Monthly Archives: November 2023

  • LibreOffice 24.2 alpha released for testing

    According to the release plan, Libre Office 24.2*, the next version of the leading free and open source office suite, will be released at the start of February 2024, according to the LibreOffice QA blog.

    This new version’s development started in the middle of June earlier this year. Since development of 24.2 began, Since then, 4271 commits have been submitted to the code repository and more than 787 bugs had been fixed, according to the release notes.

    Screenshot of LibreOffice 24.2 alpha

    LibreOffice 24.2 Alpha1 can now be downloaded for Linux, macOS and Windows. In addition, it can be installed alongside the standard version. LibreOffice extensions, which increase the functionality of the suite, can also be installed in the new alpha. Your correspondent can report all his favourite extensions installed properly and are working as they should with the new alpha release.

    LibreOffice 24.2 about panel

    The QA blog post advises users who find any bugs to report them in Bugzilla. The only requirement needed to file a bug report is legitimate email address account in order to create a new account.

    As LibreOffice is a volunteer-driven community project all testing is appreciated. Your ‘umble scribe’s testing to date has been uneventful. 😀

    * = The Document Foundation has changed the manner in which it numbers releases; 24.2 will be the first new release under the new year and month numbering system.

  • Bizarre feudal remnants

    The unelected, alleged head of state of the English EmpireNews arrived today of a bizarre feudal remnant – one used by a human bizarre feudal remnant line his own already well-stuffed pockets.

    The human bizarre feudal remnant is none other than Mr Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor, alleged to be the head of state of the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.), who generally masquerades under the alias of “King” Charles III.

    Today’s Guardian reveals that Mr Mountbatten-Windsor is stealing the estates of people who die intestate – i.e. without leaving a will – or with no known relatives in the territory of the Duchy of Lancaster, which consists of consists of 18,433 hectares of land holdings, including rural estates and farmland, urban developments, historic buildings, and commercial properties across England and Wales, particularly in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Savoy Estate in London. Its principal purpose of the estate is to provide a source of independent income for Mr Mountbatten-Windsor and his heirs and successors.

    This theft of other people’s assets is covered by the legal term ‘bona vacantia‘, meaning unowned property. The same practice of ‘bona vacantia‘ is employed by the Duchy of Cornwall to provide an income for the so-called ‘Prince’ of Wales, one William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor.

    The rich and powerful of this backward medieval country have been stealing the assets owned or used by others for centuries. From 1604 onwards the Inclosure Acts created legal property rights for the rich to land previously held in common in England and Wales, particularly open fields and common land. Between 1604 and 1914 over 5,200 individual acts enclosing public land were passed, affecting 28,000 km2.

    These thefts of common land were commemorated in a popular poem in the early 18th century.

    They hang the man and flog the woman
    That steal the goose from off the common,
    But let the greater villain loose
    That steals the common from the goose.

    The law demands that we atone
    When we take things we do not own,
    But leaves the lords and ladies fine
    Who take things that are yours and mine.

    This practice of appropriating land owned and used by others reached its zenith during Britain’s colonial expansion under the concept of ‘terra nullius‘, literally nobody’s land. How could allegedly primitive people claim ownership of land when nothing concerning property rights was written down, was the flawed logic behind these seizures, which reached their height in Australia, where people now commemorated by street names and public artworks were responsible for the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people, who have no public monuments by which to remember the victims. This was documented in all its brutality by the three part 2022 TV series The Australian Wars.

    Anyway, back from nobody’s land to nobody’s property in the north of England. The Guardian has found out that the Duchy of Lancaster has been secretly using the bona vacantia funds to renovate properties owned by the alleged king and rented out for profit. The Duchy’s accounts suggest it has collected £61.8m in bona vacantia funds over the last decade. Of those, only £9.3m or 15% of the total has gone to charities, which the Duchy maintains is the main reason for collecting the funds.

    Needless to say, this news has not gone down well in areas subject to the Duchy of Lancaster’s writ.

    Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester is on record as saying:

    I think many people in the north-west will be surprised to learn that the savings and assets of friends and neighbours are being taken in this way. I don’t recall this archaic system ever being explained to anyone here nor public consent for it being given.

    Burnham furthermore added that:

    This appears to be a bizarre remnant of feudal Britain. While we await the public acts of levelling up that we have been promised, it seems this country still has silent mechanisms of levelling down at work, redistributing wealth in the wrong direction.

