Saturday, April 30, 2022

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Matteo Lane

I have tickets to see Matteo’s show at the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington tonight. I’m very excited because I find him very funny.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Pic of the Day

Photos from Tie Dye Undies!

The Day Has Come

The day has finally come; I have my laryngoscopy today. I’ve been waiting since January 10 for them to schedule this procedure, and it will determine if I can get the Inspire implant as a replacement for my CPAP to treat my sleep apnea. I have to be at Dartmouth by 7 am, so we need to leave my apartment no later than 5:45 am. My friend driving me will have to leave her place around 5:10 am. I feel bad about the imposition I am putting her in, but I don't have a lot of options. My boss was supposed to take me, and I would not feel bad about him having to leave so early, but his daughters came down with COVID, so he's quarantined with them and can't take me.

On a different note: While Isabella seems to enjoy my new apartment (as do I), she has been doing this odd thing lately. She will sit in front of the glass of my entertainment center and stare at her reflection. I had this entertainment center at my old place, but she never took note of it. She will sit there for the longest time just staring at her reflection, though I don’t think she realizes that it is her. Occasionally, she walks around the entertainment center to see if she can find that other cat. Of course, she never does, but it’s always back right where it was when she looks again. She doesn’t do anything but stare into the glass. She has done this with the front windows a few times, but never in a mirror and never for as long as she sits looking at the glass in the entertainment center. She doesn't seem upset but seems more curious than anything else. So, I have a question for those with cats: have any of your cats ever exhibited this type of behavior? 


She’s usually pretty smart, and things like this don’t fool her. Although she still occasionally chases her tail, she will get tired of it after a little while. Also, she sometimes accidentally sits on one of her mice when playing with them and gets very perplexed about where it has gone. Eventually, she moves and reveals the mouse and seems surprised when the mouse suddenly reappears. Occasionally, she gets lost under the quilt on my bed but usually finds her way out unaided. Sometimes, I have to assist her. Cats are infinitely entertaining, especially Isabella. With all of these strange behaviors, she eventually gets tired and curls up on a nice comfy blanket and goes to sleep, which she seems to do, like most cats, for about 18 hours a day.

PROCEDURE UPDATE: The laryngoscopy went fine, but I am not an good candidate for the Inspire therapy, so I’m not sure what the next step is.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Pic of the Day

Headache Update

I woke up yesterday still having a headache. It was mostly centered on the base of my skull, but that was pretty painful. I decided I needed to call in sick to work and keep my appointment with the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office. I’d seen her last Thursday for my pre-op physical and liked her, so when I couldn’t see my regular doctor, I opted for her. After discussing my headache, she said that for headaches like this, they often will give a shot of Toradol to “break up” the headache. Sometimes, they give a strong pain killer to sort of reboot the body and provide some relief, often it’s enough to end the problem, sort of like hitting CTRL + ALT + DELETE on your computer. 

The only problem is that Toradol is an NSAID which I’m supposed to refrain from taking for seven days before my procedure tomorrow. Since the laryngoscopy is not an very invasive procedure, she thought it would be OK to do, but she called my doctor for Friday’s procedure to get her recommendation. While they would have preferred that I only take Tylenol, they did give the NP permission to give a minimal dose of Toradol. So, next thing I know, the nurse has a syringe and told me to lower my pants. She said they could give the shot in the arm, but it works better in the butt, and she said it was up to me. Quite honestly, I wanted whatever was most likely to be successful, so down my pants went. I don’t know if any of you have had a shot of Toradol before (I have), but that shot stings quite a bit. 

The good news is that it improved my migraine considerably. Within an hour, the pain was mostly gone. It still hurts a little and I bought some Tylenol as a supplement, and that too helped. I went to bed last night with a minimal headache. I’m hoping I wake up in the morning feeling just as good and can go to work. I’ll learn sometime today when I need to be at Dartmouth for my laryngoscopy tomorrow. All I know at this point is that it is supposed to be sometime tomorrow morning. The past week has been a rough, but I’m hoping this week will end on a good note.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Pic of the Day

