GOP lawmakers attempt to define gay marriage as 'parody'

GOP bigots in South Carolina and Wyoming have decided to try and weasel around the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed "legal" marriage to everyone.

I can not begin to understand the religious babble these 'lawmakers' enter into, trying to describe how two people committing to share their lives is anything wrong. Jeff March, the president of South Carolina Pride, commented “Pure prejudice is what that is. Pure outright prejudice.

Via PinkNews:

Republicans in South Carolina and Wyoming are pushing new bills to segregate same-sex weddings and legally redefine them as a “parody” of marriage.

Six GOP lawmakers unveiled the ‘Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act’ bill to the South Carolina House last week. 

The bill appears to be an attempt to segregate same-sex marriage from heterosexual unions in the wake of the 2015 Supreme Court decision that brought equal marriage to all 50 states.

The proposed law seeks to define “any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman” as a “parody marriage”.

The lawmakers claim that ” the State of South Carolina’s decision to respect, endorse, and recognize parody marriages and sexual orientation policies has excessively entangled the government with the religion of Secular Humanism, failed to accomplish its intended purpose, and created an indefensible legal weapon against nonobservers”.

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There's a semi-secret Burning Man calendar that you can (shockingly) buy

While some can only think of the Burning Man as a party in the desert, diehard Burners, its citizens, will tell you that it's much more than it. They'll tell you that it's a year-round community whose leadership is, amongst other things, determined to protect their unique culture from commodification. People looking to exploit the culture with "commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising" will promptly be shutdown. Amazingly, besides some coffee and ice, nothing at the annual Burning Man desert event is for sale.

In fact, decommodification is so important to them that they've made it one of their 10 Principles.

Now, I've been in the Burning Man community since 1995 and I've just learned this week that the Project does actually have one product for sale: a calendar. You can buy it online, like I just did.

Through a recent blog post on her site, I discovered that my pal Arin Fishkin has been the calendar's designer since its beginning in 2004. In the post, she not only shares the calendar's history -- highlighted by lovely sample pages of each year's edition -- but also tells why an organization that protects itself from commodification is selling it to begin with. She writes:

The funds from the purchase price go to producing the calendar which is primarily gifted to staff, volunteers, visiting dignitaries, politicians and….mayors. As I understand it, having items available for purchase is one way to claim and protect their trademark. So we make this beautiful thing, that is mostly given away, and mostly kept secret.
Read the rest

Flowers look way more beautiful if you're a bug

The world looks a lot cooler if you're a bug, as Craig P. Burrows demonstrates in his striking series of flowers shot in ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence. Read the rest

Amnesty International warns that Trump's hatemongering sets "a dangerous precedent for other governments to follow."

If you've had the sneaking suspicion over the past year that the world is going to hell, you're not alone. Amnesty International's 2017-2018 State of the World's Human Rights Annual Report says that in many countries, the politics of hate and fear are quickly becoming the norm.

The report, which covers the activities of 159 countries paints a troubling picture of the conditions that many people are forced to endure on an alarmingly more regular basis. For those who keep track of human rights issues, this is old hat--the world can be a shitty place, full of shitty people doing shitty things to folks that don't deserve it. What's new this year, although it's likely news to no one, is that America is one of a small group of countries at the forefront of Amnesty International's concerns. In a press release for the report, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, states:

"The specters of hatred and fear now loom large in world affairs, and we have few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times. Instead, leaders such as al-Sisi, Duterte, Maduro, Putin, Trump and Xi are callously undermining the rights of millions."

The report goes on call out the Trump administration's attempted rollback of women's rights and to block the entry of visitors and immigrants from Muslim countries, as particularly troubling and that Trump's "...backward steps on human rights are setting a dangerous precedent for other governments to follow."

The whole text of the annual report is available for download, here. Read the rest

This tool helps your site beat the SEO scramble

The web is vast, and while there's room for everyone, competition is stiff when it comes to landing on that first page of a Google search. That's why developers aren't afraid to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure their sites rank higher than others. However, not all of us have these resources, especially when we're just starting out. That's where SEOPop comes in. This tool helps you visualize your site's SEO performance and gives you tips on how to improve it, all for $9.99.

SEOPop analyzes a website to generate an SEO report card based off of an extensive list of factors and then creates an in-depth audit of the URL being examined. From there, you can look at your site's report card, identify problems, and see how it stacks up against the competition. You'll get insights on your site's speed and loading times, plus you'll also receive breakdowns of your social signal impact in SEO, including Facebook and Twitter page analysis.

