Facebook moving non-promoted posts out of news feed in trial

New system could destroy smaller publishers if implemented, after journalists report drop in organic reach but users will still see their friends posts

Facebook is testing a major change that would shift non-promoted posts out of its news feed, a move that could be catastrophic for publishers relying on the social network for their audience.

A new system being trialled in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka sees almost all non-promoted posts shifted over to a secondary feed, leaving the main feed focused entirely on original content from friends, and adverts.

The change has seen users engagement with Facebook pages drop precipitously, with publications reporting a 60% to 80% fall. If replicated more broadly, such a change would destroy many smaller publishers, as well as larger ones with an outsized reliance on social media referrals for visitors.

According to Filip Struhrik, a journalist at Slovakian newspaper Dennik N, the change resulted in a drop in interactions across the countrys media landscape. Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach, Struhrik said. The reach of several Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.

Overnight, from Wednesday to Thursday, a broad cross-section of the 60 largest Facebook pages in Slovakia saw two-thirds to three-quarters of their Facebook reach disappear, according to stats from Facebook-owned analytics service CrowdTangle. For larger sites, with a number of different ways to communicate with their readers, that hasnt had a huge effect on their bottom line, but its a different story for those with a reliance on social media.

The change does not affect paid promotions, which appear on the news feed as normal. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Smaller sites are reporting a loss of traffic and Facebook engagement, Struhrik told the Guardian. Its hard to say now how big it will be. Problems have also hit Buzzfeed-like sites, which were more dependent on social traffic.

Struhrik noted that the trial has only been in place since Thursday, rendering it too soon to draw strict conclusions. But if reach is radically smaller, interactions decreased and your site doesnt have diversity of traffic sources, it will hurt you.

In a statement, Facebook said: With all of the possible stories in each persons feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages.

Notably, the change does not seem to affect paid promotions: those still appear on the news feed as normal, as do posts from people who have been followed or friended on the site. But the change does affect so called native content, such as Facebook videos, if those are posted by a page and not shared through paid promotion.

Matti Littunen, a senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, said the move was the classic Facebook playbook: first give lots of organic reach to one content type, then they have to pay for reach, then they can only get through to anyone by paying.

Littunen said that many premium publishers had already cottoned on to the trend, and backed off relying too strongly on social media. But new media companies, who rely on social media to bring in traffic and revenue, would be wounded, perhaps fatally, by the switch. The biggest hits will be to the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider, who create commoditised content aiming for the biggest reach.

Elsewhere, publishers who dived towards video content as Facebook began promoting that may also get burned, Littunen says. The kind of video that is doing best has been quite commoditised low-value stuff that is often lifted from elsewhere and repackaged for Facebook.

We dont see that bonanza going on forever, and since the content isnt what Facebook has been hoping for, its expendable. Were expecting to see another repeat of this playbook, with organic reach being replaced by paid reach.

For Struhrik, there is one last catch: he doesnt expect the test to be a huge success. Newsfeed without news. Just friends and sponsored content. People will find out how boring their friends are, he said.

In a second statement issued after this article was published, Facebook added: We have no current plans to roll this out globally.

This article was amended on 23 October 2017 with additional comment from Facebook. An editing error was also corrected on 24 October: the change in users engagement with Facebook pages did not drop from 60% to 80% publications reported a 60% to 80% fall in engagement.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/23/facebook-non-promoted-posts-news-feed-new-trial-publishers

Michael Bloomberg: Brexit is stupidest thing any country has done besides Trump

Exclusive: Billionaire media mogul says it is hard to understand why a country doing so well wanted to ruin it

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul and former mayor of New York, has said Brexit is the single stupidest thing any country has ever done apart from the election of Donald Trump as US president.

Bloomberg argued that it is really hard to understand why a country that was doing so well wanted to ruin it with the Brexit vote, in a series of outspoken remarks made at a technology conference in Boston a fortnight ago.

At that event, Bloomberg, 75, also warned that some workers at the financial media company that bears his name were asking to leave the UK and US because they think the two countries no longer like immigrants and are no longer welcoming.

The CEO was in London on Tuesday to open a new European headquarters for Bloomberg in the City, covering 1.3 hectares (3.2 acres). But his earlier remarks, unearthed the same day, suggested he had regrets about making the investment decision because of the Brexit vote.

We are opening a brand new European headquarters in London two big, expensive buildings. Would I have done it if I knew they were going to drop out? Ive had some thoughts that maybe I wouldnt have, but we are there, we are going to be very happy.

My former wife was a Brit, my daughters have British passports, so we love England its the father of our country, I suppose. But what they are doing is not good and there is no easy way to get out of it because if they dont pay a penalty, everyone else would drop out. So they cant get as good of a deal as they had before.

He added: I did say that I thought it was the single stupidest thing any country has ever done but then we Trumped it.

Bloomberg employs 4,000 staff in the UK and 20,000 worldwide, and the New York-based firm has long made the country its headquarters in Europe. But he said some staff were becoming unhappy about London as a key location.

One of the things that is hurting us both in the United States and in the UK is that we have employees, not a lot but some, who are starting to say: I dont want to work here can we transfer to some place else? This country doesnt like immigrants, Bloomberg said.

All this talk in Washington words have consequences. Whether we change the immigration laws or not, there is general feeling around the world that America is no longer an open, welcoming place and a lot of people dont want to go there, and the same thing is happening in the UK because of Brexit.

Bloomberg first made the comments about Brexit at the little-reported HUBweek conference in Boston less than two weeks ago and then repeated his quip about Brexit and Trump at an event in France on Monday.

It is really hard to understand why a country that was doing so well wanted to ruin it, Bloomberg said of Brexit. It was not a smart thing to do and getting out of it is going to be very difficult and is going to be very painful. It will hurt industries. People are already taking space in other cities over there [Europe], us included.

On his visit to London, Bloomberg was more circumspect. Giving a speech next to Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, Bloomberg insisted his company was strongly committed to London.

He added: Whatever London and the UKs relationship to the EU proves to be, Londons language, timezone, talent, infrastructure and culture all position it to grow as a global capital for years to come. We are very optimistic about Londons future and we are really excited to be a part of it.

Bloomberg is worth an estimated $47.5bn (36.2bn) according to Forbes and was given an honorary knighthood in 2015. He was a Republican mayor of New York between 2002 and 2013 before he reassumed his position as chief executive of Bloomberg.

Bloomberg considering standing as a third-party candidate in the 2016 US presidential election but eventually ruled it out, saying that if he stood it could diminish the Democratic vote and lead to the election of Trump. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience, Bloomberg said in March 2016 when he confirmed his decision not to stand.

His criticism of Brexit included hitting out at the leave campaign and its claims that Britain had problems with immigration and too much EU regulation. Bloomberg described comments from Boris Johnson that the EU rules meant there had to be at least four bananas in a bunch as fictitious and said on immigration that Britain didnt take anyone from northern Africa or the Middle East.

He added: They didnt have an immigration problem and they didnt need control of their borders. They have the English Channel that gave them control of their borders.

Bloomberg said London was the centre of Europe but warned that was not going to be as true any more due to Brexit.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/24/michael-bloomberg-brexit-is-stupidest-thing-any-country-has-done-besides-trump

Inside the Saudi Kings 1,500-Person Entourage in Moscow

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz brought 1,500 people, a golden escalator and his own carpets on his historic, four-day state visit to Russia, a person familiar with the matter said.

The 81-year-old leader of the Gulf kingdom exited his plane late Wednesday and stepped out onto the special escalator he travels with. But something went wrong: It malfunctioned halfway down, and he had to walk the rest of the way. A cavalcade of cars sped the monarch to the center of the city, flanked by Russian police escorts.

During the first visit to Russia by a Saudi monarch, the two countries have already struck a deal on weapons sales and discussed ways to continue to cooperate on stabilizing the oil market. And as they have done in other cities, the Saudis made themselves at home in Moscow.

A Saudi plane is traveling daily between Riyadh and Moscow to transport supplies, said the person, who said that 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds) of food has been brought in. Members of the royal entourage also replaced some of the hotel staff with their own personnel, who know exactly how they like their coffee made, the person said. King Salman, who’s staying at the Four Seasons, also came with his own furniture.

The Saudi government booked two entire luxury hotels for the visit: the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons. The latter had to ask some guests to cancel their reservations to make room—and even moved out people who live in the hotel permanently, people familiar with the matter said.

Members of the delegation of Saudi Arabia before the talks in Moscow, Russia on Oct. 5, 2017. 
Photographer: Dmitry Azarov/Kommersant via Getty Images

A doorman dressed in red livery at the Four Seasons said the entire hotel was booked through Oct. 8 and wasn’t open to the public.

Representatives from the Ritz and Four Seasons declined to comment. The Royal Court in Riyadh didn’t respond to a request for comment on size of the delegation.

