As your ‘umble scribe writes this post, part-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is now on day two of an extensive reshuffle of government ministers.
His first cabinet was chosen more for loyalty to Brexit than for talent and included some who had done a complete 180-degree turn on their pre-referendum stance in order to climb the greasy pole of political ambition.
The latter include the singularly untalented Liz Truss (whose biggest achievement as Trade Secretary was copying and pasting new copies of pre-existing EU trade agreements with third countries so they could continue in effect in a post-Brexit context. Ed.), who can now carry on filling in the ministerial My First Foreign Secretary’s Colouring Atlas where Dominic Raab left off, following the latter’s demotion to Justice Secretary.
The singularly unattractive Priti Patel remains as Home Secretary. The less said about that the better.
However, given the shallowness of the Tory talent pool, the most surprising appointment of the first day of Johnson’s rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic was his appointment of Nadine Dorries as Secretary of State for Digital, Cultural, Media and Sport. Nadine was put on Earth to demonstrate that potatoes are more intelligent beings than the Rt. Hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire.
Part of the fragrant Nadine’s brief includes all things digital, including the minor matter of IT security. To gain an insight into the new Secretary of State’s attitude to this subject, I refer readers to 2 Dorries tweets from 2017.
Cavalier doesn’t quite describe such an attitude to basic security and privacy.
Then there’s the whole question of gravitas – a necessary pre-requisite for public office, not that you’d know it with Bozo the Clown’s appointments.
A quick glance across the English Channel and North Sea to 2 European counterparts reveals some startling contrasts. Besides being French Culture Minister, present incumbent Roselyne Bachelot is an opera fan who has written a well-regarded work on Verdi. Monika Grütters, Germany’s Culture Minister was a university lecturer before entering politics and is still an honorary professor at Berlin’s Free University. On the other hand, Dorries’ biggest claim to fame (after her fiddling expenses) is eating ostrich anus on a so-called reality television show.
The Murdoch Sun has long had a reputation for making up stories, such as the infamous The Truth front page which accused Liverpool fans of misbehaviour and criminality at Hillsborough in 1989 when 97 Liverpool football fans lost their lives in an incident which a later inquest ruled to have involved unlawful killing.
That front page untruth resulted in a boycott of Rupert’s rag by the city of Liverpool that continues to this day.However, not content with upsetting a city for over 3 decades with a made-up story, Murdoch’s apology for a newspaper has now started on a more ambitious project – making up a new language akin to English, starting with changing the past tense of the verb to fly from a strong verb conjugation to a weak verb one.
The headline has since been corrected following mockery on social media to the effect that it’s now written by 10 year-olds.
Is there no start to the talent of those members of its staff that the title insists it employs as journalists?
If audience viewing figures for GBeebies are to be believed…
The station started on a low and then declined.
I now wait in trepidation for a letter before action from the Seafaring Rats Association. 😉
One can appease and/or try to reason with bigots; or one can respond like Angus. 😀
No further comment is necessary.
One of the earliest social impacts exerted by the internet is the so-called Streisand effect, which Wikipedia succinctly defines as: “a social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress the California Coastal Records Project’s photograph of her residence in Malibu, California, taken to document California coastal erosion, inadvertently drew further attention to it in 2003.“.
After this week’s developments in British media life, your ‘umble scribe is wondering whether the Streisand effect is about to be joined by a new phenomenon which should be called the Farage effect.
Here’s the background.
On Tuesday Nigel Farage, a former MEP who denies he’s a professional politician and perennial right-wing rabble-rouser, used his newly-minted show on right-leaning GB News (aka GBeebies. Ed.) to attack the RNLI for rescuing refugees attempting to reach British shores in flimsy and unsafe vessels who are in distress.
In particular, Farage stated that the charity, whose lifeboats are crewed by volunteers and which is funded by donations from the public, should case to provide a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs“.
Needless to say, Farage’s intemperate words and the awful bigotry behind them were intended to produce a reaction; and so they have, but it is one that the far-right rabble-rouser will not necessarily. appreciate.
As the Independent reports, normal weekday donations to the charity rocketed by over 2,000 per cent compared any other Wednesday in the year in an outpouring of public support. This comes after the charity revealed how its volunteers were receiving abuse s a result of the bile spewed by the likes of Farage and published harrowing footage of Channel rescues.
A grateful RNLI has since expressed its thanks to a generous public via a tweet earlier today.
We’ve seen a surge in donations over the past 24 hours – both in terms of one-off gifts and hundreds of you who’ve set up a monthly donation. We’re overwhelmed by and incredibly grateful for your kindness.
On the other side, there has been a minor backlash with some existing supporters of the charity withdrawing their financial and voluntary support, presumably fully paid-up members of the Farage Cult.
Will there soon be a Farage effect Wikipedia page stating it is a social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt is made to denigrate the actions of a volunteer-run humanitarian organisation backfires spectacularly?“
Please feel free to discuss in the comments below.
Update, Thursday 30 July: Today The Guardian’s website is reporting that donations to the RNLI actually increased by 3,000% stating:
The RNLI, which runs the UK’s network of volunteer lifeboats, said it received £200,000 in charitable donations on Wednesday – around 30 times its normal average of £6,000–£7,000 per day. During the same period, there was a 270% increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on its website.
Faced with all the criticism from decent folk, Farage has since tried to downplay his racism and bigotry by claiming he has been proud to raise money for the RNLI. This is the equivalent of an arsonist in court telling the judge from the dock that he had deliberately started fires to keep the fire brigade in work.
