TIME feminism

Where Are All the Hacked Pics of Men?

2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals
Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, Calif. Venturelli—Getty Images

From Scarlett Johansson to Jennifer Lawrence, the victims of hack attacks are almost never men—part of a bigger problem with sexist internet culture

When I read the headlines that someone had hacked into Jennifer Lawrence’s phone and posted her private photos on the Internet — along with many other celebrities — my initial reaction was sadness. I felt awful for her, awful for them, and awful for anyone that could possibly happen to, ever. I imagined the same thing happening to me, and how humiliated I would be to have my personal life made excruciatingly public — how ashamed I would feel if untold numbers of people saw me in a context I meant to be private, always.

Then the shame brought me to anger: of course, the person who should feel ashamed is the one who stole the pictures. But anyone who is capable of such a thing is probably incapable of feeling shame. What would motivate someone to do this? It can’t be that you just want to see nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, because otherwise you’d get the photos, look at them, and be done with it. E-peeping would be bad enough, but at least she’d never have to know, and the rest of us would never have to talk about it or think about it. But to post them on the internet means that you’re not just disrespectful of other people’s privacy but that you actually disdain it, and want to violate it, and want the world to know that.

This latest piece of unsavory, repulsive news is part of a larger theme on the Internet. Women who write about feminism are harassed and stalked. Women tech execs are dismissed on double standards. Female gamers are threatened and belittled. It’s not really a surprise. The world is sexist; the internet is sexist. Maybe the internet is more so, because it is such a haven for cowards.

I wondered briefly if it might help if every Jennifer Lawrence or Ariana Grande or Mary Elizabeth Winstead fan in America posted a nude selfie, as a way of saying that we stand with them, and refuse to be humiliated. Or maybe we should just stop talking about about all the harassment because then they won’t get any attention. But then women would have to suffer in silence.

I just saw a tweet from someone who was really looking forward to seeing what awesome, cool, graceful way Jennifer Lawrence will manage to land on her feet about this. And while I don’t think the person who said this meant to be anything but kind, the tweet made me almost as sad as I was when I first read the news. Not only has Jennifer Lawrence been treated awfully by another human being — now she has to be a good sport about it. She is going to have to make it look like she’s bigger than what happened to her. I am not saying that she isn’t — of course she is, way bigger, just as all people harassed and bullied on the internet and elsewhere are far superior humans to the vermin who try to debase them. But what if Jennifer Lawrence uncharacteristically refused to be “cool” about this at all? What if she called a press conference and sobbed and rent her clothing and said “I am furious, I am angry, I am disgusted, and I beg, I beg, those men out there who spend their time insulting and humiliating and violating women to stop now.”

Sadly, whether Lawrence or the rest of them are blasé or passionate about this, it will have absolutely no impact on the person who did it. Or on all the people who think that he’s awesome, instead of a sad loser, someone closer to a rapist than a grossly misguided web fiend. No one capable of a violation like this has any real sensitivity to the victim. So whether Jennifer Lawrence wants to participate in a self-deprecating wink-wink sketch at next year’s Oscars or take a year off to go eat berries in the woods, well, she’ll probably get the best results from just doing whatever sounds most appealing to her and her alone. I really hope she doesn’t read anything about what she should or shouldn’t have done, because she didn’t do anything wrong. Like the rest of us privacy-respecting citizens, her biggest problem is that she is forced to share the planet with the likes of this excuse for a human being, who used all that talent and creativity for bad, in a world that so desperately needs it for good.

Sarah Miller also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME psychology

How to Improve Your Luck

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Like it or not, we’re all a little superstitious.

Fundamentally, your brain doesn’t like or want to believe in randomness. It always believes you have some control, even when you don’t.

For instance, craps players throw dice less forcefully when they want low numbers, as if that will make a difference.

Via The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good:

Nonetheless, many studies have shown that gamblers will bet more and continue gambling longer if they do have a personal role in these fundamentally random events. In some cases, this even affects the style of the particular actions involved in the game. For example, craps players tend to throw the dice with less force when trying to roll low numbers.

Houses with addresses that have lucky numbers in them sell at a premium.

People believe if they give away a lottery ticket it’s more likely to win.

Las Vegas knows how to keep it’s customers happy, no matter what they believe:

In Las Vegas, where superstitious beliefs are rampant, many large casino-hotels (such as MGM, Wynn and Palms Place) omit floor numbers 4, 14, 24, 34 and 40 to 49 because the number “4” is considered unlucky in the Chinese tradition.

Even Nobel Prize winners (a pretty rational bunch) say that some of their success is due to luck.

And bad luck seems to exist as well. Research shows that being accident-prone is real:

…a meta-analysis of the distribution of accidents in the general population showed that the observed number of individuals with repeated accidents was higher than the number expected by chance. In conclusion, accident proneness exists…

So why do we lie to ourselves? Feeling we have control is vital. It reduces stress(and the chance of a heart attack.)

