Models for Michelangelo’s Last Judgment were male prostitutes

The muscular figures in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel were based on male prostitutes he encountered in homosexual bathhouses and brothels, an Italian art historian has claimed.

Elena Lazzarini, a researcher from Pisa University, believes the enormous fresco is replete with homosexual imagery, including a man being dragged into Damnation by his testicles and kisses and embraces between male figures.

She has explored the theory in a new book, claiming that Michelangelo drew much of his knowledge of male anatomy from his frequent visits to gay brothels and ‘Turkish baths’ in 16th century Italy.

“The virile male bodies are inspired by the physiology of labourers engaged in physical exertion, with taut muscles, strenuous exertion and pain etched into the expression on their faces,” said Miss Lazzarini…

The Last Judgment, which took Michelangelo four years to complete, covers the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, inside the Vatican.

Painted between 1537 and 1541, it is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the Apocalypse, with human souls either rising to Heaven or descending to Hell, according to Christ’s judgment…

Michelangelo’s explicit depiction of naked male bodies caused outrage in the Roman Catholic Church when the fresco was unveiled, with the artist accused of indecency and obscenity…

After the Council of Trent condemned nudity in religious art in the mid-16th century, the artist Daniele da Volterra was commissioned to paint over the offending genitalia and earned the nickname “Il Braghettone” (“the breeches-painter”).

Anyone think the Catholic Church has changed very much since the good old days?

Mountain lion treed – by a Jack Russell terrier!

A mountain lion found it was no match for a Jack Russell terrier which trapped it up a tree on a farm in South Dakota.

The dog’s owner, Chad Strenge, heard frantic barking near the family’s farm in Colman, Moody County.

He discovered the 150lb male lion, also known as a cougar, clinging to the top of a tree with 17lb terrier Jack at the bottom.

Mr Strenge, helped by his dog, chased the mountain lion and shot it dead.

He trees cats all the time,” Mr Strenge told The Argus Leader newspaper. “I suppose he figured it was just a cat.”

Jack Russells are scared of nothing!

I’ll see your lunch lizard… and raise you a sneezing monkey!

New “sneezing monkey” discovered in Myanmar

The new species has been named the Burmese snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri).

Evidence from hunters … suggested that the monkeys were particularly easy to find in the rain. The monkeys allegedly sneeze audibly when rainwater gets in their noses and local people said they could be found with their heads tucked between their knees on rainy days…

All species of snub-nosed monkey are considered critically endangered….

Well, duh! (You’ll excuse my fondness for juxtaposition.)

Related Link: Aforementioned lunch lizard

Looting the seas – Bluefin tuna at risk

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

An international system of tracking tuna – a vital tool in the preservation of stocks – has been found to be full of gaps, reports Steve Bradshaw.

In Japan, diners are being urged to curb their craze for one of their favourite kinds of sushi – unless Mediterranean suppliers can prove it is legally and sustainably caught.

Masanori Miyahara, chief counselor of the Fisheries Agency of Japan, said consumers may have to “just forget about tuna for the time being…”

Spawning stocks of Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna – the kind caught in the Mediterranean – are widely estimated to be down by around 75% in the last four decades, and some scientists believe they might be on the verge of collapse…

The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – which has spent months analysing the trade – calculates that more than one in three bluefins caught in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean between 1998 and 2007 was fished illegally.

The illegal catches gave rise to an off-the-books trade in bluefin tuna, conservatively valued at $4 billion, according to ICIJ…

In Japan, Mr Miyahara is particularly concerned about the Bluefin Tuna Catch Document (BCD), a paper-based system of tracking tuna introduced in 2008…In theory the BCD also enables ranches and exporting countries to prove their catch is legal – and within the quotas set by ICCAT’s governing commission of tuna-trading member states.

But Mr Miyahara has described some BCD entries as “weird”, and Japan has refused to accept thousands of tonnes of Atlantic bluefin, alleging suppliers cannot demonstrate it is legally caught because the paperwork is not in order…

“You can use this for really good things, but there are so many holes in this data that it’s not much better than a pile of papers,” said the ICIJ’s Kate Willson.

A pile of papers is good enough for most bureaucrats, most of the time. In some countries that’s changing. In others, like the United States, we can look forward to reverses in every aspect of commerce requiring oversight, truth in purpose. The mid-term elections helped that along with voters who presume that changing one group of clowns for another group of crooks somehow improves daily life.


