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Best Lenovo Black Friday 2018 deals: ThinkPad laptops and more

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Lenovo 2018 Black Friday ad

The world’s biggest PC maker has elaborate plans for its online store come Black Friday, with Lenovo promising laptop doorbusters nearly each hour from early on Thanksgiving morning through the end of Black Friday itself. Here’s a breakdown of those deals — highlighted by a $99 IdeaPad 130s special — along with Black Friday specials on Lenovo laptops from other retailers.

Thanksgiving

10 a.m.
ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 14-inch touchscreen): $1,499.99

11 a.m.
Thinkpad X1 Carbon (Core i7-7500U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 14-inch full HD display): $1,139.99

1:00 p.m.
IdeaPad 130 (Core i3, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, 15.6-inch display): $299.99

3:00 p.m.
Flex 2-in-1 (Intel Pentium, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 14.1-inch display): $399.99

4:00 p.m.
IdeaPad 330 (Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, 15.6-inch display): $599.99

6:00 p.m.
IdeaPad 130 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB, 15.6-inch display): $529.99

7:00 p.m.
ThinkPad E575 (AMD A10-9600P, 8GB RAM, 500GB, 15.6-inch display): $399.99

8:00 p.m.
ThinkPad T480 (Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 14-inch display): $779.99

9:00 p.m.
IdeaPad 530 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 15.6-inch display): $699.99

11:00 p.m.
IdeaPad 330 (Core i7, 16GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 15.6-inch display): $879.99

Midnight
IdeaPad 130s (Intel Celeron N4000, 2GB, 32GB SSD): $99
IdeaPad 330 (Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, 15.6-inch display): $399.99

Black Friday

8 a.m.
ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 14-inch touchscreen): $1,2499.99

9 a.m.
Thinkpad X1 Carbon (Core i7-7500U, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 14-inch full HD display): $899.99

1:00 p.m.
Yoga 720 2-in-1 (Core i3, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 12-inch full HD touchscreen): $599.99

4:00 p.m.
ThinkPad L380 Yoga (Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 13.3-inch touchscreen): $779.99

6:00 p.m.
Flex 6 2-in-1 (Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 14.1-inch touchscreen): $649.99

Lenovo’s website isn’t the only place to find deals on its laptops. Here are a selection from other retailers if you’re shopping elsewhere on Black Friday.

Best Buy

130-15AST (AMD A6, 4GB, 500GB hard drive, 15.6-inch display): $199.99
Chromebook MT8173c 2-in-1 (MediaTek processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 11.6-inch touchscreen): $179.99

Costco

IdeaPad 330 (Core i5, 12GB, 1TB hard drive, 15.6-inch touchscreen): $449.99

Microsoft Store

Flex 2-in-1 (Core i5, 8GB, 128GB SSD, 14-inch full HD touchscreen): $499

Office Depot and OfficeMax

Flex 5 2-in-1 (Core i5, 8GB, 1TB hard drive, 15.6-inch full HD touchscreen): $499.99

Staples

330s (AMD Ryzen 7, 8GB, 1TB hard drive, 15.6-inch full HD display): $469.99

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What motivates the motivated reasoning of pro-Trump conspiracists?

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Enlarge / January 7, 2021 – St. Paul, Minn. — Trump supporters gather at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence after a “Storm The Capitol” event at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Motivated reasoning is the idea that our mental processes often cause us to filter the evidence we accept based on whether it’s consistent with what we want to believe. During these past few weeks, it has been on display in the United States on a truly grand scale. People are accepting context-free videos shared on social media over investigations performed by election officials. They’re rejecting obvious evidence of President Donald Trump’s historic unpopularity, while buying in to evidence-free conspiracies involving deceased Latin American dictators.

If the evidence for motivated reasoning is obvious, however, it’s a lot harder to figure out what’s providing the motivation. It’s not simply Republican identity, given that Trump adopted many policies that went against previous Republican orthodoxy. The frequent appearance of Confederate flags confirms some racism is involved, but that doesn’t seem to explain it all. There’s a long enough list of potential motivations to raise doubts as to whether a single one could possibly suffice.

A recent paper in PNAS, however, provides a single explanation that incorporates a lot of the potential motivations. Called “hegemonic masculinity,” it involves a world view that places males from the dominant cultural group as the focus of societal power. And survey data seems to back up the idea.

Masculinity and its discontents

So, what exactly is hegemonic masculinity? The researchers behind the new work, Theresa Vescio and Nathaniel Schermerhorn at Penn State, consider two ways of viewing masculinity. One, termed precarious masculine identity, is largely about personal perceptions of one’s own masculinity. From this perspective, masculinity isn’t a permanent state; it’s one that’s constantly re-evaluated, and those who want to maintain a masculine identity have to reinforce it regularly. “Masculinity is earned and maintained through continual behavioral displays of manhood,” is how the authors put it.

