Monthly Archives: January 2022

  • Ar Werth?

    Anglesey (Ynys Môn) is one of the strongholds of the Welsh language with figures as high as 78% being quoted for those with some proficiency in the tongue. The 2011 census revealed that some 68.56% of the island’s population were either fluent or had some proficiency.

    One would therefore expect the island’s linguistic identity and heritage to be respected.

    But no. As The Daily Post/North Wales Live has reported, an estate agent has apologised after an English-only For Sale sign was placed alongside Beaumaris Road (which is the main A545 road between Menai Bridge/Porthaethwy and Beaumaris. Ed.).

    Needless to say, the absence of the vernacular and mains means of communication on the island attracted the attention and ire of Welsh language campaigners, leading to its being defaced by a sticker bearing the wording “ble mae’r Gymraeg?” (where is the Welsh?).

    The wording is a slogan used by Cymdeithas yr Iaith (Welsh Language Society) and appears on stickers used as a means of peaceful protest. Over the years on the stickers have adorned road signs and telephone boxes, amongst other things.

    Ar Werth is For Sale in Welsh
    Doing it right along the banks of the Afon Dwfor in Gwynedd. Image courtesy of Christine Johnstone

    In response to criticism on social, estate agent Gavin Morgan has given an apology of sorts, responding: “Sorry guys my board is in Welsh and English, board company have erected the wrong board.”.

  • The half a million pound Pom

    The news is full of stories of inflation, which has now reached its highest level for many years, not only in the English Empire (which some still called the United Kingdom, Ed.) but around the world.

    Liz TrussNeedless to say, the travel and transport sector has not escaped inflationary pressures; and there is one particularly egregious example of this in the latest junket by one Elizabeth Mary Truss, inexplicably promoted to the post of Foreign Secretary in party-time alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s talent-free Cabinet.

    Liz is not exactly frugal where the expenditure of public funds in concerned. A previous junket she took to Japan when Trade Secretary cost the taxpayer a cool £2,080 in food and drink over 3 days for her and her civil service minders, despite these expenses being initially declared as £182 by the DIT.

    This prompted Opposition front bencher Emily Thornberry to remark as follows:

    There is a clear pattern of behaviour emerging here with Liz Truss, which raises serious questions about her character, because if her instinct is to hide the truth and hope that no one asks questions even over these expenses claims, what else is she willing to do that about?

    On her latest jolly (for which read trade mission. Ed.) to Australia, Ms Truss has managed to rack up a bill of a cool £500,000, mainly due to the using the government’s Airbus A321neo aircraft with special flag-shagger livery for the trip despite the same itinerary being able to be covered by scheduled flights at a far cheaper cost.

    The round trip to Australia and back burnt an estimated 150 tonnes of fuel and generated nearly 500 tonnes of CO2, according to The Independent.

    Truss’ entourage for the flight comprised 14 persons, not counting the 2 sets of flight crew needed for the trip.

    One of the excuses given for such profligacy was that of “security considerations“, including the fear that other passengers might have overheard conversations between Truss and her officials. Well, Liz and her garrulous staff are all supposed to be grown-ups, so isn’t it about time they learnt there are times when one keeps one’s mouth shut?

    Justifying her decision, The Independent quotes Ms Truss as saying the following:

    I used the Government plane – that is why we have a Government plane: to enable Government ministers to conduct Government business, and that’s what I flew to Australia in.

    In former times, Truss could have got to Australia for as little as 10 of your English pounds as part of the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme and been a so-called Ten Pound Pom instead of a half a million quid one, but then again she’s a woman in a hurry, especially when it comes to spending money that doesn’t belong to her. Bearing that in mind, a single trip costing £250,000 on Flag-Shagger Airways would have been great value for money in ridding the country of a particularly useless cabinet minister.

  • Metrology news

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
    Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to a new unit of measurement, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as used yesterday by North Wales Online/Daily Post.

    The particular context for the use of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was the planning application by RWE Renewables to Denbighshire County Council for a 90-metre-high meteorological mast on land at Mynydd Mynyllod, Llandrillo, near Corwen.

    If planning permission is granted, the purpose of the mast the mast will be to collect wind data for three years to see whether the field is a suitable site for a wind farm.

    According to Wikipedia, the height of Pisa’s famous tower is 55.86 metres from the ground on the low side and 56.67 m on the high side.

    Your ‘umble scribe wonders what its equivalent is in football pitches, sizes of Wales and Stockholms (posts passim). 😉

  • No ifs, no butts

    On 21st January, Clean Up Britain launched the most comprehensive anti-cigarette litter campaign with a pilot in Bristol. Clean Up Britain eventually hopes to extend the pilot campaign to the rest of the country.

    Image courtesy of Clean Up Britain Campaign

    Anti-cigarette butt littering publicity from Clean Up BritainCigarette butts are the most littered item on the planet. Even in Britain some 27 billion cigarette butts littered in Britain every year. These dropped dog ends allow toxic contaminants to seep into the environment causing significant environmental pollution to watercourses and soil. Moreover, there are now three million e-cigarette users (aka vapers. Ed.) in Britain and e-cigarette waste is also very serious since it produces plastic, nicotine salts, heavy metals, lead, mercury and flammable lithium batteries, again endangering the soil, wildlife and watercourses.

