afterthree: (Default)
Federal Judge Vaughn Walker performed one of the most rational smackdowns I've ever seen in his ruling overturning California's Proposition 8 yesterday. The ruling is worth reading (though if you can't spare the time for all 138 pages, do at least read through some of the findings of fact, half of which have been helpfully summed at the Yes Means Yes blog or in full in the ruling itself on pages 56 thru 111, and read through Judge Walker's conclusions starting on page 111 and running through to the end at 138.

You can also wander over to my other blog and read my full commentary on the Prop 8 ruling if you so fancy. (Also, for anyone who wants to follow the other blog on LJ automatically, I created a Livejournal Syndicated account for it you can follow and see any posts there in your LJ feed here.)

Also: I just now saw that Elena Kagan has been confirmed to the Supreme Court! :D

afterthree: (Default)
Back to posting regularly again...
  • If you're flailing because you heard death by methane bubble is the way the world is gonna end, rest easy: from io9, the methane doomsday story has been debunked good and proper. Also, Deborah Blum over at Speakeasy Science calls out the irresponible reporting that started all this.


  • Also, because this enraged me today, apparently if you're carrying more than two condoms around with you in D.C., you can be charged with prostitution. Proof positive that we never waste a moment to A) discourage safer sex, and B) assume that all women who carry condems -- you know, maybe because they enjoy sex -- are whores. *headdesk*


  • Swing dancing on Saturday night was lots of fun! It was meltingly hot, so you could only do a couple of dances at a time before you had to retreat to bottled water and the (slightly) cooler temperatures outside, but aside from that it was a good time. I'll definitely go back again. They did some kind of crazy swing/line dance at the end of the night that I want to learn thought I'm not sure my feet move that fast.


  • Caught the last act of the SOSFest on Whyte Ave last night, and while I'm not Shout Out Out Out Out's biggest fan, the street-party vibe on Whyte was infectious and responsible. For all the people having a good time, there was no destruction or chaos. I do wonder how much the event being held on a Sunday night impacted that point, and whether the party would have been quite so relaxed if it'd been a Friday or Saturday.


  • I think the plan is to work remotely from St. Albert tomorrow and do laundry while I'm there, which will free up my evening for some Shakespeare in the Park for the evening. Also, it sounds like it might work out well for user testing in St. Albert tomorrow afternoon, so clearly it's fate.


  • Still haven't been down to the Street Performer's Festival yet: hoping to go Wednesday after work if the weather cooperates.


  • My road trip to Vancouver with Sister to visit Brother and Sister-in-Law is fast approaching, and I'm so very ready to leave town for a week. I haven't had a real vacation in two years, and I'm itching to get away. I'm trying not to think about it too much because it's hard to focus on work, life and such when I do, but... *bouncebouncebounce*


  • I may be starting another blog project. Because obviously I don't blog enough yet. :P I'm pitching an idea later this week and depending on the reception, I'll go ahead or not. I don't really need a lot of help, but I do want a second opinion from someone who's been in the skeptic community longer than I have as to the value. Also, I've been itching to mess around with some CSS3 and have been hoarding links on delicious, and this may be the perfect excuse.


  • Also going to take my first attempt at building an iPhone stylesheet, probably during the first week in August when I get back from the Road Trip of Sisterly Win. Should be a challenging and interesting project, which is just my cup of tea.


  • Speaking of tea, almost out of tea! :O This will never do. Time to stock up again.

    I've become such a massive tea snob it isn't even funny. Every time I have bag tea now I'm disappointed, and at restaurants when all they have is Red Rose tea I sneer. Currently my plan is to bring a tea stash with me on the Road Trip of Sisterly Win because I simply cannot bear to be without it for an entire week. This means I also need to bring a french press or other such method of properly infusing said tea. So much for packing light.


  • Speaking of Road Trip of Sisterly Win, I have to clean out my car before I can take it anywhere. It also needs an oil change. And possibly a tune-up. I should probably get on that. *eep*

afterthree: (no wait i'm always right)
Jason Kenney, notorious for his anti-gay-marriage opinions, is apparently responsible for pulling sections of the Canadian citizenship guide about the rights of homosexuals in Canada. This includes references to homosexuality being decriminalized in 1969, that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005. The reason he gives for pulling the mention? Brevity. Apparently those mentions bogged down the 63-page guide.

Uh-huh.

This is not my Canada, either, Mr. Kenney. I'd like for new people looking to make Canada home to A) know that, if they identify with the LGBT community, our country supports them and recognizes them with full rights by law; and B) if they don't identify with that group and have problems with it, the Canadian legal system doesn't condone discrimination or hate. I'm not saying I need an 8 page treatise, but the 50 words Kenney axed seems pretty petty.

afterthree: (doctor points)
I feel as thought I haven't posted very much in January. This is because I haven't. :P There are several half-written posts sitting all over the place, but I never seem to have the time to finish them.