It may be delusional but we’re happier deluded. And delusion makes us perform better on average:

So you’re a skeptic. No need; I’m not encouraging anyone to believe in magic.

One of the primary ways good luck operates is by increasing self-confidence. It’s the placebo effect. And that’s why wishing someone luck works:

Activating a positive superstitious belief can boost people’s confidence, which in turn improves performance…

And it’s the same reason good luck charms work:

Via The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver:

The researchers found that by activating good luck beliefs, these objects were consistently able to boost people’s self-confidence and that this up-tick in self-assurance in turn affected a wide range of performance. Lucky thinking, it turned out in this study, positively affected people’s ability to solve puzzles and to remember the pictures depicted on thirty-six different cards, and it improved their putting performance in golf! In fact, people with a lucky charm performed significantly better than did the people who had none. That’s right, having a lucky charm will make you a better golfer, should you care about such things, and improve your cognitive performance on tasks such as memory games.

So whatever increases our self-confidence can make us “luckier.” What else works?

In his research into luck, Richard Wiseman established four principles.

Via The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles:

Principle One: Maximise Chance Opportunities
Lucky people are skilled at creating, noticing and acting upon chance opportunities. They do this in various ways, including networking, adopting a relaxed attitude to life and by being open to new experiences.

Principle Two: Listening to Lucky Hunches
Lucky people make effective decisions by listening to their intuition and gut feelings. In addition, they take steps to actively boost their intuitive abilities by, for example, meditating and clearing their mind of other thoughts.

Principle Three: Expect Good Fortune
Lucky people are certain that the future is going to be full of good fortune. These expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies by helping lucky people persist in the face of failure, and shape their interactions with others in a positive way.

Principle Four: Turn Bad Luck to Good
Lucky people employ various psychological techniques to cope with, and often even thrive upon, the ill fortune that comes their way. For example, they spontaneously imagine how things could have been worse, do not dwell on ill fortune, and take control of the situation.

Wiseman also laid out actionable tips for becoming more lucky:

Be open to more opportunities, interact with a large network of people, break routines and keep a relaxed attitude toward life.

Via Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries:

Wiseman found that lucky people tend to be open to opportunities (or insights) that come along spontaneously, whereas unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine, fixated on certain specific outcomes.

And:

This was Wiseman’s core finding: You can create your own luck. “I discovered that being in the right place at the right time is actually all about being in the right state of mind,” he argued.Lucky people increase their odds of chance encounters or experiences by interacting with a large number of people. Extraversion, Wiseman found, pays opportunity and insight rewards.

Do these tricks actually work? Yes:

Via Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries:

After identifying a group of people who identified themselves as unlucky, he shared the main principles of lucky behavior, including specific techniques. As Wiseman described it, “For instance, they were taught how to be more open to opportunities around them, how to break routines, and how to deal with bad luck by imagining things being worse.” Wiseman included exercises to increase chance opportunities, such as building and maintaining a network of luck, being open to new experiences, and developing a more relaxed attitude toward life, as well as ways to listen to hunches and to visualize lucky interactions. After carrying out specific exercises for a month, participants reported back to Wiseman. “The results were dramatic: eighty percent were happier and more satisfied with their lives— and luckier,” Wiseman summed.

So maybe you’re still a skeptic. Give it a shot anyway. There are other benefits — believing in luck can make you more fun.

Via The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane:

Magical thinking is also important for letting loose and having a good time. Brugger finds a positive correlation between magical ideation and the ability to find pleasure in life. More magic, more fun. (As long as reality stays within arm’s reach.) “Those students who are not magical are not typically those who enjoy going to parties,” he says. “To be totally unmagic is very unhealthy.”

And if you enjoyed this post, share it with friends. We could all use some good luck. :)

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Related posts:

How To Be Resilient: 8 Steps To Success When Life Gets Hard

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

TIME Religion

The Great Nunquisition: Why the Vatican Is Cracking Down on Sisters

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Nuns pose with the jersey of Argentinian football star Lionel Messi and flags prior Pope Francis Sunday Angelus prayer at St. Peter's Square on July 13, 2014 at the Vatican. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE—AFP/Getty Images

Today's generation of nuns are progressive women, two things the Church isn't used to

Nuns are an endangered species. They are dying and not being replaced.

If you think the news is bad now, a world without nuns would be a far worse place. The nuns that I know are much too humble to tout their achievements and all of the good they contribute to society, but make no mistake, they are an integral part of the fabric that holds our civilization together.

In 2014 there were just 49,883 religious Catholic sisters in the United States, down 13% percent from 2010 according to figures from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. To put it in greater perspective, that is a 72% decline since 1965.

Because nuns don’t brag about all of the good that they do or hashtag how awesome they are on Facebook, many people have no idea about the things they accomplish on a daily basis.

You probably haven’t heard about Sister Joan Dawber. Sister Joan, a Sister of Charity of Halifax, runs a safe house in Queens for victims of human trafficking—former sex and labor slaves. She takes these women in when they have no one else to protect them and risks her life to help them rebuild theirs.

