Trump in Bristol

Yesterday while walking through Riverside Park into town, your ‘umble scribe encountered some street art which immediately reminded him of Donald J. Trump, a tax dodger and serial sexual predator who was inexplicably elected as 45th President of the United States of America.

Grafitti on street furniture in Riverside Park

Your correspondent believes it is flattering to its subject as is shown by a comparison with a photograph of the Orange One captured in a typical denigratory pose.

The Orange One courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Do you agree? Have your say in the comments below.

Sprinter helped by Google Translate

Krystsina_TsimanouskayaOne of the biggest dramas of the current Tokyo Olympics has taken place away from the competitive arena – the defiance of Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya against the repressive actions of the authoritarian Belarus state.

On 30 July 2021, Tsimanouskaya recorded video criticising officials from the Belarus Olympic Committee (headed by Viktor Lukashenko, son of Belarus’ authoritarian president, who was re-elected last year in an election widely regarded as fraudulent. Ed.), saying that they had forced her to run in the 4 × 400 m relay race, a distance at which she had never competed, without her consent, after other athletes missed anti-doping tests and were not allowed to compete due to a lack of tests, a factor which she also blamed on the Belarus Olympic Committee.

The following day Belarusian media reported the attempt to forcibly return Tsimanouskaya to Belarus, removing her from the Olympic village to Tokyo’s Narita airport. Tsimanouskaya’s grandmother warned her not to return while she was being transported to the airport in the company of Belarus Olympic officials. She said afterwards her family feared that she might be taken to a psychiatric facility if she returned to Belarus.

She then decided not to return to her homeland; and took action to prevent it happening.

In a video posted on Twitter by Bloomberg Quicktake, Tsimanouskaya drew the attention of police officers at the airport terminal with the aid of Google Translate stating:

“When I arrived at the airport, I used the Google translator to translate in Japanese that I need help. I came to police and showed the translation.”

The police then took her into protective custody at an airport hotel overnight.

On 4th August, Tsimanouskaya flew to Vienna’s international airport from Narita International Airport from where she took a connecting flight to Poland.

Since Tsimanouskaya’s flight from Tokyo, several other Belarusian athletes have spoken in support of her, whilst Amnesty International has reported that athletes are more likely to be targets of the Lukashenko government due to his the alleged president’s interest in sport.

In further repercussions, the International Olympic Committee has expelled 2 Belarusian coaches (shouldn’t that be minders? Ed.) after stripping them of their accreditation.

Free online waste & recycling webinars

Bristol Waste is organising a series of monthly webinars dealing with all you wanted to know about waste, reuse and recycling in Bristol but were afraid to ask!

Visiting Bristol Waste

Image courtesy of Bristol Waste

People can sign up to learn from experts about what happens to their waste and recycling once it is put out for collection.

Since lockdown Bristol Waste has been running these very popular online sessions so as to give residents the chance to ask questions, dispel any myths and find out how to be recycling and waste superstars!

Every other month, there’s a general Q&A session, where people can ask about anything waste related, alternating with a specially themed webinar concentrating on a specific topic.

There is a special recycling event planned for Recycle Week and people can also sign up for a ‘festive special’ to learn how to be more sustainable over the holiday season.

Follow this link to find out more.

The next Q&A session takes place on Wednesday, 18th August between 6.30 and 7.30 pm. Sign up via Eventbrite.

Stormy afternoon

Bristol suffered heavy rainfall and a thunderstorm yesterday afternoon, resulting in some local flooding and power outages according to the Bristol Post/Bristol Live.

And guess who was out in it?

Never mind. It resulted in a spectacularly atmospheric photograph taken a few minutes from home and shown below in glorious black and white for additional impact.

The shot was taken looking westwards from the top of Eastbourne Road, Easton towards the higher ground of Cotham and Clifton.

The view looking west from Eastbourne Road in Easton

The Farage effect

One of the earliest social impacts exerted by the internet is the so-called Streisand effect, which Wikipedia succinctly defines as: “a social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, often via the Internet. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress the California Coastal Records Project’s photograph of her residence in Malibu, California, taken to document California coastal erosion, inadvertently drew further attention to it in 2003.“.

After this week’s developments in British media life, your ‘umble scribe is wondering whether the Streisand effect is about to be joined by a new phenomenon which should be called the Farage effect.

Here’s the background.

Right-wing gobshite at the podiumOn Tuesday Nigel Farage, a former MEP who denies he’s a professional politician and perennial right-wing rabble-rouser, used his newly-minted show on right-leaning GB News (aka GBeebies. Ed.) to attack the RNLI for rescuing refugees attempting to reach British shores in flimsy and unsafe vessels who are in distress.