U.S. presidents also travel with large entourages, including a bullet-proof limousine and a Secret Service protection force, and sometimes also book entire hotels. Former U.S. President Barack Obama stayed at the Ritz in Moscow during a 2009 trip, and President Donald Trump also stayed there in 2013 for the Miss Universe contest that he owned.

The bill for fully booking the two hotels during the visit may run about $3 million, not including what the delegation will spend on services, restaurant meals and spa treatments, said Vadim Prasov, vice president of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-06/inside-the-saudi-king-s-1-500-person-entourage-in-moscow

    Singapore Will Stop Increasing Car Numbers From February 2018

    Singapore, among the world’s most expensive places to own a vehicle, will stop increasing the total number of cars on its roads next year.

    The government will cut the annual growth rate for cars and motorcycles to zero from 0.25 percent starting in February, the transport regulator said on Monday.

    “In view of land constraints and competing needs, there is limited scope for further expansion of the road network," the Land Transport Authority said in a statement on its website. Roads already account for 12 percent of the city-state’s total land area, it said.

    Smaller than New York City, land in Singapore is a precious commodity and officials want to ensure the most productive use of the remaining space. Its infrastructure is among the world’s most efficient and the government is investing S$28 billion ($21 billion) more on rail and bus transportation over the next five years, the regulator said.

    Singapore requires car owners to buy permits — called Certificates of Entitlement — that allow holders to own their vehicles for 10 years. These permits are limited in supply and auctioned monthly by the government. At the most recent offering last week, the permit cost S$41,617 for the smallest vehicles.

    The LTA said the zero-growth target will affect vehicles in Categories A, B and D under its permit system — these include cars and motorcycles. The existing vehicle growth rate of goods vehicles and buses will remain at 0.25 percent per annum until March 2021 to give businesses time to improve the efficiency of their operations and reduce the number of commercial vehicles they require, LTA said.

    These changes are not expected to significantly affect the supply of permits since the quota is determined largely by the number of vehicle deregistrations, the regulator said. The limit on vehicle growth rate will be reviewed again in 2020.

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-23/singapore-to-stop-adding-cars-on-its-roads-from-february-2018

      A Photo Of A Dog On Facebook Led To A Night Full Of Work (And Love) For One Groomer

      Trying to survive on the streets is rough enough for stray or abandoned dogs, but just imagine doing so while not being able to see, hear, or move around with ease.

      This is what one unfortunate pup had been dealing with for who knows how long when people found him on the side of a Florida road where he’d almost been hit. The poor thing’s fur was severely matted and he clearly needed help. They couldn’t keep him for the night, so they posted a photo of him on Facebook instead, pleading for anyone who could take care of the pup. That’s where Kari Falla came in and asked them to bring the dog to her business, BGEGrooming.

      “I could tell he’d been that way for a few years from the pictures. You could tell it was extreme neglect,” Falla said. “I knew it was bad, but nothing prepared me for what I saw. It smelled like death and the dog could not walk. They had to carry it.”

      Falla opened her shop for the emergency and started working on the pup around midnight. It took her about three hours to bathe and shave him.

      Once finished, he was unrecognizable — and very happy! Later on, Falla found out he was also deaf and blind.

      Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/much-needed-grooming/

      Psychologists Turn Conservatives Into Liberals With One Strange Thought Experiment

      Studies have consistently shown that turning liberals into conservatives (at least temporarily) is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is scare them. 

      For example, one group of experimenters asked students to think about their own death before taking tests designed to assess their political beliefs. Over several experiments, the researchers, from the University of Central Arkansas, found that when the participants had been asked to think about their own death they became more conservative, and had attitudes in line with their conservative classmates on issues from capital punishment and abortion, to rights for gay employees.

      The theory goes that the liberal students became much more socially conservative than the control group (who thought about television) because thinking about their own death made them feel vulnerable.

      “We believe that political conservatism has psychological properties that make it particularly appealing when vulnerability is dispositionally or situationally salient,” the researchers said, as reported by Research Digest.

      “Moreover, defensive conservatism appears to be a general psychological response to vulnerability that is not necessarily strategically linked to the eliciting threats.”

      Now researchers have discovered an easy way to do the reverse – turn conservatives into liberals. Psychologist John Bargh has written about experiments his team conducted in which he managed to turn conservatives liberal through another thought experiment.

      It turns out the way to do this is to make them visualize themselves as Superman.

      Just as taking off Clark Kent’s glasses turned him into Superman, picturing yourself as Superman turns conservatives into people who care about the poor. Gareth Simpson / Flickr.

      In John Bargh’s book Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do he writes that he and his team asked participants to picture themselves as Superman. They were asked to really picture what it would be like to be as invincible as Superman – Business Insider reports – where bullets, fire, and falling off a cliff wouldn’t hurt them. The control group was asked to picture themselves merely having the ability to fly.

      The participants were then asked to rate statements to assess their political beliefs. This time the experimenters found that it was conservatives’ beliefs that shifted. They became – albeit briefly – more socially liberal than they were, whilst liberals’ attitudes remained unchanged by the thought experiment.

      The authors say that this is the first time experimental evidence has shown that making people feel safe can make them feel more liberal.

      It is not known whether playing reruns of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman on election day could swing an election, or what effect replacing Fox and Friends with Superman 3 would have on the attempted repeals of Obamacare.

      [H/T: Business Insider]

      Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/psychologists-turn-conservatives-into-liberals-with-one-strange-thought-experiment/

      Playboy Icon Hugh Hefner Has Died And Hes Leaving Behind More Than An Empire

      Late on Wednesday night, reported that founder Hugh Hefner died at the age of 91. Playboy Enterprises confirmed that the magazine mogul passed away of natural causes. Though many people will surely remember Hefner for and his notorious lifestyle, there’s actually more to him than the publication. In fact, Hugh Hefner had four kids and some of them stayed in the family business.

      At the time of his death, Hefner had been married to Playmate and TV personality Crystal Harris for over four years. Prior to his relationship with Harris, Hefner had two other marriages, both of which resulted in children. It was actually one of Hefner’s sons, Cooper, who gave  a statement, on behalf of Playboy Enterprises, confirming his father’s death. He stated,

      My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.

      Cooper (pictured with his fiancée below) is Hefner’s youngest child and the son of Hefner and his second wife, Kimberly Conrad. Currently, Cooper serves as the Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises. According to he is also engaged to someone who should seem familiar — Scarlett Byrne, the actress who played Pansy Parkinson in the movies.

      Hefner and Conrad also had another son together, Marston. In 2012, Marston was in the news when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend, Playmate Claire Sinclair. E! News reported that Marston plead no contest to “corporal injury to a cohabitant or spouse” and as a result, was ordered to undergo a domestic violence program and stay away from Sinclair.

      Though Hefner and Conrad, his second wife, separated in 1998, both Cooper and Marston basically grew up in the Playboy Mansion. In an interview with the , Cooper explained that they lived with their mother just next door to the mansion. He recalled,

      When Dad was having more ‘eventful’ parties in the summer and on Halloween … security would go on baby-sitting watch to make sure my brother and I were kept in the house.

      Hefner also had two children with his first wife, Mildred Williams, who he was married to for 10 years. Their daughter, Christie, actually ran Playboy Enterprises for years. As reported by the Christie stepped down as CEO and chairman of the company in 2008, after working for Playboy since 1975. She has also been named one of 100 most powerful women and since leaving Playboy Enterprises, has served on many different companies’ boards and became executive chairman of Canyon Ranch Enterprises in 2011, according to the 

      She’s also been outspoken about the need for gender equality and just last month told TheStreet,

      I was very fortunate because it was even harder for women to get ahead then and so, candidly, I capitalized on that and was able to attract incredibly talented women who felt they couldn’t go any further in the companies they were working for … When I left [in January 2009] over 40% of my executives were women.

      Hefner and Williams also had a son, David, who seems to stay much more out of the spotlight than his siblings. In 2001, a profile of Hefner mentioned that David was “a computer programmer in Northern California,” and not much else is known about him.

      So while most of us associate Hefner with silk robes, Playmates, and that iconic bunny, behind all of that, he was a father who will surely be missed by his four children.

      Read more: http://elitedaily.com/entertainment/celebrity/how-many-kids-did-hugh-hefner-have/2082727/

      19 Tinder Users Describe Their Best And Worst Hookup Stories

      Collective World
      Found on AskReddit.

      1. Um, that’s just weird.

      I was on tinder this weekend at my family’s 4th of July party and got my only female cousin on my screen. I clicked yes as a joke… it was a match. We never talked about that.

      2. That’s pretty gross, dude.

      I downloaded the app when I was pledging my fraternity. The brothers wanted us to just swipe right for every girl we saw and invite them to parties. Anyways, I saw this decent looking girl and just sent an extremely vulgar request for sex without really thinking about it. She surprisingly agreed and met me in my dorm the next day. She was much bigger than her pictures showed, but I just though “fuck it”. Worst. Decision. Of. My. life. She had the worst smelling vagina I’ve ever smelled. It literally made me gag. To make it worse she forced a 69 on me. I could barely breath in that smelly bastille. The smell was sour like old milk that was dropped in sweat. After fucking she asked me to eat her out, I tell her it’s not my thing and she calls me an asshole and leaves! I showered twice and couldn’t get the smell off me. I had to throw away my sheets and requested for a new bed from the dorm. Fuck Tinder pussy.

