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Alex Jones’ second defamation trial in Sandy Hook begins. He could lose bigger this time.

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Alex Jones’ second libel trial brought by families of Sandy Hook victims began in Connecticut court Tuesday morning. The longtime talk show host and influential far-right conspiracy theorist has repeatedly assured his listeners over the years that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 26 people, including 20 children under the age of eight, did not happen.

“We are all here because of one man,” Chris Mattie, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said in his opening remarks this morning as he introduces the families of shooting survivors.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and Alex Jones made their opening statement at the trial this morning. Matty, who represents the families of eight Sandy Hook school shooting victims and the FBI agent who worked in the aftermath, went first.

“I want you to think about what there must be millions of people in fear” who “believe they were taken away,” he said, referring to his argument that within hours after the shooting, Jones began claiming that the shooting was a bogus operation, which is A term for believing that events were fabricated to justify the government taking citizens’ guns.

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“Days after the shooting, Alex Jones listeners took notice,” Mattie said, noting that within hours of the shooting, the Infowars homepage had run a headline that “looks like a false flag.”

Mattei argued that in December 2012, the month of the shooting, Infowars had 24.9 million page views, “a 43% increase”. “Funerals [of the victims] You have to have the security.” Infowars “knew of the harassment that was happening, but the lie was very valuable.” He said that audience meant dollar signs for Alex Jones. You’ll see that over the years, Alex Jones had to keep lying” .

Matty focused on Jones’ alleged huge financial drive to continue broadcasting on Sandy Hook for years because this case is aimed at determining the damages, which are likely to be quite significant.

Jones’ attorney, Norman Bates, chose to focus his argument on the families of the victims who brought the lawsuit, saying, “They exaggerate their claims for hidden reasons,” and “money is their weapon,” calling them politically motivated, while downplaying Alex Jones’ influence in the world.

“The chemicals in the water might make the frogs gay,” Bates said, referring to another strange theory that Jones has focused on over the years, and it seems to suggest that Jones’ words shouldn’t be taken seriously.

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“They made Alex Jones the scapegoat,” Bates said of the victim’s families, and ended with the ominous question, “They came first for Alex Jones. Who’s next?”

The court went on a short reprieve after the judge noted that she had kicked someone out of the room after they recorded part of the proceedings and posted it on Twitter. “I don’t play,” she said before the jury dismissed.

At the time of the opening remarks, Jones was broadcasting live on Infowars.

The damages to Jones in this trial will be determined by a six-member jury. in August, A Texas jury awarded parents For a 6-year-old killed in Sandy Hook, more than $48 million in damages for the same cause – defamation – In the trial Jones witnessed confessionPublicly for the first time, the shooting actually took place. At that trial, too, parents testified about the harassment and threats they faced in the wake of Jones’ repeated assertions that Sandy Hook was a “pseudo-science” operation and that children, teachers, and first responders were “crisis actors.”

Victims’ family members They are in court today – including Alyssa and Robbie Parker, parents of 6-year-old Emily Parker, who was murdered; Nicole and Ian Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was murdered; Francine and David Wheeler, their 6-year-old son Ben was murdered; Jennifer Hensel, mother of 6-year-old Aviel Richman, who was murdered, and her husband, Jeremy Richman, father of Avil, committed suicide in 2019; Erica Lafferty, daughter of Don Huchsprung Lafferty, principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School, who was killed in an encounter with the shooter; and the family of Vicki Soto, a first-grade teacher who was murdered. So far, Alex Jones is not there personally. His attorney, Bates, represents him in court.

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Jones is best known for his frequent defamation of Sandy Hook families, but he has a lengthy resume filled with other sentimental projects: He participated in the “Stop the Robbery” campaign that asserted that Donald Trump had indeed won the 2020 presidential election, and helped raise funds for the protest that has become in January 6 riots in the Capitol. Jones also promoted—and later retracted—”Pizzagate,” the far-right conspiracy theory that a Washington, D.C. pizzeria was a front for the child sex trafficking ring that includes the Clintons.

