Tuesday News: Hidden dangers(?!) of paper, Google (maybe)comes clean, (not) responding to reviews, and book clubs through history
ACLU and Academics Concerned over TSA Proposal to Inspect Travelers’ Books – I can’t figure out what news is intended to distract us from the denigration of our constitutional democracy and what truly deserves our attention and outrage. This one hits a middle ground for me, in part because it seems like such a clear invasion of privacy, combined with a law-enforced invitation for profiling and targeting. According to Homeland Security, the department “might and likely will” enforce this ridiculousness.
“[B]ooks raise very special privacy issues,” [ACLU analyst Jay] Stanley wrote. “There is a long history of special legal protection for the privacy of one’s reading habits in the United States, not only through numerous Supreme Court and other court decisions, but also through state laws that criminalize the violation of public library reading privacy or require a warrant to obtain book sales, rental, or lending records.” . . .
In 2009, a student studying Arabic was detained for over four hours, partly in handcuffs, because of the Arabic-language flashcards he was carrying. The 27-year-old student was also questioned about a book he had with him that was critical of US foreign policy — the book was written by a former aide to President Reagan. The student missed his flight and sued the Justice Department. In 2015, the student won a $25,000 settlement for the incident. – Hyperallergic
Google to Stop Scanning Gmail Inboxes for Advertising Purposes – So my first question is how many free Gmail users KNOW that Google is scanning their inbox? They allegedly just scan to “personalize” advertising, which may actually make the intrusion worse. And as many have pointed out, Google likely has all the info it needs to effectively target its customers, so the change will cost them nothing. Google had already stopped scanning emails via G Suite business accounts but has not announced a date at which the current change will become effective. Don’t you feel more secure now?
As many privacy experts have voiced their opinion on social media, a reason why Google is taking this action is to eliminate any bad press about Gmail privacy. Google most likely believes that the inbox scanning scandal from a few years back has prevented many companies from adopting G Suite, fearing their emails would be scanned, even if in reality they weren’t. Despite being two different services, most companies look at G Suite as a paid version of Gmail, and many most likely believe Google would be scanning their inboxes.
Currently, over 1.2 billion users use Gmail, while Google boasts with over 3 million businesses who use its enterprise offering G Suite. – Bleeping Computer
Colin Trevorrow Responds to Negative ‘Book of Henry’ Reviews: ‘I Do Stand by the Movie’ – So we’ve got another round of review-reaction bingo, with responses ranging from the classic ‘but so many OTHER people loved it!’ defense to a refrain of ‘we put so much WORK into it!’ There might be an analogy to apply here about the clichéd excuses/defenses, especially given some of the criticism the film has received.
“It’s a little heartbreaking, without getting too personal,” he told the Empire Podcast. “It came to us as a bit of a shock because we had screened this movie to so many people, and we’d had reactions from so many people that we felt we knew what we had and we knew how it was affecting the audience. And that actually hasn’t changed. It affects audiences in the same way that we thought it would.” . . .
“Please go see the movie and recognize that there was a lot of thought and care put into telling the story,” he went on. – Variety
Ever since the advent of book clubs in 18th-century England, when books were scarce and expensive, these organizations have been about more than reading. Book clubs were organized to help members gain access to reading material and to provide a forum for discussion of books the club held. But they were also about gossip and drinking. As the University of St. Andrews’ David Allan writes in A Nation of Readers, “In most cases, food and alcohol in copious quantities, accompanied we may suspect by a considerable element of boisterous good humour, played an important part in the life of the book clubs.” . . .
In book clubs today every member might buy his or her own copy of a book, but in the 18th century, part of the point of the clubs was to pool resources in order to buy more books. Belonging to a book club meant having a larger personal library than you might otherwise have access to—you just had to share. There are few records of the activities of these early book clubs, but those that survive indicate that, as with today’s book clubs, members intended to get together and talk about books, but social aspects were key selling points. As Williams writes, “Members often met in inns or public houses or coffeehouses, and the clubs were clearly perceived to offer more than merely access to texts, because even readers with substantial book collections joined them.” – Atlas Obscura