Tag Archives: internet

Shedding More Light on the Amazon Controversy

Debbie says:

I was tired and outraged last night, and I didn’t say that the removal of Women En Large and Familiar Men, along with thousands of other titles with erotic or GLBT content from amazon.com’s indirect search functions was unlike their overall corporate policies and could have been something that was done too them.

Thanks to one of our commenters, I now see that it could have been a hack. I’m not qualified to judge the tech in this link, but a friend who is says she finds the post at the link highly plausible in some ways and dubious in others. If it is true, the motive was “let’s watch everyone scurry around and get incensed,” rather than “let’s keep those filthy gays out of children’s eyes.”

In any event, even if Amazon is eventually shown to have been hacked, I’m not about to let Amazon off the hook for leaving itself open for malicious users to do this so easily. And I note that it has not yet been fixed.

User content is one of the best things about Amazon. However, letting users flag content as “inappropriate” for the whole customer base, rather than for themselves, is probably a mistake. It’s certainly a mistake to let a few flags like that control the entire search apparatus for a gigantic operation. Perhaps more to the point, where did that customer service email come from?

Like it or not, understand it or not (and I’m working hard to understand it), the big-picture high-profile Internet prank is here to stay for a long time. The big commercial sites need to take the real world into account, try to think like the pranksters, and, most important, make public statements if they get caught out. I’d feel a lot better about Amazon if the issue was fixed by now, and if their front page, or their front books page, had a public statement describing the issue and repudiating the pranksters.

Thanksgiving 2008

Laurie and Debbie say:

Welcome to our annual “take advantage of the American Thanksgiving holiday to list some things in the world to be thankful for” post. This year it’s a lot easier than last year!

For those of you who’ve tuned in in the last year, because of our commitment to social change we spend a lot of time blogging about what makes us angry, unhappy, or dispirited. That’s why it’s important to spend a moment looking at what’s worth being thankful for. Here’s another random, off-the-top-of-our-heads list, this year with links. Please help us add to it.

We have a sane man coming in to the American presidency. We have a smart man coming into the American presidency. We have the first African-American to come into the American presidency. (And they’re all the same person!)

Gay marriage is now legal in Connecticut, the second U.S. state that currently recognizes full marriage between two people of the same sex. Also, the Florida law banning gay people from adopting children was overturned this week.

The Federal Communications Commission decided on Election Day to open up the “white space” freed when television goes digital to unlicensed, free internet usage, such as wireless usage. This will be especially important in rural areas, The National Association of Broadcasters is mounting a congressional challenge, but they’ll probably have a hard time with the new Congress.

Silverton, Oregon has elected a man who is believed to be the first transgender mayor in America.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a smart and thoughtful man with an ecological bent, won the Nobel prize in Economics.

Serena Williams won the U.S. Women’s Open championship. (We’d have been just as happy if her sister had won.)

Debbie’s representative in Congress, Barbara Lee, is the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against George Bush’s militaristic response immediately after the September 11 attacks.

Right-wing senator Lindsey Graham made an unfortunate promise before the election. “I’ll beat Michael Phelps in swimming before Barack Obama wins North Carolina.” We’re looking forward to the swim meet.

Everyone’s favorite adolescent wanker, John Updike, has won the lifetime achievement award for bad sex writing. Here’s one sample:

“Faye leaned back on the blanket, arranging her legs in an M of receptivity, and he knelt between them like the most abject and craven supplicant who ever exposed his bare ass to the eagle eyes of a bunch of crows.”

And just last week, a medical team in Barcelona and Great Britain completed the first successful organ transplant of a partial windpipe grown from the patient’s own stem cells!

Have a great holiday; we’ll be back early next week.