Amazon = Failure to test

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So I kept an eye on the news today, prepared for at least one story on CNN.com (you know, the "liberal news network") about the potential censorship going on over at Amazon.  I had to dig for it.  Do a search?  Wow, Twitter explodes and the Amazon customer service email inboxes actually exceeded their size limits but no major news coverage. 

So the updates are here:

So bravo to the Twitter-verse for rising up against what was perceived discrimination.  Amazon.com has backpedaled out of the frying pan and hopefully won’t land in the fire (although this doesn’t explain how some of the authors who spotted this had said they’d been seeing issues since February?).  As an IT geek, I do understand that sometimes you can have a "bug" that turns into something nasty down stream but guess what folks, that was TESTING is for.  So seriously Amazon, Get Your Shiz Together.  GYST, Amazon.  GYST.  

What did I learn from this?  I’m going to be a little more discriminating against the Twitter waves of angsty rage…however I did do my research yesterday and this story had legs…and credibility.  Albeit the conspiracy theories behind it didn’t seem to have merit.  Yet the groups that are often discriminated against will have watch dogs for this type of thing and will call you on your shiz faster than Amazon can say, "Ham-fisted mistake".  

I’m still going to be ordering my books from Borders or Barnes and Noble for now.  I’m really also trying to support my local used bookstore because I’m supposed to be trying to save money anyway…

Cyber Book Burning?

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Twitter done exploded today in Tweet outrage over this…so I decided to investigate.  I saw this article and I was shocked…Amazon.com is now excluding books from their rankings and their search function for what they consider to be "adult content".    An excerpt from the LA Times blog Jacket Copy by Carolyn Kellogg:

"Our research shows that these books have lost their ranking:  "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs; "Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown, "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" by Alison Bechdel, "The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1" by Michel Foucault, "Bastard Out of Carolina" by Dorothy Allison (2005 Plume edition), "Little Birds: Erotica" by Anais Nin, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" by Jean-Dominque Bauby (1997 Knopf edition), "Maurice" by E.M. Forster (2005 W.W. Norton edition) and "Becoming a Man" by Paul Monette, which won the 1992 National Book Award."

The Amazon.com rankings are used by many as a huge indicator of how a book is doing.  The Amazon rank is often used right along with the New York Times list to determine a book’s popularity.  And now Amazon is basically saying that they won’t be acknowledging the books that are doing well if they are "taboo" (definition undefined).  They don’t just put a big red flag on the material, telling you they are "naughty books"; they won’t rank them as best sellers or include some of them in search results.  So you can’t even FIND some of these books on the site??  This is passive censorship of the worst kind.  To add insult to injury, their definition of "adult content" is loosely defined and includes gay, lesbian, erotic, or whatever the hell else Amazon.com or someone in their customer base has deemed "naughty".  Its wildly inconsistent and subjective.  You all know that even amongst our closest friends and family, our opinions greatly vary – but for a global corporation to decide to censor the materials – Amazon:  "Oh sorry, your book may be selling like hot cakes but we won’t tell anyone it is because there is a scene in it with a guy and a girl and they have sex before they are married…so its no longer included in our list."   Sane person’s response:  "But there are other books on the list with pre marital sex?"  Amazon:  "Your book made one of our editors blush, she got embarrassed, and de ranked it…"  So really, who decides what should and should not be ranked?  In geek speak, you are invalidating your query by excluding valid results.  There isn’t even a way to make said query logical, because apparently this policy is being applied willy nilly across the board.  Spock would not be able to apply logic to this…  OH, and Kindle results aren’t excluded (keep in mind, the Kindle is an Amazon device so they WANT you to buy best sellers because they get almost all the profits from it…)  To make matters worse, the publishing industry is really hurting right now and many book stores don’t carry books unless they are "big name authors" so many authors who are middle of the pack or are trying to make a name for themselves can’t be found in the BIG book stores like Barnes and Noble or Borders, yet these same big box book stores are putting the small book stores that support small up and coming authors out of business.  In some cases, Amazon.com and other big sites are their best bet for sales.  And if Amazon decides they are naughty…sucks to be you, author of books about gay teen romance in the old West.  You’re screwed.  

Amazon.com has totally screwed the pooch with this new policy.  I for one will no longer be purchasing my books from Amazon.com.  I don’t care what your opinion is, we don’t live in China or other countries that censor.  Freedom of Speech is one of our inalienable rights.   I may not be able to force them to change their policy, but I will no longer support them financially. 