      3. One time only.

      This happened a few months ago. I decided to give Tinder a shot since I haven’t had a girlfriend in quite some time. I hit it off with this one girl. She’s cute, a little nerdy, and brunette which is just my type. She invites me over to her apartment where we just talked for a while. After about 30 minutes or so we started making out. We were really getting into it and then she put her hand down my pants and started giving me a pretty uncomfortable hand job in jeans. She took them off eventually, gave me a sexy stare and then just went to town with her mouth. I’m pretty sexually inexperienced so this was a whole new world to me. I’m close to blowing my load and I tell her, but she just kept going. She swallowed and I had the best orgasam I’ve ever had. After that I decided I needed to return the favor. So I take her pants and panties off and go down on her for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing, but it seemed to be going great. She was moaning and squirming. I’m really enjoying it and then all of the sudden she squirts. I was a little freaked out at first since I didn’t know it was coming. She apologized, I said don’t worry about it and went back down and made her squirt again. After the second time, we just sort of cuddled and talked a little more. She started rubbing my dick for round two. I busted in her mouth again and this time she sat on my face and squirted after a few minutes. Unfortunately she said she wanted this to be a one time thing and wasn’t interested in a relationship at that point in her life. Pretty cool first sexual experience, but still bummed that it was a one time thing with her. I’m still using Tinder, but haven’t met up with anybody else on there.

      4. Right in the feels.

      TL;DR: – Met my soul mate through Tinder and it was completely unexpected.

      My Tinder story starts on Thanksgiving 2013. I was living in Brooklyn at the time, but was in Massachusetts visiting family.

      I was bored, newly single, and fairly buzzed from my departed grandfathers old scotch. I saw an adorable girl with a black lab and I swiped right.

      She did as well, and we began messaging each other. It’s clear that she has an excellent dry + sarcastic sense of humor. We decide to meet north of Boston for a drink.
      I park and start walking towards the bar. I see her looking at me from her car – she gets out and shakes my hand. I’m delighted by how cute she is in person. Those big, beautiful eyes.

      As soon as we walk in, a very drunk middle aged woman tells me that she likes my glasses. She was quite chatty, and my date looked on with an amused and charming smile. She seemed to enjoy how I dealt with the situation.
      We sit down and talk. Conversation is slow at first. She is 30. I’m 28. I’m newly single, and she’s divorced for 1.5 years. We were both a bit shy, but we made each other laugh. I’m trying to suppress this “ah-HA” type of emotion, but it keeps getting stronger by the minute.

      We keep talking, and the crowd around us erodes into inebriation. There is yelling, there is dancing, there is Lil John piping through the speaker system. Aww skeet skeet motherfucker.

      We decide to try another bar. We clearly like each other, but the previous venue was a bit of a hell hole. Nothing is open since were in the burbs. She mentioned that her fitness studio is nearby. But it’s thanksgiving and we’re in MA and there’s nowhere to buy wine. She is sweet. She has gone from cute to beautiful. I’m compelled to spend as much time with her as I can. She is so funny.

      I mention, sheepishly, that I have a bottle of whiskey in my car. I give her several outs, as I don’t want to creep her out. She feels comfortable enough to have a drink in her studio with me.

      We go up. I’m still in hookup mode, but I clearly feel something special. After a few minutes, I try to reconcile this confusion by kissing her. She doesn’t reciprocate. I’m embarrassed. I apologize. She apologizes and tells me that she liked it, she just wasn’t expecting it. She wasn’t sure if I was having a good time. I smile, because I know that I’m somehow having the time of my life.

      We admit how nervous we are and decide to take it slow. We listen to Neon Indian. We discover a mutual love for Elliott Smith. We tell each other things we haven’t told those closest to us. We hold hands for hours.
      We kiss again and this time it’s electric.

      She is tipsy. Its late and she needs to teach a fitness class early in the morning. I don’t want her to drive or to have to sleep in her studio, so I offer her a ride. I tell her I’m exhausted and that I want to stay over. I want to sleep next to her. I promise to be a gentleman. She agrees.
      We get to her place and I meet her dog. He is gregarious and has a distinguished name.

      We put on music and go to bed. We make love. It’s wonderful and nerve wracking and I’m fairly petrified. We sleep, wake, make love again. It’s suddenly 7am. I’m sad.
      I drive her back to her studio, where her car is parked nearby. I buy her a coffee, we tell each other how much we enjoyed last night. We make plans for Saturday. I walk away feeling like I met my soul mate.

      We text non stop and then spend Saturday and Sunday together. I leave for NYC on Monday. She is going to visit. She keeps giving me outs in case I change my mind but I won’t.

      She visits 2 weeks later and have the best weekend of our lives. We decide that we want to be together.
      Countless miles and Spotify playlists later, we moved in together in Boston in April. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it’s the most wonderful and natural and healthy relationship I could ever hope for. It’s the kind of love that transcends words and songs and poetry.
      I’m incredibly thankful. It gives me anxiety to think of how easy it would’ve been for us to never meet. It was completely inconvenient and unexpected and perfect.
      We are happy. We are infinitely appreciative of one another. We wish we met sooner, but we know that we found each other right on time.

      5. Got some furniture out of it.

      I chatted a girl up that had a nice dresser in one of her pics. I needed a dresser for my new house. She ended up selling it to me for $10. That was a good hookup.

      6.  Drunk sex does not equal good sex.

      I got Tinder about a month ago and met with my first live one last week. We had actually been messaging for about a week or two, pretty different schedules to blame, but we ended up meeting up for a concert which led to drinks which led to me inviting him back to my house which led to sex.

      The sex lasted fucking forever and not in a good way. He was one of those drunks who just can’t fucking come and instead of admitting defeat just keeps pounding and pounding. Gentlemen, this is not desirable. Shit hurts after not too long. There is chafing involved. In the end I was just so over it that I rolled over and went to sleep. Sorry, dude. I’m giving him another chance this weekend with hopefully less alcohol so we’ll see.

      I’ll give it a 5/10. Had sex, didn’t die, willing to try one more time.

      7. At least the sex was good, I guess?

      My friend fucked this stripper with half a shaved head and facial tattoos. She told him that she had been smoking meth all morning and that she had a boyfriend. We later found out that she’s also pregnant. My friend said it was the best sex he’s ever had in his entire life.

      8. TL;DR: – Met a crazy.

      It was horrible. I installed the app for fun and just to fuck around with when I’m bored, ended up matching with a girl and talked to her for like 2 weeks and exchanged numbers & FB info. She was pretty, seemed really cool, and we shared a lot in common. Eventually she said we should hang out, and I said sure. We met up at a mall and just walked around and talked for about an hour, and I left. After I left, I knew I wasn’t going to pursue her. Over text she seemed pretty cool, but in person she was just…off, idk I can’t really explain it. Anyway, within 2min of me getting back in the car, she texted me wanting to know my real opinion on her now. Kinda weird, but whatever she seems weird so I just replied saying yeah she’s cool and whatever. Big mistake. Over the course of the next 2 hours, I received over 80 texts, about 10 calls and a couple VMs, all of her crying and saying I need to move in with her and her Dad because she’s suicidal and I needed to take care of her. I was blunt with her in saying no and this can’t go on anymore and to stop contacting me, but nothing changed. I had to delete my FB profile, block her number, etc. I deleted the app after that.

      TL:DR – Met a crazy.

      9. Well that’s a weird way to try and get laid.

      I used it, I’m a fat ugly bastard, I matched with a girl who wasn’t too shabby looking, texted for a few days until we were both off. I picked her up, she was very cute, went to dinner at a Japanese steak house and had a good time, drank some sake. She suggested we go back to my place (woo!)

      We stop by her apartment to get her car and she wants to get clothes. She follows me to my house and we make out in my driveway for a few and start to move towards the house, I’m excited, gunna get laid and all yessir, been a while.

      So we are on my front porch and she goes “Eew, what’s that” and points to this baseball sized toad that hangs out on my porch, this is his 2nd year it there. Anyways I explain he is cool and I knock beetles off my porch light for to eat and stuff she walks over to him, looks at me, like intense eye contact and proceeded to slowly stomp on my toad.

      Now at this point I was experiencing several emotions, shock, anger, rage. I shouted at her “wtf, why’d you do that” to which she replied “I wanted to make you mad so you’d fuck me hard.” I was speechless while I processed what I had just witnessed. I told her to get the Fuck of my property, she flips out, we yell back and forth, I sprayed her with the hose and she finally leaves only to show up 20 min later topless on my deck in the back yard. She had walked from down the road and pulled like 6 pickets down from my fence to get in the back yard.

