Tuesday News: Free book by Mei Fong, German & Irish router flaw, research behind Moana, and happy birthday Louisa May Alcott
A Pulitzer winner is giving away her book in Chinese because the topic scared off publishers – Although Mei Fong’s One Child was published almost a year ago in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, she hasn’t been able to sell the book to a Chinese language publisher in Hong Kong, China, or Taiwan. In the aftermath of the publisher disappearance in Hong Kong, fear of retaliation and confiscation make a book like Fong’s too risky to publish or stock. Censorship in mainland China and lack of interest in Taiwan are significant obstacles, too. So Mei Fong has decided to self-publish her book and distribute it for free to mainland Chinese readers, with another Chinese-language version to be sold in digital or POD outside the country (she explains a lot at her Patreon site).
Mei Fong, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter whose bookOne Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment, on the many failures and human cost of China’s one-child policy—which was abandoned last year—could not find a Chinese language publisher in China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. In order to by-pass the stumbling block, Fong decided to launch her book online for free (pdf), asking readers to pitch in a voluntary sum to help with her costs. . . .
Fong is not so sure how long her experiment will be allowed to last. “I have tried to keep this under wraps until the day of the launch. Because I do not know how long it will be before the authorities decide to shut me down, and take the book offline,” she said. “If they do not like it, eventually they will block it, so I hope to reach as many readers as possible before that.” – Quartz
Newly discovered router flaw being hammered by in-the-wild attacks – The Mirai malware that creates massive denial-of-service attacks has been exploiting home routers in several European countries, with a lot of technical details I do not even remotely understand. In any case, the article notes that if you have a vulnerable router, a “good practice is to reboot them and immediately lock them down with a strong password, or, better yet, to disable remote administration.” Assuming you know how, of course.
Routers provided to German and Irish ISP customers for Deutsche Telekom and Eircom, respectively, have already been identified as being vulnerable, according to recently published reports from researchers tracking the attacks. The attacks exploit weaknesses found in routers made by Zyxel, Speedport, and possibly other manufacturers. The devices leave Internet port 7547 open to outside connections. The exploits use the opening to send commands based on the TR-069 and related TR-064 protocols, which ISPs use to remotely manage large fleets of hardware. According to this advisory published Monday morning by the SANS Internet Storm Center, honeypot servers posing as vulnerable routers are receiving exploits every five to 10 minutes.
SANS Dean of Research Johannes Ullrich said in Monday’s post that exploits are almost certainly the cause behind an outage that hit Deutsche Telekom customers over the weekend. In a Facebook update, officials with the German ISP said 900,000 customers are vulnerable to the attacks until they are rebooted and receive an emergency patch. Earlier this month, researchers at security firm BadCyber reported that the same one-two port 7547/TR-064 exploit hit the home router of a reader in Poland. They went on to identify D1000 routers supplied by Eircom as also being susceptible and cited this post as support. The Shodan search engine shows that 41 million devices leave port 7547 open, while about five million expose TR-064 services to the outside world. – Ars Technica
How Pacific Islanders Helped Disney’s Moana Find Its Way – You know it’s going to be trouble when the pair behind Disney’s Aladdin want to tackle Polynesia’s Maui. At least John Lasseter (Disney animation chief) must have, because he ordered the John Musker and Ron Clements to “Go research.” Seriously, did you ever think you’d hear those words from Disney? Now I haven’t seen Moana yet, although I have seen several articles noting the differences between the film and many other Disney-fied cultural disasters. And according to this article, an “Oceanic Trust” was formed that shaped almost every detail of the film to ensure that it remain respectful of and true to Polynesian cultures, histories, and beliefs/values. There has even been a Tahitian version of Moana recorded (including the film’s score), at the behest of Tahitian “cultural practitioner” Hinano Murphy. Anyone seen the film yet? Did they manage to keep it real and respectful?
But Lasseter was clear: the project would not go any further until Musker and Clements actually went to Polynesia, marking the beginning of a process that makes Moana one of Disney’s most culturally authentic endeavors yet. For a studio that has been dogged by accusations of cultural insensitivity in the past and present, it was no small accomplishment.
Musker and Clements’s 2011 trip to Polynesia, the first of many, led to the birth of what they would later name the Oceanic Trust. Consisting of a group of anthropologists, cultural practitioners, historians, linguists, and choreographers from islands including Samoa, Tahiti, Mo’orea, and Fiji, this group was integral in shaping some of the finest details of Moana, from character design to song lyrics—and they certainly understand the skeptics who raised eyebrows when the marketing materials for Moana were first released. – Vanity Fair
Who was Louisa May Alcott and what is her famous book Little Women about? – Although the headline is focused on Alcott, who would be 184 years old today, the article is more or less background for the Google Doodle portraying Little Women‘s four sisters, with Jo at the symbolic center of the illustration. It’s a lovely tribute and a timely reminder of how women have long been writing and reading and talking about great books.
The book, in which the four women all have unique identities, may seem overly moralistic and formal by today’s standards, but set a mark for female individualism in the 1860s. The women were at the centre of the book and fully formed characters who grappled with their own choices, even within traditional domestic roles.
Fundamentally, though, the book became a classic coming of age title for millions of girls with relatable and interesting characters. . . .
Google Doodler Sophie Diao drew the Doodle based on the characters of Little Women, with Jo, the character running through the middle with papers flying everywhere, based on Alcott herself. – The Telegraph