Wednesday News: Scamming Kindle Unlimited, genes & sex, cholera & the UN, and Andy Weir’s next book
KU Scammers on Amazon – What’s Going On? – So remember when Kindle Unlimited was populated by a bunch of really short books, and Amazon changed the payout terms to number of pages read, not number of books? Well, keep in mind that authors are paid from a communal trough of money (because KU subscribers pay a monthly fee to read program books for free), and they’re paid on the basis of how many pages of their books are read. Because KU books are only available on Amazon, authors are only getting income on their KU books from one retailer, which appears to spur some authors to try to optimize that income (read: game the system). Like by offering a slew of 15-page books under the old system. Or providing 3,000 page books under the new system. Except that these aren’t real books, and the “authors” have apparently created little tricks to make it appear that readers have consumed all the pages, exposing a flaw in Amazon’s claim that they can verify actual pages read. And some “authors” are making upwards of $60 to $70 THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH with this crap. WTF Amazon?!
Here’s the Scam:
1) Scammer acquires via advertisement (or sometimes actually writes) a bad book or part of it. Enough so that they can get past a quick look at the first few pages.
2) Scammer then puts 3000 pages of synonmizer garbage after that first portion.
3) Scammer creates 25 versions of that book with different nonsense after the first few pages to get past the automated checks.
4) Scammer creates a new KDP Account using a fresh EIN.
5) Scammer uploads each of the 25 versions under 25 author names, enters them into KDP Select and as soon as the books go live, they immediately use their 5 Days “free promo” allowed by being in select. This puts the book into KU and also makes it free to buy. . . . – Ann Christy
Do Genes Time One’s Loss of Virginity? – Cambridge researchers are currently positing that those genes that influence puberty also play a role in determining when someone loses their virginity and when women give birth to their first child. The rate of prediction is only about 25%, which is not enormous, but it’s a provocative line of research with some interesting implications.
A person’s age at the onset of sexual behavior matters, because early sexuality and becoming a parent at a young age are linked to many measures of health and economic success. “If you look in [scientific] literature, relatively early ages at first sex and first birth have been associated with lower educational achievement, poorer physical health, poorer mental health—a complex web of negative stuff,” says John Perry, a geneticist at Cambridge who led the research, published Monday in Nature Genetics. Perry says he was particularly intrigued by the idea that something people think of as purely a matter of free choice would have a large contribution from genetics. (Scientific American is part of Springer Nature.)
Geneticist and pediatric endocrinologist Joel Hirschhorn at Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in the study, says he also finds this result interesting and believable. But he thinks the team may have overstretched its data in making another conclusion: that the association they saw between genes involved in puberty and those involved in impulsivity and crankiness means these traits also play a causal role in the timing of sexual activities. The type of genomic analysis they used, called Mendelian randomization, can sometimes be difficult to interpret, according to Hirschhorn. “It might not be direct cause and effect,” he says, adding that more research will be needed to prove causality. – Scientific American
The Killer Hiding in the CDC Map – My initial reaction to this story can basically be summed up as whoa. The geographical pattern of Haiti’s ongoing cholera epidemic has been mapped by the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control), and the key to reading it may lie in an older map – from 1854 London, to be exact. Victorian anesthesiologist John Snow mapped out London’s cholera outbreaks, ultimately tracing them to a water pump on Broad Street. Snow’s project allowed him to demonstrate that cholera was transmitted through contaminated water, which is particularly interesting, because the CDC’s map presents a similar pattern. Except that it fails to actually designate the center of the outbreak. Perhaps because it’s a United Nations peacekeeping base? See? Whoa.
Now, this display is hanging in a traveling exhibition called “Places & Spaces: Mapping Science”—which, according to the brochure, “demonstrates the power of maps to address vital questions about the contours and content of human knowledge.” The “Places & Spaces” creators at Indiana University told me the installation also includes “data visualizations created by the CDC that relate to the theme of using data visualization to better understand data.” This particular map was “one of the CDC’s pieces.”
So whoever put it together must have known that this little map from London and the big map of Haiti had something important to do with each other—namely, that they both pointed to the source of a cholera outbreak. – Slate
Andy Weir, Author of The Martian, Shares Details About His Next Novel – In which Andy Weir talks a lot about NASA and the future of space travel, and then says something moderately interesting about his next book:
Your next book will have a woman as the central character. Given that “gender wars” in science fields is still a contentious topic, why did you decide to go with a lady lead? What kinds of challenges does your protagonist face, and does her gender play any role in those challenges?
I don’t take part in any political debates. So I’m certainly not trying to make a point by having a female lead. She’s just a character I came up with that I thought was cool, so she’s the lead.
The book is another scientifically accurate story. The main character is a low-level criminal in a city on the moon. Her challenges are a mix of technical/scientific problems, as well as juggling personal interactions—staying a step ahead of the local police, working with shady and dangerous people to do illegal things.
She doesn’t encounter any distinctly “female” challenges. There’s no love plot. And the story takes place in a future society where there is practically no sexism. – Smithsonian Magazine