There's an interesting exchange in yesterday's post on In Memoriam between me and l roberts on how we view In Memoriam. The conversation initiated from this claim:
I think of it as more of a romantic line than a sexual line . . . I'm not saying that his relationship with this guy was sexual, or that we can ever know if it was or not.
But the fact that so many people have applied the line to their own relationships, whether they're romantic, sexual, or "just" friends, is significant to me. It kind of suggests that love is all the same, no matter how it's expressed.
Also, not all same-gender love is sexual, but in my opinion it still counts as "gay." For example, I think most people would agree that a marriage has to be based on more than just sex. And LGBT people don't want to get married just so they can keep having teh sex. They want to get married for love.
I disputed the claim that same-gender love neccessarily qualifies as gay love, eventually eliciting the following response:
I have to say that in this particular case though, the individual's viewpoint really does matter. When a queer person says, "Tennyson wrote In Memoriam based on his affection for another man," it has a significantly different meaning from when a straight person says it. We each have a natural instinct to claim that love as "our own" in some way, even though Tennyson can't be both gay and not gay.
I find this particularly interesting. I don't know that I agree. But it doesn't much matter. In this instance, my own consent is neither requested nor required. Moreover, it's kind of boring. More captivating is how identity changes what we see. In that vein, I'd like to ask some of our gay commenters to weigh in here. On Tennyson particularly, and more broadly on the realm of artists beautifully expressing affection for humans of the same gender.
I hear Tennyson and, for me, there is that long tradition of young black males mourning the death of fallen soldiers, through hip-hop. Mobb Deep made a career out of mugging for the camera, and yet in "Cradle To The Grave," Havoc could confess that at the sight of his dying friend "he felt like crying." And he does this in sub genre which holds strong prohibitions against saying such things about women.
But that's my lens. What's yours? What is that "significantly different meaning?" This is an inquiry, not an inquisition. I'm not interested in the debate. I'm not interested in proving or disproving Tennyson's sexuality. I'm not interested in an objective "right." I'm interested in In Memoriam through your eyes.
As an aside, I'd ask the less experienced among us to sit back and listen for a bit. Please don't speak for the sake of speaking. In seeking to be first, you render yourself last.
Outrage over the vice president's approach to marriage reveals how deeply gender divides American culture.
The Washington Post ran a profile of Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, on Wednesday. The piece talks about the closeness of the Pences’ relationship, and cites something Pence told The Hill in 2002: Unless his wife is there, he never eats alone with another woman or attends an event where alcohol is being served. (It’s unclear whether, 15 years later, this remains Pence’s practice.) It’s not in the Post piece, but here’s the original quote from 2002: “‘If there's alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,’ Pence said.”
Some folks—mostly journalists and entertainers on Twitter—have reacted with surprise, anger, and sarcasm to the Pence family rule. Socially liberal or non-religious people may see Pence’s practice as misogynistic or bizarre. For a lot of conservative religious people, though, this set-up probably sounds normal, or even wise. The dust-up shows how radically notions of gender divide American culture.
The vice president—and other powerful men—regularly avoid one-on-one meetings with women in the name of protecting their families. In the end, what suffers is women’s progress.
In a recent, in-depth Washington Post profile of Karen Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, a small detail is drawing most of the attention: “In 2002, Mike Pence told The Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”
In context, this choice is not especially surprising. The Pences are evangelical Christians, and their faith animates both their policy views and how they express devotion to one another. Eight months into their courtship, the Post reporter Ashley Parker writes, “Karen engraved a small gold cross with the word ‘Yes’ and slipped it into her purse to give him when he popped the question.”
A new report says that Devin Nunes’s bombshell claim of spying on the Trump team came from the Trump administration itself.
For more than a week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has provided the hottest topic for speculation in Washington: Where did he receive mysterious reports that suggested intelligence surveillance of Trump transition team officials?
Now, there appears to be an answer, courtesy of The New York Times: a pair of officials in the Trump White House. The paper reports:
Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.
On Thursday, the president appeared to suggest that members of the conservative hardline group in Congress should face primary challenges if they defy him.
Donald Trump is escalating his attacks on hardline conservatives in Congress in for a fight that could deepen the rifts within the Republican Party that already threaten to hobble the president’s agenda.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.” He added: “We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”
It is highly unusual for a president to publicly call for a fight against members of his own party. The president has not yet said he would support any primary challenges to members of the House Freedom Caucus in the upcoming midterm elections. But if nothing else, the incident signals that the so-called GOP “civil war” is far from over, even if Trump’s election did hand the Republican Party control of Congress and the White House.
Republican voters elected legislators on the basis of their refusal to compromise and a president who promised to cut deals. It’s no wonder they’re having trouble governing.