Viva la resistance!!

Speaking of opinions:  I got home from Gator Mom and Dad’s homestead tonight and decided to watch "Skinwalkers" on OnDemand because it has Jason Behr in it and I still have a girl crush on him since he was Max in "Roswell" in he 90′s.  I can honestly say the ONLY good thing about the movie was the shots of his washboard abs.  Ooftah.  All else, skip it.  And if Amazon.com has anything to do with it, you’d never see the movie because they would have to de rank it because there is a PG-13 sex scene between two Werewolves and that MUST be subversive.  

I’m sure Amazon will blame some sort of technical glitch for this fubar.  But folks, lets take a look at reality here…most companies make changes to their sites when there is the least traffic, which is normally over a weekend in the wee hours of the morning…and apparently this started happening fairly recently?  Sounds like Amazon done screwed up and is now blaming some innocent nerds.  DAMN – I hadn’t even hit the post button for this blog and Amazon is already OFFICIALLY BLAMING THE NERDS.  

When did I move to Forks, minus the Sparkly Vampire Bonus Package?

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:::singing:::  "The weather outside is frightfulllll, but the (lack of) fire is soooo delightful…"  No really, its more like the glow of my computer screen and WAIT, was that just a brown out?  *&^%$ I’m probably going to lose power soon.  Sonofabitch.  I have shit to DO today, people.  Mother Nature is being a beotch.  I’ve already scurried outside to rescue my new boston ferns so they don’t blow over in the wind.  I moved them close to the house while getting soaked – this was even BEFORE my coffee.  URGH.

Then I got frustrated by my computer being SO DAMN SLOW this morning that for a flash second, I thought to myself…its crappy outside, I can go SHOPPING.  And then I remembered that 1)  We are in a recession.  2)  I have to put more money in savings than ever.  3)  I need a new car.  4)  I have a mortgage….and 5)  I don’t NEED that new laptop…I just WANT one.  Yes, I was :::this::: close to making the decision to get a new laptop.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

:::power just flickered again, better make this short!:::

So while I was having my coffee this morning I stumbled across this article in an old copy of Vanity Fair that I bought on our trip to visit NYC Bro this past Chrismas.  And its REALLY FRICKIN’ GOOD.  There is all this finger pointing about the recession and who is to blame and this article sums it up very well.  Joseph E. Stiglitz describes it as a systematic failure.  I loved that example.  I remember the case studies from college.  Y’all remember Valu Jet?  The Challenger disaster?  Both systematic failures.  There were many opportunities to stop the madness and the ball just kept rolling and WHAMMO, disaster strikes.  For those of you who think Valu Jet went out of business, uhhh no…they just rebranded to AIRTRAN.  Thats right…how many of y’all have flown Airtran lately?  :::raises her own hand:::  Yep.  And the Challenger disaster?  They are still sending the same designed space shuttles up.  The same design that was originated in the 1970′s that has had 2 notable disasters.  So when I read this article I thought to myself, more people should read this.  Gator Dad is a staunch Republican and he only wants to blame Clinton.  The Democrats only want to blame Bush #2.  Frankly, it was a combo pack from every administration and this article is a great explanation:

So then I went and looked at my budget…no laptop for this chica!! 

Picking up A.M. radio signals…

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So here I am sitting in Canadian Bacon’s GORGEOUSLY fabulous salon w/ tin foil all over my head. Yes, the gray was showing BIG TIME and it was time to take evasive action. Besides…I have some events over the next month (:::cough::: The play :::cough:::) that may require me having hair a bit more…errr…stylable? So I’ve got enough foil in my head to qualify as rabbit ear antennae and I’m fairly certain I can pick up the whole Digital Television warning playing in the distance? Like a faint echo. OH, and Obama did sign the bill that delayed the digital conversion so that people who are living in a time warp and apparently missed the “THE SKY IS FALLING!!!” Will just have their TV’s showing “The Snow Show” on all channels a few months later.

Read: BONE CROSSED by Patricia Briggs. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. The core plot was solid but there was an entire tangent w/ an old college frenemy that was weak and totally irrelevant. I was disappointed. Now I’ve moved onto a new book series called the Quantum Gravity series and its Sci Fi-ish Fantasy-esque. I know! I can’t remember the name of the first book but I’m only 2 chapters in. But the main character is a badass cyborg(?) Government operative who was forced to either become a ‘borg or die. Sounds interesting…

Gotta go get cleaned up for Sushi Night w/ the West Side posse.

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