But there is stuff! So I'm bringing the bullet points:

  • Fandom friends! Once again there's a fandom charity event taking place, this time to raise funds to help people in Haiti. Last time we had a fandom charity event we raised quite a lot of dollars, so check out [community profile] help_haiti for neat fandom things being auctioned off. Also! If you remember, the Christmas before last I made some terribly cute Harry Potter plushies. These little guys are fun to make, so I've put one/a pair on auction at [community profile] help_haiti; check my thread here.


  • Last week Facebook banned Calgary transman Dominic Scaia from Facebook for posting a post-op photo of his bare chest. The photo did not break any of Facebook's Terms of Service that I can tell. It was neither excessively gory nor sexual in any way.

    It's unclear what bothered Facebook about Dominic's photos. Section 3.7 of its Terms of Service regulates that content not be "hateful, threatening, pornographic" or contain "nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence." It's clear a male chest falls into none of these categories. Scaia says, "They were from two-and-a-half weeks post-op and included my face. I was holding the camera from above, my chest was bare and I was wearing jeans. None of the photos were in the least bit gory."

    Facebook does not moderate photographs individually. They rely on users to report offensive content. The only people who could view Scaia's pictures were friends that he'd added to his account. He'd had the photos up for a week without a problem. The evening before he was banned, Dominic accepted a friend request from a young, flirtatious girl. He thinks she looked through his photos and discovered that the cute boy she'd added was not born physically male, choosing then to report his account.

    It's there where things become confusing. It's Facebook's policy to remove photos that are deemed offensive and to send a warning. It is not the company's policy to disable accounts over photos. This does not mean that Facebook has a rule of banning transgender people, it means that one staff moderator made the grossly misinformed choice to ban his account.


    Over 6,000 people have joined a Facebook group in an attempt to raise awareness about this. Today, Scaia finally received a reply back from Facebook, saying his photos were in violation of the Terms of Service. His account has been reinstated, but all his post-surgery photos have been removed, and he has been sternly told not to upload photos of "that sort" again, saying: "photos containing nudity or other graphic or sexually suggestive content are not allowed".Local radio show Gaywire has published an open letter to Facebook. Xtra.ca has an article with one of the photos in question here.

    Any signal boosting would be appreciated. Facebook is a major social networking site and a major photo-sharing site that many trans people -- including Scaia -- use for advocacy and sharing personal stories and experiences with other transmen and women, and sharing post-op photos is part of that sharing. This was a transphobic knee-jerk reaction by a company after one transphobic user reported the image. There was no warning; the account was immediately frozen. It took Facebook over a week to respond to questions and un-freeze the account. This is not cool on many levels.
afterthree: (edmond kicking ass)
I have kinda forgotten what it's like to have a job I genuinely enjoy doing. I take less breaks because -- WHOA CONCEPT -- I like my job and my company and thus am posting less. It surprises nobody that I post mostly from work. :P

So! Security Theatre continues:


  • TheStar.com asks how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which handles far greater terror threats with far less inconvenience. "At Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, screening is done in 30 minutes." The basic gist? Training airport security and personnel what a suspicious person actually looks and behaves like, and having them look for -- WHAT A CONCEPT -- that.

    "But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

    "First, it's fast – there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."


    This kind of behavioral profiling I don't object to, especially if the people doing the profiling are actually thoroughly trained on what to look for.

  • Everybody's talking about the Backscatter X-rays apparently being implemented all over. The ones that break child pornography laws. And how will non-binary gendered people be affected by this? They say only "same sex" people will view the scans in a separate room not visible to the public, but what about trans, intersexed and gender queer people? What kinds of scrutiny will a trans-man come under when scans reveal female genitalia? Because what I'm sure these people want in their life is even more of this.

  • The TSA has withdrawn their subpoenas on the two bloggers who posted the new rules on Boxing Day and apologized for their strong-arm tactics. They've also promised to resolve issues one of the bloggers has been having with his laptop ever since the agents seized it to image the hard drive. This doesn't really pacify me toward the TSA at all.

  • Canadian airlines might have to break Canadian privacy laws to enforce the new TSA rules that would force them to collect the name, gender and birth date of every Canadian who flies through American airspace, even if their planes don't touch the ground in the States. If Canadian privacy laws change because of this shit, I am going to freak the FUCK out. Canada has comparably fantastic privacy laws and has managed to retain them through the last decade, and if that changes because of an underwear bomb.... Anyway. Unsurprisingly, a Muslim woman from Nova Scotia has already been refused entry to the US after being questioned for four hours and fingerprinted for trying to do something as threatening as visit her husband.