      Cops came, she cried her way out of trouble with them and left.

      Tl;dr fat ugly bastard, solid 8 Tinderella, night of hibachi, sake, otphj, she stomped my porch toad, cops come, girl cries, gets let off.

      10. Pretty sure this one wins the thread.

      Started flirting with this one girl. Eventually got her number and she texted me on a daily basis. After two weeks of getting to know each other she asks me to be her date at a super bowl party. Sounded fun to me so I thought “why not?”

      She said party was at 5 but she wanted to come over around 330 even though it was a ten minute ride there. Totally figured she wanted to hook up first so I totally prepared myself for that. She shows up, I invite her in and I ask “how long before we have to leave?” she says it already started so we have to leave now. I thought that was weird but I got in the car and drove there with blue balls the whole way. It was at a restaurant she worked at and it was an employees and dates party. When we get there it pretty much hasn’t started. Big surprise. We talk for about an hour and get to know each other but it’s painful because she’s so shy. It was open bar but she doesn’t drink so I resisted the temptation.

      Eventually her coworkers come and I meet them. She told me one of them was an ex. It didn’t really bother me. They seemed like good guys. A little on the scummy side though. They all looked like shaggy from Scooby-Doo. They’re all about 22 and have a kid or two and have low income jobs.

      Eventually they convince her to drink. One sip becomes a whole drink and one drink becomes three. She is really drunk but still being kinda flirty. I didn’t drink anything and played it on the safe side because I was driving. The plan was to leave halfway through and go to a house party. So I drive her and her coworkers there. What a horrible idea. We get there and it’s one of the shittiest places I’ve ever seen. There was a 75 year old man playing Madden instead of watching the super bowl. There was kids running around while people were doing various drugs and talking about selling crack along with pregnant women drinking.

      Little uncomfortable but fuck it. We all play a drinking game and then the girl goes to go to the bathroom down the hall. About 3 minutes later two of the coworkers go down the hall to the porch to smoke. About ten minutes goes by and her ex gets up to go see if the bathrooms open. He comes back and lays this on me: “John…. Uhh…. Jen is getting fucked by both those guys right now. Don’t go in the bathroom.”

      I was absolutely stunned. I had no idea what to do. I sat there and just watched the super bowl. 5 minutes later she comes out literally pulling her pants up. She completely ignores me and continues playing. 5 minutes go by and she goes to smoke weed with another guy. One guy goes to check and comes back to let me know “Yeah sorry man she’s fucking him now too”. The guys at the table start saying how nice a guy I am and that it sucks that I’m her date and she’s fucked three guys. Then they start getting weird. They start whispering about me and pointing at me. Was entirely sure either was going to get my ass kicked. She comes back I tell her were leaving in 5. One guy at the table stops me and says “Wait! She’s already fucked Tim, Bill, and Mark, I figured me and Mike could get a go and you can have her the rest of the night!”

      What. The. Fuck. I left immediately with her. Unfortunately her car is at my place. She kept saying the whole car ride that she hates it when this happens and this is why she doesn’t drink. Took the long way home because I knew she was drunk. She tried to prove she wasn’t by slapping herself and then saying “I’m not drunk, I see the three yellow lines in the road. I know there’s only two but that’s how I know I’m sober”. Tell her to stay for an hour knowing I could prolong it so she can sober up. She throws a hiss fit that her phones dead and her parents are looking for her. She says she has to drive home immediately. Get home. Say “K bye”. She apologies and leaves saying she’ll see me soon. Never talk to her again. She posts on Facebook for three weeks about how bad she fucked up, how her coworkers don’t take her seriously, and how she has to move because of it. “Oh.”

      Tl;dr: went on date with girl, went to a drug house, she fucked three dudes and wouldn’t look at me.

      11. Swiping during the meal is just bad etiquette. 

      The first person I met on Tinder peed on me. The second one called me the next day and accused me of drugging him at the bar. This was especially weird because he left alone without even saying goodbye to me. The third met me for lunch and was actively swiping on Tinder matches during the meal.

      Ironically, I am still using Tinder.

      12. That’s not normal.

      I messaged this Indian girl late one night and ended up going to her place at around 6 am. She lived on the first floor of some dorms in a college across town. We got down to business immediately and slept after. She seemed pretty cool.

      I woke up naked with a tight elastic band around my ankles (basically tied up my ankles). She had hidden my clothes. She insisted on spending the day together, but to make sure I didn’t run away, she didn’t tell me where my clothes were. So we’re sitting around, I’m still naked after 3 hours. She’s fully clothed now, and asking me all about myself. To make things even stranger, she wrote down each of my answers to her questions.

      I waited until she left to use the bathroom, then I searched the entire dorm for my clothes. I found them in the refrigerator in the vegetable drawer. I got dressed SO damn quick, and jumped out of the window.

      13. Nothing but games.

      Oh boy! Back in January I started using it and was matched with a girl who happened to also be in engineering at the same school as me. We started talking and next thing I knew we had gone on a few dates and everything was going great.

      A few days later I had a stats midterm, and while studying I got a text from her saying, “Hope your midterm goes well! Why don’t you come over for board games after?” Now I’m usually pretty oblivious, but “board games”? on a Friday night? Yeah, I’m getting laid.

      So I finish my midterm, text her that I’m on my way and hop on a bus. The entire bus ride I’m smiling from ear to ear, waiting patiently until I finally arrive around 9:30pm.
      I entered her place and bam, bottle of wine on the table. Yeah, I’m getting laid. I go and sit down, we start drinking and BAM! Settlers of Catan. We played for 2 hours. She hugs me goodnight and I leave. I didn’t get laid. Fuck.

      14. At least her parents didn’t call the cops.

      I’m probably late to the party but I’ll share because my tinder story is terrible, and that’s what we’re all here to see.

      I matched with this really cute girl, all of her pictures were professionally done, like senior pictures. We texted for a few days and she seemed alright, not exactly interesting or funny but, as any sane male using tinder, I wasn’t looking for anything more than a hookup.

      One night she invited me to pick her up, because she was sneaking out of her house. I agreed and drove to her neighborhood to meet her. I called her when I was at the gate and she sounded funny, it sounded like she was eating and her mouth was full. Thought nothing of it and waited for her to come out.

      She rounds the corner walking kinda funny, and wearing weird clothes, like clothes a 12 year old girl would wear. (we’re both 19) She gets in my car and she’s kinda making a funny face. As she reached to hold my hand without saying hello, it hit me. This girl was retarded.

      Her little brother came running around the corner yelling telling her to come back because their parents were gonna go crazy. She yelled back out of my open window, “It’s ok, I’m with my boyfriend. He’s gonna take care of me.” I shit my fucking pants. I calmly told her she should probably go with her brother but she wouldn’t let go of my hand. After some convincing she went back with her brother and I sped the fuck out of there.

      She called me about 20 times, texted me saying she needed me because her parents were going mental being mad at her. I sent one text back saying she should listen to them and not sneak out any more and never texted her again.

      She still texts me to this day inviting me to go places with her family as her boyfriend, and I never reply.

      Now I Skype everyone before I meet them in person.

      15. Double vision.

      I’m an identical twin. My brother was visiting me at school and I invited a girl I met on tinder over. He doesn’t use Tinder, but obviously didn’t want to be alone for the night so I used the app to get him a girl too.

      She thought he was me the entire time all the way up until she left the next morning. Right before she left she asked my brother a question about my rugby team that he just couldn’t answer. I got some angry messages afterwards.

      16. Straight up scammed.

      I was traveling to Riga, Latvia via bus from Estonia. I was planning to spent few days there to explore the city. LuxExpress has free WiFi so I was killing the time by looking at girls on Tinder. I started talking to this one local Brunette and we kinda hit it off, she suggested to meet her later on in town, and I agreed. After dropping off my stuff to the hostel I went to meet her in one of the local establishments, which sell drink.

      When I entered the bar I was stunned by her looks, and to be honest I probably couldn’t get any intelligent comment out of me until I had downed few beers. Luckily she liked to talk, and kept telling me about the old town and Riga’s nightlife. I think I managed to ask few “intelligent” question about her and tell little about myself. We walked around the old town of Riga and talked for few hours and I thought everything was going really well. Later we met up with few of her friends and went to this one nightclub, we danced and generally had a good time. Towards the end of the evening I made out with her few times and was, lets just say more than excited of my prospects. She told me she’s going to the ladies room and decided that I had to have few drinks more to calm my nerves (I was on dry spell). We went back to my hostel and started making out (I had my own room). Then all of a sudden she stopped and game the price list pitch. At this point I was between furious and horny, seriously considering what I could afford. I ended up throwing her out of my room.

      I wish that would have been the end of it but she started screaming and kicking the door, I ended up thrown out of the hostel with her, she threatens me to give her cash or “the boys” will come after me. She starts to follow me when I left to search for new accommodation. I walk few blocks listening to her threats and phone calls, at the end of the street I noticed few guys start to walking fast towards us. I have never ran so fast with a backpack in my life, not even in the army. I managed to lost them in this big park at the edge of Riga’s old town, by hiding in the bushes. I think I waited there for an hour or two, before proceeding back to the bus station and getting the hell out of Latvia.

