language

  • Bristol Live exclusive: man given dog’s face

    Cross-species organ transplants – a technique also known as xenotransplantation – are becoming more common in modern medicine.

    Such transplants usually involve pig or cow organs, but a new species has now entered the list of donor transplant species, according to today’s Bristol Live/(Evening) Post.

    Headline reads Man has face rebuilt by surgeons after it was ripped off his dog.

    However, judging from the headline the means by which the victim’s rebuilt face was provided sounds brutal, almost as if it was performed with malicious intent and without the use of anaesthetics, unless of course the author didn’t proof-read his piece adequately and failed to notice the absence of a simple two-letter preposition. 😀

  • The new enemy within

    Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher infamously branded the leaders of the 1984–85 miners’ strikethe enemy within”.

    In the wake of last weeks’ general election, there is a new enemy within; and one far more dangerous to the country than Arthur Scargill and his NUM colleagues.

    There’s now an enemy within the walls of the House of Commons.

    Step forward Nigel Farage and his four fellow MPs elected for pretend political party Reform UK, which is actually constituted as a limited liability company with Farage as the person with significant control and financed by perma-tanned “businessman” Richard Tice.

    Disgraced former MEP Farage, who once famously had his MEP’s salary docked for misuse of EU funds, has finally become a member of the Westminster parliament at the eighth attempt. Your ‘umble scribe hopes that parliamentary watchdog IPSA keeps a beady eye on the new dishonourable member for Clacton given his past behaviour in Strasbourg and Brussels.

    As is usual, social media has been awash the reactions to the general election result, including the following exchange.

    Original tweet - name the boy band. Answer - a Flock of Sieg Heils

    No more needs to be said. Farage has been known to harbour extreme right wind views for decades, dating back to his schooldays at reassuringly expensive Dulwich College.

  • Election special: Tories pretend to be HMRC

    There’s only a week to go until the vote for the Untied Kingdom’s general election to end 14 years of Tory misrule will be taking place.

    A wipeout of Conservative members of parliament has been/is being widely predicted, which will give the opposition Labour party what is now being erroneously called a supermajority. For the sake of clarity, a supermajority is a otherwise known as a qualified majority. Older readers may recognise that what is being actually being talked of is in fact a phenomenon known as an elective dictatorship, a thumping great parliamentary majority that makes political opposition little more than tokenistic, a subject tackled by Quintin Hogg in his 1976 Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

    As is usual, this general election has seen its fair share of bad behaviour, which was first documented by the likes of William Hogarth in the mid-18th century.

    Chairing the Member from William Hogarth's 1755 Humours of an Election series. Image courtesy pf Wikimedia Commons.
    Chairing the Member from William Hogarth’s 1755 Humours of an Election series. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    The most egregious bad behaviour so far in the current campaign has been the Conservative election betting scandal, which has so far implicated 15 Tory candidates and officials who are being investigated by the Gambling Commission for using inside knowledge to place bets and gain unfair pecuniary advantage.

    However, more bad behaviour by the Blue Team was uncovered earlier today by Alan Beattie who writes opinion pieces for the Financial Times, namely impersonation, trying to pass themselves off as a different organisation, in this case HMRC.

    Mr Beattie has today posted the following on the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

    Post reads Government: make sure you don't fall for phishing scams from people doing fake HMRC letters. Conservatives: here's election material made to make you think it's an HMRC letter.

    Mr Beattie’s post contains 2 screenshots, the first of which is from the HMRC section of the government’s website, informing visitors what to look out for in genuine content and/or information from the tax authorities.

    Screenshot of HMRC spot the scam web page

    The other screenshot shows a letter to small businesses from the Conservative Party and purporting to come from an organisation calling itself Briefing for Business. Anyone who has been in communication with the tax authorities will immediately notice how the letter mimics the fonts, layout and colours used by HMRC. The giveaway is that all party political materials must bear an imprint indicating who is responsible for publishing the material and for whom they’re promoting it.

