Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Poppies on football shirts – a very (new) British problem

Its that time of year again when people try and think of more and more inappropriate ways of commemorating people who have been killed fighting in wars (a thong and an actual machine for killing more people are just two that spring to mind).
This is of course all part of a not-so-subtle to attempt coax the whole population into adopting a mindset, consistent with that of British nationalists in government and the establishment, modelled unsurprisingly on the idea of a certain kind of patriotism promoted in the United States.
Whereas not so long ago, certainly less than ten years ago, you could give a donation to an ex-serviceman or a volunteer on the street and discreetly choose whether or not to take a poppy from him or her to wear, those who now appear in public not wearing a poppy are hounded and questioned [Daily Mail link].  

So, some bright spark though it would be a good idea to add a poppy onto a football shirt, an item of clothing that will be ingrained with sweat, dirt and phlegm during the course of 90 minutes. Hardly dignifying . This decision taken by faceless football administrators or club officials, either following pressure from officialdom or in an attempt to creep onto a future honours list instantly co-opts all players and also supporters by association. I’m only aware of one player who’s stood up to this, James Mclean, and he is given no end of abuse for it, eagerly egged on by the media on an annual basis:

Yesterday the BBC reported that the English FA were kicking up a fuss because Fifa 'rejects England & Scotland request to wear poppies on armbands'. In another yesterday, titled, Is the poppy political symbol? the BBC claims:
...British sports teams have traditionally joined in by adding a poppy to their kit.
I'm not sure how it defines traditional, but here is a picture from a game played in 1999 at this time of year and there is naturally no poppy in sight.

Also in the first BBC article, Wales is also mentioned:
Separately, the Football Association of Wales says it is seeking approval for its players to wear the poppy symbol on their shirts when they play Serbia at the Cardiff City Stadium on 12 November.

I would really like to know who at the FAW has instigated this. I'll be attending the match, and while I can't claim to speak for the 30,000 Wales fans and a few hundred Serbs who will be there, I'd like the FAW to consider this. During the last two World Wars there were many in Wales amongst those who fought and who conscientiously objected that held republican, socialist, Welsh nationalist and religious views quite opposite to those being expressed in this jingoistic hijacking of the wars and its victims. Those views are still held by many in Wales today, and disproportionately more so amongst those who follow the Welsh side and certainly those who attend matches.  There's also the awkward matter of the Serbian civilians who were killed by NATO airstrikes just sixteen years ago, so family members of these victims of the bombings and survivors are likely to be either in the crowd in Cardiff or watching the game on
TV in Serbia. What are they going to think I wonder?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Community councils conducting their business in Welsh - the biggerst threat to the West since ISIS and Russia?

The busy Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, has "slammed" the community council of Cynwyd (population 548) for, according to the BBC, refusing to change a Welsh-only policy.  A member of the public had complained that the community council conducts its meeting in Welsh and that not all its documents are available in English, although the council insisted there was a "reasonable translation process". Last year, Nick Bennett's predecessor also investigated the community council of Llansannan (population 1,335) for not providing some form of simultaneous translation into English at its meeting, although the complainant in that case already had a restraining order against him due to his behaviour towards two of the councillors, so its understandable that there were not any volunteers to sit next to him to translate everything in his ear - poor man had only been living in Llansannan for nearly thirty years, and still can't understand "that dreadful language".
Well, there are 735 town and community councils in Wales, and I don't think I've ever heard about any of them getting bollocked for conducting their business entirely in English. I havent checked all 735, but I picked 10 at random (I did search for others, but these were the first 10 that had websites), and the results will shock you!

Agenda / Minutes
Barmouth Town Council
English only
English only
Bridgend Town Council
English only
English only
Dolgarrog Community Council
English only
English only
Llanelli Town Council
English Only
Llantwit Major Town Council
English only
English only
Nelson Community Council
English only
English only
New Quay Town Council
Rhuddlan Town Council
English Only
Trefnant Community Council
English only
English only
Ystradgynlais Town Council
English only
English only

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Why the Tories may have persuaded me to tactically (against them)

Unlike 90% of the Welsh population, I don't hate the Tories - I just dislike them and wouldn't trust them. It's from their candidate in Cardiff West, Angela Jones-Evans, that I've received the most election material (around 6 or 7 different items), and what's pissed me off is the bull shit that's on it.

