“Sharing a bed is a sign of intimacy”

I’m single because I like to sleep alone. It comes down to this fact. Relearning the joy of sleeping face down in the X position, Holly Allen doesn’t want to return to sweating and inadvertently spooning her husband:

Our first married bed was a queen. It sagged terribly in the middle and made us roll together. We’d wake up spooning—forced that way by the bed—and sweaty. Our second bed, also a queen, developed a rather large hump in the middle from all the edge hugging we did during the night. Ten years into our marriage, we finally have a king. There is more than enough room for our whole family to sleep comfortably, yet that twin the other night—it was amazing.

So what’s holding me back from selling our king mattress and ordering two twins? Society! Mention separate beds today and most people assume marital troubles.

But:

In our culture, sharing a bed is a sign of intimacy, and it could also be a barometer of the health of the relationship,” sleep expert Dr. Anne D. Bartolucci told me when I called her for backup. “Falling asleep in the company of another person puts you in a very vulnerable position, and it shows a certain amount of trust. There’s a reason that ‘sleeping with’ someone is one of our expressions for sex

Let’s not discount bedhead, eye boogers, bad breath, snoring, sweat stains, and hair on the pillow either.

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On the Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign sends young volunteers to collect signatures at my university at least once a semester. When I reject the request, the volunteer looks sad, as if I’d reminded her of her bigoted dad; when I explain I’m gay and still won’t support it, she looks stricken. It’s a reflex to associate the HRC with Bill Clinton: as the first presidential candidate to win election having promised explicit support of homosexual initiatives like the rescinding of the military service ban, he recoiled after the ’93 backlash and spent the next few years avoiding controversy until he realized that he could get end it with a stroke of his pen after midnight on September 1996. Yet HRC stood beside him. The point isn’t that its leaders wouldn’t have been allowed in Bob Dole’s hotel room; it’s that these people, confusing “gradualism” with inertia, still stood by Clinton after the Defense of Marriage Act.

I have no investment in the refutations of Jo Becker’s book about the Obama administration’s embrace of gay marriage posted by Andrew Sullivan, among others. I did register my disgust at how Becker drew a gorgeous halo around the artificial hair of Uncle Joe Biden. But the bowdlerizing of a incremental and laborious state by state effort by Lambda Legal deserves correction. Barack Obama and ally Chad Griffin deserve credit. So do Ted Boies and Ted Olsen for their successful legal case against Proposition 8 in California. Three straight men and a member of the urban gay haute DC bourgeoisie, though — this is not my idea of diversity, however well-intentioned.

Nathaniel Frank:

if any single group in the “gay establishment” was counseling gradualism, it was the Human Rights Campaign, the world’s largest gay lobbying group, which ate up more than $40 million in gay money every year and, up to that point, had not a single major national legislative win to show for it. Becker might not know about HRC’s retrenchment from the marriage battle or the years of righteous anger directed at HRC’s failures by the rest of the LGBTQ community because she seems not to have done any real research outside her access chamber. And she wouldn’t likely have heard about it from Chad Griffin, because, on the strength of his high profile in the Prop 8 case, he became the group’s president in 2012. Again and again HRC had pulled back from the marriage-equality battle, with its leaders and spokespeople defending incrementalism, touting civil unions instead of marriage, and even reportedly pushing out one leader because she made marriage too high of a priority. Following the 2004 ballot losses, the New York Times reported that HRC planned to “adopt a selective and incremental approach to winning rights rather than reaching for the gold ring of marriage right away.” Critics of HRC said it was “entirely characteristic” of the group “to believe that what is required is a sort of retrenchment and a return to a more moderate message.”
The point is not that incrementalism is necessarily a bad or cowardly strategy; it’s that what Becker paints as a contest between the entire gay rights “establishment” and a tiny sliver of outside-the-movement saviors was in fact a principled strategic debate within the gay rights movement across decades.

We’re going to see a lot of this hero worship soon. It reminds me of the erasure of Bayard Rustin from civil rights discussions.

