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And other quotes from a variety of gay and lesbian writers:

Philip Kennicott looks back with ambivalence at the classic gay literature – think Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Andre Gide, and Thomas Mann, among others – that shaped the way he came to terms with his own sexuality. While certain novels allowed him to understand he wasn’t alone, the “pleasure of finding new access to these worlds was almost always punctured by the bleakness of the books themselves”:

It is painful to read the bulk of this early canon, and it will only become more and more painful, as gay subcultures dissolve, and the bourgeois respectability that so many of these authors abandoned yet craved becomes the norm. In Genet, marriage between two men was the ultimate profanation, one of the strongest inversions of value the author could muster to scandalize his audience and delight his rebellious readers. The image of same-sex marriage was purely explosive, a strategy for blasting apart the hypocrisy and pretentions of traditional morality. Today, it is becoming commonplace.

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Ebolisis And Its Enablers

Oct 21 2014 @ 8:02pm

Derek Thompson blames the media for overhyping – and thereby exacerbating – Ebola panic in the US:

For the last two weeks, the American Ebola panic has been relentlessly overstated. When Gallup asked Americans if they were worried about contracting the Ebola virus, just 23 percent said yes in a October 11-12 poll, days after Thomas Duncan was the first person to die in America from the disease. That was up just one percentage point (well within the margin of error) from a similar survey administered one week earlier. Just 16 percent told Gallup that they actually thought someone in their family would likely get the virus, up just two percentage points from a week earlier.

One in six people thinking they’re about to die from Ebola is a serious matter. But you can get about approximately 20 percent of Americans to say all sorts of crazy things in anonymous polls.

Waldman takes on another trope of Ebolisis – that in the words of Republican Congressman Tim Murphy, “we have to be right 100 percent of the time, and Ebola only has to get in once.” It’s the viral equivalent of the one percent doctrine:

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License To Strip

Oct 21 2014 @ 7:39pm

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Elizabeth Nolan Brown asks whether it’s really necessary for strippers to have occupational licenses:

Dancers and managers at a Washington state strip club are now suing to stop their county from releasing their names, photos, and other identifying information to a man who has filed a public records request for it. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma [last] Tuesday, says the Pierce County Auditor’s Office received a request from David A. Van Vleet for copies of all adult entertainment licenses on file for Dreamgirls at Fox’s. Why does this man want identifying info on current and former dancers at the Tacoma-based strip club? Nobody knows. (I reached out to Van Vleet yesterday but haven’t heard back.) But because strippers in most areas of Washington must obtain an “entertainer’s license”, their identities are a matter of public record.

Attorney Gilbert H. Levy acknowledged that the information was technically fair game under the state Public Records Act, but said the privacy and safety interests of strip club workers necessitates keeping their real names and identities confidential. “It’s a unique occupation and it’s a controversial occupation,” Levy told CBS Seattle. “Some people like nude dancers, and other people for religious or for other philosophical reasons don’t. There’s some stigma attached to the occupation, and most dancers for personal privacy reasons and safety reasons, don’t want the customers to know who they are outside of the club.”

In other words, it’s entirely likely the person who wants this information is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob. Maybe merely a blackmailer or a 4chan-er. At any rate, it’s hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job.

(Photo by Flickr user Michael)

Why Are The Midterms So Meh?

Oct 21 2014 @ 6:42pm

Nate Cohn declares that “this is a great election. It’s way better than 2012. All around, it might be the best general election in a decade.”

There are a dozen competitive and close Senate contests and, for good measure, there are another dozen competitive governors’ contests. Better still, these close Senate races add up to something meaningful and important: control of the Senate.

But Americans are nevertheless losing interest in the midterms. How Suderman explains the lack of enthusiasm:

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Part of the liberal line in the political battle over Ebola is that we’d be much better placed to respond to the crisis if only Congressional Republicans would stop stonewalling the confirmation of Obama’s nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy to the post of surgeon general, which has been empty for over a year. But Mike Stobbe doubts this would really make much difference, considering how the role of the surgeon general has changed over time from front-lines crusader against disease to mere public health advocate:

[I]t was in the 1960s, during the Democratic presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, that things really started to go downhill for the surgeon general. Administration officials were pushing to enact Great Society programs, and increasingly viewed the surgeon general and his troops as foot-draggers reluctant to take on the new initiatives—especially Medicare and Medicaid. … Dr. Luther Terry became renowned in 1964 for releasing a report that finally convinced many Americans of the deadliness of cigarette smoking, but he was shown the door a year later, after only one term. By 1968, the HEW Secretary had stripped away the surgeon general’s administrative powers and redistributed them to others.

Since then, the surgeon general has been little more than a health educator—“a pathetic shadow of authority who traveled around the country lecturing high school students on the hazards of smoking,” as the political scientist Eric Redman once wrote.

