Press gets it wrong – again

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If there’s one characteristic of the English Empire’s free and fearless press and the news media in general that’s immediately apparent to anyone with more than one brain cell, it’s their usually remote relationship with the truth.

In the last week or so a new word has emerged – pingdemic – in relation to the coronavirus pandemic to describe the large volume of self-isolation warnings issued by the Covid track and trace app (aka pings (pl.), as derived from the computer networking utility of the same name. Ed.).

Thus the terms ping and pingdemic have become part of normal newspaper and news media vocabulary, as shown in this typical example from yesterday’s London Evening Standard.

Headline reads Ping threat to our food, tube and bins

Whoever wrote the headline Ping threat to our food, tube and bins has clearly not thought the matter through.

It’s not the pings that are the threat but the viral plague which is giving rise to rocketing Covid, aided and abetted by an apology for a government that has removed restrictions far too soon and relinquished – in exemplary Pontius Pilate mode – all responsibility for safeguarding people’s health in the rush to let all their rich mates resume making Loadsamoney again.

All news is to a certain extent manipulated, but if those that right it cannot even get the basic details correct in a headline, is it any wonder that there is deep mistrust in the media?

Still, never mind with all this gloom and doom. Immediately adjacent is a prime example of look over there in the form of the current 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.

The staff of the Standard clearly seem to have adopted the comment by Juvenal, the 2nd century Roman poet famous that the common people are only interested in bread and circuses (Latin: panem et circensis. Ed.) as editorial policy

Hidden exclusive: HGVs carrying agricultural vehicles now illegal

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The Ipswich Star is not believed to be widely read on your ‘umble scribe’s home turf of the West Country.

Indeed, your correspondent would not have looked at it at all had his attention not been drawn to a report of a local Tory councillor spouting denialist nonsense about racism.

However, checking out the paper’s news section resulted in the discovery of another of those hidden newspaper exclusives that seem so prevalent these days.

This hidden exclusive came in a piece about the successful start made by the constabulary’s new commercial vehicle team, which, since its inception in November 2020, has stopped 969 vehicles, dealt with 1,436 offences and issued £181,950 in fines.

Suffolk Constabulary's Commercial Vehicles Unit

Suffolk Constabulary’s Commercial Vehicles Unit. Photo credit: Suffolk Constabulary

The hidden exclusive can be found in the paragraph below, which details the team’s work.

A total of 189 vehicles were prohibited from the roads, 80 were immobilised and 222 given warnings, for offences including being overweight, mechanical reasons/condition, insecure loads, tachograph infringements, carrying dangerous goods, abnormal loads and agricultural vehicles.

Yes, you did read that right: within the context of that sentence, commercial vehicles carrying agricultural vehicles is now an offence.

Normally at this juncture in a post such as this, your correspondent would be castigating the journalist responsible for this gaffe. However, the sole thing for which I can criticise her is churnalism, i.e journalism based on press releases, rather than the journalist’s own investigation and research.

In this particular instance the sentence in question has been copied from the original police press release without scrutiny of its content and pasted directly into the Star’s piece.

So, now the workplace of the guilty party is known, one can say in conclusion someone in Suffolk Constabulary’s newsroom clearly needs to get hold of a dictionary and consult the definition for ambiguity.

Daily Mail – east Bristol comments

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Seen today at the junction of Clarence Road, West Street and Trinity Road where Easton meets Old Market.

No further comment is necessary apart from reminding readers that Wikipedia classified the Daily Mail as an unreliable source in 2017, a move which was confirmed in 2019.

Poster of Daily Mail masthead with bullshit emoji beneath

Basic Welsh to be required for Welsh government jobs

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Welsh government logoIn July last year, the devolved Welsh government published Cymraeg. It belongs to us all, its strategy on the internal use of the Welsh language, one of whose aims is to have one million Welsh speakers in the country by 2050.

