Kanye’s no twit

American rapper, record producer and singer Kanye West, notorious for speaking his mind, most notably on the stage at the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards when he argued during the presentation of the Best Video award to Justice and Simian that his music video "Touch the Sky" should have won instead, "spazzes" on his blog on his website kanyeuniversecity.com, about the large number of Kanye impersonators on Twitter:

I DON'T HAVE A FUCKING TWITTER ... WHY WOULD I USE TWITTER??? I ONLY BLOG 5 PERCENT OF WHAT I'M UP TO IN THE FIRST PLACE. I'M ACTUALLY SLOW DELIVERING CONTENT BECAUSE I'M TOO BUSY ACTUALLY BUSY BEING CREATIVE MOST OF THE TIME AND IF I'M NOT AND I'M JUST LAYING ON A BEACH I WOULDN'T TELL THE WORLD. EVERYTHING THAT TWITTER OFFERS I NEED LESS OF. THE PEOPLE AT TWITTER KNOW I DON'T HAVE A FUCKING TWITTER SO FOR THEM TO ALLOW SOMEONE TO POSE AS ME AND ACCUMULATE OVER A MILLION NAMES IS IRRESPONSIBLE AND DECEITFUL TO THERE FAITHFUL USERS. REPEAT... THE HEADS OF TWITTER KNEW I DIDN'T HAVE A TWITTER AND THEY HAVE TO KNOW WHICH ACCOUNTS HAVE HIGH ACTIVITY ON THEM. IT'S A FUCKING FARCE AND IT MAKES ME QUESTION WHAT OTHER SO CALLED CELEBRITY TWITTERS ARE ACTUALLY REAL OR FAKE. HEY TWITTER, TAKE THE SO CALLED KANYE WEST TWITTER DOWN NOW .... WHY? ... BECAUSE MY CAPS LOCK KEY IS LOUD!!!!!!!!!

Says Twitter user Twittabucks: "Society's burgeoning anti-Twitter forces may have found their champion..." Twitter has suspended the offenders.

Just landed
Prompted by the use of data on social networks as a source of information on the movement of people, artist Jer Thorp  (blprnt.com) created "Just Landed" a video map  of the probable flights of recently-arrived Twitterers over a course of 36 hours, assuming that the home locations listed in their profiles are the takeoff points, and their tweeted landing locations are their destinations. Thorp searched Twitter for the phrase "just landed" to come up with the coordinates. While Gizmodo's John Herrman calls Thorp's visualisation "text book data porn" he admits that it is a good indication of how mainstream Twitter is becoming. The tweets that made it onto the map had to fit the syntax of Thorp's search term "Just landed in ..." exactly to produce what Herrman calls "the tiny tip of the vanity iceberg."

Barbie gets tats

A new version of Barbie has mothers everywhere up in arms. Totally Stylin' Barbie comes with a choice of 50 tattoo stickers and a tattoo ink stamper. “Whatever will they bring out next? Drug addict Barbie? Alcoholic Barbie?"

Mattel tried selling a tattooed Barbie in 1999 but it was pulled because of anger from parents. Pregnant Barbie was also not well-received.

Facebook confession

Rob Ward, one of the policemen implicated in the assaults on the London G20 protesters, was apparently so eager to do the job at hand that he posted his intentions on his Facebook page: "Rob Ward can't wait to bash some long haired hippys up @ the G20." The message was written on the evening of 1 April, the first day of the protests.

Twenty minutes later another Facebook user posted a reply that said: "Dats bad but good in da same way lol [laugh out loud]."

Ward has received a written warning.

Britain's Independent Police Complaints Commission has received a total of 185 complaints about police behaviour during the recent G20 summit held in London. Newspaper vendor, Ian Tomlinson died from heart failure shortly after being pushed by a policeman. The event was recorded on video.

Virus goes viral

While to the rest of the world the emergence of a new strain of influenza came as a shock, Veratect, a company that specialises in disease event detection and tracking, maintains that it saw it coming. The company's blog, Biosurveillance (biosurveillance.typepad.com) includes a timeline of events that traces the epidemic as far back as March this year. On April 2, the blog notes: "Local media source Imagen del Golfo reported that state health officials recorded a 15% increase in disease over an unspecified period in the highland areas of Veracruz, which includes La Gloria. The increase was primarily due to higher levels of upper respiratory disease and gastroenteritis. Specifically, officials noted an increase in pneumonia and bronchial pneumonia cases. Health officials attributed the increase to seasonal climate changes."


