THIS is Performance Art

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MORE Amazon corruption

Just type in “Gulliver’s Travels,” and the first page will not show any editions you actually ought to buy. And there are so many sponsored ads for mediocre, copyright-less editions. If you type in “Gulliver’s Travels Penguin” you eventually will get to this, a plausible buy for the casual educated reader. And wouldn’t it be nice if someone told you the $156.31 Cambridge University Press edition is by far the best choice? — full of marginal annotations!

Amazon search is getting worse, especially for classic books

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Self-government

Self-government requires that the self be governed. Any pagan philosopher could tell you that. All the American founders agreed: liberty without virtue is but license, and license enslaves. You can hope to run away from a vicious master. You can never run away from yourself.

Anthony Esolen

 


Restoring Christian Culture—Dr. Anthony Esolen

 

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More Amazon corruption

Amazon.com Inc. cracked down on fake reviews two years ago by prohibiting shoppers from getting free products directly from merchants in exchange for writing reviews. It was a major turning point for the world’s largest online retailer, which had previously seen “incentivized reviews” as a key way for consumers to discover new products. Amazon changed course because it realized some merchants were using such reviews to game its search algorithm, undermining faith in the customer feedback that helps drive e-commerce.

Amazon instead used its “Vine” program, in which Amazon serves as a middleman between prolific Amazon reviewers and vendors eager for exposure. Amazon would still allow freebies in exchange for feedback so long as there was no direct contact between its retail partners and reviewers, theoretically lessening the chance of quid-pro-quo. Amazon would select shoppers eligible for the program, and Amazon vendors would pay a fee and provide free products to participate. But there was an important group excluded from the Vine program: independent merchants who supply about half the goods sold on the site.

Now those excluded merchants and review watchdogs are alleging Amazon is guilty of the review manipulation the company said it was trying to prevent. Amazon uses Vine extensively to promote a fast-growing assortment of its own private-label products, distributing free samples to quickly accumulate the reviews needed to rise in search results and boost shopper faith in making a purchase. It gives Amazon a big advantage when introducing its own brands over third-party merchants who are more vulnerable to Amazon’s private-label competition than prominent brands already in stores.

The merchants’ complaints have taken on heightened importance amid a European Union antitrust probe into whether Amazon advantages its own merchandise over rival products on the site. The explosion of Amazon’s private-label brands is a key focus of inquiry, according to questionnaires regulators sent to Amazon merchants and reviewed by Bloomberg.

. . .

The abundance of Vine reviews makes Amazon motor oil’s 4.5-star ranking meaningless, says Saoud Khalifah, whose Fakespot monitors online reviews. The Amazon oil reviews were written predominately by professional reviewers in it for the freebies who give generic positive feedback and little useful information, while the 108 Valvoline reviews were left by “gear heads that are really into their cars,” he says.

“It’s a night and day difference in content,” Khalifah says. Fakespot, which grades reviews for Amazon products, gave the feedback for Amazon motor oil an F and reviews for Valvoline an A.

Amazon Doles Out Freebies to Juice Sales of Its Own Brands

Fakespot

Amazon, Den of Thieves

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Take things at the pace of prayer.

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Amazon corruption, continued

Employees, through intermediaries, are offering internal data to help merchants increase their sales on the website

Employees of Amazon, primarily with the aid of intermediaries, are offering internal data and other confidential information that can give an edge to independent merchants selling their products on the site, according to sellers who have been offered and purchased the data, as well as brokers who provide it and people familiar with internal investigations.

Amazon Investigates Employees Leaking Data for Bribes, WSJ, September 16, 2018

Employees have reportedly turned over proprietary sales information, deleted negative reviews, turned over reviewer e-mail addresses, or unbanned banned accounts
. . .
On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal published a report that revealed that sellers have bribed Amazon employees to get access to internal sales data or to delete negative reviews, and that the company has launched an investigation into the practice.

According to the report, middlemen use social media sites like WeChat to track down Amazon employees, offering them cash to turn over internal information or to delete negative reviews. The WSJ also reports that it costs roughly $300 to take down a bad review, with brokers “[demanding] a five-review minimum” per transaction. Amazon employees have also been asked to provide e-mail addresses of customers who left negative reviews, or to provide sales information to give sellers an edge against their competitors. To combat the behavior, an Amazon spokesperson told the WSJ that it has implemented “systems to restrict and audit what employees can access.”

