LONELY PLANET: Travel guide’s top destinations for 2017

This time last year, renowned travel and adventure guide Lonely Planet published a list of recommendations for travellers in 2017, for top countries and regions that the adventurous globetrotter just had to check out. Lonely Planet got together with people in the know, and spoke with numerous publishers, travel authors and members of its travelling subscriber community. It then compiled their recommendations in the magazine ‘Best In Travel’, listing the ten best cities, regions and countries the energetic and fun-loving trip junkie must visit for this year. Yes, 2017 is only good for three months more, but these destinations are planning to stick around for much longer, and are perfect for your 2018 travel plans.

 

COUNTRIES:

Canada – The land of the maple leaf, ice hockey and scrummy Tim Horton’s doughnuts made the number one slot in Lonely Planet’s guide. According to the guide, Canada’s rise to the top was helped by the election of its prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose arrival in Ottawa heralded a wave of national optimism. Other factors cited included the favourable exchange rate for Canadian dollars and the festivities the country is organising to celebrate 150 years of confederation which created Canada as a single political entity.

Colombia – after decades as a no-go zone due to an ongoing civil war, Colombia recently saw the signing of peace treaties between the government and far-left jungle rebels, and finally after 50 years of conflict, things are looking up for this undiscovered South American locale. This hope and the country’s outstanding natural beauty, vibrant culture and friendly people means Colombia takes the runner-up prize.

The top 10 countries – 

  1. Canada
  2. Colombia
  3. Finland
  4. Dominica
  5. Nepal
  6. Bermuda
  7. Mongolia
  8. Oman
  9. Myanmar
  10. Ethiopia

CITIES:

In first place for the best cities to visit in 2017, is the picturesque southern French city of Bordeaux. Lonely Planeters rated Bordeaux for its fine gastronomy, and no surprises, its vineyards and wine-making. After Cape Town in South Africa in second place, Los Angeles in the US came third, for its cultural, gastronomic and commercial diversity. Neighbouring Mexico’s Merida appears in fourth position, buoyed by its nomination as American City of Culture 2017, and its food culture.

The top 10 cities – 

  1. Bordeaux, France
  2. Cape Town, South Africa
  3. Los Angeles, USA
  4. Mérida, Mexico
  5. Ohrid, Macedonia
  6. Pistoia, Italy
  7. Seoul, South Korea
  8. Lisbon, Portugal
  9. Moscow, Russia
  10. Portland, USA

REGIONS:

Latin America has done favourably well in the most rated regions by Lonely Planet. Leading the pack is the Peruvian region of Choquequirao (Apurimac Valley), which was lauded by travellers for its unique opportunities to immerse oneself in the local Inca culture. Latin America is also represented at sixth place, with Chile’s Aysén in southern Patagonia, home to breathtaking glacial waterfalls fuelled by the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. The water in Aysén is said to be so fresh and cool, it imparts a unique flavour to the local beer.

The top 10 regions – 

  1. Choquequirao, Peru
  2. Taranaki, New Zealand
  3. Azores Islands, Portugal
  4. North Wales, United Kingdom
  5. South Australia
  6. Aysén, Chile
  7. Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia
  8. Georgia Coast, USA
  9. Perak, Malaysia
  10. Ring of Skellig, Ireland

Best in Travel also showcases the top 10 value-for-money destinations globally as well as rankings of places to experience in Asia, Europe and the United States, as well exploring 2017’s newest travel trends.

You can see Lonely Planet’s recommendations at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel

DISCLAIMER: Lonely Planet has not endorsed or commissioned this article. This feature is based on a Spanish-language article from a third party.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Tweet Hispano, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/TweetHispano

“Los mejores destinos turísticos para viajar en 2017 según ‘Lonely Planet’ ” – GrandesMedios.com/Grandes Medios (26 October 2016) https://www.grandesmedios.com/mejores-destinos-turisticos-2017/

“Best in Travel 2017” – Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free photo: Luggage, Holiday, Travel, Summer – Free Image on Pixabay – 1149289” – stux, Pixabay (29 December 2015) https://pixabay.com/en/luggage-holiday-travel-summer-sea-1149289/

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SCIENCE EXPERIMENT: Making plasma in the microwave

 

A cool science experiment you can carry out at home in your kitchen for next to nothing in cost, and a chance to see plasma in action. Plasma is a state of material that is rarely encountered naturally on Earth but is a core component of stars.