Jones has attempted to delay his trials on numerous occasions, and this trial will only determine reparations: he was found liable for defamation hypothetically last November for failing to comply with requests for cooperation and information. He also recently tried to argue in Connecticut bankruptcy court that he and his company, Free Speech Systems, which operates his bid. Infowars, ran out of money. These allegations have failed, and Jones is now likely to be held financially responsible for the defamation charges. In January of this year, a HuffPost investigation found that Jones Made over $165 million over three years cross him Infowars Web store, which sells Jones videos, health and wellness supplements such as “DNA Force Plus” and doomsday prep gear.

The trial is expected to be similar to the one in Texas, which included emotional and lengthy testimony from the families of the victims, who described their experiences in the aftermath of the shooting, as well as their experiences at the hands of Jones’ followers, who, bolstered by his repeated on-air nonsense, allegedly did such things as information dox character, he filmed when they left their homes, and he hunted survivors. In 2017, Lucy Richards, a follower of Jones, was sentenced to five years in prison Months in prison for making threats to Lenny Posner, the father of 6-year-old Noah Posner, who was the youngest shooting victim. Posner has been the focus of the ire of many Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists in part because he did it It is pursued relentlessly and publicly His opponents club.

Today’s trial may be more important, for several reasons. This trial is being brought by 15 plaintiffs, so it’s broader in scope, and more victims, as well as Jones himself, are likely to testify. The plaintiffs include family members of eight victims, and an FBI agent who alleged various experiences, including having to commute, enduring harassment online and in life, and making death threats against them and their families.

Connecticut, unlike Texas, does not set a cap on punitive damages decisions, so the prospect is a very large victim award from Jones, who has already found Judge Barbara Bellis responsible for the charges, and who will now oversee the damages portion of the trial, which It is expected to last for one month. Bellis is also the judge who previously presided over the Sandy Hook Families case against Remington, the gunsmith that made the deadly AR-15 rifle used in the shooting. That case was an unprecedented and very rare win against a gun manufacturer, resulting in a $73 million settlement for the families. Remington, which subsequently filed for bankruptcy, argued, unsuccessfully, that the firearm was legally manufactured and that the gunman, not the gunsmith, was responsible for the shooting.

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There is a third defamation trial to follow.

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Column: I asked ChatGPT to write me a symphony and more

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I mean, what did I expect from a chatbot? formula for world peace? Guides on how to fix a broken heart? Cheesy joke?

Sure, all of this, why not?

However, I didn’t expect it to stun me, telling me it was just too busy for me. And that he will be contacted later via email, when it’s free.

But this is how it goes with chatAnd The awe-inspiring reality show debuted in November and was instantly swamped with curious users — more than a million, according to its San Francisco-based creator OpenAI. It has been called “quite simply, The best AI chatbot ever to the general public.” No wonder it was smashed from overuse.

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Opinion writer

Robin Abkarian

With most technologies, I’m hardly an early adopter. I have absolutely no motivation to use the first iteration for anything. But many AI stories have been spread all over the media sphere, including how AI will replace journalists, and it seems irresponsible not to indulge in it.

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After all, panic seems to be one of the most predictable human reactions to any significant technological advance.

The Atlantic has predicted that in the next five years, artificial intelligence will happen Reducing job opportunities for college employees. (In fact, ChatGPT predicted that outcome after Atlantic prompted it to address the issue.)

New York Times recently A story about how chatbots like ChatGPT They write entire undergraduate papers, forcing universities to change the way they assign work. To date, The Times reports that more than 6,000 teachers from institutions like Harvard, Yale, and the University of Rhode Island have signed up to use GPTZeroa program developed by a senior at Princeton University for text detection generated by artificial intelligence.

On the less bleak front, NPR aired a story About a woman who uses a chatbot app as her therapist when she’s feeling depressed. “He’s not a person,” she told NPR, “but he makes you feel like a person, because he’s asking you all the right questions.”

