Monthly Archives: July 2022

  • The most illiterate petrol station in North Wales

    Today’s Daily Post has a story – and accompanying video – about the efforts to make Plas Acton Garage in Wrexham the cheapest in North Wales.

    Amongst the ideas implemented by the owners to keep prices down, the article states:

    Regular customers can get their hands on “no strings attached” discount cards that strike a penny off every litre on the pump price indefinitely. In essence, if you topped up with roughly 50 litres of fuel you’d save 50p.

    However, the owners are not offering one penny off the pump price, but ‘one pence‘, as evidenced by the voucher being held up in the video still used for the Daily Post piece.

    Vidoe still showing voucher offering one pence off a litre

    If not the cheapest petrol station in North Wales, the wording on the voucher definitely makes it the region’s most illiterate petrol station.

    The proprietors are not the first to be unaware that the singular of pence is penny. The most egregious misuse of one pence for one penny occurred at the Despatch Box in the Chamber of the House of Commons (where else? Ed.). The date was 20th March 2013, the occasion was the annual budget speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer – one George Gideon Oliver Osborne, then aged 41 and three-quarters, who was very badly (and expensively) educated at St Paul’s School and Magdalen College, Oxford 😀 (posts passim).

  • Two liabilities & two maniacs

    During his lifetime, white supremacist mining magnate and alleged politician Cecil Rhodes was described as a ‘liability and a maniac‘ who nevertheless endowed his alma mater, Oriel College, Oxford with so much cash – £100,000 when he died in 1902 – that it duly commemorated him.

    Move on one hundred and twenty years from Rhodes’ death and another ‘liability and a maniac‘ has come forward to support the deceased rich racist in the alleged government’s never-ending culture war centred on public works of art, usually involving dead white males of dubious moral character.

    Which brings us to liability number two. Step forward one Nadine Vanessa Dorries, inexplicably elevated way beyond her extremely limited abilities to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by disgraced party-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    What links Rhodes and Dorries is the latter’s decision to award Grade II listed status to the plaque commemorating the Victorian imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, as reported by The Guardian.

    Rhodes portrait bust at Oriel College, now listed by Nadine Dorries

    The Guardian goes on to report that Dorries’ decision ‘overrides an earlier judgment by Historic England determining that the plaque lacked the “richness of detail” required for listed status‘, with Historic England noting that the DCMS ‘agrees with our listing advice 99% of the time, meaning Dorries’ ruling is indeed out of the ordinary.

    Dorries’ unilateral action also flies in the face of the intentions of Oriel College itself. Last year the college’s governing body published a report stating it wished to remove both the Rhodes statue and plaque: the college has since remarked it remains ‘committed to‘ removing them in spite of Dorries’ unwelcome intervention.

    The statue of Rhodes has also attracted the attention of thousands of Rhodes Must Fall campaigners who have lobbied to have removed it because of Rhodes’ racist and colonialist views.

    Needless to say, Dorries’ decision has not found favour with academics and campaigners. Kim Wagner, who’s a professor of imperial history at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) remarked as follows:

    This is simply what one would expect from Nadine Dorries and a discredited government, which has nothing left but the pursuit of its inept culture-war project.
    Cecil Rhodes has become a rallying point for imperiophiliacs, and the slogan to ‘retain and explain’ is just part of the ongoing effort to whitewash his legacy and that of the empire more generally. Luckily, most of us don’t get our history from statues or plaques.

    What little history of which Dorries is aware seems likely to have been gleaned from statues and plaques.

    The inevitable DCMS spokesperson has been wheeled out to defend the ministerial edict, stating:
    We are committed to retaining and explaining our heritage so people can examine all parts of Britain’s history and understand our shared past.

    Update 08/08/2022: In an editorial opinion piece The Guardian yesterday described Dorries’ listing decision as ‘crass‘, as well as calling her move a ‘kneejerk [sic] response to a contemporary debate‘.

  • Fedora Project wants to ban CC0 licence for software

    The CC0 Creative Commons licence exempts work form copyright claims, but does not exclude patent claims; and this presents a problem for free and open source software, as German IT news site heise reports.