Cocacolanisation

I discovered this photograph while searching the Library of Congress website for pictures to accompany the story of the invention of Coca Cola. It was tagged  "Coca Cola" because of the prominent signs in the picture and was taken in December, 1941 by Jack Delano, a photographer for the US Farm Security Administration. It features a street scene in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Coca Cola opened a bottling plant in 1909. Delano, who was born Jack Ovcharov in Kiev, Ukraine, was so taken with the place that he moved there permanently in 1946 (the year Puerto Rico's first native-born governor, Jesús T. Piñero, was appointed by President Truman). Below is a photograph taken by Flickr user “jhudo” of the same scene delanodelano2on February 9, 2008. He identifies it as "the southwest corner of the intersection of Calle de la Luna and Calle de San Jose in Old San Juan." As a Puerto Rican resident, Delano produced  films for the Community Division of the Department of Public Education and composed film scores, ballets and orchestral works. According to Flickr user Viv: "His contribution to Puerto Rican culture in terms of arts and music is incalculable."

Living colour
Much of Delano's work for the FSA is a documentary of the lives of workers,  captured in crisp colour against a diversity of backdrops: the greys and blues of a snow-covered Chicago rail yard, the warm gold of tropical plantations of sugar, tobacco and tomatoes. His empathy is conveyed by the beauty of his portraits, a close-up solidarity with his subjects, sculpted into life by Delano's strong use of colour and contrast.calle

Words: Good, bad and ugly

Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus (www.visualthesaurus.com) remarks in an online article called Which Words Do You Love and Which Do You Hate?, that the rationale behind the words that people like and loathe is very hard to establish. Besides the obvious connotations of some words, for example "hate", "no" and "impossible", the overuse that brings certain words ("whatever", "nice", "awesome") into ill repute and words like "impactful" that are associated with empty corporate speak, many words simply elicit a visceral reaction in their users. The word "moist", for instance, is so despised that there is a Facebook group for people who so hate the word that they would like it removed from the dictionary.   Among the best-loved are those that are fun to say and have a high feel-good quotient. Here Zimmer lists "pulchritude", "eclectic, "Schadenfreude", "perspicacious", "mellifluous", "syzygy", "discombobulate" and "lagniappe". Least favourite are "panties", "vomit", "ointment" and "slacks".

Woody and Tinny
Zimmer uses Monty Python's "Woody" sketch to illustrate our apparently arbitrary taste in words:
Chapman:   Gorn.  Gorn – it's got a sort of "woody" quality about it. Gorn. Go-o-orn.  Much better than "newspaper" or "litter bin".
Cleveland: Ugh! Frightful words!
Idle: Perfectly dreadful!
Chapman:"Newspaper" – 'litter bin' – 'litter bin' – dreadful tinny sort of word.
Chapman:   Tin, tin, tin.
Idle: Oh, don't say 'tin' to Rebecca, you know how it upsets her.
Chapman:   Sorry, old horse.
(from www.skepticfiles.org)

No fixed abode ... except online

small_santa_editWhile doing research for an article for the Wall Street Journal called On the Street and On Facebook: The Homeless Stay Wired writer Phred Dvorak (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) met a homeless man called Charles Pitts who lives under a highway bridge in San Francisco. According to Pitts, who has accounts on all the major online social networks: "You don't need a TV. You don't need a radio. You don't even need a newspaper. But you need the Internet." On Twitter, Dvorak marvels at the speed at which Pitts managed to get the word out on the piece: " So Mr. Pitts (poetcharles) beat me in Twittering about this story. Speedy, Charles! But better late than never ..."


Twitter ESP

An experiment conducted by Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire and New Scientist magazine this week, sought to examine the possible existence of Remote Viewing, a psychic phenomenon where people are able to visualise the location of a person without being there themselves. Wiseman installed himself in a randomly-selected spot each day this week (Monday was a test run)  at 3pm UK time and then sent a Tweet inviting people to Tweet their thoughts on the nature of the place Wiseman was in at the time of sending. Half an hour later, another Tweet was sent linking to a website where photographs of five locations were posted and people could vote on which they thought most closely matched the thoughts and images they had when Wiseman sent the first Tweet. If a majority chooses the correct target then the trial will count as a hit, otherwise it will count as a miss. Three or more hits in all four trials will be seen as supporting the existence of extrasensory perception. See Wiseman's Twitter stream at twitter.com/RichardWiseman.

What sort of blog are you?

Further to what I was saying earlier about web-related terminology comes a slew of blogging terms derived from that very famous contraction  "blog" (from web and log). Here is a selection from Wikipedia:

Flog
A portmanteau of "fake" and "blog". A blog that's ghostwritten by someone, such as in the marketing department.