A day later, my friend Drex Forward a video About the latest development of Atlas, the Boston Dynamics robot that captivates viewers with it piercing dance and parkour moves. Atlas can now run, jump, grab and throw. The new video shows Atlas handing a tool bag he left on the ground to a worker on a scaffold.

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“This is how it will end for us humans,” Drex lamented. Nah. I happen to believe less in the robots-it will kill us-at the end of the world theory and more in the humans-willing to blow ourselves up theory, so I’m not overly concerned about robots that can write research papers, bring us tool bags or jigs.

But it certainly could run out of AI. (We see: Tesla self-driving car crashes.)

CNET, the famous technology site, She had to edit dozens of her news stories After admitting that she was using bots to write it. The robots were error prone, and misjudged fundamental things like compound interest. futuristic, The site that discovered the trick, was not charitable: “CNET is now allowing AI to write articles for its site. The problem? It’s kind of idiots.” CNET claimed the bots were an experiment.

Anyway, when ChatGPT wasn’t too busy to talk to me, we were able to spend some quality time together. I asked serious questions based on some of my recent columns, such as “Does Religious beliefs are more important of academic freedom? ” “she has Prince Harry was unfaithful to his family? “Will Ukraine Win the War?” ChatGPT’s answers varied from weak to sensitive:

“In some cases, religious beliefs may be considered more important than academic freedom, while in others, the opposite may be true.”

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“Whether or not someone considers Prince Harry to have been unfaithful is a matter of personal perspective and opinions.”

“It is not appropriate to predict the outcome of a war, as it is not only difficult to predict, but also disrespectful to the people affected by it.”

ChatGPT, the latter part of which is a pre-trained generative converter, was clear about its limitations. She can tell me what a symphony is, but she can’t compose one. It was also a little overdone. When I asked him to write a letter to someone who broke my heart, she did, but she cautioned, “It’s also important to think about the person who broke your heart and whether contacting them is your best course of action.” who asked you

Less serious questions got decent, if overlapping, answers: A good plot for the novel, ChatGPT suggested, would be about a young woman who inherits a mansion and discovers a secret room with a young woman’s journal who’s lived in the house for a century. Earlier he was involved in a forbidden love affair. The protagonist becomes obsessed with the journal and the secrets it reveals about her family. “Along the way, she must face her own demons and face the truth about herself,” ChatGPT advised.

Unlike Google, which is He seems to be getting very nervous About this new contender, ChatGPT remembers your conversations, so when I asked if the plot he suggested was taken from a true novel, she knew what I was talking about and said it wasn’t.

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I also indulged in nonsense.

“How much does a Czechoslovakia weigh?” I wonder. (“Since it is an antecedent state and not a material thing, it has no weight.”)

“to be or not to be?” (ChatGPT said that Hamlet weighs the pros and cons of life, pondering whether it is better to end his life or to continue living and deal with his problems.)

And – how can I not? – I asked if he knew any dirty jokes.

“Some types of jokes, including dirty jokes, may be considered offensive or disrespectful to certain individuals or groups and it is important to keep this in mind before sharing any type of joke.” How tense. However, I made a bunch of jokes for my dad: “Why was the math book sad? Because it had so many problems.” “Why was the computer cold? Because she left all its windows open.”

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My last request to ChatGPT was to see if it could edit the opening lines of three recent columns to make it better.

I am happy to report that in my completely personal and entirely human opinion, no modifications have been made that improve my version and, in fact, make it more reliable.

You’re not firing me yet, bot.

@employee



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Trader: Big Tech is using layoffs to crush the workforce

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In Silicon Valley, the new year began as the last year ended — tens of thousands of tech workers lost their jobs. A few days into 2023, Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy announce There will be 18,000 layoffs across the company. Within weeks, Microsoft revealed that it was backing off Its head count is 10,000 Google said it was Termination of 12,000 employees. IBM is looking to be next, with Nearly 4,000 workers on the chopping block.

