such_heights: a cute puppy (stock: puppy [nextjuly])
+ [personal profile] verasteine, thanks so much for the little canine friend sitting on my LJ! *ruffles her pixellated ears*

+ There are some new people around here - hello! Feel free to drop by and introduce yourselves, if that's a thing you're into. If you're more a lurking type, know that you are warmly welcomed also. :D

+ In Epic Fail news, United Airlines apparently have this policy where they treat passengers with disabilities like total shit. [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda has more. (Warning: rage-inducing!)

+ Dear everybody who has finished/has a draft/is on their way to finishing their Club Vivid vids: omg I hate you all. (Not really.) I -- at least I'm gathering source now?

+ The reason for the above is that I have just failed to meet yet another self-imposed deadline re. my [livejournal.com profile] help_haiti pieces. Woe! They are all on their way, just unwilling to be finished, apparently. Curse you, uncooperative fanworks!

+ Have a poem. This is the first 'grown-up' poem I ever fell in love with.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree, W. B. Yeats )

links

Nov. 11th, 2009 12:23 am
such_heights: a woman, sitting, holds a standing woman's hand (stock: make a stand [mignolagraphics])
+ Julie Bindel brings the transphobic fail once again. This link comes with a blood pressure warning, for it is full of offensive vitriol. Get off my team, Bindel, you make us look awful!

+ Via the New York Times, not all groups have felt the recession equally. It's US stats, but i suspect relevant across other countries too. In any case, illuminating and rather dismal.

+ Disability and Asexuality by [personal profile] kaz on FWD/Forward, a really great new-ish feminist disability blog. Highly recommended reading.

+ Also on FWD, [personal profile] avendya posts To Whom It May Concern.

+ [livejournal.com profile] ressie_noldo writes on the monstrous other; for the asian women blog carnival.

+ Lastly and unrelatedly, who_daily and torchwood_three are looking for new newsletter editors. I'm stepping down from my position as a back-up editor due to time constraints, but I do recommend it unreservedly to anyone who likes being part of the cogs and gears of fandom - things are quiet at the moment, too, so it's a good time to step in and get to grips with things.
such_heights: gwen (merlin), text reads 'what is this fuckery?' (m: gwen [wtf])
Oh god, and I was having such a nice day!

So, Roman Polanski. cutting because everything about this is both infuriating and potentially triggering )

---

Fail of a different kind (this mostly comes via [livejournal.com profile] sheafrotherdon): the Lamda Literary Foundation, dedicated to promoting LGBT writers & work dealing with LGBT subjects, has recently changed its criteria for the annual awards that they give out such that awards should focus specifically on LGBT authors. This has raised questions that [livejournal.com profile] rm talks eloquently about here - personally, I don't actually know how I feel about it. I can see the perspectives for and against, and I think it's complicated issue that's worth talking about, the right to know and/or the relevance of someone's sexual and gender identity. I didn't have the spare brain power to give it much thought, however. But NOW some straight, cisgendered people have become all outraged about the notion, and this is all so predictable.

I really, really do not have the energy to read through the all the links, comments and discussion, and all the fail therein, but I will signal boost and say that there are link pages here and here and also linkspam.

---

SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE. A NICE DAY. THAT IS WHAT I WAS HAVING. I'm going to get back to that now.
such_heights: gwen (merlin), text reads 'what is this fuckery?' (m: gwen [wtf])
With regards to the survey debacle -- what are we calling it, science!fail? -- I have gone from insulted and despairing and any other emotion waaaay out the other side into total bafflement. I just. What the fuck even is this.

cut for those avoiding further fail! (I DO NOT BLAME YOU.) )

eta: and the journal's locked! The post I was talking about above is downloadable here for your perusal, I'll screencap it later if no one beats me to it.
such_heights: gwen (merlin), text reads 'what is this fuckery?' (m: gwen [wtf])
Guys, you might want to do some reading if you're thinking about taking that fic/slash survey that's being linked in various places.

[personal profile] eruthros talks about her previous dealings with the people behind it, in which there is really a lot of Not Getting It.

They're writing a mainstream science book. They're interested in broad strokes about the human brain, the female brain, the biology that 'makes us tick' that makes us different from menfolk. (Count the problems in that assertion!) They think that the way we participate in fandom is peculiar and worthy of study, and that it will tell them something essential about our brains.

