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Google Spins Up Its First Servers In Cuba

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Google launched its first servers in Cuba this week. Above, people use public Wi-Fi to connect their devices on a Havana street in October 2016. Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Google launched its first servers in Cuba this week. Above, people use public Wi-Fi to connect their devices on a Havana street in October 2016.

Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Accessing the Internet in Cuba isn't easy. Home Internet connections are rare, and public access Wi-Fi hotspots costs $1.50 an hour — very expensive for most Cubans.

But in the nation that has been called "one of the most restrictive media environments in the world," watching YouTube got faster this week.

Google says that its servers just went live on the island — meaning that for the first time, its services like YouTube videos are cached locally, instead of in a neighboring country.

This milestone comes four months after the company signed an agreement with Cuba's national telecom provider, ETECSA, to use its technology to make high-bandwidth activities faster.

This marks the first time a foreign Internet company has hosted anything inside Cuba, according to Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis at Dyn, an Internet performance company. Madory spent time in Havana last year for a conference and talked to Google about their plans for Cuba.

After Google made the deal with ETECSA, Madory set up a system that would notify him when the Google's servers in Cuba were live, and yesterday morning, he got pinged.

Google's servers in Cuba will cache its own content, allowing for quicker delivery to users.

Caching speeds up the Internet by storing frequently used content locally. So the first time someone in Cuba watches a specific video on YouTube, it may take a while to load. But if their neighbor then decides to watch that same video, it should load much faster, because it has been stored on a nearby server and doesn't need to travel as far.

While caching makes the Internet speedier in any country, it's particularly vital in Cuba, where connectivity is slow. Cuba connects to the Internet primarily through the ALBA-1 submarine cable, which runs from Venezuela.

Google said that Cubans "who already have access to the internet and want to use our services can expect to see an improvement in terms of quality of service" and speed for cached content.

That qualifier — "who already have access to the internet" — is significant, since access to the Internet in Cuba is so limited. (As few as 5 percent of Cubans may have access to the open Internet.) Google's servers make it speedier to use its services in Cuba today, but they don't provide Internet access where it wasn't before.

For the most part Cubans don't have access to Google's products. "Many users are still relegated to a tightly controlled government network and related email service," says Freedom House, a nonprofit group that conducts research on democracy and human rights.

In its 2016 report on Internet freedom, Freedom House wrote that "Cuba remains one of the world's most repressive environments for information and communication technologies." It added that Cuba's lack of modern Internet infrastructure is one way the government limits access to outside media and information.

"Rather than relying on the technically sophisticated filtering and blocking used by other repressive regimes, the Cuban government continues to limit users' access to information primarily via lack of technology and prohibitive costs," it says.

But Google's servers join other signs of progress for Internet in the country. The BBC reported last month that ETECSA had installed Internet connections in around 2,000 homes in Old Havana as part of a two-month pilot.

Those connections weren't fast enough to stream video, though. With Google's new servers, the dream of watching videos on the Internet — without endless buffering — gets a little closer.

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3 hours ago
Bend, Oregon
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A Message from Anita on the End of Tropes

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Well, here we are folks.

I knew this day was coming but it always seemed so far away. After five long years, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games is over. This is one of the most emotionally complicated projects I’ve ever created. It has been simultaneously awful and wonderful, and the journey is one which I will most certainly never forget. One that would never have happened without the incredible and generous support of our nearly 7000 Kickstarter backers, and countless others who encouraged us along the way.

On May 17th, 2012, I launched a very modest Kickstarter, hoping to raise $6,000 to make what was then going to be Feminist Frequency’s next series, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. At that time, my vision for the project, like the amount of money I was hoping to raise, was fairly modest: a series of five videos, each perhaps ten minutes long, about harmful, sexist patterns of female representation in video games.

This may be the end of Tropes, but it is absolutely, by no means the end of Feminist Frequency.

Much of what came in the days and weeks that followed was great. It was exciting and gratifying to immediately see that many people had a real interest in feminist criticism of video games, as we blew past the initial funding goal within 24 hours. In time, we expanded the scope of the project, bringing the number of projected videos up to 12 and planning for longer, more rigorous analyses than I’d originally envisioned.

