Bleats

Facebook's Play At 'Spreading Festive Cheer' Has Backfired With Biosecurity Laws

Is sending politicians flowers ever a good idea though?

There are several reactions that people can have when receiving a bunch of flowers. Calling the cops isn’t usually one of them, but that’s where Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie went when he got a floral arrangement from Facebook sent to his office from Sydney.

In an interview, Wilkie said that the flowers “immediately sparked concerns about implications for the Tasmanian environment and the likelihood of it being a serious breach of Tasmania’s tough but entirely warranted biosecurity laws.”

“My office immediately contacted Biosecurity Tasmania who were very concerned that the arrangement had not been quarantine cleared and likely contained live seeds and the possibility of serious pests and diseases.”

According to Facebook, they sent all the Tasmanian federal MPs and Senators a bunch of flowers to “to spread some festive cheer.” A classic example of good intentions, terrible execution.

You hear that, Facebook? No illegal flowers needed.

The website for Tassie’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (aka the people in charge of what gets in and out of the state) says that they have some of the world’s toughest biosecurity requirements, so overall Zuckerberg (well, his underlings, but I like to think it was him) really did a great job of picking where to send their flowers.

People try and ship all sorts of things around the country without thinking about what will actually happen when their gift arrives.

There was that time that a South Australia tourism company decided to send a bunch of live goldfish to media organisations to promote themselves. Not only was this a terrible idea and a biosecurity nightmare, but when the fish got to their destinations they were… not… alive….

There was a similar situation when a PR company sent live butterflies to journalists. The exact same thing happened. Asia O’Hara should have learned from these people’s mistakes, but I digress.

This moment could have been avoided
(Credit: VH1)

And lest we forget, the most spectacular biosecurity breach in modern history: that time Johnny Depp and Amber Heard got a massive telling off from Barnaby Joyce for bringing their dogs into the country. Facebook sending flowers is amusing, but probably won’t end with Barnaby Joyce threatening to kill anything.

I live in hope that one day soon we’ll see Zuckerberg forced to film a video like this:

Could The Alexa By Your Bed Help Solve A Murder?

Alexa, call the police.

Home assistants and smart speakers are popping up in more and more homes, helping us out with the mundane and not so mundane aspects of life. Falling into the not so mundane category, Florida police are using audio from two Amazon Alexa devices to try and solve a murder case

Not the witness you’d expect

The case involves a woman, Silvia Galva, who was killed after a domestic dispute ended with her being impaled through the chest with a wooden spear. Her boyfriend, Adam Crespo, has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder, and says that her death was an accident after he pulled her off the bed and she landed on the spear. 

There wasn’t anybody else in the room at the time, but police are hoping that the two Alexa devices near by will serve as a witness. Their theory is that if at some point during the domestic dispute, a wake word was said, then one or both of the devices may have recorded the fight and tell police whether this case is actually a murder or not. 

Just after someone thought of using the Alexa, probably

Amazon was contacted to see what they thought about all this, and a representative made a statement that said Amazon “does not disclose customer information in response to government demands unless we’re required to do so to comply with a legally valid and binding order.”

Yeah ok, makes sense

Basically they’re not going to hand over audio unless they’re legally obliged to. It’s a solid rule to follow, but one that they may have to look at more and more often. We’ve already seen cases of smart home assistants helping out in crimes before this one. Most recently audio from an Alexa was used in solving a double murder in New Hampshire, and a domestic violence incident in New Mexico

The Silvia Galva case is still ongoing, and will be definitely one to keep an eye on. However this particular case turns out, it almost certainly won’t be the last time we see a headline that involves the words “Alexa” and “murder”.

Just Cos The Arctic's Melting Doesn't Mean We Should Smash Ships Through It

The ice is in bad enough shape as it is

We all know climate change is a massive problem, and not many places are feeling the impacts quite like the Arctic. It’s warmed more than any other region on Earth, and is losing tons more ice in every summer melt than it should be. This is bad for everyone who wants to keep living on this planet, but in proof that humans will try and make money out of literally anything, shipping companies are wanting to change their Arctic shipping routes and bash those ships through the remaining ice.

Not good news

The arctic has been used as a shipping shortcut forever, but it’s only really useable during the summer months. These shorter routes can cut thousands of miles off the shipping journeys, which makes them the far cheaper option as far as the company is concerned. It’s pretty much impossible to get through during winter because of, you know, all the snow and ice. As the ice starts to melt though, these shipping routes are accessible for more and more of the year. 

Canada, who has huge lengths of coastline in the arctic, seems to be all for this. Their Trade Minister, Jim Carr, said that “ there is going to be trade routes and shipping routes that will, within a matter of a generation, probably available all year round”, and phrased this as an ~additional possibility~ for the future of the country. 

Smash, smash

Canada seems like a great country, it has a lot going for it. Bears, maple syrup, the same Prime Minister for several years, all that jazz. It’s also got 40% of its land mass within the arctic circle, so it should probably care a hell of a lot about keeping the arctic in the best shape it can be.

Smashing through the ice with a massive icebreaker ship is certainly not the worst environmental issue facing the arctic, but it definitely doesn’t help. The area has already lost 95% of its oldest and thickest ice, and what’s still there isn’t in the greatest shape.

We don’t need to change the current Arctic shipping routes, they’re working well as it is. And we certainly don’t need ships blasting through what’s left of the ice.

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