The question of toxic masculinity resurfaced recently with Gillette’s “#MeToo” ad. Apparently, that commercial “proved” that toxic masculinity is real an still around.
It’s one thing to hear or read about toxic masculinity from quite liberal sources, but it’s another when the American Psychological Association rails against so-called toxic masculinity:
Western culture defines specific characteristics to fit the patriarchal ideal masculine construct. The socialization of masculine ideals starts at a young age and defines ideal masculinity as related to toughness, stoicism, heterosexism, self-sufficient attitudes and lack of emotional sensitivity (Wall & Kristjanson, 2005), and of connectedness. Boys learn to be men from the men in their lives, from their own experiences navigating our social norms, and from the large social and cultural context. Boys live under intensified pressure to display gender-appropriate behaviors according to the ideal male code.
But there are several problem with the “toxic masculinity” thing. As the New York Times points out, it’s entirely ahistorical to assume that we’ve “discovered” problems with masculinity. It’s also absurd to think that there is one overarching view of masculinity. And finally, as this satirical publication points out, our culture is not particularly masculine.
So this begs the question: is toxic masculinity the problem its made out to be, or is an intrusive ideology making a mountain out of a molehill?
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If you’re on any social media whatsoever, you’ve probably seen the “10-Year Challenge.” It’s pretty straightforward––you post a picture of yourself now next to a picture of yourself ten years ago. The purpose is to…I don’t know? It’s just something to do for fun.
Or is it?
One tech writer suggests that the challenge is, or could be, more malicious. It began with a tweet:
But she went on to write an op-ed for Wired:
Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years.
Sure, you could mine Facebook for profile pictures and look at posting dates or EXIF data. But that whole set of profile pictures could end up generating a lot of useless noise. People don’t reliably upload pictures in chronological order, and it’s not uncommon for users to post pictures of something other than themselves as a profile picture. A quick glance through my Facebook friends’ profile pictures shows a friend’s dog who just died, several cartoons, word images, abstract patterns, and more.
The moral of the story is clear: delete your social media, burn your computer, and go live off the grid.
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Game theorists suggest that we may be in it for the long haul with this government shutdown. We recently shared that both Democrats and Republicans were making moves to end the shutdown. Trump promised a big announcement on Saturday, January 19. Many hoped that this announcement would do something to end the shutdown. But the …Read More
As time wears on, Trump is losing support among his core supporters:
The erosion in support has contributed to a sharp increase in the Real Clear Politics polling average of Trump’s disapproval ratings. The RCP average Thursday showed overall disapproval for Trump at 55.7 percent, nearly 15 points higher than his average approval rating. Trump’s disapproval rating hit an all-time high of 58.1 percent in December 2017, according to RCP.
Beyond that, about half of Americans don’t want to end the shutdown by giving Trump money for the wall:
About half of Americans (51%) said it would be unacceptable if the only way to end the shutdown was to pass a bill that includes Trump’s requested funding for the border wall, according to a Pew Research Center poll released on Wednesday. On the other side, 29% said it would be unacceptable for the only end to the shutdown to come via a bill that does not include the president’s requested funding for the wall.
According to a Business Insider survey,
Only 19% of respondents thought the wall was the best use of that funding.
The best-polling use of funds was paying healthcare expenses for a half-million people, backed by 36% of respondents.
A further 30% thought infrastructure would most benefit from the funding, while 15% would fund pre-K programs.
Only respondents who identified as conservative thought the wall was an important priority.
George W. Bush made Trump’s PR nightmare worse by delivering pizza to government employees forced to work during the shutdown.
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Recently, Buzzfeed released an article claiming that Donald Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Tower project. The news went off like a bomb. Every major news network covered it. It dominated cable news, with the notable but unsurprising exception of Fox. Congress was even ready to investigate. More people were becoming convinced that impeachment was immanent.
Mueller’s office, however, disputes Buzzfeed’s story. Peter Carr, Mueller’s spokesman, said in a statement: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”
Reuters notes, however, that
While Carr did not directly address whether there was evidence that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, he disputed portions of the story about how BuzzFeed corroborated the explosive allegations against Trump.