As part of the strategy to achieve that goal, 2 announcements have been made in recent days.

In the first instance, the Daily Post has reported that a basic command of Welsh – a so-called courtesy level – will be required for all Welsh government jobs.

In future employees Workers will have to demonstrate language skills that include the ability to:

    • pronounce Welsh language words, names, place names and terms;
    • answer the telephone bilingually, greet people or make introductions bilingually;
    • understand and use everyday expressions and simple key words related to the workplace;
    • read and understand short texts providing basic information, e.g. in correspondence, or to interpret the content using available technology; and
    • demonstrate language awareness, including an appreciation of the importance of the language in society and an awareness of what is required to provide bilingual customer [sic] service.

Needless to say, there has been criticism, with Tory AS/MS Tom Giffard leading the charge (no doubt with the encouragement of his controllers at CCHQ in London SW1. Ed.) and claiming: “The Welsh Government is becoming a closed shop”.

In the second instance, the Daily Post further reports that 30% of children in Year 1 are be in Welsh-medium education by 2031, compared with 23% last year.

This will entail the opening of a minimum of 60 extra Welsh-medium nursery groups by 2026, in addition to the 40 opened over the past 4 years.

Sunlit uplands – latest

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How are matters progressing five years on from that referendum and over 6 months since the end of the Brexit transition period?

In simple terms, what was dismissed as Project Fear has very much become Project Reality.

Crops are rotting in the fields due to a lack of seasonal workers to pick them, whilst a shortage of lorry drivers means that any fresh produce that does get picked might not be delivered to shops and supermarkets.

Photo of empty supermarket fruit and vegetable section over shelving headed Pick of the Crop and Best of British

Floreat Brexitannia!

Tor Browser squashes user tracking bug

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The Tor Project has updated its browser after the discovery of a bug with more than dangerous repercussions for user privacy. URLs based on onion services version 2 should migrate to version 3 before September 2021.

A recent update of the Tor Browser to version 10.0.18 has enabled several bugs to be corrected, including a rather serious vulnerability for users, French IT news site Le Monde Informatique reports. As a matter of fact, this bug, which is based on version 2 of its onion services, enabled some sites to track users from the applications installed on their devices.

Tor Browser running on Ubuntu Linux

Tor Browser running on Ubuntu Linux. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The vulnerability tracked users via their browsers, enabling any website or government to discover a user’s actual IP address, which is contrary to the basic principle of the Tor project. URLs actually benefit from a security gain with version 3 of onion services. This is due to the fact that they use “cleaner” code with stronger cryptography which is proving to be less susceptible to brute force attacks due to its complexity.

URLs under onion services V2 no longer supported from 15 July

The project also announced it would start to deprecate URLs under onion services version 2 by initially advising the operators and clients that access them. With effect from 15 July, Tor will no longer support V2 URLs V2 and support for them will be removed from the browser codebase.

So as to ensure that each user and website administrator is well aware of this change, a message will be displayed “when visiting sites which are still using V2 URLs advising they will shortly be deprecated and the site will be inaccessible unless it is updated to version 3 of onion services“.

Court interpreting service – no longer Crapita, but still crap

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Ipswich Crown CourtThe contract for the provision of interpreting services in courts and tribunals may have been removed some time ago from the dreadful Crapita to thebigworld Group and any news of it has mostly disappeared from the newspaper headlines, but the quality of the service remains as dreadful as ever, if yesterday’s East Anglian Daily Times report is to be believed.

According to the EADT, the presiding judge, Mr. David Pugh, criticised thebigword after a case involving defendant Dudel Pitigoi had to be adjourned due to the failure of a Romanian interpreter to attend court.

Ipswich resident Pitigoi is accused of violent disorder and possessing a golf club as an offensive weapon during an incident in Norwich Road, Ipswich on November 23 2019.

Adjourning the case until 16th July, Mr Justice Pugh is quoted as saying:

I will stress the importance of ensuring an interpreter will turn up.