Long Migraine

I have a had a severe headache since Friday. The pain has been across the top half of my face, the back of my head, my neck, and shoulders. Sometimes it is only on one side or the other, but mostly both. My head also feels hot, but I haven’t had a fever, nor does it feel hot to the touch. I've had nausea and was vomiting Monday night. The pain comes and goes in intensity, but Monday night it got so bad that I contemplated going to the emergency room. The only relief I’ve gotten is when I used a cold pack on the back of my head and forehead and which seemed to relieve things enough for me to fall asleep. Sleep helped a little. Yesterday morning, I felt better when I woke up, but it slowly got worse the longer I was awake.
I took naratriptan as prescribed, but it did not help, and because I have a laryngoscopy on Friday, I have been told to refrain from taking my Anaprox (550 mg naproxen sodium) for 7 days before the procedure. I'm not sure what I can do because this is not my usual headache. The pain though has been unbearable at times.

I went to work yesterday but was only able to stay about two hours before I had to go back home. By mid afternoon, I was feeling relatively normal again, but the headache was back by the time I went to bed. 

I contacted the Headache Clinic yesterday, but the nurse told me that it was unlike my usual headaches that I needed to see my regular doctor. That was a bit disappointing since my regular doctor usually tells me to contact my neurologist at the Headache Clinic. I have an appointment with one of the nurse practitioners at my doctor’s office because my regular doctor doesn’t have anything available until mid June. I’m seeing him on May 4 for a physical, so I’d be seeing him before that. However, the Headache Clinic wants me evaluated again to make sure I’m on to have the laryngoscopy on Friday. If my headache is better today (God willing, it will be), I’ll cancel the appointment with the NP. 

This headache has just been so bad. I thought it was the weather, but this is more than a regular headache affected by weather changes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Pic of the Day

Love Returned

Love Returned

By Bayard Taylor


He was a boy when first we met;

     His eyes were mixed of dew and fire,

And on his candid brow was set

     The sweetness of a chaste desire:

But in his veins the pulses beat

     Of passion, waiting for its wing,

As ardent veins of summer heat

     Throb through the innocence of spring.


As manhood came, his stature grew,

     And fiercer burned his restless eyes,

Until I trembled, as he drew

     From wedded hearts their young disguise.

Like wind-fed flame his ardor rose,

     And brought, like flame, a stormy rain:

In tumult, sweeter than repose,

     He tossed the souls of joy and pain.


So many years of absence change!

     I knew him not when he returned:

His step was slow, his brow was strange,

     His quiet eye no longer burned.

When at my heart I heard his knock,

     No voice within his right confessed:

I could not venture to unlock

     Its chambers to an alien guest.


Then, at the threshold, spent and worn

     With fruitless travel, down he lay:

And I beheld the gleams of morn

     On his reviving beauty play.

I knelt, and kissed his holy lips,

     I washed his feet with pious care;

And from my life the long eclipse

     Drew off; and left his sunshine there.


He burns no more with youthful fire;

     He melts no more in foolish tears;

Serene and sweet, his eyes inspire

     The steady faith of balanced years.

His folded wings no longer thrill,

     But in some peaceful flight of prayer:

He nestles in my heart so still,

     I scarcely feel his presence there.


O Love, that stern probation o'er,

     Thy calmer blessing is secure!

Thy beauteous feet shall stray no more,

     Thy peace and patience shall endure!

The lightest wind deflowers the rose,

     The rainbow with the sun departs,

But thou art centred in repose,

     And rooted in my heart of hearts!


Bayard Taylor (1825-1878) was an American poet, novelist, travel writer, literary critic, diplomat, lecturer, and translator. He was a frustrated poet who, even though he published twenty volumes of poetry, resented the mass appeal of his travel writings, because his desire was to be known as a poet. Even his travel writings have been relegated to the dustbin of literary history, and he is known today solely for his translation of both volumes of Goethe’s Faust.

Bayard was born on the January 11, 1825, in the small town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania into a Quaker family. His parents were reasonably well-off farmers and could afford to give their son a decent education at academies in West Chester and Unionville. Although he entered the printing business as an apprentice, he was a keen writer of poetry and took great inspiration from the influential Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Encouraged by Griswold he published his first volume of poems at the age of 19 and called it Ximena, or the Battle of the Sierra Morena and other Poems. It sold badly but was noticed by the editor of the New York Tribune.