afterthree: (smiling hotch ftw)
  • I have finally seen District 9! I really enjoyed it, though it was not at all what I expected (and I can't quite articulate what, exactly, it was that I expected, only that the movie I saw was not it). Spoilers )
  • I started Kung Fu yesterday. It was also not what I expected, but I really enjoyed it and have signed up for a full month of classes, three times a week for an hour at a time. The movements are minimalist, close to the body, and kept along the centre line, which is a technic that's a bit challenging when coupled with an ample bosom, but I'm figuring it out and a couple of the women I worked with last night had some helpful tips on how to modify the movements to accommodate a larger bust. Toes are also kept turned in throughout the stances, which goes against every piece of dance training I've ever had and puts a foreign stress on my ankles and knees. I managed to get paired with several very helpful people of varying belt levels who were gracious with their time and experience and helped out with the learning curve and first-class-don't-know-anything jitters, though, and came out of the class feeling very positive about it and actually retained some of the rapid-fire content.
  • I have tweeted like crazy the last couple of days. I feel like a spammer. :P
  • I have a haircut scheduled for Thursday, but am unsure what I want. I'm not sure whether I want to keep maintaining the cut I have or start the grow-out process officially ('cause it can't get much shorter, and I'm not ready to try bald just yet) and just trim the bits that could get mullet-like while I'm growing it out. Any thoughts?
  • Criminal Minds starts up next week! HODGE DON'T DIE! D:

afterthree: (D: doctor donna ood attack)
Apparently the Liberals are gonna try to call for a no-confidence vote this fall.

A Liberal government, Ignatieff pledged, would return "competence and compassion" to the federal government.


Sure. Right. Y'all remember why Ontario decided to jump on the Conservative band-wagon in the first place, right? Something to do with Martin and his Liberal cohorts and too-many scandals?

I'm just saying. It doesn't appear the Liberal party has sorted itself out yet. And I'm not sure Ontario's ready to let them out of the dog house, either.

The Conservatives, he charged, have sat back and done nothing all summer as Canada's health-care system is dragged through the mud in the United States. "The Liberals are fiercely proud of our health-care system and, unlike the Conservatives, we are not afraid to defend it," he said.


And while I'm just as ticked as the next Canadian when it comes to the way our health care system has been spun by the US right, I'm extremely glad the federal government didn't waste my tax dollars getting all up in the US's face about it. I mean, why? To what end or benefit? Average Canadians are doing a fine job defending our health care loudly and proudly, so I'm not too fussed that Harper didn't have tantrum. A "no comment" is the exact right response from our government, and never mind the fact that health care is the Province's jurisdiction anyway. Let our news media and our people speak for ourselves, because the opinion might matter coming from the people who use the system, while a sound bite from a politician is just another sound bite from another politician.

Also? Not particularly excited to foot the bill for another election less than a year after the last one.

At least Iggy isn't Dion.


GUYS, DON'T HATE ME 'CAUSE MY ECONOMICS ARE CONSERVATIVE. I'M ALBERTAN, IT'S IN MY BLOOD I CAN'T HELP IT. :D

afterthree: (thinking thinky thoughts)
Originally posted by [personal profile] rm and I'm spreading it around some more because I think the conversation is a good one to have: is it okay to blog about this woman anonymously?

I'm not sure which side I stand in the latest battle between unmasked anonymouse Rosemary Port and her target Liskula Cohen. On the one hand, I think probably Cohen had a fairly good idea who was behind the blog before she started going through the motions of forcing Google to reveal her identity, and it seems fairly clear this particular issue is more about the bad blood between these two people than either anonymity or privacy. (And can I just sidenote for a minute to say how much it saddens and frustrates me that women are taught to treat each other this way in our culture, and that it's being pumped up by the news media largely because it is two women dueling in that way women have been conditioned to, which just reinforces it. End sidenote.) At the same time I detest and bemoan the way the anonymice have made the culture of the internet such a brutal, unforgiving, unreasonable one in many ways, I'm also not certain being rude should mean forfeiting your privacy and entitles the world to know your identity.

Thinky thoughts indeed.

afterthree: (hold it bitches jack)
Thank you, Denver Post, for writing this article so I don't have to. I think probably most of the Americans on my flist are for some kind of health care reform so y'all probably don't need it, but if you know someone clinging to these myths I'd be ever so grateful if you'd pass this along.

I'm pretty fucking sick and tired of the nonsense being spouted about Canadian provincial heath care, and I know I'm not the only one. The "facts" are either being spun so far out of shape as to hardly resemble the truth or are complete lies. The Republican party can bite me.

I would like to particularly highlight the following, emphasis mine:

Myth: Canada's government decides who gets health care and when they get it.
While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.

There are no requirements for pre-authorization whatsoever. If your family doctor says you need an MRI, you get one. In the U.S., if an insurance administrator says you are not getting an MRI, you don't get one no matter what your doctor thinks — unless, of course, you have the money to cover the cost.

Myth: Canadians are paying out of pocket to come to the U.S. for medical care.
Most patients who come from Canada to the U.S. for health care are those whose costs are covered by the Canadian governments. If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise), the provincial government where you live fully funds your care. Those patients who do come to the U.S. for care and pay out of pocket are those who perceive their care to be more urgent than it likely is.