The plasma is generated by a combination of combustion and the microwave’s electric fields. Electrons are pushed back and forth, colliding with air molecules. It is these collisions that science says causes the formation of a ‘plasmoid’ which being hotter that the surrounding air, causes it to rise up to the top.

This experiment is quite easy to set up and uses things like jars and matches that you can find around the house. Be warned however, that you should do your research beforehand, as the plasma experiment can go wrong if not set up properly. Also it’s best not to use your flatmate’s expensive microwave just in case.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Elle Eff, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Elle_Eff247

Science GIFs, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Learn_Things

Chemical Reactions, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/ChemistryReacts

“Make a ball of plasma in a microwave” – Amie, Wonder How To Science Experiments/WonderHowTo, Inc (6 September 2008) https://science.wonderhowto.com/how-to/make-ball-plasma-microwave-194331/

“Q & A: Plasma from a flame in the Microwave” – Tom, Ask the Van/Department of Physics – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (22 October 2007) https://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=819

VIJAY’S VIRASAT: Restaurant with a familiar name

Those of you who have been following this blog since the earliest days will now that the editor/blogger/journalist (i.e. me) who runs the blog is named Vijay. Those who know me in real life also know of my reputation as a bit of a foodie. So the next bit will be quite interesting.

I live in Ilford, just east of the big smoke in the United Kingdom they like to call London, and within a 5 or so mile radius from my home are three establishments involved in the food industry that bare my name. First, there’s Vijay’s Chawalla, a Gujarati vegetarian restaurant located in Green Street, Upton Park. I was fortunate enough to visit the Chawalla many eons ago and their fare is amazing and sumptuous. Jumping back to Ilford again, you can take a trip down the High Road to Seven Kings, where you can buy all your kitchen staples at Vijay’s General Store, situated on the Green Lane. Now before you all start thinking I’ve turned into some kind of Richard Branson figure, buying up stores and restaurants, living it up on a yacht moored in Monaco, and giving Tesco et al. nightmares in the boardroom, I do not own the above mentioned establishments. I’m just lucky enough to have the same first name. And of course, my family and friends use the resto names as good ammunition to tease me with.

 

Recently a new Indian restaurant has joined the Vijay’s club. With the catchy and alliterated desi name of Vijay’s Virasat, this eaterie found its forever home in Horns Road, Ilford, not far from the junction of the A12 motorway (Eastern Avenue) and Ley Street, just north of where HEM News Agency’s HQ is based. The area around the junction is a shopping and eating out paradise, home to many high street stores, homeware vendors and other restaurants such as Mirage and Restaurant Oasis. This part of the Newbury Park district lies slap-bang between two residential areas, so guaranteeing a healthy footfall from a business perspective.

Vijay’s Virasat  was brought to you by the Vijay behind the aforementioned Chawalla, and a Indian sweet shop called, not surprisingly, Vijay’s Sweet Mart. For three decades, my very astute namesake has been bringing vegetarian Indian food to the denizens of east London, and with Virasat, this is their first foray into the curry-and-poppadom sort of Indian cuisine most people in the UK are familiar with.

The restaurant, which unlike the other businesses in the Vijay’s portfolio offers non-veg in addition to veg, is a modern celebration of the culinary crossing over and intermingling of British and Indian cultures that took place during the days of the Empire, as well as the influences on Indian cooking from Central Asia, Portugal and the lands of Arabia. After many centuries of this cultural mixing in the kitchens of south Asia, it has culminated in the menu of Vijay’s Virasat, with its Mughal and regional influences, with a little East African food thrown in for the British Asians who came from there.

You get the standard things and dishes you would find in a Indian restaurant, such as a tandoor (clay oven) for making naans and chicken dishes and the usual curries, rice, rotis, snacks etc etc. There are two different types of starters available, with a choice of vegetable, chicken, lamb and seafood mains to tantalise your tastebuds.

Some unusual and different menu highlights include the ‘Chicken Lollipop’ (chicken drumsticks deep-fried in a Chinese batter and then tossed in a hot garlic sauce), the ‘Chicken 1965’, which is not a dodgy electro music outfit but “spicy fried chicken tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds and chillies”, Konkani fish masala, chilli and garlic flavoured naans and matka kulfi, a type of ice cream.