The Washington Post points out
The special counsel’s office has only rarely issued public statements since it was created in May 2017; it had never previously issued a public statement regarding evidence in its investigation into Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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There are some signs that the government shutdown might be about to evolve. You might think that it’s the 400 some migrants who snuck under the border wall in Arizona:
US Border Patrol officers stationed in the Yuma, Arizona, sector took about 375 migrants into custody on Monday after they had made it into the United States, one US official said, calling it an unusually large apprehension. It was not immediately clear if the migrants voluntarily surrendered to Border Patrol officials or if they were caught after attempting to evade authorities.
This news hurts the Republicans case that a wall will somehow be effect. But it also helps the Republican case that the border is some kind of war zone. In short, we think this news will be a wash.
Rather, both sides have indicated that they’re going to make some kind of move. The Democrats have offered another billion dollars for the wall, while Trump has promised some “major news” for today:
Both sides’ actions were the first indications of possible movement over the shutdown after a week of inertia and harsh words between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mr. Trump. That conflict culminated when the president, responding to Ms. Pelosi’s request that he postpone his State of the Union address, announced on Thursday that he would not authorize the use of a military plane to fly her and other members of Congress to Afghanistan to meet with American troops.
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The epic American shutdown, now the longest in United States history by far, seems to show no signs of slowing. A few days ago, Nancy Pelosi threatened to take away the one thing Trump loves above all else: the spotlight. By advising the president to postpone the State of the Union, she demonstrated political toughness for her base. Trump shot back, and in a sarcastic letter told her:
I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed…We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over…It would be better if you were in Washington, negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the shutdown.
The Trump administration also asked State Department employees to come back to work, promising to try to free up funding. Together, this all signals a long shutdown.
That’s exactly what game theorists predict. The shutdown is like a game of chicken:
The players — Trump and Pelosi/Schumer — have essentially strapped themselves into two cars pointed at each other and hit the gas.
The question is who swerves at the last minute and loses face and status,” said Colin Camerer, a behavioral game theorist at CalTech. For modelers like Colin, the person who swerves is known as a cowardly dove, while the car that plows forward is a bold hawk.
In this scenario, though, there are more than just two players––there is also the voting public. Neither of the two players involved in the game of chicken want to be the dove, both want to be the hawk––at least in their supporters’ eyes.
Another game theorist notes that the emergency declaration was the best option:
Trump ends the shutdown with an emergency declaration. Even if congressional Democrats sue and win, Trump could shift blame to the courts and still show his base that he’s tough on border security issues.
That he didn’t suggests the shutdown might go on for a long time.
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Buzzfeed news broke a major story on the Trump collusion scandal, which has been picked up by most major news outlets. (For a helpful list of the news outlets, see this Reddit megathread.) From the article:
President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.
Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.
And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
This information, which Cohen confirmed, confirms what Mueller already knew from other documents. Cohen will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a public hearing on February 7th.
User slekmehl on a Reddit thread about the news posted this useful comment:
Reminder: this is a cover-up of a deal Trump was negotiating not with “Russian businessmen”, but directly with the Kremlin, and was worth more than the last 20 years of Trump Org building projects combined.
Now the two [federal law enforcement officials] have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
This was a felony to which Michael Cohen has already pled guilty, and they aren’t just taking Cohen’s word for it that Trump directed the crime. They appear to have a lot of evidence:
“The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through…internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”
This is called suborning false statements, and constitutes Obstruction of Justice, according to none other that current Attorney General nominee William Barr, as directly stated in his infamous memo to DoJ and Trump’s lawyers that likely won him the job in the first place:
Thus, for example, if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony…then he, like anyone else commits the crime of obstruction
He reconfirmed this in his confirmation hearing just yesterday. At the 2:27:02 Mark:
KLOBUCHAR: Okay. In your memo, you talked about the Comey decision, and you talk about Obstruction of Justice and you already went over that which I appreciate. You wrote on Page One A President persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?
BARR: Yes. Well, any person who persuades another to, yeah —
KLOBUCHAR: Okay. You also said that a President or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be Obstruction. Is that right?
And then at 05:23:30, None other than folksy Senator Lindsey Graham made sure to hammer it home:
Lindsey Graham: Thank you. I’ll just take a couple seconds to see if I can help clarify this. Because I think it’s been a very interesting hearing. So if there was some reason to believe that the president tried to coach somebody not to testify or testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice.