Moblog
A portmanteau of "mobile" and "blog". A blog featuring posts sent mainly by mobile phone, using SMS or MMS messages.

Warblog
A blog devoted mostly or wholly to covering news events concerning an ongoing war.

Vlog
A video blog. A video blogger is referred to as a vlogger.

Bloggernacle
Blogs written by and for Mormons (a portmanteau of "blog" and "Tabernacle)". Generally refers to faithful Mormon bloggers and sometimes refers to a specific grouping of faithful Mormon bloggers.

Maps

This map of the view from Silicon Valley comes via a link I found on the Spectator website (spectator.co.uk). Part self-deriding, part ego-maniacal, it was drawn by cartoonist Hugh MacLeod who is also the marketing strategist for Stormhoek, a small South African vineyard whose sales he managed to double in twelve months by blogging about them.

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While the cartoon is a humorous  exagerration of the importance of Silicon Valley and the geeks that live and work there, it does remind us that their chief contribution to technology, connectivity, has changed the map of the world forever.

E-lection

On Wednesday morning, somewhere in the web's sea of blue and red electoral maps and snaps of a smiling Obama, someone noted that it felt like the day after Christmas. All the presents had been opened and what remained was to throw away the wrappings and sift through all  the gifts.

As the president-elect's mellifluous tones stroked away our fears for the world and stoked the fires of hope in our hearts with a speech that brought millions to tears, we took stock of our investment in a campaign for the White House that had held the world rapt for so many months.

What was unique about Obama's campaign was that he made it personal to the extent that he gained strong support not only in his own country but across the world. South African web entrepreneur Matthew Buckland (matthewbuckland.com) writes about the paradigm shift that the campaign engendered. The door-to door model of garnering support became peer-to-peer as the Obama engine cut through the physical obstacles of time and distance by establishing an online social network that was much easier to rally.  

According to Buckland, my.barackobama.com (fondly known as myBo) was designed by Chris Hughes, the 24-year-old co-founder of Facebook, with which the site interfaces and from which it conveniently transplants profiles. The site's activity tracker allotted points according to how active a user was in campaigning for the cause and a neighbour-to-neighbour function allowed supporters to find undecided potential voters in their vicinity.

Obama supporters also voted with cash. He rejected public financing campaign in favour of private donations. More than half of the donations he received online came in increments smaller than  $200.

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Breast is best

58 000 people have joined a Facebook group protesting the removal of pictures of Facebook users breastfeeding their babies. The group, called "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!", will conduct a cyberprotest this weekend, when supporters will temporarily replace their profile photos with photographs of women doing what comes naturally.

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Who's Who of Ho Ho Ho

blog2-281208Before artist Thomas Nast reconfigured him in the drawings he made for Harper's Weekly in the 1860's Santa  looked nothing like the jolly, rotund bringer of gifts that we associate with the name today.  The real Saint Nicholas was bishop of Myra in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia, during the 4th-century. Nicholas gave to the poor and is known to have provided a dowry to the two daughters of a pious Christian so that they would not have to resort to prostitution.

 

No ordinary reindeer

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, all eight of Santa's reindeer, including Donner and Blitzen (who were incidentally originally called Donder and Bliksem) are female. That is if they are subject to the laws of nature. Apparently both sexes of Rangifer tarandus grow antlers during summer, but only the females keep theirs into the winter months. However, the ADFG web site (adfg.state.ak.us) points out  that Santa's caribou belong to a unique subspecies called saintnicolas magicalus which probably never shed their antlers and are able to fly very far, very fast.

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Facts about oil from Discover Magazine

Almost all oil comes from dead  zooplankton and algae, some of the oldest and most abundant life forms on earth.

Thousands of tiny, colourful sweaters have been knitted for penguins who get doused in oil from spills. The jerseys keep them from ingesting oil when they preen themselves and also keep them warm.

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Petrol is cheaper at night because it becomes denser in cooler temperatures and the pumps measure it by volume.

Emptying 45 kilograms of junk from your car will get you up to 2 percent more kilometres to a tank.

The book Manifold Destiny tells you how to cook food on your engine.

In California alone, vapour from petrol stations could yield enough fuel to fill two tanker trucks every day.

In oil-rich Baku, Azerbaijan, north of Iran, villagers could once dig a hole in the ground with their hands, drop in a live coal, and start a fire. In the United States, when people first noticed oil, they bottled it, affixed a label and sold it as a health tonic.blog3-261008

Someone should have laughed

Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Finance, Nhlanhla Nene's spectacular dethroning on live television on Wednesday morning is arguably the juiciest newsbyte of the week; never mind that the Scorpions are about to disappear off the face of the earth along with our embattled currency.  