About 20 minutes away by car from Sister Joan’s safe house, Sister Tesa Fitzgerald works tirelessly to raise the children of mothers who are incarcerated. When those women get out of prison Sister Tesa helps them get clothes, jobs and an apartment. Those women credit Tesa with nothing less than saving their lives.

Most people don’t know about Sister Nora Nash, a Franciscan Sister who lives just outside of Philadelphia. As her order’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Sister Nora wakes up every single morning determined to make corporations more responsible to the human race. Sister Nora and her assistant director, Tom McCaney have taken to task the grocery store chain Kroger over the rights of farm workers, Hershey’s chocolate company over child labor, McDonald’s over childhood obesity, Walmart on raising their minimum wage and Wells Fargo over predatory lending practices. Nash wakes up every single morning determined to make corporations more responsible to the human race. Then she follows through on it.

For more than four decades Sister Jeannine Gramick has been tireless in her fight for gay rights through her organization New Ways, despite coming under intense scrutiny from the Vatican.

Sister Dianna Ortiz made headlines in 1989 when she was abducted, tortured and raped while working as a teacher in Guatemala. After living through that horror, instead of allowing herself to sink into a terrible depression, she headed up an organization to help thousands of torture survivors around the globe find the will to keep living.

It’s a problem that you haven’t heard about these women. You would think that, during a time when the Church has suffered from great criticism and weathered very public scandals, it would be celebrating these incredible achievements. Think again.

The Vatican doesn’t celebrate these women. In fact, it has done the very opposite. Attacks on American nuns have been happening since 2008, when the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life initiated an “Apostolic Visitation,” a euphemism for investigation, of the nuns.

To put it in perspective, previous “visitations” conducted by the Church were designed to investigate things like the priest sex abuse scandal.

The nuns nicknamed it the Great Nunquisition and in the past eight years they’ve come under scrutiny from the church patriarchy.

A 2012 Vatican document highlighted the Church’s problem with the Leadership Council of Women Religious, the largest group of nuns in the United States. The document claimed that the LCWR was “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death” and that Roman Catholic views on the family and human sexuality “are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes church teachings.”

Today’s nuns are simply too progressive for the Vatican. The Vatican chooses not to celebrate nuns and it chooses not to empower them.

Pope Francis has been hailed as a progressive icon. Yet on the subject of women in the Church, he remains loyal to a long-held and antiquated stance: he doesn’t think women should become priests.

Nuns are dying out because their population is aging and young women are not joining their ranks in the numbers they once did.

The young women who could be the nuns of tomorrow share a lot of the same values as the nuns of today. They are fiercely dedicated to the concept of social justice and doing good in the world. Seven in 10 millennials consider themselves social activists, and 72% of them are eager to participate in a nonprofit young professional group.

They want to be of service.

I recently spoke to a young woman who was discerning to be a Catholic sister, but changed her mind before she took perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

I asked her why and the answer was very simple and yet disheartening.

“I want to work for an employer that values what I do.”

She plans to work for an NGO. She wanted to be of service to the world, but she also wanted to feel empowered in her job.

Why would a generation of young women raised to believe that they can be anything join an institution that tells them there is something they absolutely cannot be, that there is a certain level they will never reach? Many of the women who are nuns today joined the vocation because it was a way to become highly educated, travel the world and dedicate themselves to a higher good without being beholden to a husband or children.

Young women today can do that with a passport and a Kickstarter account.

I am constantly reminded of something Sister Maureen Fiedler, a feminist and the host of the public radio program Interfaith Voices told me when I interviewed her for my book: the fact that Jesus was, and is, an “equal-opportunity employer.” He loved everyone the same.

If Catholic nuns are to survive in this country, something has to give. The Vatican needs to treat the nuns with more respect. The rules will have to evolve. Women will need to be given more power and leadership roles in the church.

Speaking at the annual LCWR assembly earlier this month, Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio described exactly what it means to be a nun today: “We are about drawing in the poor, the lonely, the marginalized, all those seeking to be part of a whole,” she said. “This is nothing more and nothing less than the most awesome vocation.

It is awesome. The nuns are awesome. But if the Vatican doesn’t start treating them as such, there is no incentive for more young women to aspire to join their ranks.

Jo Piazza is the author of the new book, If Nuns Ruled the World, which shatters the stereotypes of American Catholic nuns and profiles 10 daring sisters. A veteran journalist whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Slate, the Daily Beast and Yahoo, Piazza holds a masters degree in Religious Studies from New York University.

TIME foreign affairs

Garry Kasparov: It’s a War, Stupid!