Behind that mild-sounding rebuke, there is a very angry man in a horsehair wig and a violet robe with lilac facings.

Whilst the judge managed to use the correct terminology – interpreter as opposed to translator – I recommend the author and any other passing EADT hacks peruse my handy illustrated guide to learn the difference between the two. 😀

Whitehall BS5 sends a message to Whitehall SW1

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This blog has written before about the changing messages that appear on a garage wall at the apex of the junction of Russelltown Avenue, Cannon Street and Whitehall Road (posts passim).

The message has now changed again and reads as per the photo below.

Text in photograph reads Boris is a big bumbahole

According to Urban Dictionary, bumbahole is a synonym of arsehole in British English and asshole in American English.

One can safely assume that the Boris being referenced is none other than the superannuated Billy Bunter-like figure of one certain Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who has been inexplicably promoted beyond his competence to the office of Prime Minister of the English Empire, a job he fulfils to his own satisfaction on a part time basis.

Among the less favourable characteristics of Bunter’s personality are gluttony, laziness, racism, deceit, sloth, self-importance and conceit, all of which have been extensively documented down the decades by others more eloquent than your ‘umble scribe (e.g. his former employer Max Hastings) as also being present in the part-time alleged prime minister’s character.

Estonia – government software is now public software

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Public Money Public Code logoThe Baltic Republic of Estonia has clearly taken note of the Free Software Foundation Europe’s Pubic Money Public Code campaign to have publicly funded software released as free software.

Joinup,the EU’s news site for open source IT developments reports that the Estonian government decided to make all government software publicly available.

The Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, approved the necessary changes to the Estonian State Property Act on 12 May 2021 and the the new rules came into effect on 1st June 2021.

All software to which the Estonian state owns the property rights in whole or part shall henceforth ould be made available publicly. If only parts are owned by the state, those parts owned by the state will be made available.

Under the new regulations, the authority in charge of the software shall decide if the software is to be made available and has to provide the following:

  • a description of the public software to be made available for use;
  • the conditions of use of the public software to be made available.

However, there are some restrictions on the release of publicly-funded software to the pubic. For example, if such a release would be detrimental to the state, such as a potential threat to public order and national security or cybersecurity reasons, in which case the authority in question can refuse to make the software publicly available.

With his move, Estonia joins other European countries such as Spain, Italy and France, which already publish most of government-owned software publicly

Boats grow legs

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Since the widespread dismissal from newsrooms of sub-editors, the very people who would have spotted and corrected any inaccuracies and/or anomalies, many more hidden exclusives are being reported nowadays by our free and inaccurate press, provided one knows where to look and reads carefully.

Last week, the Shropshire Star had a hidden exclusive buried deeply in a piece on towpath repairs to the Shropshire Union Canal and local traders’ fear of loss of footfall in my home town of Market Drayton.

Shropshire Union canal in Market Drayton

Betton Mill on the Shropshire Union Canal in Market Drayton. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Canal & River Trust, which manages the waterway, is planning to close the towpath through Market Drayton for repairs lasting two months. This will also entail a loss of moorings during the works.

The fact that is has chosen do these works in the ten weeks from July 5 to September 10 hasn’t gone down too well with the director of one local boatyard, who is quoted as intimating that the closure would be a hammer blow to the summer trade, preventing visitors from mooring in the town and visiting shops and restaurants.

In a quotation in the report, she said the following:

It is basically the full length of the canal that goes through the town. Boats that would normally moor up and walk round the town, they won’t be able to do that.

Boats that would normally moor up and walk around town?

These two actions surely would be consecutive and not concurrent?

When did boats evolve the means of locomotion to be able to walk round the town?

Why have the national and international media not picked up the Star’s exclusive? After all, it is not every day that aquatic craft evolve enough to generate limbs.

If you have an answer to any of the above questions, please leave them in the comments below. 😀

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