TIME Congress

Paul Ryan Explains What Happens When He Visits Urban Black Communities

People are excited to meet their first-ever Republican, he says.

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Congressman Paul Ryan, who has been spending some time in the last 18 months visiting urban black neighborhoods, says that he’s often the first Republican the people he talks to there have ever met. Ryan, who came to TIME’s office to do an interview for the magazine’s 10 Questions page about his book The Way Forward, says that folks are excited to see him mostly because he’s listening to them.

When asked if his experiences in urban neighborhoods had given him any insight to what’s happening in Ferguson, he sounded a few words of caution about rushing to judgment. “I think it’s important to be respectful of what’s happened,” he says, “and try to get to the truth and let the investigation takes its hold.” He also believes that when people think poverty is a problem the government takes care of, they don’t get involved and it isolates poor communities. “And so the way I think we ought to approach this is, we’d better be thinking about how to fight poverty eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, person-to-person and reintegrate our communities instead of isolating people in our communities,” says Ryan.

Shifting gears, the former vice presidential candidate said that no further investigation of the President’s attempts at health care reform is necessary. Ryan thinks the health care legislation will collapse under its own weight. “I do believe that we will ultimately repeal this law,” he says of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. “And the reason I say that is not because I’m just some optimistic person who’s naive. It’s because I think this law will implode.” Ryan takes particular issue with the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board), the committee set up to manage Medicare costs. “I don’t think people on Medicare will sit with the idea of 15 unelected bureaucrats determining how their care is going to be allocated.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the Wisconsin congressman declared that—despite putting out a book explaining his background and his policies in quite meticulous detail—he hasn’t decided if he’s going to make a run at the presidency and won’t until 2015. In the meantime, he’s offered up his proposals for immigration reform: secure the border, offer trackable work visas and then give current illegal immigrants a probationary period to become legal, while working.

He also revealed that whenever there’s a stressful meeting that John Boehner’s leading, he tries to sit way on the other side of the room. Boehner’s a stress-smoker and says Ryan, “I just hate getting that smell in my clothes.” Good to know.

Subscribers can read the full interview here.

TIME Ferguson Riots

Paul Ryan: Don’t Rush to Judgment on Ferguson

The Wisconsin congressman cautions against jumping to conclusions

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Former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is not joining his Republican colleague Rand Paul in calling to demilitarize the police in light of events in Ferguson, Mo. Ryan, who’s currently on a tour promoting his new book The Way Forward, is calling instead for a note of caution.

The Wisconsin congressman said it was too early to “jump to prejudging conclusions before evidence is in.” He added that he didn’t exactly know what Sen. Paul meant when he called for a demilitarization of the police.

“I think it’s more important to be respectful of what’s happened, try to get to the truth and let the investigation take its hold,” Ryan said during an interview at Time’s offices. “Our police tactics, do they need to be reviewed? That’s something we should look at when the dust settles on all of this. But the rush to judgment with some broad brush assessment on all law enforcement tactics with respect to this particular incident, I think it’s a little premature to do that.”

Asked if he can offer any insight on the situation in Ferguson after spending time in several poor urban neighborhoods, Ryan did not miss the opportunity to make his oft-stated case against government-led solutions to the issues faced by people in poor neighborhoods in America. “I think a lot of taxpayers, a lot of people in America have been basically given the sense inadvertently from the government that the government’s going to fix this problem,” he said. “You pay your taxes, and we the government will take care of this. That’s not good enough. That’s not going to cut it. That’s actually the wrong impression.”

Instead, Ryan, echoing one of the themes of his book, called for a return to a more civil society. “People need to get involved in their communities. People need to get involved not necessarily with their money but with their time, with their talent, with their patience, with their love. And so the way I think we ought to approach this is we’d better be thinking about how to fight poverty eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, person-to-person and reintegrate our communities instead of isolating people in our communities.”