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A Pro-Russian rebel walks in a passage at the local market damaged by shelling in Petrovskiy district in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 26, 2014. Mstislav Chernov—AP

This vocabulary of cowardice emanating from Berlin and Washington is as disgraceful as the black-is-white propaganda produced by Putin’s regime, and even more dangerous

As Russian troops and armored columns advance in Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government begs for aid from the free world it hoped would receive it and protect it as one of its own. The leaders of the free world, meanwhile, are struggling to find the right terminology to free themselves from the moral responsibility to provide that protection. Putin’s bloody invasion of a sovereign European nation is an incursion, much like Crimea — remember Crimea? — was an “uncontested arrival” instead of Anschluss. A civilian airliner was blown out of the sky just six weeks ago –—remember MH17? — and with more than 100 victims still unidentified the outrage has already dissipated into polite discussions about whether it should be investigated as a crime, a war crime, or neither.

This vocabulary of cowardice emanating from Berlin and Washington today is as disgraceful as the black-is-white propaganda produced by Putin’s regime, and even more dangerous. Moscow’s smokescreens are hardly necessary in the face of so much willful blindness. Putin’s lies are obvious and expected. European leaders and the White House are even more eager than the Kremlin to pretend this conflict is local and so requires nothing more than vague promises from a very safe distance. As George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay on language right before starting work on his novel 1984 (surely not a coincidence): “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” The Western rhetoric of appeasement creates a self-reinforcing loop of mental and moral corruption. Speaking the truth now would mean confessing to many months of lies, just as it took years for Western leaders to finally admit Putin didn’t belong in the G-7 club of industrialized democracies.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko just met with President Obama in Washington, but Obama’s subsequent statement showed no sign he’s willing to acknowledge reality. Generic wishes about “mobilizing the international community” were bad enough six months ago. Hearing them repeated as Ukrainian towns fall to Russian troops is a parody. (If legitimacy is what Obama is after, Russia is clearly in violation of nearly every point of the 1974 UN Resolution 3314, “definition of aggression.”) Perhaps Poroshenko should have matched Obama’s casual wardrobe by wearing a t-shirt that read “It’s a War, Stupid.” As Russian tanks and artillery push back the overmatched Ukrainian forces, Obama’s repeated insistence that there is no military solution in Ukraine sounds increasingly delusional. There is no time to teach a drowning man to swim.

The United States, Canada, and even Europe have responded to Putin’s aggression, it is true, but always a few moves behind, always after the deterrent potential of each action had passed. Strong sanctions and a clear demonstration of support for Ukrainian territorial integrity (as I recommended at the time) would have had real impact when Putin moved on Crimea in February and March. A sign that there would be real consequences would have split his elites as they pondered the loss of their coveted assets in New York and London.

Then in April and May, the supply of defensive military weaponry would have forestalled the invasion currently underway, or at least raised its price considerably — making the Russian public a factor in the Kremlin’s decision-making process much earlier. Those like me who called for such aid at the time were called warmongers, and policy makers again sought dialogue with Putin. And yet war has arrived regardless, as it always does in the face of weakness.

As one of the pioneers of the analogy I feel the irony in how it has quickly gone from scandal to cliché to compare Putin to Hitler, for better and for worse. Certainly Putin’s arrogance and language remind us more and more of Hitler’s, as does how well he has been rewarded for them. For this he can thank the overabundance of Chamberlains in the halls of power today — and there is no Churchill in sight.

As long as it is easy, as long as Putin moves from victory to victory without resistance, he gains more support. He took Crimea with barely a shot fired. He flooded Eastern Ukraine with agents and weaponry while Europe dithered. The oligarchs who might have pressured Putin at the start of his Ukrainian adventure are now war criminals with no way back. The pressure points now are harder to reach.

The Russian military commanders, the ones in the field, are not fools. They are aware that NATO is watching and could blow them to bits in a moment. They rely on Putin’s aura of invincibility, which grows every day the West refuses to provide Ukraine with military support. Those commanders must be made to understand that they are facing an overwhelming force, that their lives are in grave danger, that they can and will be captured and prosecuted. To make this a credible threat requires immediate military aid, if not yet the “boots on the ground” everyone but Putin is so keen to avoid. If NATO nations refuse to send lethal aid to Ukraine now it will be yet another green light to Putin.

Sanctions are still an important tool, and those directly responsible for commanding this war, such as Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu must be held accountable. Sanctions must also broaden. The chance to limit them only to influential individuals and companies is over. The Russian people can change Putin’s course but have little incentive to take the great risks to do so under current conditions. Only sanctions that bring the costs of Putin’s war home can have an impact now. This was always a last resort, and it wouldn’t be necessary had the West not reacted with such timidity at every step. (The other factor that is already dimming the Russian people’s fervor are the Russian military casualties the Kremlin propaganda machine is trying so hard to cover up.)

As always when it comes to stopping dictators, with every delay the price goes up. Western leaders have protested over the potential costs of action Ukraine at every turn only to be faced with the well-established historical fact that the real costs of inaction are always higher. Now the only options left are risky and difficult, and yet they must be tried. The best reason for acting to stop Putin today is brutally simple: It will only get harder tomorrow.

Kasparov is the chairman of the NY-based Human Rights Foundation.