While this was happening, I was also watching in horror as cybermobs, deeply threatened by the mere idea of feminist analysis of video games, mobilized en masse to disrupt my life. In an effort to instill fear in me and in any woman who might dare to speak out against sexism in gaming, these mobs flooded all my social media channels with vile harassment, made slanderous, racist and pornographic edits to my Wikipedia page, posted private information about me online, made death threats against me and members of my family, and threatened events I was speaking at, among other tactics. And while the volume of that harassment has ebbed and flowed at times, it has never ceased, and the legacy of Tropes can never be entirely separated from the deep veins of hostility, entitlement, and misogyny that the reaction to the series revealed in some segments of the gaming community.

Nonetheless, we persevered with the research, writing, and production of the series, launching with episode one of a three-part series about perhaps the most prevalent of all video game tropes about women: the Damsel in Distress. Now, I want to emphasize something here, just to give you an idea of how much the vision for the project evolved in the wake of the Kickstarter’s tremendous and unforeseen success. What had originally started as plans for five videos, each approximately 10 minutes in length, eventually premiered with three videos all devoted to just one single trope! In total, those three videos came in at over an hour and ten minutes in length! Doing meticulous, comprehensive research spanning the entire history of video games as preparation for those episodes was tremendously difficult and time-consuming, but looking back, I believe the results speak for themselves.

Amid the tremendous fear and trauma resulting from the harassment I was experiencing, there were moments of satisfaction and solace as I saw that our videos were reaching people, players and creators of games alike, and encouraging them to think about representations of women in games in ways that they hadn’t before. The messages of support and appreciation we received during that time were especially meaningful, and helped me to persevere and continue believing in the importance and value of the work we were doing.

However, during that time even some of our most ardent supporters were understandably somewhat frustrated by the long research, writing and production times between episodes. By August of 2015, we had produced three Damsel in Distress videos, one Ms. Male Character video, two videos about Women as Background Decoration (totaling just over an hour in running time) and a main episode and special DLC mini-episode about Women as Reward, along with four bonus videos. In length and analytical depth, these videos far exceeded what I had originally planned, and after covering just those four tropes, we had already produced three hours and forty minutes of feminist criticism goodness.

As proud as I am of that work, at a certain point it became clear that if we were going to finish this project within a reasonable amount of time, we had to make some adjustments. And so, Season Two of Tropes was born. Eight videos, one each on eight different topics: shorter, snappier, hopefully more enjoyable and watchable but no less substantial. The change in format allowed us to speed up production time significantly without sacrificing the series’ signature feminist analysis.

And now here we are, at the eighth and final of those videos: The Lady Sidekick.

This episode examines how female sidekicks and companions in games are often designed to function as glorified gatekeepers, helpless burdens, and ego boosters, a pattern that works to reinforce oppressive notions about women as the ones in need of protection and men as the ones in control, who take action and do the protecting. We then feature some games with relationships that subvert traditional power fantasy mechanics, putting players on something closer to equal footing with their AI companions as they offer examples of what real communication, compromise, and mutual support in games might look like.

It’s a bittersweet moment, bidding farewell to this series.

This may be the end of Tropes, but it is absolutely, by no means the end of Feminist Frequency. We have so much stuff in the works, and I sincerely hope that you will continue to be a part of our journey as we move forward. We’ll be premiering our new show very soon, one that brings our signature feminist media analysis to bear on issues happening right now as we examine the connection between representations in pop culture and the racism, sexism, and transphobia of our current political climate.

Before I wrap this up, let’s take stock of what we wound up creating. Here is the entire list of videos in this series:

1. Damsel in Distress: Part 1
2. Damsel in Distress: Part 2
3. Damsel in Distress: Part 3
4. Ms. Male Character
5. Women as Reward
6. Women as Reward: Special DLC Mini-Episode
7. Women as Background Decoration: Part 1
8. Women as Background Decoration: Part 2

1. Strategic Butt Coverings
2. Body Language and the Male Gaze
3. Lingerie Is Not Armor
4. Are Women Too Hard to Animate?
5. All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games
6. Sinister Seductress
7. Not Your Exotic Fantasy
8. The Lady Sidekick

Positive Female Characters – The Scythian
Positive Female Characters – Jade from Beyond Good and Evil
Animated Short: The Legend of the Last Princess
Animated Short: Imperfect Dark Trailer
5 Ways Men Can Help End Sexism

In all, that’s 4 hours and 50 minutes of feminist video game analysis.