This can, however, drive societal-level behaviors. People can perceive those who don’t conform to traditional gender roles as a threat to masculinity and treat them with hostility. It can influence policy to the extent that support for policies like war and lax gun regulations help enable displays of masculinity.

Hegemonic masculinity, in contrast, is based on a societal-level perception of the appropriate role of males. Specifically, it views the traditional role of males—namely that they’re the dominant focus of society—as how it society should be ordered. It “justifies and legitimizes the power of dominant men (i.e., White, straight, upwardly mobile, and able-bodied men) over women and marginalized men,” the authors write. In this view, women aren’t responsible for enhancing feelings of masculinity in men; instead, they’re expected to help reinforce the societal order.

This view allows for a large number of threats beyond people who don’t conform to gender norms, including the prosperity of any group like minorities or immigrants that might weaken the dominance of the current hegemonic group of males.

(Obviously, there’s a lot more to both of these ideas than can be conveyed in a few paragraphs.)

Vescio and Schermerhorn suggest that the symptoms of hegemonic masculinity line up well with the appeals of Trump. His nostalgia for the past was focused on a time when the dominance of white males was taken for granted by most of society. He regularly suggested his image as a successful businessman was an indication of his superiority. He regularly attacked minorities and immigrants. That said, Trump also displayed some behaviors that are typical of responses to perceived threats to masculinity: “Trump was openly hostile toward gender-atypical women, sexualized gender-typical women, and attacked the masculinity of male peers and opponents.”

Masculinity and (some) US voters

While there is significant overlap between these perceptions of masculinity, it’s possible to distinguish between the two. People who accept hegemonic masculinity shouldn’t necessarily find their masculinity threatened by losing a sporting competition, to give one example, as long as the people to whom they lose belong to the dominant male population. (Though they could find it threatening if they endorse both concepts.) By asking a series of about 65 questions, Vescio and Schermerhorn were able to determine how much individuals endorsed each of these two concepts.

The researchers then performed a series of surveys, both around the 2016 election and prior to the 2020 one, obtaining demographic information, political views, and views on masculinity. While the surveys involved over 2,000 people, one of the biggest weaknesses is the nature of this population: it’s primarily composed of college students and Mechanical Turk participants. These are unlikely to represent the US voting population as a whole, and so this study should really be viewed as a way of finding out whether these ideas are worth pursuing in a more representative population.

Within this population, however, the researchers were able to gauge both support for Trump and the participants’ feelings on masculinity, racism, and sexism. The researchers started doing a series of regressions, controlling for affects like the participants’ political affiliations, gender, and so on, before getting into the meat of the analysis.

That analysis showed that the sort of prejudices you might expect—sexism, racism, and xenophobia—were associated with support for Trump. But even after those were adjusted for, hegemonic masculinity was still associated with support for Trump. This was true even though hegemonic masculinity was also associated with prejudices like sexism and racism that also drove support for Trump—it had its own effect independent of them. It had no association with support for either of the Democratic candidates in these elections.

And the association held in a variety of demographic groups. “[Hegemonic masculinity] predicted voting for and evaluations of Trump equally well for women and men, White and non-White participants, Democrats and Republicans, and across levels of education,” Vescio and Schermerhorn conclude. And the association was far stronger than that for the threat-focused masculinity.

Masculinity and “great again”

One oddity in the data is that support for Trump didn’t necessarily equate to voting for him. For voting, the prejudices had a stronger association than masculinity issues.

Again, it’s important to note that the population here doesn’t necessarily reflect that of the US voting population. And the presence of the associations seen here don’t mean that all Trump supporters are motivated for these reasons. But hegemonic masculinity does seem to provide a behavioral framework to explain the intense nostalgia behind the “great again” phrasing of Trump’s slogan—it’s a nostalgia for a social order that no longer exists and has no realistic chance of coming back any time soon. And, thanks to that framework, it’s something we can potentially study and understand in more detail.

There was no guarantee that motivating force produced by this nostalgia would necessarily lead to the wave of misinformation that’s now swept up a large fraction of the US public. But it’s clear that a lot of people intuited that it could and have attempted to use that to their advantage.

PNAS, 2021. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2020589118  (About DOIs).

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With Trump’s vaccine rollout in chaos, Biden unveils five-point plan

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Enlarge / US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines in Wilmington, Delaware on January 15, 2021.

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday unveiled a five-point plan to try to rescue the country’s beleaguered COVID-19 vaccination campaign and achieve his stated goal of reaching 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.

The five steps include, in brief:

  • Working with states to open and clarify eligibility for vaccination
  • Help set up additional vaccination sites
  • “Fully activate” pharmacies to act as vaccination sites
  • Ramp up manufacturing of vaccine and supplies
  • Commit to transparency and rollout a massive public information campaign to combat disinformation

“The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far,” Biden said in speech. These five things are an attempt to turn things around, to “turn frustration into motivation.”