      17. What does a girl do?

      Pretty happy with my story. Disclosure that I’m bi, but predominantly fool around with guys. I was in a opposite sex mood or something so found a girl on there. Good sense of humor, personality, that sort of thing. We wound up meeting up, hooking up… aaaand then kind of kept up with that frequently for weeks, then months, and so on.

      Guess what’s annoying is that she was a perfect match for me. We were both well educated, I was finishing my JD, she had a double major and was getting into a Masters program. So we were both goal/career oriented, both into sports, oddly both the ‘same race’ which has been excessively rare for me (we’re both a black/white mix, this isn’t important for either of us but we were also the first black/white mix we had ever met let alone dated. First time I held someone’s hand who was the same color as me so… that was kind of cool). We loved the same jokes, just… a scary perfect match.

      So, great sex, cool set of friends, she cooks well (I cook too but I’m part Caribbean and she is not a fan of spicy food and cooking without curry is foreign to me), our political views are different enough that we can still have a good discussion.

      And then I finished law school and went to take the bar in another state. I’m off and on sitting around just wondering what the fuck am I doing and if I should just keep it going or what. She’s honestly the first and currently only person in my life that I genuinely thought was marry worthy.

      TL;DR = practically found perfection and now I don’t know what the fuck to do.

      18. Ohhh snap.

      -Friend of a friends boyfriend thought he would be sly and try out tinder for a little side action.

      -Girlfriend’s friend sees his pics on there and tells the GF.

      -GF creates account with fake pictures and sets up a date with cheating BF.

      -Boyfriend walks into restaurant bar to meet his date to find his actual GF.

      -Shits a brick.

      Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/charlie-elliott/2014/07/19-tinder-users-describe-their-best-and-worst-hookup-stories/

      Orbiting Jupiter: my week with Emmanuel Macron

      The long read: Is Frances new president a political miracle, or a mirage that is already fading away?

      The man does not perspire. I discovered that on 12 September, on the island of Saint Martin, a French territory in the Caribbean that had been devastated a few days earlier by Hurricane Irma. Uprooted trees, roofs ripped from houses, streets blocked by mountains of debris: for three hours Emmanuel Macron, president of France, has been walking through what remains of the village of Grand Case in the sweltering, clammy heat amid the strong odour of burst sewage pipes or in other words, of shit. Everyone accompanying him, including the author of these lines, is dripping with sweat, literally soaked, with large circles under their arms. Not him. Although he hasnt had a second to change or freshen up, his white shirt with elegantly rolled-up sleeves is impeccable. And so it will remain until late in the night, when the rest of us are exhausted, haggard and reeking, and hes still as fresh as a daisy, always ready to shake new hands.

      Every interaction with Macron follows the same protocol. He turns his penetrating blue eyes on you and doesnt look away. As for your hand, he shakes it in two stages: first a normal grip, and then, as if to show that this was no ordinary, routine handshake, he increases the pressure while at the same time intensifying his gaze. He did the same thing to Donald Trump and it almost turned into an arm wrestle. Then, with his other hand, he clasps your arm or shoulder, and when the time comes to move on, he relaxes his grip while lingering almost regretfully, as if pained to cut short an encounter that meant so much to him. This technique works wonders with his admirers, but its even more spectacular with his enemies. Contradiction stimulates him, aggression galvanises him. To those who complain that the state took its time bringing relief, he explains calmly and patiently that the state does not control extreme weather conditions and that everything that could be anticipated was anticipated. At the same time and well come back to this at the same time he never stops repeating, just as calmly, just as patiently: I came to Saint Martin to hear your anger.

      And its a good thing, too, because up comes an angry woman named Lila, who bars his way and accuses him of not giving a damn about the victims suffering, and of coming just to perform before the TV cameras in his ironed shirt and plain tie that doesnt look like much but must have cost a fortune. Shes so vehement that the group of islanders who have gathered around them start booing and jeering and saying thats no way to talk to the president. Anyone else would have taken advantage of the situation and said: You see, the people are behind me. Not Macron. For him, Lila is a challenge. He takes her hand and his face divides in two something Ive often seen it do: the right half, brow creased, is determined, grave, almost severe, giving you the feeling that whatever he does, hes doing it in the eyes of history. The left half, meanwhile, is cordial, optimistic, almost mischievous, giving you the feeling that now hes there, things will be all right.

      Emmanuel Macron greets residents of Saint Martin after its devastation by Hurricane Irma. Photograph: Christophe Ena/AFP/Getty Images

      For five, 10 minutes, he soaks up Lilas wrath. He has a schedule he has to stick to, and his teams in a hurry, worried about running overtime and they will run overtime, they always do. Nevertheless, its as if he has all the time in the world, and in fact he does: hes the boss. One wonders if hell win over Lila, who, now feeling self-assured, growls cockily: Im a bit of a pain in the ass. To which he responds with his most charming smile: I admit, that didnt escape my attention. Good one: she smiles back, shes going to back down, she backs down. Then at the last moment, as they shake hands before parting, she has second thoughts and says: Let go of my hand, damn it! Let go of my frigging hand!

      For me this Let go of my hand! was like a desperate attempt to cling to her anger and her integrity. To escape the presidents hypnosis, his persuasiveness worthy of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, his almost frightening seductiveness. Watching him, I was reminded of the opening credits of the TV series The Young Pope, in which Jude Law, dressed in an immaculate cassock, advances across the screen as if on a cloud, in slow motion, weightless, and at one point turns and winks at the camera. Macron winks often. He did it to me. In any event, no matter what you think of him, whether you see his rise as a political miracle or a mirage destined to fade away, everyone agrees: he could seduce a chair. The professional commentators who started to drop him after just a few months of his presidency can keep calling him a powdered marquis, a megalomaniac with royal pretensions, a rich mans president or a communicator without a cause, but he couldnt care less. The people, by contrast, with whom he is directly, physically in contact, are his bread and butter. Anyone whos had their hand shaken by Macron is lost to the opposition: theyre destined to vote Macron and to convert to Macronism. But you cant shake hands with everyone in the country. And anyway, just what is Macronism?

      Lets take another look at his file: just three years ago this young man was totally unknown to the general public. By contrast, he was very well known to a small Parisian milieu in which politics, finance and the media are almost incestuously intertwined. In this milieu which he looks down on today, as if he had never belonged to it at all everyone prides themselves on being his friend, having his mobile phone number, and getting upbeat text messages from him in the middle of the night. At 30, hes an investment banker at Rothschild & Co in this line of work, you cant do any better. At 34, he joins the cabinet of then president Franois Hollande as deputy secretary general. And, let it be said in passing, for one-tenth of what he was making as a banker: its not money hes after. I remember seeing a documentary on the new Socialist president at the time: everyone, starting with Hollande, seemed stiff, like stuffed animals dressed up in the dark suits of power. Everyone, that is, but one sharp-witted, vibrant guy with sideburns, the only one in this gallery of mummies who seemed truly alive. That was the day I learned the name Emmanuel Macron.

      Just two years later, this young man is minister for the economy, industry and digital affairs. Hollande adores him: hes the ideal son whos so good at charming his elders that a big name in the Socialist party calls him the old folks man. The old folks in question, his mentors, tell him that if he wants to make a career in politics he has to choose a constituency, run for office and become an elected deputy: thats how its always been done in the Fifth Republic. Macron thanks them for the advice, but doesnt run: hes not interested in doing whats always been done.

      The presidential election approaches. By all accounts it will play out between the Socialist left burdened by Hollandes morose five years in office, the right caught up in fratricidal quarrels, and the eternal populist wildcard that has borne the name of Le Pen for the past 40 years: business as usual. Then, in April 2016, exactly one year before the election, the young and dashing minister of the economy announces to a sparsely filled room in his home town of Amiens that he is creating his own party, En Marche! with an exclamation mark. It will take some time before the commentators figure out that the initials EM also stand for the name of this young man about whose ambitions and convictions little is known. One month later he hands in his resignation to a confused Hollande, and leaves the government. Even if his intelligence and charisma are generally recognised, no one at this point would put a penny on his winning the presidential election. Or almost no one, that is. To the first people who attend his meetings and join his party, Macron repeats like an incantation that they will remember it all later, like those who joined de Gaulle in London in 1940: they were there, right at the start of the adventure.

      And what an adventure! This is a guy who only runs for a single office in his entire life, that of president of the republic, and wins. A guy who understands that the parties that have structured French public life since the end of the second world war are clinically dead, and that it is time to offer the French something new. What were seeing, he maintains, is a clash between old and new, navel-gazing and openness, routine and audacity, conservatism and progress and it goes without saying that he, Macron, embodies progress, openness, audacity, the new. He says hes neither on the right nor the left although saying that usually means youre on the right. So wouldnt it be more accurate to say he is on the right and on the left at the same time?

