Facebook's Purchase of WhatsApp, Expanded Gender Identities Are Like Pop-Tart Sushi (That's a Compliment)
got a new column up at Time. It's about Facebook's recent expansion
of its gender-identity categories and, well, Kellogg's
As any consumer of Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts could have told
you, Facebook’s new and expansive gender-identification
options are a woefully lagging indicator of the wide-ranging
and decades-long trend toward increasingly varied options for being
in the world. That’s true whether you’re a toaster pastry or a
human being. Indeed, until last week, Facebook users could only
as male or female, or just half
the number of flavors available to Pop-Tart fans over 40 years
ago.pre bonded hair
Introduced in 1967 and named after the pop art craze
surrounding Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein, and others, Kellogg’s
popular breakfast product originally came in four flavors
(blueberry, strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and the quickly
discontinued apple currant). They’re now available in over 100
variations and versions. At a 2010 pop-up store in Times
Square, customers could even create hyper-individualized flavors
(and sample something called Pop-Tart sushi to boot).
The same sort of expansive multiplication
of variety has been happening to people. As the anthropologist and
business-school professor Grant McCracken put it in his 1997
book Plenitude, we live in a world characterized by a
quickening “speciation” of social types. “Teens,” he wrote,
“were once understood in terms of those who were cool and those who
weren’t.” In a tour of a Toronto mall in the late 1990s,
McCracken’s adolescent guide pointed to 15 distinct types of young
adults, including “heavy-metal rockers, surfer-skaters, b-girls,
goths, and punks.” By now, the same tour would easily yield double
or triple the number of types.
In a broader context, then, Facebook’s new policy — which allows
users to pick from phrases such
as androgynous, intersex, transsexual,
and dozens more — tells us less about changing social and sexual
roles and more about the social-media giant’s desperate attempt to
stay relevant in a world that often moves too fast even for its
greatest innovators. Facebook’s purchase
of WhatsApp, a dominant and fast-growing messaging app for
smartphones, for $19 billion is another.
I argue that Facebook has been
long been too much of a "walled garden," in which users' choices
and options are increasingly constrained. And so:
Via the Twitter feed of Reason Foundation's Adrian
Moore comes this news story from Detroit's WXYZ. After three
people try to break into her house, a mother of two breaks out a
gun, starts shooting, and scatters the home invaders. Well worth
tip: Independent Review Journal).
Watch Reason TV's epic
#Anarchy in Detroit series, which highlights how Motown
residents are doing for themselves in a city gone bankrupt:
remy hair extensions
Left-wing moviemaker Oliver Stone talking about his support for
Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul. Student for Liberty's Alexander
McCobin laying out the basics of "second-wave libertarianism." Pop
Art-style portraits of Ayn Rand that the novelist would likely have
Watch above to see what Reason TV saw at 2014's
International Students For Liberty Conference.
Click below for HD, iPod, and audio versions of this video and
subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic
notification when new material goes live.
View this article.
The trial in Egypt of 20 journalists, including
nine from Al Jazeera, on charges of allegedly aiding and abetting
the Muslim Brotherhood and spreading false information about unrest
in the country, was
adjourned until March. Eight of the journalists have been
detained since at least December, and one, Al Jazeera correspondent
Peter Greste, penned
a letter on the poor conditions at the prison he and others are
being held. Al Jazeera reports on Greste and two other
detained journalists who are
with Al Jazeera English:
Since their arrest, journalists
have staged protests worldwide demanding their release,
and rejecting claims the three have links to the Muslim
Brotherhood, Egypt's former ruling party which has since been
designated a "terrorist" group.The case is one of many that have led to criticism of Egypt's
military-backed government, with rights groups pointing to growing
intolerance for dissent in the Arab world's most populous
country."Journalists should not have to risk years in an Egyptian prison
for doing their job," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director
at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement."The prosecution of these journalists for speaking with Muslim
Brotherhood members, coming after the prosecution of protesters and
academics, shows how fast the space for dissent perruques cheveux naturels
in Egypt is evaporating."
Voice of America adds:
Many Egyptians and the pro-government media suspect
foreign journalists of unfair coverage of the political upheaval in
Egypt, but special anger is reserved for Al Jazeera, the
Qatar-based satellite channel that is widely seen as backing the
Muslim Brotherhood of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.Qatar's rulers support the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's
ex-president Mohamed Morsi, and Egypt's interim government has
criticized Qatari leaders for giving safe haven to Muslim
Voice of America is essentially a broadcast arm of the U.S.
government, and has been accused of working against the government
or supporting the opposition in places like Cuba and Ethiopia. In
2001, it won an ethics award for running an interview with Mullah
Omar which it was pressured not to by the feds, but that was
followed up by a restructuring
to create VOA outlets that would be easier to manipulate
politically, a move opposed by hundreds of VOA journalists.