TIME Sports

Michael Sam’s March to NFL History Derailed — but Only for Now

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Michael Sam addresses the media during a press conference at Rams Park on May 13, 2014 in Earth City, Missouri. The St. Louis Rams released defensive end, ending Sam's effort to become the first openly gay player in NFL history. Dilip Vishwanat—Getty Images

Michael Sam the NFL player may not have a jersey right now, but he isn’t going anywhere

The Rams cut openly gay rookie defensive end Michael Sam on Saturday, minutes before the NFL’s mandated roster deadline. The news sent shockwaves through the NFL and the LGBT community Saturday afternoon, his march to history seemingly derailed.

Yet for Sam, his journey continues. This is just a hiccup for the man who was the first openly gay man drafted by the NFL, the first openly gay man to play in an NFL preseason game, and who will be the first openly gay man to play in a regular-season NFL game.

Michael Sam the NFL player may not have a jersey right now, but he isn’t going anywhere.

The road to that final piece of immortality is simply a little bumpier now. Sam will have to be signed by another team in the next 24 hours, or he’ll most certainly end up on the Rams’ practice squad. From there, he would continue to work with the staff that drafted him in May, honing his skills and proving his worth on the football field. He would then wait week-to-week as other NFL teams considered picking him up or until the Rams activated him for a game.

The journey isn’t over, it just took a left turn.

Sam was born to be this man. Growing up in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood he survived tragedy after tragedy as a child, surrounded by drug dealers and coping with the loss of three siblings. His father abandoned the family during his youth. His mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, barred Sam from playing football when he was younger.

His mother banning him from football didn’t take, and neither will this.

Since coming out publicly, Sam has continued to endure. His NFL Draft stock fell in May in part — many including myself believe — because he is openly gay. He endured heavy criticism with the announcement of a docuseries produced by Oprah Winfrey. While many have lauded Sam, there have also been jabs at him, most recently with ESPN’s report on his showering habits.

With more scrutiny and pressure than any seventh-round pick in NFL history, plus the hopes of an entire community on his shoulders, Sam performed well in four preseason games, tallying three sacks and leading the team in tackles just last Thursday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Rams’ decision to cut him is just another hurdle that will ultimately demonstrate the courage and fortitude of a great man.

The man knows how to overcome set-backs and handle pressure. He was made for this trailblazing role. He was made for the NFL.

Many in the LGBT community are lashing out at the NFL today, claiming homophobia. It’s understandable. Gay men have been told for decades they’re not good enough to play football, they’re not welcome in the locker rooms. Some of those messages have even reverberated in 2014. While the Rams’ decision wasn’t based on homophobia, it’s hard not to afford gay men a little foot-stomping at this latest rejection.

You know who isn’t lashing out? Michael Sam. He knew this was always a possibility, part of the cold business that is the NFL. A coach is your mentor and father-figure one day. The next afternoon he gives you a pink slip. Sam understands this is not the end, but rather another opportunity to prove his doubters wrong, earn his spot at the very top of his profession and take his rightful place in history.

“The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy,” Sam said in a statement after learning the Rams’ decision. “This is a lesson I’ve always known.

“The journey continues.”

Zeigler is co-founder and editor of Outsports.com.

TIME psychology

5 Key Components of a Good Apology

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Apologies do make a difference. People often prefer them over money, even if they’re just cheap talk.

What does the research say about the best way to apologize?

 

One

Don’t apologize for what you think you did wrong. Apologize for what they think you did wrong:

…victims reacted most positively to apologies that were congruent with their self-construals.

 

Two

The most effective apologies have four parts:

Via Wait: The Art and Science of Delay:

Aaron Lazare devotes two full chapters of On Apology and much of his subsequent research to questions of timing and delay. He finds that effective apologies typically contain four parts:

1. Acknowledge that you did it.

2. Explain what happened.

3. Express remorse.

4. Repair the damage, as much as you can.

This aligns with previous research on effective apologies:

Results indicated that relationships recovered significantly when offending partners used behaviors labeled as explicit acknowledgment, nonverbal assurance, and compensation.

 

Three

Timing is crucial — and faster is not better. People need to feel they are heard and understood so a delayed apology is actually more satisfying.

Via Wait: The Art and Science of Delay:

The results were stark: “Apology timing was positively correlated with outcome satisfaction; when the apology came later in the conflict, participants reported greater satisfaction.” Statistical tests showed that, the greater the delay, the more a victim felt heard and understood. With more time, there was more opportunity for voice and understanding.

 

Four

If it’s clear you intentionally did something wrong, you’re probably better off notapologizing. After intentional acts, apologies tend to backfire and make things worse:

An apology does not help at all after clearly intentionally committed offenses. On the contrary, after such offenses harmdoers do better not to apologize since sending an apology in this situation strongly increases punishment compared to remaining silent.

 

Five

Are they not accepting your apology? A little guilting can be effective. Being reminded of times when they did something wrong makes people more likely to accept apologies and forgive:

…participants in the recall-self-as-wrongdoer condition were significantly more likely to accept the apology from the classmate and forgive the transgression.

