December 31, 2015

who has been studying

During the winter mating season, competition is fierce for access to female Japanese macaques. But it's not for the reason you might think tr90 ageloc. Males don't just have to compete with other males for access to females: they have to compete with females too.

That's because in some populations, homosexual behaviour among females is not only common, it's the norm. One female will mount another, then stimulate her genitals by rubbing them against the other female. Some hold onto each other with their limbs using a "double foot clasp mount", while others sit on top of their mates in a sort of jockey-style position Hong Kong Macau Tour, says Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, who has been studying these macaques for over 20 years.

To our eyes these encounters look startlingly intimate. The females stare into each other's eyes while mating, which macaques hardly ever do outside of sexual contexts. The pairings can even last a whole week, mounting hundreds of times. When they're not mating, the females stay close together to sleep and groom, and defend each other from possible rivals.

That many humans are homosexual is well known but we also know the behaviour is extremely common across the animal kingdom, from insects to mammals. So what's really going on? Can these animals actually be called homosexual?

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December 28, 2015

dangers of hereditary autocracy

These stories all come - like the South Korean reports - from hostile sources.

Modern historians are sceptical about many of them, and in some ways they show how some Romans felt about the potential dangers of hereditary autocracy rather than reliably retelling the details of history.

Just like North Korea, Rome could be presented by interested parties as presided over by a youthful ruler who had been brought up without normal moral boundaries, who felt acute suspicions of those close to him, and who could exercise absolute power of life and death, backed by the might of a highly militarised state reenex.

In both cases, there are clear motivations for bias: Suetonius and Tacitus were in some ways in conflict with the imperial system, just as South Korea and North Korea are still in some sense at war with each other.

In such an environment, traditional stereotypes about tyrannical rule are likely to emerge, especially where one side maintains rigorous restrictions on information, creating a vacuum which the other is keen to fill for the benefit of a more "liberal" global audience reenex.

As with ancient Rome, we need to be aware of the potential unreliability of biased reporting, and the natural tendency to demonise political opponents reenex.

Melodramatic colouring of events is just as manipulative as controlling and limiting what is disseminated to the world.

Posted by: lisaere at 07:31 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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their views of emperors in general.

In particular, both had lived through and endured the reign of the Emperor Domitian, whose erratic and tyrannical behaviour plainly coloured their views of emperors in general.

For Suetonius, this comes out in his Lives of the Caesars, gossipy and occasionally muck-making biographies that show the emperors as weak human beings.

For Tacitus, his Annals and Histories show how the imperial system put too much power into the hands of one individual or dynasty, with catastrophic effects on the state such as familial infighting, civil war and unsuitable leaders.

The reported fates of the North Korean ministers evoke these pessimistic and sometimes melodramatic accounts of some of the more colourful emperors.
'Trusted' advisers

One of the key issues for Roman emperors was their tendency to be dependent on particular individuals as advisers.

As with similar modern autocrats, one problem for the suspicious and capricious supreme rulers of Rome was how long such advisers could be trusted, and how to get rid of them once the emperor's trust was lost, or once he became tired of them.

A spectacular public end made it clear who was really in charge, and encouraged obedience and servility through vivid intimidation (it could be the spectator next).
Image copyright Hulton Archive
Image caption Tiberius turned against his trusted ally Sejanus

One example is the Emperor Tiberius, successor of Augustus and the emperor under whom Jesus was executed, who for some years depended on the services of his commander of the guard, Sejanus.

Sejanus was so trusted by Tiberius that the ageing emperor felt able to retire to a life of pleasure on the Italian island of Capri, leaving Sejanus to run things for him in Rome.

But eventually (we are told) the emperor's suspicions won out, and Sejanus was cunningly brought down by being lured to the Roman Senate to hear a letter from Tiberius read aloud before the assembly.

The letter was supposed to bring him promotion and marriage into the imperial family, but in fact contained a complete denunciation and a death sentence.

He was taken to prison, strangled and his body hacked to pieces in the streets by the Roman mob.

Posted by: lisaere at 07:29 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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