A fuller interview with Ryan will be in the magazine’s 10 Questions page in the next issue.

TIME Social Media

Is This Woman the World’s Selfie Queen?

Meet the mysterious Thai woman who's posted more than 12,000 photos of herself

Kim Kardashian’s new book, Selfish, reportedly has 1200 selfies. But a woman from Bangkok, Thailand, makes her look like an amateur. Mortao Maotor, as she calls herself on Instagram, has posted more than 12,000 pictures of herself to the internet, often at a clip of more than 200 a week. She has about 20,000 followers, a not particularly high number, but she more than makes up for it in her dedication to her craft. So we’re wondering: could she be the selfie queen?

By way of comparison, Mr. Pimpgoodgame, the self-proclaimed selfie king from Texas, has 10 times as many followers but has posted a paltry 600 self portraits. Jen Selter, who has garnered more than 4,000,000 followers with pictures of her unusually rounded rump, has posted only 457 shots at last count. And then there’s Ms. K., with her millions of followers–but counting her self-portraits would be as absurd as counting sand. The Kardashians play in a their own selfie league.

Mortao, which is not her real name, defies the stereotype of the selfie-taker. She’s 40-ish, not famous and is married to the owner of Room of Art, an antique store/art gallery in Bangkok at which she takes many of her photos. Mortao doesn’t speak English, but through a woman who answered the phone at the Room of Art and said she was Mortao’s husband’s daughter, she declined to comment on why she posts so many selfies, saying it was “quite personal.” Other posts suggest she has older siblings and loves dogs and desserts.

It’s not all that surprising that Thailand, a country which reportedly has more mobile phone subscribers than it has people, might be the home of world’s most dogged selfie taker. During the coup in May, some locals even took selfies with the soldiers enforcing martial law. The country’s Ministry of Health was moved to issue a warning that taking and posting selfies was not helpful to the self-esteeem of young Thais.

Not all of Mortao’s pictures are of her face. She also likes to shoot her legs and her iced drinks or meals (many of her pictures are taken from a Bangkok Starbucks or an After You cafe.) But the overwhelming majority of them are classic selfies. She has fondness for shots taken in apparently the same bathroom mirror, perhaps the one in the Pantip Plaza in Ngam Wong Wan near Bangkok, which is often geolocated in the photos. While her photos often draw risque comments, and some are suggestive, none of her images are pornographic, and she only replies to the clean remarks, with unfailing politeness.

Mortao, whose account was first brought to our attention by the social media analysts at Nitrogram (now called Totems), is an impressive candidate for the biggest Practitioner of Selfie Taking Extraordinarily Regularly (POSTER), but we’d be willing to entertain others.

TIME Time/Real Simple Poll

Why Failure Is the Key to Success for Women

Germany, Businesswoman with file on table
Getty Images

Results from a new poll suggest that women need to take more risks

When I bodysurfed with my three brothers as a kid, I didn’t hate wiping out as much as I hated my brothers’ laughing at me when I emerged from the wash of a big wave spluttering and gasping for air, swimsuit askew. I had a choice, I could either stop bodysurfing (and thus get left behind) or get used to getting dumped. Eventually I figured out a solution: wipe yourself out so you get used to it and don’t dread it as much.

What I discovered after a few self-imposed poundings was that if you can find the sand, you can find the air; it’s in the exact opposite direction. And the wave is always happy to introduce you to the sand. Usually it was right where my face was planted. So, if you let the surf fling you about a bit, you can eventually get the sand under your feet and emerge from the water with your swimsuit and composure more or less intact. I still got dumped, but I did it with a little more dignity.

What I now realize I was learning to do, was fail.

Women need to fail. They need to fail hard and they need to fail often. It’s the only way they’re going to succeed. It seems cruel to say that. For many women, lack of success is as familiar as breakfast cereal, except they eat it three meals a day. But a new poll conducted for Time and Real Simple magazines suggests that an unwillingness to fail or a fear of doing anything that could lead to a washout might be one of the pinch-points that is impeding women’s progress to the head office. Failures happen to everyone, but these poll results suggest that women fear them more and perhaps don’t bounce out of the surf from them quite so readily.

