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5 WTF snaps from the Comedy Animal Photo Awards
The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (yes, that's a thing) are back once again, showcasing candid shots of the funniest critters on the World Wild Web.
So good are some of these snaps, it's almost as if the animals knew the brief. From peekaboo eagles to ballet-dancing ants, and friendly polar bears to snowball-flinging monkeys, the most comedic scenes from the animal kingdom are all here.
Kick-started last year to help raise cash and awareness for conservation efforts in a lighthearted way, you can enjoy a handful of 2016's funniest shots below before heading over to the CWPA website to LOL at the rest of the entries
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a 'peli-can't catch a fish to save his life'
*Plays 'The Great Escape' theme tune* © Nicolas De Vaulx/Comedy Wildlife Photo 2016
That feeling when you forgot something important
"Shit. Did I leave the iron on?" © Barb D'Arpino/Comedy Wildlife Photo 2016
Oh yeah. Laugh it up
"You want a funny photo? Owl handle it." © Edward Kopeschny/Comedy Wildlife Photo 2016
Who needs hand-eye coordination anyway?
"Oh yeah, this is awkward for you, huh?" - fish © Rob Kroenert/Comedy Wildlife Photo 2016
That's a bad day in the office
"Hey, Dave, I'm taking the rest of the day off." © Tom Stables/Comedy Wildlife Photo 2016
Check out the rest of the entries to this year's competition right here.
2016, the year of bad language
Only a year ago Oxford Dictionaries chose the face with tears of joy emoji as its word of the year, signaling the more frivolous mood of the time, and also suggesting that we were moving past a conventional use of language and towards something more playful, emotional, and international. How things have changed. Oxford Dictionaries's word of 2016, 'post-truth', suggests the alphabet is anything but done for and that rather than moving past language, society is instead moving past facts. The landscape is changing fast and language is changing with it.Here are the words that have defined 2016:
Rather than merely another synonym for lying, this is an adjective to describe today's circumstances in which the act of lying is taken for granted by the public. In much of contemporary politics (and much journalism and entertainment too) the use of honesty and facts is less effective than appealing to our emotions and beliefs. Such are the conditions of post-truth.
Of course, emotions and personal creeds have always played a huge role in the formation of public opinion, and we may well have been living in a post-truth world for a decade or more. But this year, it has been formalized. Given the ubiquity of the internet (this is also the "post-internet" age), for the first time in civilization we have access to all the facts: and subsequently many of us have renounced facts. It's hard to escape the feeling that a lot of us don't want to hear the truth.
While the rise of post-truth politics is directly linked to the propensity of politicians to tell bigger and bigger lies, it's also worth noting that the figurehead of post-truth, Donald Trump, owes much of his fame to reality television: a format that has been chipping away at our belief in reality for quite some time now.
Maybe it's not all bad. British journalist Peter Pomerantsev, an expert on Russian politics and post-truth (which he has been warning us about for a good couple of years now) acknowledged in Granta this month that "there is some sort of teenage joy in throwing off the weight of facts — those heavy symbols of education and authority, reminders of our place and limitations." If the facts don't matter then anything is possible.
Here's another term connected to the last one. During the US election, the Washington Post meticulously checked 168 claims made by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail and gave its Four-Pinocchio Rating — signaling the most dishonest and flagrant lie — to 59 of Trump's claims and seven of Clinton's. In the quest for truth, the Pinocchio Rating is your friend.
Other distinctions awarded by the Washington Post include the UPSIDE-DOWN PINOCCHIO, indicating a flip-flop or reversal of one's previous position, and the GEPPETTO CHECKMARK, indicating complete honesty.
It became very clear this year that our social media feeds — and we're really talking about Facebook here — share opinions with us that we're likely to agree with and hide those that we aren't. In this way, feeds are like echo chambers, bouncing our voices back to us while concealing the great complexity of public opinion. And now that we find most of our news through social networks, this has created a huge problem: we have become completely disconnected from the world outside of our small and particular bubbles. In the US, especially, many on the left had hardly considered the possibility they would lose the election; and having lost it they have found it impossible to agree on why.
