It Got Worse… Norfolk Southern Exposed, Atomic Heart Controversy, MrBeast, & Why You’re Alone
- [Phil] Sexy robots are coming and already being boycotted, even more reasons to be furious at Norfolk Southern, heartbreaking shootings out of Florida, psychedelics going mainstream and what that means for the future, and why you feel like a sad lonely boy or girl. We're gonna talk about all of that and so much more on today's brand new "Philip DeFranco Show." So buckle up, hit that like button, and let's just jump into it. We've got big news in the gaming world because people are angry about a game that's not Hogwarts Legacy, with the new game in the crosshairs being Atomic Heart and as far as who's angry, it's Ukraine, who have actually sent a petition to Microsoft, Sony, and Valve to pull it from their digital store, and saying they have a few issues with the game, such as it's being made by a Russian studio that probably has major ties to the Russian government, with people pointing out that the studio has been pretty quiet about the war in Ukraine, only saying that it had an international team and was an undeniably pro-peace organization against violence against people. There's also the issue that it features a sexualized robot that allegedly resembles a former Ukrainian Prime minister. It's also set in a fictionalized and romanticized Soviet Union where everything didn't go to shit until the robot uprising that's happened in the game, which for most former Soviet states is not how they remember it or its dream at all.
Also for gamers, apparently this has the mood of Bioshock, but in the Eastern Bloc. Now with all that said, here are the defenses that people have used for those points. First, saying essentially every Russian business gets major investment and has ties to Russian government entities, and that the game has been in development since 2018, well before the war began. Also, regarding the robots, the resemblance seems to be largely due to the hair, which is a popular traditional style throughout Ukraine and not necessarily just the Prime Minister.
Regarding the studio silence on the Ukraine War, it's worth noting that because they have employees in Russia, they can't exactly speak freely on the matter if they didn't agree with the war. But whatever the case may be, Ukraine has taken firm measures to limit the game's reach there, like removing physical copies from stores or asking digital stores to not offer it there. But it's not just limited to Ukraine, with one official saying, "We also urge limiting the distribution of this game in other countries due to its toxicity, potential data collection of users, and the potential use of money raised from game purchases to conduct a war against Ukraine. And some Ukrainian content creators have attempted to make a movement to boycott the game similar to what we saw with Hogwarts Legacy, albeit with far less success.
Which brings us to the question and answer, has this worked? And the answer is it's a mix bag. The full version of the game and its source code has been leaked, leading to speculation that it was a protest move by someone at the studio. So it's theoretically free to play, if you're willing to risk finding it.
And to be clear, don't break the law because that would be illegal and I obviously would never tell you to break the law. But regarding, like, is this actually swaying people's minds? It doesn't really appear so. Looking online, most of the discussions about this game are just people on Twitter like super thirsty about the robots, like people really wanna fuck them some robots. Also, on certain corners of the internet, people are like, "Yeah, I'm really glad this game showed women how they should be." Which, by the way, it really just seems like you want something that resembles a woman you can put your dick in, and not a woman. Yeah, ultimately this is a story that comes down to consumer choice, and so where I'll end this is separately a friendly reminder that the Russian government is a joke and Vladimir Putin is their king clown.
And then, are you lonely? Do you wish you had more friends? Are you estranged from family members? Do you see others in fulfilling romantic relationships and feel like you're missing out? And I know from the way I just positioned it, it sounds like I'm gonna go into a dating ad. I'm like, "Hey, here's how you fix that." But no, what I wanna do is point out that you are not alone here, because according to data from Pew Research collected over the past year, 47% of Americans under 30 are single.
And then when you break it down by gender, the numbers are wildly different, with 34% of young women being single compared to a whopping 63% of young men. And all this coinciding with a decline in people having sex, right? The share of sexually active Americans sitting at a 30-year low, with about 30% of young men and 20% of young women in 2019 saying they had no sex in the past year, which is absolutely notable because on the other end of this story, the numbers between me and your mom have steadily increased. With all the data that we're seeing, it's why we're seeing so many experts calling loneliness a serious public health problem, with at least one professor of psychology saying, "We are in a crisis of connection, disconnection from ourselves and disconnection from each other, and it's getting worse." And the situation also raises another question. With such a huge disparity with gender, who are all the women dating? And as it turns out, the answer is multifaceted.
