From The Verge:
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is reportedly fighting cellphone carriers over the right to send Americans unsolicited texts. According to Business Insider, the campaign’s lawyers are in active talks with phone companies after a third-party screening tool blocked Trump texts in early July. The campaign alleges that screening the texts amounts to suppressing political speech, while carriers fear allowing them will result in fines for violating anti-spam rules.
The 2020 election has brought a wave of text messages from across the political spectrum, particularly with the pandemic limiting in-person outreach. Many users didn’t opt in to these missives, and it’s unclear whether they violate federal laws meant to curb unwanted texts. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has imposed steeper fines for spammy and illegal robocalls. That’s reportedly put carriers on edge despite Trump’s campaign contending it’s not illegally automating texts.
Naturally, this whole screw-up is being blamed on Jared Kushner, who's supposed to be mediating the campaign's (and/or the President's?) relationships with the major telecom companies.
Trump reportedly clashes with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile over spam texts [Adi Robertson / The Verge]
Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons Read the rest
When I'm not writing here on BoingBoing (or anywhere else, for that matter), I also play guitar and sing in a rock band called The Roland High Life. Today we announced our new record, Songs About Comic Books and Mid-30s Malaise, and released the first single, which is kind of a Cars / Green Day mashup about ADHD and Hawkeye from the Avengers called "My Life as a Weapon."
I'm pretty proud of the work we did on this, considering that we wrote, engineered, and recorded it all by ourselves in our moms' basements (in fitting with the album theme) over just 2 weekends.
You can watch the lyric video above, or listen to it on your preferred music service.
"Songs About Comic Books and Mid-30s Malaise" by the Roland High Life
Image: Pat Loika / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest
Back in 2003, I performed at a music festival that included a band called Arrogant Sons of Bitches, who absolutely blew me away with their energy and songwriting. The lead singer, Jeff Rosenstock, went to form a collective (for lack of a better term) called Bomb the Music Industry! and, more recently, has branched off into a solo career.
Rosenstock's last four solo albums (which you can download for free on his website, or purchase through his label) all feel like one continuous outraged chronicle of the modern era. In fitting with Rosenstock's reputation for confessional vitriol-spitting poetry, his latest music video, for the song "Scram!," takes advantage of the coronavirus quarantine to tell a socially distant story with his backing band — in the form of 90s PSAs. This not only fit the subject matter, but also made it easier to shoot.
As Rosenstock explained in a press release:
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I started writing “Scram!” after being inspired by the kids from Parkland High standing up to the behemoth that is the gun lobby. The last four years (and let’s be honest, my entire life) have felt like we are up against an unconquerable force of evil that thrives on violence and inequality. It was a rare bright spot to see thousands of people say. ‘Hey, we’re gonna be able to vote in the next election, and we are going to vote you the fuck out.’ It was also inspired by the other side—the politicians and lobbyists who promote regressive policies that perpetuate the consolidation of power to the super rich at the expense of everyone else’s lives—having the audacity to demand “civility” from students who have watched their classmates get murdered and are tired of going to school in fear.
While the world's on lockdown thanks to COVID-19, the organizers behind San Diego Comic-Con opted to hold an online convention, so at least the entertainment industry could continue to enjoy that annual mid-July PR boost. Things began to awry, however, during the Star Trek panel, which featured a table read by the cast of Star Trek: Discovery. As Deadline reports:
About 15 minutes into the sprawling offering from the ever expanding Trekverse everything seemed to shut down on Comic-Con’s YouTube site. As Sonequa Martin-Green and others from the cast of Star Trek: Discovery were delivering a table read of their Season 2 finale ‘Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2,’ the prerecorded stream suddenly said “video unavailable.”
The outage of sort lasted about 20 minutes before the dramatic and footage augmented panel picked up again at 10:35 PM PST.
According to a spokesperson from CBS All Access, the mysterious 20-minute gap only affected viewers who joined the panel after it started. They received an error message that read, "The video contains content from CBS CID, who has blocked it on copyright grounds." Oops.
Luckily, the blackout is absent from the archival video of the event on YouTube. But it's still an embarrassing display for overly-aggressive algorithmic content control.
‘Star Trek’ At Comic-Con@Home Panel Goes Dark For Short Spell Over CBS Copyright Glitch [Dominic Patten / Deadline]
Image: Chris Favero / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest
Ammon Bundy — the radical Mormon separatist who lead the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge back in 2016 as a sort-of protest against an admitted arsonist who had already agreed to serve prison time, but I digress — has pledged his solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Or at least, he's in favor of defunding the police, which perhaps makes more ideological sense. Bundy's friend and Malheur co-conspirator, Lavoy Finicum, was killed by FBI agents during that standoff. While those were radical different circumstances than the ones that lead to the deaths of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or even Tamir Rice, it has apparently inspired Bundy to take a personal stake in the matter. He explains his reasoning in the video above, and also expanded on it in a Facebook post:
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If you only see BLM people as the enemy, then you’re getting played. And BLM people are getting played BIG TIME. The vast majority of BLM supporters don’t want socialism and communism and all of that. Yes, I am not ignorant, I understand what the BLM organization represents, who runs it, who finances it, and what their goal is. I am fully aware of that. But the average person who wears a BLM shirt and comes to a rally just wants black people to be able to be safe and not have fear that police officers are going to abuse them. You have to be smart enough to make a distinction between the national organization of the BLM and the average BLM supporter who is ignorant to what the organization is really all about.