This is exactly what it sounds like: made-up and misleading stories, often intended to discredit a political opponent, spread across social networks under the guise of genuine news. It's the dark side of clickbait — a form of propaganda dressed up as journalism.
We suggested earlier this year that a youthful, magical counterculture was emerging in the worlds of pop and spirituality (it's also a subject that Teen Vogue has been covering in quite some depth), with a focus in their case on the modern witchcraft movement. So in youth culture, as in other parts of society, there has been in places a retreat from the rational and scientific in favor of the old ways of thinking.
As of late there has been more and more discussion of the idea that we're living not in reality, but in a computer-generated simulation of reality: essentially that we're trapped in the Matrix. That is simulation theory. In the spring, Neil DeGrasse Tyson argued that this was likely to be the case. In the summer, Elon Musk claimed, "There's a billion to one chance we're living in base reality." In the autumn, it was reported in the New Yorker that two Silicon Valley billionaires (Musk is rumored to be one) are funding scientists in an effort to break us free from our cosmic virtual reality.
It's an idea that can also be found in the most talked-about show of the year, Westworld, the central premise of which is that the characters are living in a make-believe world and cannot tell whether they are people or just robots with an artificial intelligence (and, in a pointed piece of casting, Musk's ex-wife Talulah Riley plays one of the robots).
Simulation theory is a radical idea; however in its renunciation of reality, it has much in common with the renunciation of facts in a post-truth world. But, as for the reasons why in 2016 the jettisoning of facts by politicians has coincided with a growing interest in magic amongst teenagers and a questioning of reality by billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneurs — these have yet to be satisfyingly explained by anyone. We find ourselves at a strange philosophical crossroads in history.
In spring, Microsoft launched a chatbot — meaning a computer program that can simulate a conversation with a person (much like the robots on Westworld, only without a physical body) — named Tay that was supposed to speak like a 19-year-old American girl and to learn from her conversations with other Twitter users. "The more you chat with Tay," the software company explained, "the smarter she gets."
But on her very first day she had to be taken back offline after trolls taught her to say things like "race war now!!!" and "Donald Trump is the only hope we've got" and "WE'RE GOING TO BUILD A WALL, AND MEXICO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT" and, aside from a brief reappearance, offline is where she has remained. Tay was intended to explore and learn to speak the language of today, and in most ways she was a failure. However, all those months ago, she certainly was able to foreshadow what was coming in politics and online discourse with an eerie and oracular accuracy.
2016 threw up a lot of gloomy words reflecting rather gloomy times. But while the political discourse was often backwards-looking, much of our vocabulary had a futuristic feel to it, in keeping with how quickly things continue to change. So let's see what 2017 brings.
What startups can learn from Myntra’s U-turn
Last year, Myntra, one of India’s largest online fashion stores, took the audacious decision to shut down its website and become an app-only store. The rationale given was to provide better user experience. While some of its customers protested, Myntra stuck to its decision. Myntra’s parent company, Flipkart, followed suit by turning off its mobile website too.
About nine months later, both Myntra and Flipkart have re-opened their mobile websites, first Flipkart and then Myntra. On June 1st, Myntra will re-launchits desktop site. The reasons mentioned by Myntra include: providing multi-channel access, the need for larger screens for categories like home furnishing, and sizeable desktop traffic.
I have a theory on Myntra’s original hypothesis and why it may not have worked out.
On the Internet, most shopping journeys start with a Google search. The reasons are manifold. Google has earned users’ trust for locating precisely what they are looking for, sometimes even with ambiguous search queries. And for nearly all queries, Google generates the most relevant ads. For shopping related searches, Google has a modified ad format that shows the picture of the product, its price, and any offers by the given retailer. In short, Google helps users to make better decisions.
Users have come to rely on Google so much that instead of visiting a particular website directly, they just type in the company’s name on Google and expect it to give them a link to the website. This phenomenon is so widespread that brand owners pay Google to show their ads for their own brand name searches. Even the mighty web companies like Amazon pay the Google Tax for searches of its brand, as shown in the screen capture below.