Our health care costs less. The care we get is decided by doctors, not the government and bloody well not by some sort of death board or whatever the fuck they're calling it now. If a doctor says I need something, the province pays for it, no questions or inquiries or exceptions or nonsense about "pre-existing conditions". The only time we wait for care is when it's non-urgent specialist care or elective surgery, and the wait times are almost always entirely reasonable. We have lower mortality rates than the US across the board.

I would also like to highlight this quote from [personal profile] demotu because I think she said it better than I could:

...[Canadians], in the majority, lack the foundation of "individual over society". Rather, the welfare of the whole of society is superior to the rights of the individual. What does that mean? Well, it means we expect our rich to give up the right to snap their fingers for instant care so that every member of society can have access to equally good medical care. ... All of the arguments against socialized heath care essentially boil down to "but my right to get whatever I can pay for are more important than equality". I'm not going to say that's the wrong mindset, but it's not mine and not one I want governing the country I live in.


Word.

afterthree: (wtf people ten)
Dear America:

Of all the things I don't understand about you, your paranoia of public health care is at the very top of the list. Someone please explain why this scares people south of the border so damn much. I don't understand how a people who champion the right to free speech the way Americans do get all bent out of shape and outright panicy about the right to, you know, live.

Do I wish I didn't have to pay for all those idiots who smoke or drug themselves to death? Sure. But I'd pay for them all a thousand times -- a thousand thousand times -- over to keep public, social health care. Worth every penny. The Alberta government keeps trying to con us into this two-tier system and has so far been (thankfully) unsuccessful. Slightly lower taxes are absolutely not worth risking people's physical and financial well-being on something as fickle as chance.

For serious, though. I don't get it. Of all the times to cling to absolute capitalism, why here?

Confused and confounded,

Chelle

afterthree: (what the shakespeare is going on)
International Blog Against Racism Week starts today and runs until August 2. It just happens to coincide with some links I wanted to throw out there.

Justine Larbalestier has posted on her blog regarding the white-washed US cover of her book, Liar, which features a black female protagonist. She talks about how she fought against the cover, but ultimately lost the battle because authors have very little control over the covers of their books. Publishers pick a cover they think will sell, and right now the publishing and retail worlds believe books with faces on them sell better unless those faces are black ones. Larbalestier draws the connection between marketing dollars and black faces, saying "I have found few examples of books with a person of colour on the cover that have had the full weight of a publishing house behind them ... all we can say is that poorly publicised books with "black covers" don’t sell [which] is usually true of poorly publicised books with "white covers"." She then wonders if "the big publishing houses really only in the business of selling books to white people" and I can't help but agree with her.

Larbalestier goes on to speak about how covers can change the way people read books:

Liar is a book about a compulsive (possibly pathological) liar who is determined to stop lying but finds it much harder than she supposed. I worked very hard to make sure that the fundamentals of who Micah is were believable: that she’s a girl, that she’s a teenager, that she’s black, that she’s USian. One of the most upsetting impacts of the cover is that it’s led readers to question everything about Micah: If she doesn’t look anything like the girl on the cover maybe nothing she says is true. At which point the entire book, and all my hard work, crumbles.


Online reviews show this is exactly what's happening. So, even aside from the fact that white-washing these covers is racist (and that's a huge aside), they also affects the artistic and thematic integrity of the work they're supposed to be representing.

International Blog Against Racism Week is just starting up, and I'll be taking some time out of my week to read through the posts that come from it. Even if you have nothing to add, it's an important conversation to listen to.

afterthree: (what the shakespeare is going on)
I love the idea of the Kindle as a device that can instantly connect me to any and every book out there. At least 60% of my reading takes place on a computer of some sort, either through pdf ebooks or fanfic. All my news comes from the screen, and the idea of having a device built for comfortable reading that fits in my purse and links me wirelessly to all that is an extremely appealing thought.

Tethered devices are not necessarily all good, though, as Kindle owners are discovering. Tethered devices don't only mean you can reach in and grab what you want from the cloud, it also means the cloud can reach down to your Kindle and grab it back.

Recently, Amazon remotely removed digital copies of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm because of a rights issue, refunding all the users their $0.99 back. The symbolism was not lost on anyone, particularly the news media and the affected Kindle customers. The uproar has been significant enough that Amazon released a statement promising they will stop deleting the already-downloaded books on user's Kindles when they delete rights-violating content from their archives.

This is not the first time Amazon has removed books from user's Kindles, but it got the most press for the obvious ironic reasons. Some people don't get why this is an issue, but consider how this affects ownership. When you buy a physical book and take it home, even if it's pulled off the shelves the minute you walk out the store, no one comes round demanding the return of the already purchased ones. Once you've bought it, you own that copy. Book burning is a serious yet mostly symbolic affair, largely because copies always survive. Someone finds a copy in their attic or hides one under their bed.