      And here we are again, back at the famous at the same time. This banal, everyday expression has now become practically unusable in France, except as a running joke. For a normal French person today, saying at the same time is already making a joke about Macron, who has raised this speech mannerism to the level of a philosophical position. As soon as he thinks something, he says to himself that you can also think the opposite, that other people think the opposite and that you have to see things from their point of view. When adopted as a general principle, this at the same time quickly gets us to the old centrist utopia: overcoming rifts, choosing the most open and the most competent people from each camp, governing in the centre, bringing people together. Many have dreamed about what in the last century was still called the third way between economic liberalism and social democracy. But in recent years, no one has been able to revive it, until Macron appeared with his stainless self-assurance and phenomenal good fortune.

      Its said that when inquiring about an officer he didnt know, Napoleon asked only one question: Is he lucky? In his staggering rise to power, the young man who has nothing against being compared with Bonaparte benefited from an unprecedented planetary alignment. President Hollande decides not to run again partly because this spiritual son, about whom hell say he betrayed me methodically, was also in the running. The Socialist party chooses as its candidate Benot Hamon, whos likable but a lightweight. The conservative candidate, Franois Fillon, ruins any hopes his camp may have had with a string of scandals and lies. That leaves Marine Le Pen, who will self-immolate during the one-on-one debate with Macron by showing just how sectarian and unfit to govern she is. The way is clear. At 39, Macron becomes the youngest head of state in French history, and an international star. The countrys entire political class is dumbfounded. Stunned, former president Nicolas Sarkozy is said to have commented with disconcerting humility: Its me, but better.

      During the campaign, Macron changed. At Orlans, on a day of fervent tribute to Joan of Arc, he all but explicitly compared himself with the Maid of Orlans: heralding from a distant village, alone, unknown to all, she hears voices that command her to save France and whats more, she does. Macron, meanwhile, this former student of the cole Nationale dAdministration (for decades, the finishing school for the nations political elite), banker, high official and young minister the absolute prototype of the insider who knows the rules of the game like the back of his hand reinvents himself as an inspired outsider, a mystic capable of ending a meeting by whirling around in front of 8,000 people, his arms folded in front of him, his eyes half-closed, chanting I love you! until his voice goes hoarse. Just after he was elected, Franois Hollande said he would be a normal president. France, ungrateful, wasted no time in finding that normal wasnt a quality they wanted in a leader. Macron, who saw his predecessor get bogged down and systematically takes the opposite stance, announces that hell be a Jupiterian president.

      Such ambitions give one pause for thought. The same goes for Macrons decision to do away with the traditional televised Bastille Day interview, on the grounds that the questions put by the journalists risked not doing justice to the new head of states complex thoughts. The words complex thoughts were the butt of a good many jokes, but they werent uttered by accident. Placed in quotation marks, they were approved by his communication experts, and one imagines that complex thoughts is the new name for thoughts at the same time, thoughts that view reality from on high and take account of its many facets. In the same way, in Macrons entourage theres no longer any talk of reforming the country, but straight up transforming it. That, incidentally, was one of the first things he said to me: If I dont radically transform France, itll be worse than if I did nothing at all.

      But still, aside from glorifying Macrons personality, what is Macronism about? Almost six months after his election, the question feels more and more pressing. The new president gained power thanks to his charm, and by offering the country a breath of optimism it badly needed. Like Britain, France was once a world power. It dreams of regaining that status, and he promises that with him, it can; that if France follows him, it will become as seductive and competitive as he, Emmanuel Macron, this young president and envy of the world.

      For several months we really did feel good about ourselves, but now it seems that this Prince Charming effect is dissipating. The number of French people who approve of Macron has plunged from 66% to 32% since the elections a historic drop. Why? Because a statesman who really wants to make things happen will inevitably become unpopular? Thats what he says, and its true. Because he promised to act fast and he is acting fast, and because to do that he is willing to force through his policies? Because his labour law reform, fast-tracked by executive decree, better suits bosses than workers? Because by scrapping the wealth tax hes favouring the rich? Because, although his campaign focused on overcoming divisions, hes increasingly moving rightwards in a way that shocks voters on the left? A bit of all of that, and above all, a hint of arrogance and class contempt. When he criticises slackers and those who kick up bloody chaos, its the poor and unemployed who feel targeted. And when he talks about train stations where the successful cross paths with those who are nothing, no one hears what he surely meant to say: that inequality saddens him and that hes trying to reduce it. No, everyone hears that the unsuccessful are nothing in his eyes.

      I spent a week with Macron and his entourage to report this article, and as it was a week of travelling to Athens and then to Saint Martin my conversations with Jupiter took place, logically enough, in the sky. All power elicits courtlike phenomena, which you can observe at leisure in the presidential plane. But this court is hyper-cool, because the presidents inner circle is made up of young people who, at 30, have jobs you can normally only get at 50, if at all, and who, while never ceasing to be total control freaks, have all adopted the bosss direct, easygoing style. Yet, as easygoing and direct as he is, the boss never forgets the historic dimension of his role, and its in this made-to-measure suit that he goes on his first official visit to Greece.

      Whats at stake, and in my view what makes the trip such a challenge, is that the president must tell the Greeks things they want to hear namely, that their cause will be taken up with Germany while at the same time saying nothing that risks rubbing Angela Merkel the wrong way. When I share this fledgling idea with him, he deflects the question. (Admittedly, I didnt exactly expect him to say Youve hit the nail on the head.) Nevertheless, he doesnt mince his words: The Greek crisis was a European crisis, a European failure even. Instead of punishing its leaders for their lies, we punished the people of Greece, whose only mistake was to listen to these lies. The rifts produced in Europe by this crisis are deep, and thats why I have to go to Athens: to return to the source, to talk about democracy.

      Talking about democracy is what he did on the Pnyx, the hill in the centre of Athens where in ancient times the assembly of citizens raised their hands to vote on the citys laws and budget. From there you can see over to the Acropolis, and in the early evening light it was a scene of stunning beauty. Almost 60 years earlier, Andr Malraux, a great writer and minister of culture under General de Gaulle, delivered on the Pnyx one of the memorable and nebulous speeches that were his trademark, and you cant help feeling that Macron intends to situate himself in this tradition that of the visionaries and not the managers, the philosophers and not the bureaucrats.

      Macron giving a speech on the Pnyx in Athens in September. Photograph: NurPhoto/Getty

      He started by breaking the ice in a particularly effective way with a two-minute preamble in Greek, learned phonetically. And, speaking as someone with a smattering of modern Greek, I can tell you thats no mean feat. Then he launched into his favourite topic: Europe, and the sovereignty of the European peoples, which he doesnt want to leave, he says, to the faint-hearted, fearful clan known as sovereigntists those rightwing populists who want to shut out the world and retreat into splendid isolation.

      Half an hour of fine rhetoric leads up to the oratorical climax: Look at the time that we are living in: it is the moment of which Hegel spoke, the moment when the owl of Minerva takes flight. Macron doesnt explain the metaphor; no doubt he overestimates his audiences level of philosophical sophistication. Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, and the owl is her symbol; this owl, Hegel says, waits for night to fall before flying over the battlefield of history. In other words, philosophy cant keep pace with events. The owl of Minerva, he continues, provides wisdom but it continues to look back. It looks back because it is always so easy and so comforting to look at what we have, what we know, rather than at the unknown

      Later that evening I told Macron that I had really liked his speech, and he looked at me with intense gratitude, as if no ones opinion could mean more to him. Then I said, without meaning any harm, that I had also very much liked the speech given by his host, the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras. In a flash, his blue eyes clouded over and he turned away: other, more pressing matters called. Still, I had been sincere. I thought his speech was very fine indeed. Whats more, its not every day that you hear a head of state appealing to the authority of Hegel. He didnt do it like someone whod been handed a draft by a speechwriter, but like someone who knows what hes talking about. He believes in the Hegelian notion of the cunning of reason, which is to history what the invisible hand is to the market, and which explains how, in serving their personal interests and desires, without knowing it, great men help bring about what the time intrinsically demands.

      When its not Hegel hes quoting, its Spinoza, who he loves for his struggle against the sad passions such as bitterness, resentment and defeatism to which Macron himself seems to have had remarkably little exposure. Today in interviews he engages in dialogue with the German thinker Peter Sloterdijk, and while still in his 20s he served as assistant to Paul Ricoeur, an immensely respected, octogenarian humanist philosopher. Since Mitterrand, we have forgotten what its like to have a cultivated president. The day after his speech on the Pnyx, there was a lunch with Greek intellectuals. These Greek intellectuals were ardently Francophile, and quoted one great French poet after the next. With each poem Macron was able to pick up where the other person had left off, reciting the next verses without missing a beat. Baudelaire, Rimbaud, all by heart: its hard not to believe that this man really likes poetry.