As part of an ongoing national conversation about why women occupy leadership roles in much smaller numbers than their education, their ability and just simple math would suggest, the polling company Penn Shoen Berland asked 1000 women about success, what it meant to them and what they felt it took to be successful. They also asked 300 men some of the questions to offer a point of comparison. The women ranged in age from 20 to 69 and about 40% of them were in paid employment.

Some of the poll data confirmed what our gut tells us: for women success is less like a spearfishing trip and more like collecting shells on the beach. It’s not a linear process, with just one goal in mind. Secondly, motherhood has a huge influence on women’s outlook, both in her definition of success (it widens) and in her bandwidth (it bifurcates). Other results were more surprising: being good at their jobs was vastly more important to women than men in our survey. And almost half of them believe they are paid less than men for doing an equivalent job.

The biggest bogeyman in the discussions about what’s holding women back is a lack of confidence. Why do women not ask for higher salaries when negotiating? Confidence. Why are women the last to put up their hands for a promotion? Confidence. Why don’t more women run for office? Confidence. Plus all the guff they’d have to take about their hair.

That idea may need refining. One of the clearest finding to emerge from the Time/Real Simple poll is that women aren’t much less confident than men. About 45% of people regardless of gender regard themselves as confident. But many more women—nearly 80%—say it’s an important part of success. Only 63% of men do. That is, women and men are confident in equal measure. But more women think it’s important.

Female workers, the poll numbers show, labor just as hard, believe they are just as qualified, and have as much professional respect as their peers. That sounds a lot like confidence. Yet they just don’t seem to swim for the waves the men do. Roughly three quarters of both men and women said they would not want their boss’s job. But, if offered the position, more than half the men would take it anyway and fewer than a third of the women would. Why do the men believe they could do the job and the women don’t?

The demands of motherhood may be one of the forces at play here, but it’s not the only one. According to the poll, women’s hunger for success dwindles as they age. Almost 75% of women in their 20s regard it as very important to be successful. By their 40s and 50s—the age at which people often become senior executives—only 50% of the women feel the same way. About half the 20 year old women surveyed considered it vital to get promoted. Less than a third of women in their 40s felt the same way.

If this were all just because women wanted time and energy and bandwidth for that resource-intensive home-based start-up called parenting, then it follows that their desire to contribute to the success of their team or to work as hard would ebb too. But it doesn’t wane at all, no matter the age. Women seem to want to put in the time and effort, but not to expect the rewards. Or the status.

Perhaps there’s an answer in women’s attitude to innovation. More than 40% of women believe the ability to innovate is one of the passports to success. But only a few women think they carry that passport. What do confidence and innovation have in common? They can’t be learned without making mistakes. Acquiring them without going through failure is not an option. Failure often hurts, but as Lawrence of Arabia said (in the movie, at least) “the trick is not minding that it hurts” and swimming back through the swell to try again. Women seem less eager to do this. What is innovation, after all, but failing to solve a problem a little less badly each time?

One nugget from the poll encapsulates this quite neatly: to prepare for a big presentation women are more likely than men to do a lot of research and give themselves a pep talk. Men, on the other hand, were more likely than women to give themselves a treat, take meds or practice their power pose in the bathroom. The men are much more likely to revel in the high wire act, to enjoy the risk, than women. (Either that or their meds are amazing.)

It makes sense that women are risk averse. That tendency has protected them and their offspring for centuries. It fortified those pioneering female business leaders who were under a higher level of scrutiny even as recently as this decade. But if women hope to get to the corner office, to that mythical realm that smells like Y chromosomes and golf shoes, they have to be prepared to fall on their faces. And get back on up again.