    Fedora logoThe Fedora Project would like to remove the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licence from the list of permitted software licences, as Richard Fontata from the Fedora Legal Documentation Team wrote in a post to the Fedora mailing list. The reason for the change is that the Fedora Project has agreed that software under a licence which does not exclude patent claims cannot be regarded as free and open source software (FOSS).

    Public Domain logoThe Creative Commons Zero (CC0 1.0) licence is the most liberal Creative Commons licence. It places works in the public domain, with the copyright holder waiving all copyright and related rights worldwide insofar as this is legally possible. However, the patent or trade mark rights of any party are specifically not affected by CC0, so it is thus possible to place works subject to patent rights under CC0.

    Patents against open source

    In the 2000s various companies, including Microsoft, have attempted to asset patent claims against Linux and open source software. The Open Invention Network (OIN), whose members mutually waive all patent claims against one another, came into existence as a response to these moves.

    Furthermore, in the open source world, there is the risk that companies could release code which is protected by that company’s own patents. If other developers use this code, they are unwittingly exposed to the risk of patent lawsuits. There is therefore widespread agreement in the FOSS world that open source licences must explicitly exclude the possibility of patent claims by the author*.

    In its permitted licences list the Fedora Project distinguishes between licences for software, content, documentation and fonts. CC0, which was previously listed as a permitted licence for software and content, will in future only be allowed for content. According to Fontana, it still has to be clarified whether any program packages will be affected by this change.

    *= for intellectual property purposes software is regarded as a work of literature.

  • Minister’s extended stay in Homophone Corner

    Last night saw a televised debate for the Conservative Party leadership between one Mary Elizabeth Truss and Rishi Sunak.

    This encounter was described as ‘acrimonious‘ by The Guardian, whilst the BBC characterised it as the two candidates’ ‘fiercest clash yet‘.

    Needless to say the cheerleaders for both contenders were out in force on social media, attempting to boost the image of their favourite candidate.

    These included one Nadine Vanessa Dorries, inexplicably elevated way beyond her competence to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport by one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who has relinquished the office of leader of the CONservative Party, but remains the party-time alleged prime minister of the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.).

    Anyway, at some point in the proceedings Nadine took to TWitter and posted the following.

    Tweet reads Rishi really needs to stop talking over #Liz4Leader #LeadersDebate It’s a terrible look. He’s irritable, aggressive, bad tempered. He’s loosing it.

    Yes. gentle reader, you read that correctly: ‘loosing‘ instead of ‘losing‘.

    Off you go to Homophone Corner for a nice long sit down until you learn the error of your ways, Nadine!

    However, Nadine is not known for ever doing things by halves (ask the ostrich whose anus she ate. Ed.) and in response to being corrected (‘It’s ‘losing”. Ed.) by columnist Sarah Vine, the separated and soon to be divorced wife of Nadine’s Cabinet companion Michael Gove, responded by retweeting Ms Vine with no style at all and another howling homophone, as shown below.

    Dorries tweet reads: Very true. I had hoped to have a career as an author one day. Back to the drawing bored.

    An author? What has the English-speaking world done wrong to deserve such punishment?!

    Nadine’s efforts to date have kindly described asfull of Irish clichés‘.

    Your ‘umble scribe recommends that the fragrant Nadine refrains from inflicting further clichés – Irish or other – upon the reading public until she learns to write to a standard demanding a pen instead of a crayon. 😀

  • Counting to three

    According to Wikipedia, Tatler is a British magazine published by Condé Nast Publications which is targeted towards the British upper-middle class and upper class and those interested in society events. The topics it covers include fashion and lifestyle, plus high society and politics.

    Its coverage of politics cannot be said to be well researched if the following from its Twitter account is to be taken at face value.

    Tweet reads Could Liz Truss be the UK's second-ever female PM? Who is Liz Truss? The ‘true blue’ right-wing candidate standing in Conservati...

    Second-ever female PM, Tatler?

    Try counting again; and this time engage your brain!

    If the Tatler’s staff can’t even count to three, it has to be wondered how accurate the rest its coverage of politics actually is.

    The tweet has since been deleted.

