Brexit, the ‘Bird Box’ challenge and other forms of madness

Planet Business: Nike’s self-lacing shoes, YouTube’s banned pranks; UK’s ticking clock

Ticket barriers on the London Underground: substantially more frictionless than Brexit. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Ticket barriers on the London Underground: substantially more frictionless than Brexit. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

 

In numbers: Brexit paralysis, part 697

939 Number of days since June 23rd, 2016, when the UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum that David Cameron said would “settle” its relationship with Europe.

95 Years since a UK government has suffered as heavy a defeat as Theresa May’s did on Tuesday when parliament rejected her EU withdrawal deal by a majority of 230.

70 Number of days until March 29th, 2019, when the UK is, as of now, scheduled to drop out of the EU, with or without a deal. Tick tock.

Image of the week: The People’s Commute

Either the apocalypse has already happened, or this picture was taken during the one minute of the day when no one was powering through the ticket barriers at Westminster underground station, seen here carrying advertisements for the People’s Vote campaign. The push for a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, which has some serious political and financial backers, has been claiming its fair share of behind-the-anchor screen time on news channels of late, though given London itself has been “Remain” all along, these Tube ads suggesting another referendum is “the only way forward” are likely to be preaching to the converted.

Look, no hands: Nike is producing trainers with ‘power laces’ that can be controlled by smartphone. Photograph: Nike via PA.
Look, no hands: Nike is producing trainers with ‘power laces’ that can be controlled by smartphone. Photograph: Nike via PA.

Getting to know: Nike’s self-lacing trainers

In perhaps fatal news for the evolution of the human body’s ability to bend, Nike has developed a self-lacing shoe that can be controlled from a smartphone. The Nike Adapt BB basketball shoes fit themselves to the shape of the foot and are equipped with “power laces”, which tighten or loosen at the press of the button either on a connected smartphone or – in a brand new innovation – on the trainers themselves. So, on the one hand, this seems like an easy-to-mock form of technological progress, and on the other, more important one, products such as these will make life simpler for people with dexterity issues and disabilities. Coming to all good sportswear shops in the future: trainers that can be programmed to put themselves on and take you on a run whether you like it or not.

Sandra Bullock in ‘Bird Box’: No YouTubers were harmed during the making of this movie. Afterwards, we’re not so sure
Sandra Bullock in ‘Bird Box’: No YouTubers were harmed during the making of this movie. Afterwards, we’re not so sure

The list: YouTube’s banned pranks

The “Bird Box challenge”, in which idiots mimic Sandra Bullock’s character in the film Bird Box and do stuff – like driving – blindfolded, has proven a dangerous stunt too far for Google-owned YouTube, which has been moved to revamp its guidelines for users and make clear that certain things are not acceptable.

1. Risk of death. “Challenges” that present an apparent risk of death and have caused death in some instances, including the Tide pod challenge and the Fire challenge, “have no place on YouTube”.

2. Risk of serious physical injury. Pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger – “for example, a home invasion prank or a drive-by shooting prank” – are also not allowed.

3. Stunts involving children. Videos showing activities that can pose an imminent risk of injury or bodily harm to a child will be taken down, YouTube says.

4. Child trauma. YouTube says it has “worked directly with child psychologists” to develop guidelines banning pranks that “cross the line”, with examples including videos showing children being tricked into believing their parents had died.

5. Other stuff. Anything that incites violence, hard drug use or “instructional bomb making” are also on the list, which YouTube stresses is “not exhaustive”, perhaps because if the internet has taught us anything, it’s that the ways in which people can be terrible are also not exhaustive.

 

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