Most obviously you have a chunk who identify as queer, they may be dating each other. Another factor experts point out is that when women date men, they tend to aim slightly older and they tend to be pickier when it comes to income and education. So you have women becoming more and more educated, making more and more money, also seemingly not preferring what's been described as 'dating down,' so the bar has been raised higher. Because unlike the 1950s, if women don't depend on a husband for financial security, they have more freedom to avoid all the shitty guys who would've just leaned on their economic leverage several decades ago. Which is why some experts like psychology Professor Ronald Levant say men just aren't stepping up to the plate because of age old masculine ideals that conflict with women's desire for emotional openness and empathy, saying, "Today in America, women expect more from men, and unfortunately, so many men don't have more to give."
With that emotional deficit also affecting non-romantic relationships, right? Of men, 15% report having no close friendships, which is a 500% increase from 1990. And the share of people who have six or more close friends being cut in half from 55% over that same period. But for women, it's the opposite, with Levant saying they tend to get more emotional support from intimate connections with friends, which is also part of the reason they feel more satisfied being single, right? They've got a support system to rely on. And as for men, some experts point to new technologies occupying most of their time and attention, from video games and porn to social media and streaming services.
Though one thing that needs to be mentioned for both genders is of course COVID made things worse, with nearly two-thirds of those looking for love saying dating got so much harder during the pandemic. And so while we're seeing a lot of people responding to these trends in really toxic ways, like incels, red-pillers, just people that wanna go back to the fuckin' 1950s, the research suggests it's not that simple, right? The over-focus on the idea of masculinity is arguably part of the problem preventing men from connecting with women. But there is also a general crisis of loneliness, romantic or not, that needs to be addressed. Because the loneliness is the biggest part to me. There are a lot of people not in relationships that aren't lonely.
In fact, there's a good chunk of the single demographic who aren't necessarily lonely, with in fact more than half not looking for a relationship or even casual dates, with the biggest reported reason being they just enjoy being single or they have more important priorities. And I will say, I do relate to this story 'cause I feel like I need to be more open to friends. Like I have my wife, I love my wife, I have two really good friends. And then that's kind of of it. There are other friends and friendlies and I feel like I and probably a number of you need to prioritize that a little bit more. But for me, and I don't know if anyone can relate to this, 'cause I'm kinda fuckin' stupid, I can have like a great conversation and hang with someone for one to three hours and then not even remember their name.
People like me, we have that desire for connection, but also I think we're emotionally lazy. So if any part of this story connected with you, like part of it has connected with me, let's take a stand against ourselves today. We're gonna make a new friend by the end of March. But also with this story, if any part of it stood out to you, whether you agree or you disagree with things, let me know in those comments down below. And then, way more beautiful bastards may be about to get filled in, though I might have to refer to them as a hermoso bastardo or a beau batard, though my pronunciation there may have just made some Parisians spit at their screen. (man retching) But the reason I say this is that YouTube announced that they're rolling out multi-language audio dubs, meaning if I or other creators get someone to make a dub in another language of a video, we just take that file, we upload it to YouTube, and boom, when someone in another country who speaks their language as their primary language watches a video, they will get the dub.
It's something that apparently YouTube has been testing for a while with creators, so they actually have some data, and in their posts they say that in this test group they saw over 15% of the watch time coming from views in a video's non-primary language. And according to Mr. Beast, who is actually part of this announcement, this has massive potential for creators to expand their audience. In the past he made international channels, but now he's dubbing his most popular videos in 11 languages. - It supercharges the heck outta the videos. So I mean, put two and two together, it's added a lot of views per video for us.