Thankfully for my reputation, Vijay’s Virasat has largely been a hit with London’s spoilt-for-choice diners, with the restaurant achieving a rating of 4.7 out of five stars on Facebook, but hey that’s how us Vijays roll!!

I have not yet had a chance to sample the dishes and the ‘rapturous experience’ of dining at the Virasat, and it certainly looks good. When I get round to it, I’ll tell you all about it.

 

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

Vijay’s Virasat, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/vijaysvirasat/

Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/ 

“About Us” – Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/#about-us

“Menu” – Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/#our-menus

“Reviews” – Vijay’s Virasat, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/pg/vijaysvirasat/reviews/

 

A TOWN NAMED ROTTENEGG: Monarch Airlines encourages people to visit unfairly named locations

London – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

You are probably right now in the midst of booking your summer break to somewhere in Europe. Perhaps it is somewhere well-known, cultural, fun and touristy. Some place like Barcelona, London, Venice, Valletta or even Belgrade. However, maybe you want to sample a different, new and off-the-beaten-track destination this time round. How about Hell, in Norway, Piles in Spain, or God forbid, the simple hamlet of Twatt in the Orkney Islands, off Scotland. While visiting destinations with giggle-inducing names might give Instagram bragging rights to some teens, most families would baulk at the idea of visiting a place name that sounds like an intimate body part. Step forward, flight company Monarch, has launched a campaign as part of their ‘Year of Nice’ to encourage people to get over their misgivings and give places like Windpassing (there are four of them in Austria’s Niederoesterreich region) a chance, as they are often locales with beautiful scenery and attractions to discover.

One in six British holidaymakers would be put off going to a place if it had an unsavoury name. Yet they are missing out on some truly unique places. Why not take a seat in Piles, in Spain’s sunny Valencia region, not too far from the Costas of the Catalan coast and the arty metropolis of Barcelona. Despite it’s name’s awkward resemblance to a painful condition, Piles is very comfortable, with its own clean and flat beach. Also in Spain, you can head over to Andalusia and visit the traditional town of El Moron, a decision that will not make you look like an idiot. Ironically, El Moron has produced one of Spain’s most eminent archaeologists, so it is clearly not a town of tanned hicks.

For staycations closer to home, try the hamlet of Nasty in Hertfordshire, an hour’s or so drive from London. This picturesque and quintessentially English cluster of twenty or so buildings is anything but nasty, and many Londoners have in fact moved there to take advantage of the fresh rural air and bucolic countryside, even if they are reluctant to tell their friends in the big city where exactly they have upped sticks too.

For more oddly-named villages and towns to inspire you, take a look at the video below, featuring presenter Laura Hamilton.

 

SOURCES/VIDEO CREDIT:

SWNS digital/72Point http://www.swnsdigital.com/

 

AKTSIZNAYA MARKA: The online tax stamps collection of Andrey Vasiunin

If you live in a European, African, Asian or South American country, and are a smoker or know smokers, you may have noticed fancy little labels stuck onto the cigarette boxes or other tobacco products you encounter. Attached like a stamp on an envelope but with the ornate designs and security features of paper money, these little slips of intricacy are neither truly stamps or banknotes.

They are in fact cigarette and tobacco tax stamps, a method of collecting taxes by governments. While most countries and territories levy tax on goods such as tobacco and alcohol – the so-called ‘sin taxes’ due to the health implications of using these products – only some issue these special stamps which are attached to the packets by manufacturers in their factories. They are a really elaborate way of saying “Yes, I paid up the tax on my products”. Tax stamps also help tax officials and consumers distinguish the real deal from counterfeit, and often very dangerous, tobacco products. The stamps also act as a quality seal, positioned on the packaging in such a way that opening the box or pouch breaks apart the stamp, so a whole, undamaged stamp means a fresh and non-tampered pack of 20.