Given the fumbles so far, Biden addressed skepticism of reaching 100 million shots in 100 days. “Is it achievable? It’s a legitimate question to ask,” Biden said. “Let me be clear, I’m convinced we can get it done. And this is a time to set big goals… because the health of the nation is literally at stake.”

Still, his five-point plan raises some immediate questions. To start, making the vaccine available to more people—including people age 65 and older and essential workers, such as teachers, first responders, and grocery store clerks—is an idea that was already introduced by the Trump Administration earlier this week. That idea quickly created chaos. In the past few days, many states have reported being overwhelmed by demand for their limited vaccine supply.

Biden seemed to acknowledge the problem, saying: “It won’t mean that everyone in this group will get vaccinated immediately, as the supply is not where it needs to be. But it will mean that as vaccines become available, they’ll reach more people that need them.”

It’s unclear how Biden’s Administration will help states prioritize this large section of the population and maintain order as vaccine allotments are doled out.

Increasing vaccination sites and enlisting more pharmacies to provide vaccines are other strategies that have been brought up by the Trump Administration. But Biden said that his team had already begun having “productive conversations” with state and local leaders about where to set up new vaccination sites. In his speech, the President-elect set a goal of working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to set up the first 100 federally-supported vaccination centers by the end of his first month in office. He also said the administration will have mobile clinics that will move from community to community to reach the hardest hit and hardest to reach.

Come through together

In the plan’s fourth point, Biden reiterated his plan to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up manufacturing materials needed to supply and administer the vaccine, such as syringes and personal protective equipment for vaccine providers.

Biden also reiterated his intention to release the “vast majority” of vaccine doses when they’re available. The plan was meant to reverse a Trump Administration policy of holding back 50 percent of vaccine supplies in order to reserve them for second doses of the two-dose regimens. However, according to a report in the Washington Post Friday morning, the Trump Administration has already released its stockpile. Biden did not address the news or if his plans will be affected given that there are no longer any reserves to boost current vaccine allotments.

Last, Biden spoke about transparency and combating the misinformation and disinformation that has plagued the public health guidance and the country’s response to the pandemic since it began. Biden touched on the problem of vaccine hesitancy and disinformation, but he spent a significant amount of time lamenting how political public health measures have become.

“I know it’s become a partisan issue,” he said, referring to wearing masks. “But, what a stupid, stupid thing for it to happen,” Biden said, calling mask wearing a “patriotic act.”

He continued: it was “shocking” to see Republican Congress members refuse to wear masks while huddling in a secure location during the January 6 insurrection. “What the hell’s the matter with them? It’s time to grow up,” Biden said.

He emphasized that as the administration works to right the vaccination campaign, Americans need to continue following the same public health guidance, such as hand washing, physical distancing, and masking.

“The only way we come through this is if we come through together as Americans,” Biden said.

The president-elect called on Congress to help fund his efforts to mount the federal vaccination program. In his American Rescue Plan, unveiled Thursday evening, Biden asked for over $400 billion to contain COVID-19 and get schools reopened.

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Hackers alter stolen regulatory data to sow mistrust in COVID-19 vaccine

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Last month, the makers of one of the most promising coronavirus vaccines reported that hackers stole confidential documents they had submitted to a European Union regulatory body. On Friday, word emerged that the hackers have falsified some of the submissions’ contents and published them on the Internet.

Studies of the BNT162b2 vaccine jointly developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech found it’s 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 and is consistently effective across age, gender, race, and ethnicity demographics. Despite near-universal consensus among scientists that the vaccine is safe, some critics have worried it isn’t. The hackers appear to be trying to stoke those unsupported worries.

Data unlawfully accessed by the hackers “included internal/confidential email correspondence dating from November, relating to evaluation processes for COVID-19 vaccines,” the European Medicines Agency based in Amsterdam said in a statement. “Some of the correspondence has been manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines.”

Friday’s statement didn’t say where the documents were posted or how they were falsified. An EMA spokeswoman said in an email that: “We have seen that some of the correspondence has been published not in its integrity and original form and/or with comments or additions by the perpetrators.” She declined to elaborate. Pfizer officials declined to comment. BioNTech representatives couldn’t immediately be reached.

According to sleuthing by Empoli, Italy-based security company Yarix, more than 33 megabytes of data from the EMA hack were posted to a well-known forum on the dark Web site in late December. The dark Web post, titled “Astonishing fraud! Evil Pfffizer! Fake vaccines!” included a link to a forum on a Russian-language website.

“There are no certain elements that allow to confirm that the data recovered is only a part of the Leak or if it actually includes all the data stolen in the breach,” the Yarix post, which was published Monday, read after being run through Google Translate. “On the other hand, the intention behind the leak by cybercriminals is certain: that of causing significant damage to the reputation and credibility of EMA and Pfizer.”

Confidential COVID-19 vaccine data has been a hot commodity for hackers since the start of the pandemic. The EMA’s disclosure is among the first—if not the first—times accessed vaccine documents have been published.

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