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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 6,618

Journal Archives


Margaret Thatcher: The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.

Me: The problem with Thatcherism is that you eventually run out of family silver to sell off.

The Hangover: A look back at the Big Day via Twitter memes

(Twitter links in first reply.)

Jay Rayner

It’s true.

Dr Johnny Bananas

Jim Sheridan

Fantastic job from #PennyMourdant as she carried the “Kebab Of State” for the entire ceremony..
Definitely a future PM 🇬🇧
#Coronation #CoronationConcert

John Bull

Penny Mordaunt has now been holding that sword longer than Liz Truss was Prime Minister.


“I’ll have the pie and chips”

Colin the Dachshund

When you pop to Aldi to get some bread but then go down the middle aisle.

Jamie McDonald (aka @JamieHolePunch@mastodon.scot)

Absolutely no way he isn't receiving all 136 Freeview channels.

Wolf, guess what my username elsewhere is

And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin... Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.


Charles was escorted by German Audis, by people carrying Swiss guns, he wore stolen Indian diamonds, in a carriage pulled by Canadian horses and you watched it sitting on a Swedish couch eating Chinese food watching a Japanese TV.

Pipe down.


The coach was also made in Australia


Dom Joly

Meghan Markle’s disguise nearly had me fooled…

Ed Cumming

“See that bloke? Literally cannot sweat.”


Remembering Diana today - the People’s Princess.

https://twitter.com/MediumSizeMeech/status/1654826085249417217 13

No other country can do this

North West Bylines

Public Order. cartoon by dormouse, with permission

James Felton

Love my country. People can’t afford to eat and we’re spending £150 million deploying police to protect a man in an actual golden carriage and a hat worth more than Kent from seeing a “not my king” placard. Just a wonderful place for all.

Mark Moraghan 🚫

Goodnight. Don’t have nightmares.

I find it very hard to believe someone on DU is defending a self-proclaimed genocidal regime.

Here's a Twitter feed you might benefit from taking a look at: https://twitter.com/JuliaDavisNews

Davis is widely respected, and compiles footage from Russian TV shows where the pundits compete with each other to be more blatantly xenophobic and murderous than each other. They include some of the most popular state-sponsored Russian current affairs shows, hosted by figures like propagandists Vladimir Solovyov and Olga Skabeeva, and featuring Russia Today's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan among other barking mad nihilistic would-be war criminals.

Might the risposte be "They're just TV shows"? Nothing appears about current affairs on Russian TV without at least the tacit approval of Putin's regime.

If you do bother to check out Davis's feed, you'll see that Tucker Carlson features heavily as he's a favourite Western voice among the Russian propagandists. I'd beware that your own justifications and defences of Russia's war in Ukraine don't stray too far into the territory Carlson's claimed as his own.

Here are just a few tastes of the coverage from recent days:


Julia Davis

For those who may not have realized that gov't officials and Putin's pet propagandists actually meant what they've been saying on Russian state TV — for years! Their openly genocidal rhetoric matches their imperial mindset.


Carl Bildt

A brutal honesty in this message from the 🇷🇺 Kremlin - 🇺🇦 should be erased from the map. A country that’s chairing the 🇺🇳 Security Council this month simply denies another country its right to exist. I think this is unique in the annals of international behavior in modern times.



Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev believes that no-one in the world needs Ukraine, therefore it will cease to exist, he said in his post on social media:

The full version of Medvedev's post that's being discussed:


Dmitry Medvedev


1. Europe doesn’t need Ukraine. The forced support of the Nazi regime, by the American mentor’s order, has put Europeans into a financial and political inferno. All for the sake of bandera’s unterukraine, that even the snobby, insolent Polacks don’t take for a valid country, and time and again toss in the issue of its western areas anschluss. There’s a nice perspective ahead: to permanently put the nouveau-Ukrainian blood-sucking parasites on the decrepit EU’s arthritis-crippled neck. That’ll be the final fall of Europe, once majestic, but robbed off by degeneration.

2. The US doesn’t need Ukraine. True, the military and sanction campaigns are attempted for PR by political blabbermouths, who long ago attested to their impotence and imbecility. Average Americans don’t understand what “Ukraine” is, and where “it” is. Most of them won’t show this “power” on the map on the first take. Why won’t the US establishment focus on inflation and job issues, or emergencies in their home States, instead of a country 404, unbeknownst to them? Why does so much dough go across the ocean?

Sooner or later, they’ll ask for that. Then, storming of the Capitol in January 2021 would seem like scout games.

3. Africa and Latin America don’t need Ukraine. The hundreds of millions spent by US on pointless fights in Ukraine, could finance many development programmes for Latin American and African states.

Latin America is gringos’ backyard – that’s what they’ve been rubbing in for decades. Africa’s had its share of suffering from the genocide, and colonial dependence, imposed by former western slave traders. That’s why the people of African huts and Latin American favelas ask a very reasonable question: for their former suffering and present-day loyalty, why is somebody else rewarded – very, very far away?

