EU resolution aims to comprehensively limit "planned obsolescence"

The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on the European Commission (the EU's civil service) to craft rules that will severely limit planned obsolescence in electronics by forcing manufacturers to design products to facilitate repair by third parties, extend first-part warranties, warrant and support software, label products with an estimate of their overall life-expectancy, and publicly track and disclose how long products last in the field before breaking down. (more…)

I'm joining the campaign to deactivate my Twitter account on August 17

I deleted my Facebook account a few months ago and am not sorry I did. For the last couple of months, I've been thinking about deleting my Twitter account, too. It has become a creepy, toxic place. I'm stunned that Twitter has no problem with people who want to inflict additional misery on the parents of murdered children. It's not about the first Amendment. Twitter is a company -- it can choose whomever it wants to be on its platform.

As my friend Sean Bonner posted, Twitter "didn’t start as an open forum for free speech, it started as a way for people to see what their friends were doing. Enforcing the same rules for everyone to promote civil discourse isn’t censorship. Bots spewing hate and attacking people isn’t fun."

He's right. I'm joining Sean and others on August 17 by deactivating my Twitter account. The hashtag for this action is #DeactiDay. If Twitter doesn't fix its hate enabler problem in 30 days, I won't reactivate my account, after which it will be permanently deleted. It's very likely it will be deleted, because Twitter has demonstrated that it badly wants Alex Jones and his ilk on its platform. When CNN reported that Jones violated at least a dozen of Twitter's rules after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Jones hadn't and therefore couldn't be kicked off, Twitter didn't do a thing about it. Then Twitter admitted that Jones had indeed violated rules that had resulted in bans for other people, but said it wouldn't ban Jones.

Twitter can have Jones, and I'll be happy to be the hell away from the place.

Canadian scolding of Saudi Arabia's human rights violations means nothing if they continue to sell them weapons

I’m a proud Canadian. I’m proud that my nation took a stand against the human rights practices in Saudi Arabia. Maybe you’ve read about it. Earlier this week, Canada’s Minster of Foreign Affairs tweeted that our nation was less than impressed with Saudi Arabia’s arrest of a woman’s right activist. It’s a sentiment echoed by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.

From The Guardian:

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested the women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. The arrests were the latest in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists. More than a dozen women’s rights activists have been targeted since May.

Most of those arrested campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the country’s male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.

On Friday, Canada said it was gravely concerned about the arrests, including Badawi’s. Her brother Raif Badawi, a dissident blogger, has been imprisoned since 2012. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

As a result of Canada commenting on the Saudi treatment of these individuals, the Saudi Arabia kind of lost its shit: After tweeting that no one would be allowed to dictate how the nation administrated its people, the Saudi government called its ambassadors to Canada home and gave Canada’s ambassador to the nation 24 hours to get out of Dodge. The Saudis followed up by ordering many of its citizens who were attending university at Canadian institutions home and messing with established trade deals it holds with Canada.

Canada’s response to the Saudi temper tantrum came from our Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, issued a statement saying, “Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world,” she said. “Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”

Cool, cool, cool.

Except for the fact that, as enraged as my nation purports to be about the rampant civil rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, we’re apparently still very ok with the notion of selling them military-grade weaponry and vehicles.

The deal was initially struck by former Prime Minister Steven Harper’s government, back in 2014, to the tune of 15 billion dollars. The contract, between General Dynamics Land Systems Canada and the Saudi government would see the company supply weaponized military land vehilcles (in this case, Light Armored Vehicles, or LAV IIIs,) to the Saudis over a 15-year period. According to The Globe & Mail, the LAVs would most likely ship overseas, armed with “two gun systems, including a medium-calibre weapon and the Cockerill CT-CV 105HP, which it advertises as a "high-pressure gun with an advanced autoloader to deliver high lethality at very light weight," one with the capacity to fire 105-mm shells and a heavy-armour-penetrating missile.” This is a weapon system designed for military-grade murder. The sort of thing you want backing up your infantry (a LAV III is designed to carry troops into combat as well as laying down fire,) as they go into combat with a foreign aggressor.

But here’s the thing: there’s some pretty compelling evidence that the Saudi government has used Light Armoured Vehicles against its own civilian population.

As the Globe & Mail points out, the LAV featured in the video was not made in Canada. But one has to ask: if the nation was willing to use such means against its citizens in the past, what keeps them from doing so in the future, with Canadian-made arms?

I applaud my government’s condemnation of a foreign power’s human rights violations (despite the fact that Canada's treatment of its Indigenous Peoples still has a VERY long way to go). I appreciate that Canada has stood up to an oil-rich nation when so many of our allies have stayed silent on the topic of the rights abuses and arrests of activists that occur in Saudi Arabia on a routine basis.