Journalists at both VOA and Al Jazeera, and at places like the
BBC and euronews, as well as at outlets not owned, operated or
affiliated with governments, are generally interested in the
practice of journalism. The intertwining of the state and the
media, however, is detrimental to a free press not just in a place
like Egypt, where most media is state owned and the government
appears in a total war against a free press, but also when
governments, be they the U.S., the U.K. or Qatar, subsidize
international media operations. Once the government is involved in
media, the involvement will only grow. Even as Voice of America,
the BBC, or Al Jazeera remain broadly trusted by their significant
viewerships, the governments backing them move to crack down on a
free press. The U.S.
dropped 13 places in the most recent press freedom rankings,
the U.K., like Egypt, is
conflating journalism and terrorism, and in Qatar there is
little of any free press. It’s ranked 133rd on the
Reporter Without Borders index that dropped the U.S. to
45th and placed the U.K. at 33rd. Egypt is at
159 out of 180.
Credit: YanniKouts / Foter / CC BY
European Union foreign ministers have agreed to
impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials they deem "responsible
for violence and excessive force." According to Swedish Foreign
Minister Carl Bildt, the sanctions include travel bans as well as
asset freezes. The news comes a day after
it was reported that the U.S. was imposing visa restrictions on
20 Ukrainian officials.
Anti-government protesters say that at least
100 protesters have been killed today, and the Ukrainian
Interior Ministry claims that
67 police have been captured by protesters in Kiev. Two members
Ukraine’s Winter Olympics team have decided to pull out of the
games in support of protesters.
In the U.S., Sens.
John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and
Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have come out in favor of targeted
President Obama said that there could be “consequences” to the
has denounced the latest European and American responses to the
Ukraine crisis, saying that they amounted to a blackmailing of the
The French, German, and Polish foreign ministers spoke with
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych today.
According to AFP, the
Polish prime minister has said that Yanukovych is willing to
hold early elections.
said the following about the U.S.-Russia relationship:
Our approach as the United States is not to see these
[conflicts] as some Cold War chessboard, in which we’re at
competition with Russia. Our goal is to make sure that the people
of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their
future, that the people of Syria are able to make decisions without
having bombs going off and killing women and children, or chemical
weapons, or towns being starved because a despot wants to cling to
The Obama administration may want to make sure that when it
comes to Ukraine, unlike Syria, Obama follows through on his
previous statements. After the Assad regime
used chemical weapons, thereby crossing the so-called “red
line” mentioned by Obama, the retaliation was
a deal relating to Syria’s chemical weapons agreed to with
Russia. Since then the Syrian government, which is supported by
Russia, has continued to wage war.
More from Reason.com on the situation in Ukraine here.
Christopher J. Conover
One of the few certainties of the Affordable Care
Act is the
tax load with which it's laden. The medical device tax, income
tax surcharge on high-earners, tax on investment income, and others
have all fueled complaints and, possibly, even killed
some jobs. But these are all supposedly taxes on businesses and
relatively prosperous families and individuals—the sort of people
who make for unsympathetic victims when politicians are playing to
the crowd. But, according to Christopher J. Conover
of the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke
University, low-income Americans shouldn't get too comfortable,
because they're in for a soaking, too, as taxes on medical goods
and services get passed along to them.
Even the lowest income families (earning less than about $19,000
in 2012) will be on the hook for nearly $7,000 in Obamacare taxes
over the decade that started last year.
Let’s be clear. Obamacare also absolutely and positively is
socking it to the “rich” (approximately the top 2%). I calculate
that families in that income range will end up paying $177,000 over
the same decade. But the much more surprising figure is that such
families will end up bearing only 34% of the Obamacare tax burden.
It’s true that the top 20% of families will bear about 56% of the
overall burden, but such families also account for 50% of after-tax
income (at least according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey data
I used to make my calculations).
In contrast, families in the lowest income 20% receive 3.1% of
after tax income, yet will bear 7.3% of Obamacare’s tax burden. To
be sure, many of these same families will be recipients of massive
subsidies through Medicaid and the Exchanges. But it’s important
for such families to understand that quite a bit of what’s being
given by the right hand of government is being taken right back by
the left hand of government in the form of all sorts of taxes on
health services, health insurance and other goods and services that
will be passed right back to them in the form of higher prices.
Lower-income individuals who work for large firms, points out
Conover, will get relatively few benefits from Obamacare, but will
still be on the hook for the taxes. They'll effectively be
subsidizing their friends and neighbors at small firms.
Nothing comes for free, but sometimes the cost is distributed a
little bit farther than politicians like to pretend.
For the last 10 days, FCC-watchers have been abuzz about the
commission's upcoming attempt to "identify and understand the
critical information needs of the American public." Anxieties about
the study have been afoot
for a while, but the recent furor began on February 10, when
Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner at the agency, published an
op-ed attacking the idea in The Wall Street Journal.