A world where books are tethered to devices is problematic because it allows someone to take back those books -- all of them -- quickly and efficiently, without warning. You may not even realize it's missing. The ebooks you buy don't really belong to you, not the same way real paper books do. This is how book burning will look in the future, when everything is published via data instead of as ink. Remember how much AmazonFail sucked? Think how much worse it would have been if someone had ticked the wrong box in their content admin tool and deleted all those books from thousands of people's personal libraries. Some day (and probably some day soon) someone will write a letter or make a phone call complaining about some book or other, and an underpaid and overworked manager will log on and click the delete button without really considering the ramifications, and next time there might not be a way to take it back.

This problem doesn't just affect books. It affects applications (Apple, a company I love dearly, has some serious issues in this regard when it comes to iPhone apps and it makes me furious), music, and gaming every day. This is the way companies will seek to control their copyright in the future, with tethered devices and back doors.

Please do not hand wave this issue off. Pay attention to it, because it affects everyone. Understand that an age of cloud-computing is descending where everything is computer-based and everything is connected and everything is stored somewhere else. Google docs are wonderful tools, but Google can easily remove the content you've built or the service entire. Livejournal can delete years of personal journaling, writing and art, and no matter what you say or how loudly you complain they don't have to give it back to you. That "right" is build into the user agreements no one reads but everyone accepts when they sign up for a service.

Be aware of how the world is changing, not just how it benefits but also how it restricts. We're not just talking about books and music, we're talking about the fundamentals of ownership.

afterthree: (brainy specs)
So I've hardly posted at all so far in June for obvious reasons, and as such several things have amassed that beg for my comment. So, in no particular order:


  • Doctor Who casting spoiler (this is a few days old, so most of you have probably seen this) I hope comes true. All I want for Christmas, RTD. Do it!

  • Saw Up! and thought it was really excellent. The story was very different from what I anticipated, but I like it when a movie surprises me like this one did. The opening sequence basically broke my heart. Pixar, I love you. Also: Toy Story 3! I dare to hope for more good things from this franchise.


  • I am nearly completely moved in now. All that remains is to break out the pretty decorative things and sort out the corner I'm going to use for sewing, which is still in disarray mostly because I need a small desk (I'm currently thinking this one from Ikea if I can't find something the right size on kijiji) and because I also need to take a door off its hinges, and I think it's smarter to wait to do this until after my walk through.

  • I have buckled and decided to pay someone to do the move-out clean of my kitchen and bathroom at the old apartment. It is booked for Monday, and while they're cleaning those areas I'll deal with the other rooms. I'm still attempting to find someone to clean the carpets for less than $150, which I feel is too much for my 350 square feet of carpet.

  • I am adopting a coworker's cat, and if all things go according to plan will obtain ownership of said cat this weekend. *squees*

  • Transformers movie next week. I have tickets to a midnight showing on opening night. I anticipate I will be stupid tired on Wednesday as a result. Let's hope the movie is worth it.

  • I saw this on Fandom Wank today and it made me laugh. I play Magic (shut up) and heard about the rule changes the day they were announced. I'll admit to being a bit thrown by the changes to the combat rules, mostly because it changes the usefulness of some of my favourite cards, but some of the fanboys could give the Twilight fangirls a run for their money. For serious, guys. CHILL. THE. FUCK. OUT. Holy fuck, you'd think the world was ending or something.

  • I'm woefully behind in Hourglass judging. Good thing one of my categories is drabbles. *is thankful* Some of the Drama stories are loooooong, though. *sweatdrop*

afterthree: (snap master)
That Sony CEO who was quoted not that long ago as saying that nothing good ever came from the internet? He's attempting to defend himself and his statement.

I am not surprised, nor convinced, that his industry is in dire straights because more people are consuming his product. Leaving aside whether or not Hollywood is in dire straights at all (which I doubt), I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for an industry that profits enourmously off the backs of the creative minds it professes to be trying to protect. They are protecting their own profit margin, not the economic stability of the creative souls they control. Mike Masnick from TechDirt gives a line-by-line rebuttal here, with which I couldn't agree more.

I doubt that creativity will die even if your company goes under, Mr. Lynton, and if your company and others like it do fall, it reflects on you and your co-CEOs' poor abilty to adapt to a world that is changing with or without your whining. Culture and the arts are not dependant on your patronage, and the last ten years have show that creative people are far, far more adaptable than you. They will find a way to survive, and I will always support them. You, not so much.

 
afterthree: (eh alan rickman)
Item the First:
Hourglass 2009 nominations are underway at UR.org and have been for some time, but it turns out I am a horrible admin whom [personal profile] christycorr should fire. You have about a week left to nominate Harry Potter fanfic for an Hourglass. We're also still looking for people willing to judge a category or two. Please? There's usually a ton of great fic nominated, and every year I discover lots of brilliant fics I'd never heard of before.



Item the Second:
This kid wins the Awesome Award of the Day for maintaining a lending library of banned books in their locker, including such titles as "Catcher in the Rye", "The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy", "Animal Farm", the Qu'ran, and many, many others. Goes to show that not all hope is dead. If I knew who this kid was I would send him/her any banned book on the list that he/she doesn't yet have. That's a worthwhile investment.