He worked as a journalist on the New York Tribune and other publications and this profession turned out to be his gateway to extensive worldwide travel when sent on assignments abroad. He even turned his hand to lyric writing for famous singers and completed a period of diplomatic service in St Petersburg, Russia.


He was lucky that his first commission was a European trip covering Germany, Italy, France, and England. He spent two years happily travelling at a slow pace, sending reports back to the Tribune. He was also engaged by other publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and The United States Gazette. On his return to the States, he was encouraged to publish his first travel book, based on his recent adventures. Views Afoot, or Europe seen with Knapsack and Staff was published in New York in two separate volumes in 1846. Further assignments followed but this time within the United States and Mexico. Taylor was now comfortably established in both journalism and as an author. He also had some success with a set of lyrics written for a visiting Swedish singer called Jenny Lind which were sung at concerts around the country. Within a few years he was off again on his travels, this time to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East. 


In 1853, Taylor started from England and sailed to India, China, and then Japan. He was back in the States at the end of 1853 and then began a successful lecture tour. Two more years passed before the next overseas trip and this time he chose the countries of Northern Europe such as Sweden. Here he was inspired to write a long poem in narrative form called Lars.


Incredibly he found the time to serve as a diplomat and was appointed chargé d’affaires at the United States embassy in St Petersburg in 1863, accompanied by his second wife Maria. The following year they were back home at Kennett Square and Taylor wrote four novels with limited success. Poetry was his forte.


Taylor confided to Walt Whitman that he found in his own nature “a physical attraction and tender and noble love of man for man.” Taylor’s novel Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania (1870), which depicted men holding hands and kissing, is considered the first American gay novel by modern scholars. It presented a special attachment between two men and discussed the nature and significance of such a relationship, romantic but not sexual. Critics are divided in interpreting Taylor's novel as a political argument for gay relationships or an idealization of male spirituality. This novel is said to be based on the romantic relationship between poets Fitz-Greene Halleck and Joseph Rodman Drake. In Keith Stern’s Queers in History, it is revealed that the love of Taylor’s life was George Henry Boker, although both men married women. The American banker, diplomat, and poet George Boker wrote to Taylor in 1856 that he had “never loved anything human as I love you. It is a joy and a pride to my heart to know that this feeling is returned.” 


His travelling days were not finished, and he was appointed to another diplomatic post, this time in Berlin. Unfortunately, he died only a few months after arriving in the German capital.

Bayard Taylor died in Berlin on the December 19, 1878, at aged 53.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Pic of the Day

Weekend Migraine

I’ve had a migraine since Friday. I left work early Friday and the migraine lingered all weekend. At times, it wasn’t as painful, but at other times, it was excruciating. Everywhere I laid my head felt like I was lying on a rock. The only thing I could do to help was try and sleep. I hope it’s better today. I’ll be the only one at the museum. Our secretary doesn’t work on Monday, our other curator is away at a conference, and my boss’s two children have COVID.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Pic of the Day

Go and Do Likewise

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

—Matthew 7:12


In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense," a transporter anomaly accidentally sends Commander Sisko, Dr. Bashir, and Jadzia Dax back in time to a pivotal moment in Earth's history, August 30, 2024. The date was significant in the storyline because it was the day before the Bell Riots. "Past Tense" was a two-part episode that has recently garnered more scrutiny by many Star Trek fans because the current season of Star Trek: Picard is also taking place in 2024, this time in mid-April. The DS9 episode received critical acclaim for analyzing U.S. social issues in a science-fiction context and addressing various societal problems such as homelessness, poverty, and technology. Sisko and Bashir find themselves in the Sanctuary District of San Francisco, a section of a city designated for the homeless and financially destitute members of society in the 21st century United States. The U.S. government created the Sanctuary Districts in response to serious social and economic problems that had resulted in an increased rate of poverty and social destitution during the early 21st century. By the early 2020s, every major city in the United States had a sanctuary district. In the wake of the Bell Riots and the senseless deaths of so many people, American public opinion turned against the Sanctuary policy, and the districts were eventually abolished. By the 24th century, the Sanctuary Districts, and with them, the lack of empathy and public apathy toward the plight of the masses was seen as one of the darkest chapters of Earth's history. The episode's final lines have Dr. Bashir asking Commander Sisko, "You know, Commander, having seen a little of the 21st century, there is one thing I don't understand: how could they have let things get so bad?" Sisko responded, "That's a good question. I wish I had an answer."