Here are people's objections and their responses. I particularly enjoy how they've edited questions in response to comments - that would be fine, if it didn't invalidate every answer they'd had before the edit. For instance, when I first saw the survey, the question about how one researches the mechanics of m/m sex didn't include 'I'm a man' as an option. o.O

If you've already taken the survey, you can go back and edit your answers - a lot of questions have the opportunity to be skipped or left blank.
such_heights: fire exit sign, text reads 'oh god no' (text: oh god no!)
Wtf is with people these past few days, I don't even know. D:

---

First, via [livejournal.com profile] sheafrotherdon, yet more reasons why I won't be watching Stargate: Universe when it airs!

epic amounts of disability fail, gender fail, queer fail, all in one episode! )

---

Next, [livejournal.com profile] karnythia talks about racefail from a panelist at WorldCon. Same shit, different day, etc. *facepalm*

--

Then sci-fi and fantasy writer (and husband of above panelist) John C. Wright starts shooting his mouth off about the evils of homosexuality (warning: that post and its first page or so of comments may make your head explode).

On the plus side on that one, I am thinking of getting 'homosex activist' on a t-shirt because it's kinda catchy.

---

Also, wtf with the anti-NHS lies coming out of the US at the moment? I am deeply baffled. [livejournal.com profile] calapine says it much better than me, but seriously. Our health service has its flaws, undoubtedly, but the principles it was founded on are what allow me to be here ranting today.

---

And lastly, [livejournal.com profile] heather11483 drew my attention to this story where the Stamford Marriot blames a woman for being raped in their carpark. I don't have the words at the present time.

---

Wow. So. Anyone got some pictures of kittens or something?
such_heights: fire exit sign, text reads 'oh god no' (text: oh god no!)
The BNP has won two UK MEP seats to represent my country on the European stage. One of the seats goes to the leader of the party, Nick Griffin. When asked about the racist policies of his party by the BBC earlier this evening, Griffin had this to say:

"What we should be talking about is why we've been elected. And I can tell you that in huge parts of South Yorkshire there is a problem with racism, there's overwhelming racism against the native, indigenous peoples of these islands who've always been there, the people of the Peak villages, who are put at the bottom of the heap by the government, put to the bottom of the heap by local councils, and whose plight and problems are consistently ignored by the mass media. That's why we've done so well, it's ordinary decent people in Yorkshire kicking back against racism, because racism in this country is overwhelmingly directed at people who look like me."


(There'll be a prize for the person who can identify the most fallacies, lies, and factual and historical inaccuracies in the above, heh.) I won't link directly to the party's website, but you can read about their policies with plenty of direct quotation here on Wikipedia. This is deeply depressing, and more so as I read that both new MEPs will be joining up with other far-right groups from elsewhere in the EU.

I'll tell you what, though, I hope this serves as a wake-up call. Because voter apathy is to blame here, probably more than anything - in Yorkshire & Humber, voter turnout dropped enormously due to a change in the postal voting process. Consequently, all parties received less votes this year than they did in the 2004 elections. The difference for a group like the BNP is that their voter turnout will always drop less, proportionally, because their supporters are hardline and committed. If you were eligible to vote in the UK European election this year, and you didn't, then you are responsible for the increased percentages the BNP received almost across the board, and that's how they gained these seats.

My next point is a little pre-emptive, but I really don't want to see people attacking the two areas that did give the BNP seats on the grounds that their area is just so much better. Tonight, 916,424 people decided that voting for the BNP was a good idea. [source] The reasons for the party's success are complicated - disenfranchisement, Euroscepticism, ignorance, rising unemployment - but none of those are excuses, and you really can't tell me that our country doesn't have problems with race any more. Collectively, we've got to start owning this ugliness, before it gets worse.
such_heights: mickey looking badass (who: mickey [big damn hero | brontide])
Here we go again! Patricia C. Wrede's alt-history YA novel, where getting rid of those pesky indigenous North American peoples lets her do cool shit like write about mammoths. And white people. In any case, it's easier just to scrap them than to try and write them like people. Holy wow. See the comments in that first link for a reasonably heartening proportion of cluebat-wielding smart people to idiocy. Discussion being collated by [personal profile] naraht here.

[livejournal.com profile] delux_vivens at [livejournal.com profile] deadbrowalking is putting out a call:

Let's make it really clear, people. If you identify as a POC/nonwhite person and you read or watch scifi or fantasy, give yourself a name check in this thread. I am particularly wanting shoutouts from people who do not live in the US and who have still managed to read genre fiction.