 

A Final Tip

Hopefully you won’t need this list too often. However, you may want to keep the principles in mind for next time you get pulled over. Studies have shown that apologizing to the police is one of the few effective ways to get out of a speeding ticket.

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Related posts:

How To Be Resilient: 8 Steps To Success When Life Gets Hard

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

TIME Religion

Florida Atheist Kicked Out of City Meeting For Refusing to Stand During Invocation

"I don't have to do that," he said

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This article originally appeared on Patheos.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Winter Garden City Commissioners (in Florida), Mayor John Rees announced that they would begin with an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance, as many government meetings do, and asked everyone to stand up.

John Thoreau, an atheist, remained seated. Normally, that would be irrelevant since he has every right to do that, but Rees had other ideas.

As the first syllable of the invocation was uttered, Rees told everyone to hold up because Thoreau was still sitting down…

Rees: We’re waiting for everyone to rise.

Thoreau: Sorry, are you waiting for me?

Rees: Yes, sir.

Thoreau: I don’t have to.

Rees: Well, we appreciate — you may rise or you may leave the room as we give our prayer and our Pledge of allegiance to the flag.

Thoreau: I don’t believe I have to do that, thank you.

Rees: I believe you have to [unintelligible]…

Rees didn’t press it and the sectarian invocation (in Jesus’ name) continued. Then when it time for the Pledge, the conversation started up again:

Rees: Now, sir, please stand while we do the Pledge… please stand. Children have to do it in school, too.

Thoreau: Yes, and they don’t have to be there…

Rees: This is respect for our country…

Thoreau: I understand that, sir.

Rees: You have one of two choices, sir. You may please stand for the Pledge. You don’t have to say it. Please stand.

Thoreau: I don’t have to do that.

Rees: Okay…

Audience member: Just stand up, man.

Rees: [I'm] asking you to either stand or please be escorted out [as we do] the Pledge. It’s just not fair to our troops and people overseas, sir.

Cop: What do you want to do? Do you want to stand or leave?

Thoreau, a member of the Central Florida Freethought Community, was quickly taken out of the room.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote a letter to the city today spelling out the constitutional violations of which the Mayor is guilty and telling them how they must remedy the situation:

(1) The government may not force citizens to stand for the Pledge of allegiance.

(2) Government officials may not ask citizens to stand for prayers or, (3) say prayers themselves.

To remedy the Pledge violation, at the next meeting, Mayor Rees ought to explain that citizens are within their rights to remain sitting for the Pledge and that it does not reflect a lack of patriotism… [Police] Chief [George] Brennan should make a similar statement. Patriotism and religiosity are not one and the same

To show solidarity with Thoreau, several atheist members of the CFFC will attend the city’s next meeting in two weeks and remain seated during the invocation and Pledge. (That should be fun.)

I should point out that “John Thoreau” is a pseudonym because the real person doesn’t want to face any public backlash or threats.

That the Mayor doesn’t understand First Amendment rights is appalling. That he would single out one member of the crowd for not standing is even worse. Can you imagine how much more awful it would’ve been if this was a teacher calling out a teenager in the classroom?

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. His latest book is called The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide.

Read more from Patheos:

TIME Religion

Hate Crime Laws: What the Amish Beard Cutting Case Means for the Rest of Us

Cleveland, Ohio Amish hair cutting attacks trial
Members of the Amish community leave the Cleveland, Ohio federal courthouse during the trial of a breakaway Amish community in eastern Ohio, led by Samuel Mullet Sr., at the federal courthouse in Cleveland, Aug. 27, 2012. David Maxwell—EPA

While it might seem like a legal quibble over facial hair, the decision is important for the future of hate crime laws

In the fall of 2011, 16 members (10 men and six women) of a breakaway Amish community in eastern Ohio executed five beard-cutting attacks on Amish people in other communities at night and by ambush over an eight-week period. The 16 defendants were convicted of federal hate crimes as well as lying to the FBI and obstructing justice. The US government built its case on the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Under this statute hate crimes occur when an assailant attacks a person because of his or her gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity or religion.

After a three-week trial in September 2012 a jury convicted the 16 defendants of federal hate crimes motivated by religion. Bishop Samuel Mullet was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The others received shorter sentences. Several defendants who received one year sentences have already returned to the Bergholz Amish community.

This week the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati overturned the hate crime convictions in a 2-1 sharply divided decision. The court upended the hate crime convictions for what it considered an error in the district court’s instructions to the jury. The non-hate crime convictions (perjury and obstructing justice) were not overturned.