      Such mastery is intriguing: you start looking for the flaw, the chink in his armour. Macron has political enemies, but theres not much gossip that circulates about his personal life. According to one rumour, hes gay. His wife and he denied it with elegance and good humour, and without making a big thing of it. Nevertheless, there is at least one somewhat screwy anecdote in his unofficial biography, a bungle that puts him in a more human light: the Le Monde takeover affair. In 2010, Le Monde, the most venerable French newspaper, was put up for sale. Unusually, the newspapers statutes allow the journalists to choose the buyer. The bids come in and the journalists are having a tough time keeping them straight when the young and dapper Macron, then a banker at Rothschild, appears and proposes his services as an adviser. Pro bono, he says, because he likes Le Monde, and the press, and the freedom of the press, and that kind of thing. The people at Le Monde find him super nice, and they get a kick out of going to see him at Rothschild & Co late in the evening after the offices have closed.

      Two powerful groups are lining up to buy the paper. The journalists favour one group, but Macron isnt thrilled with this, because that group includes a banker who he hates. As for the rival group, its being advised by a certain Alain Minc. The minence grise behind a good many French politicians for the past 40 years, Minc has a reputation for devious clairvoyance, even if the candidates he has backed have generally been defeated at the ballot box. Around this time, by chance, a journalist working with Le Monde, Adrien de Tricornot, has some business near the Champs-lyses in the building where Mincs luxurious offices are situated. When he gets there, he sees Minc coming out, accompanied by Emmanuel Macron.

      In what follows, Tricornot has to be taken at his word, but hes a respectable journalist and, crucially, the story has never been denied. In a fit of panic at being caught playing a double game apparently advising both Le Monde and Minc at the same time Macron rushes back into the building, runs over to the staircase and disappears. Tricornot follows in hot pursuit, and finally catches up with him on the top floor, trapped and with no way out, ridiculously pretending to be talking on the phone: a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The journalist then takes cruel pleasure in saying to the Jupiter-to-be: Well, Emmanuel, we no longer say hi to our friends?

      There is nothing Macron hates more than being caught out. At one point in the election campaign, he stated that French Guiana, a French overseas department, was an island which it isnt. As the gaffe was picked up everywhere by the media, he defended his remark by saying that of course he knew French Guiana wasnt an island, but that, stuck between the Atlantic and the Amazon, it was nonetheless a sort of island more an island, in any event, than not an island. I was able to observe this poker-players preternatural self-assurance in person earlier this month, when I saw him briefly once again at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where France was the guest of honour. Macron gave a sparkling opening address, followed by Angela Merkel, who spoke in her more down-to-earth way. Then Macron swept off to shake the hands of authors and editors.

      Macron with Angela Merkel in Frankfurt earlier this month. Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty

      Its all going well until the Franco-Congolese author Alain Mabanckou pushes his way through the crowd to say that he heard Macrons speech and has one criticism. Yes? Macron asks, seizing the writers hand. Mabanckou explains that the president didnt say a word about Francophonie (that is, the entire French-speaking world, particularly the former French colonies). It would be easy to answer that, in a speech celebrating Franco-German relations, that wasnt the heart of the matter. But Macron says something else, eye to eye: Talk about Francophonie? I did nothing else.

      Somewhat exasperated, Mabanckou insists: You didnt mention a single great Francophone author. At the very least Id have liked to hear the name Lopold Sdar Senghor.

      You didnt listen closely enough to what I said, Macron replies, I did talk about him!

      The situation becomes embarrassing. Hundreds of people are there, and none of them haveheard the name of the great Senegalese poet and statesman any more than Mabanckou or I have. At that moment it becomes clear that the incident could blow up and go viral, Macron understands hes got to back down, and his way of backing down is to say that of course he didnt actually pronounce Senghors name, but that his name is understood whenever you talk of Francophonie so that as soon as you say Francophonie its clear to all that youre also talking about Senghor. (As a former maths teacher of Macrons said in an interview for a documentary: In my discipline, things are fairly simple: either you know the answer or you dont. But I discovered that theres a third possibility: the young Macron. Even if he doesnt know, hell string you along until youre convinced he does.)

      When I asked the presidents office for permission to accompany and interview Macron, it went without saying that he would not read the piece prior to publication. The one condition: that I send them the sentences I quote Macron as saying. This is customary in the press, and protects the person being interviewed from journalistic extrapolations. But it also protects the journalist against the interviewees bad faith: once he had approved the sentences, the interviewee cant then turn around and say he didnt say them, or that they were misrepresented. In theory, I had no problem with such an arrangement, but in practice, I do. Ive got several dozen pages of notes in front of me, jotted down during a half-hour interview on the flight to Athens, and an hour-long one on the way back from the Caribbean. And in all of my notes, in my view, theres only one really strong, really beautiful sentence and this really strong, really beautiful sentence, this sentence that rings true, was off the record. In its place I was given permission to use a perfectly dull, perfectly formatted variant, which I will spare you.

      By default, then, here are some samples of the presidents words: I believe our country is on a cliff edge, I even think its in danger of falling. If we werent at a tragic moment in our history, I would never have been elected. Im not made to lead in calm weather. My predecessor was, but Im made for storms. And again: If you want to take a country somewhere, you have to advance at all costs. You cant give in, you cant fall into a routine. But at the same time, you have to be willing to listen. Listening to people means recognising their share of anger and suffering. And thats something that will always belong to them. Im not here to promise happiness, but I can recognise this constant, this uniqueness: its the only way to respect them. And finally: France isnt cynical, but the elites think it is. France isnt made to be a postmodern country.

      I listen to him saying such things theyre quite interesting and in any event he says them well. His voice is youthful and smooth, his sentences fluid, natural, persuasive. Sometimes I cant help smiling to myself, for example when he says hes a metic the ancient Greek word for a foreigner accorded some of the privileges of citizenship in the world of politics and the media. Thats the word he uses, metic, and you can see why it gives rise to smiles when its used to describe Emmanuel Macron. Why not pariah while were at it? So I listen, half under his spell OK, lets say three-quarters. And I remember the comment made by my fellow writer Michel Houellebecq: I tried to do an interview with him Frankly, getting people who talk very well to say something real, something true, is like pulling teeth

      I continue to look for the flaw. Everyone has one a place of shadow and secrecy, a melancholic zone and as a writer, my job is to see them. With Macron, they dont exactly jump out at you. Nonetheless, Im sure they exist, or rather, I hope they exist. So I ask him what he thinks. The question throws him off a bit. He reflects, hesitates, then: My flaw? Maybe that Im claustrophobic He remains pensive, and for the first time I hear something like three dots between the words that file from his mouth in battle formation. Not in the physical sense: I dont have any listed phobias, but Im claustrophobic about life. I cant stand being shut in, I have to get out, thats why I cant have a normal life. Deep down, my flaw is no doubt that I dont love normal life.

      To a certain extent, thats a good thing: the life of someone who wants to and does become president of the republic cannot be normal. And the interaction you have with him cant be normal either. But I dont let up, and go at the question from another angle. Philippe Besson, a French writer who knows him well, wrote a book about him aptly called Un Personnage de Roman, or a character from a novel, which contains the following description: This man, so warm, so physical, who knows so many people and whom so many people know, has no friends. Is that true? I ask. Hell go on to answer that its not exactly true, that although he has few real friends, he does have some, and that his private life is absolutely essential for him. But before he says these reasonable things, before reflecting at all, he blurts out: My best friend is my wife!

      Its tempting to see Macron as a sort of cyborg, a seducing machine completely void of emotion. Its tempting, but no sooner has it occurred to you than youre obliged to think the opposite. Because theres no getting around the fact that the young, ambitious technocrat, the man who tells everyone what they want to hear, is also, at the same time, the hero of a grand love story. I think this story is what the French like most about him, particularly French women. Its a kind of revenge for centuries of patriarchy during which everyone found it normal for a man to be 24 years older than his wife, but not the other way around. And, taking this breach of convention to the extreme, the woman who is 24 years older than him seems perfectly at ease, and her husband loves her as much as he did when they first met.

      Lets go over the file once again, from this almost mythological angle: Brigitte Auzire is from a solid, provincial, upper-middle class background, shes married to a banker (not an investment banker), and is the mother of three children. A French teacher, shes just been assigned to the Lyce la Providence, a Catholic school run by Jesuits in Amiens. In the staff room, all talk focuses on one pupil who dazzles everyone with his knowledge and intelligence: the young Macron. Hes 15, he too comes from a well-established, upper middle-class household, and his parents are both doctors. Hes good looking, with a pleasant manner and longish hair, and hes more comfortable in the company of his elders than he is with his classmates.

