“Anger is a second emotion”

There’s a fascinating piece in the Huffington Post about a programme in Californian prisons that aims to cut the reoffending rate. Its focus? Toxic masculinity.

The former inmate is a facilitator of a prison rehabilitation program that teaches men about gender roles and how ingrained ideas of masculinity have contributed to their violent crimes. GRIP, or Guiding Rage into Power, started at San Quentin State Prison in 2013 and has expanded to five state prisons across California.

The programme works on a simple assumption: criminal behaviour, especially violent behaviour, is often the result of trauma.

This bit really jumped out at me.

“Anger is a second emotion. Fear, shame or sadness are underneath it. Violence is learned. No one is born armed and dangerous. We can unlearn it.”

Does the programme work? One-third of the programme’s graduates have been out on parole and only one inmate has returned. California’s usual rate of recidivism is 65%.


Are we the gullible ones?

Yesterday I linked to a story about a man and a very strange sequence of events – please read it before reading this, or it’ll spoil the story for you.

The story asked, “Is this the most gullible man in America?” but some readers are wondering if perhaps we’re the gullible ones too.

The story, which is about a law professor who appears to be the victim of a bizarre fraud campaign involving harassment and fake paternity claims, is based entirely on his recollections and claims. It puts forward his account of events that are still under investigation and/or the subject of lawsuits, something that could be considered as an attempt to influence the outcome of those investigations and lawsuits. That’s mentioned in the piece:

Harvard has yet to decide Hay’s fate, but according to multiple off-the-record sources, Hay has already run afoul of investigators for reaching out to journalists (namely me), which they view as an act of retaliation. Harvard has also required Hay to undergo “coaching” for boundary issues.

There are also some odd details in the piece, such as this one:

“[My wife] says my women friends always have ulterior motives, and my response has been that my best friends have been women for my entire adult life,” he says.

The piece moves on from there, but I’m intrigued by that quote. Why doesn’t his ex-wife trust women to be friends with him?

The piece goes into a lot of detail about who said what and where, but misses at least one bizarre event:

One incident between the graduate student and Hay took place on 10th August 2017. At 8.35 PM, Cambridge police responded to a 911 call at her address and said they found the professor hiding outside.

“[Detectives] arrived on scene and located Bruce Hay hiding in the bushes two houses away from [the graduate student’s residence],” a police report says. The report adds that Hay was briefly detained outside the house, and was then served with a restraining order and warned not to contact the graduate student and stay 100 yards away from her at all times.

Douglas Brooks, Hay’s attorney, told babe the restraining order was dismissed a week later. He said that Hay owned the house the graduate student and her family were “illegally occupying,” and that he was hiding outside because he was trying to retrieve his children’s cat, which they were “effectively holding hostage.” These claims are disputed by the graduate student.

You’d think that’s the kind of event a journalist wouldn’t be able to resist, but presumably the professor didn’t provide that story.

That’s not to say the article isn’t true or the events described didn’t happen exactly as the story says. And of course, victims are victims whether they’re saints or sinners. But as some commenters on MetaFilter have pointed out, it does feel like there’s much more to this strange, deeply unpleasant story than made it to the page.

The most gullible man in America

I read this at the weekend in New York magazine, and I was open-mouthed for most of it. It’s a story that starts bad, gets worse and then goes rapidly downhill from there.

On March 7, 2015, Harvard Law professor Bruce Hay, then 52, was in Tags Hardware in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near his home, when a young woman with long reddish-brown hair approached him to ask where she could find batteries. It was still very much winter, and, once the woman got his attention, he saw that underneath her dark woolen coat and perfectly tied scarf she was wearing a dress and a chic pair of boots — hardly typical weekend-errand attire in the New England college town. When he directed her to another part of the store, she changed the subject. “By the way, you’re very attractive,” he remembers her saying.

I don’t want to give anything away. You’ll read it from behind your fingers.

“No tweet is too mundane to escape this phenomenon”

Jess Brammar writes about another curse of the internet: reply guys.

…alongside the straightforward abuse that is by now publicly acknowledged – and to the majority of the population, wholly unacceptable – there is something more complex, less offensive, but incredibly exhausting nonetheless. Sometimes it’s so subtle you barely notice it but it’s always there, always wearing, and just reserved for us women.

It is, broadly, the general sense that men have the right to weigh in on any statement made by a woman, because their opinion is as welcome, relevant and wanted as the original point, something Mashable has termed “the curse of the reply guy”. A non-stop unsolicited stream of pedantry and condescension.

A fun parody

A few weeks ago, my friend Chris made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. His comedy troupe, Improv Killed My Dog, were going to parody the trailer for the new film Yesterday. Did I fancy doing the music?

I did.

In the original, the hero wakes up one day and is the only person who still remembers The Beatles. In this version, the band is… you’ll find out.

I had so much fun doing this. Partly because it’s a cool challenge to recreate the sound of another band, but mainly because I kept bursting out laughing at Chris’s spot-on impressions of the singer.

A wee problem

The photo above was shared on social media yesterday; it’s from the Spice Girls gig in Manchester. Apparently there were similar scenes at last night’s Pink concert in Glasgow, where not one but two security guards were posted outside the gents to stop women from using the cubicles.