It’s a bittersweet moment, bidding farewell to this series. It’s definitely time for it to be over, time for Feminist Frequency as an organization and for me personally to move on. But I keep thinking about all the ways that the world of video games has changed since that day, almost five years ago, when I first took my modest little Kickstarter live. It hasn’t all been for the better, but some of it definitely has. There are conversations happening now, among players and among creators, that weren’t happening before, about who games are for (everyone!), about what impact they can have, what they can tell us about humanity, empathy, race, gender, sexuality, the world we live in, and the world we want to create for ourselves.

By supporting this project, whether financially as part of the initial Kickstarter, or simply by watching it, sharing it and discussing it with your friends, you’ve been a part of this change. I can’t thank you enough.

‘Til next time



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4 hours ago
Melbourne, Australia
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I'm gonna hire a contractor... and just make him build til he dies

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I'm gonna hire a contractor... and just make him build til he dies

Posted by andyproblems on Fri Apr 28 03:24:22 2017.

23 likes, 9 retweets
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4 hours ago
Victoria, BC
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Nick and Griffin see the Face of the Devil — CAR BOYS, Episode 35

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From: polygon
Duration: 10:04

Where are we?
Watch more CAR BOYS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaDrN74SfdT6FvTs9d2JPLJnVRjnjIlfo
Follow Nick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/babylonian
Follow Griffin on Twitter: http://twitter.com/griffinmcelroy
Subscribe for more videos! https://goo.gl/D8prdf
Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/polygon
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/polygon
Stalk us on Instagram: instagram.com/polygondotcom
And for more great news and coverage, check out: http://www.polygon.com

Polygon is an entertainment website founded in 2012 in partnership with Vox Media. Our mission is to cover not only games but the artists who make them, the fans who love them, and the culture surrounding them.

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5 hours ago
This week the boys break space time.
Vancouver Island, Canada
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We Are So F#@ked

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There is a dynamic in lots of public schools so common that it's a pop culture fixture: Students get assigned a group project, and they're jumbled into groups they don't choose themselves. Everyone hopes to get put into the group with the Smart Girl—a real Leslie Knope—because they know she'll just do all the work herself and do it better than anyone else in the class.

If you're reading this blog, there's a pretty good chance that you were that girl. (Or her male counterpart.) And, if you weren't, you were probably one of the kids who would hope to be in her group, or do your best in whatever group with which you got stuck.

You almost certainly weren't the self-aggrandizing bully who insisted on leading his group, despite the fact that he hasn't cracked open a book all semester and doesn't want to do any of the work—just wants to boss everyone else around and intimidate them into doing all the work while he flirts with someone who isn't even his girlfriend.

In the last election, U.S. voters decided to give the bully a chance and told the Smart Girl to get lost. Except the project wasn't a multimedia presentation on The Old Man and the Sea. It was running the country.

And it turns out that wasn't a very good idea. What a shock.

Earlier this week, I wrote a piece titled "Trump Was and Remains Catastrophically Unprepared for the Presidency," which opened with a tweet quoting Hillary Clinton, that I fear I will have occasion to repost a million times over the next four years.

What's prompted its appearance once more is a piece at Politico, by Josh Dawsey, Shane Goldmacher, and Alex Isenstadt: "The Education of Donald Trump."

It is another terrifying peek behind the gold curtains at a man who has no fucking clue what he's doing, has empowered people he trusts (namely his kids) over people with anything resembling expertise or even competence in governance, has no fixed principles, and doesn't care about outcomes or consequences, except for whether he gets good media coverage.
It was classic Trump: Confident, hyperbolic, and insistent on asserting control.