      Macron and his wife, Brigitte, celebrating his first-round election success in Paris in April. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

      Madame Auzire teaches a theatre class. He enrolls, and falls head over heels in love with her. It takes him two years to win her heart. Youre not serious when youre 17, runs a poem by Rimbaud. And, quoting the poet as she tells the story, she says with a laugh: He was very serious when he was 17. He was very serious when he convinced her that this was the love of their lives, and that she should leave her family to be with him. A high-school student who falls in love with his pretty teacher and ardently pledges his love to her isnt all that rare. Whats rarer is when, 22 years later, the high school student and his former teacher are still together, and the high school student is president of France.

      I observe them on the flight to Athens. Theyre in the central block of the Falcon 7X jet, and from what I can see from where Im sitting three metres away, they touch each other non-stop. If he gets up to go to the toilet, he squeezes her shoulder in passing. He smiles at her, she lifts her head and smiles back. Their eyes seek each other out, find each other, often they hold hands. Its remarkable, moving even. But still: they display this intense closeness, this insatiable need for each other, as if they were forever posing for celebrity magazines. So you wonder: is some of this for show? Carefully staged storytelling? Maybe, but what would it be masking? What truth? What pact? When everything looks so harmonious on the surface, you cant help looking for the catch. At the same time, it seems clear that you cant fake this sort of thing not for that long, not all the time. You can go back and forth endlessly about how much of Macrons personality is authentic and how much is cooked up, but you need only see him and his wife together for half an hour to know that part of him is as true as can be, and that this element of truth is her.

      I sat with Brigitte Macron on the way back from Athens, and started off our discussion on quite a bad note, because I was still puzzling over the question of flaws and melancholy. Clearly her husband views his life in terms of destiny, I said. Thats true, she confirmed. But since any real destiny must imply adversity and even defeat, I went on, I wondered what form adversity and defeat could take in the life of someone like Emmanuel Macron, and how she, his wife, imagined the proverbial retreat from Russia that necessarily awaited him because if such a fate didnt await him, he would not be a great man, not a hero. The more I proceeded with my gloomy, interminable question, the more Brigittes face, usually so open and buoyant, showed signs of dismay. But shes not someone to succumb to a passing mood for long. Glasses of champagne arrived just in time: it was the birthday of Tristan, one of her young staffers. At her prompting everyone burst into a chorus of Happy birthday to you! After that she said to Tristan, with a laugh and a shake of her blond hair: Were your present!, and it struck me that that must have gone down just as well in her classes in Amiens.

      She had been one of those teachers that students love, to the point of hanging around after class to talk about Stendhal or Flaubert. Even though shes retired, she remains a teacher, and accepts with a smile that shes a bit of a pedant. Where others would say I dont want to talk in my husbands place, she said something Ive never heard anyone else say: I dont like prosopopoeia. (Just in case you dont know, prosopopoeia is a figure of speech in which an absent person, or even an abstract thing, speaks.) Coming back to my question, she let me know kindly that both she and her husband faced their share of adversity. I cant honestly say weve had to deal with defeat, but weve had our share of adversity. To live a love like ours, weve had to harden ourselves against malicious remarks, mockery and gossip. Weve had to stand shoulder to shoulder, be courageous and joyful. And she was joyful when she said it, just as joyful and likable as everyone told me she would be. (Everyone loves her.)

      To wind up our conversation, she told me a charming story about her theatre class. She and the young Macron are looking for a play to stage together. Theres one they like, by the Neapolitan playwright Eduardo De Filippo already quite a demanding choice. The problem is that the play only has five characters, and there are 25 students in the class. No problem: the young Macron rewrites it, inventing the 20 missing roles. They still have a video of the performance that Brigitte would like to watch one day but, she says, her husband has asked her to wait so they can view it together.

      Like many people I know, Ive witnessed three phases with Macron. During the campaign, I thought: Somethings happening. When the elections rolled around, I thought: Id like to see him win. At the same time, I knew that my vote was a class vote: it was normal for privileged people to vote for Macron. And now that hes in power, I think: It would be good if he succeeds. But what would that entail? That he makes history? That he transforms France? That he turns it into a country of startups where everyone is their own entrepreneur, and the only thing that matters is efficiency? And that after that, he transforms Europe, because at some point France is just going to seem too small for him?

      All of that is possible. Or rather: not impossible. He could also go crazy thats a risk you run when you get so much power so fast. Or, quite simply, he could fail, and join the crowd of ambitious politicians who sought the third way, stumbled over messy reality, and wound up administrating like everyone else. Thats his big worry, I believe. Thats what makes him say: If I dont radically transform France, itll be worse than if I did nothing at all. In the meantime, he is ready to write roles for the whole country, provided Brigitte and he will be directing the play.

      Translated by John Lambert

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      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/oct/20/emmanuel-macron-orbiting-jupiter-emmanuel-carrere

      Theresa May under pressure over secret advice on halting Brexit

      Prime minister is sent FOI request to publish legal guidance thought to argue that UK can stop EU divorce process at any time

      Theresa May is under pressure to publish secret legal advice that is believed to state that parliament could still stop Brexit before the end of March 2019 if MPs judge that a change of mind is in the national interest. The move comes as concern grows that exit talks with Brussels are heading for disaster.

      The calls for the prime minister to reveal advice from the countrys top legal experts follow government statements declaring that Brexit is now unstoppable, and that MPs will have to choose between whatever deal is on offer next year even if it is a bad one or no deal at all.

      Disquiet has been growing among pro-remain MPs, and within the legal profession and business community, about what is becoming known as the governments kamikaze approach. Ministers insist that stopping Brexit is not an option, as the British people made their decision in last years referendum, and the article 50 process is now under way, however damaging the consequences might turn out to be when negotiations are concluded.

      Worry about lack of flexibility has intensified following the chaotic Conservative party conference in Manchester, and Mays ill-fated speech. European leaders now doubt whether she has the political authority to move negotiations forward towards a satisfactory deal.

      The prominent lawyer Jessica Simor QC, from Matrix chambers, has written to May asking her to release the legal advice under the Freedom of Information Act. Simor says she has been told by two good sources that the prime minister has been advised that the article 50 notification can be withdrawn by the UK at any time before 29 March 2019 resulting in the UK remaining in the EU on its current favourable terms.

      Such advice would also accord with the view of Lord Kerr, who was involved in drafting article 50, of Jean-Claude Piris, former director general of the EU councils legal service, and of Martin Selmayr, a lawyer and head of cabinet to the European commission president. She says there is no time to waste and adds: It is important that this advice is made available to the British public and their representatives in parliament as soon as possible.

      Leading figures who oppose a hard Brexit, and reject the idea that the process is unstoppable, argue that the public is being hoodwinked by ministers into believing that there is now no alternative to leaving. Simor says this is a policy judgment, not a legal one.

      Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, who publishes a book this week on how to stop Brexit, told the Observer: The claim that article 50 is irreversible was always a myth put about by Brexiters who want to stop the British people from changing their minds. Theresa Mays threat that MPs will have to vote for whatever deal she presents to them next autumn, otherwise the UK will crash out of the EU without a deal, is also patent nonsense. Article 50 was never the one-way conveyor belt to Brexit as claimed by the government. It can be stopped at any point.

      He said that MPs should ask themselves one question when they come to vote in a years time: Does the deal measure up to the promises made by Brexiters to their constituents before the referendum? If not, MPs should reject the deal, urge the government and the EU to stop the clock, and give the country the opportunity to think again.

      Nick Clegg claims that the threat that the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal was patent nonsense. Photograph: Chris Williamson

      Clegg added: As countless EU leaders have said in private and in public most recently [French] President Macron there remains a route back for the UK into a reformed EU. This does not mean simply turning the clock back to the day before the referendum, but forging a new status for the UK in an outer circle of EU membership as the core countries proceed with deeper integration.

      Clegg suggests that former prime minister John Major and current Netherlands prime minister Mark Rutte should co-chair a special UK-EU convention that would have the task of repositioning Britain in one of the outer rings of the EUs orbit.

      Labour MP Chuka Umunna said that, as it becomes clearer that the Brexiter pledges would not be met, the public had a right to know that leaving was not the only option. Brexit is proving hugely more complex than people were told it would be. Many of the promises made like the famous 350m extra per week for the NHS clearly wont be delivered. As a result, increasingly voters ask whether, if a good agreement cannot be reached and the final deal looks fundamentally different to that which they were promised, can the UK decide to halt the article 50 process? The consensus among lawyers is that we still have a choice.

      Legally, there is nothing inevitable about this process and the UK retains the right to change its mind. Politically, many EU partners have indicated they have no objections to this.

      There is also growing anger over the governments continuing refusal to publish studies it is conducting on the impact that Brexit will have on different sectors of the economy. Labour MP David Lammy said: It is frankly quite absurd that the Department for Exiting the European Union is refusing to publish these studies while ministers go around talking about the repatriation of parliamentary sovereignty and taking back control.

      A DExEU spokesperson said: We made our position clear in the supreme court. As a matter of firm policy, our notification will not be withdrawn. The British people voted to leave the EU and we will deliver on their instruction. There can be no attempts to remain inside the EU and no attempt to rejoin it.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/07/theresa-may-secret-advice-brexit-eu