Warning that the effort was the "first step down" the "dangerous
path" of "newsroom policing," Pai made his case against the
With its "Multi-Market Study of
Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send
researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about
how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia,
S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out
information from television and radio broadcasters about "the
process by which stories are selected" and how often stations cover
"critical information needs," along with "perceived station bias"
and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the
agency selected eight categories of "critical information" such as
the "environment" and "economic opportunities," that it believes
local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers,
news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air
reporters to tell the government about their "news philosophy" and
how the station ensures that the community gets critical
information.The FCC also wants to wade into office politics. One question for
reporters is: "Have you ever suggested coverage of what you
consider a story with critical information for your customers that
was rejected by management?" Follow-up questions ask for specifics
about how editorial discretion is exercised, as well as the
reasoning behind the decisions.
Pai's piece doesn't mention it, but the commission also plans to
look at newspaper and Internet content, areas that are outside the
FCC's regulatory dominion.
The agency quickly started dropping hints that it would be
changing course. On February 12, Adweek
reported that the CIN "may now be on hold," adding: "At the
very least, the controversial sections of the study will be
revisited under new chairman Tom Wheeler and incorporated into a
new draft." This evidently was too vague to be reassuring, as
worries about the plan have only
intensified since then.
The most bizarre thing about all this may be the disconnect
between the study's content and the reason the FCC says it's doing
it. The commission is supposed to report
to Congress on "regulations prescribed to eliminate market
entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses" and
"proposals to eliminate statutory barriers to market entry by those
entities." Somehow that requirement led to the CIN. Now, if the
study shows that existing stations are ignoring important news, I
suppose I can see how that would help make the case for
allowing more stations on the air. But it's hard to see how a probe
of the media's story selection practices is going to identify any
actual barriers to creating those new stations. If you read the
commission's research plan—I've embedded a copy at the end of this
post—you'll find some pro forma references to finding "potential
barriers to entry" but not much in the way of explaining how the
questions Pai cited are going to do that.
The good news is that I don't see overt signs of a different
regulatory agenda in the plan's pages. The thing is written in the
tone of someone who wants to understand what stories are being
covered and where people turn for news, not someone with a preset
remedy for the problems she might uncover. If this were a proposal
at a department of sociology instead of a federal agency, it would
be unobjectionable, even welcome.
But because it's a federal agency—worse yet, an agency that
decides whether the stations it's studying will have their
broadcast licenses renewed—we have a case here of regulators
probing people's speech and then being in a position to use its
findings against them. What's most worrisome about this
research plan may be the way its authors never pause to consider
whether it's appropriate for the FCC to be asking about such things
in the first place. (The closest it comes is when it notes that
some of its questions might be seen as "sensitive." But it treats
that as a barrier to getting sources to open up, not a reason to
reconsider the project.) Nor is there any awareness of the idea
that the government shouldn't be in the role of deciding what news
is important. (Presumably we all agree that we need to know about,
say, upcoming weather emergencies. But when you start asking
reporters about the stories their editors spiked, you're bound to
enter dicier territory.) Evidently, the Federal Communications
Commission is so accustomed to seeing itself in the information
management business that it takes these things for granted.
But then, why shouldn't it? It's been regulating speech for
decades now. Start worrying about this stuff, and you might
start asking whether the First Amendment, properly understood,
actually allows the FCC to issue licenses based on what people say
or don't say on the air. And that isn't a conversation the
commission will ever be eager to have.
The research plan is embedded below.
Feb. 20, 2014 4:30 pm
Credit: Dank Depot / Foter / CC BY
The National Education
Association, the large, powerful teacher’s union, has turned
Common Core standards for public schools. The president says
some standards need to be rewritten with teacher input.
The governor of Colorado expects the state to bring in more in
tax revenue from
marijuana sales than initially expected, which means they just
can’t wait to spend it on government programs.
Ahmed al-Darbi, a Guantanamo Bay prisoner from Saudi Arabia,
pleaded guilty to helping plan a suicide bombing off the cost
of Yemen in 2002 that struck a French tanker, killing one.
Oregon’s attorney general has joined Virginia’s by refusing to
defend the state’s ban on gay marriage recognition.
New York’s top court ruled that police
lied too much to draw out confessions in two separate
interrogations, and the statements were tossed out.
Pussy Riot has released the
video they shot yesterday at the Sochi Olympics, which includes
them being attacked by Russians.
Follow us on
and don’t forget to
for Reason’s daily updates for more
content.lace front wigs
Photo Credit: Dank Depot / Foter / CC BY
Scott Shackford is an associate editor at Reason.com
As the U.S. was
fighting World War II, a group of social scientists thought they
could create a different sort of propaganda, one that didn't treat
Americans like an obedient mass. Instead they just came up with a
subtler sort of manipulation. The Democratic
Surround, a fascinating new history by the Stanford historian
Fred Turner, traces that group's influence over the next two
decades. In the process, Jesse Walker writes, Turner finds
unexpected links between undertakings as different as the U.S.cosplay wigs
Information Agency's Cold War campaigns and the Human Be-In, one of
the most famous hippie festivals of the '60s.
View this article.