How Twitter banned a meteor: It’s the news from Britain

I don’t know if Twitter will still be twitting by the time you read this (or by the time I reach the end of the sentence), but back in the days when it was making gestures in the direction of policing its content it blocked an astronomer’s account because she’d posted a video of a meteor in the sky above Oxfordshire. She–or possibly the meteor–had somehow breached the guidelines on, ahem, intimate content. 

The ban went on for three months. She could’ve cut it down to twelve hours but she’d have had to delete the video and agree that she’d broken the rules, which she didn’t want to do. She did try contacting a human being at Twitter but couldn’t find one. 

As a gesture of support, other astronomers tweeted the video without getting banned. 

Irrelevant photo: A California poppy

Her account wasn’t unlocked until the BBC went public with the story.

Her experience isn’t unique. A US meteorologist was banned for posting intimate content– a video of combine harvesters working in a field at night. 

Is it something about scientists? Nope. A Facebook photo gallery got slammed for overtly sexual content in a series of pictures, including one of two cows standing some ten or fifteen feet apart in the field, one of ripples on a pond for selling adult products, and another of a high-rise office building.

Facebook did manage to apologize and put the gallery back online the next day.

Where the dead don’t just vote, they win elections

I know you’ve read entirely too much about the US elections, but this story hasn’t found the audience it deserves: 

Tony DeLuca, Pennsylvania’s longest-serving state representative, was re-elected in a landslide with more than 85% of the vote in spite of being dead. 

Okay, to report this responsibly: He died too close to the election to be replaced on the ballot and his election will trigger a special election. But the way politics are trending these days, voting for the dead may be a responsible political alternative.

From the Department of Inspiring Awards

I learned recently that obituary writers have an industry award called the Grimmy. The plural is the Grimmys. Yes, folks, in a bold and counter-to-everything-we-were-taught move, the Y doesn’t become an IE when they add an S. That in itself is worth an award. A Spelly? 

The Grimmys are awarded every two years by the Society of Professional Obituary Writers at their ObitCon. If you follow the link you’ll find a photo of the four most recent winners. Three of them have managed a smile.

Ever wanted to write a sentence that would echo through the ages?

The oldest known sentence in the oldest known alphabet was inscribed on a comb and says, ““May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.” 

How’s that for immortal prose?

From the Department of Vocabulary Expansion

Four new measurements have been added to the metric system. 

The first is the ronnagram, which carries 27 zeroes after the first digit. It’s big–a billion billion. If that doesn’t help you get a sense of its size, having words for it may at least give you the illusion that of understanding it. 

Until recently, you couldn’t go higher than the yottagram, which has a chintzy 24 zeroes. You can see why this was a problem.

The second measurement is the quettagram, which is even bigger. Its first digit trails 30 zeroes along behind it and it’s a thousand times bigger than the ronnagram. 

The earth weighs six of ronnagrams, although how you get it on the scales is beyond me, never mind where you find a counter to rest the scales on. Once you solve that problem, though, you’ll find that Jupiter weighs two quettagrams.

The third measurement is the rontogram. which has 27 zeroes after the decimal point. Once you come to the end of that string, they crash into the wall of a digit with a solid value. 

The fourth and final measurement is the quectogram, which has to slog past 30 zeroes before it finds a solid number. 

To anyone with even the least mathematical competence, I apologize for those last two descriptions. 

The telegram is not part of this conversation. Kindly stop kidding around about this. Mathematics is serious stuff.

36 thoughts on “How Twitter banned a meteor: It’s the news from Britain

  1. I wondered how many people voted for that chap because he was dead. Most of them, I suspect. A landslide victory feels more like a political comment than a lack of awareness. You’d think there might be a rule that says an election has to be cancelled if one of the candidates dies after the ballot slips have been printed.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Your writing always sends me on a little research trip. I was fascinated by the first known sentence in an alphabet, and followed the link. One of the archeologists declares, “When you are writing in English, you’re really using Canaanite,” which may explain why I’m so confused these days. However, he was careful to make it quite clear, “The inscription is very human,” so not the work of grooming monkeys or hairy aliens.

    I checked out some of the oldest writing, hieroglyphic rather than alphabetic, which – much as now – was about proclaiming the cosmic power of a God-King or receipts for beer.

    The Spellys is a brilliant idea. And a Proofys for misleading sentences: “The world’s first writing systems were not alphabetic. These emerged from Mesopotamia and Egypt around 3200 B.C.E. and used symbols to represent syllables and words, per the Guardian.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Father was involved in getting the vote out in inter war Glasgow….apparently close attention was paid to the obituary notices in the paper in the months before an election and each church had an observer in the congregation to pick up on funerals. The slogan was ‘vote early, vote often’.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. >A US meteorologist was banned for posting intimate content–
    >a video of combine harvesters working in a field at night.

    Well, we all know how certain MPs feel about tractors…

    Liked by 3 people

Talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.