I'm tired of people trying to render us invisible unless they have been given a memo about our existences.
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (other: oh god no)
Some of the many, many things that have sprung up in the last few hours: )

New Developments:

Publishers Weekly has the story that this is all due to a "glitch" - the site's having difficulties, apparently, so here's a screencap courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda: Amazon Says Glitch To Blame For "New" Adult Policy.

LA Times updates with this exchange with Director of Corporate Communications Patty Smith:
"There was a glitch with our sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed," she wrote. "We're working to correct the problem as quickly as possible."

And I asked Patty Smith this:
From a layperson's perspective, this glitch does seem to have affected certain types of books more heavily than others. In fact, only one of the top 10 books in your Gay & Lesbian section continues to have a sales ranking (the Kindle version of "The Picture of Dorian Gray"). No other section is similarly affected. Can you comment on that?

The reply:
Unfortunately, I'm not able to comment further. We're working to resolve the issue, but I don't have any further information.

Dear Author on why the glitch reasoning doesn't hold water.

Seriously, what kind of glitch is that, a Cylon virus or something?

[livejournal.com profile] copperbadge makes a lot of sense.

And then! [livejournal.com profile] tehdely has a theory, namely that this happened owing to a third party attack in a very similar way to Strikethrough. What's important to note is that it doesn't get Amazon off the hook. The fail comes in the following flavours, as far as I can see:

One: there exists a system such that adult content is 'blacklisted'. If it's a bestseller, it won't be shown, if browsers are putting in general searches, it probably won't appear. Authors can't track their sales. It's purposely made really difficult to find. Which, uh, kind of defeats the point of a bookshop. It's not equivalent to creating some kind of safe search option, or putting things on the top shelf. To continue the physical shop analogy, this is like having to walk up to counter, knock three times and utter a codeword, then name the precise title you want and get it handed furtively over to you in a paper bag complete with dirty look from your cashier. Which is decidedly not okay.

Two: the system by which things are classed as adult and then treated in this way has something SERIOUSLY FISHY going on. Either outside users have complete control over what gets flagged, which is terrifying, or (more likely) there is someone, somewhere, either pushing the policy through initially or at least approving the requests.

Three: the result is that all sorts of things are being targeted in a very hypocritical and bizarre fashion. Queer lit has obviously been hugely affected, but so have a lot of pro-sexuality books of varying stripes, feminist books, even a book about supporting suicidal teenagers. Meanwhile, a thriving double standard exists as explicit heterosexual romance remains front and centre.

Four: a mere two days ago, before this became the catalyst for the whole storm, this was explicitly confirmed by the site - In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

That ain't no stinkin' computer glitch. Some real live person or group of people, somewhere, has screwed up enormously to allow for this to happen. As a consequence, we currently have no reason to trust any of the sales or search information Amazon gives out, and unless the site comes out with a much franker explanation and apology, I have no reason to trust them again.

ETA1: Dear Author: Amazon Using Category Metadata To Filter Rankings? It explains a lot, like how Heather Has Two Mommies and John Barrowman's autobiography in hardback got filtered, while The Parent's Guide To Homosexuality and Barrowman's paperback edition did not - the former are categorised as Gay & Lesbian, the latter are not. As the site says: "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."

ETA2: Now on The Guardian!

ETA3: this guy claims to have done the whole thing, this user says 'not so much' - I'm inclined to believe the latter purely because previous evidence did not at all point to an external troll, but I know nothing about code. [livejournal.com profile] furiosity talks about it here. [livejournal.com profile] jonquil has a timeline here.

ETA4: Amazon responds! "This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection."


This post on Dreamwidth
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (xkcd [not your main problem! | mcee])
Some of the many, many things that have sprung up in the last few hours: )

New Developments:

Publishers Weekly has the story that this is all due to a "glitch" - the site's having difficulties, apparently, so here's a screencap courtesy of [personal profile] cleolinda: Amazon Says Glitch To Blame For "New" Adult Policy.

LA Times updates with this exchange with Director of Corporate Communications Patty Smith:
"There was a glitch with our sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed," she wrote. "We're working to correct the problem as quickly as possible."