In the e-commerce competition that started earlier this decade, Myntra quickly rose to become India’s biggest online shopping destination for apparel and fashion products. Google awarded its popularity by giving Myntra a high ranking in the listing for organic searches and thus more free traffic for Myntra, making it even more popular.
Myntra received tons of traffic from Google for highly competitive and commercial search queries. Google’s ads were also effective in driving users to Myntra with high purchase intention. But when Myntra made the fatal decision to switch off its website, it effectively shut down this source of high quality and, mostly, free traffic to its site. Myntra’s bet, probably, was that it had enough mind share and trust of Indian customers that they will remember Myntraas the first destination for fashion products. So no more Google Tax! Myntra probably intended to force shoppers to make a choice –Myntra versus other shopping sites. Inadvertently, however, they forced users to make a choice between Google and Myntra.
A year ago, in May 2015, Google announced that its search traffic on mobile had surpassed desktop traffic. In India, the same inflection point may have been reached earlier, given the country’s relatively low penetration of desktops as compared to mobile.
During its first quarter results, Google announced that the paid clicks in Q1 2016 were 29% higher than in Q1 2015.In other words, Google’s search engine continues to see its usage growing significantly from an already very high base. Just to give you a sense of Google’s prowess, in August 2012, Google was performing 100 billion searches per month. No new data about search volume has been published but if you look at Google’s fabulous paid-click growth rates since then, it is safe to say that they have easily doubled that number.
Google’s mobile operating system, Android, has over a billion users worldwide. The default search application on Android-powered mobile phones is, well, obviously, Google. In India, Android has over 90% market share of smartphone operating systems.
Google continued to send traffic to Myntra even when its website was shut off. This was due to the good karma that Myntra had earned since its inception. Users searched for products on Google, clicked on Myntra’s organic result, and then immediately hit the back button when users saw a note asking them to download the app instead of finding the product that they were looking for. In web analytics parlance, this is called a ‘bounce’. As the number of users bouncing from Myntra’s website went up, Google started demoting that result. Gradually, it stops sending traffic altogether to Myntra.
From April 2015, Google publicly stated that its search-ranking algorithm would start giving importance to mobile-friendliness– a decision termed as “Mobilegeddon” in the search community. In March 2016, Google announced that itwas going to place even more importance on sites being mobile friendly. Given that Google still doesn’t have a separate index for mobile, according to the experts, it seems that there is a technical challenge to have a site only for one device and not for others. And how do you classify ‘tablets’, which are another class of devices altogether?
Here we are. Google has a massive search market share, which is growing at a breathtaking pace. Users go to Google with muscle memory, whenever they want something. And Myntra isn’t present there. It’s entirely possible that the core audience of Myntra open its app whenever they think about fashion. But, on the flip side, there is a huge population that has never purchased anything online yet and coming online for the first time. For those users, Myntra practically doesn’t exist, unless they have seen its ads on TV or in print.
Google is ready to hand over all the fashion-related traffic, worth hundreds of crores of rupees annually, to Myntra. For free. All Google asks is that Myntra have a website. And so Myntra is doing just that.
So what can startups learn from Myntra’s blunder?
First, pay the Google Tax!Second, it is important to have both a website and an app for your e-commerce enabled store.Third, ensure that your desktop site is friendly for all devices to earn Google’s favour.Myntra had to learn the above lessons the hard way and probably lost countless millions. Don’t make the same mistake!
Om Puri Dies at 66: Best 5 movies of the legendary actor
Om Puri has been a lively part of Indian and Pakistani film industry and has also been a part of various Hollywood movies.The Padma Shri awardee passed away on January 06, 2016, at 66 years of age
Om Puri is one of the most versatile actors who has been a part of a broad genre of films. The Padma Shri awardee passed away today morning, on January 06, 2016, at 66 years of age. Om Puri has been a lively part of Indian and Pakistani film industry and has also been a part of various Hollywood movies. The actor has also participated in various social causes and has been one of the most straightforward actors who has voiced his opinions from time to time.