It comes on the heels of the bloodbath of 2022, when tens of thousands of jobs were lost at Meta Platforms, Twitter and Salesforce. to me Industry layoffs trackerThe technology sector has cut about 220,000 jobs since the beginning of last year. If laid-off tech workers formed a city, it would be one of the most populous in the United States, and larger than Des Moines Or Salt Lake City.

The question is: why have so many of the most profitable companies of our generation—most of them still very profitable—announced dizzying rounds of layoffs, one after another? And why now?

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joint abstinence from Analysts And correspondents Is that companies are “tightening their belts” after the exorbitant waves of pandemic hiring, in order to streamline operations. Executives overseeing the cuts, for their part, pointed to adverse economic conditions. “We have employed a different economic reality than the one we face today,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google. Discharge announcement. “Amazon has navigated difficult and uncertain economies in the past, and we will continue to do so,” Jassy writes. Satya Nadella from Microsoft Notice that “Some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating a recession.”

No recession has yet hit the US or its technology sector. Inflation hurts, but the US economy It added hundreds of thousands of jobs Last month. Still, some contributors They’ve been vocal about wanting to see their heads cut off — and cut back even more.

to that end, critics argue That simple greed is driving the layoffs. They point to the tens of billions in share buybacks that tech companies authorized last year. Liz Lobato is on edge Talk to industry analysts Who said tech companies evaluate their bottom line differently, and concluded that they lay off workers mostly because others do, even though they lay off workers more often cost funds of a particular company. The fact that all of these layoffs are happening in such rapid succession gives companies some coverage — making them seem essential and inevitable.

So what is really going on here? The answer may actually be very simple.

“Controlling labor costs through periodic layoffs is like breathing in Silicon Valley: periodic, essential to life,” Malcolm Harris, author of the forthcoming bookPalo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World,” tell me. Layoffs, Harris says, “have little to do with long-term or even medium-term strategy except in terms of cultivating an insecure workforce”.

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That aligns with the economic realities we face today, as the chief technology officer might put it. Because while the recession hasn’t arrived yet in any meaningful form, there is he Another economic indicator indicating willingness to lay off workers from a large employer’s perspective: A growing effort to organize tech workers in Unusually narrow job market.

Technology staff salaries jump over the during the past two yearsTheir negotiating power has begun to grow, too. Over the past half-decade, tech industry insiders have moved for changes that executives find increasingly uncomfortable.

At Google, they spoke out against gender inequality and Pressure the company to drop a lucrative defense contract. At Amazon and Microsoft, they protested lackluster climate policies and pushed those companies to make pledges to reduce carbon emissions. On Facebook and Twitter, workers rallied against content moderation decisions about keeping former President Trump on the platform after January 6, 2021. A subset of Google employees formed the Alphabet Workers Union with the Communications Workers of America union, Amazons founded Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, And at Microsoft, employees of video game subsidiary ZeniMax formed the first certified association ever recognized by the company.

The tangible gains made by regulating tech workers so far may be relatively small, but rising salaries and growing organizational capacity threaten the tech giants’ bottom line and the brand of executive sovereignty prized in Silicon Valley. Elon Musk’s mass Twitter firing last year, and his public demand that “hardcore” programmers dedicated to his software remain at the company, is useful here, not least because other tech execs have He said his approach was inspiring When choosing jobs in their own company.

Workers in an industry that has long had a reputation for union neutrality at best were forming bonds, organizing and developing solidarity. Layoffs of this magnitude and so suddenly can be a blow to the process.

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Affected tech workers told me they were struck by the randomness of the shootings; Seniors in good standing, brilliant colleagues with stellar performance reviews, all showed the door, with little rhyme or reason. Many seemed to wonder why they were saved while their peers were not.

