A photo taken of the murti of Lord Ganesh at the Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal festival located in Love Lane, Mazgaon, Mumbai. Devotees of God as Ganesh are getting ready for the 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival which commences on the 24th August 2017.
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Johannesburg – VIJAY SHAH via CHRIS BAYNES and The Independent
A winner of the Miss South Africa beauty pageant has sparked controversy after visiting a home for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS while wearing protective gloves, the Independent newspaper of Britain reported today.
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters visited a soup kitchen in the major city of Johannesburg to meet with the orphans. She was seen wearing gloves, which have led observers to accuse her of being racist. She was handing out hot meals to the orphans as part of the Winter Soup Drive charity event at the Ikageng community centre in Johannesburg, organised by the city’s Maslow Hotel. The Miss South Africa, aged 22 and of mixed heritage, however insisted the gloves were worn for hygienic reasons as she was working with food. On Twitter, Nel-Peters showed herself sitting down on steps with some of the Ikageng orphans, eating soup and bread rolls with them.
The picture shows Nel-Peters wearing what appears to be white latex surgical gloves as she eats a roll. It sparked a backlash from other Twitter users who claimed Nel-Peters was being racist or that she was afraid of being ‘contaminated’ by the children, many of whom had lost parents to HIV/AIDS or suffered from the virus themselves. South Africa has one of the world’s highest numbers of infected people. The 2007 UNAIDS report estimated that 5,700,000 South Africans had HIV/AIDS, or just under 12% of South Africa’s population of 48 million.
One Twitter user wrote: “I want to know why she would put on latex gloves to touch black children.” Another said: “I really can’t believe ‘our’ Miss SA is wearing latex so that she can touch these kids!” A third suggested she wore gloves “to protect herself from black kids” because she feared they would “contaminate her”. The backlash soon grew into a Twitter hashtag competition, #MissSAChallenge, which went viral this past Thursday, where users began posting pictures of themselves wearing white latex gloves, making fun of the beauty queen’s decision.
Some posted photos of themselves wearing gloves to type at a desk, make a drink, and read a book.
The Ikageng centre has spoken out against the challenge. Its programme director, Carol Dyanti, said “All volunteers, including our staff members, wore gloves during the food preparation. It was mandatory.
“It was such successful day and I am sorry that the focus is now on the glovs (sic) rather than the positive impact it had.”
Nel-Peters also spoke out against the controversy, stating in the Independent story via an uploaded video on Twitter: “We were handing out food to young kids and that was the only intention with wearing the gloves.
“It was purely to be as hygienic as possible. I really feel like my intention were really misunderstood but I would like to apologise if I offended anyone.”
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who was born in Sedgefield in the Western Cape province in 1995, is a model who was crowned Miss South Africa this year and will go on to represent the country at the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants this year. Latex gloves are often worn by people working in catering and hospitality, as well as in the medical field, for reasons of hygiene and safety.
This week, a devastating fire tore through the Grenfell Tower, a residential block located in Kensington, London, causing major loss of life and homelessness in the early hours of June 14, 2017. A fire believed to have originated from an exploding fridge in a fourth-floor flat then spread rapidly through the 1970s tenement, housing mainly poorer Londoners. Aluminium cladding fixed to the outside of Grenfell Tower, which sits on the Lancaster West housing estate, and which was intended to smarten the structure’s appearance, may have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, trapping families and others behind thick smoke and burning debris.
According to the latest reports coming off of Twitter, London’s police authority, the Metropolitan Police service, believe that 58 Grenfell Tower residents are still missing, presumed deceased. The police force’s commander, Stuart Cundy, announced the figures via the social media website in the past hour. So far around 30 people are known to have died, but Cundy has warned that the figure is expected to rise, as firefighters comb through the gutted tower block.
Searches for the missing and dead were taking place yesterday, but were halted temporarily for safety reasons, but are resuming today. The Met have also promised families of the missing that “…. as soon as we can, we will locate and recover their loved ones”, according to tweeter Molly Hunter.
The government of British prime minister Theresa May has found itself under increasing pressure over its regulations governing safety provisions for the country’s, 4,000 or so tower blocks. Protests have taken place in Kensington itself and in central London demanding answers and justice for the victims.
