Amazon is used to facing harsh criticism. In fact, for many irate customers who didn’t receive their orders on time — especially around the holidays — going online to vent about the company’s broken delivery promises almost seems like a pastime.Take Connie V., an Amazon customer who claims on consumer complaints forum Planetfeedback that, despite paying extra for expedited delivery to ensure a Dec. 22 arrival date, her purchases did not come until the day after Christmas.”My gifts didn’t arrive until December 26th, which made my child question why Santa didn’t bring them in his sled,” she wrote. “I wrote two complaints to the Amazon site and never even received a reply.”Continue Reading… …
As the pastime of file-sharing attracts more and more followers, questions are asked not only about the technical issues involved, but also the legal aspects.
Questions such as where to find the best sites and how to speed up downloads are increasingly matched by queries on how to stay anonymous and keep the right side of the law.
Using a VPN or similar tool is a route taken by many individuals who wish to fly under the radar but a new scheme just launched by Ung Pirat, the youth division of the Swedish Pirate Party, aims to solve the problem via a different route.
“The laws governing your use of the Internet are changing all the time. It is difficult to always keep up to date on what has changed,” their company Sharing is Caring explains.
“There are a plethora of different licenses for images, text and music that regulate what you can do with the material. Often it is not clear what rules apply. Often the rules are pretty stupid.”
To help remove some of the uncertainty, Sharing is Caring has just launched an organization called K-Kassan (K-Checkout) which will help clear up the mess for those caught sharing files.
“Our organization pays fines that people get for non-commercial file-sharing over peer-to-peer protocols,” Sharing is Caring told TorrentFreak.
“The Internet is hard to navigate when you try to stay legal. The rules are advanced and very unclear,” they add. “Can people stream stuff legally? Can people tell the legal from the illegal stuff on The Pirate Bay? What happens if people’s kids download illegal stuff?”
The way it works sounds fairly straightforward. File-sharers seeking protection will sign up to the scheme and contribute around $39 each to a central fund to be called on in the event that a member is targeted.
“This amount goes to the collective account along with the starting capital we have, and every time a member gets a fine for file sharing, we fund 100% of the fine,” we were informed.
Sharing is Caring say that with the scheme they hope to offer reassurance to file-sharers.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty about these questions in society. So instead of forcing people to live in fear, they can now join our organization, and they won’t have to worry about making mistakes that end up in fines,” they conclude.
The scheme is certainly food for thought. Despite the increase in Swedish file-sharing cases in recent years the odds of being held to account for copyright infringement are statistically still very low indeed. That being said, new cases are appearing every month and could be set to rise.
However, it’s worth mentioning that in most recent cases involving a guilty verdict, on top of fines there has been some other element to file-sharers’ punishments, such as suspended sentences. Additionally, while this scheme covers the payment of fines, it does not yet cover rightholder damages claims.
On the flip side the membership fee is quite low, on a par with the cost of a value for money VPN service. Also, the shared interest element of the project may enhance the sense of community for those involved in the scheme and could potentially cause it to develop into a hub offering help and advice for file-sharers on a larger scale.
Only time will tell what users will come to rely on. Technology, insurance, or good old fashioned luck.
Source: Pirate Party Crowd-Sources File-Sharing Fine Settlements
Having lost several pretty nice pocket knives at
airports over the years because I forgot to leave them at home or
put them in a checked bag, I was pleased to hear that I do not have
to worry about that anymore, thanks to the Transportation Security
decree concerning what you may and may not carry onto a plane,
which Scott Shackford
noted here yesterday. But then I checked the fine print: The
blade of your knife can be no longer than 2.36 inches (six
centimeters). I am looking at my Leatherman Juice S2 right now, and
I have a ruler, but I still am not sure whether it will pass
muster. Although the actual blade of the knife is almost exactly
six centimeters, I am a little worried that a persnickety TSA agent
will count the additional centimeter or so of unsharp metal at the
base of the blade. Do they seriously plan to measure the blades of
pocket knives, or just eyeball them? (“Yep, that looks like six
centimeters to me.”) And not to rock the plane now that the TSA,
after more than a decade, has finally come to its senses on this
issue, but the blade on my newly permitted pocket knife is about
twice as long as the blade of my still-prohibited box cutter.
I would also welcome the decision to allow souvenir baseball
bats (no longer than 24 inches, please) in airplane cabins, except
that I did not realize until now that they were banned. Also OK as
of next month: actual, full-size billiard cues, ski poles, hockey
sticks, lacrosse sticks, and golf clubs (limit: two). Again, not to
make trouble, but if real baseball bats are still banned because
they can function as weapons, it is hard to see why these other
long, hard objects, some of which people actually have been known
to use against home invaders or fellow bar brawlers, are now
considered unthreatening. Does the TSA have something against
America’s Pastime? (That is what they call baseball, right?)
