Monthly Archives: September 2023

  • City rejoins Gloucestershire – Bristol Live exclusive

    One time long ago there was a county called Gloucestershire. It was a large county that included the city of Bristol as one of its major centres of population. However, that all changed in 1373 when Bristol was granted county status in its own right by the king through the usual expedient of paying him a sufficiently large quantity of cash.

    However, that has now all changed and Bristol is once again in the embrace of Gloucestershire, even though the news has been suppressed and can only be found by a creful reading of the Bristol Live website, where it appears in a piece by Emma Flanagan inviting readers to vote for their favourite Chinese takeaways.

    Headline reads Where can you get the best Chinese takeaway in Bristol? Photo caption reads Tell us the best Chinese takeaway in Gloucestershire and we'll crown a winner

    The headline to the article asks Where can you get the best Chinese takeaway in Bristol?. There’s no mention there about the city being returned to its former historical county 650 years after making its escape from the clutches of the county that grew up based on the old Roman settlement of Glevum.

    The clue to Bristol returning to Gloucestershire is well concealed, hiding in the photo caption near the top of piece; it reads Tell us the best Chinese takeaway in Gloucestershire and we’ll crown a winner.

    Will this mean a change in the city’s extortionate rate of council tax? Better public services? Improved public transport? Not a word mentioned.

    No corresponding article asking readers to rate Chinese takeaways in Bristol has been found on Bristol Live’s sister title, Gloucestershire Live (so far. Ed.), so this dreadful piece of copy has not been shared with other Reach publications.

    Moving Bristol to Gloucestershire was not the only inaccuracy of the geographical kind appearing on the Bristol Live website today. By some strange alteration in geophysical forces, the city has been moved from nestling on the banks of the Bristol Avon to those of the mighty Severn/Hafren, as per the screenshot below.

    Headline reads

    Since this morning the text of the headline has now been changed to read Five-star Severn Bore live as ‘the greatest ride on earth’ rolls through West Country.

    If the Bristol Live website ever had a corrections and clarifications column, it would be several times larger than the paper’s website! 😀

  • Happy birthday GNU!

    Tomorrow, 27th September, marks the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the GNU Project, without which there would be no free software (which some also call open source. Ed.) and no GNU/Linux operating system, which is quite often abbreviated to just Linux.

    GNU at 40 graphic

    Four decades ago, technology began to shape our lives: it was the early 1980s, computers did not yet fit into our pockets but filled large rooms, as they had done in the mid-1970s, when your ‘umble scribe took a module called Computer Appreciation as part of his polytechnic modern languages degree (no Molière and Goethe for us! Ed.). In 1982, the Time magazine named the computer as its “Person of the Year“. About this time, point, some people had already started pointing out the need to give users control over this technology. So in 1983 the GNU Project was announced by Richard Stallman. The project’s aim was to create an operating system consisting entirely of free software to allow people to use, understand, adapt and share software. Two years later the Free Software Foundation was established as the legal backbone for the GNU project.

    Today the free software movement is a broad global movement encompassing small local companies, worldwide corporations, civil society organisations and thousands of professionals, who are working towards a world where the four freedoms are guaranteed:

    • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0);
    • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this;
    • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour (freedom 2); and
    • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    These rights go hand in hand with other fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press and privacy.

    In 1992, the essential components of the GNU operating system were complete, except for one, the kernel. When the Linux kernel was released under the GNU GPL in 1992, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system – GNU/Linux system as we know it today.

    The GPL pioneered the concept of “copyleft” – as opposed to copyright. Stallman envisaged this as a means of preventing GNU from ever becoming proprietary software (like all those expensive Microsoft products. Ed.) This does not exclude free S#software from being sold, as long as the buyers are not restricted from exercising the above-mentioned four rights after purchase. Free Software can also be commercialised in other ways, e.g. by selling support, services or certification.

    Today GNU/Linux forms the backbone of the Internet and powers millions of servers and desktops, as well embedded computing devices, whilst software has become an indispensable resource for the modern world

    How did the name GNU come about? It’s an acronym for GNU’s not Unix, as the original idea was to create a clone of Unix – a proprietary operating system – but containing no proprietary code. That makes GNU a recursive acronym, i.e. an acronym that refers to itself.

    Happy 40th birthday, GNU!

  • Ellesmere’s finest

    Whether it’s a large or small one, Wikipedia pages on human settlements contain a list of local notable – past and present.

    Ellesmere in Shropshire – (where your ‘umble scribe recently spent a most enjoyable week) is no exception to this general tenet. Indeed its list of notable people is large enough to be divided into ordinary mortals and sportspeople. However, amongst the members of the aristocracy and one disgraced former MP, there’s one name that shines out, that of Englantyne Jebb (25 August 1876 – 17 December 1928) – one of only two women in the list of the town’s great and good.

    Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children, in 1920. Image courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsAs a family, the Jebbs were comfortably off with a strong social conscience plus a commitment to public service. According to Wikipedia, “Her mother had founded the Home Arts and Industries Association, to promote Arts and Crafts among young people in rural areas; her sister Louisa would help found the Women’s Land Army in World War I. Another sister, Dorothy, who married the Labour MP Charles Roden Buxton, campaigned against the demonisation of the German people after the war.”