On a leaflet titled 'Our NHS' (which gives details of what David Cameron will do to the health service, despite it being a devolved matter), Angela claims she lives in Riverside, which I found strange as I know that she lives in Pontcanna. I raised this in the comments section of a post on the Cardiff Guardian blog, and the owner of the blog decided to contact the Angela to clarify where she actually lived. Her response was that Pontcanna is technically in the Riverside ward.
I could understand it if a Labour, Plaid Cymru or Lib Dem candidate had middle class guilt about living in a big house in a posh area, but I thought (and agree) with the Tory principle that if you work hard and therefore deserve getting paid lots, then you should not feel ashamed of living in a nice house in a nice area.

Another leaflet fro Angela arrived yesterday claiming that Plaid Cymru and Lib Dem voters will be voting for the Conservatives just to keep Gordon Brown form getting back in (although he's not standing in Cardiff West b.t.w.). There's even a quote on the back from 'Oliver from Llandaff' who says "I used to vote Lib Dem but want to see change in Cardiff West and Angela has won me over". By sheer coincidence, I have a Tory friend named Oliver who lives in Llandaff and as well as working for the Tories has been a Tory activist since he was in his nappy.

I'm sure this all pretty lame stuff compared to what is put in a lot of election leaflets, and for all I know all the other parties are doing the same, but this just riles me as I know it's all bull shit. Tories go on about change, but they're just carrying on the same tradition (of all parties) of trying to mislead people and treating the voting public like idiots. We want less of this, not more.

Nothing to do with Angela this time, but Quentin Langley, a Tory academic in Cardiff University is urging his party's candidate on Ynys Môn to target the second-home vote.

It is certainly a seat which the Conservatives can win from, technically, fourth place. It contains more English voters than almost any other in Wales as well as a great many native Welsh speakers.

One campaign idea which might have merit would be trying to persuade second home owners to vote in Ynys Mon rather than in their other constituency, though that might alienate other voters and might be difficult to organise in the timescale available. [taken from Plaid Wrecsam]
That is unforgivable. Again technically perfectly legitimate, but morally it is totally wrong and completely undemocratic.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tocynnau am ddim i Faes yr Eisteddfod, dydd Sul 1 Awst 2010
Free tickets to the Eisteddfod Maes on 1 August 2010

Cynllun mynediad am ddim
Ffurflen gais am docynnau am ddim i Faes yr Eisteddfod, dydd Sul 1 Awst

Llenwch y ffurflen hon i wneud cais am docyn rhad ac am ddim i Faes yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, ddydd Sul 1 Awst. Bydd tocyn yn cael ei anfon atoch drwy’r post yn ystod yr wythnosau nesaf os ydych yn llwyddiannus.

Hoffai Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru ddiolch i Lywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru am ariannu’r cynllun mynediad am ddim. Rhaid cwblhau pob rhan o’r ffurflen.

Edrychwn ymlaen i'ch gweld yn Y Gweithfeydd, Glyn Ebwy ar 1 Awst!

Free entry scheme
Application form for free tickets to the Eisteddfod Maes on 1 August 2010

Complete this form to apply for a free ticket to the National Eisteddfod Maes on Sunday 1 August. Tickets will be sent through the post during the next few weeks.

Applications from Blaenau Gwent and the Heads of the Valleys will be prioritised until 1 May when applications from all over Wales will be processed.

The National Eisteddfod would like to thank the Welsh Assembly Government for funding the free entry scheme.

We look forward to seeing you at The Works on 1 August!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Minority Languages and social networks

I'm taking part in exciting event next month called Hacio'r Iaith (Hacking the Language), a sort of BarCamp meets Hack Day with the emphasis being on looking at the use of Welsh on-line and exchanging ideas about potential future use.

There's a wiki for the event (rough translation by Google here)

Traditionally, if that's a word that can be used in this context, anyone who attends a BarCamp is encouraged to give a short presentation. I'm considering giving mine on social networking/web2.0 sites in minority languages, in particular ones that have been created from scratch as opposed to localised versions of other services. I've got e-mail address of a few Basque and Scottish Gaelic speakers that I can interrogate, but I'd like to find out whats happening in other languages, like say Irish, Galician, Breton etc. I found an useful table on the Web2.o article on the Basque Wikipeda which compares popular sites with local variations.