So here’s a suggestion. Go forth, ladies and louse up. Muff it. Make a blunder. Botch it up royally. Make a complete balls of it. The guys do it all the time. Just before they get promoted.

 

Take Our Poll: What Does Success Mean to You?

TIME Infidelity

Cheaters’ Dating Site Ashley Madison Spied on Its Users

Erin Patrice O'Brien—Getty Images

A service for people seeking affairs secretly analyzed its members' conversations

In a study to be presented at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco on Saturday Aug. 16, Eric Anderson, a professor at the University of Winchester in England claims that women who seek extra-marital affairs usually still love their husbands and are cheating instead of divorcing, because they need more passion. “It is very clear that our model of having sex and love with just one other person for life has failed— and it has failed massively,” says Anderson.

How does he know this? Because he spied on the conversations women were having on Ashley Madison, a website created for the purpose of having an affair. Professor Anderson, who as it turns out is a the “chief science officer” at Ashley Madison, looked at more than 4,000 conversations that 100 women were having with potential paramours. “I monitored their conversation with men on the website, without their knowing that I was monitoring and analyzing their conversations,” he says. “The men did not know either.”

Now, let’s put aside for one second that it’s mighty convenient for a guy paid by a website that promotes cheating among married people to publish a study that finds that cheating probably doesn’t hurt marriages. Let’s put aside too, as a probable clerical error, that the study’s press release calls Anderson a professor of masculinity, sexuality, and sport, but the University of Winchester website lists him merely as Professor of Sports Studies, and that seven of his 10 books are about sports and only one is about relationships.

And while we’re putting things aside, let’s also overlook the fact that in seeking to find out how women feel about their marriages, he drew his subjects entirely from a website that women visit specifically to cheat. And from conversations among people who were seeking to be anonymous and who had ample reason to be less than candid. Almost by definition, any user of Ashley Madison is lying to someone: either her husband, which draws her honesty into question, and/or other users of Ashley Madison, which makes the data highly suspect. Or she has an open marriage, in which case she is not a good subject for a study on cheating.

When asked how he adjusts his figures for this selection bias, Anderson’s answer is simple. “I don’t,” he says. “Most of our knowledge of women who cheat comes from another population via selection bias, those in counselors’ offices. My method is the best way we can do this. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we have.” That’s a lot of caveats for a guy who also says he wants the study “to help unravel the stranglehold that our culture has on sex and love.”

Even if we overlook that whole pile of problems, or get around it somehow since it’s a little large to look over, then we still have the basic problem with this study that this guy spied on Ashley Madison users to get his data. He covertly monitored the conversations of people who had come to the website in order to ensure their privacy.

Anderson’s data “included profile information that the women supplied when they signed up for the site (information not made available to other Ashley Madison users)” he writes in the study, as well as information other users could see. “We also acquired all private message conversations that [users] had with men on the website for one month.” Were the users aware that every intimate thing they said in the course of finding an affair partner might be made available to Professors of Sports Studies? Well, sort of. Back when they registered for the site, it was in the terms and conditions. Because everybody reads the user agreement carefully, of course.

Anderson, who likes to use the term “monoganism,” as if mutually agreed fidelity were a cult of some sort, maintains that one of the reasons monogamy is becoming such an imposition on modern couples is a condition he calls “relative sexual deprivation.” His theory is that people feel sexually deprived because thanks to the internet, everybody’s aware that there are many more opportunities to get some nooky that monogamous couples have to let slide. “Individuals evaluate their own standing by comparing their current position with those who have more,” he writes. “Women may therefore look at their monogamous relationships and consider themselves sexually deprived in comparison to what they see occurring in today’s sexualized culture.”

To recap: women want to cheat, not because they don’t love their spouses, but because the internet makes them feel like they’re not getting enough sex and also gives them so many more opportunities to cheat. Places, like, say, Ashley Madison. Which is totally the place you should go, apparently, if you both love your husband and wish to be spied on.