    Furthermore, friends of some of those whose assets have been stolen have described their use to fix up Duchy properties for future rental as ‘unethical, ‘shocking and ‘a disgrace.

    The worst decision this country ever made was to readmit Charles Stuart (son of the late tyrant) in 1660. That would have avoided any future regal robbery of people’s property either in this country or around the world.

  • Bristol City Council & the English Language

    Bristol City Council logo with sinking shipBristolian may exist as a dialect with its own idiosyncrasies, but within the city and county of Bristol itself, there’s one place where English is used in a peculiar way: the Counts Louse (as pronounced in the local vernacular; some call it City Hall – or a variant thereof – after its renaming by the then Mayor George Ferguson in 2012. Ed.). In his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell wrote the following:

    Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    Down at the Counts Louse, the English language has been used to conceal what is really going on behind its mock Georgian façade, particularly where funding cuts and redundancies are planned, usually couched in terms such as redeployment, restructuring and the like.

    Perhaps the most famous use of such obfuscatory language occurred in 2013 when it was discovered – as reported by The Bristolian – that £165,000 in cash was missing from the council’s loss-making markets department (a department that’s supposed to make money for the local authority. Ed.). This was duly recorded in an internal report as ‘material income misappropriation‘.

    We ordinary mortals have a much more succinct phrase than material income misappropriation. We call it theft.

    That infamous bit of council-speak has now been joined by another phrase by Councillor Craig Cheney, the elected member in charge of the city’s purse strings, which was duly reported by the Bristol Post in relation to the evacuation of Barton House in Barton Hill due to structural defects.

    Barton House in Bristol
    Barton House. Image courtesy of Google Street View.

    What Cllr. Cheney said to the local press while commenting on Barton House included the sentence below.

    There’s perhaps not as much concrete as there should be.

    Perhaps? Most definitely not as much concrete, plus ignorance and non-observance of the building plans, according to your colleague Councillor Kye Dudd.

    Give yourself a pat on the back, Cllr. Cheney; that one sentence alone deserves its own special place in the annals of British understatement. 😀

    In less light-hearted reporting on Barton House, it has now emerged that the government warned Bristol City Council in 2017 – six years ago – about the condition of Barton House and four other tower blocks built using the LPS building system and perhaps more scandalously that no structural survey of Barton House had been conducted since 1970, i.e. over half a century ago. Municipal neglect of the city’s infrastructure is endemic down the Counts Louse. 🙁
  • Lookalikes – Eric and Leonardo

    Newsweek in the United States reports that Eric Trump’s recent comment comparing his family’s assets to the Mona Lisa amid their ongoing civil fraud trial in New York has spawned a wave of mockery across social media.

    Disgraced former president Donald John Trump and his three adult children – Ivanka, Donald Jr. and the aforementioned Eric are accused of frequently inflating The Donald’s own net worth and the value of his assets by billions of dollars from 2011 to 2021 to secure better deals and loans. Trump and his children have dismissed the accusations and maintained their innocence, accusing prosecutors of being politically motivated and attempting to harm the Dunning-Kruger effect’s candidate’s 2024 presidential campaign.

    Earlier this week Eric Trump – hardly one of the world’s towering intellects – claimed that the Trump family properties at play in the civil fraud trial are “worth a fortune” and called them “Mona Lisas of the real estate world.

    Below in true Private Eye style, the Trump Tower in New York and Leonardo’s famous painting are placed side by side, so readers can draw their own conclusions as to which of them are of greater value to the human race as a whole.

    On the left the Mona Lisa with the caption Trump Tower, New York. On the right the New York Trump Tower captioned Da Vinci's Mona Lisa
  • Padlocks and Pero

    One of the many bridges that crosses Bristol’s city docks is Pero’s Bridge which spans St Augustine’s Reach, formerly St Augustine’s Trench. It is a pedestrian bascule bridge, linking Queen Square on the eastern side and Millennium Square on the west.

    Pero's Bridge over Bristol city docks

    It was opened formally in 1999 by Paul Boateng MP, then a Home Office minister.

    The bridge is named after Pero, also known as Pero Jones, who lived from around 1753 to 1798, arriving in Bristol from Nevis in the Caribbean in 1783, as the slave of the merchant John Pinney (1740–1818) at 7 Great George Street.

    Hundreds of people now attach padlocks – so-called ‘lovelocks’ – to the bridge as a sign of affection to each other. This is a practice that began on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris.