Well, the beauty is YouTube just connects the dots. You know, once I backed up my whole catalog and drove just some Spanish speakers over to the channel, YouTube's like, "Oh, these people that speak Spanish like this video, let's give it to more people that speak Spanish, and more." - But again, big thing, while this feature is rolling out to thousands more of creators right now, it appears that it's not all creators. And as of recording, it's unclear exactly who's getting it right now. And then I wanna take a minute to thank the fantastic sponsor of today's show, Grammarly.
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So go to grammarly.com/franco to sign up for an account and if you'd like to level up your writing and tone, upgrade to Grammarly Premium for 20% off. And then, we gotta talk about this very tragic and American story coming out of Florida. So yesterday, members of the local TV news station Spectrum News 13 were reporting on a homicide in Orange County, Florida where a woman had been fatally shot earlier in the day.
And while they were just doing their jobs, the authorities say that the suspected gunman then returned to the scene of the crime and went on a shooting spree, killing both the reporter who is covering the original homicide and injuring a photographer also working for the news station. The attacker then entering a nearby home where he shot and killed a nine-year-old girl and injured her mother, with the reports last night saying the photographer and the woman were in critical condition, with Orange County Sheriff John Mina saying the suspect was taken into custody by yesterday evening, but very little's known about the reason for the attack. So right now a motive is still being investigated and while the woman killed in the initial homicide was an acquaintance of the shooter, he had no apparent connection to the other four and it's unclear why any of them were targeted. Mina also noting that it's unclear if the gunman knew that the reporter and photographer were journalists.
Which, on that note, Spectrum News 13 has since confirmed that the reporter who was killed was 24 year old Dylan Lyons and the injured photographer is Jesse Walden. The network and other local reporters have also continued to remember and honor Lyons while praying for Walden's recovery in live coverage, posts, and statements. This including in one incredibly raw, powerful moment for another local TV reporter. - I apologize, this is really difficult to cover.
It is very emotional here at ORMC. I'm not even gonna turn the camera because there are people here who knew that reporter, his fiance and I were just embracing. But I will say this. It is nice to see all the media, we come together in solidarity in this moment. This is every reporter's absolutely worst nightmare. We go home at night afraid that something like this will occur, and that is what happened here.
- [Phil] And that's something that we've seen echoed by a lot of other people in the field, that this is a tragic ordeal, but it's yet another reminder of the dangers that journalists face and how unpredictable the job can be. And that for local journalists specifically who are often underpaid, overworked, and lack resources, it's especially incredible that they're still willing to take these risks, sometimes putting their lives on the line to serve their neighbors and make their communities better by providing essential information. And that's also something we saw highlighted by many journalists who shared their personal experiences in the field, with one person writing, "Years ago, LASD detectives informed me I was a target of a person of interest in a shooting I was covering. Witnesses say he had a gun pointed at me through a window the entire time I was reporting. I will never forget that feeling. My heart breaks tonight."
You also saw Representative Eric Sorenson, who used to be a local meteorologist, tweeting his thoughts on the matter, saying, "As a member of Congress who spent 22 years in broadcast news, my heart aches for the reporter killed and the photographer injured in Florida. A terrible reminder that journalism is a dangerous job and there's so much more we must do to prevent gun violence." Some also saying that this just underscores the need for news managers to more carefully consider the safety of their crews, while others argued that parent companies need to be the ones changing policies to impact the whole industry. But where I wanna end this, especially because we are living through a time where everyone that is in this space often get just bulked in as 'the media.'
And that's often done to de-legitimize and villainize those people. I wanna just say thank you to all the journalists and news crews that are taking those risks and putting their lives on the line. Your work is invaluable and while it can often feel like it, it doesn't go unnoticed. And then, safety is optional at Norfolk Southern, and I wish I was exaggerating, right? That statement is not hyperbolic.