  • Old translator, new home

    Antonio da Fabriano II - Saint Jerome in His StudyOver the years between 382 to 405 CE, a scholar called Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, also known as Jerome of Stridon, worked on a translation of the Hebrew bible into Latin. His translation became known as the Vulgate Bible. History remembers him as Saint Jerome, the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.

    Throughout the Catholic church Latin was the language in which God spoke and his word was transmitted until the medieval period, when calls began for translations of the bible into other languages.

    Individual names are associated with the translations.

    Whilst Martin Luther is rightly remembered as a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation and scissions from the Church of Rome, he was also responsible for the translation of the bible into German, which had a tremendous impact on both the church and German culture, including fostering the development of a standard version of the German language. In the English-speaking world, whilst the first authorised version of the bible in English – the King James Version – was compiled by a committee, the overwhelming majority of the text used was in fact translated the best part of a century earlier by William Tyndale, who was executed in exile in Vilvoorde in what is now Belgium in 1536.

    In those and earlier times many biblical translators were accused of heresy, a convenient crime against religion.

    William MorganOne bible translator who did not share Tyndale’s fate was William Morgan (c. 1545 – 1604), Bishop of Llandaff and of St Asaph, and the translator of the first version of the whole Bible into Welsh from Greek and Hebrew.

    The bible in Welsh was the gift of Elizabeth I to Wales and went some way to redressing the crass colonialism of her father’s actions in 1536 when legislation was enacted that made important changes in the government of Wales.

    Wales had previously been annexed – i.e. colonised – by the 1284 Statute of Wales, also known as the Statute of Rhuddlan. This introduced English criminal law to Wales, but Welsh custom and law were to operate in civil proceedings.

    Henry’s new act declared the king’s wish to incorporate Wales within the realm. One of its main effects was to secure “the shiring of the Marches”, bringing the numerous marcher lordships within a comprehensive system of counties . Another of its effects was to introduce uniformity in the administration of justice. However, the latter entailed English being the only language of the courts of Wales. This meant that Welsh-speaking defendants appearing before the courts were dished up “justice” in a language they did not understand in proceedings in which they were unable to participate.

    Furthermore, Henry’s legislation also decreed that those using the Welsh language were not to receive public office in the territories of the king of England.

    Anyway, with the background out of the way, let’s get back to Bishop Morgan and his bible in Welsh.

    Morgan was a student at Cambridge when leading Welsh Renaissance scholar William Salesbury published his Welsh New Testament in 1567. Whilst he was pleased that this work was available, Morgan firmly believed it was important that the Old Testament also be translated into Welsh. Morgan’s work on his own translation of the Old Testament commenced in the early 1580s and this, together with a revision of Salesbury’s New Testament, was published in 1588.

    Title page of Morgan's Welsh bible

    The Welsh bible is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I (English translation of dedication here). Elizabeth, a fervent Protestant, is said to be a firm supporter of the introduction of the Welsh bible in Wales as she believed it would help spread Protestantism in Wales at the expense of Catholicism.

    Morgan’s translation also allowed a highly monoglot Welsh population to read and hear the Bible in the vernacular for the first time. In the long run, the Welsh Bible saved the language from possible extinction.

    If readers are by now asking why your ‘umble scribe has bothered to write several hundred words on religion, politics and history in Wales, may I refer readers back to this post’s title.

    There are very few public memorials to translators (leaving to one side all those medieval painting of St Jerome in caves of varying levels of comfort. Ed.). One of these – of William Morgan himself – has just been installed in one of his old benefices, according to the Powys County Times. A decade ago sculptor Barry Davies created an oak statue of the Bishop which formerly stood outside the Public Hall in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant. The 7 foot tall statue has now been moved inside the parish church of St Dogfan by a team of local farmers, supervised by Mr Davies.

    The statue of William Morgan outside the Public Jall
    The statue of William Morgan in its initial home outside the Public Hall in Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant

    The article states the following as the reason for the statue’s move:

    The statute was commissioned 10 years ago as part of a lottery funded project in the village, but weather conditions had led to fears the statue could become damaged and so a decision to find an indoor home for the bishop was made.

    Of the one thousand original copies of the first edition of Morgan’s Welsh bible produced, it is estimated that some 26 survive today. It was republished in 1620 and that edition was still in use as the standard Welsh bible until the 20th century.