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“Miami, as we know it today, is doomed”

My neighborhood doesn’t flood. Cockroaches and star spiders hang out in Westchester to escape flooding. In 2010 Allstate and Florida thought otherwise. For the first time in memory, the area was classified as a flood zone. Owning a condo meant I paid a much cheaper group rate, so the yearly burden wasn’t onerous. Still. Florida and a formidable insurance company knew something. A field meeting today at Miami Beach City Hall chaired by Senator Bill Nelson mentioned what doesn’t need to be said but nevertheless must be repeated.

Now that climate is changing, and as Nelson said at the start of the South Florida hearing: “This is Ground Zero.” Scientists have documented that the seas along the Florida coastline have risen five to eight inches over the last fifty years, and Biscayne Bay now floods the streets of my neighborhood just about every month at high tide. “It’s real. It’s happening here,” Nelson said. “Yet some of my colleagues in the Senate continue to deny it.”

It is real, and it’s already a problem in my low-lying part of the world. Saltwater intrusion is increasing in the freshwater Everglades, which is causing problems for farmers in southern Miami-Dade County, and will make the government’s $15 billion Everglades restoration project even more expensive. The Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that over the next fifty years, Miami-Dade’s beaches will need about 23 million cubic yards of new sand to deal with erosion. Mayor Philip Levine says Miami Beach alone plans to spend $400 million to upgrade drainage infrastructure to prepare for a warmer world. The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change’s “likely scenario” for 2010 includes seas rising as much as three feet; our county has $38 billion worth of property at three feet elevation or less. And while it’s too early to tie any particular storm to climate change, all the models predict more intense hurricanes coming through the Sunshine State. “The risk posed by coastal flooding is indisputably growing,” testified Megan Linkin, a natural hazards specialist at the reinsurance giant Swiss Re.

Gore Vidal’s Abraham Lincoln wearily remarks to William Seward that one of the salient phenomena of political life is reminding people of the obviousness of certain facts. Here’s a fact:

But the unavoidable truth is that sea levels are rising and Miami is on its way to becoming an American Atlantis. It may be another century before the city is completely underwater (though some more-pessimistic­ scientists predict it could be much sooner), but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades. The rising waters will destroy Miami slowly, by seeping into wiring, roads, building foundations and drinking-water supplies – and quickly, by increasing the destructive power of hurricanes. “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed,” says Harold Wanless, the chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

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“In my business, yes, the only people who hold grudges are the ones who I’ve had to drop or fail”

As the semester winds down and commencement approaches, students get desperate. Fortunately South Florida boasts the most egregious example:

Could a college student become so outraged over a bad grade that they would order a “hit” on their professor?

That’s the question now being asked at Miami Dade College’s Kendall campus, as police continue to investigate a brutal attack against music professor Marc Magellan. The professor appears to have been specifically targeted, and it was not a robbery — none of his personal items were taken.

As Magellan was leaving campus last week, a man called out “Professor Marc,” according to a Miami-Dade Police report. When Magellan turned around, he was sucker-punched in the face.

That unexpected blow knocked Magellan, 31, to the ground of the campus parking garage. From there, the attacker continued beating the professor “unmercifully,” according to police. At one point, Magellan says, the assailant “was powerfully punching the side of my head against the concrete floor of the garage.”

The professor’s injuries included a broken nose, broken hand, and other injuries to his head, face, arms, knees and feet.

It could’ve been a random attack:

“I’m a very peaceful and loving person. There is nobody I can think of who would have wanted to attack me so brutally unless there was some sort of grudge or chip on their shoulder. In my business, yes, the only people who hold grudges are the ones who I’ve had to drop or fail. It comes with the territory I guess.”

With student-instructor relationships becoming more transactional, this kind of tit for tat will become commonplace. But my Rate My Professor chili peppers ain’t budging.