Amazon is investigating claims that employees deleted reviews and sold sales data to sellers, The Verge, September 16, 2018

These practices seem to be a particular problem in China, though not only. Here is more from Shannon Bond at the FT. Here is further coverage at Verge: “The WSJ also reports that it costs roughly $300 to take down a bad review, with brokers ‘[demanding] a five-review minimum’ per transaction.”

Markets in everything, Marginal Revolution, September 17, 2018

Amazon’s Antitrust Problem

At the end of the antitrust stacks is a table near the window. “This is my command post,” said Lina Khan.

It’s nothing, really. A few books are piled up haphazardly next to a bottle with water and another with tea. Ms. Khan was in Dallas quite a bit over the last year, refining an argument about monopoly power that takes aim at one of the most admired, secretive and feared companies of our era: Amazon.

The retailer overwhelmingly dominates online commerce, employs more than half a million people and powers much of the internet itself through its cloud computing division. On Tuesday, it briefly became the second company to be worth a trillion dollars.

If competitors tremble at Amazon’s ambitions, consumers are mostly delighted by its speedy delivery and low prices. They stream its Oscar-winning movies and clamor for the company to build a second headquarters in their hometowns. Few of Amazon’s customers, it is safe to say, spend much time thinking they need to be protected from it.

But then, until recently, no one worried about Facebook, Google or Twitter either. Now politicians, the media, academics and regulators are kicking around ideas that would, metaphorically or literally, cut them down to size. Members of Congress grilled social media executives on Wednesday in yet another round of hearings on Capitol Hill. Not since the Department of Justice took on Microsoft in the mid-1990s has Big Tech been scrutinized like this.

Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea,” by David Streitfeld, NYT, September 7, 2018

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AMAZON, den of thieves

amazon scammers – Google search

Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea,” by David Streitfeld, NYT, September 7, 2018

Amazon wants a key to your house. I did it. I regretted it. – Duluth News, Dec. 17, 2017

Amazon demonetizes conservative website (us), Legal Insurrection, May 23, 2018

IBPA’s Fall 2017 Update on the Amazon Buy Button Policy ChangeIBPA, Oct. 5, 2017

How One Pillow Manufacturer Is Putting Amazon Fraudsters to Bed, One Scammer at a Time

Just How Bad Is the Fake Reviews Issue on Amazon? Here’s an In Depth Example, reddit, June 2018

FakeSpot – Tired of fake reviews?

How Sellers Trick Amazon to Boost Sales, WSJ July 28, 2018 (On MorningStar)

Money Laundering Via Author Impersonation on Amazon? Brian Krebs, Feb. 20, 2018

The Book Thief, Amazon Edition, WSJ, Feb 26, 2018

On Amazon, Fake Products Plague Smaller Brands, WSJ, July 19, 2018

Amazon Says More Than a Million U.S. Small Businesses Sell on Its Site, WSJ, May 3, 2018

Couple at Center of $1.2 Million Amazon Scam Gets Nearly 6 Years in Prison, June 5, 2018

How an Amazon Self-Published Book May Be the Latest Money Laundering Scam, Fortune, Feb 23, 2018

Amazon Scams On The Rise As Fraudulent Sellers Run Amok And Profit Big, Forbes, Jan. 2, 2017

Amazon tries to snuff out a bunch of Kindle publishing scams, CNet, Sept. 7, 2017

Going Off-Topic – Amazon made me a victim of tax fraud & potential money laundering and I want answers!, CTRMCenter, Feb. 23, 2018

Why All My Books Are Now Free (aka A Lesson in Amazon Scams and Money Laundering), Meb Faber Research, April 18, 2018

Someone Stole My Entire Book (and My Job) and Is Selling It On Amazon, ExtremeTech, April 13, 2018

Update On My Stolen Book (and Job) on Amazon, ExtremeTech, April 25, 2018

Amazon warning: Beware of deliveries you didn’t order, Clark Howard, Feb 23, 2018

To cash in on Kindle Unlimited, a cabal of authors gamed Amazon’s algorithm, July 16, 2018,

Amazon – Amazon report listing abuse or violation

Amazon- Claim Copyright Infringement

email: copyright@amazon.com

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New ways to be alone

 


Bishop Barron on Contraception and Social Change

 

As our civilization lost its understanding of sacramental marriage, we have dreamt up new ways to be alone.
. . .
It was not the invention of the birth-control pill, or the adoption of no-fault divorce, that hollowed out marriage: It was that we became the sort of people who desired those things. We became — Western civilization became — the kids who flunked the test in the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment, unable to resist immediate gratification and, having stripped ourselves of the cultural basis for understanding the distinction, unable to tell the difference between pleasure and happiness.

