social media

  • Auntie prefers football to politics

    Yesterday’s The Jouker column in The National highlights a prime example of a colonial attitude in the media of the Untied Kingdom.

    There were two two significant resignations on Tuesday, but as The Jouker points out, football – and English football at that – was prioritised on the BBC News website ahead of a major political development in Caerdydd, capital of England’s oldest colony.

    Vaughan Gething, disgraced former firsts minister of CymruThat resignation was of the disgraced First Minister of Cymru, Vaughan Gething, who amongst other things, had refused to step down after, inter alia, losing a vote of confidence and accepting a £200,000 “donation” from a “businessman” convicted of environmental crimes. Gething’s hand was forced by a mass outbreak of ministerial resignations similar to that which ended the premiership of disgraced former alleged party-time prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    Although he’d only been First Minister since March, when the BBC did finally send its political editor down the M4/Great Western railway line to Caerdydd, Chris Mason did helpfully point pout that Gething’s term of office was 2.4 times longer than that of another British premier, one Mary Elizabeth Truss, the ultimate free marketeer whose polices were roundly rejected by the, er, market.

    Former England football manager Gareth SouthgateThe resignation story which took precedence yesterday was that of England football manager Gareth Southgate who managed to get his team to two consecutive European Football Championship finals, yet still disappointed the jingoistic English media by failing (yet again) to win a chunk of international silverware like his predecessor in 1966, Alf Ramsey.

    Why should football take priority over politics? Critics on social media were not slow to notice the choice of priorities made in London, i.e. that only England matters and Wales is a lesser concern, as has been the case ever since Henry VIII’s 16th century Acts of Union.

    There is however precedence for this attitude and it comes from another footballer; and one that is one of Scotland’s greatest football exports, Bill Shankly, who was manager of Liverpool FC from 1959 to 1974, a length of tenure of office which modern football managers can only dream of.

    Shankly is famously on record as rating the importance of football as follows:

    Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

    The above quote from Shankly can be found here with plenty of others from the sage of Anfield.

  • Commission sends preliminary findings to X for DSA breach

    X logoToday the EU Commission has informed X – the declining social media platform formerly known as Twitter – of its preliminary view that the company is in breach of the Digital Services Act (DSA) in areas linked to dark patterns, advertising transparency and data access for researchers.

    Based on an in-depth investigation that included, inter alia, the analysis of internal company documents, interviews with experts, as well as cooperation with national Digital Services Coordinators, the Commission has issued preliminary findings of non-compliance with the DSA on three grievances:

    • First, X designs and operates its interface for the “verified accounts” with the “Blue checkmark” in a way that does not correspond to industry practice and deceives users. Since anyone can subscribe to obtain such a “verified” status, it negatively affects users’ ability to make free and informed decisions about the authenticity of the accounts and the content they interact with. There is evidence of motivated malicious actors abusing the “verified account” to deceive users.

    • Second, X does not comply with the required transparency on advertising, as it does not provide a searchable and reliable advertisement repository, but instead put in place design features and access barriers that make the repository unfit for its transparency purpose towards users. In particular, the design does not allow for the required supervision and research into emerging risks brought about by the distribution of advertising online.

    • Third, X fails to provide access to its public data to researchers in line with the conditions set out in the DSA. In particular, X prohibits eligible researchers from independently accessing its public data, such as by scraping, as stated in its terms of service. In addition, X’s process to grant eligible researchers access to its application programming interface (API) appears to dissuade researchers from carrying out their research projects or leave them with no other choice than to pay disproportionally high fees.

    If the Commission’s preliminary views were to be confirmed, the Commission would adopt a non-compliance decision finding that X is in breach of Articles 25, 39 and 40(12) of the DS, which could entail fines of up to 6% of X’s total worldwide annual turnover and order the provider to take measures to address the breach. A non-compliance decision may also trigger an enhanced supervision period to ensure compliance with the measures the provider intends to take to remedy the breach. The Commission can also impose periodic penalty payments to compel a platform to comply.

    Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market said:

    Back in the day, BlueChecks used to mean trustworthy sources of information. Now with X, our preliminary view is that they deceive users and infringe the DSA. We also consider that X’s ads repository and conditions for data access by researchers are not in line with the DSA transparency requirements. X has now the right of defence — but if our view is confirmed we will impose fines and require significant changes.
  • 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. 😀

  • 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.

  • Vos passeports, s.v.p. !

    An irony of our times came to light at the 80th anniversary D-Day celebrations as yet another dubious Brexit bonus emerged, further illustrating the Untied Kingdom’s third country EU status, as well as depicting a bureaucratic obstacle not faced by those arriving in Normandy on 6th June 1944.