 

Most tax stamps are issued by national governments, who usually delegate the task of printing millions of stamps to their finance ministries or tax boards, depending on the administration. According to Professional Security Magazine Online, more than 140 billion tobacco and alcohol stamps are produced annually by more than 150 different national and state agencies. As tax agencies tackle an increasing tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting industry and the resulting need to safeguard tax revenues, they have made their stamps more and more complex, including hard-to-forge features such as holograms, machine-readable elements, UV and infra-red printing, complicated patterns and other security features. These attempts to thwart Ben and his cross-Channel smuggling band of chums flogging cheap ciggies at the local pub have had the added effect of making tax stamps more attractive as a collector’s item

Tax stamps have been around since the 19th century, but most people pay little attention to them. Nevertheless a community of collectors have grown around the humble and official-looking stickers, also known as banderoles or excise stamps. While nowhere near as popular as its cousin, postage stamp collecting, many have come to appreciate the hobby and of course, the beauty and collectible nature of these items. Indeed, early 20th century tax stamps from the United States’ Internal Revenue government body and 19th century European issues can fetch more than £5,000 on auction sites among dedicated hobbyists and investors in collectibles.

Andrey Vasiunin, a resident of Russia’s capital Moscow and the guitar and keyboard player of doom metal band Armaga, is probably the closest thing to a celebrity in the tax stamp collecting universe. A Korolev-born father of one who graduated in economics from the G.V. Plekhanov REA educational institute, Vasiunin caught the ‘collecting bug’ early on in his childhood, gathering up collections of badges, toys and wrappers in his school days. He even built up a fine dossier of the phrase “I love you” in various languages. Then in 2001, while lounging around on a fine and warm July summer’s day in his garden, smoking a cigarette, Vasiunin noticed the tax stamp perched nonchalantly on his smokes. His curiosity piqued, he admired the colourful patterns of the stamp’s design and became hooked. He peeled off the stamp and tucked it into his wallet.

It was this chance counter with a Russian ‘aktsiznaya marka’ or excise stamp, that would be the first step in Andrey Vasiunin’s ascendancy to become one of the leading lights of the hobby. He undertook a trip to the Czech Republic, where he encountered a different breed of tax stamp. Further intrigued, Vasiunin filched the Czech versions too, straight into his wallet. He then chanced upon Italian and French examples affixed to the pages of a friend’s notebook. Soon word of Vasiunin’s new and unorthodox hobby began to circulate among his friends, and tax stamps from across the globe started filling up his wallet. His addiction to tax stamps became so insatiable that he spent a day at a customs depot, going through cigarette packets being shipped in from the rest of Europe and removing their stamps for his collection.

As the Internet became established in Vasiunin’s home country, he decided to embrace the new technology, placing his stamp collection online for the world to see. In 2005, he created a website, akciza.narod.ru. Written bilingually in Russian and English and featuring scanned images of his prized specimens, Vasiunin’s one-stop tax stamp gallery on the Information Superhighway became the world’s first and currently only one of two such websites dedicated to tax stamps for tobacco and alcohol. Within a period of seven years, Vasiunin acquired nearly 600 stamps and cigarette seals from a hundred countries, many donated by good friends and fellow hobbyists who he met online.

In 2008, Andrey Vasiunin switched web service providers and unveiled a new and heavily upgraded site “Tax Stamps Collection of Vasiunin Andrey” with a more detailed look, customised header graphics and a bigger selection of images drawn from his collection, which now numbers more than 2,000 examples. With its distinctive vintage appearance and interactive gallery of Vasiunin’s collection, scanned in great detail and sorted by geographical region, countries and territories, the site has become a detailed window into this unknown hobby. According to Flag Counter, his e-collection has received more than 9,000 visits from over 6,000 visitors representing 175 countries. The highlight of the ‘Tax Stamps Collection’ is definitely its gallery, with stamps arranged as if though in a high-quality album, like the heavy-duty pricey ones you can find in stamp collector’s hobby outlets. Each image enlarges when clicked on, allowing you to appreciate the full beauty and detail of each of Vasiunin’s stamps. The issues for each territory are arranged in chronological order from oldest to newest. Fellow collectors can also arrange to swap and sell stamps to Andrey, with the website maintaining a guestbook for collectors to introduce themselves and interact with Andrey.

More recently, Vasiunin has branched out into social media, opening a Facebook version of his hit site – www.facebook.com/TaxStamps – where he showcases the latest additions to his collection. The Facebook page has already accrued a small community of nearly 200 fellow collectors.