 

TIME motherhood

What the Recent Drop in Single Motherhood Really Means

Thanasis Zovoilis—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Another way to look at the recent figures

According to a new report just released by the National Health Center for Health Statistics, there has been a sharp decline in the number of kids born to single moms.

About 1.6 million women who weren’t married had kids in 2012, down from 1.75 million in 2007 and 2008. And more of those kids were born to co-habiting couples than before. Since not having two parents around is linked with an increased likelihood of having a lousy childhood and a more difficult life, that should be a cause for rejoicing.

This is the first significant decrease in several decades in what’s known as “nonmarital births.” (Probably “out-of-wedlock” sounded too Jacobean). But on closer inspection it’s not unalloyed good news.

Even after the recent sharp decrease, the number of kids born to single moms is still twice as high as it was in the 80s. And while the nonmarital birthrate has dropped 7% since the late 2000s, the overall birthrate—the number of births to all women—has dropped twice as much. What that means is that the percentage of kids born to single moms hasn’t changed much: 40% of all the people born in America have parents who aren’t married.

Similarly, while single black and Hispanic women are less likely to have a kid than they were in 2008 (the rate has dropped particularly sharply for Hispanic women), 72% of black kids and 54% of Hispanic kids are brought into the world via single moms. That number hasn’t budged much since 2011.

There are nuggets of good news in the report: the teen birth rate continues to fall. And the number of births to cohabiting couples (versus mothers who do not live with a partner) represents a much bigger slice of the unmarried birth pie than it did 10 years ago. In 2002, 60% of single women who gave birth were not living with the father. Now it’s down to 42%. But again, this number doesn’t look quite as good under close inspection.

Take this chart for example:

One indicator of a likelihood of a stable childhood is whether or not the child was planned. In the chart above, unintended pregnancies among women who are not living with a guy—the archetypal single mom—are down from 36% of the nonmarital births in 2002 to 28% by 2010. But unintended pregnancies among cohabiting couples went up. So the proportion of kids born to single moms who weren’t trying to have a kid did not change between 2002 and 2010: 57%. (And the raw number of nonmarital births is about 300,000 higher, so that’s a lot more unplanned kids).

How much difference does it make if the father and mother are living together when the kid is born? The jury is out on that. A lot depends on the circumstances under which people shack up. Studies have shown that if a couple is living together and intends to get married in a year or so, there’s very little difference in the stability of their union compared to married couples.

But couples who are living together out of economic necessity, or because they can’t quite decide if they can make the relationship work are less likely to stay together for a longer term. A child can really complicate that. It doesn’t seem yet that the U.S. is at that European-style place where kids born to couples who live together are in the same boat, stability-wise, as those with married parents.

Recent studies suggest cohabitation can make a slight difference, but so does a father’s age, education and race. (Absent black fathers are much more involved in their kids’ lives, than absent Hispanic fathers, and by some measures, than absent white fathers, according to this study.) “The extent to which cohabitation is a marker for social and financial support and for father involvement deserves further exploration,” write the authors of this new study.

One of the clearest findings of the Fragile Families Study done by Princeton University and the Brookings Institute in 2010, was that even if a baby was conceived by accident, many single fathers originally intended to stick around when the infant was born. But they didn’t. The combined pressures of poverty and parenthood proved to be too much for the relationship. The fact that the nonmarital birth rate has dropped is not at all the same as a drop in the number of kids born into very difficult family circumstances.

TIME celebrities

Robin Williams’ Family Remembers the ‘Gentle, Loving’ Actor

Zelda Williams
Zelda Williams arrives at the Abercrombie & Fitch: “The Making of a Star” Spring Campaign Party in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 2014 Richard Shotwell—Invision/AP

His children and second wife release heart-wrenching statements about Williams' death

Robin Williams had a child with his first wife, Valerie Velardi, and two kids with his second wife, Marsha Garces Williams, the woman who had been his first kid’s nanny. At the time of Williams’ death, he was married to his third wife, Susan Schneider. It all seems pretty complicated, but clearly the family all had a lot of affection for the man they were all connected to. The kids, Zak, 31, Zelda, 25, and Cody, 22, and his second wife Marsha all released statements about Williams’ death and they’re pretty heart-wrenching.