The above video is of a GIF posted on Twitter by Liam Gibbons, a game maker and writer currently living in Melbourne, Australia. This special ‘funky light show’ as he calls it, features an assortment of differently-sized cubes and cuboids, five of which give off coloured light in a strictly defined pattern. The show responds to both mouse clicks and its own internal environment. Gibbons shared this as part of Twitter’s ‘Screenshot Saturday’ event, where game developers and CGI designers tweet snippets of their latest projects.
It is an interesting video, and not just in terms of the technology. From a perspective of aesthetics, the experiment is very calming and ordered and the flashes of different colours add a fun and funky vibe to Gibbons’ work.
Liam Gibbons has a background in game design and carries out both 2D and 3D projects with ease. His focus is on level design, environment design and virtual architecture. As a writer, Gibbons had been published by several games and CGI design publications including Unwinnable, Kill Screen, and Overland. Previous projects he has worked include ‘Take That Ya Lousy Dimension’, ‘Looking Back’, ‘Broken Space’, ‘Sais Quest’, ‘Metaheroes’ and ‘Shades Desending’.
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When Iyad Al-Baghdadi, an author and Arab democracy activist, recently tweeted about leaders of Daesh (so-called Islamic State) putting out an audio release calling for more fighters to join them in Iraq and Syria, as you would probably would not expect, the response from the Twittersphere was quite hilarious and served to ridicule the very nature of that organisation. Daesh, which has taken over large parts of the two Middle Eastern states have become notorious for their violence, sadism and religious and racial discrimination. This fightback by ordinary tweeters of the Muslim faith is especially relevant considering the strong presence of Daesh and other terrorist groups of all persuasions on Twitter, where accounts are used to disseminate propaganda and appeal for finances and fighters. The actions of Daesh and their supporters have led to a backlash against the everyday Muslim, many whom are resolutely against IS. A small victory against both Islamic State and Islamophobes by the wits of Twitter.
The following are the original comment from Al-Baghdadi and the amusing responses that followed:
Iyad Al-Baghdadi – ISIS leaders: We urgently call upon every Muslim to join the fight, especially those in the land of the two shrines (Saudi Arabia), rise.
Saladin Ahmed – Sorry, busy eating pie and playing video games with my kids.
Mohamed Djingo – Sorry, I am busy watching Netflix.
Idris – Sorry bruh it’s leg day tomorrow and I’ll be sore.
Tayyib ‘T’ Nawaz – Is ISIS going to help me with my assignments due in next week ?
Subhi – I’m behind in college credits as it is and I would rather drink bleach tbh (to be honest)
Ismail – Sorry lads, got a decent Football Manager save going atm (at the moment)
Saadat Ali Zia – I’ve got Star Wars on Sunday. Maybe later.
Sychlops – Sorry gotta see Twitter react to LVG (Louis van Gaal – Manchester United FC manager’s) sacking and Mourinho’s appointment.
RasheedAB – gotta do the dishes bruv
Mohamed Martell – Mate Chelsea are currently 3 pts above relegation and I have grad school applications due soon. Maybe next time?
This photo comes from the wildlife and travel collection of Zoraida Palacios, who describes herself as a defender and protector of animals. She is also an art lover with a degree in administration. The tweet was created by Britannia PR, known fully as Britannia Communications Partnership Digital Communications Agency. This public relations agency was ranked number one in a list of 500 agencies in March 2015 on Klout, Peer Index, Kred and Social Authority. Their Twitter account often shares amazing example of scenic and natural photography, as well as images from around the British Isles. They are based in London.
A woman in a dark blue dress attempts to liberate the sky from the clouds, summoning strength amidst the drab. She battles on, beyond the unforgiving and featureless landscape.
A photograph made by Russian photographer Katerina Plotnikova – another tale of wonderland – born in 1987, she specialises in graceful landscapes and people and animals embracing, uniting as one in friendship. She operates from Moscow.
This picture was shared by Traceyanne McCartney via Judy Adamson.
If ever you find yourself pulled over while driving and served a speeding ticket, or a police officer confiscates your Prosecco outside your local pub because they think you look out of it, the following fact may well give you a small amount of consolation the next time you run into the ‘po-po’.