    Screenshot of post from Conservatives showing letter to business mimicking fonts, style and colours used by HMRC in correspondence

    Your ‘umble scribe is aware that in the past political parties have passed themselves off as their opponents in election materials in an attempt to discredit them, but this is the first time he can remember a party trying to mimic a government department; if you know differently, please post details in the comments below.

    And finally…

    Don’t forget to vote and never forget that the emphasis on Conservatives is on the first syllable, i.e. con. 😀

  • Medical reasons or patriotism?

    Ever since the organs of the fourth estate starting getting rid of sub-editors to save costs and boost profits, bad journalism seems to be becoming the norm rather than the exception, as anyone who reads the press with a critical eye will quickly discover.

    The European Football Championships currently taking place in Germany are already proving to be a rich source of inaccuracy (posts passim) and flights of hyperbole with no foundation.

    Today’s Guardian provides a fine example today of the latter, as evidenced by the screenshot below.

    Headline - Mbappé to wear mask for France after breaking nose?

    For France, Grauniad; for the glory of the Republic? The prominence of for France suggests to your correspondent that the main reason for Killian having to wear a mask was patriotism, at least in the mind of the headline writer.

    The BBC reports that the French Football Federation said a mask will be made for their captain, and quotes a spokesperson as saying, “He will undergo treatment in the coming days, without undergoing surgery immediately.” So there is no hint that the mask will be worn for reasons of patriotism, but every suggestion that medical and prophylactic motives are involved.

    Update 21/06/2024: Mbappé now has the above-mentioned mask and it’s not only custom-made but a patriotic one too in the colours of the French tricolour.

  • BBC exclusive: police turn axe into firearm

    As any fool knows, there is a world of difference between edged and bladed weapons such as axes and knives which are used at arm’s length and ranged weapons used at a distance and firing projectiles such as arrows, bullets, shells and the like.

    Today’s BBC news site features a world exclusive: the Hamburg police have been able to convert an axe so it fires bullets, thus coming up with a combined edged/bladed and ranged weapon; or if that is not the case, that’s one interpretation that can be placed on the headline in the following screenshot.

    Headline - Hamburg police shoot man with axe ahead of Euros match

    If by some chance the German police have not pulled off this incredible feat, somewhere in the depths of Broadcasting House, there is likely some hapless person who fell asleep in or was absent from school English lessons or media studies lectures when the subject of ambiguity – i.e. the quality of something having more than one possible meaning – was brought up.

    To save the hapless BBC hack any future embarrassment, your ‘umble scribe suggests that she or he visits Al Jazeera’s piece on the incident to learn how to write an unambiguous headline as per the screenshot below. Note the use of the hyphen, BBC person. 😀

    Headline - German police shoot axe-wielding suspect before Euro 2024 match in Hamburg

    One final thing: the item being carried by the person shot by Hamburg police was not actually an axe, but a slate hammer* (Schieferhammer), a tool used by roofers. This was confirmed by finding a German language media report of the incident, where Schieferhammer figures prominently in the headline. The BBC was not the only British media outlet to misreport the item used by the police’s assailant; the Independent had the man attacking police with a pickaxe.

    * = Also known as a slater’s hammer. The photo below illustrates how it could be mistaken for a pickaxe (the hammer in question can just be seen in screenshot of the Al Jazeera report. Ed.). However, how the BBC managed to construe it as an axe is beyond your ‘umble scribe’s ken.

    Slate/slater's hammer

  • X Man: thin skin meets humour

    The excessively wealthy man-baby commonly known as Elon Musk is a well-known egotist.

    However, Musk, who has recently been awarded a massive and unwarranted boost to his already considerable riches by Tesla shareholders, has another asset that is less well-known, namely an excessively thin skin.

    Whilst Musk is a deeply unpleasant character who will not hesitate to insult others, once famously calling one of the rescuers of a boys football team trapped in a Thai cave “pedo guy as he felt slighted by his the person he insulted, Musk can’t handle the mildest of mocking, as the following exchange on Twitter/X shows.

