poll is now closed and there’s a surprise winner.

image showing 61% poll result for Vladimir Putin writing Conservative manifesto

Your correspondent was fully expecting the party’s manifesto to be written by the usual suspects – the owners and editors of the British right wing press, but alas Twitter – or the part thereof with which I’m in touch – thinks differently.

The question that must now be asked is whether Conservative Party Central Office have time to translate the party’s manifesto into English and Welsh (if for once the Tories have stopped treating Wales as an English colony. Ed.) from the original Russian once Vladimir Vladimirovich has completed his draft? In the immortal words of Private Eye: I think we should be told! 😀

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