Yesterday, the right-leaning part of the population who seem to believe that culture as they know it is in danger of being cancelled (whatever that may mean. Ed.), was fulminating against yet another of those left-leaning organisations – English Heritage. Its crime: amending its online information about the children’s author Enid Blyton to reflect more accurately her writing and views.
While English Heritage’s blue plaque commemorating Blyton remains unchanged, the charity’s online information about her now details the problematic aspects of her writing and views.
In particular, the information on Blyton has been amended to describe her writing as including racism and xenophobia whilst lacking literary merit.
To illustrate Blyton’s racism, English Heritage’s online content notes that in 1960 Macmillan refused to publish Blyton’s children’s novel The Mystery That Never Was, noting her “faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia”. As a child, I can’t say I remember noticing the racism and xenophobia so much on the very rare occasions I picked up Blyton as a child (the golliwogs should have started the alarm bells ringing. Ed.), but the lack of literary merit was clearly apparent to my developing brain. Her work came across as simplistic and formulaic, but my brother loved her stories, a matter in which he persisted despite the mocking and urging from my sister and me that he read something less lightweight.
Although she did not specifically mention Blyton by name, it was clear that actor and comedian Joyce Grenfell clearly had Enid in her sights in her monologue Writer Of Children’s Books, as embedded below.
The outcome of the now-concluded G7 summit in Cornwall was to have been so different. Flying in the Red Arrows to impress the forrins with high-speed aerobatics, wheeling in Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor and her family in to schmooze and press the flesh; even the notoriously fickle English weather behaved itself.
Yes, the impression part-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his organising committee wanted to do was show a reinvigorated English Empire, confident and occupying a major place on the world stage now Brexit had been done and the country had broken free of the shackles ostensibly imposed upon it by the Brussels Eurocrats.
However, what has emerged is the English Empire’s diminished role and importance in the world as a consequence of Brexit. The G7 media headlines have been dominated by the problems caused by Brexit and in particular the UK’s failure to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol, a binding international treaty signed as part of the divorce agreement between the EU and the English Empire, a matter which earned the part-time alleged prime minister a rebuke from US president Joe Biden.
However, Biden’s was not the only reprimand earned in recent days by Johnson’s government of none of the talents. On social media David Frost, the English Empire’s chief Brexit negotiator, who is also known as Frosty the No Man on account of his negotiating style, earned the displeasure of those on Twitter who can see further than the White Cliffs of Dover for turning up to a crunch meeting with the EU wearing tacky Union Jack socks.
In addition, Frost and other members of the alleged government have been widely quoted in the right-wing British media as calling on the evil EU to be less purist in its interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol. Consulting an online dictionary, one of the definitions of purism is a strict adherence to particular concepts, rules.
That’s right. The EU is and always has been a rules-based, whereas Britannia has long preferred to waive the rules.
The above-mentioned meeting between the EU and the English Empire did not end well, with EU officials clearly exasperated by the attitude of the English Empire government.
In particular, the words attributed to on EU official quoted have been interpreted as patronising by the Daily Brexit, which some still call the Express.
According to the Daily Brexit:
An aide to the EU chief told Channel 4 News that the tweet “was in English so that the British can understand it”.
This anonymous quote clearly falls into the definition of a studied insult.
In this context studied denotes an insult that is either the result of deliberation and careful thought or is based on learning and knowledge.
The quote is clearly aimed at the monoglot Brits’ ages-old reluctance to learn foreign languages (apart from Latin and classical Greek.? Ed.), even though a properly global Britain will need all the linguists it can get, but shows no signs of producing, with both the number of British universities still teaching degree modern language courses in decline and the number of undergraduate linguists also in decline.
Buses are Bristol’s major mode of public transport and as your ‘umble scribe is now in possession of a geriatric’s bus pass, he might actually get around to exploring their possibilities.
One linguistic peculiarity of using the city’s buses which must be perplexing to outsiders and visitors is the use of the term drive to denote the person in charge of the vehicle. This normally takes the form of the grateful form of address “Cheers Drive” as passengers get off at their intended stops.
This phrase was last year used to name a new street in the BS5 postcode area, as reported at the time by BBC News.
It now seems that the buses themselves have also taken to addressing potential passengers in dialect, as per this photo courtesy of the WeLoveKeynsham Twitter account.
Of course, it’s not always been a smooth ride on the city’s buses.
Back in 1963, there was a boycott of the city’s buses led by youth worker Paul Stephenson and others over the Bristol Omnibus Company’s shameful and discriminatory refusal to employ black or Asian people.
Furthermore, the reliability of quality of services has been a perennial problem and formed the subject of Fred Wedlock’s song, Bristol Buses.
If you have ever wondered about the derivation of olive oil, here is the ultimate definition courtesy of my Twitter feed.
No further comment is required.
The Document Foundation (TDF), the German non-profit organisation behind the free and open source LibreOffice productivity suite, has today announced the release of LibreOffice 7.0.6, the slightly less bleeding edge version of the suite intended for enterprise deployments and more conservative users.
LibreOffice 7.0.6 is the sixth minor release of the LibreOffice 7.0 family and is available for immediate download.
According to the LibreOffice Twitter account, this new release contains over 50 bug fixes. TDF also states this will be the final release of the 7.0 branch, with development efforts being concentrated henceforth on maintaining the 7.1 branch and working towards readying LibreOffice 7.2 for release.
For commerical deployments, TDF strongly recommends seeking support from its partners so as to obtain long-term supported releases, dedicated assistance, custom new features and other benefits such as SLAs.
Anyone who’s willing to contribute their time and professional skills to LibreOffice is advised to visit the dedicated supporters’ website.
Finally, all LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members are invited to make a donation to support The Document Foundation.