Tuesday News: Book banning, ad blocking, spam, and piracy
Book banned after Christian complaint -New Zealand now has its first banned book in more than 20 years, Ted Dawe’s Into the River, which was named Book of the Year in 2013 at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. The ban is particularly troubling because the main character in the book is a Maori boy who has to deal with racism, among other challenges. Anyone who sells the book can be fined thousands of dollars, and there is also a prohibition against lending or “displaying” the book. A Christian group initiated the complaint to the Film and Literature Board, which initially set a minimum age limit for book buyers (14 years old):
However, the board has now placed an outright interim ban on the book after Family First asked for a review, objecting to the book’s sex scenes, offensive language and references to drug-taking. . . .
The book was trying to reach out to teenagers and young people who would not normally read, he said.
“Boys particularly – boys who maybe fall through the cracks in the education system – and it’s a tough ask to get to those kids, they’re not easy to connect with.” –Radio New Zealand
Youtube is Bypassing Ad Blockers on Chrome -Apparently a bug has Chrome disabling ad block software for those who use the YouTube app (if you don’t use the app, you should not be affected). If you are seeing ads on YouTube videos, try going to chrome://apps and deleting the YouTube app. Still the situation has caused some frustration and concern, of course, because the will of those who depend on ads and ad revenue is as strong as the will of those who want to banish all ads from their computers (and am I just more sensitive to ads, or do they seem to be proliferating everywhere online). As Nate Hoffelder argues:
In short, this is not a deliberate attack on ad block users, but it does show us what Google could do if they so choose.
Google controls Chrome so completely that they could bypass, break, or disable ad block extensions if they want, and now that it’s been proven to work Google will be pressured to do just that. –The Digital Reader
IS YOUR SPAM PLAGIARIZING A REVIEWER? -Apparently there is a new trend in spam: using text from other blogs, reviews, and websites to bypass the spam filter. So you are basically getting bogus comments that lift other people’s text to facilitate the bogusness. It’s perversely clever, but certainly frustrating. I don’t know if I’d call if plagiarism, since the purpose of the rouse is pretty transparent (although it could depend on how much text is being used and how it’s being represented in the comment), but in light of the previous story, maybe not so surprising. Not sure what can be done about it, either.
Today I noticed something quite scary within my spam comments. Legitimate-looking comments were being made on articles actually relevant to the comment: naming the actual book the post was about rather than the generic “Hey, I’ve been following your blog for some time and this information came in useful! I told my brother and he bookmarked it!” kind of spam.
I figured it out because although the words sound right, the links in the profile bit are still bogus.
So I Googled the legitimate sounding comments and found the spam is actually plagiarised and lifting text from legitimate sources, and pasting them into a comment that has identified keywords from my blog posts.–Moonlight Library
Norwegian Pirate Party provides DNS server to bypass new Pirate Bay blockade -In response to an Oslo District Court’s holding that Norwegian ISP’s are legally required to block certain downloading sites, including Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, the Norwegian Pirate Party has created an unblocked DNS server to bypass the ruling. I know there are people who will draw a parallel between this situation and the spam scenario in the previous story, but the situations are not at all the same. In the case of spam, you have someone snagging another person’s IP for a commercial purpose that does nothing to benefit the rights holder. In the case of piracy, the power dynamics are reversed: individual users secure illegal access for their individual use against the corporate rights holder who may refuse to provide legal and affordable access to those in certain geographical locations. Further, as Norwegian Pirate Party co-chair Øystein Middelthun warns:
He continued: “The blocking order is yet another sad step down the road towards the dystopic world imagined by George Orwell … the dangerous thing about it is that it sets a precedent. It is easy to imagine how the scope could be expanded to include other websites somehow considered immoral, and while the current technical implementation is easy to circumvent, hardening it is equally easy once society has accepted censorship in the first place.” . . .
The Norwegian Pirate Party, for its part, is confident that its DNS server will stick around: “Running a public DNS service is fully legal, so we do not expect any legal trouble,” Middelthun said. –Ars Technica