Trying to Plug Leaks in the Memory Hole

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Techdirt notes an Orwellian move from an institution you'd least expect… no, wait a minute, you might suspect they'd totally do something like this: NY Times Tried To Block The Internet Archive. Quoting from an Intercept article:

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has long been used to compare webpages as they are updated over time, clearly delineating the differences between two iterations of any given page. Several years ago, the archive added a feature called “Changes” that lets users compare two archived versions of a website from different dates or times on a single display. The tool can be used to uncover changes in news stories that have been made without any accompanying editorial notes, so-called stealth edits.

The Times has, in the past, faced public criticisms over some of its stealth edits. In a notorious 2016 incident, the paper revised an article about then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., so drastically after publication — changing the tone from one of praise to skepticism — that it came in for a round of opprobrium from other outlets as well as the Times’s own public editor. The blogger who first noticed the revisions and set off the firestorm demonstrated the changes by using the Wayback Machine.

I'm not sure about the past tense, that is, the NYT "tried" blocking the IA's web crawler. As I tyoe, their website's robots.txt contains:

	User-agent: ia_archiver
	Disallow: /

It's been a long time since I've fooled with robots.txt, but I think that's a present-tense block.

No, our Amazon Product du Jour has nothing to do with this item, unless you have a very active imagination. I just saw it and chuckled.

Also of note:

  • Our local hospital, in the (unflattering) news. The nearest hospital to Pun Salad Manor is in Dover, New Hampshire: Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, self-described (in their website's <title> element) as "Healthcare with Heart". It's been in the area since 1906, and joined the Big Hospital ranks in 2017 when it affiliated with the Mass General Brigham behemoth.

    So my eyebrows were raised a bit when MGB was mentioned in this Ars Technia story: Nonprofit hospitals skimp on charity while CEOs reap millions, report finds.

    Nonprofit hospitals are under increasing scrutiny for skimping on charity care, relentlessly pursuing payments from low-income patients, and paying executives massive multi-million-dollar salaries—all while earning tax breaks totaling billions.

    Now, I'm not a huge fan of eat-the-rich rhetoric, and even less a BernieBro (the senator is fawningly mentioned in the article), but there's a chart, click to embiggen.

    [well, someone is making money]

    … and my eyebrows were raised even further by that puny 0.414% fraction of MGB's nearly $16 billion-with-a-b revenue spent on charity care. Among the listed "non-profits" that's the second-lowest.

    And as a Massachusetts-based institution, they don't even qualify under NH's "Live Free or Die" motto.

  • Faster, US Conservatives! Kill! Kill! Ready for Yet Another Example of Slashdot bias? Here you go: US Conservatives Are Trying To Kill Government's Top Cyber Security Agency. It's based on a Politico article

    An agency set up under Donald Trump to protect elections and key U.S. infrastructure from foreign hackers is now fighting off increasingly intense threats from hard-right Republicans who argue it’s gone too far and are looking for ways to rein it in.

    These lawmakers insist work by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to combat online disinformation during elections singles out conservative voices and infringes upon free speech rights — an allegation the agency vehemently denies and the Biden administration is contesting in court. The accusations started in the wake of the 2020 election and are ramping up ahead of 2024, with lawmakers now calling for crippling cuts at the agency.

    "Threats"! From the "hard-right"! Eek! (References to the hard right in the Politico article: five.)

    CISA has (indeed) been pushing the envelope on "encouraging" censorship of social media.

    Politico and (implicitly) Slashdot paint a picture of CISA just doin' its main job, which is making sure the bad guys don't take down the Internet, or something. But (plain fact) CISA has had a ton of money dumped on it over the past few years, and it probably needs to be, not killed, but put on a strict diet. (Or, as the Politico article finally gets around to admitting what the actual GOP proposal does: "dramatically slash" their budget.)

    (I'm not proud of pointing you to the inspiration for this item's lead-in.)

  • Kinda today's theme, unfortunately. Jacob Sullum on The Bipartisan Urge to Control Online Speech.

    According to the Biden administration, federal officials who urged social media companies to suppress "misinformation" about COVID-19 and other subjects were merely asking platforms like Facebook and Twitter to enforce their own rules. But according to the social media users whose speech was stifled as a result of that campaign, it crossed the line between permissible government advocacy and censorship by proxy.

    Think you're off the hook, Republicans? Read the whole sad thing.

  • This is pretty neat. Ladies and gentlemen, and those declining to state, I give you: The Techno-Optimist Manifesto. It leads off with Lies:

    We are being lied to.

    We are told that technology takes our jobs, reduces our wages, increases inequality, threatens our health, ruins the environment, degrades our society, corrupts our children, impairs our humanity, threatens our future, and is ever on the verge of ruining everything.

    We are told to be angry, bitter, and resentful about technology.

    We are told to be pessimistic.

    The myth of Prometheus – in various updated forms like Frankenstein, Oppenheimer, and Terminator – haunts our nightmares.

    We are told to denounce our birthright – our intelligence, our control over nature, our ability to build a better world.

    We are told to be miserable about the future.

    And counters with Truth:

    Our civilization was built on technology.

    Our civilization is built on technology.

    Technology is the glory of human ambition and achievement, the spearhead of progress, and the realization of our potential.

    For hundreds of years, we properly glorified this – until recently.

    I am here to bring the good news.

    We can advance to a far superior way of living, and of being.

    We have the tools, the systems, the ideas.

    We have the will.

    It is time, once again, to raise the technology flag.

    It is time to be Techno-Optimists.

    Wishing them well.

  • Insert "Stupid" before "Lawsuit" to improve this NHJournal headline: Formella Targets Meta With Lawsuit Claiming Tech Giant Is Hurting NH Kids.

    New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella is out to stop social media giant Meta, which he says built its empire by targeting children and hurting their mental health.

    “We will not tolerate the pursuit of profit at the expense of the mental health and well-being of New Hampshire’s kids and America’s kids,” Formella said.

    What about the children?! They are the perennial excuse for moral panic and government bullying.

Last Modified 2024-01-28 3:16 AM EDT