Her layoff this month was a “huge surprise,” Alejandra Petit, director of technical programs at Alphabet subsidiary Verily, told me. For one thing, she identified herself as being in good standing in the company. “I was a high performer, considered a pillar of the local community in my Boulder, Colorado office. Now I’m not even allowed back in, not even as a visitor.” Beatty was also struck by the number of quitters who were performing jobs critical to keeping Essential Products running.

If there is one thing the expulsion of people on a large scale and seemingly indiscriminate way achieves, it is that it instills a sense of vulnerability, even fear, in those who remain.

“It’s absolutely devastating, both for the people who were laid off and their families, and colleagues, who felt, that day, and will feel it for a long time after, that they’re in danger,” said Skylar Hinnant, lead quality assurance tester for Microsoft’s ZeniMax branch. “.

Hinnant said he knows a lot of people who’ve lost their jobs via Microsoft — everyone knows that. “You can be the most important engineer at your job, you can be a great programmer, at the end of the day if the algorithm wants to go.

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“I think it awakens people to some truths about what the industry really looks like. We are workers. Even though we have advantages and we’re highly trained – we’re still workers. We can still arbitrarily lose our jobs just like everyone else.”

Beatty has been a prominent member of the AWU, advocating in media interviews for reproductive rights in the workplace. She was always civil and constructive, she says, and she felt her suggestions were well received by management. Now she often thinks about whether it was vengeful to end her relationship. In the end, I decided the layoffs were too big, too automated to target directly. “I guess I was another digit in whatever crazy algorithm the consulting firm used to figure out the cuts,” she said.

Elsewhere, there are signs of reversing the hard-won progress of tech workers. Bloomberg reported that at companies like Twitter, Meta, Amazon, and Redfin that have promised to improve employee diversity, layoffs have eliminated departments responsible for diversity, equality, and inclusion, or DEI initiatives.

On Tuesday, workers for Cognizant, a major contractor for Alphabet and YouTube, said: File a complaint With the National Labor Relations Board who were retaliated against for announcing their decision to join the AWU. They say Alphabet changed its policy to make moving to Austin, Texas, mandatory for all workers, and failure to comply will result in “voluntary termination.” Workers say this is against NLRB rules, which state that no major policy can be changed once regulation is announced.

The tech industry has certainly shown that it will go to great lengths to reduce workers’ wages and power. In 2015, Apple, Google and other technology companies He agreed to pay $415– A million settlement After a lawsuit alleged that companies colluded to keep wages low with a “no poaching” agreement between CEOs.

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But the massive cutbacks ripping through departments today need not be retaliatory to register a debilitating and destabilizing effect, to help tech giants consolidate control over their workforces and emphasize their fragility.

“Nice companies and all the perks,” said Beatty, “none of them are really useful if you’re constantly worrying, ‘Well, am I going to be the next to be arbitrarily given away?’” “”

The clinical rigors with which layoffs have been carried out often help underscore this point — Google employees show up for work only to discover their keycards have been deactivated, workers have been locked out of email accounts and are never allowed into offices again, not even To say goodbye to colleagues who have worked with them for years.

The tech sector appears to be betting that massive, algorithmically-coordinated firefights will not only drive down labor costs, but also remind increasingly empowered tech workers of their own insecurities, and the power corporations still wield. It’s a bet that paid off historically and helped turn tech giants into some of the most profitable companies in history.

But there is a possibility that things will be different this time.

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“It’s very exciting,” said Beatty. The Alphabet Workers Union held a meeting shortly after the layoffs were announced. She said: “Over 1,000 people joined, and another 800 tried to sign up for it after it started. It was big enough that we broke Zoom, and we couldn’t do breakout rooms.”

Hinnant, ZeniMax’s quality assurance tester, is also an organizer in Microsoft’s newly recognized consortium. “I think it kindled a fire with a lot of people thinking about organizing,” he says. “I have friends at Microsoft, Google, and across the industry and I’ve got… Much of calls. “

And unlike the mass layoffs of the past, there is now a foundation of organized workers in place, even if it is emerging, with the ability to provide Salt Lake City’s population of displaced workers with some resources and support.