You can visit Andrey Vasiunin’s site at www.tax-stamps.com

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDITS:

“TAX STAMPS” – Andrey Vasiunin http://www.akciza.narod.ru/index2.html

“About Me” – Andrey Vasiunin, Tax Stamps Collection of Vasiunin Andrey http://www.tax-stamps.com/about

“Collection” – Andrey Vasiunin, Tax Stamps Collection of Vasiunin Andrey http://www.tax-stamps.com/collection

Andrey Vasiunin’s Facebook profile.

Cigarette tax stamps collection, Andrey Vasiunin, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TaxStamps/

Flag Counter http://flagcounter.com/

“Track and trace” – Professional Security Magazine Online (10 July 2017) http://www.professionalsecurity.co.uk/news/interviews/track-and-trace/

“Armaga” – Spirit of Metal http://www.spirit-of-metal.com/groupe-groupe-Armaga-l-en.html

RELOCATION, RELOCATION, RELOCATION: HEM News Agency moves office

This May Bank Holiday Monday, HEM News Agency writes to our beloved fans and readers from a new home office in Ilford, only a short walking distance from the town centre, after four years in the Plaistow area of east London.

For those of you not familiar with Ilford, it is a suburban district which sits just to the east of London. Traditionally part of Essex, Ilford is today considered an outer stretch of Greater London. Home to hundreds of homes, offices and shops (including the great Ilford Exchange shopping centre), the area is becoming increasingly popular with people looking to escape the rising house prices and rents of London itself, and some have described it as ‘upcoming’. Ilford is very hectic, but also relaxed at the same time. It is an ethnically diverse area and I have also family around here, many of them established here for years.

 

 

I arrived here on Saturday, 27th May 2017, after seven hours’ packing and cleaning, hiring an estate car to take me and all my belongings. For a month before, after my landlord served notice on me to leave, I was frantically searching for another room to rent (and base my blogs from too) and had to deal with a lot of timewasters. Finally a week ago, I got in touch with an estate agent in Seven Kings, Ilford, who showed me the property. I was satisfied with the room, and duly handed over the monies, including their eye-wateringly steep agency fees.

As mentioned before, I had been previously living and blogging from a houseshare in south Plaistow, close to Barking Road, and a stone’s throw from Canning Town and the border with Tower Hamlets borough. The landlord, who lived in the property with us, one day wanted a ‘quick chat’ with me, and that’s when he dropped the bombshell. For the day job, he worked as a solicitor with his own firm, and after he took over the firm in its entirety, suddenly found himself with boxes and boxes of case files relating to the law firm’s clients filling up his office. As a result, he proceeded to punch a hole through the ceiling to create an access point to the house loft, leaving my room covered in dust.

Back to the conversation, he told me that he wanted to stop renting out the house to lodgers, and that he needed my room first to convert into storage space for those files. He also planned to move his daughter and grandchildren into the house too. Once the smoke from the bomb cleared, I realised my time was up. It was my signal to exit stage right.

Here in Ilford, the Bank Holiday break has given me a chance to more or less familiarise myself with my new room, house and housemates. Not everything is perfect or ideal, but this is the nature of flatsharing. I am impressed with the room though, and am adapting quickly to the rhythm of this place.

As the Half-Eaten Mind Blog, this site began life in another houseshare in Stratford five years ago. Since then, I have moved twice. Moving and hunting around for places to call home is very stressful I can tell you, but until I can save enough for a deposit for my own home, this is my reality. Renting rarely provides stability. I plan to stay here in Ilford another year or two, then possibly look to progressing to a rented studio apartment, or maybe try for a mortgage, depending on my situation then.

New location, same great articles.

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Ilford station signage 2015 01.JPG” – Sunil060902, Wikimedia Commons (13 June 2015) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ilford_station_signage_2015_01.JPG

A MEAL FOR EIGHT (LEGS): How spiders catch their food

Our planet is home to around 35,000-50,000 species of spider (the estimates vary), the vast majority of which spin webs made out of silk generated inside the spider’s body. As any arachnid expert will tell you, spiders weave their silky masterpieces primarily as a means of obtaining food. With strands stronger than the equivalent thickness of steel, spider webs are covered with sticky substances that ensnare their prey, trapping flies and even birds and snakes, ready for the web’s resident to deliver its venomous coup de grâce.

When an insect flying about and minding its own business collides with a web, which is often designed to be invisible until it is too late, the impact creates vibrations that alert the spider. Spiders have extra sensitive hairs on their legs, which are attuned to pick up the slightest movement coming from the web’s fabric.