While it is improbable that Sanctuary Districts will ever materialize in our history, a large part of the U.S. population lacks empathy and has a public apathy toward the plight of the masses, especially the poor and those who are seen as different. The current Republican party seems to hate everything considered different: LGBTQ+, those who are not white, the poor and destitute, and individuals with health problems. As long as Republicans can feel like they can look down on others, they believe they elevate themselves, even if the policies of the leaders of the Republican Party harm the majority of Republican voters. They would rather be harmed themselves than have any of their tax dollars going to those who need help or allow laws guaranteeing equality. Most Republicans claim to be Christian, but the people they vote for and the policies they advocate are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.


One of Jesus's most famous (and often misunderstood) parables is that of the Good Samaritan. The parable is told in Luke 10:25-37:

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"


He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?"


So he answered and said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.'"


And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."


But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"


Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?"


And he said, "He who showed mercy on him."


Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

As I said, this parable is one of the most well-known and most misunderstood of Jesus's parables because most people are unaware of its context, i.e., the oppression of the Samaritans and the bitter hatred that Jesus's listeners and the Samaritans had for each other. Most people saw "Samaritan" as merely a convenient name for that individual when in fact, it stood for "hated outsider who worships falsely and desecrates our religion." Today, to remedy this missing context, the story is often recast in a more modern setting where the people are ones in equivalent social groups known not to interact comfortably. Thus, cast appropriately, the parable regains its message to modern listeners: namely, that an individual of a social group they disapprove of can exhibit superior moral behavior to individuals of the groups they approve of. One example is Democrats, who advocate for the poor, those who face discrimination, and support universal (or at least more affordable) healthcare, are vilified and hated by Republicans who oppose any such reforms.


Christians have used the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of Christianity's opposition to racial, ethnic, and sectarian prejudice. For example, anti-slavery campaigner William Jay described clergy who ignored slavery as "following the example of the priest and Levite." Martin Luther King Jr., in his April 1968 "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, described the Samaritan as "a man of another race." Sundee Tucker Frazier saw the Samaritan more specifically as an example of a "mixed-race" person. Klyne Snodgrass wrote: "On the basis of this parable, we must deal with our own racism but must also seek justice for, and offer assistance to, those in need, regardless of the group to which they belong." I am using it in the context of the LGBTQ+  community.


Who were the Samaritans? The Samaritans claim descent from northern Israelite tribes who the Neo-Assyrian Empire did not deport after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel. They believe that Samaritanism is the true religion of the ancient Israelites, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel during the Babylonian captivity; this belief is held in opposition to Judaism, the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, which Samaritans see as a closely related but altered and amended religion brought back by Judeans returning from captivity in Babylon. Samaritans consider Mount Gerizim near Nablus (biblical Shechem) and not the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to be the holiest place on Earth. If you look at biblical teachings and Jewish religious beliefs before the Babylonian Captivity, they are different. Judaism did not have a sense of Hell before the religion came into contact with the Zoroastrians, who believed in two different afterlife possibilities: one for the good and one for the evil.


Jewish hatred of Samaritans was all-encompassing, much like Republicans for Democrats. Jesus' target audience, the Jews, hated Samaritans to such a degree that they destroyed the Samaritans' temple on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans, reciprocally, hated the Jews. Tensions between them were exceptionally high in the early decades of the 1st century because Samaritans had desecrated the Jewish Temple at Passover with human bones. Due to this hatred, some think that the lawyer's phrase "He who showed mercy on him." (Luke 10:37) may indicate a reluctance to name the Samaritan. Or, on another, more positive note, it may mean that the lawyer has recognized that both his questions have been answered and now concludes by generally expressing that anyone behaving thus is a "neighbor" eligible to inherit eternal life as described in Leviticus 19:18 which says, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."