And I asked Patty Smith this:
From a layperson's perspective, this glitch does seem to have affected certain types of books more heavily than others. In fact, only one of the top 10 books in your Gay & Lesbian section continues to have a sales ranking (the Kindle version of "The Picture of Dorian Gray"). No other section is similarly affected. Can you comment on that?

The reply:
Unfortunately, I'm not able to comment further. We're working to resolve the issue, but I don't have any further information.

Dear Author on why the glitch reasoning doesn't hold water.

Seriously, what kind of glitch is that, a Cylon virus or something?

[personal profile] copperbadge makes a lot of sense.

And then! [personal profile] tehdely has a theory, namely that this happened owing to a third party attack in a very similar way to Strikethrough. What's important to note is that it doesn't get Amazon off the hook. The fail comes in the following flavours, as far as I can see:

One: there exists a system such that adult content is 'blacklisted'. If it's a bestseller, it won't be shown, if browsers are putting in general searches, it probably won't appear. Authors can't track their sales. It's purposely made really difficult to find. Which, uh, kind of defeats the point of a bookshop. It's not equivalent to creating some kind of safe search option, or putting things on the top shelf. To continue the physical shop analogy, this is like having to walk up to counter, knock three times and utter a codeword, then name the precise title you want and get it handed furtively over to you in a paper bag complete with dirty look from your cashier. Which is decidedly not okay.

Two: the system by which things are classed as adult and then treated in this way has something SERIOUSLY FISHY going on. Either outside users have complete control over what gets flagged, which is terrifying, or (more likely) there is someone, somewhere, either pushing the policy through initially or at least approving the requests.

Three: the result is that all sorts of things are being targeted in a very hypocritical and bizarre fashion. Queer lit has obviously been hugely affected, but so have a lot of pro-sexuality books of varying stripes, feminist books, even a book about supporting suicidal teenagers. Meanwhile, a thriving double standard exists as explicit heterosexual romance remains front and centre.

Four: a mere two days ago, before this became the catalyst for the whole storm, this was explicitly confirmed by the site - In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

That ain't no stinkin' computer glitch. Some real live person or group of people, somewhere, has screwed up enormously to allow for this to happen. As a consequence, we currently have no reason to trust any of the sales or search information Amazon gives out, and unless the site comes out with a much franker explanation and apology, I have no reason to trust them again.

ETA1: Dear Author: Amazon Using Category Metadata To Filter Rankings? It explains a lot, like how Heather Has Two Mommies and John Barrowman's autobiography in hardback got filtered, while The Parent's Guide To Homosexuality and Barrowman's paperback edition did not - the former are categorised as Gay & Lesbian, the latter are not. As the site says: "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."

ETA2: Now on The Guardian!

ETA3: this guy claims to have done the whole thing, this user says 'not so much' - I'm inclined to believe the latter purely because previous evidence did not at all point to an external troll, but I know nothing about code. [personal profile] furiosity talks about it here. [personal profile] jonquil has a timeline here.


This post on LiveJournal
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (other: oh god no)
Via [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong:

About two days ago, gay and lesbian books started to lose their Amazon sales rankings on their profile pages. Each Amazon product gets a sales ranking after at least one sale, which affects where the book will appear in some searches, bestseller lists, etc.

[livejournal.com profile] markprobst emails in and gets this response:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

[source: here]

Hmm. Okay. Trouble is, Amazon's version of 'adult' seems to be anything that's either categorised as 'erotica' or 'gay/lesbian', leaving gaping discrepencies in what has and hasn't been spirited away. To wit, via [livejournal.com profile] rwday:

Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet? Adult. No rankings.

Alan Moore's Lost Girls? Not adult. Ranking. (This is an adult graphic novel. Trust me on this one.)

Mark Probst's The Filly, a YA novel dealing with gay themes? Adult. No ranking.

Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love, Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Wolf and the Dove, Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley? Explicit heterosexual romances. Not adult. Ranking.

Alex Beecroft's False Colours and Erastes' Transgressions? Explicit gay romances. Adult. No ranking.

Nookii: The Grownup Game for Playful Couples? Not adult. Ranking.

The Dildo Master DVD? Not adult. Ranking.

Realistic White Boy Vibrating Dildo. Not adult. Ranking.


[source: here]

There's an updating links collection going on here, a stream of Twitters here and a list of affected authors is being collated here.

So far, amazon.co.uk and other branches don't seem to have enacted the same changes. I'll edit if I find out otherwise.

