Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Paying off hackers is common - Nairobi’s library restoration grapples with its chaotic past


Paying off hackers is common, says top Australian govt cybersecurity firm

Corporate insurers routinely pay hackers a ransom for the return of stolen customer data, a top Australian government cybersecurity provider said on Tuesday, as the country's biggest health insurer revealed the growing scale of a recent breach.

The claim from Macquarie Telecom Group Ltd, which runs cybersecurity for 42% of Australian federal employees, including the Australian Taxation Office, gives a sense of a lack of preparedness in an industry that has been in the spotlight amid a wave of high-profile hacks in the past month.

Nairobi’s library restoration grapples with its chaotic past [subscription but this link may be open]: The myth that Kenyans ‘don’t read’ is a dusty relic of the country’s painful history – Gisa Tunbridge  “We are not a reading nation,” lamented a Kenyan librarian in 2015. He did not mean, of course, that Kenyans can’t read — the vast majority can. He meant simply that most derive little pleasure from doing so, regarding literacy as a more or less regrettable necessity. Growing up in Nairobi, I often encountered such gloomy self-assessments of the nation’s reading habits. People talk as though, by virtue of some inscrutable law of nature, Kenya must remain an “oral culture”, eternally estranged from the written word. That lugubrious librarian was speaking, however, to Wanjiru Koinange, a Kenyan writer who has long been sceptical of her compatriots’ alleged bibliophobia. For Koinange and her friend Angela Wachuka, a publisher, the problem is not that Kenyans lack interest in books, but rather that they lack access to them.

 “We just don’t have enough spaces in this country,” Koinange told me via email, “that are rooted in information sharing, and community, and . . . the arts”. Seeking to redress this deficiency, Koinange and Wachuka founded Book Bunk, a non-profit that refurbishes public libraries, in 2017. They renovate the buildings, update the collections and host events to encourage young Kenyans to engage with literature and the arts. Their next project will be the McMillan Memorial Library in Nairobi, Kenya’s second-oldest book collection…”

Washington Post: “For two years, coronavirusvariants emerged, one by one, sweeping the globe. But this fall and winter are expected to be different: Instead of a single ominous variant lurking on the horizon, experts are nervously eyeing a swarm of viruses  and a new evolutionary phase in the pandemic. 

This time, it’s unlikely we will be barraged with a new collection of Greek alphabet variants. Instead, one or more of the multiple versions of the omicron variant that keep popping up could drive the next wave. They are different flavors of omicron, but eerily alike — adorned with a similar combination of mutations. Each new subvariant seems to outdo the last in its ability to dodge immune defenses. “It is this constant evolutionary arms race we’re having with this virus,” said Jonathan Abraham, an assistant professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School…”

How Amazon Accelerated the Commodification of Literature

LitHub: “Amazon founder Jeff Bezos came up with the slogan “Get Big Fast” because he knew size was crucial to exacting ever lower prices from suppliers. Publishers have tried to respond to Amazon’s power by doing the exact same thing, accelerating their decades-long campaign of mergers and acquisitions to consolidate into an ever smaller number of bigger firms all trying to publish ever bigger books (like the memoirs of Barack and Michelle Obama, for which Penguin Random House advanced an astonishing $65 million). The push towards “big” explains Penguin Random House’s play to absorb Simon & Schuster. Matt Stoller describes the merger as “defensive, an attempt to gain bargaining power against a monopolist bookseller.” This kind of producer integration is an understandable response to overly powerful buyers, especially since antitrust law prevents separate companies from banding together to create countervailing power. But it causes knock-on problems for suppliers and workers downstream. As Stoller puts it, “it’s not fair that authors must sell on the terms laid down by increasingly powerful publishers, but this dynamic is driven by the far more unfair situation whereby publishers are dealing with the utterly ruthless trillion dollar powerhouse Amazon.” An increasing “bestseller” mentality contributes to the vulnerability of independent presses to being absorbed. Mass-market retailers only stock the titles they predict will be hits, and online marketplaces amplify the books that are shifting fastest. This results in “a cycle so self-fulfilling it’s nearly tautological: Best sellers sell the best because they are best sellers.” As a result, according to book analyst Mike Shatzkin, “the medium-sized publishers can’t sustain themselves anymore. They can’t compete for the really big titles, so they get bought.”…

The latest workforce survey from The Conference Board polled more than 1,600 individuals—predominantly office workers—from September 1-8. Respondents weighed in on workplace culture, work location, compensation, and benefits. 

A new survey reveals that nearly a third of workers report decreased engagement—the commitment and connection that they feel to their work. Could the shift to remote work spurred by the pandemic be at fault? The Conference Board survey says no. Work location—whether on-site, remote, or a hybrid blend of the two—has no impact on self-reported engagement levels. But some people do feel decreased engagement more than others: Women, Millennials, and individual contributors report lower engagement than men, older generations, and executives. But even with lower levels of self-reported engagement, 82 percent say their level of effort is the same or higher. 

The survey also finds that more workers want to quit, but few have plans to actually do so. Workers’ intent to stay at their jobs decreased for 37 percent in the last six months, but only 12 percent are actively planning to leave. Indeed, the imminent recession has 29 percent of workers thinking twice about quitting. 

Additionally, having a caring, empathetic leader increased in importance to hybrid workers (56 percent) and remote workers (50 percent) more than those in the physical workplace (44 percent), perhaps a reminder to leaders to be more intentional and inclusive for those who are remote at least some of the time..”