SEOPop gives you the means to improve your site's exposure while keeping tabs on your competition, and it's on sale for a limited time. Normally retailing for $149.99, lifetime subscriptions are available for $9.99 in the Boing Boing Store. Read the rest

A Fresh Voice for San Francisco

Editor's note: I've known Shahid Buttar for years, in his capacity as an activist organizer, drawing on his background as a constitutional lawyer and his deep commitment to a just world to help start effective grassroots groups across America; now Shahid has taken leave from EFF to challenge Nancy Pelosi -- a consistent force for more surveillance and profits over people -- for the Democratic nomination to Congress in San Francisco's 12th District. I'm proud to endorse his candidacy. -Cory Read the rest

Trump and the weird attention economy of Facebook

When you try to buy online ads from Facebook's self-serve ad-auctioning platform, merely being the highest bidder isn't enough to guarantee that your ads will get through: Facebook multiplies your bid by a software-generated prediction about how responsive the audience will be to it, so the clickbaitier your ad is, the less it costs to place it. Read the rest

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was surrounded by cowering "good guys with guns"

While a shooter rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, the school's armed cop (who was a Broward County Sheriff's Deputy) and three of his deputy colleagues were hiding behind a police car outside the school. Read the rest

Gothamist unionized and its evil Trumpist billionaire owner shut it down; now public radio is bringing it back

Last November, evil Trump-supporting billionaire Joe Ricketts shut down Gothamist (and its sister sites) to punish its staff for forming a union. Read the rest

Paul Manafort's inability to save Word files as PDFs provided the evidence necessary to indict him for fraud

Paul Manafort, one-time Trump campaign manager, has been indicted for cooking his books in order to qualify for a loan; prosecutors secured the evidence of his fraud by searching his email, which contained attachments that clearly showed him doctoring his financial statements and then emailing them to his co-conspirator Richard Gates so Gates could convert them to PDFs, which literally just involves selecting "Save As..." and choosing "PDF." Read the rest

Taking one cent, ever, from the NRA should disqualify you from ever running for office as a Democrat

New Jersey State Senator Jeff Van Drew wants to run for Congress as a Democrat; he visited 17-year-old Emily McGrath's school, Egg Harbor Township High, where McGrath questioned him about whether he'd taken money from the NRA; Van Drew said he hadn't, and he was lying. Read the rest

You know who hates Net Neutrality? The NRA.

It's CPAC! The annual far-right hootenanny for preppers, false-flaggers, climate deniers, truthers, and the sort of person who closes their eyes and thinks of The Fountainhead, featuring Marion Maréchal-Le Pen of France, Nigel Farage, Sean Hannity, and mass-murder enthusiast Wayne LaPierre. Read the rest

Candles for book lovers

Candles that smell like a bookstore, old books, or a musty old cellar? Pal, you sure like books!

My home is filled with books, and pets. Guess which one lends more to the olfactory nature of my domicile? Frequently, especially after running the carpet deep-cleaner, I'll want to light a candle... or burn a sage Great Pyrenees in effigy.

Candle store candles, or simply walking into one of those mall candle-shops, makes me sick-to-my-stomach. Finding candles that help clear the air, rather than fill it with a chemical scent worse than hospital, is pretty tough. Bookstore is working well for me, tho I am not sure which bookstore it is supposed to be. Most of them now smell like their coffee counter.

Bookstore - Book Lovers' Soy Candle - 8oz Jar via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

US Customs and Border Protection made forging e-passports easier

One of the things that make every RFID implanted US Passport 'safe' is each document's unique cryptographic identifier. Customs and Border Protection can use this key to verify the authenticity of each passport, if they'd bother to install the software to do so.

For 12 years they have not.

Via Wired:

Passports, like any physical ID, can be altered and forged. That's partly why for the last 11 years the United States has put RFID chips in the back panel of its passports, creating so-called e-Passports. The chip stores your passport information—like name, date of birth, passport number, your photo, and even a biometric identifier—for quick, machine-readable border checks. And while e-Passports also store a cryptographic signature to prevent tampering or forgeries, it turns out that despite having over a decade to do so, US Customs and Border Protection hasn't deployed the software needed to actually verify it.

This means that since as far back as 2006, a skilled hacker could alter the data on an e-Passport chip—like the name, photo, or expiration date—without fear that signature verification would alert a border agent to the changes. That could theoretically be enough to slip into countries that allow all-electronic border checks, or even to get past a border patrol agent into the US.

...and they need a wall. Read the rest

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler pens a touching thank you to fans

Following the unprecedented success of his film Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler shared this sweet thank-you letter via the Marvel Studios Twitter account:

The letter reads:

I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try. Filmmaking is a team sport. And our team was made up [of] amazing people from all over the world who believed in this story. Deep down we all hoped that people would come to see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of people of African descent.

Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film. But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters often moved me and my wife to tears.

For the people who bought out theaters, who posted on social about how lit the film would be, bragged about our awesome cast, picked out outfits to wear, and who stood in line in theaters all over the world, all before even seeing the film…

To the press who wrote about the film for folks who hadn’t yet seen it, and encouraged audiences to come out…

And to the young ones, who came out with their parents, with their mentors, and with their friends…

Thank you for giving our team of filmmakers the greatest gift: The opportunity to share this film, that we poured our hearts and souls into, with you.

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The existential horror of Logan Paul

Rightfully disdained for his callous behavior but still adored by millions of fans, YouTuber Logan Paul clearly inspires some very intense emotions in those who watch his channel. In this thoughtful 19-minute video, video essayist Big Joel takes an objective look at why that is by examining Paul’s evolving YouTube persona and the troubling, damaging path it’s taken.

For another smart critical take on Logan Paul, check out this video by Nathan Zed:

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Incredible overview of making mirrors for the world's largest telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope is a marvel of engineering, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy explains the years-long process to make an optic mirror that costs over $20 million. Read the rest

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