Oclectáte, nunc híc sumus! Read the rest
The Everett Herald reports that an 18-year-old man was arrested during a "Back the Blue" Rally in Snohomish County, Washington on Friday:
Around 8:20 p.m. on Friday, the man approached a group that included sheriff’s deputies and marshals assigned to patrol the courthouse campus, one of whom was a lieutenant wearing plain clothes. The suspect reportedly shoved the stick toward the plain-clothes deputy, and marshal James Simoneschi pushed him away before arresting him, according to a police report obtained by The Daily Herald on Monday through a public records request. In court papers, the suspect was listed as 5-foot-5 and weighing 120 pounds.
There were no reports or video evidence reviewed by The Daily Herald that the man touched anyone during the rally.
This behavior apparently qualifies as fourth-degree assault against a police officer.
Here's the video of the event:
Man arrested in Everett after taunting police with doughnut [Zachariah Bryan and Stephanie Davey / Everett Herald]
Image:David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)
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Eamonn Forde at The Quietus has a great new piece celebrating the 25th anniversary of the MP3, arguing that it was the single most influential music technology revolution in history — even moreso than the phonograph or early vinyl recordings. If you ask me, he makes a pretty convincing argument:
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In terms of the history of music ownership – something that has really only existed for just over a century – the MP3 was not a full stop but rather an ellipsis.
It was the last audio format that people could own but, as it was a digital string of zeros and ones, it was inherently intangible. You cannot look at an MP3 but you can see its impact everywhere.
This is important: it was technology first, music second. It was created as part of a strategy of media synergy. It was by the record business, for the record business. Most significantly, it was the last time record labels (or, more precisely, their parent companies) were to be technology powerhouses.
The MP3 was created outside of the music industry – developed without its blessing, but mostly without its interest. It was in many ways an opportunity for audio engineers to show other audio engineers their chops. In the mid-1990s, home computers were not that common, the internet was mainly confined to academia (its campus location is critical for Phase Two) and the Discman was the apex of music portability.
The record industry lost serious ground here because it was focused on its war against free and crummy audio when the MP3’s headline appeal was about convenience and the fizzing thrill of instant accessibility.
Cinquefrondi, a community in the southern region of Calabria, calls itself a "Covid-free village" after swerving the ravages of the virus, and hopes its status will sweeten the appeal of homes it's putting on the market for €1, or a little over a dollar.
The aim, like other destinations making similar offers, is to reverse a depopulation trend caused by younger folk heading off in search of work. In Cinquefrondi, Mayor Michele Conia considers the task so serious he's given it a code name: "Operation Beauty."
"Finding new owners for the many abandoned houses we have is a key part of the Operation Beauty [mission] that I have launched to recover degraded, lost parts of town," Conia tells CNN.
Time Out describes the location quite appealingly:
Cinquefrondi is a small community in the southern region of Calabria, which is right at the toe of Italy’s ‘boot’. Up in the hills, it's surrounded by the Aspromonte National Park and set between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian coasts. (That’s around a 15 minute drive to dreamy Italian beaches in either direction, fyi.)
In case you're concerned about a deal that sounds too good to be true, Cinquefrondi has indeed had zero reported coronavirus cases, and is located in region with one of the lowest overall contagion levels in the country.
Otherwise, the only real catch — besides, ya know, having to renovate and safety-proof your adorable 50 square meter Italian mountainside house — is that the local government requests an annual €250 policy insurance fee every year until you've finished the work. Read the rest
According to a recent press release, KFC wants to become a "restaurant of the future" by "crafting the 'meat of the future,'" with help from a Russian company called 3D Bioprinting Solutions. This initiative, "arose among partners in response to the growing popularity of a healthy lifestyle and nutrition, the annual increase in demand for alternatives to traditional meat and the need to develop more environmentally friendly methods of food production."
If all goes to plan — which is definitely a thing that happens in the Hell Year 2020 — KFC will begin to sell the world's first lab-grown chicken nuggets in Moscow in the fall.
These lab-grown nuggies will of course still feature the same blend of 11 spices and herbs that made them famous, while combining chicken cells with plant material, "allowing it to reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat almost without involving animals in the process." It's not clear if they'll be vegan friendly, or if they're meant to vaguely compete with fully plant-based meats like the Beyond or Impossible Burger.