    Elon Musk tweets Legalize humor! The response from Liam Nissan reaads Says the guy who banned me for calling him Sissy SpaceX.
    Think before you tweet…

    It is often said that with the wealthy the most sensitive part of their anatomy is the bank balance. Be that as it may, the above exchange proves this is not necessarily a default position for all plutocrats. In the case of Musk the ego is clearly his most delicate organ.

  • Monoglot Saxons screw up badly west of Offa’s Dyke

    Election time is the time for political gaffes by all involved in politics, a profession which has in the past been described as show business for ugly people.

    There’s been alleged prime minister Rishi Sunak accused of being a D-Day dodger by slipping away early from the 80th anniversary commemorations of Operation Overlord to do an interview with ITV. Liberal Democrat supremo Ed Davey has been filmed and photographed variously falling off objects or into water in miscellaneous stunts masquerading as political campaigning, whilst over in the Labour camp, all of its control freakery could not stop Keir Starmer being heckled at the party’s manifesto launch.

    Minor parties like the Greens or regional parties like the Scottish Nation Party and Plaid Cymru or in the occupied six counties of Ireland have struggled to get coverage in the mainstream British media, which has concentrated almost 100% of its coverage on the residents of the Westminster bubble, seemingly believing that what has been billed as a British general election is a strictly English matter.

    However, the regional press is providing its own election coverage beyond the constricting noose of the M25 London orbital car park, particularly when it comes the English political class screwing up badly in the devolved regions as Nation Cymru reports on a glaring linguistic cock-up by the Nigel Farage Fascist Fan Club Ltd., which masquerades as a political party called Reform UK.

    Farage’s fanbois and girls have been accused of a cavalier attitude towards the Welsh language after a party political broadcast used mistranslated copy in a political broadcast shown on Welsh television stations, as per the screenshot below.

    Screenshot from BBC iPlayer showing mistranslated text

    Nation Cymru helpfully states how Reform had mangled its simplistic message – Britain is broken. Britain needs Reform – in Cymraeg:

    Whilst the words ‘Prydain’ and ‘angen’ individually translate to word for word copies of ‘Britain’ and ‘need’, when used together it in fact should have been “Mae angen Reform ar Brydain”.

    The article points out that Google Translate – a tool not noted for the accuracy of a its output – managed a better translation than Reform UK did. One unnamed person quoted by Nation Cymru summarised the problem as follows:

    “This does not look particularly respectful of the Welsh people and their language. It also shows a cavalier attitude towards accuracy.”

    However, Reform’s – and Farage’s – cavalier attitude does not stop at the Welsh language. It has a wide embrace, encompassing those annoyingly important little things known to ordinary people as facts.

  • Conservatives’ National Service proposal – social media responds

    Yesterday’s duff election idea from the soon-to-be-annihilated Conservative Party was the reintroduction of mandatory national service, otherwise known in more plain-speaking parts of the world as military service or conscription.

    Your ‘umble scribe remembers older people during his 1960s childhood advocating the return of conscription as a panacea to cure all the evils that emerged during the 1960s like social progress (e.g. the abolition of the death penalty, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, legalisation of abortion, etc.), youth culture, colourful clothes, the consumption of drugs other than alcohol and tobacco, contraception, sexual promiscuity and everything else they didn’t like about the time.

    Needless to say, the Conservatives’ idea to revive conscription has been widely ridiculed on social media.

    First out of the blocks, a lovely post parodying not just the idea itself, but Britain’s misplaced and chauvinistic idea of its own greatness, when in reality thanks to Brexit, it’s a small island off the west coast of Europe that has shut itself off from closer ties with its neighbours.

    Advert reads Army - Be the best. Caption reads The Tory National Service plan.

    Also featuring on social media posts was ridicule of the Conservative Party itself, particularly its more unpleasant members such as the dishonourable member for Stoke-on-Trent North, one Jonathan Edward Gullis (majority 6,286). In a previous life Gullis was a schoolteacher.