The state of the world around us, whether in the domestic issues at the heart of so many political disputes in the U.S. or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, brings us back to Dr. Bashir's question, "How could they have let things get so bad?" Democrats and Republicans oppose each other's policies just because the other thought advocates for them. It doesn't matter the policy, or if the other side agrees that it would benefit their constituents, they will still refuse to support the policy. For example, Republican Congressmembers went into their home districts and touted how wonderful and helpful the infrastructure bill was that they had voted against. To oppose something just because those who support it are from a different party is bad enough, but it's even worse when you know that the policy would do a tremendous amount of good, and you oppose it is even worse. 


Jesus used a Samaritan when telling the parable because he knew that the Jewish people he was talking to would hate anything a Samaritan did just because they were Samaritan. He told a story of a man who was hurt, and his people passed him by, but his most hated enemy was the one who came to his rescue. Shame is a great motivator, as Jesus was making the point that it should be shameful not to help your fellow human, no matter how you might feel about them, which is why the news is so depressing to me lately. For years, especially recently, it has been happening in Republican-dominated states who are passing harmful laws against LGBTQ+ individuals. The various "Don't Say Gay Bills" or the transgender discrimination bills are done out of pure hate without thinking about Christian beliefs. They will claim they are doing the Christian thing and protecting the family, but Jesus gave the Greatest Commandment "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself." Jesus did not say that this only applied to those who believe the same as you. Instead, Jesus asked, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" The lawyer answered, "He who showed mercy on him." Notice again that the lawyer refused even to say "the Samaritan." But Jesus replied to the lawyer, "Go and do likewise."


Jesus commands us to "Go and do likewise." We aren't told to love, support, and help others only if they have the same belief or look the same as we do, but He commands us to "Go and do likewise." Simply and plainly, no caveat, no exceptions or exemptions, just simply "Go and do likewise." When we look at the world around us and ask, "How could they have let things get so bad?" The answer is that we did not "Go and do likewise."

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Those Eyes

This is Laurence Coke and he has some of the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen. I guy with nice eyes always makes me a little weak in the knees. His smile isn’t bad either.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Pic of the Day (Earth Day Edition)




LGBTQ+ History in Colonial Latin America

Back in graduate school, I took a seminar on Latin American History. My research project for that class was sexuality in colonial Latin America. It has a fascinating history. I remember that I read, Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil which I found infinitely fascinating.  So, when I saw that Dr. Cervini’s Queer History 101 this week was about “Sexuality and the Colonization of the Americas,” I was eager to read it and share it with you.

From Dr. Eric Cervini’s Queer History 101


Even in 2022, we are still seeing an alarming rate of LGBTQ+ content being unjustly censored. In China, an episode of Friends was edited so Ross’s ex-wife wouldn’t be gay. In Hungary, a recent law has banned queer content in schools or kids’ television. And right here in the U.S., dozens of state legislatures have attacked teachers' ability to teach queer and trans history. But how far back does this phenomenon of censoring queerness go?


Zeb Tortorici, an Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at NYU, understands the reality and nuances of this suppression more than most. Tortorici’s body of research focuses on the origins, archiving, and censorship of the queer “obscene” in New Spain, which included Mexico and Central America.


“I was directed toward the obscene,” Tortorici told me, “through my first book, Sins Against Nature: Sex and Archives in Colonial New Spain, which is about the archiving of sodomy.” It was during this research of colonial, same-sex criminal case records that Tortorici noticed the repeat occurrence of the Spanish word obsceno, or obscene. But it struck him as odd. “The word ‘obscene’ in the cases that I looked at,” explained Tortorici, “was particularly grafted upon desires that were less legible than something like sodomy.” So what were these “less legible” offenses?


First, Tortorici pointed me to the 1776 case of Manuel de Arroyo from Pachuca, Mexico. “Arroyo asserted that consuming human semen from another man is not a sin,” he told me. “The assertion of this heretical thought is what Inquisitors referred to as ‘obscene.’” Curiously, the act of oral sex wasn’t the obscene offense, but holding the belief was obscene.


Tortorici also cited a second example, the 1803 case of Juana Aguilar from Guatemala. “They were a so-called hermafrodita, or a hermaphrodite. Their body is described as ‘obscene’ in some records, including medical reports published in the colonial Guatemalan Gazette.” Again, the alleged act of Aguilar being a hermaphrodite wasn’t necessarily obscene, but the description of their body was obscene.


