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Repairing a decaying basketball court with the Japanese art of kintsugi

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Originating in the 15th century, kintsugi is the Japanese art/craft of repairing cracks in pottery by obviously filling in the breaks with lacquer and gold or other precious metals to celebrate the imperfections. Artist Victor Solomon, whose "Literally Balling" series is about basketball and opulence, applied kintsugi to a deteriorating basketball court in southern Los Angeles.

“With the heartbreaking beginning to 2020 and this weekend’s return of basketball – I’ve been thinking about the parallels between sport as a uniting platform to inspire healing and my ongoing experiments with the technique of Kintsugi that embellishes an objects repair with gold to celebrate it’s healing as formative part of the journey,” Solomon told Hypebeast.

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Manzabar
7 hours ago
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Cedar Rapids
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The reviews are in for artist Mitch O'Connell's Trump "They Live" billboards

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For the last few years, artist Mitch O'Connell (not Mitch McConnell) has been erecting billboards depicting Trump as one of the aliens in the classic science fiction movie They Live. Whenever he post an announcement to Facebook, angry people weigh in with their opinion, which Mitch happily uses to promote his projects. I laugh every time I read them.

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Manzabar
7 hours ago
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Cedar Rapids
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Law Firm Southtown Moxie Responds Hilariously To Stupid Cease And Desist Letter

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There are many ways to respond to a cease and desist notice over trademark rights. The most common response is probably fear-based capitulation. After all, trademark bullying works for a reason, and that reason is that large companies have access to large legal war chests while smaller companies usually just run away from their own rights. Another response is the aggressive defenses against the bullying. And, finally, every once in a while you get a response so snarky in tone that it probably registers on the richter scale, somehow.

The story of how a law firm called Southtown Moxie responded to a C&D from a (maybe?) financial services firm called Financial Moxie is of the snark variety. But first, some background.

Financial Moxie is a financial advisory catering to working moms. Or at least I think it is… the website also lists multiple fitness instructors on staff so I don’t know what that’s all about. The “moxie” term aligns with the phenomenon of “Moxie Tribes” which seem to be groups for working moms to talk about how awesome they are. It’s basically Goop with fewer vagina candles. Meanwhile “Southtown Moxie” is a law firm in Tennessee and North Carolina.

After receiving a cease and desist letter demanding that Southtown Moxie withdraw its trademark application, Kevin Christoper of Rockridge Venture Law (Southtown Moxie’s sibling firm) sat down with a beer to pen a response.

Which is how we get to the response. The full letter is embedded below, but you damn well know you're in for a treat when the response to a C&D notice begins with:

Dear Ms. Harper,

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your C&D letter and notice of opposition to our trademark application! This case presents a wonderful training opportunity for our noob associates. (And, lawyer-to-lawyer I must add it’s an honor to correspond with you. You are obviously a sensational salesperson-attorney to convince your client to pay you for challenging another law firm’s trademark application—I’m truly in awe and look forward to learning a thing or two from you. When I think of it, your client is paying you, and also giving us good trademark cannon fodder for our noobs, so it’s a win-win all around.)

And we're off! The letter then goes into noting all of the things Ms. Harper's client could buy instead of wasting everyone's time on a losing potential lawsuit. Examples include: a speedboat, glamorous clothing and jewelry, or hiring a social media influencer. The most important part of all of this, I have to stress, is that each example comes with an embedded photo of a barbie doll pantomiming these suggestions.

With that throat-clearing complete, the response goes on to note in creative terms that financial and legal services are not the same thing, nor in the same markets, and therefore any trademark concern evaporates.

But I wouldn’t be drinking a Purple Haze in my skivvies if I didn’t point out the irony that your client has hired you to represent her BECAUSE SHE IS NOT LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW. Based on your letter, she claims that our mark, limited to the provision of legal services, infringes upon her financial advisory, personal coaching, and tribal businesses and causes her great harm. Basically she thinks someone looking for “Moxie Tribe” fellowship is going to get sucked up into our vortex of intellectual property services.

The notice then goes on to note that Financial Moxie has a disclaimer listed on its site that all communication is intended for select states in America, none of which include North Carolina or Tennessee, where Southtown Moxie is located. So, different industries and different geographic locations. None of this adds up to a valid trademark dispute and it seems likely that Southtown Moxie is going to win in front of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

But, hey, we should at least thank Financial Moxie and its legal team for setting things up for this gem of a C&D response.

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Manzabar
17 hours ago
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Senators Graham And Blumenthal Can't Even 'Earn' The EARN IT Act: Looking To Sneak Vote Through Without Debate

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Senator Lindsey Graham very badly wants to push the extremely dangerous EARN IT Act across the finish line. He's up for re-election this fall, and wants to burnish his "I took on big tech" creds, and sees EARN IT as his path to grandstanding glory. Never mind the damage it will do to basically every one. While the bill was radically changed via his manager's amendment last month, it's still an utter disaster that puts basically everything we hold dear about the internet at risk. It will allow for some attacks on encryption and (somewhat bizarrely) will push other services to more fully encrypt. For those that don't do that, there will still be new limitations on Section 230 protections and, very dangerously, it will create strong incentives for internet companies to collect more personal information about every one of their users to make sure they're complying with the law.

It's a weird way to "attack" the power of big tech by forcing them to collect and store more of your private info. But, hey, it's not about what's actually in the bill. It's about whatever bullshit narrative Graham and others know the press will say is in the bill.