Amish Beard Cutting Appellate Court Decision

No one, including the defendants and their attorneys, disputes that the attacks took place. The issue at stake in the trial was the motivation behind the attacks. What motives drove the assailants? Were they driven by family disputes, interpersonal conflict, or religion? The defendants argued that family malice and interpersonal bitterness prompted them to shear the beards and hair of the victims. The prosecution contended that religious differences propelled the attacks. The federal statute considers an attack a religious hate crime if an assailant “willfully causes bodily injury to any person . . . because of the actual or perceived . . . religion . . . of [that] person.” The appellate court’s opinion hinged on two different interpretations of the words “because of.”

The federal district court in Cleveland instructed the jury that a religious motive could be determined if a victim’s “actual or perceived religion was a significant motivating factor for a [d]efendant’s action…even if he or she had other reasons” for attacking the victim. Attorneys for the defendants argued that the phrase “because of” requires a “but-for” cause to show that assailants would not have cut beards but for the victim’s actual or perceived religious beliefs. The appellate court agreed with the defendants, saying that “because of” means “by reason of” or “on account of.”

The reversal opinion made a distinction between religion being the primary or predominant motive and religion being a significant motive among other motives. Did the assailants commit the attacks “because of” the religion of the victims or was religion only a significant reason among others.

The district court used a broader, less restrictive wording at the trial to define the motives driving the Amish hate crimes. The appellate court’s opinion is a more narrow interpretation of the meaning of the words “because of” suggesting that the crimes may not have happened solely for religious motives.

The dissenting judge in a sharply worded opinion said, “the overwhelming and unrefuted evidence adduced at trial demonstrates that Mullet participated in the assaults because of the victims’ religious beliefs.”

While this all might seem like splitting legal hairs over Amish beards, the decision is very important not only for the Amish, or for religious hate crimes, but for all hate crimes that are directed toward victims because of their gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, or religion. The legal decisions ensuing from this reversal will establish a judicial standard for how the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act is interpreted in the future. If the appellate court’s restrictive interpretation this week remains unchallenged it will make prosecution of federal hate crimes more difficult in the future because establishing a single predominant motive in the context of an attack is quite challenging.

Donald Kraybill, PhD, is distinguished professor and senior fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. The US Department of Justice contracted Professor Kraybill for six months to assist in the prosecution of the Bergholz clan. He is the author of Renegade Amish: Beard Cutting, Hate Crimes, and the Trial of the Bergholz Barbers (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014).

 

TIME

Is America’s Second Contractors’ War Drawing Near?

Invisible Soldiers: How America Outsourced Our Security
Invisible Soldiers: How America Outsourced Our Security Courtesy Simon & Schuster

Four years ago this Sunday, President Barack Obama declared the end of the Iraq war. So much of that fight and our current involvement in the Middle East is carried out by a privatized military. Here's why that matters

Last year, on the tenth anniversary of the 2003 Iraq invasion, there was the predictable commentary about why we went to war and what the consequences were. And there was some attention given to the fact that this had been the most privatized military engagement in U.S. history, with private contractors actually outnumbering traditional troops — the “First Contractors’ War,” as Middlebury College scholar Allison Stanger called it in 2009. No one, however, talked about the possibility of a second contractors’ war, a topic that may surface sooner than we anticipated and one that yields a multitude of questions. This time, for example, will we be told about the extent of the role of military and security contractors? Will we know which companies are making millions, even billions, from providing armed and unarmed services in the name of American defense? Will we know how many layers of subcontractors there are, from what countries they were hired, and who trained them? When the U.S. government announces casualty totals, will the stats include the contractors who were wounded and killed? And what about the soldiers missing in action? In Iraq by the spring of 2011 there were eight MIAs, seven of which were private contractors.

The First Contractors’ War was “a remarkably unprecedented experiment” in the privatization of America’s defense forces, as California’s U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D) told Congress in 2007– one that clearly succeeded. And out of such success arose a bold new industry of private military and security companies, some of which had already existed and grew substantially during the bonanza of contracts that defined the Iraq war, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new ones worldwide. Their broad range of services may include police training, intelligence analysis, logistics support, air transport, border patrol, weapons procurement, and drone operations. They assist U.S. forces in contingency operations and remain long after the military withdraws from combat zones; they guard our diplomats; and they play key roles in U.S. counterterrorism strategies. They work for the United Nations, for AFRICOM ( the U.S. unified command in Africa) and for multinational corporations working in hostile environments; they provide armed security to the shipping industry. Their markets exist wherever instability threatens development; wherever military commitments exceed the capabilities of nations; wherever governments are viewed as incapable of supplying defense and security fast enough.

They are the latest incarnation of the solutions that President Eisenhower referred to in the often-overlooked part of his famed 1961 “military-industrial complex” address: “Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.” Now, wherever our geopolitical missions take us, these companies will be part of the plan. As former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, who served as co-chair for Congress’s Commission on Wartime Contracting, said recently, “The one thing that’s a given now: We can’t go to war without contractors and we can’t go to peace without contractors.”

