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    You may have seen this news floating around the internet lately:

    Two bodies found wrapped in a poignant embrace in their final moments as they were covered beneath molten rock and layers of ash in the ancient city of Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius violently erupted in 79 A.D.

    The bodies were dubbed “The Two Maidens” when they were first discovered but in a startling discovery this week scientists found the two bodies were actually male - raising speculation that they may have been gay lovers.


    "We always imagined that it was an embrace between women. But a CAT scan and DNA have revealed that they are men. "You can’t say for sure that the two were lovers. But considering their position, you can make that hypothesis. It is difficult to say with certainty.”

    It sounds pretty cool on the surface, right? But if you keep reading, if you’re sensitive to these things, one thing that jumped out at me was this:

    “When this discovery was made, that they were not two young girls, some scholars suggested there could have been an emotional connection between the pair,” he said. “But we are talking about hypotheses that can never be verified.

    So we have a situation where two bodies were found in what appears to be an embrace, preserved for centuries due to the ash of a volcano that hardened around them. It was assumed that they were two girls, but that there was no emotional connection between the pair?

    Scientists performed CAT scans and DNA testing and found that the bodies were actually men, seemingly unrelated, about 18 and 20 years old. Why did it take the discovery that they were unrelated men to lead the scientists to hypothesize that there “could have been an emotional connection” involved? Wouldn’t that be something that could be safely hypothesized no matter the sex of the individuals?

    Reading through some of the stories about it, I was becoming increasingly annoyed by the weird assumptions that had been at play pre- and post-DNA testing. But I think Alex Bollinger at LGBTQNation sums up my frustrations much better than I can:

    But what’s interesting to me, though, is the possibility that it is exactly what it seems like: two men, not related, holding each other in an affectionate way. What about that leads people to say that they were “gay lovers”?

    Professor Stefano Vanacore, head of the Pompeii research team, put it this way, “When this discovery was made, that they were not two young girls, some scholars suggested there could have been an emotional connection between the pair.” Two women can’t have an emotional connection? If “emotional” is meant more like “conjugal,” then why were these two people assumed to be in a platonic relationship when they were women but in a sexual relationship now that they are thought to be men?

    Talk about viewing history through the lens of the today’s culture. One thing that modern, Western people take for granted is how much policing of male affection we live with. In the US, straight men (or gay and bi men in straight spaces) usually don’t touch each other more than a handshake or a pat on the back. In France, men kissing “hello” is OK, but not much more. In other parts of the world, including parts of Africa, straight men sometimes hold hands just out of platonic friendship.


    When what people see changes based on the assumed genders of these people – while their pose remains exactly the same –then the story is really about contemporary people’s gendered standards of behavior.

    Nail, meet head.

    Two things are at play here: one, the idea that men showing any affection towards each other must be gay. And then the assumption that the women had no “emotional” (and I agree with Bollinger that this is meant to read as “conjugal”) connection because…. they’re women? So it would just be natural for women to be in an embrace, but now that we know they are men, this rocks the scientific community?

    There are other little things at play as, well, which isn’t really addressed in the article but that I’ve seen in some comments: there seems to be a healthy dose of surprise that there were gay people even back then, when we already know that homosexuality as been recorded throughout most of human history.

    And then the idea that this makes that poignant embrace even more poignant, somehow. I admit to never really looking into what genders the two bodies were, or what type of relationship they had. For some reason it never crossed my mind to wonder. It’s a poignant image no matter what- father and son, mother and daughter, lovers or sisters, friends or cousins.

    It is the image of two people in their final embrace, there is nothing more poignant than that, and I don’t think that knowing the genders or relationship of the people changes that poignancy. For all we know, they were two men fighting and happened to land like that when the volcano killed them. We don’t know. We only know that they were unrelated men. We know next to nothing else, least of all whether they were emotionally connected or gay. 

    But the internet seems to be running with that conclusion, with very few examining all of the implications that come with that hypothesis.

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  • 05/14/17--15:02: Redacted
  • Thank you! I will be ok now.

    I love you all.

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    UPDATE: I just got a call and my aunt is in the hospital with liver failure. So I'm on my way to Seattle tonight even though I don't have the fucking money for it. Seattle Kossacks who have a place for me to crash, please send me a kosmail if you're so inclined.  

    I am terrified.

    This Tuesday started out as one of the worst days of my life. I had been unemployed for almost exactly one month, my bills were mounting, I was really hungry and more than a little overwhelmed with the situation I was facing. I was in full-fledged meltdown mode and having the worst anxiety attacks that I've ever had in my life.

    And then, my personal bully friend Colorado is the Shiznit took action, and then so did all of you.


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    So…. weekends don’t mean a lot to me now, given that I’ve decided to temporarily do the stay-at-home wife thing for the summer. (It’s worked out better than I expected!!!)

    But I’m not that far removed from the days when Saturdays were the trophy of the week, so I appreciate the wonderfulness of this day even though it doesn’t apply to me at this moment.

    I signed up to cover Saturday nights in the TC schedule so that others may enjoy their weekend unencumbered, but…..

    Turns out, I have nothing to say. Except one thing that I’ll say next weekend, but I won’t say tonight because Mrs. BB is insisting that words that I say often (“that’s a good idea!*”) are actually a Deep State way of saying “you are right.”

    And I can’t let that shit fly. ;>)

    So without further ado, let us move on to Tops:

    *Mrs. BB actually did give me a really cool idea for a diary topic, but I procrastinated for so long that I didn’t leave myself enough time to write about it in detail, so tune in next week when I (maybe, if I feel like it) write about the really good idea she had.

    I hereby declare the thread open.

