It has been 5,258,880 minutes since 9:59am on September 11, 2001. It was on that clear, crisp, perfectly blue skied Tuesday September morning where blood from all nations was spilled on American soil for the first time since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. My city, our nation, and everyone’s world was irrevocably changed.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It has been 10 years.
The blood of patriots has spilled for 10 years.
The blood of tyrants has spilled for 10 years.
10 years that blood has refreshed the tree of liberty.
Today is about remembering the conscious sacrifice made by one for another in their greatest time of need without regard for race, creed, or political beliefs. Today is about remembering those who sacrificed 10 years ago and those who have sacrificed since then to keep the tree of Liberty alive and well. Today is about remembering that while all sacrificed some… there are those who have sacrificed all. I ask that you remember this today and leave everything else for another time.
It has been 5,258,880 minutes since the South Tower of the World Trade Center at Liberty Street and West Street collapsed. I ask that you specifically remember the following nine Emergency Medical Service Responders who perished in that collapse:
volunteer Zhe Zang
my friend Mario Santoro
my friend and vollie dispatcher Richard Pearlman
and my friend and partner Yamel Merino
All sacrificed some… some sacrificed all… so that others may live
I have to be honest… I hate the whole back to school time. Besides the perhaps not so obvious reasons… it unleashes that which I despise most on the streets of the city…
The yellow school bus.
These “Cheese Buses”, as we call them, are a a major contributing factor to the congestion levels of the city. They stop in the middle of the block, double park, hold up traffic, and most of the time have a complete disregard for other motorists. I’ll be honest on the fact that pretty much 90% of the accidents I’ve ever responded to that involved a bus actually involved a school bus as opposed to a city or private bus. It can be pretty scary.
The sad part is that its really a long process to be eligible to drive a school bus. There’s a commercial driver’s license, a 19A certification, something like 8 hours of class to attend, a physical endurance test, and believe it or not there is actually a pretty in depth background check accompanied with fingerprinting. All of these are actually positive things considering we are trusting them with our children. There just seems to be one glaring ommission.
The driving test.
A test on common sense would be nice… but let’s face it… the kids need to get to school somehow and since common sense seems to be in short supply… I guess we’ll take what we can get. Still, I really wish they would give these people a driving test.
Or give the kids crash helmets.
Something is better than nothing.
Inspired by him.
I was going to avoid this whole Amazon.com debate. It seemed to be getting plenty of coverage, there were things changing minute by minute I wasn’t necessarily able to keep track of, and after I did my own research into it where I found there really wasn’t anything worthy of my time or effort on the matter. That was Sunday.
This tweet came out on Monday linking to this story that had been written the day before.
This post was also made on Monday.
So let the buzzsaw begin…
So author Mark Probst wanted to know why his Young Adult novel with gay themes, The Filly, was stripped of its Amazon sales ranking. He notified both Amazon and blogged about it. His book wasn’t the only one. In fact there were quite a few books that had their sales rankings removed that were by GLBT authors or had GLBT themes including:
Now all the books listed above had their sales rankings removed. If you click any of those links above, you will find yourself looking at exactly what I was looking at on Sunday.
I was looking at a product page where I could order the very book they were claiming the sales rankings had been removed from.
I bet you think I was mistaken, but I assure you I was not! You see, even though the sales rankings are removed, Amazon still sold the books. I could still find the books using the search bar. I could still order the books. So where is this censorship and book burning you ask??? There was none.
What Actually Happened
Where are the sales rankings normally you ask? Well on a normal page you would find them as highlighted here in the red letters:
So the number above is that particular book’s sales ranking across ALL books. Amazon also will provide sales rankings on books that are classified, usually by the publisher, further in their literature taxonomy. So a book that may rank 1,000,000 in just Books can also rank 300 in the more specific Literature ——> Gay. So these books were delisted from the genre lists.
You could still find them via a keyword search.
You could still order them and have them shipped to you.
Admittedly, Amazon has (of this post’s writing) not produced a solid reason why this happened other than it was a “glitch”. They have in fact been working to reinstate the sales rankings for the books affected, including those above. This of course has not stopped the Internet from bashing them incessantly or generating some theories:
Conspiracy Theory: GLBT Authors Self-Sacrifice
This theory is that the GLBT publishers got together and secretly tagged their books with the ADULT tag just prior to the Christian Easter Weekend. This would do three things for them: 1) It would delay Amazon‘s response since it was a holiday weekend 2) It would allow them to once again lay blame on Right Wing Christians Groups for a wrong against them and 3) Hopefully cause a Steisand Effect because people would erroneously think the material was being censored, which in turn would boost the sales of their literature at a time when the money was much needed in this down economy
Debunked: Let’s face it, the GLBT community can’t organize for jack shit. If they had the power to organize such an action then Prop 8 never would have passed in California. They are way too fractured and lacking in a voice to pull this off both politically and on The Real World: Brooklyn.
Conspiracy Theory: Right Wing Christian Fundamentalists
In a move to further along the current fundamental Crusade against the “evils” of the GLBT community, Right Wing Christian Fundamentalist groups diverted teenagers from Good Friday services to stations set up in their churches around the country where they repented by marking GLBT material as “ADULT” or “OFFENSIVE”. These God Squads would work through Holy Saturday into the wee hours of Easter Sunday when they would finally rejoice and collapse from exhaustion, leaving all the chocolate bunnies for the over 55 crowd and the GLBT community without any books to read.
Debunked: Amazon allows you to rate how many stars you give a product and write a review, but I have not been able to find a place where they allow you to mark an item as offensive or “ADULT”. Additionally, if this was true, then there would have been a huge spike of diabetic related emergencies across the midwest. The only increase was in the number of animal bites from rabbits and chicks, leaving the resolution of this theory in high doubt.