But what does it matter? Why should we care who defends and secures us, how and where they are trained, and whether or not they are employees of private military and security companies? Why should we worry at all about the Second Contractors’ War? If dismal and dangerous jobs are outsourced and we can tend to our own concerns, what’s the problem? The simple fact that we have to ask such a question exposes the reality that we know too little about who these contractors are and that we care too little about what it means for our nation to be dependent on them. The simplest answer to why it matters thus becomes one word: democracy.

Private military and security firms promote themselves as on-call businesses, which effectively provide a fast solution that averts the often slow democratic process. To be sure, democracy demands restraint to allow for discourse, which in turn requires transparency. “Reliance on contractors allows the government to work under the radar of public scrutiny,” the New York Times noted in 2010. But what about the citizens’ right to know and need to know for the sake of their own security? The more the citizens of a nation are removed from the job of its defense and do not see the full impact of war, including all casualties, the easier it is for policy makers to engage the nation in conflicts and for citizens to lose a personal connection, a passionate allegiance, to nation — the passion that throughout history has motivated insurgents (including the American rebels in our revolution) to win wars. In other words, such indifference is a threat to our security. If a nation is not aware of the impact of war, then it will not fear going to war; if not affected then its citizens will not discuss and debate.

In August of 2011, the final report of the three- year study by Congress’s Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan exposed some unnerving details about our dependence on private contractors and fervently urged reforms to prevent any repeat performances. It warned: “Delay and denial are not good options. There will be a next contingency, whether the crisis takes the form of overseas hostilities or domestic response to a national emergency like a mass-casualty terror attack or natural disaster.”

Three years later, we as citizens of a democracy must ask ourselves: are we ready for the Second Contractors’ War?

Ann Hagedorn is the award-winning author of the new book The Invisible Soldiers: How America Outsourced Our Security. She’s written four previous books: Wild Ride, Ransom, Beyond the River, and Savage Peace, and has been a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal. She has taught writing at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Xavier University, and Miami University. She holds an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Denison University. She divides her time between New York City and a small Ohio River town, which she discovered during her research for Beyond the River.

TIME europe

Only Gender Quotas Can Stop the E.U. from Being a Boys Club

Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission's president has asked that EU member states nominate female candidates. Here's why gender quotas are necessary

Gender anxiety is enveloping the top levels of the European Union. By the end of this month, each of the bloc’s 28 countries is expected to put forward their candidate to sit on the European Commission, the powerful body that drives policy-making and enforces E.U. law.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s new president, has instructed member states to send female candidates, saying he wants more women in the top jobs. A social media campaign – #10orMore – is also under way to boost female representation at the E.U. to a record high.

Unfortunately, governments are not playing ball: so far only five countries have nominated women. Nineteen other nations have nominated a man, with four countries still to announce their candidates.

The goal of getting more women into top decision-making posts is simply common sense given that they represent more than half of the E.U.’s 507 million citizens. Right now this is not reflected by their visibility in politics, business or the media, meaning their interests are often sidelined.

The drive to change the status quo at the top echelons of the E.U. has attracted skepticism. On the Facebook page of Neelie Kroes – one of the nine women in the outgoing Commission and a co-founder of the #10orMore campaign – critics question why gender would qualify a person for one of the 28 commissioner posts.

Such knee-jerk accusations of tokenism greet most attempts to introduce gender quotas in politics or the boardroom. But while so many barriers stand between women and senior positions – and these range from sexism in the workplace, high childcare costs and the unequal distribution of maternity and paternity leave – quotas are one of the few measures that actually have an impact.

In 1997 the British Labour party introduced all-women short lists for parliamentary candidates in some constituencies. Later that year, a record number of women were elected, and Labour still has the highest proportion of female MPs in Britain.

Britain’s Conservative party, which formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, does not support all-women short lists, and a U.N. survey of women in ministerial positions earlier this year shows Britain languishing at around the halfway point, below Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire, with women making up just 15% of the cabinet.

There are other poor performers in Europe, with Greece, Cyprus and Hungary faring even worse, reflecting the problems Juncker is having in rallying enough women for his Commission.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, are Sweden and Finland, which are in the top three of the U.N. survey with over 50% female representation in their cabinets. France and Norway are close to reaching gender parity.

What the top performers have in common are long-term and often legislated programs to improve gender equality across society. In Sweden, political parties have since the early 1990s imposed voluntary quotas for election candidates. Norway was the first to introduce quotas for women on company boards, while France has legally-binding quotas for both politics and the boardroom. “Quotas are nobody’s first choice but where they are introduced they do improve representation, they do improve visibility of women,” says Clare McNeil, a senior fellow at the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research, adding that they work best when coupled with penalties for non-compliance.

Given the pool of female talent in the E.U., having just a handful of women in the Commission would be a pitiful performance. It is crucial now that efforts to increase female representation go beyond headline-grabbing promises. Juncker and the European Parliament, which approves the Commission, must make good on threats to reject the line-up if it is too male-dominated.

Hopefully quotas will not need to be in place forever. But right now Europe is so far from being a level playing field that radical measures are needed to kick-start lasting change in society.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson is a writer and journalist based in Brussels.

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