Zelda’s is the saddest.

“My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…
Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”
— Zelda Williams

Zak and Cody have less to say, but it’s just as heartfelt.

“Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.”
— Zak Williams

“There are no words strong enough to describe the love and respect I have for my father. The world will never be the same without him. I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life, and will look forward, forever, to the moment when I get to see him again.”
— Cody Williams

And clearly, Marsha, who also worked on some of Williams’ films as a producer, still had a lot of affection for her former husband.

“My heart is split wide open and scattered over the planet with all of you. Please remember the gentle, loving, generous — and yes, brilliant and funny — man that was Robin Williams. My arms are wrapped around our children as we attempt to grapple with celebrating the man we love, while dealing with this immeasurable loss.”
— Marsha Garces Williams

TIME celebrities

One Wild Ride: Interviewing Robin Williams

The late actor and comedian managed to leave in awe even the most seasoned reporters

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Robin Williams, who died on Aug. 11 at 63, was not the kind of guy you simply interviewed. He was the kind of guy with whom you lit a fuse and then stood clear. Our chat in 2011 was in anticipation of his first appearance on Broadway in a serious play, but the conversation quickly spilled over into unchartered territory.

My first impression of him was that he was one impressively hairy human. Sitting there in the makeup chair (for a portrait and video of him that TIME ran with the story), I noticed that he was covered with a wild, manly mane, over all his body like the overgrowth in his film Jumanji. He joked about how his chest hair was so thick it actually poked through the fabric of the shirt he was wearing.

As we sat down to talk, he noticed that the battery cover on my tape recorder was missing. He started talking very slowly at first, and then very fast — imitating the warp effect when you try to play back a recording when the batteries are dying or loose. Through my terrified laughter, I begged him to stop, worried about the panic it would unleash in whoever landed transcription duty.

From that point on, it was like an off-road trip into comedy wilderness without seat belts.

Williams was widely known and loved for his outsize comedic roles, like the Genie in Aladdin and the dad turned Mrs. Doubtfire. He was almost as widely mocked for overly earnest roles in Jakob the Liar or Patch Adams. Sometimes he landed the manic-depressive balance just right — Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting — and those were among his most critically acclaimed roles. But in person, he was a mixture of both these extremes: heartfelt and off-the-wall. One moment he’d be going off on a riff about the chintziness of the abandoned official residences he saw while doing USO tours in Iraq — “Colombian drug lords would be like, ‘This stuff is so tacky!'” — and the next he’d be talking about how worried he was for the mental health of returning veterans.

I came away from the interview in awe of his prodigious gifts — his energy and ability to throw off one dazzling comedy firework after another, each sparking off the next in a way that was so random but brilliant that you didn’t really know where to look.

But I also came away with a sense that he was a guy who had figured out how to not let it cost him too much; that he had faced down his darkness and his addictions and impulses. He had harnessed, I felt, whatever it was in him that strained at the leash, sometimes pulling him toward a manic hailstorm of comedy and sometimes somewhere just as crazy, but also scary and destructive.

I guess I was wrong.

At some point, I ran out of written questions. Either that, or we were so far off topic, I had to make them up as I went, asking such howlers as whether you could be funny when you get old. It didn’t matter how lame I felt my questions were though: he had a hilarious response to whatever query you offered up. I ultimately sat back and marveled at that chaotic comedy geyser’s full height.

Eventually, of course, he had to go and that wild ride we were on turned back into a regular old office again, drab and ordinary. Which is what the world feels like tonight.

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