Either way, we've heard that Graham and his bi-partisan supporter for EARN IT, Senator Richard Blumenthal, are looking to rush EARN IT through with no debate, via a process known as hotlining. Basically, it's a way to try to get around any floor debate, by asking every Senator's office (by email, apparently!) if they would object to a call for unanimous consent. If no Senator objects, then they basically know they can skip debate and get the bill approved. If Senators object, then (behind the scenes) others can start to lean on (or horse trade) with the Senators to get the objections to go away without it all having to happen on the floor of the Senate. In other words, Graham and Blumenthal are recognizing that they probably can't "earn" the EARN IT Act if it has to go through the official process to have it debated and voted on on the floor, and instead are looking to sneak it through when no one's looking.

While Senator Wyden (once again) has said he'll do whatever he can to to block this, it would help if other Senators would stand up as well. Here's what Wyden had to say about it:

The EARN IT Act will not protect children. It will not stop the spread of child sexual abuse material, nor target the monsters who produce and share it, and it will not help the victims of these evil crimes. What it will do is threaten the free speech, privacy, and security of every single American. This is because, at its core, the amended EARN IT Act magnifies the failures of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act--SESTA--and its House companion, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act--FOSTA. Experts believe that SESTA/FOSTA has done nothing to help victims or stop sex trafficking, while creating collateral damage for marginalized communities and the speech of all Americans. A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of FOSTA on First Amendment grounds is proceeding through the courts, and there is bicameral Federal legislation to study the widespread negative impacts of the bill on marginalized groups.

Yet, the authors of the EARN IT Act decided to take this kind of carveout and expand it further to State civil and criminal statutes. By allowing any individual State to set laws for internet content, this bill would create massive uncertainty, both for strong encryption and constitutionally protected speech online. What is worse, the flood of State laws that could potentially arise under the EARN IT Act raises strong Fourth Amendment concerns, meaning that any CSAM evidence collected could be rendered inadmissible in court and accused CSAM offenders could get off scot-free. This is not a risk that I am willing to take.

Let me be clear: The proliferation of these heinous crimes against children is a serious problem. However, for these reasons and more, the EARN IT Act is not the solution. Moreover, it ignores what Congress can and should be doing to combat this heinous crime. The U.S. has a number of important evidence-based programs in existence that are proven to keep kids safe, and they are in desperate need of funding to do their good work. Yet the EARN IT Act doesn't include a single dollar of funding for these important programs. It is time for the U.S. Government to spend the funds necessary to save children's lives now.

While a Wyden hold would block any attempt to get unanimous consent via the hotlining process, it would help quite a lot if other Senators were willing to speak up and stand with him as well. If it's just Wyden, then he'll face tremendous pressure to remove the hold. If more Senators join Wyden in saying this isn't okay, then Graham and Blumenthal will realize they have a bigger challenge in front of them.

Again, if you haven't been following this debate closely, everything that Wyden says above is accurate. EARN IT is an attack on both free speech and privacy (a twofer) without doing anything to actually deal with the problem of child sexual abuse material online. That is very much a law enforcement issue, and it's one which Congress has failed to provide the funds to law enforcement that it promised on this issue, and (even worse) the DOJ has simply ignored its requirement mandates to deal with this issue as required by Congress. The DOJ seems more focused on attacking tech companies and blaming them for its own failure to do its job.

The EARN IT Act is an incredibly dangerous piece of legislation, but it's also a complicated one -- one that many people don't understand. But Senators see something that says "protect the children" and they immediately think "well, of course we support that." But this bill doesn't protect children. It attacks free speech and privacy online in very insidious ways. Please call your Senators and ask them not to let this through.

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Manzabar
1 day ago
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Small town newspaper obituary for COVID-19 victim blames Trump, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and covidiots everywhere

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On July 22, Marion County, Texas resident David W. Nagy, 79 died of COVID-19. His wife Stacey Nagy wrote an obituary for her husband that ran in the Jefferson Jimplecute newspaper. The newspaper has no Web site but someone snapped the photo above and it went viral. While some have questioned its authenticity, Snopes confirms that it's all too real. From Snopes:

[Stacey] Nagy said she has seen a lot people around her town failing to wear face masks, from drugstore employees to deputies at the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, even though Marion County is now under Abbott’s mask mandate.

“It gets me so angry that people are aren’t taking this seriously,” Nagy told us by phone. “The people who are dying are the older people especially — a lot of younger people are dying too — but it’s almost like they’re saying, ‘Who cares about the older people?’ I’ve been with my husband for 20 years and all of a sudden he’s gone. People should know how this makes others feel.”

She also expressed anger that the pandemic has been politicized. “It’s not political,” she said. “It’s life and death.[...]”

“I miss my husband dearly,” Nagy told us. “I’m taking one day at a time to just try to keep going. When I wrote that thing it was because of him. I don’t want his death just to disappear. I wrote that and partially, it keeps him alive for me.”

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Manzabar
1 day ago
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Alabama principal does a great parody of Can't Touch This to promote Covid safety

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"Hammer Time" becomes "Sanitize"  when Dr. Quentin J. Lee an Alabama principal, "sings a rap song about Covid to MC Hammer's classic hit of 'Can't Touch This.'"

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Manzabar
1 day ago
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