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Notes she never sings: Kelis

Kelis – Breakfast

Producers have struggled for the apposite settings for her big chalky voice, and when “Jerk Ribs” leaked in spring 2013 it sounded like Dave Sitek had found one. The groovy bass line and the well-deployed horn section gelled with Kelis to create the aural equivalent of that title: tasty, thick, generating heat after the first bite and a half. “Runnin’” does that too, and lord knows I want yet more aural equivalents for the gastronomic referents in these song titles. Like an amuse-bouche left too long on the pan or in the oven, though, Breakfast tastes overcooked and betrays signs of nervousness. Sitek, this generation’s Mitchell Froom, can pile vintage keyboards and other clattering instruments to distract from the drab melodies. The other problem is Kelis herself, whose estimable attempt to sing beyond her range on “Hooch” and “Change” creates unlistenable results. Sitek’s cluttered soundscapes might have tempted a singer less steeped in R&B than Kelis to sing against them; imagine Kelis doing to the chorus of “Floyd” what John Lydon did to “This is Not a Love Song” in 1983. “Cobbler” epitomizes the trouble. Over studio chatter, handclaps, and cowbell, Kelis praises a sweet chewy guy, and for once the horns are brassy support; but then Sitek wants to excuse Kelis’ shortcomings with postmodern gewgaws like an angelic backing choir singing “You make sing notes I never sing” like Kelis can’t. 2010′s Guetta collaboration didn’t pull these tricks.

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“My students invented ‘too big to fail’ sitting in a classroom. Because it’s not that hard.”

According to Elizabeth Warren, senior senator from Massachusetts, the Harvard students whom she taught in 2008 figured out how the government was going to protect financial institutions after the collapse of the world as they knew it:

“Now, here was the fun. Whatever I was supposed to be teaching that day, we just set all that aside. Then I turned around and said, ‘Okay, fasten your seat belts. Each of you is the CEO of a giant financial institution. We are headed for rough times.’ And I said, ‘So your job, CEO, is to make sure that your financial institution is going to be standing on the other side once the economy settles back down. Some are going to die. So how do you make sure yours is going to survive?’ And hands go up. And so I call on the first kid. He says, ‘Well, I sell off as many things as I can. Narrow down. Keep only high-quality assets and hold on to cash.’ And I’m, ‘Mmm. Anybody else?’ And all the hands go down because that is the classic answer, right? You keep yourself safe. Kind of the bunker mentality.

“And finally, one kid gasps. Almost like he’d been shot. And the hand goes up. And I just keep standing in the front waiting. And then another hand goes up. And another. And another. And another. And you watch kids, with this jolt, some of them laugh out loud when they get it. And I wait until then—maybe a quarter of them have got their hands up, maybe a third—and call on someone. And the kid says, ‘You grow as fast as you can. You buy as much as you can with borrowed money. And you lend and borrow from as many other large institutions as possible. Because then the government can’t afford to let you fail.’ My students invented ‘too big to fail’ sitting in a classroom. Because it’s not that hard.”

The rest of Charles Pierce’s profile is good reading. She stands as a rebuke to pundits who insist that facts bore the American public; it’s more apt to say facts frighten pundits. The longer Warren spoke during her 2012 senate campaign about the connection between credit card fees and overdraft charges and the fraudulent behavior of the oligarchs, the more people got it. The test of a so-called expert is the ability to explain a complex problem clearly and simply.

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The worst Gabriel Garcia Marquez obit you’ll likely read

Richard Brookhiser, who a lifetime ago wrote a mordant take on the 1984 election, shakes his finger at the corpse of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and hopes that the books he, Brookhiser, hasn’t read match his politics:

Like everyone else I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in college. The magical realism — the sister, was it? with the tail, the other one who ascended into Heaven — seemed like cheating. Another way to put it is that Garcia Marquez was like Faulkner only worse. Yet some expressions and insights have stayed with me.

I understand The Autumn of the Patriarch contains veiled, perhaps unconscious, criticisms of Castro. I hope that is the case, because Garcia Marquez’ explicit politics were dreadful. He was a despot’s fanboy, like Gorky, Neruda, Pound, and Celine in the last century; or, to go back a bit, like Seneca (who at least killed himself). The paradox of the disciple of beauty who is also the disciple of crime is an old one.

I won’t link to it. “Despot’s fanboy” would’ve been a cute phrase has it been accurate; it’s been noted by every obit writer, including me, that Marquez loathed Pinochet and Peron. Leftism didn’t blind Marquez — idolatry did. Fidel liked his books. An evening of port and cigars with Agustin might have had the same deleterious effect on Marquez’s senses.

As usual the comments are a delight, particularly the person who wrote, “I believe that Finnegan’s Wake is one step shy of regulations based on the EPA,” which admittedly isn’t inapposite.

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