They actually allow a monitoring crew meant to watch over safety sensors to tell crews to ignore the warnings. When you hear that, you probably think to yourself, "Yeah, based off of recent events, that seems to add up." We've got this new information coming from a recent ProPublica report that reviewed internal company documents is wild. So the way the system seems to work is that there's a wayside detector help desk, which looks over all these sensors, and when one goes off, they look at the issue and then tell crews to ignore it if, quote, "information is available confirming it is safe to proceed," at which point the train is only supposed to go at most 30 miles per hour until the next sensor miles away, With some employees and experts saying the reason they're allowed to ignore these safety sensors is that sometimes they can be safely ignored to keep trains moving. Which, key thing, falls in line with the new business practices among the freight companies to keep trains going 24-7 to speed up delivery times and increase profits.
But the obvious issue is that these sensors are often there for a reason. And sure, anyone who has worked with similar systems knows that they can be overly sensitive, they can just be wrong. But the general rule of thumb is to skew towards the side of safety and to get them fixed, not completely ignore them, right? 'Cause this isn't ignoring your car's check tire pressure light, though you should look into that.
You're a growing adult, stay on top of your shit. It's just gonna take a few minutes. But what happens when a train derails is much, much worse. And remember, we're not just talking about future hypotheticals. We see things like back in October, one of Norfolk's Southern trains was traveling towards Sandusky, Ohio when a sensor went off warning that one of the engines in the middle of the train had an overheating wheel.
It was then stopped, a mechanic was dispatched to check out the issue, he couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong and recommended that the engine be replaced. But uh-oh, that would've added a whole hour to the trip. So a supervisor at the wayside detector help desk overruled him and told him the train can continue at the recommended 30 miles per hour, which it did until just a few miles later it derailed and spilled thousands of gallons of paraffin wax everywhere. Now with this, the Federal Railroad Administration said that Norfolk Southern identified that a wheel bearing on the same engine was the cause of the derailment. But the company has refused to expand on whether it was the same wheel the mechanic looked at and whether the decision to ignore the safety sensor was to blame. However, despite that little caveat, the National Transportation Safety Board has still said it is examining whether Norfolk Southern's policies, especially this whole ignore safety warnings one, contributed to derailments.
And it's believed that one of the big things investigators will look at is whether the safety team received a warning from a sensor in Salem, which notably is about 20 miles from East Palestine, right? 'Cause footage shows that the train that ultimately spilled dangerous chemicals all over the city had a fiery red glow while flying through a sensor. Also, another big question is just how prevalent is this policy among the major freight companies? And there we see Burlington, Northern, Santa Fe, CSX, and Canadian National all saying they don't allow people to overrule safety sensors. And Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific, and Kansas City Southern just didn't respond to ProPublica when asked. So there you go, a little more insight into the complete dumpster fire that is Norfolk Southern, that's just kind of been allowed to happen.
And then, weather right now is absolutely wild. The National Weather Services LA Forecast Office just issued its first blizzard warning since 1989. And this as a massive winter storm is affecting the lower 48 states. Places like Axios noting among the things we're seeing ICE took down trees and power lines overnight in Michigan leaving 799,000 customers without power. When you combine outages across the country, you're dealing with over a million people. With winter storm alerts stretching from Oregon to California's border with Mexico.
And in Portland, we've seen hundreds of cars abandoned around the city because of how bad the snow is. Just under 11 inches dropping there just yesterday. That's the second most in a day in the city's history.
And Axios noting the storm will reach its maximum intensity in Southern California on Friday through Saturday, saying Southern California could be looking at flooding and mudslides, with blizzard warnings in effect for the hills and mountains of LA and Ventura counties, with warnings of up to 7 feet of snow at higher elevations. But even areas down to 1500 feet could see several inches of snow. But then at the same time, we're seeing the exact opposite with a number of places across the country looking at possibly the warmest February they have ever had, with it expected to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon in Washington DC. And then, hydration, hydration, hydration, people. I cannot stress enough how important staying hydrated is for everything you do with your body.