    Padlocks attached to the parapet railings of Pero's Bridge

    The city council does not technically allow padlocks on the bridge, but they are not routinely removed, and over the years hundreds – possibly thousands – have been attached to it, which could just affect the proper operation of the bridge.

    Your ‘umble scribe wonders if those who attach padlocks – a means of confinement and restraint -to the bridge have really thought through the implications of their action. It is, after all, named in memory of an enslaved person.

    Moreover, your correspondent is not the only person with misgivings.

    A petition has been launched by Helen Tierney calling on the Mayor of Bristol to order the removal of the padlocks and to ban any more being placed on there. The petition reads as follows:

    To Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol. In the heart of Bristol is a pedestrian bridge crossing the harbour. The City Council agreed the name Pero’s Bridge to honour a young enslaved African, Pero Jones, who in the 18th century was sold into slavery aged 12 & brought by his ‘owner’ to live in Bristol. Pero was never granted his freedom & died enslaved. A tiny plaque by the bridge tells this story.
    Pero’s Bridge is now defaced with thousands of padlocks, so called ‘lovelocks’ locked on to its structure. The keys most likely dropped into the water below. Only a few steps from the bridge is the place where, in 2020, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into the harbour. I call upon the Mayor & City Councillors of Bristol to remove these hideous padlocks, not symbols of love at all but of oppression down the centuries, of enslaved people chained & padlocked with the keys thrown away, those people disrespected still today in the very place where they should be honoured.

    Beneath the petition, Ms Tierney has added: “Pero’s Bridge is named after an enslaved person, someone our city chose to honour by naming the bridge for him. To have it weighed down by the very symbols of oppression disrespects his memory“, to which your ‘umble scribe would add that those affixing padlocks to the bridge have clearly considered the implications of their action.

    Sign the petition here.

  • Lest we forget

    It’s Remembrance Sunday, the nearest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11th, when the guns fell silent on the western front in World War 1 on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    In the USA, 11th November is known as Veterans Day and commemorated as a federal (i.e. national) holiday.

    It’s a a day to commemorate the contribution of people in the two World Wars and later conflicts.

    The second of those world wars was fought against fought against fascism, so it is disturbing indeed to see fascist rhetoric being employed by those on the right of politics such as the current alleged Secretary of State for the Home Department, one Sue-Ellen Cassiana Braverman KC, who has been described as ‘irresponsible and incendiary.

    However, it’s not just Braverman who’s been pandering to fascist tendencies at this sensitive time of the year.

    Over the Atlantic, disgraced former president Donald John Trump has also been rousing the right-wing rabble under the pretext of commemorating the dead of past conflicts, as is shown by his social media activity.

    Post reads: In honor of our great Veterans on Veteran’s Day, we pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave, than the threat from within. Despite the hatred and anger of the Radical Left Lunatics who want to destroy our Country, we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

    A second Trump term in the White House would be very dangerous for the USA and, as in the above social media post, The Donald has made it very clear he would go after all those who oppose him (i.e. vermin) and in the process turn the United States from something resembling a democracy to an authoritarian regime with distinct fascist overtones.

    As Hillary Clinton remarked recently, it is very easy to slip from a democracy into fascism: “Hitler was duly elected. All of a sudden somebody with those tendencies, dictatorial, authoritarian tendencies, would be like ‘OK we’re gonna shut this down, we’re gonna throw these people in jail.’ And they didn’t usually telegraph that. Trump is telling us what he intends to do.

    At this point the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous postwar poem spring to mind.

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist
    Then they came for the Socialists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a trade unionist
    Then they came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew
    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me.

    Today is not only a day to remember the war dead, but also more importantly why exactly they fought.

    Lest we forget.

    Update 13/11/20203: This morning Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary. In a clear case of reverse nominative determinism, her replacement is James Cleverly, affectionately known by one political commentator as Jimmy Dimly.

  • A dedication

    Cruella Braverman courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsGiven the alleged home secretary’s widely reported, callous and ill-conceived remarks that homeless people living in tents was a ‘lifestyle choice‘, this blog thought it only appropriate to come up with a musical response to the latest vile political utterance spouted by this amateur human being.

    So here’s a dedication to Cruella Braverman from 1969, long before her assumed conception, courtesy of the wonderfully anarchic Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, also known affectionately as the Bonzos.

    And if you’d like to sing along, Ms Braverman, here’s a link to the lyrics.

    Finally, beware the saxophone solo,#; it’ll strip paint off your walls!