You can read the report [.pdf] over here.

#IAmSpartacus explodes on Twitter in support of airport joker

Twitter users angered by the conviction of a man who threatened to blow up an airport in a Twitter joke showed support for him in their thousands today, thumbing their noses at the law by republishing the words that landed him in trouble.

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant, yesterday lost his appeal against his conviction and £1,000 fine for a comment he made in jest when he was concerned that he might miss a flight to Belfast.

“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” he wrote in January.

Chambers was controversially prosecuted under a law aimed at nuisance calls – originally to protect “female telephonists at the Post Office” in the 1930s – rather than specific bomb hoax legislation, which requires stronger evidence of intent.

Civil liberties lawyers criticised his conviction, as did the Twitter community, which reacted with a vengeance to his failed appeal today.

Under the hashtag #IAmSpartacus – a reference to the film in which Spartacus’s fellow gladiators show their solidarity with him by each proclaiming “I am Spartacus” – thousands of people have copied Chambers’s original message.

As a result of the show of support for him, #IAmSpartacus was the most popular worldwide subject being referred to on Twitter at the time of this posting.

And I am repeating Chambers Tweet at my own Twitter site.

Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!

Pentagon study says there is little risk to ending ban on Gays

A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.

More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.

One source, who has read the report in full, summarized its findings in a series of conversations this week. The source declined to state his position on whether to lift the ban, insisting it did not matter. He said he felt compelled to share the information out of concern that groups opposed to ending the ban would mischaracterize the findings. The long, detailed and nuanced report will almost certainly be used by opponents and supporters of repeal legislation to bolster their positions in what is likely to be a heated and partisan congressional debate.

President Obama has vowed to end the ban. Senior Pentagon officials requested the survey to address areas in which a repeal might cause conflicts that could hinder the military’s ability to fight…

The document totals about 370 pages and is divided into two sections. The first section explores whether repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” would harm unit readiness or morale. It cites the findings of a survey sent over the summer to 400,000 active-duty and reserve troops, a separate questionnaire sent to about 150,000 military spouses, the responses submitted to an anonymous online drop box seeking comments, and responses from focus-group participants.

The second part of the report presents a plan for ending enforcement of the ban. It is not meant to serve as the military’s official instruction manual on the issue but could be used if military leaders agreed, one of the sources said.

Although bigots in general and homophobes in particular have increased their numbers in Congress with the recent elections, many folks who support civil rights for all Americans still think there is an opportunity for a principled and successful effort to achieve an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

I think the battle might be won in the lame duck Congress if the Democrats had any courage. This is not the time to act like the collaboration-minded politicians already held in contempt. They need to see there is a base for principle among ordinary Americans – outside the Democrat Party.

Citywide smoking ban = < maternal smoking, pre-term births

New research…takes a look at birth outcomes and maternal smoking, building urgency for more states and cities to join the nationwide smoke-free trend that has accelerated in recent years. According to the new data, strong smoke-free policies can improve fetal outcomes by significantly reducing the prevalence of maternal smoking.

The study…compared maternal smoking prevalence in one Colorado city where a smoking ban has already been implemented to that of a neighboring city where there is no ordinance.

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy collected data from mothers residing in Pueblo, Colo., before and after a citywide smoking ban took effect. Results show a 23 percent decrease in the odds of preterm births and a 37 percent decrease in the odds of maternal smoking in Pueblo following the ban. Birth outcomes in El Paso County, Colo., however, showed no such drop during the same time period. Findings in this first-ever study in United States reflect similar findings as national data from Dublin, Ireland.

The study suggests that smoking bans have a significant and immediate positive impact on the health of infants and mothers. Pre-term babies stand a greater likelihood of experiencing cardiovascular issues later in life.

“This research proves that smoking is an irrefutable risk factor for expectant mothers who are acutely more affected,” said Associate Professor Robert Page, PharmD, MSPH, at the University of Colorado Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, and lead researcher on the study, who presented the findings. “The good news is that implementing strong tobacco control policy can protect even the most vulnerable from the deadly consequences of smoking.”

There are sufficient self-detructive so-called adults who consider this a libertarian issue. The silly part is they uniformly deny one’s right to legal suicide. But, it’s OK to kill yourself, your family, children and co-workers because of your addiction. One with no redeeming social value whatsoever.