“12 people have died in the Essex area after contracting invasive group A streptococcus infection (iGAS). People whose immune systems are compromised by illness or old age are particularly at risk. Those infected are elderly people receiving treatment, according to the NHS.”
Looks like we’ve found a cure for Conservatism, then.
Sorry, mate, you’re talkin’ foreign. Ph what?
A leading UN organization, UNESCO has joined other international institutions in saying it will no longer support conferences in the UK because of the viciously racist policy of the Home Office to deny temporary visitor visas to so many academics from black and asian backgrounds, that it makes organizing them a financial risk.
At least, racism is the interpretation one has to put on the numbers of University-accredited and fully funded delegates, with families back at home, who are being told, with no appeal, and despite being able to show their invitations and name their sponsors – no, you can’t come in because we believe you intend not to return home and you do not have the resources to support yourself.
The quasi-fascist policy has led to some truly horrendous gaffes, such as the conference on International Development sponsored by members of the UK Parliament having to be cancelled because so many overseas delegates were refused visas.
Clearly, only the natives should be discussing International Development. It’s our money, after all.
Is it a deliberate act of self-sabotage, I wonder? Because if it weren’t so serious it would be a huge joke, wouldn’t it?
The no-visas approach has been adopted by a Home Office that is clearly out of control: dysfunctional, authoritarian, administratively incompetent, racially biased and certainly not fit for purpose. Its spokesmouth responded predictably to complaints from numerous serious quarters about the no-visas policy by saying, in its inimitable, tongue-in-cheek, “Yes, Minister” style: ““We welcome international academics and recognise their contribution to the UK’s world-leading education sector.”
Clearly, no, they don’t. Because they’re destroying it.
Alison Phipps, UNESCO lead on refugee integration, was quoted as saying:
“It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money and given the irresponsibility and erratic nature of UKVI decision-making, it’s the number one item on my risk register and we cannot, with any integrity, allow that kind of finance risk to the projects.”
Phipps, reports The Guardian, is particularly frustrated by the refusal of the Home Office to issue visitor visas to academics taking part in the government’s own Global Challenges Research Fund – a five-year, £1.5bn fund that uses UK aid money for research on intractable global challenges.
“The fund’s purpose is to hire and pay overseas academics to work with the UK on a range of government-funded projects,” said Phipps. “But even though we’re using the government’s money for exactly the purpose we’ve been given it, academics we sponsor are being turned down with no appeal rights.”
The Home Office has obviously gone rogue when its abusive, nonsensical, Kafkaesque policies are working against the Government’s own intentions. But the Government itself is in total disarray and cannot be expected to sort out problems like this one. The Secretary of State has been far too busy with his failed bid to be selected to lead the party, to actually do his job. The actual Prime Minister is a ghost, haunting No. 10 until that fatuous Old Etonian nincompoop moves in with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend.
It is as if Sajid Javid, first-generation-born son of immigrants from Pakistan, son of a bus driver, is so ashamed of his lowly origins that he has been instructing his officials to go in hard on anyone black or brown since, obviously, they can’t be bona fide academics, living as they do in mud huts and up trees. Just more illegal immigrants, takin’ the piss.
What are the fans going to think, when global football stars are being denied visas to play for their beloved clubs, I wonder? Musicians from other countries, including America, are already refusing to tour in Britain because of difficulty with visas. And still nothing has been set in stone, as regards EU citizens’ residency rights post-Brexit.
It’s bad enough that the number one worry of UK universities is that Brexit will virtually end exchanges with European researchers and turn off the lucrative tap of foreign students, especially from China and the Indian subcontinent, already turning to the USA and Australia for their degrees, rather than suffer at the hands, both of the Home Office and our home-grown racist street-thugs. It’s getting harder to tell the difference.
But it’ll be great, won’t it, when the whole of Britain can finally dumb itself down to the level of the daytime TV morons who voted for this omnishambles and who still refuse to understand what it is they’ve done because, well, “we won’t be told”.
Great, when the feckless oaf, Boris Johnson, the domestic abuser and prime narcissist, a man who treats women like internet trolls use Kleenex – who apparently deigns to practise safe sex – and who couldn’t even manage the job of Foreign Secretary without constantly putting his size-12s in it, becomes Prime Minister next month, and the role model for every gormless prat in the country.