    But First …... A Word From Our Sponsor:

    Top Comments recognizes the previous day's Top Mojo and strives to promote each day's outstanding comments through nominations made by Kossacks like you. Please send comments (before 9:30pm ET) by email to or by our KosMail message board

    Make sure that you include the direct link to the comment (the URL), which is available by clicking on that comment's date/time. Please let us know your Daily Kos user name if you use email so we can credit you properly. If you send a writeup with the link, we can include that as well. The diarist poster reserves the right to edit all content. Please come in — make yourself at home.

    Now, on to Top Comments:

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    Two things I’ve had since the day I was born: bad knees and dreams/nightmares that are far too real.

    My nightmares have gotten less severe since I’ve gotten older. Used to be I’d have at least two soul-rattling nightmares a week, now it’s closer to twice a year. When I was a child they were even more frequent, and they were creepy enough that by age four, when I ran into my parents’ bedroom at night, mom quit telling me that talking about them would make them seem not so scary.

    She couldn’t let me tell her about my nightmares anymore because they would either giver her nightmares, or chill her so much that she couldn’t get back to sleep.

    In the morning she’d encouraged me to write about them instead, telling me that Stephen King did the same thing, and now he’s a rich and famous writer! I so feared what would happen to my family if I unleashed my nightmares on them that I refused to write about them. I did, however, take the advice to write away my anxiety, and that’s how, at age five, writing became part of my identity.

    And bad knees? Well, who doesn’t have those? Mine are hereditary, passed on through my maternal family, generation after generation. Mine creak and crack and sound like they belong to an 80 year old, but are otherwise in pretty damn good shape compared to where the generation before me was at this age.

    So, what do the two have in common? More on this in a minute but first! A word from our sponsors:

    Here at Top Comments we strive to nourish community by rounding up some of the site's best, funniest, most mojo'd & most informative commentary, and we depend on your help!! If you see a comment by another Kossack that deserves wider recognition, please send it either to topcomments at gmail or to the Top Comments group mailbox by 9:30pm Eastern. Please please please include a few words about why you sent it in as well as your user name (even if you think we know it already :-)), so we can credit you with the find!

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    Back in 1997, my grandma and I took a trip to Vegas for our birthdays- my 18th and her 61st. The dates were a mere three days apart and it was always a bond we had. The April girls, the diamond girls. 

    For this reason, my grandma told me from a very young age that when she passed, all of her diamond jewelry would go to me, but until then she bought me diamond something on every important birthday. On my 18th birthday, I woke up in Vegas with a wrapped present that was clearly a ring.

    It was a very pretty ring, gold with a medium-sized “diamond” on top, two smaller diamonds to the side. Yeah, I knew the larger diamond wasn’t real (“but it’s a real cubic zirconium” as my grandma sometimes said), but the authenticity of the ring didn’t matter. It was beautiful, and I had long ago lost the ring she bought me for my 13th birthday.

    More on this in a minute, but first, a word from our sponsors:

    Here at Top Comments we strive to nourish community by rounding up some of the site's best, funniest, most mojo'd & most informative commentary, and we depend on your help!! If you see a comment by another Kossack that deserves wider recognition, please send it either to topcomments at gmail or to the Top Comments group mailbox by 9:30pm Eastern. Please please please include a few words about why you sent it in as well as your user name (even if you think we know it already :-)), so we can credit you with the find!

    I turned 38 this year, so the ring has been on my finger for twenty years now. My oldest niece was born in April, so I get to carry on the tradition with her: she knows it’s hers when I die, as is my grandma’s wedding ring (that I also wear along with my own).

    (Besides the birthday ring on my right ring finger and the wedding rings on my left ring finger, the only other ring I wear is a stainless steel scarab, which is also from grandma because she said it brought it luck [it hasn’t], and when my youngest niece gets jealous that the oldest one gets my diamond rings, I remind her that she gets the bug ring, because she bugs she so much about it. Ba-dum-bump. Dad humor from the aunt.)

    At some point last month I took a nap and woke up to something sharp digging into my skin. It was the ring, sans “diamond.”

    OMG. What happened?

    I was shaken up about it, obviously, but Mrs. BB calmed me down with promises that we’d take it to a jeweler and get a new diamond cut and reset it in it (I was told by a jeweler that I need to get the damn thing reset when I was shopping for the wedding rings, but I figured I’d get to it eventually…..)

    I scoured every corner of every single room I had been in, and even a few that I hadn’t. No sign of it anywhere. I couldn’t wear the ring without it snagged on things, so I’ve felt completely naked and uncomfortable for over a month now.

    And then yesterday my vacuum got clogged so I started taking it apart to unclog it, and BAM! The diamond fell out with a clump of dog hair. I picked it up and started crying, but in my excitement dropped the damn thing again and lost it. I prayed that Mrs. BB would be home late for work when I realized I had every lamp and light in the house on while I crawled around the floor with a flashlight, combing through every strand of carpet. Yes, honey, I’m carpet-surfing. No, it’s not for meth.

    After about twenty minutes, SUCCESS! I popped the diamond back in the ring and am home again.

    I still feel naked because I only wear the ring if I’m not doing anything besides sit on the couch, and I don’t do that often enough to wear it for any significant amount of time. But I, uh, probably need to get it reset before it goes back on my finger and stays there day in and day out.

    Yesterday was a wonderful day, is what I’m saying.

    So without further ado, on to Tops!

    Top Comments:

    white blitz nominated this awesome comment about optimism by GoodNewsRoundup in GNR’s diary.

    From your humble host:

    This comment from sfbob in Tevye’s diary about organ donation was a welcome bit of wonderful news.

    Top Mojo:

    21) [image] by cblodg +78
    28) Yup. by IndieGuy +74

    Top Pictures:

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