    The screenshot below of a post on X/Twitter by the Brexitshambles account needs no further comment, apart from to add that the parachutists not only had to show their passports, but get them stamped too, so that officials can check in future whether they’ve overstayed their maximum term of 90 days in a European Union member state. 😀

    Post reads - So you thought we'd reached Peak Brexit? Watch British Paratroopers who after being dropped into Sannerville, France, to commemorate D-Day, had to show their passports to the French Douane... @Nigel Farage must be so proud

    Update: 07/06/2024: Today’s Guardian has reported on the above incident, noting that ‘while immigration checks for British troops on exercise abroad are routine, doing so at a public commemoration is deemed exceptional‘.

  • 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!

  • A bloody portrait

    In today’s attempt to divert attention to the dire political and economic situation of the English Empire/Untied Kingdom, the media are today awash with the story of the unveiling of a portrait of Mr Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor, frequently referred to by the gullible as King Charles.

    Here’s the BBC’s example.

    Here’s what all the fuss is about.

    The new portrait of Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor looking flushed

    The BBC also records varying public reactions to the portrait, as long as they do not stray from the sycophantic.

    Many were initially taken aback by the vivid red colour with some saying it looked like fire. Others described the painting as “unexpected” but “modern”.

    However, not so much sycophancy exists on social media where much more republican sentiment and an alterative reading of history were apparent, as in a post on X/Twitter (or whatever the man-baby called Musk is calling it this week. Ed.) by Sandra Eckersley.

    Post reads - Remarkable painting of King Charles with the unexpected subtext of Colonial British History. Soaked in blood & gore yet with a butterfly on his shoulder. As Bart Simpson once said ‘nobody suspects a butterfly’. Clever piece, beautifully executed. Great Art.

    Your ‘umble scribe believes Ms Eckersley shares his view of colonial English/British history, a series of crimes against humanity lasting several centuries, involving invasion, murder, theft, exploitation, expropriation and slavery to name but a few offences on the charge sheet.

    Needless to say, Mr Mountbatten-Windsor is rather pleased with his new portrait, apparently unworried about being depicted as wallowing in a bloodbath.
  • Deep sea life using robots – exclusive

    This blog has often drawn attention to the inability of modern journalists (or should that be media employees? Ed.) to understand ambiguity, i.e. the quality of a statement being open to more than one interpretation, and how to avoid it by using language as a precision, not a blunt instrument.

    The example below dates back to 2022, comes from India’s Republic and dives beneath the waves to the bottom of the sea. It arrived in your ‘umble scribe’s social medial timeline late last week, so apologies if you’ve already seen the howler below.

    Headline - UK researchers discover over 30 potential new species at ocean's bottom using robots. Byline - In what can be considered to be a breakthrough scientific development, over 30 potentially new species have been discovered by UK scientists at ocean&'s bottom.

    The story was originally published in The Guardian. Republic’s reporter Anwesha Majumdar does not disclose in the rewrite why aquatic life in the deep oceans is using robots.

  • For UK, see England

    For some in England – an it only obtains in England – happens throughout the whole of the island of Great Britain and the occupied six counties of the Ireland of Ireland that suffers under the monicker of the United Kingdom.

    Those in England frequently forget that England isn’t the whole of the UK. It includes Wales, which England first colonised in the late 12th century, Scotland, which has its own system of law and institutions, and the aforementioned occupied six Irish counties, the remnant of yet more colonial activity likewise dating back to the late 12th century.

    People in parts of the UK that are not England frequently view England as the most privileged part of the union, particularly when it displays arrogance, exceptionalism and a lack of tact, especially as the union did not come about voluntarily and secession from which may only be put to the vote if Whitehall is feeling generous.

    However, arrogance, exceptionalism and a lack of tact does not apply only in the political sphere, but in the reporting of politics by the media.

    The following post has appeared on the X/Twitter account of London-based Channel 4 News on 3rd May.

    Post reads Local election results - what we know so far. Below is a screenshot of a video showing a backdrop with the words The UK decides - 2024 Local Elections

    The what decides?

    The only local elections taking place in the UK were mostly in England on 2nd May and involved elections for a large number of local authorities, regional mayors and police and crime commissioners.

    By virtue of Henry VIII’s 16th century Acts of Union, the only electoral activity anywhere else in the UK involved the election of the four Welsh police and crime commissioners for the four regional Welsh police forces. As regards these Welsh elections, Nation Cymru carries an opinion piece advocating the abolition of commissioners due to the extremely low voter turnout.

    The proportion of people on the electoral register who bothered to vote was 19.2% in the Dyfed-Powys police force area, 17.19% in North Wales, 16.58% in South Wales and 15.63% in Gwent.

    This hardly the UK really decides, now is it, Channel 4 News?

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