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And then, everyone's tripping balls in medically safe environments led by qualified practitioners. Over the last few years, the use of psychedelic therapies has taken off in an absolutely wild way, especially since the pandemic. More and more people dealing with a range of mental health issues are trading in traditional treatments like antidepressants for these new alternatives that, as a result, are no longer viewed as radical. Ketamine therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially after the FDA approved a nasal spray version of the drug for treating depression in 2019. Also, more and more states have legalized or decriminalized psilocybin in recent years. And there's actually a growing body of research on MDMA.
You know, I've talked about this a number of times on the show, but this time I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into kind of what's the next frontier, because this very much feels like what marijuana legalization was 10 years ago. And in fact, because there's so much to cover with this rapidly developing industry, over the next few weeks, I'm gonna kind of cut this into blocks, and we're gonna be talking to a range of different people who can give us different perspectives. So to kick this thing off, I wanted to look at the science behind these life-changing psychedelic therapies.
So we talked to Matthew Johnson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at John Hopkins, and an expert on psychedelics and human consciousness. With Matt explaining why psychedelic therapies are so much more effective than conventional ones. - Psychedelics in the right context provide an experience that people tend to learn from and they change the way they're living their lives and the way they think about themselves because of that experience. So in that sense, it really makes this therapy more like psychotherapy, so talk therapy, which we know for a lot of disorders is extremely effective.
So this is kind of more like medication-facilitated talk therapy, or maybe even a better analogy, it's more akin to a life event. You know, so people will say something happened in their life that changed them. Maybe they had their first child, maybe they fell in love, maybe they visited another culture for the first time, and it kind of changed their perspective of seeing the world in an ongoing way.
- With Matt saying that's because unlike typically prescribed psychiatric medications, psychedelic treatments fundamentally alter the pathways in your brain. Specifically, they target a certain serotonin receptor, but that's just the first domino in a long chain that keep falling into place. - We know kind of down in that downstream domino effect that there are massive changes in the way that the brain is communicating with itself, essentially. So you see, it's called global connectivity, basically means we see brain areas that don't normally move and groove together. Now it's like those distinct brain regions, they're synchronized, it suggests that there's communication between those brain areas that doesn't normally occur.
- But on the flip side, areas of the brain that typically do communicate with each other no longer do so with the same frequency. - And that's probably the basis in some way for the claims of altered perception and altered, you know, kind of having these A-ha moments where one can see one's problems from a different perspective and come to a resolution over them. - Now, notably here, Johnson emphasized that these therapies are not for everyone. People with heart conditions and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are groups that have a lot of risk factors. And although people who are more anxious or neurotic might be more likely to have a difficult time, Johnson said that shouldn't be a reason to prevent these folks from seeking these treatments or that they won't work. In fact, it's the opposite.
- It may be that some of those folks may be in more need of treatment. And we should also keep in mind, even though we do our best to minimize the so-called bad trip, meaning strong anxiety or panic, even with the best effort at a high dose, about a third of the people will report very strong anxiety, essentially a bad trip. We don't have evidence that that actually makes the therapy worse. In fact, a lot of people say, not everyone, but that going through those bad trips, and that can be intense sorrow, fear, you know, panic, anxiety, that going through that and coming out the other side is very cathartic. In other words, going through that difficulty helps them resolve some of their issues.
- Now, to be clear, Johnson stressed that this just pertains to clinical settings, because while scientists aren't really seeing negative long-term effects on patients who have had bad trips in these environments, research he's personally conducted found that if you take people with depression and anxiety out of these structured settings, the drugs can make the anxiety worse. And that's because when they're in a controlled setting, they're extensively screened for conditions that put them at risk and there's a lot of preparation and monitoring in addition to integrated follow-up care. So Johnson says, while it is important to keep in mind those limitations, it also should not undermine the incredible things that he and other scientists have seen here. And easily one of the most powerful aspects of that is just how long these treatments are effective after they're administered when compared to antidepressants and SSRIs, which stop treating your symptoms when you stop taking them. And Johnson saw that firsthand in a study that he did with cancer patients who had depression and anxiety because of their cancer. - We saw reductions that were just as decreased, you know, the reductions in depression anxiety were just as strong and these were very large reductions.