“Obscenity is produced in conjunction with other forms of alterity,” explained Totorici. “It's not simply something that refers to explicit sexuality or sexual desire in the wrong place or in the public sphere.” For Arroyo and Aguilar, moralistic and cultural opinions were “grafted” onto them in a means that further marginalized them as individuals. The Inquisition’s concept of the “obscene” wasn’t solely about being queer; it was a commentary on diversity and how difference itself was anathema to colonial culture. Thus, being different became criminal.


“Sodomy itself was policed in colonial Spanish, Portuguese American, and Spanish Pacific landscapes,” noted Tortorici, “but women and men were judged and denounced very differently for the crime.” Regardless of the type of court–criminal, secular, ecclesiastical, or inquisitorial–colonial Spanish America, despite an effort to standardize punishments for sodomy, allowed gender biases to influence legal consequences. And, in Tortorici’s research, the proof is in how records were kept.


“I spent from 2003 to 2018 in the archives looking for as many cases dealing with the sins against nature as I could, and I was struck by the fact that almost no cases of female sodomy appeared.” Indeed, Tortorici found only one unambiguous criminal case from 1732: it was about Josepha de Garfias, a woman from Mexico City who was punished for the crime of sodomy. But as far as details goes, that’s it!


“All we have is a one-paragraph summary of Josepha’s criminal case, which basically says that she was convicted of the crime of sodomy with other women,” said Tortorici. Apart from that, all evidence was burned and no record of punishment was kept. A leniency toward a female, same-sex crime all but proves, as Tortorici puts it, “the topic of sodomy was not the the axis of the case itself.”


So, as Tortorici asked me, “What is queer? And what does it mean to think about queerness centuries before the term was ever invented?” As Tortorici suggested, “Maybe what makes something queer is in the ways that it is trying to rupture or challenge identitarian claims and politics.” Queer history, in other words, may be much more expansive than you’d think!


For more of Tortorici’s fascinating work, check out:

A few more suggested readings:

About Eric Cervini


Dr. Eric Cervini is an award-winning historian of LGBTQ+ politics. His first book, The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America (a fascinating read), was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It also won the Publishing Triangle’s Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, the NYT Editors’ Choice, and the “Best Read of 2020” at the Queerties. 


Cervini graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and was a Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where he received his PhD. As an authority on 1960s gay activism, Cervini serves on the Board of Advisors of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of gay American history. His award-winning digital exhibitions have been featured in Harvard’s Rudenstine Gallery, and he has presented his research to audiences across America and the United Kingdom.


He lives in Los Angeles with his drag queen boyfriend and their dog, Moo Bear.

Here's a bonus picture of Dr. Cervini, just because...

I think more people would enjoy history if their professors looked like Dr. Cervini. (I have such a crush on this man.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Pic of the Day


By Wisława Szymborska

See how efficient it still is,
how it keeps itself in shape—
our century's hatred.
How easily it vaults the tallest obstacles.
How rapidly it pounces, tracks us down.

It's not like other feelings.
At once both older and younger.
It gives birth itself to the reasons
that give it life.
When it sleeps, it's never eternal rest.
And sleeplessness won't sap its strength; it feeds it.

One religion or another -
whatever gets it ready, in position.
One fatherland or another -
whatever helps it get a running start.
Justice also works well at the outset
until hate gets its own momentum going.
Hatred. Hatred.
Its face twisted in a grimace
of erotic ecstasy…

Hatred is a master of contrast-
between explosions and dead quiet,
red blood and white snow.
Above all, it never tires
of its leitmotif - the impeccable executioner
towering over its soiled victim.

It's always ready for new challenges.
If it has to wait awhile, it will.
They say it's blind. Blind?
It has a sniper's keen sight
and gazes unflinchingly at the future
as only it can.

It is not an easy thing, to live under a cruel and unjust system of rule. To constantly be on guard, to watch every word you say, to always be afraid, to know that a single mistake could cost you your very life. This is how I felt when I lived in Alabama, especially when I was teaching school. One wrong word, a gesture, the way I walked, and many other things I had to guard against for fear of losing my job because someone found out I was gay. Had they ever found out, I know I would have lost my job within a week, if not within a day. I grew up in rural Alabama where homophobia and racism were very strong. There are areas of Alabama that aren’t as conservative, but much of the state is. It is a state filled with hate and hateful people. However, there are some wonderful and loving people in the state as well.