Item the Third:
WTF Obama? W. T. F.?

 
afterthree: (take my eyes i don't want them (orange))
Don't know what amazonfail is? Start at my Sunday post here, then continue on to my Monday post here.


A recap for those following along at home:
This may not be my final post on the topic, but with so many news articles and blog posts circulating, it's essentially impossible to keep track of them all. I may post a final recap -- mostly for my own benefit as someone looking to write up a comprehensive case-study on the topic for professional reasons -- later in the week, but unless something new develops, this is probably my final comment.

Obviously the first half of this story -- that GLTB, feminist, and disabled sexuality books, many of them not containing any erotic content, were flagged as "adult" and stripped of their sales rank, affecting their searchability on Amazon -- is well-reported and what caused the internet to rise up and strike at Amazon. And while I share that outrage, many people have spoken about why this matters very eloquently elsewhere, so forgive me if I switch to more professional gears for a moment.

The second half of this story is that news of this broke in social media, primarily Twitter, and Amazon was already attempting to fix the problem long before mainstream media news outlets even got a hold of the story. Also puzzling is why Amazon's PR department allowed this upsurge of bad PR to rise unchecked for so long, and why they are still continuing to allow bad opinion to circulate largely unchecked after their short and altogether unsatisfying statement about the issue without getting into the game. For a company that uses social data to great effect on their site and is considered one of the great Web 2.0 pioneers, their blasé attitude toward the negative up swell is at the very least shocking, and at the most dangerously ill-advised. I suppose we'll have to wait to see how their pre-canned comment strategy works out for them as things die down (or perhaps don't die down) over the next couple of days.

Was it a glitch? I think that's mostly spin. (And so does most of the rest of the internet.) At the very least I think this was probably and badly thought out attempt to "protect the children" without fully understanding their own complicated and increasingly irregular tagging and category structure. As an e-commerce professional specializing in usability, I can say in my professional opinion that it's a good thing most (if not all) people use Amazon's search tools to find what they're looking for, because their catalogue hierarchy is nightmarishly inconsistent, with different editions of the same book having different tags (some examples of which have been highlighted in this excellent post on Amazon's meta data).

This also may go to show how middle-management of a large corporation can be a flimsy creature indeed, and how someone in the middle-to-upper echelon of a large company can perhaps push through changes without considering their full implications or spending the time to do a thing properly. Was it a knee-jerk response to a right-wing trolling effort, similar to the infamous Livejournal strikethru incident? Was it a hacker? Was it a policy shift that got executed too quickly and very badly? Was it a translation user-error made by a French employee? As long as Amazon continues to be tight-lipped on the topic, we can't know for sure. Certainly anything that comes as an official statement from them will be painted up and spun round.

I tend to think it was another one of those unintentional things that reflects underlying social privilege and inclination to misunderstand and misrepresent those things that are different from so-called mainstream. Having said that, it was uplifting to see so many ordinary people rise up so quickly and say: no, this is not acceptable, and this is why. Rest assured that Amazon felt that slap, and hopefully other big corporations (and even governments) will think twice before implementing similar changes without a significant amount of research, thought, and openness.

Good job, internets. Sometimes you use you're flaily powers for wank and eye-roll worthy silliness, but this time you have used your powers for good. Well done.


ETA: I'm going to link some "fallout" articles here, mostly for easy finding. 

Amazonfail: Where Are We Now?
Amazon, Twitter, and the Gay Books Purge That Wasn't
Amazonfail: An Inside Look At What Happened
New York Times: Amazon Says Error Removed Listings
Some Thoughts On Amazonfail
The Lessons of Amazonfail
Press Questions I Just Answered
More From Neil Gaiman (Scroll Down, About Midway)
Amazon and the Cost of Freedom
[livejournal.com profile] copperbadge's Thoughts
The Fallout of #Amazonfail Continues (National Post)
Why Amazon's Explaination is None At All
[personal profile] rydra_wong So
Amazon's "Glitch" Myth Debunked

  
afterthree: (broken brain)
For Day One recap and more links, click here.

Amazon still insisting it was a glitch but hasn't released any sort of detailed statement, just "we're working on it". Not exactly what the internets want to hear right now. The amazonfail hashtag search is just as hopping as it was last night. As of this post, wthashtag is showing almost 130,000 twitters tagged with amazonfail (over 30,000 already this morning), the petition goal post has been moved again and lists over 13,000 names, and more of the media has picked up the story including CBC, The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, boingboing, The New York Times, The Advocate, and The Huffington Post.

Gawker wants you to know why they don't buy the glitch line, and neither does most of the internet. Queerty is not impressed by excuses. Change.org has started a petition-like letter-writing campaign over on their site as well.

For people who don't get why the internet exploded. After Ellen has a even better article about why this matters, the over-sexing of GLTB people, and what the larger problem is that everyone should read.