4. Asia doesn’t need Ukraine. By Russia’s example, they see “colour” technologies at work to eradicate the largest competing powers. They understand what scenario the America-led collective West has for them if they disobey. “Help us to overcome Russia, and we’ll soon come to you”, the utterly brazen Western leaders tell them. Such gigantic countries as India, China, and other Asia-Pacific states face the big enough challenge of post-pandemic economic recovery, let aside the drugged clowns, with their whining for aid.

“We are not interested in you”, Asia tells their messengers, responding to the calls to support Ukraine and confine Russia. The country, geopolitically many times closer to Asian powers, the one that historically has proven itself a reliable strategic partner. Do Asian giants need such headache coming from former colonisers?

5. Russia doesn’t need Ukraine. A threadbare quilt, torn, shaggy, and greasy. The new Malorossiya of 1991 is made up of the artificially cut territories, many of which are indigenously Russian, separated by accident in the 20th century. Millions of our compatriots live there, harassed for years by the Nazi Kiev regime. It is them who we defend in our special military operation, relentlessly eradicating the enemy. We don’t need unterukraine. We need Big Great Russia.

6. Finally, its own citizens don’t need the Nazi-headed Ukraine. That’s why out of 45 million people there’re only some 20 million remaining. That’s why those who stayed want to leave for any place: the hated Poland, EU, NATO, to be America’s 51nd state. Joining the Antarctic with its pinguins will also be fine. As long as it’s quiet, and the food’s good. The ruling junta’s criminal ambitions forced Ukrainians to beg and roam around the countries and continents, searching for a better life. All that is for an obscure European perspective. Or rather, to let the harlequin in a khaki tricot and his band of thievish Nazi clowns to put the money stolen from the West into their offshore accounts. Would ordinary Ukrainians need that?

Nobody on this planet needs such a Ukraine. That’s why it will disappear

Maybe you missed Putin's addresses last year and earlier this one when he repeatedly set out his aim to return Russia's borders to some historical idyll where Russia is still a mighty empire. His actions and those of his armed forces indicate this is much more than a rhetorical stance.

The fact that it's deranged doesn't make it less sinister or indefensible.

Humza Yousaf succeeds Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader

Humza Yousaf is to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland's first minister after a vote of party members.

Mr Yousaf defeated rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in a leadership contest that exposed deep divisions within the party.

The 37-year-old is the first Muslim to lead a major UK party.
Mr Yousaf is currently Scotland's health secretary and was widely assumed to be Ms Sturgeon's preferred successor, although she did not explicitly back any of the candidates in the contest.

The leadership election was decided by the Single Transferable Vote system, with 50,490 of the SNP's 72,169 members casting a ballot - the vast majority of them online.

After Ms Regan was eliminated in the first round, Mr Yousaf defeated Ms Forbes by 52% to 48% in the second round, with Mr Yousaf receiving 26,032 votes and Ms Forbes 23,890.

The new SNP leader will face a vote in the Scottish Parliament - which he is virtually certain to win - on Tuesday before becoming Scotland's sixth first minister.


A historic day however you look at it, and whoever you backed in the leadership contest. We now have a leader of Scottish Labour, an SNP leader and a UK prime minister who are all from Asian backgrounds (for better or worse in some cases).

As it happens, Yousaf got my first preference, and Forbes my second. I didn't allocate a preference to Regan, for a variety of reasons.

It wasn't an easy choice between Yousaf and Forbes. Both have their strengths and some decided weaknesses. A couple of considerations tipped it for me.

Yousaf gained far more endorsements from SNP MSPs and MPs - many of whose opinions I respect - and that probably signals the possibility of more unity among the members of both parliaments, if not necessarily among SNP members as a whole. Portrayed as "the continuity candidate", I was pleased to see him defend the SNP government's achievements in its time in office.

The fact that Forbes chose to trash some of that record during the course of the hustings counted against her. It's one thing to be healthily critical of party policies and achievements, it's quite another to parrot some of the tired claims of unionists and the bulk of the media. On a similar consideration, I didn't appreciate Forbes's tendency to rewrite the party's manifesto on the hoof and sound unsettlingly like she might try to pull the party to the right on some issues, both social and economic. She's very self-assured as a media presence and undoubtedly talented, and I hope future cabinets manage to harness her abilities and her appeal in certain quarters - one of her self-proclaimed selling points was that she had higher ratings than Yousaf among the electorate at large, though whether that means they'd actually vote for the SNP is quite another question.

There remains the vote in the Scottish Parliament on who should take over from Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister when she formally resigns. The Opposition will no doubt put up its own candidates as a formality, but with the backing of the Scottish Greens and no doubt the vast majority if not all of his own party, the job looks like Yousaf's.