Wislawa Szymborska was born on July 2, 1923, in Bnin, a small town in Western Poland. Her family moved to Krakow in 1931 where she lived most of her life. She was forced to face a different type of hatred, not once, but twice in her life. Szymborska was unfortunate enough to have lived through both Hitler’s reign of terror and Communist rule. She seems to have been greatly affected by these experiences, as can be seen through her poetry, which frequently deals with such topics as death, loss of self, and war. An excellent example of a poem that tangles with these topics would be “Hatred,” first published in her 1993 book The End and the Beginning.

In “Hatred,” Szymborska looks at the circular nature of hatred, grimly observing that “It gives birth itself to the reasons that give it life.” She then further reinforces this statement by describing these reasons in greater detail, justice and religion and a macabre pleasure-each one guiding the heart toward thoughts of bloodshed and ruin. In the poem, Szymborska writes, “Only hatred has just what it takes.” Only hatred has such a talent for destruction. 

This is perhaps, rendered more understandable by the sheer devastation that she describes the fury and hate of war as causing, the endless slaughter and torment. Every word fairly drips with harsh sarcasm as she speaks of the “Magnificent bursting bombs” and “splendid fire-glow.” Perhaps most chilling is the poem’s complete lack of hope for a better future. There are no last minute words of comfort. War remains coldly merciless, for how could it not? It is the tool of hatred, which has “a sniper’s keen sight, and gazes unflinchingly into the future.”

Szymborska studied Polish literature and sociology at Jagellonian University from 1945 until 1948. While attending the university, she became involved in Krakow’s literary scene and first met and was influenced by Czeslaw Milosz. She began work at the literary review magazine Życie Literackie (Literary Life) in 1953, a job she held for nearly thirty years.

While the Polish history from World War II through Stalinism clearly informs her poetry, Szymborska was also a deeply personal poet who explored the large truths that exist in ordinary, everyday things. "Of course, life crosses politics," Szymborska once said "but my poems are strictly not political. They are more about people and life."

Well-known in her native Poland, Wisława Szymborska received international recognition when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. In awarding the prize, the Academy praised her “poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” Collections of her poems that have been translated into English include People on a Bridge (1990), View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems (1995), Miracle Fair (2001), and Monologue of a Dog (2005).

Readers of Szymborska’s poetry have often noted its wit, irony, and deceptive simplicity. Her poetry examines domestic details and occasions, playing these against the backdrop of history. In the poem “The End and the Beginning,” Szymborska writes, “After every war / someone’s got to tidy up.” Wislawa Szymborska died on February 1, 2012, at the age of eighty-eight.

Thank you, Susan, for suggesting this thought-provoking poem.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Pic of the Day 🐰

Happy Easter! ✝️

As the war in Ukraine continues into the Easter season—with the Catholic and Protestant churches celebrating Easter on April 17, and Orthodox Easter, as celebrated by many Ukrainians, falling on April 24—a spotlight is shining on the Ukrainian Easter tradition of decorating Easter eggs known as pysanky. Decorating them has become a gesture of peace, as the war has brought new meaning to an old tradition that dates back to pre-Christian times.
In Christianity, eggs are a common symbol of the resurrection of Christ. Traditional designs on the eggs are also imbued with meaning. Per Christian tradition, triangles on eggs represents the Holy Trinity. Different regions of Ukraine decorate eggs in different ways. For example, the pysanky in Western Ukraine boast drawings of chicks to represent fertility and deer to represent strength and prosperity.

Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
—John 20:1-2
Growing up, I was always taught that Easter was the most important celebration in all of Christianity. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events and a foundation of the Christian faith. Whether Jesus rose from the dead is the most critical question regarding the Christian faith. The resurrection of Jesus was part of the plan of salvation and redemption by atonement for man's sin.
When I think of the arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, I always think of how terrified his disciples must have been. Rome was the greatest authority in the known world for them, and Jesus had been arrested by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin, the representatives of Imperial Rome’s authority in Judaea. They had to be asking themselves: Would they be next? Would they be tried and crucified? What would become of them? How could they go on without their leader and Savior?
They had seen their Lord and Savior die in the most brutal form of execution in the Roman Empire. The crucifixion had been a frightening experience according to Luke 23:44-45, which says, “Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Following the world around them literally turning to darkness as their Savior died, Luke 23:46 tells us that, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.” Their Savior had died. I would have felt like my life was over. 
Even though Jesus had told them he would be resurrected, the disciples did not understand. In John 2:19, Jesus “said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” The disciples thought he was speaking literally of the Temple, just John 2:21 tells us, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” Even if they believed that Jesus would rise from the dead, they thought he was speaking of living in eternity in Heaven with his Father or of a literal rebuilding of the Temple. It was not until they saw him in the flesh that they believed in a literal resurrection. So, the fear of his death was real. They were in a heightened state of fear during this time.
Their fear is evident in the discovery that Jesus’s body was missing from the tomb. Matthew 28:1-7 describes the scene:
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
Even after Mary Magdalene told the others that she had seen the risen Lord and that he had spoken to her, they were still afraid: John 20:19-20 tells us about this continued fear:
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
The sight of the risen Jesus must have been a wondrous sight for the disciples. Not all would believe it was Him. Matthew 28:17 says, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” The Apostle Thomas (Doubting Thomas) refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles. When Jesus appeared to him as related in John 20:24–29, he still did not believe until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.
The joy that the disciples must have felt when they realized that Jesus had risen from the dead must have been ecstatic. Jesus then gave them the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 says:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This Easter and every day, we should remember what Jesus commands of us. We should not forget the love and sacrifice that Jesus brought to this world as our Savior. Jesus is with us always, and as corny as it may be these days, all our actions should be influenced by asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Jesus showed partiality to the downtrodden, the oppressed, and those who society cast aside. We can’t hide in fear but live proudly in a Christ-like manner. Jesus taught that all are accepted and loved by God, not just those who follow the narrow-minded beliefs of fundamentalist Christians, who have lost what it means to be followers of Christ. Jesus died and suffered for us to love and accept our fellow humans and to live by His example. If we hate, show prejudice, or reject those who do not believe as we think they should believe, we are not following the example given to us by Jesus.
On a happier note, below you will find the cutest Easter card that I received from my friend Susan. As the card says on the inside:

Happy, Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Completion!

The move is complete. It is done! I still have some unpacking to do, but I am finished with my old apartment. I can at least rest today.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Pic of the Day

So Tired

Yesterday, I had to make up for the time lost to me by everything going wrong. I’ve got a few more things on my list for today, then I can rest. I may not do a damn thing this weekend but rest and enjoy my new home with Isabella.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Pic of the Day


Yesterday was one of those days when nothing went according to plan, and basically, if it could go badly, it did. i bit roadblocks with everything I had on my to do list. Finally, I just surrendered defeat, said, “Fuck it!”, and went home. By that time, I had a raging migraine. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I am praying today goes better, and I can get done what needs to be done. I have one more day in my lease and I want to get everything I can out of the old apartment and dispose of those things I want to throw away. This week just needs to end so that I am done for good with that old apartment and those horrendous landlords.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Pic of the Day

Finishing Up

All of the major items that needed to be moved were moved by the movers I hired. However, there were still some things I needed to get on my own, some stuff that I just need to throw away, and clothes that I need to donate. So, I rented a pickup truck and will use it to move things a bit easier than in my vehicle. I will use the truck to take the stuff that I just need to get rid of to the trash collector. I’ll also take some recycling there as well. As for the clothes, I will probably load them into my car and take them to a local thrift shop that is owned my the hospital here. I did not want to take the clothes to the Salvation Army, so a friend told me about the hospital’s thrift shop, so I will be taking the clothes there. I hope they’ll be useful for someone who needs them.

Then, there are a few last minute things that I need to get, such as cleaning out the refrigerator and getting my summer tires from the basement. Once that stuff is done, I should be finished, but it is going to be a busy day of taking things here, there, and yonder to finish my move. I can’t wait to be finished. I went by on Sunday and Monday to get some things, and after climbing up and down those stairs and going up and down the hill to the parking area, my thighs are incredibly sore. I’m just going to push through the pain and get it all done.