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This Week in the New Normal #84

Our successor to This Week in the Guardian, This Week in the New Normal is our weekly chart of the progress of autocracy, authoritarianism and economic restructuring around the world.

1. Yet another “online harms” Bill

Just a few weeks since the UK passed its new “Online Safety Act”, the Canucks are joining the party.

The new “Online Harms Bill” looks near identical to the UK version actually, which you’d expect given that both are influenced by UNESCO’s “guidelines for regulating digital platforms”.

Unsurprisingly, the draft law has already been given the media thumbs up, and called “one of the best” by the Facebook whistleblower (you can read what we think of here here).

Expect a longer article on this subject during the week.

2. The Bechdel Test…for climate change

I genuinely thought this story was a joke when I first heard it, which I’m surprised can still happen to me. Sadly, it is real.

The Hollywood Reporter published a story this week detailing a new “test” for “climate change depiction”, and claiming the Oscars will be testing movies against it.

The Climate Reality Check will ask writers and directors two simple questions: Does climate change exist in this work? And do your characters know it?

Answering “no” to either will mean your movie fails the test. It’s billed as the “Bechdel Test for Climate Change”. Which is absurd on several levels.

For those who don’t know, the “Bechdel Test” (or Bechdel-Wallace Test) is a thought experiment meant to test how “representative” or “feminist” a piece of media is. It asks three simple questions: 1) Are there 2 or more female characters, 2) Do they talk to each other, 3) About something other than a man.

It’s also a joke. I’m not being disparaging, it was just a little joke in a comic strip from the 1980s, the author Alison Bechdel has said it a hundred times.

That doesn’t stop people like Anna Jane Joyner, founder and CEO of the company who developed the Climate Reality Check, telling the Hollywood Reporter:

The Bechdel-Wallace Test debuted in a 1985 comic strip. Four decades later, it still resonates as one of the most effective tools for measuring female representation in film and television.

She’s wrong. It was a joke. The new “Bechdel test for climate” is a joke too, of course, but a less intentional one.

3. The Future of Driving

In Australia this week, Mitsubishi announced the release of their first Utility Vehicle (“Ute”) with an onboard “driver monitoring system”, a mix of AI sensors and cameras designed to detect if a driver is sleepy or losing focus:

(There’s an article about it here, behind a paywall I’m afraid)

What does the company do with the data they capture? Do they keep it private? Who knows.

This system of driver surveillance will be mandatory in all new vehicles in sold in the EU by 2026, along with other measures such as “Alcohol interlock installation facilitation”. Alongside that, the EU is also tabling ideas about restricting or even banning repairs on older vehicles.

Meanwhile, in the US in 2022, the Senate passed a new law requiring remote “kill switches” to be added to all newly built cars.

It’s not hard to see where all this is going.

BONUS: Accidental(?) Redpill of the week

Breaking news this week is that former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss said something coherent and true…

Talking to Steve Bannon, Truss recounted how little power she found she had when she became PM, especially when compared to unelected officials and bureaucrats:

What I’m saying is that if the Bank of England governor can’t be sacked, and the Prime-Minister can be sacked, then the Bank of England governor has more power.”

I don’t know if this is just Truss talking out of school, or if the play is to discredit this basic political truism by associating it with an idiot, but there’s no denying she’s totally correct.

It’s not all bad…

Oh and Lord Jacob Rothschild died. I’m not keen on celebrating a death in general, but maybe this Empirical evidence that the Satanic rituals don’t make you immortal will discourage the others.

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All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention how eating insects is good for your guts or how George Galloway winning the Rochdale bye-election has saved democracy or something.

There’s a lot of change in the air, a lot of agendas in the works, if you see a headline, article, post or interview you think is a sign of the times, post it in the comments, email us or share it on social media and we will add it to the next edition.

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