Brian Bilston has been described as the poet laureate of Twitter

That's his pen name, his real one is Paul Millicheap.

He wrote "Refugees" in 2016. Here's an extended BBC profile of him from that year: 'How I accidentally became a poet through Twitter'

Here's another of his:

Here's his website: https://brianbilston.com/

And here's his Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/brian_bilston

I've given his collections You Took the Last Bus Home, Diary of a Somebody and Alexa, what is there to know about love? to my serious poetry buff wife on successive Christmases, and she's loved them.

Nevertheless, today's vote at the United Nations illustrated the limits of Russia's support

The resolution, which was overwhelmingly carried, called for Russian troops to immediately withdraw from Ukraine and for a comprehensive and lasting peace. The results:

For anyone using a text reader, that sums up as:

141 in favour

7 against

32 abstentions.

About the "Oxford comma" ...

I'll just dredge this up from my scintillating DU journal (I have a little time on my hands tonight if someone wants to get into an argument about it - no takers when it was originally posted).

I edit books. The Oxford comma is much misunderstood.

Nowadays, rather than having strict house styles, most book publishers are flexible about matters of style, like the Oxford comma, because they want to minimize costs resulting from changing what an author's submitted for publication. Generally, if what an author's done is consistent, or thereabouts, we'll standardize it throughout a chapter or whole book.

The Oxford comma means something different in book publishing than it does in everyday chatter.

It means the comma after the penultimate item in a list is obligatory in all cases.

It's nothing to do with making sense of a sentence by fiddling with the punctuation, that comma's just always there. The Oxford University Press explains why it adopted this practice:

Given that the final comma is sometimes necessary to prevent ambiguity, it is logical to impose it uniformly, so as to obviate the need to pause and gauge each enumeration on the likelihood of its being misunderstood – especially since that likelihood is often more obvious to the reader than the writer.


Translated from the somewhat flowery English: to save time spent by copy-editors deciding in every case whether there should be a comma after the penultimate item in a serial list, it's easier to just always use it, so that's what OUP imposes. And that's what a publisher means when they instruct us to standardize on using the Oxford comma or not.

This cuts out nuance, as in the examples people often give when arguing in the Oxford comma's favour, because that comma is not optional. But it saves time, and time is money.

So there you go: all those arguing for the Oxford comma have been doing it wrong all along. According to the Oxford University Press, anyway.

Shoddy super glue repairs to Trident submarine leave officials fuming, say reports

Civilian workers reportedly tried to cut corners by sticking some bolts back on to vital cooling pipes, but the hasty mend was discovered when one fell off
Civilians said to be carrying out work on HMS Vanguard – repairs that started in 2015 – reportedly glued some bolts back, that held insulation in place, on to essential cooling pipes, that had been sheared off through over-tightening.
Alarmed Ben Wallace was reported to be angry at the news, demanding a meeting and “assurances about future work”, while a Navy source was reported to have said: “It’s a disgrace. You can’t cut corners with nuclear."
The bungled repair was reportedly only discovered when one bolt fell off during checks aboard the 16,000-ton ballistic missile-armed vessel, which was first launched in 1992.

HMS Vanguard was undergoing a dry dock refurbishment and refuel at HMNB Devonport, Plymouth, which was £300million over budget.


OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic

ChatGPT was hailed as one of 2022’s most impressive technological innovations upon its release last November. The powerful artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot can generate text on almost any topic or theme, from a Shakespearean sonnet reimagined in the style of Megan Thee Stallion, to complex mathematical theorems described in language a 5 year old can understand. Within a week, it had more than a million users.

ChatGPT’s creator, OpenAI, is now reportedly in talks with investors to raise funds at a $29 billion valuation, including a potential $10 billion investment by Microsoft. That would make OpenAI, which was founded in San Francisco in 2015 with the aim of building superintelligent machines, one of the world’s most valuable AI companies.

But the success story is not one of Silicon Valley genius alone. In its quest to make ChatGPT less toxic, OpenAI used outsourced Kenyan laborers earning less than $2 per hour, a TIME investigation has found.

The work was vital for OpenAI. ChatGPT’s predecessor, GPT-3, had already shown an impressive ability to string sentences together. But it was a difficult sell, as the app was also prone to blurting out violent, sexist and racist remarks. This is because the AI had been trained on hundreds of billions of words scraped from the internet—a vast repository of human language. That huge training dataset was the reason for GPT-3’s impressive linguistic capabilities, but was also perhaps its biggest curse. Since parts of the internet are replete with toxicity and bias, there was no easy way of purging those sections of the training data. Even a team of hundreds of humans would have taken decades to trawl through the enormous dataset manually. It was only by building an additional AI-powered safety mechanism that OpenAI would be able to rein in that harm, producing a chatbot suitable for everyday use.


OK. This is one reason why Twitter needs an edit function.

I initially thought it was the nephew who cried.

I'm glad to find out I was wrong.
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