    Clean Up Britain states it will be providing a comprehensive programme of behavioural change interventions in Bristol aimed at reducing cigarette butt littering at its source, by encouraging adult smokers to dispose of their cigarette butts properly. This will include various campaign publicity messages aimed at deterring the casual disposal of smoking waste.

    Your correspondent wonders if this initiative is being undertaken in isolation as there is no mention of it on the newsroom section of the Bristol City Council website or indeed on the wider city council website.

    How well or even whether this programme will work remains to be seen. Your ‘umble scribe will watch developments with interest.

  • Geographical confusion plagues local Reach title

    If there’s one thing that characterises Reach plc’s regional newspaper titles it is lack of attention to detail, whether that is their use of English, captioning of photos, geographical location and so on.

    Earlier this week visitors to the Bristol Post website (aka BristolLive. Ed.) were treated to an exemplar of this poor quality media production.

    It’s not unusual for newspaper sites to encourage their visitors to sign up for newsletters as a marketing tool and thus increase their traffic.

    However, the Bristol Post’s latest effort, which is posted on a page that seems to be syndicated across several different regional titles, appears to have been mistargeted, landing a direct hit on the banks to the River Hull at its confluence with the Humber estuary, rather than the banks of the Bristol Avon.

    Screenshot of Bristol Post web page inviting readers to sign up for the HullLive newsletter
    Hull – Bristol’s newest suburb?

    This is not the first time (and definitely won’t be the last. Ed.) that Reach titles have played fast and loose with geography. Four years ago, the Bristol Post magically transformed into the Manchester Evening News (posts passim).

    This action raises a number of questions, i.e.:

    • Is Hull Bristol’s newest suburb?
    • Are HullLive readers being invited to sign up to the BristolLive newsletters in the interests of balance if nothing else?
    • How many seconds would the average modern Reach employee have survived in post if magically transported back to the days when all regional newspapers employed sub-editors?

    If you know the answer or can provide further elucidation, please comment below. 😀

  • Lookalikes – canine special

    Under pressure part-time alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is facing increased calls for his resignation following revelations of regular lockdown-busting parties at No. 10 Downing Street, two of which took place on the evening before the funeral of the late Philip Mountbatten-Windsor (aka Phil the Greek. Ed.).

    These latest revelations have been added to the evidence built up over the decades that Johnson – an immodest man with much to be modest about – is unfit to clean a public toilet, let alone occupy the highest elected office in the land. For a summary of Johnson’s lying, philandering, laziness, law-breaking and other character flaws, the latest Observer editorial comment is scathing, accusing Johnson of hurting the country and shaming his party.

    Furthermore, the mainstream media is only now starting to print and broadcast the shortcomings in character should have been general public knowledge long before Johnson’s name was even suggested as a suitable candidate for an election nomination paper.

    Johnson’s path to the most famous black door in the world has been an upward trajectory propelled by lies, incompetence and bluster.

    However, do not expect an egotistical creature with a sense of entitlement like Bozo the Clown to relinquish the power of the highest elected office in the land voluntarily.

    Like most who end up behind that black door, Johnson will leave claw marks down the pavement as he is evicted from behind Downing Street’s security gates.

    And so it has come to pass that, as The Independent announced two days ago,an egotistical character like Bozo the Clown Johnson is launching Operation Save Big Dog with, yes you guessed correctly, Johnson playing the eponymous subject of the operation.

    This will consist mainly of seeing which subordinates can be sacrificed to ensure Johnson himself survives in post.

    If Johnson were of the canine persuasion, his record suggests a more apposite adjective than big for this particular pooch would be rabid. Rabid dog and BorisJohnson

  • LibreOffice 7.3 to support Klingon

    The forthcoming point release of LibreOffice, the free and open source office suite, will feature support for two constructed languages – Klingon and InterslavicNeowin reports. TDF logo

    Klingon insigniaKlingon is of course well known to lovers of the US science fiction Star Trek media franchise created by Gene Roddenberry as the language of the alien race of the same name and created by US linguist Mark Okrand, actor James Doohan (who played chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. Ed.) and scriptwriter and producer Jon Povill.

    The Klingon language is first mentioned in the original Star Trek series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” (1967), but is not heard until 1979 in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

    Interslavic flagInterslavic is a pan-Slavic auxiliary language whose purpose is to facilitate communication between people from different Slavic nations, as well as allowing those who do not know any Slavic language to communicate with Slavs by being understandable to most, if not all Slavic speakers without them having to learn the language themselves.

    When it comes to classification, Interslavic can be described as a semi-constructed language, being in essence a modern continuation of Old Church Slavonic, but it also draws on the various improvised language forms Slavs have been using for centuries to communicate with Slavs of other nationalities.