However, arachnologists have not yet figured out how exactly the spider interprets the movement signals when its equivalent of a pizza delivery happens. In 2016, a team of scientists from the American state of Oregon decided to try and solve this puzzle by creating a web of their own.

Using nylon from parachutes, the team built a web that replicated a traditional ‘spoke’ layout, popularly associated with spiders. The strands of yarn were arranged radially and were held taut by a specially constructed machine with an aluminium frame, alongside an attachment resembling a spider placed centrally, as can be seen with garden spiders and orb weavers.

 

 

The vibrations caused by insects were reproduced with the help of a subwoofer-type speaker, and the spiral of the web was emulated with elastic cords. Ross Hatton, a member of the research team at Oregon State University, told GrandesMedios.com, the source of this story, of how realistic they made the web experiment, explaining that they used two different types of nylon rope, just as spiders use two different types of silk.

The artificial spider in the middle was calibrated to pick up vibrations from the speaker, even the slightest ones. As Hatton explained: “We started with the hypothesis that if you moved one of the radial lines slightly, the arachnid perceived that one moved more than the others,

“We also speculated, that the spider would go towards the line that undergoes a variation in its movement”

In other words, Hatton and his team expected the spider in real life to gravitate towards the line of silk from which the most movement was travelling from. However the result of the experiment was quite different from the team’s original hypothesis.

Far from being a simple case of only a single strand of the web notifying that it caught dinner, the team discovered that the cobweb gave off a complex pattern of vibrations, with some sections of the web being more sensitive than others. According to Hatton, at different frequencies of sound from the speaker, different web strands and layouts did not vibrate at all. Different parts and strands of the web vibrated only at certain frequencies and remained unresponsive at others.

These different frequencies of vibration are believed to help the spider identify what type of prey had crashed into its web, and perhaps also help it distinguish between live prey and inedible objects such as leaf fragments and debris. The study, which redrew the way people thought about how arachnids predate, was presented at the American Physical Society conference recently.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Tecnología GM, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/TecnologiaGM

“Cómo perciben las arañas a las víctimas que caen en su red” – GrandesMedios.com/Grandes Medios (6 April 2016) https://www.grandesmedios.com/asi-detectan-las-aranas-a-sus-victimas/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Spider and web” – Dwight Sipler, Flickr (23 September 2009) https://www.flickr.com/photos/62528187@N00/3948508109/in/photolist-71V8U2-9ReV6c-aqKQGv-dpdK7M-5roAqX-5roEwn-5roBTv-DV9Eq-mYCVp-6Hu2Eb-5tj1DG-9oBvU-jG4wh-8JZa3e-a9A2a9-8WDwtQ-afhCqA-8yN4WL-5vSbKd-e2eBjU-aj8tGX-6QTWyn-4VgnTS-4Vc9mt-9aCUoX-4WYuxd-6bSLvd-51ycz-4rhGUq-31bfxS-316GzT-316xNt-316yCg-31b8K7-31b9dh-31b4TG-316z6p-316wva-31bbq9-31bdXs-31b3iw-31b64m-316EZD-31b7tU-316xwZ-31b8nG-31bdvo-31bcvw-316y1V-31baXE-316w2a

INSTAGRAM: 18 facts and statistics you probably never knew

Instagram is currently one of the world’s most popular social networks by usage and membership. Owned by Facebook, and lovingly known by its fans as simply ‘Insta’, the site is a valuable treasure trove of pictures and memories and offers a glimpse into the lives of its 600 million or so active users. While Instagram has developed a reputation as a bit of a narcissist’s heaven with many users flooding it with selfies, posing like there is no tomorrow, it also has become a valuable resource for creatives such as photographers and graphic designers to showcase their work, and many celebrities use it to give their fanbase a way of keeping up to date with their daily goings-on. And of course, if you ever feel hungry or have no idea what’s for supper tonight, then Instagram’s impressive collection of food photos is the ideal place for culinary inspiration. Not to mention those awesome filters.

 

 

With the help of content, social media and online marketing blog The Social Ms, here are twenty facts and statistics about the photo-sharing network you probably had no idea about.