But interviews with nearly two dozen aides, allies, and others close to the president paint a different picture—one of a White House on a collision course between Trump's fixed habits and his growing realization that this job is harder than he imagined when he won the election on Nov. 8.
Repeatedly, we've heard how Trump didn't imagine that being president was all that difficult. It is an unfathomable admission, reported as fact without alarm, by a political press who, like anyone with sense, could see plain as day that Trump was catastrophically unprepared before the election, but chose to abet his rise anyway.

And trust that if Hillary Clinton had been elected and then inexplicably started grousing that being president was more difficult than she thought, it would not be reported without explicit comment, or treated like "a rookie mistake."
As president, Trump has repeatedly reminded his audiences, both public and private, about his longshot electoral victory. That unexpected win gave him and his closest advisers the false sense that governing would be as easy to master as running a successful campaign turned out to be. It was a rookie mistake.
From the indignity of judges halting multiple executive orders on immigration-related matters—most recently this week—to his responses to repeated episodes of North Korean belligerence, it's all been more complicated than Trump had been prepared to believe.

"I think he's much more aware how complicated the world is," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who serves as an informal administration adviser. "This will all be more uphill than he thought it would be because I think he had the old-fashioned American idea that you run for office, you win, then people behave as though you won."
People withholding criticism of a president who obviously and ominously has no idea what he is doing, just because that president won, is not an "old-fashioned American idea." It's an idea born of the belligerent egotism of authoritarian despots.
As Trump is beginning to better understand the challenges—and the limits—of the presidency, his aides are understanding better how to manage perhaps the most improvisational and free-wheeling president in history. "If you're an adviser to him, your job is to help him at the margins," said one Trump confidante. "To talk him out of doing crazy things."

...One key development: White House aides have figured out that it's best not to present Trump with too many competing options when it comes to matters of policy or strategy. Instead, the way to win Trump over, they say, is to present him a single preferred course of action and then walk him through what the outcome could be—and especially how it will play in the press.

"You don't walk in with a traditional presentation, like a binder or a PowerPoint. He doesn't care. He doesn't consume information that way," said one senior administration official. "You go in and tell him the pros and cons, and what the media coverage is going to be like."
Elsewhere in the piece, Trump's pal Chris Ruddy is quoted as saying: "Trump is a guy of action. He likes to move. He doesn't necessarily worry about all the collateral damage or the consequences." Indeed not! The only outcome that seems to matter to him at all is what headlines he's going to get—and that is very troublesome for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the media doesn't seem all that concerned about any Trump coverage that isn't good for their ratings.

So we have a president who doesn't know what he's doing and governs for ratings, and a media who covers that president in way that's good for their ratings. Meanwhile, who the fuck is interested in doing what's good for the American people?

And even if someone in the Trump administration empowered with telling the president pros-and-cons children's stories about complex issues did want to do what's good for the American people, ain't no one in sight who knows how to make good governance happen anyway!
"I kind of pooh-poohed the experience stuff when I first got here," one White House official said of these early months. "But this shit is hard."
*jumps into Christmas tree*
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7 hours ago
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On Liking the Unlikeable Hillary Clinton

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The problem became clear early in my coverage of Hillary Clinton.

It wasn't that I had disclosed I was a supporter, although certainly there were people who objected to what they perceived as my bias, no matter how diligently I detailed my metrics for assessing the candidates.

It wasn't even that I respected her and her record (with some acknowledged disagreements), or that I believed she would make a competent president. There were plenty of Serious People who believed the same, so that was tolerated.

It was that I like her.

I like Hillary Clinton with unabashed enthusiasm. I like listening to her speak, I like looking at photos of her interacting with people, I like her resplendent jackets and colorful pantsuits, I like her loud laugh, I like her expressive face.

These things, one might note, are not about policy. They are about liking Hillary as a human being.

When I look at her, I don't see a stereotype of a nagging wife or mother, nor the caricature of a man-hating feminist, nor an extension of her husband (or his administration), nor an embodiment of some nebulous evil.

I see her.

This was not always the case. I've written previously about my own experience coming to like and admire Hillary, which required a journey past entrenched false narratives about her and past my own internalized misogyny.

Through that fog emerged the picture of a person whom I like very much indeed.