But I’m having a hard time with our condemning a country’s human rights practices while we continue to sell arms to them. It’s duplicitous bullshit. Until such time that the contract is broken as part of an embargo against the nation, Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland’s speech about Canada standing up against human rights violations will be nothing but a gust of hot air.

Image via Wikipedia Commons

How SERPstash can get your site to Google's first page

SEO can be a fickle creature, but it can work in your favor—you just need the right tools. When it comes to getting your site on that coveted first page of Google, SERPstash Premium simplifies the process with 21 user-friendly tools designed to break down your page's performance and show you where you can improve. Lifetime subscriptions are available for $29 in the Boing Boing Store.

SERPstash breaks the SEO hustle down into three simple steps: Identify competitors and keywords, research backlinks, and run a complete audit on your page to identify areas for improvement. Using its suite of intuitive tools, you can analyze and filter ranking keywords related to your industry, discover who's ranking for the same keywords you're targeting, and even find out if Google considers your page "mobile-friendly." With this information and more available, you can figure out which areas of your site to improve and fast-track your way to a higher SERP ranking.

Lifetime subscriptions to SERPstash Premium are on sale in the Boing Boing Store for $29, more than 90% off their usual price.

Criminal corralled by crime-fighting cows

Last week, a Florida woman (because of course she’s from Florida) was caught rolling around in a stolen SUV. There was a chase! There was a crash! In an effort to escape her police entourage, 46-year old Jennifer Anne Kaufman left the other occupants of her pilfered ride behind and took off on foot. As she fled across a farmer's field, Kaufman could likely hear the sirens of the prowl cars that had been chasing her. The helicopter that the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office called in to help hunt her down? No way she’d have missed that.

Kaufman did not, however, account for the cows.

Rural crime is a serious issue: everyone’s gotta do their part, even livestock.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, after the cows and Seminole County Sheriff’s deputies took Kaufman and her pals, who were good enough to stick around, into custody, they had a chance to search the stolen SUV and discovered "…more than a gram of cocaine, a crack pipe, syringes and a metal spoon."

That’ll do cows. That’ll do.

Yeah, I know that it's more likely that the cattle were either curious or expecting to be fed by a human tromping through their field. But honestly, in a world so full of hate, violence and unspeakable dangers, I need to believe that, when faced with a situation like this one, a cow can be relied upon to rise up and mete out justice, that we all might sleep just a little bit easier.

Image via Pexels

A look at how Black Rock City rises from the dust

Ever wonder how the dusty blank slate of the Black Rock Desert becomes Burning Man's Black Rock City each year?

Well, my pal Shalaco has started vlogging and in his latest video he gives an interesting glimpse into this process by talking to the Survey crew as they create it. It's a really beautiful piece!

On the Burning Man Journal, he writes, "One impossible aspect about Black Rock City, and part of the nature of a city that is born every year, is that you can visit it at different times in its growth and development. Each and every year I visit, Black Rock City it is younger and younger. You can never visit New York when it was a colony or San Francisco before the gold rush, but you can do that with Black Rock City."

[Cue the music]

It all starts from here. The center of Black Rock City, the Man it all starts as and radiates from The Octagon. #BuildingBRC #BRCsurvey

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This is 7:00 & E. @phoenixfirestarter, Ankhor & Athibat use Euclidian geometry to square off the intersections along 7:00. This year intersections are smaller to encourage interaction. #buildingBRC #BRCSurvey

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“The Lines” extend from the center of Black Rock City over a mile to the outer streets flagging the intersections of the annular city streets #BRCSurvey #BuildingBRC

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Weird Al joins Weezer onstage to perform Toto's 'Africa'

At Weezer's show at The Forum in Los Angeles Wednesday, Weird Al got onstage mid-song to join the band in a cover of Toto's 1982 hit "Africa." You may remember that a 14-year-old recently convinced Weezer to cover "Africa."

Billboard:

"We're gonna take you on a distant voyage," promised singer Rivers Cuomo, who was sporting a classic sleeveless Nirvana T-shirt and rocking a flying V guitar. "To the continent of your choosing... where do you kids want to go tonight?" The question was rhetorical, of course, as "Africa" has become the highlight of the band's sets on their current co-headlining tour with The Pixies. Just moments after the crowd shouted "AFRICA!!!," the band kicked into the song's familiar heat mirage intro and Cuomo awkwardly played some air drums and then, just after the third verse, it happened.

"Weird Al" wandered out on stage in his signature Hawaiian shirt, his accordion at the ready to rip off a wicked solo. Al joined in on the chorus and finished it off with an accordion/guitar riff-off with Cuomo. And then, officially, summer was over.

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