According to the Facts In Your FaceTwitter account, the world’s most often arrested individual is a Mr. Henry Earl. He has been detained by police and sent to jail more than 1,500 times since 1970, mostly for public intoxication, in other words, being completely drunk…trolleyed…smashed…legless….sizzerped…on the streets.
Earl, who is also known by the alias James Brown, is a 64-year-old resident of the city of Lexington, Kentucky state, USA. Sadly his drinking addiction has seen him booked over 900 times alone in the past thirteen years, but the upside is that he has achieved a sort of cult status. There is even a website dedicate to his in-and-out-of-prison stats, named “What’s up with Henry Earl?”
“He likes to get drunk a lot. And he gets busted a lot. As in “900+ times in the last 13 years” a lot. He spends roughly twice as much of his life in jail as out. His rap sheet is pages and pages long. Henry would surely take the gold in any Boozer Olympics competition.” – Wee’s News.
Earl has so far spent 4,618 days inside for 1,030 catalogued offences. His average time spent in jail per year is 243 days, and in an average week, this gentleman will be eating cold porridge for 4.5 days and tasting sweet freedom instead for only two days. He has sadly spent several Christmases, Thanksgivings and birthdays behind bars.
Not much is known about him, but his first arrest was in July 1970 at the age of 20 for carrying a weapon. He is believed to be homeless and one local who has spoken with Earl believes that he has mental health issues and criticised the level of mental healthcare in the United States. Local officers have been accused of constantly picking on Earl and seeing him as an easy arrest, although they say he is detained for his own safety. Earl himself had often provoked matters by hurling people’s drinks onto police cars to score a ‘free ride’ to the cells. He has allegedly even asked local shopkeepers in the town of 300,000 to call the police even though he had not committed any crime. He is renowned for his bubbly personality, fierce independent streak and many tales to those who take the time to listen to him.
He often visited local fast food restaurants and would dance and tell jokes in order to get some money for a meal or alcohol fix. People likened him to the suave crooner James Brown, whose name Earl unofficially adopted. He is also beleived to have served in his homeland’s armed forces and was said to have survived a near-fatal head wound from an explosive device while going through a secret tunnel during the Vietnam War. Many of Lexington’s inhabitants and even some of the police officers have a high regard and fondness for Henry Earl and see him as a quirky local institution. One person who often encountered him at a local shelter, Ginny Ramsey, a co-founder of Lexington’s Catholic Action Center, told CNN: “You can’t help but love him, I tell you.
“He’s as honest as the day is long. With Henry Earl, you’re going to hear the truth.”
His cult status has won him a few thousand fans around the world, and a massive headache for the police force serving Fayette County, where Mr. Earl earns most of his infractions. The county jail, as is normal for American correctional facilities and police forces, posts ‘mugshots’ of their offenders. They apparently have tonnes of pictures of Henry. His impressive arrest tally forced Fayette County jailers to ask the owner of the popular sharing website Fark to cease linking to their offender databases as the thousands of visits were causing their servers to crash.
He now has his own theme song, fan videos and even a Firefox browser extension. You can also follow his status via RSS feeds.
In 2009, he was nearly successfully free from the demon drink in an alcohol recovery programme he was placed onto by the courts, but hit the bottle again after five months and a few days short of his graduation from the course, which would have entitled him to a home and food stamps. Currently he is still in jail, but the Lexington Catholic Action Center are trying to help Earl with his booze addiction and stop him from ever returning to the slammer again.
If you’re a Twitter user like me, you’ll know that the social media network with the cute blue bird is full of great advantages. A cool interface, brevity of messages, lots of photos and now videos to comb through, and the level of interaction with other users is second to none. You can keep updated on things that matter to you, whether your favourite sports teams, celebrities, artists, politicians etc. as well as your family and friends closer to home. And of course block or mute anyone who does your head in.
But nothing is perfect in life. Not even Twitter. Aside from the occasional and mildly annoying drunken tweet or unsolicited direct message (DM) ….not withstanding the recent controversies surrounding racist and sexist trolls abusing people on Twitter…there is also the scourge of bots. Fake accounts with dodgy names and quotes clearly slurped off a website somewhere, gift-wrapped with a stolen display picture (usually some random meme or woman), or that God-forsaken egg that usually is served up as default, sadly not with some sausages or bacon as well.