I’m 70 this year, I don’t have many years left on the rockpile. Why, dear God, do I have to spend them trapped in a rotting prison hulk moored off the continent with this bunch of useless bastards carousing on the bridge?
“All our Buddha’s are made by us using the best materials available.”
Tell me, what is wrong with this commercial announcement? (Yes, I’m looking for a large stone Buddha head for my little garden. I’ve actually found one, my local garden centre sells quite nice ones, only the staff are not allowed to lift them, which might explain why they don’t appear to have sold any.)
There, their, they’re: some pointers for trolls
I’m rapidly going bald, reading too many readers’ comments beneath articles written by journalists who, if not always right about things, and lacking the professional eye of a subeditor, that extinct species, so that mistakes often of omission of entire words are becoming increasingly common, are nevertheless qualified to set down coherent thoughts in writing.
But you seldom find a misplaced apostrophe.
For fuck’s sake, idiots, what makes you think your crapulous opinions can possibly carry any weight if you can’t even put an apostrophe in the right place? I’m tearing my goddam hair out. It just goes on getting worse.
It’s its! ITS!! That’s if the subject belongs or attaches to something neutral, an object, a statement, it’s its! If you wish to abbreviate “it is”, which is good practice in writing, then it’s it’s. Got it? If you wish to abbreviate can not, it’s can’t. Will not = won’t. Should not = shouldn’t. And if you’re trying to say something belongs to it, then it’s its.
Christ on a BMX, it’s not that difficult, surely?
Oh, and you don’t apostrophize plurals. Got that too? It’s plurals, not plural’s, or plurals’. That’s known as the grocer’s apostrophe, because of so many misspelled handwritten signs you see outside grocers’ stores and on market stalls, reading “tomatoe’s $1” If there’s more than one tomato, it’s fucking “tomatos”, no e either. Got that too?
To indicate possession, when the subject is singular, or when it ends with the letter s, the apostrophe goes before the possessive s (The s suffix is, in its turn, an abbreviation of hi(s), her(s), it(s), etc. As per: “Plato, his Republic” shortens to “Plato’s Republic”) So: “Howard’s End”; “His mistress’s favors”; “Season’s greetings”.
If the subject is plural, i.e. there’s more than one, then the apostrophe goes after the s. “Womens’ liberation”; “Readers’ comments”.
It’s a useful little tick, a tiny bit of print punctuation (known as a diacritical) that helps to make sense of things.
But you should never (shouldn’t ever) use the apostrophe with possessive pronouns his, hers, its, yours, ours, theirs. Got it? Just leave them as they are, they’re fine.
And then there’s there. It’s not fucking “their”, unless it belongs to them!
- There = prepositional adverb: there is an object. Not their. OR…
- There = preposition: the object is there. Not their.
- Their, or theirs = belonging to them. Not there.
- There’s = there is. Not theirs.
- They’re = they are. Not there, or their.
Just because there and their share a similar pronunciation, does not mean they are the same, flexibly interchangeable word. Okay with that?
And while we’re about it, consider the difference between lose and loose, commonly confused. Not that you ever do.
To lose something is to accidentally mislay it, surreptitiously get rid of it, or in a personal sense, sacrifice it, so that it is no longer in your possession or anywhere to be found. It’s a verb. Loose is an adjective meaning free, unrestrained or untethered. They are not the same word. They’re not spelled the same way. They’re not even pronounced the same way. So why confuse them?
Nor are to and too the same, interchangeable word. Yet comment writers are inclined to too frequently interchange them!
I am going to… I am going too… these phrases have completely different meanings, because the words to and too do too. To (with one o) is a preposition, meaning in the direction of; toward. To is also an auxiliary adverb, when used in conjunction with the infinitive form of a verb: to go, to read, to think. It still suggests forward intent.
Too (with two os) is an adjective, meaning as well as; in addition (to), on top of; also (adverb: too = e.g. moreover). It’s not the same word as to, is it? Good, we’re getting somewhere.
And with the third person singular of the irregular verbs to go and to do, where an e is inserted for ease of pronunciation, it’s s/he goes and s/he does, not s/he goe’s and s/he doe’s, okay? For pity’s sake! Why make work for yourself?
Grammar does matter! It really does. (Not doe’s!)
Confusing words like there and their, to and too, misplacing apostrophes, cannot simply be dismissed as casual lapses, carelessness under pressure of time. They are basic errors; evidence of ignorance.