The press releases — shared verbatim across companies — includes some thoughts on the project's environmental sustainability as well:
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Biomeat has exactly the same microelements as the original product, while excluding various additives that are used in traditional farming and animal husbandry, creating a cleaner final product. Cell-based meat products are also more ethical – the production process does not cause any harm to animals. Along with that, KFC remains committed to continuous improvement in animal welfare from the farm and through all aspects of our supply chain, including raising, handling, transportation and processing.
The Bloomberg CityLab reports:
Barcelona is deploying a new weapon in its quest to increase the city’s available rental housing: the power to force the sale of empty properties.
This week, the city’s housing department wrote to 14 companies that collectively own 194 empty apartments, warning that if they haven’t found a tenant within the next month, the city could take possession of these properties, with compensation at half their market value. These units would then be rented out by the city as public housing to lower-income tenants, while the companies in question could also face possible fines of between €90,000 and €900,000 ($103,000 and $1,003,000), according to Spanish news outlets.
It's actually been legal since 2016 for municipalities in Catalonia to take over properties that have been vacant more than two years. There is obviously an eminent domain argument to be had here; but there's also the argument about greedy landlords hoarding property and artificially inflating property values for everyone even as they write off their vacant units as business losses, thus leading to even more profits in the long run. (I don't know enough about Spanish or Catalonian tax structures, but it can work that way in the United States.)
Barcelona’s Latest Affordable Housing Tool: Seize Empty Apartments [Feargus O'Sullivan / Bloomberg City Lab]
Image: Todd Dominey / Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0) Read the rest
Since Trump has made such a stink about memorializing historical losers in statue form, the Trump Statue Initiative has decided to take it upon themselves to bestow the same honor on the famously narcissistic 45th President of the United States. As they explain on their website:
The Trump Statue Initiative is a way for artists to share their point of view on our 45th President's most notoriously self-serving, narcissistic, and racist moments. And then memorialize his legacy in a way our President can truly relate: Realistic heroic statues. Yeah, unfortunately, statues and monuments are something the big guy is spending a lot of tax payers' dollars protecting right now, while we scramble to find funding to fight surging COVID-19 infections, historic unemployment, and daily racist attacks.
We encourage you to join our movement and create special statues of your own, or perhaps vote for one of our pieces you see today to be a permanent installation here in historic Washington DC.
Existing installations include "The Poser," located at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC:
As well as "The Bunker," conveniently positioned in front of the DC branch of the Trump Hotel:
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On July 7, 2020, a group of 150 elite writers and academics, ranging from David Brooks to J.K. Rowling, signed their names to a letter in Harper's Magazine crying the alleged censorship of so-called "cancel culture" — which is to say, angry voices on the Internet who disagree so vehemently with views they consider abhorrent that they use their right to free expression to boycott those views. "The Letter," as it's come to be known, was spearheaded by Thomas Chatterton Williams, and gestures broadly towards a few high-profile instances of "cancelling" without actually committing to any details or specific arguments beyond vague platitudes about "free speech"; supposedly, most of the signatories did not even read the final content of the actual letter before agreeing to add their name in support of these generic notions.
About a week later, even more writers and media professionals — most of whom were far less renowned than Chomsky or Brooks or Rowling, including myself — presented "A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate," that addressed the specific instances alluded to in the original The Letter, while also pointing out the plainly transparent irony that, if you're a marquee name publishing a letter about a censorship in Harper's fucking Magazine, you are, by definition, not actually being censored or cancelled. If you're a famous intellectual or writer, and people get pissed at you for, say, repeatedly spewing transphobic bullshit, and they stop buying your books because we live in a capitalist society and they do not want to financially support rhetoric that they consider to be hateful or harmful, then that's not censorship. Read the rest
In the early 1970s, acclaimed horror director George A. Romero was commissioned by the Lutheran Society to make a new film to help raise awareness about ageism and elder abuse. And in true Romero fashion, he did just that. As Bloody Disgusting describes the story:
The Amusement Park stars Martin’s Lincoln Maazel as an elderly man who finds himself disoriented and increasingly isolated as the pains, tragedies, and humiliations of aging in America are manifested through roller coasters and chaotic crowds.
According to the RogerEbert.com review, The Amusement Park was so shocking and appalling that the Lutheran Society refused to release it. The movie was canned until recently, when Romero's widow, Suzanne, produced a 4K restoration of the film, which has thus far aired at a few festivals. "Though not in the horror genre it is George’s most terrifying film," Suzanne Romero said. "It has Romero’s unique footprint all over it!"
The formerly lost film has now been purchased by Yellow Veil Productions for distribution, and is expected to be available within the year on digital platforms as well as in theaters, if those still exist.
George A. Romero’s Long Lost Film “The Amusement Park” Being Sold by Yellow Veil Pictures [John Squires / Bloody Disgusting]
George A. Romero’s Restored Lost Film Is Ready for Release: ‘His Most Terrifying Movie’ [Zack Sharf / Indiewire] Read the rest