There's a good round-up
by [livejournal.com profile] meta_writer right here on Livejournal. Also one from [livejournal.com profile] ladyelleth. And [livejournal.com profile] bodlon has an excellent, well-written summary. Some thoughtful thoughts from [livejournal.com profile] copperbadge. And another summary from [livejournal.com profile] lysimachia.

Dear Author looked at the metadata of each book and discovered the probable data links are exactly what the internet thought:

I looked up over 40 books that had been deranked and filtered out of search engines.  It appears that all the content that was filtered out had either “gay”,  ”lesbian”,  ”transgender”, “erotic”  or “sex” metadata categories.  Playboy Centerfold books were categorized as “nude” and “erotic photography”, both categories that apparently weren’t included in the filter.  According to one source, the category metadata is filled in part by the publisher and in part by Amazon.


Top Google news result for search term "amazon" gives you amazonfail topics by major news outlets. Unsurprisingly, searching for "amazonfail" gets even more hits, though last night both search terms only elicited a handful of top results on the issue. The Amazon Rank Googlebomb is now the top search result for term other than the news about amazonfail. A blog search shows over 6,000 results for the term amazonfail.

Over 1,000 affected books have been tagged on Amazon with amazonfail
(at least it will be easy for Amazon to find the affected books).

The merchandise has landed. So has the lolcat.

Social media experts are starting to take note and document the amazonfail case study.

And if you think this is a quick fix and are wondering why everything's still de-ranked, [livejournal.com profile] sbisson explains why it isn't.


ETA: Salon article. And, from their excellent followup article:

At the very least, the "glitch" line suggests that this wasn't supposed to happen, and Amazon recognizes it's a highly undesirable situation for the company. Whether that means, "We had no intention of discriminating against anyone" or "We had no intention of so many people figuring this out at once and dragging our brand name through the mud" is an open question.



Also, ITWorld wants to know, and rightly so:

Getting back to my point, it's dumbfounding that Amazon would let this controversy grow unchecked for a whole weekend. For such a giant in the online space, they certainly seem to be behaving like a brick and mortar company from two decades ago. The fact that this past weekend was a holiday for many people doesn't stop the flow of information on the internet. Someone at Amazon HQ is going to have a very bad Monday, and deservedly so.

 
ETA2: Affected author Heather Corinna blogs about amazonfail on her Amazon blog. Meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] atara wonders about the pre-canned nature of customer service responses that may be complicating the way Amazon responds.


ETA3: This guy says he's responsible. After some clever detective work, people think not so much and call troll.


ETA4:  Apparently people will try to make money off of anything.

And Reunifygally wants to remind us it's not just GLTB books that are affected, but also books about sexuality and disabilities. I recently saw a performance of the Vagina Monologues that added a section on the disabled and how they are "protected" by their guardians and caretakers from their sexuality. It profoundly disturbed me.


ETA5: Neil Gaiman posts on his blog about amazonfail.


ETA6:  Getting reports that amazonfail is breaking on Channel 4 TV news. I don't have TV, but it's all over twitter. (ETA: Report has been posted online here. Fast-forward to the 8 minute mark to see the amazonfail report.) It's also starting to gain momentum on digg. There is an amazonfail tag on social bookmarking site delicious. And from Amazon's own twitter feed? Business as usual.


ETA7: Affected author Jessica Valenti calls her editor who contacts her Amazon rep, who notes that this is no glitch.


ETA8: GLTB books seem to be re-appearing in the bestseller listings as of around 1:15pm MST today. And more conversation about the PR disaster side of the story.


ETA9: Reports of an anonymous Amazon coder insisting it was a "real person" who mass-changed the tags of over 58,000 books, though anon. qualifies that they can't verify if it was intentional or accidental. Other reports indicate it may have been some sort of wacky translation error or an employee user error.


ETA10: Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener admits error that affected over 57,000 titles in several categories:

This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon's main product search.

Many books have now been fixed and we're in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.



Also, someone screencapped this on the Twitter homepage. LOL. And new definition for Amazon Rank has made it into the Urban Dictionary.

More thoughts from The LA Times here. Amazon Spokesperson Drew Herdener's quote has also been picked up by The Seattle Times and The LA Times.


ETA11: Richard Eoin Nash on the social contract Amazon violated during amazonfail.
 
 
afterthree: (kill with my brain)
Amazon is suppressing sales rank information, affecting the searchability of LGTB books, calling them "adult". For a list of books that have been affected (includes quite a few young adult books and biographies as well as some critically acclaimed fiction) go here. For a growing list of twitters on the subject, peppered with links throughout, try #amazonfail. Here's a thoughtful link explaining why this matters. Someone has made an AmazonFails logo. And a petition, if you sign those. It's always better to take the time and mail a letter direct, though:

If you want to protest to Amazon direct, this is their email addy: connect-help@amazon.com
Other ways to get in touch with them: http://clicheideas.com/amazon.htm

Also try ecr@amazon.com and the customer service phone number is 1-800-201-7575.