Grammatical rules may be only longstanding literary conventions but they exist to clarify text, to unmuddle thought, to convey meaning – not as tiresome distractions to embarrass the semiliterate and show them up in front of their betters.
If written language didn’t have rules – which include consistent spellings, albeit sometimes varied by dialect or editorial school but always consistent within them – we might just as well junk written texts altogether and communicate – as many where I live seem to do – by a system of grunts and clumsy gestures, or clubbing one another over the head.
Why let yourself down? Do you imagine I care what you think about difficult and complicated matters, about politics and philosophy and climate change, if you haven’t been bothered to educate yourself beyond the fourth grade to the simplest rules of English grammar?
Donald Trump’s bill to the US taxpayer for his weekend golfing trips has now topped $106.9 million since he took office in January 2017. Much of that money comes back in profit to his golf resorts. In addition, there is the matter of the unpaid $millions owed to local authorities for closing roads, policing and in compensation to shopkeepers and local airfields forced to close up while his exalted fat ass is playing nearby. 21% of his time as president – 186 days – has been spent on the golf course. (Farron Cousins). It amounts to abuse of office, but tell that to the dumbfucks who believe him when he says he works harder than any president in history.
Sunk like a Stone
Collectors of gems should hie themselves to an obituary in The Guardian, 25 June, of the historian Norman Stone, who has – probably mercifully, by the account – died at the age of 78.
It does seem something of a miracle he lasted so long.
It’s not done to speak ill of the dead; except that nowadays it is, and all the more fun for that. Although I’m not sure what Stone’s three sons will make of Prof. Richard Evans’ cooler than cool appraisal of their wayward dad.
I wonder actually what my own kids might make of me? Not being in the slightest bit famous – or notorious – I guess I’ll just have to self-obituarize. I can be quite excoriating about myself, if it helps. I’m only intermittently a nice, kindly bloke with an optimistic outlook and a good word to say about anyone. I try to be unpleasant and kind on alternate days; balance being all, to a Libra. But – this bogl apart – I’m not the most communicative person you’ll never reach on the phone.
Stone, it must be said, was a fairly lousy, lazy historian who got by mostly on one good book, a ton of literary flair and flashes of personal charm. I can relate to that, I relentlessly sent up the A-level questions as I’d done no revision, let alone prior work, yet managed somehow to get an A in History, presumably A for Amusement. Marking is such a chore. My teachers were not amused, however and it took the precocious gift of a bottle of whisky to placate my form master, who had written me off entirely.
Glasgow-born Stone, however, educated on an airforce scholarship granted after the death of his father in a training accident, also Norman, managed to get into Cambridge. London-born me didn’t, so there we part ways. And from there, like the Duke of Wellington, when he was up, he was up… you know the rest.
Evans – regius professor of history at the University of Cambridge, president of Wolfson College, Cambridge and Fellow of the British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences – starts as he means to go on:
“One of the specialities of the historian Norman Stone, who has died aged 78, was character assassination.”
And goes on brilliantly to assassinate Stone in almost every paragraph; although if the accounts are true, Stone didn’t need much assassinating; at least, not in the literary sense. His morose drinking habit was enough to kill most people off, but apparently not whatever he had come to detest in himself.
“At a time when malice and rudeness were highly prized by some rightwing Cambridge dons, Stone outdid them all in the abuse he hurled at anyone he disapproved of…”
One wonders, though, how seriously he took his habit of using his modest academic platform to hurl invective at real politicians? His blasting of Heath as “a flabby-faced coward” was, incidentally, plagiarism: Private Eye magazine had been successfully sued some years earlier for using the same flame-thrower on Tory Chancellor, Reginald Maudling.
Evans lovingly details how, following the publication of his well-received (if, in Evans’ opinion, somewhat fustian) magnum opus on “The Eastern Front, 1914-17”, Stone then subsided into a career marked by the publication of a succession of poorly researched potboilers. Having been an editor of history books, I am aware of the notion that infects publishers’ marketing departments that the mere mention of the name Hitler in a title will increase sales by 15 per cent.
Posted by a relieved Cambridge establishment over to Oxford where, with the help of a doubtless polished reference from Sir Geoffrey Elton, he became Professor of Modern History, it seems Stone hardly ever turned up to work, frequently expressing his total contempt for his colleagues, all of whom he dismissed as “Marxists”.