Conspiracy Theory: The Alien Theory
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, was abducted by aliens from the secret base in New Mexico who have allegiance to George W. Bush. They put him through a mind altering procedure to make him think like Rush Limbaugh. He then systematically weeded out any GLBT employee of Amazon on the coding/product/review teams and replaced them with mindless worker bees who simply tagged things they thought were GLBT related as “ADULT”. He will eventually cocoon himself and emerge as a huge butterfly before releasing the Kindle 3 that will only download and read aloud The Book of Mormon.
Debunked: It’s not. We’re still waiting on DNA samples from the lab taken from a glass of tea that was globbed with honey that Bezos had been drinking. Homemade honey….
Conspiracy Theory: Hackers
It is possible that some hackers found an exploit in Amazon‘s system and decided to use it… sort of the same way that Twitter was wormed this past weekend by a 17 year old fellow New Yorker. This exploit could have been done either externally or even possibly even internally by an employee unintentionally making a simple error, but only Amazon server logs will be able to reveal it after analysis.
Debunked: It isn’t debunked yet. Do you have any idea what server logs for Amazon look like? Yeah… they’re way big. Whether it takes hours, days, or weeks though… the answer is there.
UPDATE: The New York Times, The LA Times and Wired are reporting that Amazon rep Drew Herdener has admitted it was an internal cataloging error that affected 57,000 titles, NOT just GLBT titles, and that they are fixing it.
I understand what Amazon does for unknown authors and small presses. It was Amazon that helped propel the smaller presses that publish GLBT materials to gain nationwide distribution. I understand the importance of Amazon to these authors and publishers and that the loss of Amazon to them would mean the loss of exposure, distribution capability, and ultimately their livelihoods. The thing is that for Amazon this is business. Jeff Bezos is a smart and revolutionary businessman who has always been pro the “little guy”, and this change would indicate a dramatic shift in that thinking and undermining years of his own work.
Censorship is a problem that we face. There are plenty of examples of real censorship such as the case of Maureen Johnson‘s Bermudez Triangle being banned in Bartlesville Oklahoma as I made previous mention of here. To falsely accuse Amazon of censorship is not only wrong but irresponsible, especially if you don’t have a basic understanding of the machinations of how it all works as MANY of these decriers have exhibited a severe lack of.
There’s nothing wrong with questioning a “policy” or a result of something that is unexpected and seemingly wrong. In fact, as many of you may notice, I do so on a regular basis. However before we start hurling accusations of impropriety and of acts that are against the very democratic core that we express these feelings under… we need to make sure we are properly educated in the matter. Words cannot be irresponsibly thrown out there, and you need to own them.
If you’ve dropped the #AmazonFail on Twitter, if you’ve declared yourself as boycotting Amazon for their perceived transgression as baseless as it was, or if you’re an Amazon Associate who has sworn them off, then you go right ahead and follow up with your threats. No, seriously, own what you have said for a change. Even though Amazon has done nothing wrong you should keep your promises and your posturing… because you do not DESERVE the convenience, price savings, and intellectual freedom provided by Amazon.
I love Amazon… in fact I just got this in the mail Friday…
… and I’ll be using them for a long time to come…
Would it surprise you to find out that I like to watch Oprah?
No really, I do. I have alot of respect for her because she knew what she wanted, and she unabashedly went for it. Sure it took her 20 something years, but great empires take time right? Sure she crushed some people along the way, but what media titan doesn’t? Sure she pretty much always whitewashes the dirty truth which calls into question her journalistic integrity that for years was a selling point, but don’t people like happy endings? Sure she has been snookered quite a few times by phony authors and professional fakes like Dr. Phil, but haven’t we all gotten our money from that rich relative who died in Zimbabwe? Sure she has alot of hokey shows and talks about topics she really has no business talking about, but don’t we all do that to some degree?
So yesterday I caught the second half of her show. It was the Secret Lives of Moms show. She had a bunch of women, presumably mothers even though there was not one child in sight, talking about motherhood via Skype using plasma screens placed in the audience.
It turns out that Oprah has decided to follow the path of our favorite Corporate Mongers, Wal*Mart, and she has put together her own O Moms Panel.
Placing any sort of blogger on a show with ”Secret” in the title is an outright farce. Nothing they’ve done has been secret, otherwise I assure you they would have never hit Oprah‘s radar. Epic fail to the producer who thought up that title.
One of the women actually said that a good way to discipline children is for moms to cry. She admitted that she pretends to cry as a form of punishment when her children don’t listen to her. In reality what she’s saying is that raising them to be drama queens early in life is actually acceptable behavior. The cameraman wasn’t quick enough to cut away from the looks of horror on the faces of the people listening to that crap. Epic win for the cameraman.
Someone else brought up the “war” between working moms and moms that stay at home. I fucking love how stay at home mom’s are critical of mom’s who don’t have a husband working for AIG and are out there in the world making sure their children are financially secure. Of course, those same mothers will tell you how their husbands don’t work for AIG (anymore) and they are just scraping by on the money from their advertising on their little blog… you know after all the mommyblogger conference fees, hotel, airfare, bar bill, and babysitter invoice is paid for. So what’s the difference between working moms and stay at home moms again? Oh right, working moms can’t necessarily drink on the job.
Oprah herself was very involved in the conversation… because you know… she’s a total mom… and brought up that mom’s are doing good jobs when they are doing what THEY think is in the best interest of their children. Isn’t it fucking sad that Oprah has a better idea of what a good mom is than her “elite” O Moms and the entirety of the Mommyblogophere?
If the mommy’s actually listened to Oprah‘s advice, then what on earth would they blog about?
Oh right, how everyone is doing it wrong but themselves.
Business as usual in the Mommyblogosphere.