    These are not the first constructed languages for which there is support in LibreOffice. Esperanto is already catered for in the form of a LibreOffice Esperanto extension which provides a spellchecker and hyphenation.

    Commenting on the support for Klingon, The Document Foundation remarked:

    Even if Klingon and Interslavic support sounds like a novelty, it shows how versatile free and open source software is. As mentioned, LibreOffice is available in over 100 languages, and we’d like to expand that even further. The more languages the better, especially if we can help to boost IT skills in places which don’t otherwise have software in their native languages!

    The LibreOffice wiki provides a full list of languages supported by the office suite.

  • Indigestible cookies

    In France the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) has fined Google €150 million and Facebook €60 mn. for non-compliance with French data protection legislation, which also covers cookies.

    cookies - edible varietyAs a result of its investigations following the receipt of complaints from members of the public, the CNIL found that the websites, and do not make refusing cookies as easy as to accept them and so penalised them financially. The €150 mn. fine for Google is broken down into €90 mn. for Google LLC and €60 mn. for Google Ireland Ltd.

    Furthermore, the CNIL also ordered Google and Facebook to provide French-based internet users lwith a means of refusing cookies as simple as the existing means of accepting them, in order to guarantee their freedom of consent, within three months. If they fail to do so, the companies will have to pay a penalty of €100,000 euros per day of delay.

    The problem of privacy-conscious people being put to unnecessary effort to reject cookies is widespread. For instance, when visiting a Reach plc newspaper site (Reach owns the Mirror, Express and scores of regional news titles around the country. Ed.), users who wish to reject all cookies have to work through the options; this entails four clicks of the mouse, as opposed to one to accept all cookies. The best sites have a one-click option to accept or reject all cookies.

    As someone who has been using the internet since the days of dial-up modems, your ‘umble scribe has long believed rejecting cookies should be the default and those who want to accept them made to go through the same laborious process to which cookie refuseniks are currently subjected.

  • Bronze lives matter

    On 7 June 2020, the statue of slave trader and religious bigot Edward Colston, which had blighted the centre of Bristol for well over a century, was assisted off its plinth and taken for a walk for a bath in the city docks near Pero’s Bridge (a bridge named after a former slave. Ed.).

    Yesterday in Bristol Crown Court a jury of their peers found the defendants Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby, and Jake Skuse – the so-called Colston 4 – not guilty of criminal damage as a result of Eddie the Slaver ending up in the drink that afternoon a year and half ago, as The Bristol Cable reports.

    The verdict has not gone down well with some right-leaning culture warriors and those whose view of history is coloured more by the propaganda extolling the virtues of the British Empire instead of the brutality of its crimes against humanity, theft, violence and exploitation. This tweet from the Save Our Statues account is a typical example.

    Tweet reads: A disgraceful verdict that gives the green light to political vandalism and sets a precedent for anyone to be able to destroy whatever they disagree with. This is not justice.

    The sense of outrage is not confined to social media. In the vanguard was the outrage of the Daily Express (which some still call the Express. Ed.) with the headline below today’s front page.

    Headline reads: statue 'vandals' cleared... but where will it all end?

    Just above the headline a small matter of media hypocrisy comes into view. Note the promotional flash for the glorious National Trust 2022 calendar. Not so very long ago the Express was one of those right-wing newspapers that were condemning the National Trust and accusing it of being woke (whatever that’s supposed to mean. Ed.) for the organisation’s efforts to learn more about the history of its properties, resulting in the Trust publishing a report last year that found 93 of its properties had connections with colonialism and slavery.

    Furthermore, it was just right-leaning social media accounts and media that were outraged. Members of Parliament also joined in the outrage.

    Step forward Robert ‘Honest Bob‘ Jenrick, MP for Newark and formerly Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Jenrick took to Twitter yesterday to pontificate as follows:

    We undermine the rule of law, which underpins our democracy, if we accept vandalism and criminal damage are acceptable forms of political protest.
    They aren’t. Regardless of the intentions.

    Tweet reads: We undermine the rule of law, which underpins our democracy, if we accept vandalism and criminal damage are acceptable forms of political protest. They aren't. Regardless of the intentions.

    It is encouraging to see such strong support for the rule of law from Honest Bob, a man who when occupying his lofty Whitehall perch was found by the High Court to have acted unlawfully in approving a £1bn east London development by former publisher and Tory Party donor Richard Desmond.

    The Colston 4 verdict and the verdict of unlawful action Jenrick’s planning decision clearly do not sit well with the likes of Honest Bob.

    However, he and others need to remember that justice – especially as perceived by juries in their verdicts – does not always match everyone’s expectations, especially where concepts of lawful and/or reasonable excuse are involved.

    Justice is not like Woolworth’s Pick’n’Mix sweet counter and the likes of Honest Bob are in no position to lecture the masses about the sanctity of the rule of law.

    In conclusion, here’s a wee photo for Bob, the right-wing press and social media accounts to think about. 😀

    Photo reads: If pulling down a statue of a slave traders 'ruins your way of life' you are either... a) racist b) a pigeon