I was planning to write a tongue-in-cheek
post mocking the new TSA policy, but two things stopped me: Andy
already did that, and I read about the 7-year-old who was
suspended for two days from Park Elementary School in Anne
Arundel County, Maryland, last Friday for allegedly saying “bang,
bang” while holding a government-distributed, Pop-Tart-like pastry
that he had chewed into a shape vaguely resembling a gun. As
The Washington Post ;explains,
there is some dispute about exactly what happened:
[William "B.J."] Welch [the boy's father] said an assistant
principal at Park Elementary School told him that his son pointed
the pastry at a classmate—though the child maintains he pointed it
at the ceiling.
“In my eyes, it’s irrelevant; I don’t care who he pointed it
at,” Welch said. “It was harmless. It was
The Post notes that the boy’s suspension is the latest
in a series of questionable disciplinary decisions by school
officials in the Washington, D.C., area (and
elsewhere) who are determined to enforce a zero-tolerance
policy regarding gun-related whimsy. Other highlights include the
arrest (!) of a 10-year-old boy for showing his friends a toy gun
while riding on a school bus and the suspension of a 5-year-old
talked about shooting a classmate…with a bubble-blowing Hello
Kitty gun. ;So for those who complain
that taxpayers do not get much return for the money they keep
pumping into public education, here is something amazing that
government-funded schools are accomplishing: They are making the
TSA look sensible.
Addendum: Katherine Mangu-Ward was first to
blog the gun-shaped pastry, followed by the Reason 24/7
mention I noted and a
post by Jesse Walker. Look for a special issue of
Reason ;devoted to the subject next month.
[Thanks to Ron Steiner and Mark Lambert for the links.] …
Wrapping themselves in the American flag is a popular pastime among our nation’s prominent institutions. But is it secretly possible for them to commit crimes against active duty members, and pay no price?Imagine that you’re serving at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. You’ve been in country nine months, coping with hazardous and punishing conditions, trying to survive and return to your family. Then you get a call from your spouse that they’re about to be evicted from the family home. The sense of anxiety is acute, and so is the feeling of helplessness – you’re thousands of miles away, focused on your mission, and you’re wracked with regret and guilt, unable to protect your family from the tragedy and shame of foreclosure.This has happened at least 700 times to servicemembers on missions overseas since the beginning of the foreclosure crisis in 2008. And it’s actually illegal; it violates the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a statute that carries criminal penalties. The nation’s biggest banks have admitted to the conduct before Congress and in regulatory filings, and they only recently acknowledged that they illegally foreclosed on ten times as many servicemembers as they previously claimed. Any serious effort to hold banks accountable for routine abuse of homeowners should include prosecutions of this execrable behavior. But the government rolled out settlements years before the true depth of these violations ever began to come to light.Continue Reading… …
When I grow up, I want to be a mass murderer.This was the opening sentence of a journal entry I wrote in my second grade Language Arts class, responding to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”Each day of the school week, we were supposed to write in our journals, a minimum of a page, either in response to assigned prompts from our teacher, Mrs. McKierney, or through free writing at the start of class. We were encouraged to share our feelings and to say what was on our minds. The goal of the journals was to promote the act of writing, but my chief pastime as an 8-year-old boy was playing Nintendo, which didn’t require much capacity for language beyond dull grunts, hollers and the occasional curse word said under my breath when my mother was home or screamed when she wasn’t.I had only written a few entries on the night before they were due for Mrs. McKierney’s monthly checkup. Watching TV in my bedroom, which is how I always did my homework, I wrote more than 20 of them, penning response after response to prompts such as “What will you do over spring break?” and “Write about your favorite hobby and why you love it.” My mother promised me a Nintendo game if I received an A, so I was motivated, even though anything school-related was worse than eating vegetables, something I often refused to do without bribery, too.Continue Reading… …
After divorce, it’s easy to go a little crazy if you don’t find something to take your mind off the split.
But what exactly? On Thursday, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to share with us the activities and hobbies that helped them make better use of their time and reduce stress post-split. From the escapism of a book to the quiet of meditation, click through the slides below for some pastime inspiration, then head to the comments to share with us the activity that helped you de-stress after divorce.
The question of whether or not Michelle Obama was “throwing shade” at John Boehner after last week’s inauguration likely hadn’t been asked of a first lady before; the term, which originated in the drag world, has officially entered the language. Before there was Michelle’s eye roll, there was a winter of Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey reading each other in clips from the nation’s most popular television show. Recently, Prince threw shade at Madonna. “Dissing” someone is so 2004!
“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the show that helped to bring drag culture into the mainstream, returns for a fifth season tonight, and the question is: Is everyone a little bit queeny? Has “shade-throwing” — the sort of sly, cutting insults that, coincidentally, tend to clock in under 140 characters — become a national pastime? And is there anything risky about drag queens when everything from their language to their costumes (the proudly, comically outré Katy Perry and Lady Gaga) is mainstream?