McArdle takes a broader view, noting that “this is not your grandfather’s public health system”:

Public health experts were, in a way, too successful;

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Art And Ambiguity

Oct 21 2014 @ 5:16pm

Freddie considers the limits of art criticism in the Internet age, “a vast explosion in the analysis and examination of the art around us”:

These efforts to cast the brute emotional power of art into the conventions of thinking are necessary, natural, and fun. But they can result in, for example, the deep hatred for ambiguity in art, the effort to tease out of every creator what really happened. More, so many takes on art today, straining for political relevance, misunderstand that it is precisely the ability of art to express the indefensible and the disturbing that lends it enduring power.

If you are yet another person online to point out that the lyrics of “Run For Your Life” off of Rubber Soul are disturbing and misogynist, you are yet another to fail to understand that John Lennon didn’t kill anybody. He wrote a song about his impulses to kill — his scary, ugly, unmentionable impulse to kill, driven by the frightening irrationality at the heart of love and desire. He put those impulses into his art because that is where they could be acknowledged without danger. His music was where the unforgivable monster of his feelings could live and do no harm.

Desperately Seeking Moderates, Ctd

Oct 21 2014 @ 4:44pm

In a column from last week, Fareed Zakaria recommends limiting our Syria strategy to containment, emphasizing the unlikelihood that American power can resolve the country’s civil war. He stresses the difficulty of finding reliable partners among the Syrian rebels, a topic the Dish has covered repeatedly. Fareed concludes:

The crucial, underlying reason for the violence in Iraq and Syria is a Sunni revolt against governments in Baghdad and Damascus that they view as hostile, apostate regimes. That revolt, in turn, has been fueled by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, each supporting its own favorite Sunni groups, which has only added to the complexity. On the other side, Iran has supported the Shiite and Alawite regimes, ensuring that this sectarian struggle is also regional. The political solution, presumably, is some kind of power-sharing arrangement in those two capitals. But this is not something that the United States can engineer in Syria. It tried in Iraq, but despite 170,000 troops, tens of billions of dollars and David Petraeus’s skillful leadership, the deals Petraeus brokered started unraveling within months of his departure, well before American troops had left.

Pushing back on Fareed’s claims, Michael Weiss and Faysal Itani make a forceful argument for greater engagement with the Free Syrian Army, pointing out that containment is what the Obama administration is already doing – and it isn’t working. They contest the “longstanding and intellectually disingenuous complaint” that the Syrian opposition has been taken over by al-Qaeda affiliates, leaving few “moderates” for the US to support:

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Todd Starnes contends it’s a real threat:

Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene. “Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”

According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business – not as a church or place of worship – and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

Robert Tracinski is left breathless:

Heretics will be found out and forced to recant. No one ever expects the Secular Inquisition.

Dreher also freaks out. But Walter Olson cautions:

I will note that I have learned through hard experience not to run with stories from ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) or Todd Starnes without seeking additional corroboration. As a libertarian, I oppose subjecting this family business to any legal compulsion whatsoever, but it’s also important (as in the Dallas pastors case) to get the facts straight before feeding a panic.

James Peron’s understanding of the facts:

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Stalker Stories, Ctd

Oct 21 2014 @ 3:19pm

During this relatively slow news week, a reader draws our attention to “the latest thing blowing up (a small corner of) the Internet”:

Kathleen Hale, YA author and fiancée of Simon Rich (Frank Rich’s son) wrote this article about her experience with a nasty review on Goodreads of her non-yet-published book. She became obsessed with the reviewer, who was also a book blogger. Hale eventually discovered that the reviewer was operating under a false identity, stolen photos, made-up job, faked vacation photos, etc. Against all advice, Hale decided to confront the reviewer, to find out why she had it in for her, going so far as to find her real name and address, pay for a background check on her, and go to her house.

What makes the story so interesting is the reaction to it. I don’t know if Hale thought she would get a sympathetic reaction to her confession, but she has instead set off a firestorm.

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A few readers comment on the thread:

Actually, I would agree with McArdle (not something I usually do) about the waning energy of middle-aged parents. My wife had our two lovely daughters (now 4 and 20 months) by the age of 33. And they tire her out as it is. However, being nine years older than wife, these kids can devastate me! My wife and I are both professionals, so we have always traditionally split the household duties 50/50. But she is currently finishing her PhD thesis, which means I’ve taken on the lion’s share of the household work and raising the kids, and I can tell you that my mid-40s body/energy level is just barely up to the task. She left me in charge for a week while she was in Germany for an academic meeting; while I kept everything running well, I was also exhausted and in bed most of those night by 9PM!

Raising kids is something that is really meant for your 20s and early 30s, when your energy is less restricted. If companies really want to support working parents (because I think running a household should be split between the responsible adults), there are a raft of other family-friendly policies that could be looked at.

But another reader praises the egg-freezing policy:

So, I’m 41. I froze my eggs one week ago. I don’t have a partner, I’m still hoping to meet someone I actually want to be with, and I don’t particularly want to be a single parent, but family is hugely important to me and don’t want to regret never having children. I hadn’t really thought much about egg freezing, but then I went to my ob/gyn over the summer, and she recommended that I go see a fertility doctor and see what my options are. So I did.

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