Do populist Republicans want a federal government where politicians stand on principle and refuse to compromise? Or do they want a pragmatist to make fabulous deals?
The intra-Republican conflict highlighted by last week’s failure to repeal or replace Obamacare is usefully understood as a consequence of confusion on those questions. Elected officials associated with the Tea Party, or the House Freedom Caucus, believe that they were sent to Washington, D.C., to replace sell-outs who compromised themselves by seeking earmarks for their constituents, buckling to establishment whips, or horse-trading with the Democrats.
Yet many populist entertainers, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who fancied themselves champions of the Tea Party’s no-compromise ethos, morphed, during Election 2016, into cheerleaders for a different kind of populist—Donald Trump—who pointedly declared that he was seeking the nomination of the Republican Party, not the conservative party, and regularly boasted during the campaign that he should be elected in large part because of his prowess as a dealmaker. Forget principle—the art of the deal was the way to make America great again.
Under the right circumstances, choosing to spend time alone can be a huge psychological boon.
In the ’80s, the Italian journalist and author Tiziano Terzani, after many years of reporting across Asia, holed himself up in a cabin in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. “For a month I had no one to talk to except my dog Baoli,” he wrote in his travelogue A Fortune Teller Told Me. Terzani passed the time with books, observing nature, “listening to the winds in the trees, watching butterflies, enjoying silence.” For the first time in a long while he felt free from the incessant anxieties of daily life: “At last I had time to have time.”
But Terzani’s embrace of seclusion was relatively unusual: Humans have long stigmatized solitude. It has been considered an inconvenience, something to avoid, a punishment, a realm of loners. Science has often aligned it with negative outcomes. Freud, who linked solitude with anxiety, noted that, “in children the first phobias relating to situations are those of darkness and solitude.” John Cacioppo, a modern social neuroscientist who has extensively studied loneliness—what he calls “chronic perceived isolation”—contends that, beyond damaging our thinking powers, isolation can even harm our physical health. But increasingly scientists are approaching solitude as something that, when pursued by choice, can prove therapeutic.
If Republicans want to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, they’ll likely have to change the rules and invoke the Senate’s “nuclear option.”
There’s an easy way and a hard way for the Senate to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and it appears Democrats are going to make Republicans do it the hard way.
That Gorsuch would ultimately take the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the high court has scarcely been in doubt in the weeks since President Trump nominated him 11 days after he took office. A well-regarded judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado, Gorsuch has a legal resumé tailor-made for the Supreme Court, he’s won nearly universal praise from conservatives, and he emerged from his confirmation hearings with his reputation largely intact.
The only question has been whether Gorsuch would win the eight Democratic votes necessary to reach 60 and defeat a filibuster, or whether Democratic resistance would force Republicans to change Senate rules, invoke what’s known in Washington as “the nuclear option,” and confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority of 51 votes. Statements of opposition haveflooded in from Democrats this week, making the answer clearer every day: Gorsuch is likely to fall short of 60 votes, and Republicans will have to jam his nomination through the Senate on their own.
The Trump administration may be accelerating "Easternization," argues Gideon Rachman.
Next week, Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to the United States to meet Donald Trump for the first time. But according to Gideon Rachman, the chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, power is flowing in the opposite direction. Rachman is far from the first analyst to argue that China and other Asian nations are rising while the Western world declines, nor is he the first to cite the now-familiar statistics about China’s ballooning economy and unparalleled manufacturing might. His contribution is to help explain some of the most confounding developments of the day—from the Middle East’s descent into anarchy to the ascent of populist politicians in the West to the emergence of nostalgia as a political force—through his theory of the “Easternization” of international affairs.
Think about a venomous fang, and you’ll probably conjure up an image of a snake or spider. But perhaps you should also spare a thought for group of unassuming reef fish that are appropriately called fangblennies. They are finger-sized, colorful, and rather cute—that is, until they open their mouths. Their lower jaws bear two upsettingly large canine teeth, capable of delivering a deep bite. And the evolution of those teeth, according to a new study by Nicholas Casewell at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, took the fangblennies down a path of subterfuge, double-crossing, and chemical warfare.
Of the 33,000 or so species of fish, some 2,500 are venomous—far more than the number of venomous snakes. A surprising number of deep-sea sharks (including many that glow-in-the dark) have venomous spines at the base on their fins. Stingrays deliver venom with their ostentatious tail spikes, stonefish inject toxins with spines on their backs, lionfish use their flamboyant fins, and tangs deploy scalpel-like spines at the base of their tails. (So, yes, Dory is venomous.) But among this toxic underwater menagerie, only two groups have venomous bites—an obscure group of deep-sea eels, and the fangblennies.