    Post reads  Dear Rishi, this is Johns mum.
He cant do National Services as hes two busy doing MPing and has a sore tummy. Love Johns mum xxx

    Whether the poor spelling and punctuation are deliberate is unknown.

    A different line of attack was taken by those who are critical of the Tories seeing everything as an opportunity to make money such as the grasping ‘Baroness’ Michelle Georgina Mone, who during the Covid-19 pandemic succeeded in selling the British government £200m of useless PPE via her husband’s newly-established PPE Medpro company.

    Photograph of Michelle Mone below the words Hi Rishi. It's Michelle from Mone Military Uniforms.

    Meanwhile in the offline world, Former chief of the naval staff, Admiral Alan West, has described the plan as “bonkers” and added it would deplete the defence budget.

  • Blakey’s discourteous successors

    Cyril 'Blakey' Blake played by actor Stephen LewisFrom 1969 to 1973, ITV aired a comedy entitled On The Buses. One of the main characters in this mixture of sexism and misogyny that passed for humour at the time was Cyril ‘Blakey’ Blake (right) played by actor Stephen Lewis. One of the duties of inspectors in those days was to check passengers were travelling with valid tickets.

    Skip forward half a century and inspectors have been replaced by so-called Revenue Protection Officers, by FirstWorstBus, which along with its fellow WorstGroup subsidiary GWR, has a virtual public transport monopoly in the Greater Bristol area. GWR also employs Revenue Protection Officers.

    Your ‘umble scribe had the misfortune to encounter two of these successors to Blakey yesterday afternoon, when they board a no. 24 service on the Stapleton Road. Dressed like pound shop police officers but with the words Revenue Protection Officers embroidered on the back of their uniform, the larger of the two proceeded to address the bottom deck of the bus: “Hi guys. Please have your tickets and passes ready for inspection”.

    Guys? Neither we the travelling public nor you are American! Besides that, guys in this country normally end up on bonfires every 5th November or thereabouts.

    That was informality bordering on the discourteous, which got your correspondent thinking of a more courteous and appropriate form of address, after a long discussion with others on social media yesterday and more especially bearing in mind the fact that some degree of formality is required when dealing with the public in a formal/official capacity.

    First of all the Hi! needs ditching. Far too informal. As an interjectory greeting, it dates to the 1860s and originates in the American Midwest. It should be replaced by a Good (morning/afternoon/evening) (delete as appropriate. Ed.).

    That’s the easy bit done. In these enlightened times ladies and gentlemen might not cover how everyone chooses to identify, e.g. the non-binary. Everyone would therefore seem to be the most apposite way to address a diverse inner-city busload of passengers. So, for the benefit of any passing WorstBus successors to Blakey, my suggested form of greeting when doing your job would be: Good (morning/afternoon/evening), everyone. Please have your tickets and passes ready for inspection, please!

  • You couldn’t make it up!

    Opticians chain Specsavers is rightly renowned for its advertising slogan, “Should have gone to Specsavers“, which has been applied to every bad decision ranging from one’s choice of partner to driving ability.

    Talking of the latter, yesterday’s Daily Post carries an article which combines skill behind the wheel with the aforementioned opticians, in which the driver ended before the crown court in Abertawe, which some also call Swansea, for an incident which occurred in Castell Nedd (Neath) in November last year.

    Headline - Driver knocked over elderly couple while on his way to Specsavers

    No further comment is necessary on the headline behind the story. However, your ‘umble scribe is intrigued by the first sentence: “A driver on his way to Specsavers struck two elderly pedestrians with his car while reversing through a pedestrianised shopping area“.

    What was the driver doing in a pedestrianised area – where he should not have been – anyway? Exercising his over-developed sense of entitlement. For his lack of care for other road users, the perpetrator ultimately received a 12-month community order, a two-year driving ban and must pass an extended driving test before he can regain his licence.

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