These bad eggs are the bane of the Twitterati. Although the admin behind the site are very good at obliterating most of the fake followers, new ones take their place with the speed and intensity of mushrooms on the forest floor after a long rainy spell. Talk about putting too many eggs in one basket.
According to a filing made by Twitter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2014, it is believed that bots and spam bots account for 14% of Twitter’s active user base. That is around 23 million accounts out of the 271 active users on there. Many of these bots are programmed to retweet garbage or clickbait articles. Not all bots are bad, indeed some are fun (such as the Wiener Schnitzel bot that retweets you every time you mention that phrase) but there are concerns that some may be a gateway for hackers or data miners. Other bots are created to boost up follower numbers in that never ending popularity contest of ‘Who has the most followers?’. There are some companies that will for a small fee get fake accounts to follow your every move and tweet, and inflate not only your follower count but also presumably your ego as well. They do a relatively roaring trade despite Twitter rules of usage prohibiting tweeters from enlisting the services of such ‘follower farms’.
No-one, and I mean no-one is safe from the attention of the bots. Not even celebrities or politicians. United States presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton is said to have once had 2 million fake or inactive followers and that only 44% of her followers are real, living, breathing people. She has also been accused of plumping up her 3 million follower figures with fake accounts, according to British newspaper The Daily Mail. Over here in the UK, former Member of Parliament Louise Mensch found herself in a bit of bother after a Twitter statistics and auditing website determined that 97% of her followers are counterfeits. Several other ministers and low-level politicians in her party, the Conservatives, also found their accounts’ popularity called into question amid flying accusations of wholesale fake follower shopping to boost party morale.
Personally I’ve seen more than my fair share of bots and dodgy Tweeters. On both my individual and blog accounts, I often receive up to five add requests from suspicious looking accounts. They are either accounts with Russian names and bios written in the Cyrillic alphabet or English language accounts with really strange names combining different ethnic origins. For example, recently I’ve been befriended by a Yuriko Dille, a Manika Boag, a Eustachius Knowler… other with half Arab or Indian or Japanese names affixed to Anglo-Saxon, Scottish or German surnames. They must shred up phone directories and randomly piece the names together like some sort of hellish Yellow Pages puzzle.
You can usually pick them off because their feeds are full of spammy retweets and their bio is some sort of quote. Other bots have nonsensical handles like @fnerit_elephantfartunicorn which is one of the main things I look out for when evading bots and fake accounts.
Last weekend I was having a Twitter conversation with a fellow blogger and keen writer, SD Cadman (a.k.a Sarika and Luna Elektra). Since we met on WordPress, we often have little chats of 140 characters or less, but this time there was a serious topic on hand. The conversation was inspired by an article I posted on @halfeatenmind about obtaining quality followers rather than just breaking numbers. We then got talking about fake followers, and how Sarika mentioned that they may well be bots sniffing out data for possibly nefarious purposes. We agreed that the worst bots were, in Sarika’s words, those that “act bloody human” or the “nonsense Factoid accounts”. We joked that we needed a weed whacker (a nice sharp blade) to remove these bots from Twitter like those pesky dandelions that never seem to give up sprouting over your smart well-manicured lawn.
Here’s a GIF she sent me to illustrate the frustration with these meddling dregs of AI….
In a nutshell, what Sarika proposed is that Twitter should have some kind of ‘Weed Whacker Award’ for the person who culls the most bots. That can mean ignoring them when they coming knocking at your account’s door, reporting them to Twitter, but most importantly of all, not adding them, as that gives them legitimacy and access to your followers list. Twitter does often undertake regular purges of fake followers, exterminating them like the filthy rats they are, but new ones keep cropping up. The winner of the bot wipeout can receive a certificate in the post or possibly a badge to go on their header or sidebar et cetera on Twitter. A sort of virtual Neighbourhood Watch against the fraudulent and fake. This would be a bit of fun, but also encourage people to look out for each other and protect against malicious hackers and other cyber-criminals and general online trouble makers.
Inspired by Sarika (SM Cadman), I’d thought I’d come up with a couple of designs for a ‘Weed Whacker Award’ badge if Twitter did such badges. If Dick Costolo, the Twitter CEO, is reading this, you can hire me and Sarika as your ‘creative consultancy team’ or whatever they call them in Silicon Valley. Free lunches and Segways would be a bonus.