I'd love it if anyone could provided me with something similar for other languages, and if possible with numbers of member/users if applicable.

Related post
Welsh Wide Web

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is rather good: The 'official' unoffical Eisteddfod mash up.

Stwnsh 'Steddfod is a mash up website for the 2009 National Eisteddfod in Bala.

It includes
  • a comprehensive GoogleMap of the town that shows the location of all events and campsites as well as permanent local amenities like cash point, petrol station and supermarket
  • tweets on Trydar (Twitter)
  • photos from Flickr - there's already some on there now taken by people working on site
  • and most importantly (in my opinion) a list of events. The Eisteddfod's own website does on OK ish job of listing official events that take place in the pavilion and other large stages (albeit in an awkward mix of individual PDF and Word files - see bottom right on above link), but there's no central place to advertise the many small fringe events that makes the Eisteddfod tic.
This website shows that there's valuable (ok, that's questionable) Welsh language content out there that can be re-used and brought together to provide useful information. I don't think the Eisteddfod realise that it would be in their interest to help promote more of what takes place on and outside the maes during Eisteddfod week and how it can either draw new people to the festival or encourage those who visit to stay longer. If it wasn't for work commitments, I'd have really liked to be at Gorsedd y Gîcs (Geek Meet) on Thursday, but will probably have to make do with a single visit on the last Saturday.

Stwnsh 'Steddfod was knocked together in less than a week by a small group in their spare time.
If the Eisteddfod was clever, it would create o competition for next years Eisteddfod (in Ebbw Vale) for young (and old) website creators to come up with something similar, but better.

See also:
Newbie guide to the Eisteddfod (mainly in English)

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Chwarae teg to The Telegraph

I'd never thought I'd say this, but fair play to The Telegraph. All too often, the (very few) stories in the London papers about Wales, particularly the Welsh language are limited to 'daft' tales about people getting their heads stuck between railings or some lazy piece about the inconvenience that bilingual signs cause to visitors from England.
In the past to days there have been two stories regarding the Welsh language, neither positive unfortunately, but that's not due to the Telegraph. It's important that these injustices are widly reported.
The first, Welsh campaigner refuses to sign prison release forms written in English was about veteran language campaigner Ffred Ffransis' latest stint in prison. He was sentanced to 5 days imprisonment for an incident that happend 8 years ago.
In Parc Prison (in Bridgend, Wales), he was not allowed to take a Welsh New testament with him as they already provide English language bibles. As a vegetarian, he would have had to sign a special form to request vegetarian meals, but as the form was in Enlgish only, he decided not to sign it and there fore ate only potatoes. He was entitled to be relased afer three days, but again was presented wiyth an Englsih only release form , which he refused to sign. Eventually the prison allwed him to be realeased early without signing the form - they probably couldn't wait to get rid of him!
The second was about a Patagonian woman who was sent back to her home country after British immigration officials refused to believe she was travelling to Wales to learn Welsh. Acording to the newspaper paper reviewer on Radio Cymru this morning, this story not only appeared on the front page of the Telegraph, they also wrote a comment piece on it (well, why pass up the change to bash the beaurocrats!).
Both stories seemed to be written in a sympathetic tone.
The second story is quite worrying as many people travel to Wales each year to learn or improve their Welsh. Each summer, Cardiff University hold a four week long intensive residential course (for all levels), which attracts around a dozen Patagonians each time, as well as North Americans, people from Europe and Japan. A similar week long summer courses are held at Coleg Gwent in Abergavenny who also attract learners from abroad. Next year, I've been asked to organise activites for Cymdeithas Madog's trip to Cardiff next year - Cymdeithas Madog are a North American Society who organise annual week long Welsh courses in various locations in the US and Canada, but come to Wales every 4/5 years. Their last visit was to Carmarthen when around 80+ members came along. These visitors spend a LOT (bearing in mind how much North Americans eat and how much Patagonians like to drink - just kidding, guys!), so let them in, for the sake of the Welsh economy.