  1. By the end of 2016, Instagram reported it had 600 million active users, that is, people who use their accounts and upload photos or images. This is an additional 100 million shutterbugs joining the service since September 2015
  2. Instagram has a rapidly increasingly ‘growth base’ with rises of 15 per cent, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In the United States alone (its biggest market), the number of users is expected to hit 116.3 million (34.8 per cent of the then population) and become the second-most popular social network, overtaking Twitter, fellow photo social network Pinterest and micro-blog Tumblr, according to recent figures by eMarketer.
  3. Not surprisingly, just like all social networks, Insta is a hit with the young ‘uns. For all age groups of Internet users, 28 per cent use it, 55 per cent of people between the ages of 18-29 are Insta-fanatics, forming its largest demographic, according to the Pew Research Center in the US. The centre also reported that 52 per cent of teens aged between 13 and 17 were also fans of Instagram.
  4. Instagram has good product loyalty. Fifty-nine per cent of its users post daily, and another 17 per cent use it at least once weekly, according to the Pew Research Center.
  5. The site has enjoyed massive growth rates in some subjects, according to MediaPost. Beauty (74% growth rate), ‘big box’ (128%) and household goods (149%) have been some of the most popular topics, at least for businesses using their Instagram accounts to promote their goods to private users. For the rest of us, I assume selfies probably have a growth rate of 100,000 per cent (I kid).
  6. Instagram is big money for marketers. In 2015, it netted advertising revenue of USD $500 million (GBP £407 million). It is expected that this year, Insta will make more money from its advertising platform on American mobile handsets than Google and Twitter, claims eMarketer.
  7. Although Instagram is US-founded and run by a big American tech company, most of its success has been from outside. Eighty per cent of its users are non-American.
  8. Over 80 million photos are uploaded per day. There is believed to be more than 40 billion images crammed into Insta’s servers and users generate an astonishing 3.5 billion likes per day, says ClickZ.
  9. The most prestigious account, going by popularity and celebrity anyway, is the one owned by U.S. singer Selena Gomez. She has 99.5 million followers allegedly.
  10. The most liked photo over all of Insta was one by reality show star Kendall Jenner. The picture of her lying on her back, eyes closed with her hair spread out and arranged into hearts got 3.5 million likes.
  11. If you post a photo, fifty per cent of comments will appear within six hours, meaning a good post will stick around and not get lost in the noise.
  12. Instagram is quite secure, with only eight per cent of its accounts said to be fake, according to an unnamed Italian security firm.
  13. Like any social network, people sometimes do get bored of posting or other things happen in their life that pull them away. The same Italian firm discovered that nearly 30 per cent of account are rarely used or inactive, usually posting one post per month or less, according to Business Insider.
  14. For businesses, Insta is marketing gold. Forrester published stats that suggest people engage with brands ten times more on Insta than they do on Facebook. Facebook ads are annoying, I grant you that.
  15. One-third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online.
  16. Fifty-three per cent of Instagrammers, as fans are sometimes called, are following brands.
  17. As humans love seeing faces, this fact is probably not surprising, but selfies and group photos on average are 38 per cent more likely to get liked, than other kinds of pictures, such as inanimate objects.
  18. The most Instagrammed food is… pizza.

 

SOURCES:
HEM Bloggers List, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-bloggers-list
Susanna Gebauer‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/dreckbaerfrau
“20 Instagram Facts And Statistics You Should Know” – Susanna Gebauer, The Social Ms/Friendly Fellows UG (haftungsbeschränkt) (23 September 2016) https://blog.thesocialms.com/19-instagram-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know/
IMAGE CREDIT:
freestocks.org via Pexels (13 January 2016) https://www.pexels.com/photo/lg-smartphone-instagram-social-media-35177/

SULLEE J: Bad Habits

 

Accomplished Baltimore rapper Sullee J returns with a new single as he recently announced his new signing with Bogish Brand Ent. in the United States. This new track is entitled ‘Bad Habits’ and sees Sullee J pay homage to his Pakistani heritage by dropping a bilingual flow in English and Urdu, the national langauge of Pakistan, of which Sullee is a fluent speaker.

Bad Habits, also called ‘Old Habits’, or in Urdu ‘Jiyu Kaise’ speaks on the battles between culture and politics. Produced by AnnoDominiBeats, the music video starts off with the sights of the once-glorious city of Detroit, the erstwhile ‘Motor City‘ of the Americas. Sullee J appears near some cool street art and immediately drops some Urdu lyrics with his unmistakable delivery and raw emotion, before moving onto English. It is a powerful song, which speaks of the bad and good of human society and the struggle of existence in an international theatre of hate and war, interspersed with video and news footage of the tragedies unfolding in the Middle East, some of which is raw and unsettling for some viewers. 