Or write to their CEO:
Jeffrey Bezos. (total annual compensation $81k - irrelevant but interesting). The address is 1200 12th Avenue South, Seattle, Washington 98144-2734, United States Phone: 206-266-1000 Fax: 206-622-2405


ETA: Google Bomb FTW! New definition of Amazon Rank. I believe there is a movement underway to get this definition into the Urban Dictionary. Also also: Here's a good base letter to start you off.

ETA2: Apparently Amazon Customer Support is being completely overwhelmed by this. Happy Easter Sunday, Amazon! People scoff at the power of social media. At some point in the next 12 hours as this hits the mainstream, the second half of the story will be how this broke on Twitter and no one else was there for hours.

ETA3: Apparently even children's books like Heather Has Two Mommies have been stripped of their rank. Amazon, meet PR disaster.

ETA4: Starting to break into mainstream media. LA Times Blogger has picked up the story. Also, it's appearing in Amazon's own forum threads.

ETA5: As of 4:30pm MST, the amazonfail hashtag Twitter search is updating way too fast to keep track of. Someone at Amazon is going to have a really, REALLY bad day tomorrow.

ETA6: Amazon cries glitch. (Traffic has killed the site; for screencap, go here.) But other people say this has been happening since February. Who knows at this point. Elsewhere, [livejournal.com profile] tehdely has a possible theory that is not entirely out of the realm of possibility, but we'll see what Amazon's PR department comes out with. In the meantime, the amazonfail hashtag is updating at the rate of about 75 tweets per minute or so (estimated by me as I watch the number slide up in the tab as I make this edit). Also, popular site After Ellen has caught the scent.

ETA7: Amazon continues to be cagey about the "glitch", even with the LA Times. They really need to get out an actual statement about this, sooner rather than later. Likely that will get picked apart, too, but at some point soon they need to start playing defense instead of this incessant no-commenting. This is the kind of thing that really needs a comment. Users are now tagging as many of the affected books on Amazon with the tag amazonfail.

In addition, for anyone who's interested, I started tracking amazonfail at around 11:00am MST Sunday morning. At that time, a wthashtag.com search showed around 1500 tweets with the hashtag #amazonfail. It's now 10:30pm MST Sunday night, and that same search shows over 80,000 tweets. When I checked the petition at around noon it was at just over 50 signatures. The same petition just passed the 7,600 signature mark.

ETA8: The Associated Press has also picked it up. So has The National Post. And CNet News. Now we've really got us a party!

ETA9: Interesting post about the real dangers of this recent set of events combined with an entirely digital world via the Kindle.

ETA10:
Jezebel has a really great write-up with a good time line tracking the events. And with that, it's bed time for me.


For Day Two recap & linkspam, click here.


afterthree: (edmond kicking ass)
The National Organization for Marriage is not amused at the progress that has been made for gay and queer rights in the United States this week.

Always eloquent, [livejournal.com profile] bodlon responds in an open letter here that needs to be read by as many people as possible.

Equal rights are not something you can give out based on your own personal comfort bubble. You don't get to pick and choose. Do not tout the ideals of personal rights and freedoms in the same breath you insist upon their restriction.

From [livejournal.com profile] bodlon's post:

There is a storm coming, but it isn't the storm that you think. It is people who are actually decent, freedom-loving (yes, I said that aloud and without irony), and engaged in civil discourse standing up against fabrications and rampant fear-mongering. It is resistance to the idea that your preference for a legal system that mirrors your personal religious beliefs matters more than someone else's life.

Emphasis mine.

Do not allow what happened in California to happen again. Those rights that were legally given long after they should have been were revoked because they made people uncomfortable. There is nothing about that that isn't wrong.

 
afterthree: (amelie)
Read this.

An important excerpt:

The things we fear most may be least likely to occur, which means the time, trauma and treasure we invest in them is a complete waste.

Security itself is an illusion. It is a perception that exists only between our ears. No army, insurance policy, hazmat team, video surveillance or explosive sniffer can protect us from our own immune system, a well-intentioned but clumsy surgeon, failing to look before crossing the street, an asteroid randomly hurtling through space or someone willing to die in order to do others harm.

In this sense, the only things that can truly make us more “secure” are not things. They are the courage to face whatever comes with dignity and intention, and the strong relationships that assure we will face the future together, and find comfort and meaning in doing so.

Imagine, then, what might happen if we simply quit listening to the scaremongers and those who profit from our paranoia. Imagine what the world could look like if we made a conscious choice to live out whatever time we have with courage, compassion, service and joy.

Terrorism is an act of the weak. But so is walking through the airport in our socks.

We can make better choices.

Emphasis is mine. I have been waiting a long time for someone to write this article and I didn't even realize it. Terrorists don't win on their own: we have to let them. I will not sacrifice my freedoms because I am afraid. Not ever.

It's turning out to be quite the political day on my LJ, isn't it?

 

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