“As a teacher Stone could be inspiring, often winning over his pupils with his charm, which on occasion could be quite considerable, but he became increasingly undisciplined, neglecting his duties, and spending increasing amounts of time playing poker and drinking himself into oblivion in Soho. … On the occasions when he did appear in Oxford to do some teaching, Stone became notorious for groping his female students … and annoyed Worcester College by sub-letting his rooms to make a bit of extra money. “
You kind of warm to him.
Eventually sacked, his considerable language skills however came to his rescue, and having briefly been an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, who ignored his perfectly sensible view of the reunification of Germany – she saw it as a threat – but also generously ignored the occasion on which, pissed, he passed out in her presence, his career gently declined with a succession of middle-European academic postings, supported by increasingly rightwing views – he was a fan of the embryonic dictator, Viktor Orban.
There’s a little resonance there too. My father had been a “Soho rat” in the war years and after: an actor, director, globetrotting TV reporter and documentarist who self-exiled to France for the last 30 years of his life, where he posed as an intellectual supporter of the rank, anti-semitic ultranationalist, Jean-Marie le Pen; whom he found personally charming. I don’t think it meant anything, quite honestly, it was mostly for show: he had run unsuccessfully as Liberal candidate for Twickenham in 1964, inspired after interviewing Jo Grimond.
Evans’ obituary of Stone ends on an unnecessary note of rancour, with a Trumpian rejoinder from Heath:
“Many parents of Oxford students must be both horrified and disgusted that the higher education of our children should rest in the hands of such a man.”
Must they, Sir Edward? It must be a comfort, knowing what people nowadays think of your Prime Ministership. And now you two lovebirds can discuss it together.
Building your new GW:
France: As heat starts to build from the so-called Spanish Plume (actually it’s coming up from North Africa), Météo-France is predicting peaks of 45C (113F) in the southern towns of Nîmes and Carpentras by Friday. That would be almost 4C hotter than the notorious 2003 heatwave, that killed 15,000 people across France. And that was in August, not June….
Columbia: 2 people have been killed and several are injured or missing after deadly landslides cut the highway between Florencia and Nueva, in Huila province Sunday. Again, heavy rainfall is to blame; orange alerts are out for rising river levels. (Floodlist)
Australia: It’s not unheard of for nighttime temperatures to drop below freezing in the desert, and this winter has generally seen high pressure bringing cold nights to Alice Springs, where residents’ lawn sprinklers have produced pretty shows of icicles. However, my earlier point about subeditors being an extinct species is born out by this fascinating sentence in the report of “Ice cold in Alex” on Sky news.au:
“In winter, this process is exacerbated by the sub bing far too the north and therefore less heat reaching the found.”
I think we can loosely translate that as “it’s colder where it isn’t sunny”. Vital science information… My friend Harry has just seen his granddaughter off to her new life as a lawyer in Australia… Doesn’t look like she’ll have too much trouble getting on there.
Brace for impact: The Taurid Resonant Swarm is an occasional encounter the Earth has with a cluster of meteors in orbit around Jupiter that arrives at the end of June along with the Taurid shower – a twice-yearly phenomenon that normally produces no more than a pretty display of shooting stars – not that we’ll see them here as the forecast this week is for cloud cover thick enough to reach 30 thousand feet, where the commercial jets fly.
Severe-weather.eu writes: “there are some seriously big space rocks in there. In 1975 seismographs on the Moon left by the Apollo mission astronauts, detected a flurry of seismic activity, most likely caused by large Taurid meteoroids impacting the Lunar surface. The last big encounter with the Taurid swarm was in 2015. In the last days of October and first two weeks of November, bright fireballs from the Taurid stream were noted across the world, many lighting up the sky brighter than the Moon!”
Typically, the Swarm produces rocks from 1 to 3m in diameter, but in 1908 one 50m across flattened a large part of Siberia and a few up to several hundreds of meters, big enough to have astonomical numbers and create an extinction event, are embedded with the swarm. As the bigger stuff is blackened with soot, astronomers may not see them approaching until it’s too late to send Bruce Willis up with a nuclear bomb. Happily, it’s only necessary to paint an asteroid white on one side to get it to change course.
Telling it like it is: “The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said. Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law.” (Guardian report)