Some words extracted from the hook which Sullee J has translated especially are “How can I live like this? am I also suppose to break hearts, or help join them? Everywhere I look, it always seems corrupt, it feels like this whole life is a game, and people will do whatever to win in it, How can I live like this?”

Bad Habits is now out on YouTube and you can download the MP3 version on SoundCloud.

 

 

officialsulleej.com

Twitter: @SulleeJ85

Instagram: @SulleeJ

 

SOURCE:
Team Justice.
IMAGE CREDIT:
SulleeJustice, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/sulleej85

BAGOOADUTH KALLOOA: The Mauritian of many talents

Flacq, MAURITIUS
VIJAY SHAH via Le Défi Media

The small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius may not have the clout of many other much larger countries when it comes to producing people that can be defined as ‘great’ and ‘multitalented’, but that does not mean that Mauritians are not capable of reaching those dizzy heights.

Enter Bagooaduth Kallooa. He has been described by Le Defi, one of Mauritius’ most widely read newspapers, as ‘a man of many talents’. He began his working life as a nurse working in patient care on the west coast of Mauritius, inspired by his humble origins, and his desire to help the poorer parts of society who rely on the island republic’s government-run hospitals. Kallooa’s talent and professionalism was quickly noticed by the health managers of Flacq Hospital, who readily promoted Kallooa to the position of head nurse, a role he still holds.

Bagooaduth Kallooa – second VP of the ICN and head nurse at Flacq Hospital in Mauritius – (c) Le Defi Media

Bagooaduth Kallooa also became keenly involved in the local trade union movement, as he understood the importance and hard work of looking after patients, where there is a major requirement of patience, sacrifice and a good dose of determination to heal the sick. He also understood, as a nurse himself, that he and his colleagues worked tirelessly and selflessly under very trying conditions, and he personally felt saddened by the negative and abusive attitude shown by some members of the public towards caregivers and other medical professionals just trying to do their job. Kallooa began organising trade union activities to protest against the difficult conditions nurses endure, as well as trying to build unions that are there “24/7” for their members and at the same time avoid the militant unionism that has annoyed many ordinary Mauritians in the past.

More than thirty years after Kallooa began his nursing journey, things have gone full circle for the multi-talented health professional, who also a keen photographer, sculptor and painter. He is the first Mauritian to be elected as Second Vice President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The ICN, founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1899 is a non-governmental organisation made up of worldwide national nursing organisations. It works to promote and guarantee the quality of patient care, lobbies for sound healthcare policies and to make strides in improving and developing the teaching of the profession. It currently has 16 million members in 137. Kallooa will have joint responsibility for the ICN’s activities in the Africa region, according to Le Défi.

Despite his keen involvement in a busy career and his new promotion to the ICN, Kallooa finds time to draw on his many creative talents. He practices painting, sculpture and photography, receiving several international awards for his photo work alone, including one memorable gong from the Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation, relating to a photography project he did on the theme of communication . He has exhibited his creations all over Mauritius and the world alongside the Alliance Française, often based on his observations of everyday mundane life, and in 2015, Kallooa travelled to China to showcase a photo exhibition of children he took pictures of in different countries over a span of 25 years. He donated the proceeds of the Chinese exhibition to the Girls Child Education Fund (GCEF), a charity that promotes the education of orphans internationally.

Kallooa is a shining example of not only the talents and determinations of Mauritius’ people, but also a solid lesson in how working hard and using your skills and talents to benefit others is in itself a blessing.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Le Défi Media Group, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/defimediagroup
“BAGOOADUTH KALLOOA: L’HOMME AUX MULTIPLES TALENTS” – Mario Boutia, LeDefi Media Group (23 April 2016) http://defimedia.info/bagooaduth-kallooa-lhomme-aux-multiples-talents-26161/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“BAGOOADUTH KALLOOA: L’HOMME AUX MULTIPLES TALENTS” – Mario Boutia, LeDefi Media Group (23 April 2016) http://defimedia.info/bagooaduth-kallooa-lhomme-aux-multiples-talents-26161/