According to reports, the actor suffered a heart attack this morning. The actor has had a long spanning career of 44 years in the film industry, since his debut in the Marathi movie, Ghashiram Kotwal. The actor is most remembered for his cop roles where he has played a the good, bad and powerless cop. As the industry and the world mourn this great loss, here are the top five performances in the memory of this incredibly talented actor.
1. Ardh Satya
Ardh Satya is a 1983 movie directed by Govind Nihalani and one of the initial movies where Om Puri played a policeman. The film also stars Amrish Puri, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, and Sadashiv Amrapurkar, and features a theme poem by the Marathi writer Dilip Chitre. The movie itself has considered as one of the best cop dramas, and the actor won a National award for his portrayal of Sub-Inspector, Anant Velankar.2. GhayalGhayal has been one of the best 90s movies. The movie, which had Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Seshadri in the lead, also had Om Puri in the role of the good cop. Om Puri played the role of ACP Joe D’Souza, who tried his best to work within the system and do the right thing. The actor continued to play this role and won our hearts in the sequel, Ghayal Once Again.3. DrohkaalThis 1994 crime drama was one of the first movies to portray India’s fight with terrorism. The movie has Om Puri in the lead role along with Naseeruddin Shah. They both play the role of good and honest law enforces in the film,. The movie also examines the mental and psychological trauma that honest police officers go through in their fight against terrorism.4. MaqboolMaqbool is a 2003 Vishal Bharadwaj drama based on play Macbeth by Shakespeare. The movie had Pankaj Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Masumeh Makhija in the lead role. However, the role of Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah were that of one of the best supporting characters. They played the comic role of corrupt police inspectors-cum-astrologers.5. Actor In LawThis 2016 Pakistani socio-comedy marked the debut of Om Puri in the Pakistani film industry. Directed by Nabeel Qureshi, the movie has Om Puri as Rafaqat Mirza, the strict dad who wants his son to be a lawyer. The actor’s role in the film was highly appreciated.
How can one develops his or her sense of humor :
1. Ability to laugh at self
It's amazing how genuinely funny self-deprecatory jokes can be. If you're a serious brooding person who thinks that you're better than the world, forget this genre. But you'll be losing a lot.
2. Being able to take things lightly
This is the foundation from which you can take off into the world of humour. If you usually get worked up over every single little thing, chances are you're going to struggle to crack a joke. Let's face it; you'll be in no mood to think of anything funny.
3. Enjoy being the cause of laughter
Almost every single funny person I've ever met has this trait. There's a certain pride and selflessness that's part of being able to make people laugh. When you get addicted to that 'high', you'll be digging out every opportunity to make people laugh. There're not too many better things in the world than seeing people around you uncontrollably laughing at something funny you said.
4. Educate yourself
The lesser topics you know, the lesser genres of humour you can explore. There's a reason why all people with a great sense of humour are informed and intelligent. It takes much exposure to the outside world to be able to make most jokes. If you're a quiet, silent guy, who likes to shield himself in the darkness of your room, you won't have too much room to play with. Literally.
5. Learn from the experts
Watch humorous movies. Watch stand-up comedies. Watch funny soaps. The trick is not to watch with the ulterior motive of trying to learn the art. I always tell people who want to learn English to avoid watching films with that motive in the back of their head. It's when you truly immerse yourself and enjoy something that your mind automatically picks up certain things. This way, the whole exercise also stops seeming like work.
6. Enjoy conversations and experiment
Face it, you can't say a joke if you don't enjoy conversations. Learn to be open-minded, and talk and listen to people. The more you talk, the better you'll get at it. Similarly, the more you joke, the more you'll discover your area of strength. Experiment. Try various genres. Word play, sarcasm, slapstick ... you'll figure out based on people's reactions what your strength is. The more you play, the better you'll get. Also, remember: There aren't too many things in the world that you cannot joke about.
7. Timing: Strike when the time is right. You need to know when is the opportune moment to unleash the humor Kraken.
8. Quick thinking and Wordplay: "Most important part of English language are punctuations. They are the ones which differentiate 'I helped Uncle Jack, off a horse' from 'I helped Uncle jack off a horse'".