The Psalmist and the Sex Doll

 


Humanae Vitae: Blessed Pope Paul VI’s Prophetic Pro-Life Work

 

Paul VI, Prophet, by Bishop Robert Barron, November 28, 2017

 


Sexual Revolution: 50 Years Since Humanae Vitae

 

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Is the Pope a Catholic?

For a guy who loves to talk, Pope Francis sure has picked a funny time to be silent.

Pope Francis normally won’t stop talking. He’s picked a funny time to go silent

Archbishop Viganò is a distinguished churchman. He is at the end of his career. He can have no this-wordly ambition. So what is he doing and why? Others more knowledgeable may offer better explanations, but I can suggest only four: Viganò is lying; he is sincere but mentally ill; he is an innocent manipulated by others; he is telling the truth in whole or in part.

The faithful need to know which explanation is correct. Given what we already know from the McCarrick case and the Pennsylvania grand-jury report, the fourth must be granted a real possibility. If so, it may still be that Viganò’s motives are corrupt — i.e., he wants to topple a liberal Pope. But if his charges are true, they are such a serious matter that his motives are of interest mainly to God. His statement must therefore lead to serious investigations, which, since the allegations involve crimes as well as sins, will inevitably be conducted by secular authorities as well as church ones. In the next few years, therefore, we seem likely to learn a great deal more about evil in the garb of priestly virtue and episcopal authority. And that raises a question that has not yet been given the same attention as sexual abuse and its cover-up above.

In his New York Times column on the McCarrick case — a month and an age ago — Ross Douthat said of the former cardinal that after the clerical-abuse scandal in Boston broke, “the Washington archbishop became the avuncular, reassuring media point person for his fellow bishops, issuing statements of concern and condemnation that if he really feared the punishments of hell would have turned to ashes in his mouth.” Those words were striking, indeed piercing. What did McCarrick believe? What does he believe? Did the punishments of hell feature in his mind at all? What did bishops and other senior clerics think they were doing when they either passed predator priests on to other parishes after a brief psychological counseling or turned a blind eye to sex parties in the seminaries? Are they really Catholics? Or Christians of some other kind? Or men who had lost their faith almost without realizing the fact? Or men who had adapted Catholicism to other philosophies, which had promptly digested it? Or something worse?

. . .

If we are going to see a proper accounting of these things, it looks as if it will have to be delivered through the criminal-justice system. That has already happened in some of the cases revealed in the Pennsylvania report. Three hundred priests have been accused, with some convicted; a few still face trial, and many are dead. But the case that now really counts is that of McCarrick. It is unlikely that he will face prosecution for his seduction of seminarians. As one Italian religious journalist has observed indulgently, the seminarians were above the age of consent and suffered no actual violence even if they experienced pressure and distress. That’s a very worldly standard for a bishop to rely on for protection on a sex charge, even in post-Christian Italy and America, and it would play very badly with public opinion, but it’s probably enough to keep him out of court. Nor will he face human justice in the case of the minor child of family friends whom he both baptized and seduced. The statute of limitations has run out.

That is something he may now regret. It would be an opportunity of a kind, after all. If he were to plead not guilty and hire a ruthlessly brilliant lawyer to mount a scorched-earth defense on his behalf, he would be doing what any other white-collar criminal does in similar circumstances. A guilty plea, on the other hand, would be evidence of penitence, shame, and desire to make amends — far more so than retreating into a monastery for prayer and penance. And because child abusers face a hard time in prison, it would require real courage in addition to the humiliations that he would inevitably suffer. It would also tell us that McCarrick fears the punishments of the next world far more than the pains and humiliations of prison in this one.

Is the Pope a Catholic?

It’s astonishing that in the wake of an 11-page letter alleging Pope Francis enabled and empowered child predators, some have chosen to focus their attention on the accusers and not the accusations.

You’d think everyone, fan and critic alike, would be asking, demanding to hear Francis answer the allegations. You’d be wrong.

The Vatican’s sex-abuse denialists persist in their insouciance

The history of institutional governance shows that diverse voices in the “boardroom,” a range of experiences and expertise among senior leaders and overseers, and some degree of independent oversight make for healthier institutions. The Catholic Church should try it.

The Church Is Too Important to Be Left to the Clerics

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