I can't help but think things would have been easier for Nene if only:
a. He had been less polite when he heard that first ominous cracking sound. All he had to do was stand up.
b. Haydee Fitzpatrick, who was conducting the interview and has been praised for not laughing, had not carried on as if nothing had happened.
c. Someone had laughed


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The clip, which was allegedly leaked by an SABC employee, has, in the words of Thought Leader blogger Llewellyn Kriel "spread across cyber-space and the cellphonosphere faster than you can say Eugene Terreblanche and horse in one breath".


Seriously tough love

When Dennis Baltimore's son Dennis Baltimore Jr. was caught vandalising school property and he was fined $875 to cover the damage, he took unusual steps to punish him. Presstelegram.com reports that Baltimore made his son walk the neighbourhood for two hours with a sign that read: "I am a juvenile delinquent who should be punished. I have wasted your tax money with dumb acts of vandalism in the public schools."

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Fun with Lego

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You are never too old to play with LEGO, and here is the proof. Formatmag.com has recreated 20 Classic Hip Hop album covers using the snap-together blocks.
Have a blast at Christmas
Political correctness was not an issue in the 70's, which is why it was perfectly okay for the whole family to give and get weapons as Christmas gifts. Todaysinspiration.blogspot.com has posted a number of ads like this one that would make Sarah Palin proud.


Sniff it out

If you can network in Japanese and have a fascination with odours, try hanging out with similarly obsessed netizens at nioibu.com. Here you can enter reports of unusual smells  and track their locations by using markers on Google Maps. Examples include watermelon smell, ferret stench, old lady, petrol fumes and curry.

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Whither 2008?

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While financial analysts are hard-pressed to predict the path of destruction unleashed by the global economic tsunami in the last quarter of 2008, this graphic of research and analysis firm Standard and Poor's stock index's annual returns grimly spells it out. Each year from 1825 is represented by a block and placed with its peer years according to its returns. Can you spot 2008?

Wired Gadget Lab's rather short list of unkept tech promises
Indestructible CDs: Why is it that a single fingerprint can still freak your player out?
Video Phones: "A technology that remains forever on the horizon" that has been replaced by VOIP and webcams. But Gadget Lab asks: "Who wants to actually see the person they're talking to anyway?"
The Millennium Bug: Planes were meant to fall from the sky and everyone stockpiled tinned food. Nothing happened.
Smell-O-Vision: This technology, which aims to broadcast smells as well as a picture and sounds probably never caught on simply because people don't really want to be assailed by the smells of strangers. Having people mating in your lounge is enough of an invasion!

Big Booboo

Australian men's magazine Ralph was planning to include an inflatable breast as a free gift in its January 2009 issue. Problem is, they lost all 130 000 of them at sea en route from Beijing to Sydney. The boobs, worth about $200,000, were not inflated at the time of their disappearance but editor of the magazine, Santi Pintado, has urged anyone to contact the magazine if any of them float up onto a beach somewhere.blog3-071208

Terrorism

blog071208Sorry, it is not always about America
While some are calling Mumbai's 9/11 Barack Obama's first test because of the large number of American nationals involved, Indian native Isaac Cheriyathu says it has nothing to do with the US. In an article on Splice Today he points out that this was just one of countless domestic attacks on India by Islamic fundamentalist organisations. According to Cheriyathu, targeting American, British and Israeli citizens was just a ploy to get global attention.

e-Terrorism
Some of the reports that have come from unbundling the aftermath of last week's Mumbai attacks explain that the terrorist's success was largely due to the huge array of commercial technologies that they used. Some of the facts:
1. The ten men responsible for the attacks, although not trained as sailors, managed to navigate their way through the Arabian Sea from Karachi in Pakistan to Mumbai in India with the aid of a GPS device. There are also reports that there was a satellite phone found on board the boat that they used.
2. They stayed in communication with one another by using a VOIP service accessed  via their cellphones
3. Because of previous attacks using cellphone technology, the Indian government had imposed strict rules about the issuing of SIM cards, but the terrorists had no trouble procuring five of them in Kolkata and New Delhi
4. The Telegraph reports that the terrorists were on cocaine and LSD which helped them to battle commandos in the city for more than 50 hours without food or sleep
5. The Deccan Mujahideen terrorists emailed a TV channel using an untraceable "remailer" service to claim  responsibility for the attack
6. Indian police plan to inject the lone survivng "baby-faced" gunman with truth serum, a method shunned by Western agencies because of psychological side effects such as hallucinations and delusionsblog2-071208