In particular, Farage stated that the charity, whose lifeboats are crewed by volunteers and which is funded by donations from the public, should case to provide a “taxi service for illegal trafficking gangs“.

 

Needless to say, Farage’s intemperate words and the awful bigotry behind them were intended to produce a reaction; and so they have, but it is one that the far-right rabble-rouser will not necessarily. appreciate.

As the Independent reports, normal weekday donations to the charity rocketed by over 2,000 per cent compared any other Wednesday in the year in an outpouring of public support. This comes after the charity revealed how its volunteers were receiving abuse s a result of the bile spewed by the likes of Farage and published harrowing footage of Channel rescues.

A grateful RNLI has since expressed its thanks to a generous public via a tweet earlier today.

We’ve seen a surge in donations over the past 24 hours – both in terms of one-off gifts and hundreds of you who’ve set up a monthly donation. We’re overwhelmed by and incredibly grateful for your kindness.

Screenshot on RNLI tweet

On the other side, there has been a minor backlash with some existing supporters of the charity withdrawing their financial and voluntary support, presumably fully paid-up members of the Farage Cult.

Will there soon be a Farage effect Wikipedia page stating it is a social phenomenon that occurs when an attempt is made to denigrate the actions of a volunteer-run humanitarian organisation backfires spectacularly?

Please feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Update, Thursday 30 July: Today The Guardian’s website is reporting that donations to the RNLI actually increased by 3,000% stating:

The RNLI, which runs the UK’s network of volunteer lifeboats, said it received £200,000 in charitable donations on Wednesday – around 30 times its normal average of £6,000–£7,000 per day. During the same period, there was a 270% increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on its website.

Faced with all the criticism from decent folk, Farage has since tried to downplay his racism and bigotry by claiming he has been proud to raise money for the RNLI. This is the equivalent of an arsonist in court telling the judge from the dock that he had deliberately started fires to keep the fire brigade in work.

Debian 11 ‘bullseye’ due for release on 14th August

Debian logoVersion 11 of Debian GNU/Linux, codenamed ‘bullseye‘, is due for release on 14th August The Register reports.

A new Debian release is an important event in the world of Linux and free and open source software as it doesn’t happen all that frequently, the last version release being over 2 years ago.

Not only is Debian an important distribution in its own right, but is also influential since it froms the basis for many others including the various flavours of Ubuntu (e.g. Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc. Ed.), Mint, Devuan, Knoppix, Tails, Raspbian, Pop!_OS and SteamOS, to name but a few.

A post to Debian’s developer announcements list stated: “We plan to release on 2021-08-14”.

It’s a little over 2 years since the last stable Debian version, Debian 10 or ‘buster‘, was made available for download.

Games arcades for sale

One of the mainstays of local news reporting has been the opening of new businesses in the locality.

And in this the Bristol Post is superficially no different from other regional titles.

However if one looks beneath the surface of such reporting, some divergences from other local press publications may be observed, in particular the lack of copy quality control.

Such an instance occurred yesterday in a piece on the opening of a new business in a vacant shop in The Galleries in Bristol’s Broadmead shopping centre. Whilst the headline suggests that the new business will be selling access to 1980s arcade games such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man*, the piece’s strapline and the opening words of the third paragraph of the copy suggest otherwise.

Screenshot of original Donkey Kong game

Screenshot of original Donkey Kong game

They both read as follows:

More than a hundred 1980s retro video game arcades are on offer.

If games arcades really are on offer rather than poorly proofread copy, the shop would need a capacious stock warehouse, slightly more capacious than the facilities usually available in BS1. 😀

*= Pac-Man is in fact a 1990s video game, released on 31st May 1990. This other major howler in the piece could have been avoided by the use of a secret research technique know to the cognoscenti as 5 minutes’ Googling.

Happy 20th birthday, FSFE!

FSFE logoWay back in 2001, the prescient souls who established the Free Software Foundation Europe foresaw that people should be in control of technology and not vice versa.

Twenty years down the road the FSFE is concentrating its daily work on three main pillars to help software freedom thrive in Europe: public awareness, policy advocacy, and legal support.

FSFE 20th anniversary graphic

The FSFE has had some major campaign successes over its 2 decades.

For instance there was the campaign to promote free software PDF readers, which encouraged over 2,000 European public sector organisations to remove links for Adobe’s proprietary Acrobat reader from their websites.

A major current FSFE campaign is Public Money, Public Code, an initiative to ensure that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well. Code paid by the people should be available to the people!

Finally here’s FSFE President Matthias Kirschner speaking to the openSUSE Virtual Conference 2021 about two decades of the FSFE.

https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210721-01.en.html

Many happy returns, FSFE. Keep up the good work for the good of all.

Press gets it wrong – again

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

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.

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