William Barr: Yes.Read More
As we saw in the presidential debates leading up to the 2016 election, Donald Trump is both a bully and hard to bully. But has he met his match in Nancy Pelosi?
Pelosi privately refers to Trump as the “Whiner in chief.” She’s questioned his manhood. She calls out Trump’s lies to his face and openly wonders whether he’s fit for the job. She mocks Trump for his privileged upbringing and his lack of empathy for the less fortunate. She jokes with other senior Democrats that if the American public saw how Trump acts in private, they’d “want to make a citizen’s arrest.”
But she doesn’t just talk a big game. She’s just ask Trump to reschedule the State of the Union Address. In her letter to Mr. Trump, Pelosi wrote: “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on Jan. 29.” The New York Times comments:
The request was a bracing piece of theater, even in a presidency that has bent so many historical norms. Ronald Reagan postponed his 1986 address after the Challenger space shuttle exploded. Franklin D. Roosevelt transmitted a written message in 1944 as his health began to fail. But Mr. Trump had no intention of giving up the spotlight.
The Washington Post notes:
If the government stays shut down, Pelosi would deprive Trump of the spotlight he craves. To a president especially sensitive to acts of disrespect — and one with a hearty appetite for pomp and circumstance — the so-called unvitation was not merely a power play. It was a calculated personal slight.
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The tech industry has been a boon in some areas. Places like San Francisco and Seattle have seen massive influxes of wealth because of tech. But the boon does not apply to everyone equally. While some people are swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, others are struggling to stay afloat. Rents are on the rise and they’re being forced out of their homes.
The problem is a major issue in Seattle, but Microsoft, one of the main causes of income and housing inequality in the area, is trying to do something about it. From the New York Times:
Microsoft will invest $500 million to build affordable housing in the Seattle region, company officials said, in what would be the most ambitious effort by a tech company to directly address the inequality that has spread in areas where the industry is concentrated.
The Bay Area is experiencing similar issues:
$117,400 That is what is considered “low income” for a family of four in Marin, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The amount, which is nearly twice the national household median income, jumped 10 percent from the previous year. In a report by the California Association of Realtors, they found a prospective buyer would need an income of nearly $350,000 to buy in San Francisco or San Mateo counties.
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Once upon a time, there would have been a massive uproar if Netflix tried to raise their prices. There was once a stereotype about millennials: they didn’t want to pay for anything. That has died out, replaced by zings about avocado toast and craft coffee. But it seems that Netflix has taken a leaf out of the British East India Company playbook: get them addicted and then jack up the price.
Reuters reports that Netflix “is raising monthly fees for its U.S. subscribers by between 13 percent and 18 percent, the video streaming pioneer’s first price increase since 2017 as it spends heavily on original content and international expansion.”
The Motley Fool, an investor publication, suggests that Netflix is raising prices just because it can. That’s good news for investors: “Great companies with good audiences can get away with pushing through higher prices — and that, in turn, typically makes them great investments.”
And speaking of investments:
If you had invested in Netflix in 2007, when it first began its streaming service, that investment could have paid off big time: A $1,000 investment would be worth more than $90,000 as of Jan. 15, according to CNBC calculations.
The price hike is allegedly going to pay for new content, which should net even more subscribers.
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Before we outline the responses, take a look at the Gillette ad that is causing all the controversy.
Fox News summarizes the controversy:
critics of the ad are already upset with Gillette for what some feel is an “insulting” message that assumes misogyny is rampant among their customer base…Others took issue with the company for using a social movement to sell razors, and suggesting that Gillette, which also markets the Venus line aimed at female customers, is being hypocritical.
Cosmopolitan suggests that the ad’s message was a “powerful message” but “not everyone wants to hear it.”
The BBC notes that Gillette had to know there would be backlash from the ad:
“Their next steps are very important but it shouldn’t necessarily be widespread panic yet,” Rob Saunders, an account manager at UK advertising company the Media Agency Group, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
“Their ad is getting them good publicity and good numbers and causing a debate – which they must have known when they put out this ad.
“This ad would have been approved by many people high up at Gillette,” he adds.
Apparently, this video is the first of many:
The company has more videos lined up as part of the larger branding effort, which includes donating $1 million a year for the next three years to organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of America.
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