Beatty says one of the first things the AWU did was create a Slack channel and Discord server where laid-off workers could connect, communicate, exchange information, and lead work.

“It was very helpful to have a place to go and talk to other people who were affected,” Beatty said. “And then we had people who weren’t laid off who joined in to support them, to say goodbye.”

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And soon, thousands of laid-off workers were joining the channel, not just from Google, but from Meta, and across the industry. “This has been a huge help in understanding the terminology, what you can and can’t do, and in this place where people are like, ‘Oh, I’m panicking, talk about it,’” she said. “It might become a networking space — we allow some recruiters by entering. They all need work now, you know.”

Workers provided informal, ad hoc counseling services and helped those who could no longer access their email, computers, or HR contacts get information and answers. “When you’re struggling with what just happened, it’s good to have people who can help you with that,” said Beatty. “There are people on visas or parental leave who say, ‘How do I navigate this now?’” I was putting together some of these questions to pass on, and someone who was here on a visa said, “Can you ask them how long until I get deported?”

Above all, workers like Beatty and Hinnant say it is spurring interest in more regulation of tech workers. “I think this really highlights the need for people not only in the Microsoft ecosystem, but across the industry to get organized,” he says. “I think that was a wake-up call. There’s a wave coming. And there’s no stopping it.”

Betty feels the same. She is still hurt by the layoff but hopes to benefit from it. She says, “If I don’t get anything else out of this, I hope to see AWU grow exponentially. Then the sacrifice will be worth it.”



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Male sex toys may aid in pleasure and performance

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BuzzFeed may earn a share of the sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. All products were independently selected by our editors, prices were accurate and items were in stock at time of publication.

Let’s be real – sex doesn’t always go smoothly. It is often not as smooth and relaxed as in the movies.

Sexual performance anxiety is common — and while it can affect anyone, people with penises often have to deal with it on a higher level. They are expected to have a file physical response to stimulationand few people are willing to talk about how often things go wrong.

Mike Johnson – who Bachelor’s Franchise fame – recently talked about Lovers and friends with Shan Bodrum podcast and openly discussed his own experience with erectile dysfunction. He said on the podcast that it takes about two and a half months for him to get a firm erection during sex, specifically with women he’s interested in.

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“For me, I’m overthinking in my head and not wanting her to feel like I only want her for her body, and I’m overthinking and overcompensating about so many different things,” he told host Shan Budram.

Unrealistic body standards and porn can also play a role in the unpredictability of erections: Although knowing that these paid actors create a fantasy, it sets a standard that no real human being can meet, Carolan Marcantonio said, sex therapist Based in Brooklyn.

She added that a lot of erectile unpredictability (aside from medical conditions) also has to do with the inability to stay present in your body for pleasure because you’re so focused on performance.

“Masculinity is often associated with physical perfection,” she said. She said it can exacerbate body image concerns and thus reduce the ability to get or maintain an erection. “It’s very normal for an erection to go away and wane during sex, during foreplay, play, or whatever someone wants. It’s unrealistic to think you’re going to be hard for hours.”

Marcantonio said that the rules and regulations associated with masturbation can also increase the risk of premature ejaculation. “For them, it’s about knowing how to manage their pleasure and how they feel what’s going on in their body so they can take a step back when they get close to orgasm and slow down,” Marcantonio said.

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If you are experiencing any problems with sexual performance, it is important to see a doctor. A urologist can check for any health conditions that may require medical intervention. She said that if you suffer from sexual performance anxiety, it can be treated with education and talk therapy. A sex therapist can help you come up with a unique plan and address any major issues anxiety or depression.

There are a few books Marcantonio recommends clients read, including Come as you are By Emily Nagoski W The new male gender by Bernie Zilbergeld. In addition, sex therapists can help you learn to use performance-enhancing toys.

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