    As part of that campaign against the demonisation of Germans after the First World War (when Britain maintained its wartime blockade that left children in cities like Berlin and Vienna starving. Ed.), Eglantyne and her sister Dorothy were arrested in 1919 in London’s Trafalgar Square for distributing leaflets which bore shocking images of children affected by famine in Europe and the headline: ‘Our Blockade has caused this – millions of children are starving to death‘.

    Jebb was tried for her protest, found guilty and fined. However, prosecuting counsel was so impressed with her that he offered to pay the £5 fine himself.

    Shortly afterwards, the sisters decided that campaigning was not sufficient and direct action was required. In May 1919, the Save the Children Fund was set up at a packed public meeting in London’s Royal Albert Hall. The organisation quickly raised a large sum of money from the British public and officials were dispatched to organise relief work. The Save The Children website has an excellent summary of its history, including those early post-WW1 days.

    The success of Save the Children led Eglantyne and Dorothy to attempt to set up an international movement for children. In 1920, the International Save the Children Union (Union International de Secours à l’Enfant) was founded in Geneva, with the British Save the Children Fund and the Swedish Rädda Barnen as leading members.

    In 1923 Eglantyne went to Geneva to attend a meeting of the International Save the Children Union with a plan for a children’s charter. She drafted a short and clear document which asserted the rights of children and the duty of the international community to put children’s rights at the forefront of planning. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, or the Declaration of Geneva as it came to be known, was adopted in 1924 by the League of Nations, the precursor to the current United Nations, which has its own Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Eglantyne died in Geneva in 1928 after many years of ill health due to thyroid problems. She is buried there Saint George’s cemetery. Her epitaph features a quote from Matthew 25:40: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    Eglangtyne has not been forgotten by Ellesmere. The town’s Cremonrne Gardens bordering the Mere feature the Jebb Garden, which itself contains a large sculpted stone bearing some words of Eglantyne’s from that initial Declaration of Geneva as part of the local sculpture trail. It was carved from Howley Park York sandstone by Llansilin artist John Neilson.

    Sculpture in Cremorne Gardens in Ellesmere bearing the inscription Mankind owes to the child the very best it has to give
    Mankind owes to the child the very best it has to give

    Next to it is another sculpture entitled “Refuge” by John Merrill. It is is set in a grass and stone labyrinth to symbolise the perilous journeys taken by child refugees.

    Refuge by John Merrill
    Refuge, John Merrill

    Well done to Ellesmere for remembering a remarkable townswoman!

  • Barton Hill litter pick

    On Saturday 9th just gone, one of the hottest days of the year so far, four of us met at Barton Hill’s Wellspring Centre at 10 a.m. to take part in the monthly community litter pick organised by Shona Jemphrey (to whom thanks are die for the photos. Ed.).

    We covered part of the Urban Park and some of the surrounding streets, plus an alleyway off Victoria Avenue, which some desperate folk had been using as an emergency urinal. The ‘swag‘ we collected is shown below. Barton Hill litter pick swag

    After an hour’s sweating and tidying, the team retired to the Centre for a well-deserved brew and some biscuits. As per usual, we got a few thanks and kind smiles from passers-by.

    The crew have a well-deserved brew
  • Boat for sale – suitable project for DIY enthusiast

    When your correspondent was enjoying a pint at a quayside pub down Bristol’s city docks (which some call the ‘Harbourside’. Ed.) some years ago, the subject of boats came up somehow, along with a fine adage, i.e. “a boat is a hole in the water into which you shovel money“.

    Yesterday in on the banks of the Avon in Bath, quite near the railway station, your ‘umble scribe came across evidence of what happens when one stops shovelling money into that hole in the water…

    Half-sunk boat with vegetation growing on the stern
    For sale – needs some attention
  • Syndicated bad English

    Local news titles owned by Reach plc, which also owns the Daily Mirror and Daily Brexit (which some still call the Express. Ed.) frequently share stories so frequently that anyone would think either that slow news days were commonplace or that the the country’s major cities had annexed vast swathes of territory well removed from their location.

    An example of this practice occurred earlier this week in the Bristol Post, supposedly the city’s (former) newspaper of record, as per the following screenshot.

    Headline - 'Madness' as ship longer than 22 London busses arrives in small West country town

    Last time your ‘umble scribe looked, Fowey in Cornwall was not – and has no intentions of being – a suburb of Bristol. The entire story has been copied and pasted en bloc from Cornwall Live, a sister title to the Bristol Post/Live, including a glaring spelling error – busses – in both the headline and the copy.

    That spelling error is one that should have been eradicated in primary school, not allowed to persist into the professional life of an alleged ‘journalist‘.

    Your correspondent recalls talking to a former sub-editor some years ago, who was then lecturing at the University of the West of England, teaching online journalism to media studies students. He remarked that before before he could start training them in how to report stuff online, he had to teach them basic English first!