Six months later, as they were about a month after the session, which are the two times that we assessed them, that was from, in that case, a single high-dose administration. It just flies in the face of the typical psychiatric model that you would take a substance and then still be feeling better because of it, you know, six months later. - With Matt saying that his colleagues at NYU did a similar study, tracked down patients a while after, and found similar attributes in average of four to five years later, which is amazing. - [Matt] You know, that's the real exciting thing.
I mean, it appears that in some people this may be indefinite. - But both the positive and negative long-term effects are something that scientists need to keep studying. And that's hard because of government regulations on these drugs, with Johnson explaining that because most of these psychedelics are categorized as schedule one drugs, it's much harder to research though them. This despite the fact that science tells us they are much safer in terms of public health and societal impacts than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco, as well as other illegal drugs like meth and cocaine, which ironically are actually schedule two drugs and much easier to study than schedule one drugs. And yet Johnson saying that if psychedelics hadn't been placed in the most restrictive category back in the '60s and the '70s when the Controlled Substances Act was enacted and the scheduling system was set up, things would be a lot different. - We would unquestionably be further.
I mean, a lot of these studies, for example, treating addiction and cancer-related distress, I mean, that's picking up from studies done in the late '60s. It would've depended on the results, but we, you know, we could be right now 20, 30 plus years into FDA-approved psychedelic therapy for alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, and how many thousands or more people could have been helped by this. - But the good news here is that all of that is changing very fast. - I mean, I've been doing this research for about 20 years, but it's only really in the last few years that the rest of the world has caught on and really started taking this stuff seriously.
- And Johnson says that a change in public perception is breaking down stigmas and creating pressure on both state and federal policy makers to catch up with the times. And actually, it's the federal government that he's the most confident in here. In fact, he said we're probably within just a few years of seeing potential FDA approval for psilocybin and maybe just a year or two away from potential approval for MDMA.
- But you know, sort of like cannabis, once it gets into, you know, once your aunt or your grandma has had a treatment and it's like, "Oh." Once you start meeting people that haven't gone crazy and you know, are just, and have been helped, it just starts to normalize things. - But as for state level policies, which is really where we're seeing a lot of the action right now, Johnson emphasized the need for state policy makers to really tread carefully here. Specifically saying that he's concerned that in the early days when we're seeing some of these laws first being implemented, they absolutely need the same mechanisms to ensure the same type of safety standards and screening that are necessary for success. And that goes back to his point that even if someone has a bad trip in a clinical setting, the treatments are still effective.
But if it happens in an unstructured setting, then things can get really bad. But if regulations are lax and enforcements uneven, as was the case during the early days of legal medical cannabis, particularly in California, that creates a lot of room for people who are literally using mind-altering drugs to be put in dangerous situations. And alongside that, there's also a high potential for abuse from bad actors in these new legal landscapes. That could come in the form of therapists who take advantage of clients who are using drugs of blur boundaries.
- And even more subtle than that, something I've been speaking more about and I've even seen too much of in the scientific world is really pushing of personal, spiritual, and physical beliefs. I think it's very important to let the person come to their own metaphysical meaning. But at the more extreme, like, we're gonna get cult-like activity, you know, in the worst practitioners, like people that just, you're gonna see some weird stuff. Depending on how the states deal with this, there could be good stuff and bad stuff that ends up shaping even the federal pathway.
- And that's actually the perfect place to close this first segment of this series, because our next segment on psychedelic medicine is actually gonna focus specifically on the policy making side of things and specifically how states are implementing legal psychedelics. So buckle up and prepare to hear and learn from people smarter than myself. Which, on that note, thank you again to Matthew Johnson for sharing his time. But that brings us to the end of today's show. Thanks for watching, liking, and being subscribed to my daily dives into the news.
But as always, I wanna say my name's Philip DeFranco, you've just been filled in, I love yo' faces and I'll see you next time.