(I really would try and stay up to the minute on this today, but I've got to finish my [livejournal.com profile] springtime_gen entry, so help me. *runs back to writing*)

ETA: Targeted books now include children's lit (Heather Has Two Mommies) and anything dealing with 'alternative' sexuality, like books with sex tips for people with disabilities. Playboy remains unharmed, while titles such as -- oh god, I can hardly type this without weeping TEARS OF RAGE -- Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape are ushered away from the public eye.

Also, word on the street is that .co.uk's been affected too, I'm off to investigate.

ETA2: Yep, as the list here continues to grow (STEPHEN FRY, GUYS), UK listings are most certainly there, though weirdly not in any sort of consistent fashion. What the hell is going on?!

ETA3: Amazon Rank.

ETA4: Wait, this happened back in February? WTF.

ETA5: (oh hell oh hell this fic will never get written!) Here's an example of what the direct impact of Amazon's shenanigans is - the top two results on amazon.co.uk for 'homosexuality' are now Can Homosexuality be Healed? and A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality - and .com is even worse.

ETA6: !!! The Amazon Rank link is already the second result on Google. Internet, ilu sometimes.

ETA7: LA Times covers the story. #amazonfail is the top trending topic on Twitter, Amazon Rank is the top search result on Google, holy hell.

ETA8: I'll be poking through the amazonfail tag on delicious. In the meantime, off to sleep for me! New post tomorrow, probably.


this post on Dreamwidth
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (jack [jazzhands! | copperbadge])
Via [personal profile] rydra_wong:

About two days ago, gay and lesbian books started to lose their Amazon sales rankings on their profile pages. Each Amazon product gets a sales ranking after at least one sale, which affects where the book will appear in some searches, bestseller lists, etc.

[livejournal.com profile] markprobst emails in and gets this response:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

[source: here]

Hmm. Okay. Trouble is, Amazon's version of 'adult' seems to be anything that's either categorised as 'erotica' or 'gay/lesbian', leaving gaping discrepencies in what has and hasn't been spirited away. To wit, via [livejournal.com profile] rwday:

Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet? Adult. No rankings.

Alan Moore's Lost Girls? Not adult. Ranking. (This is an adult graphic novel. Trust me on this one.)

Mark Probst's The Filly, a YA novel dealing with gay themes? Adult. No ranking.

Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love, Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Wolf and the Dove, Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley? Explicit heterosexual romances. Not adult. Ranking.

Alex Beecroft's False Colours and Erastes' Transgressions? Explicit gay romances. Adult. No ranking.

Nookii: The Grownup Game for Playful Couples? Not adult. Ranking.

The Dildo Master DVD? Not adult. Ranking.

Realistic White Boy Vibrating Dildo. Not adult. Ranking.

[source: here]

There's an updating links collection going on here, a stream of Twitters here and a list of affected authors is being collated here.

So far, amazon.co.uk and other branches don't seem to have enacted the same changes. I'll edit if I find out otherwise.

(I really would try and stay up to the minute on this today, but I've got to finish my [livejournal.com profile] springtime_gen entry, so help me. *runs back to writing*)

ETA: Targeted books now include children's lit (Heather Has Two Mommies) and anything dealing with 'alternative' sexuality, like books with sex tips for people with disabilities. Playboy remains unharmed, while titles such as -- oh god, I can hardly type this without weeping TEARS OF RAGE -- Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape are ushered away from the public eye.

Also, word on the street is that .co.uk's been affected too, I'm off to investigate.

ETA2: Yep, as the list here continues to grow (STEPHEN FRY, GUYS), UK listings are most certainly there, though weirdly not in any sort of consistent fashion. What the hell is going on?!

ETA3: Amazon Rank

ETA4: Wait, this happened back in February? WTF.

ETA5: (oh hell oh hell this fic will never get written!) Here's an example of what the direct impact of Amazon's shenanigans is - the top two results on amazon.co.uk for 'homosexuality' are now Can Homosexuality be Healed? and A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality - and .com is even worse.

ETA6: !!! The Amazon Rank link is already the second result on Google. Internet, ilu sometimes.

ETA7: LA Times covers the story. #amazonfail is the top trending topic on Twitter, Amazon Rank is the top search result on Google, holy hell.

ETA8: I'll be poking through the amazonfail tag on delicious. In the meantime, off to sleep for me! New post tomorrow, probably.


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