When I write about her, that comes through. It's not because I can't help it; it's because I want it to be clear, in the spaces between every letter and every line, that I am writing about a woman I like.

It's a thoroughly conscious rejection of the corrupt dynamic in the political press that requires a perceptible contempt of Hillary in order to establish credibility among the gatekeepers.

I refuse to perform disdain, or even an affected neutrality, in writing about her, in order that I might earn the plaudits of people who have spent four decades transmitting lies about her and burying her in thinly-veiled (or shamelessly overt) misogyny.

That I like her does not inhibit my commitment to facts, nor my willingness to dissent when I disagree with her.

But it renders me uncredible all the same. Because she is "unlikeable." This is treated as objective fact by the same people who spent the entirety of the campaign invisibilizing her enthusiastic supporters, to uphold their spiteful construct. Spiteful, but effective—which is why women were obliged during the campaign to write pieces with titles like "An All-Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backlash Against Hillary Clinton" and "I Like Hillary Clinton. Get Used To It."

image of Hillary Clinton standing with staff, laughing
"Unlikeable? Pffffft. Yeah, me and every other feminist broad on the planet."

And if she's unlikeable, what kind of a person likes her?

(Someone, perhaps, who knows they, too, are unlikeable, when held to the same standards.)

This is why the likeability narrative is so persistent: It is the basis from which all other discrediting flows. If you can be so wrong about liking a person who is objectively unlikeable, then your judgment is suspect on everything else.

Only a person who is an utter fool would like a woman so hated. Only a person who doesn't understand How Politics Works would be taken in by this loathsome charlatan. Only a person who is intractably compromised by their fealty to womanhood would overlook that she is a monster.

If you like her, you must not be very bright. Or decent. Or credible.

The first two are merely insults, bonus features to the main event. It's that last one—assailing credibility—which is the true objective.

Liking the world's most unlikeable woman is so very wrong; anyone who does can't possibly be trusted to get anything right. Don't trust their facts. Don't trust their figures. Don't believe anything they say at all. Ignore them. They are irredeemably stupid.

That's the goal. And people who like Hillary Clinton had this done to them—and watched it happen to others—over and over and over. It is happening still.

Don't listen to her. Don't listen to him. Don't listen to them. They like Hillary Clinton.

Up and down my Twitter mentions for the last two years, when I am talking about something altogether different than Hillary, I have seen variations on: "Heads up—you might want to take anything she says with a grain of salt. She is a Hillary supporter."

That is the power of the unlikeability narrative: 65,844,610 people cast votes for Hillary Clinton, millions and millions of them affirmatively, enthusiastically, not just as a vote against her revolting opponent. And yet to like her is to be rendered unilaterally untrustworthy.

To openly like Hillary Clinton, for a political writer, limits your career options, closes off opportunities. Because you are assumed to be foolish—and quite possibly mentally ill. That's how thick the stigma of liking Hillary is.

For the average person, it can mean ridicule and disdain, along with the hefty dose of stomach-heaving gaslighting that accompanies being treated as a lunatic for confessing you like a woman who has been chosen as Gallup's most admired woman of the year twenty-one times.

This is a problem. And it's one with which we're going to have to reckon if the United States is ever going to have a feminist female president.

Because, despite the plethoric horseshit arguments that it's just Hillary Clinton who is uniquely unlikeable, we witnessed the hatred unleashed on Senator Elizabeth Warren after she endorsed Hillary, and we have seen very familiar narratives being used against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and we have watched as Rep. Maxine Waters has been demeaned with racism, as the groundwork is laid to deem impossibly "unlikeable" the woman who is leading the impeachment charge against the current occupant of the Oval Office.

The unlikeable label is so effective because it is contagious: Not only does it diminish the woman at whom it's directed, but it diminishes all the people who like and enthusiastically support her.

We must push back on this dynamic, unyieldingly. Part of that will be our willingness to keep liking "unlikeable" ladies without cringe or caveat.

It shouldn't be a radical thing to say, but it is, and here I am saying it (again): I like Hillary Clinton.

[Photo credit: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]
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7 hours ago
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Enough is enough, you know?

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Enough is enough, you know?

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7 hours ago
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