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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘hiv/aids

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Antipope’s Charlie Stross wonders if the politics of Trump might mean an end to the British nuclear deterrent.
  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew LePage’s evaluation of the TRAPPIST-1 system, where he concludes that there are in fact three plausible candidates for habitable status there.
  • Dangerous Minds shares the gender-bending photographs of Norwegian photographers Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.
  • The Extremo Files looks at the human microbiome.
  • Language Hat links to an article on Dakhani, a south Indian Urdu dialect.
  • The LRB Blog looks at policing in London.
  • The Map Room Blog notes that 90% of the hundred thousand lakes of Manitoba are officially unnamed.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the remarkable Akshardham Temple of New Delhi.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how citizen scientists detected changes in Rosetta’s comet.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer provides a visual guide for New Yorkers at the size of the proposed border wall.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a paper taking a look at the history of abortion in 20th century France.
  • Torontoist looks at the 1840s influx of Irish refugees to Toronto.
  • Understanding Society takes a look at the research that went into the discovery of the nucleus of the atom.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on Belarus.
  • Arnold Zwicky shares photos and commentary on the stars and plot of Oscar-winning film Midnight.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • ‘Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith writes about how allies should not accidentally inflict trauma.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at Juno’s findings from Jupiter.
  • Dangerous Minds shares the photos of mid-20th century Japanese surrealist Kansuke Yamamoto.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting the large majority of potentially habitable exoplanets have not been sterilized by gamma ray bursts.
  • Language Hat links to a New Yorker short story examining life in a university linguistics class.
  • Language Log argues, based on some questionable evidence, that either Chinese will transition to a Romanized script or English will start to displace written Chinese.
  • The Map Room Blog links to the MacLean’s review of the Nova Scotia Community College’s Centre of Geographic Sciences.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on the history and future of Denmark’s relationship with Australia.
  • Savage Minds wonders what future the traditional anthropological academy has under Trump.
  • Towleroad links to a crowdfunding effort for Leo Herrera’s film Founders, which will imagine a gay world unmarked by AIDS and where now departed luminaries of the 1980s and 1990s continue to exert influence. The last I checked, Herrera is already two-thirds of the way to his thirty thousand dollar goal.

[URBAN NOTE] “Quirky Exterior Details Appear as Casey House Nears Completion”

Urban Toronto’s Jack Landau reports on the interesting new renovations expected for Casey House, Toronto’s long-standing HIV/AIDS hospice.

The 1875-built William R. Johnston House—formerly known as the Grey Lady of Jarvis Street—is now awash with colour, as exterior details appear at the Jarvis and Isabella construction site. The home is becoming the Jarvis Street face for a brand new Casey House expansion. Years of paint and grime have been meticulously cleaned from the historic house’s red brick exterior, while a modern addition designed by architect Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects will soon be home to a much improved HIV/AIDS care facility.

Following the 2014 start of restoration on the existing building, construction of the 58,000 ft² addition commenced in Spring 2015 with a ceremonial ground breaking event, followed a year later by the April 2016 topping off of the four-storey addition. By this past December, work on Casey House’s exterior was substantially complete, and work is now being carried out on the interior build-out and final exterior elements before the building’s anticipated early 2017 opening.

Inspired by memorial quilts made by volunteers to honour past Casey House patients lost to HIV/AIDS, Siamak Hariri’s design for the building incorporates a range of exterior finishes. This quilt effect is achieved through a mix of three different tones of reclaimed brick, crust-faced limestone, and a combination of mirrored and pattern-enameled glass.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm

[LINK] “Massive drop in London HIV rates may be due to internet drugs”

The New Scientist‘s Clare Wilson reports on a massive drop in new HIV infections in London that is more easily explained by growing use of PrEP, the prophylactic use of new HIV drugs to prevent infections.

Gay men who defied medical advice seem to have changed the course of the HIV epidemic in the UK – for the better.

Four London sexual health clinics saw dramatic falls in new HIV infections among gay men of around 40 per cent last year, compared with 2015, new figures show.

This decline may be mostly due to thousands of people buying medicines called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which cut the chance of catching the virus, online.

“We need to be very cautious at this stage, but I can’t see what else it can be,” says Will Nutland at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has set up a website that gives people information on how to give themselves PrEP. “Something extraordinary has happened in the last 12 months because of a bunch of DIY activists working off our kitchen tables.”

The medicine has been approved in the UK as a drug for preventing HIV infection in both men and women, but it isn’t yet available on the National Health Service.

“People say, ‘Why don’t gay men just use condoms?’,” says Mags Portman of the Mortimer Market Centre in London, one of the clinics that has seen large declines in diagnoses. “They do, but not all the time. Straight people don’t use condoms all the time either.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 9, 2017 at 9:15 pm

[MUSIC] George Michael, “Jesus to a Child”

George Michael’s song “Jesus to a Child” was the first single off of his 1996 album Older, and it was the first of his songs that came out after I had begun listening systematically to pop music. Even at the time, this song though well-constructed seemed different, not like his earlier hit singles like “Faith” or “Freedom ’90”. Little did I know at a time that this song, like the album it came from, was probably the most high-profile tribute to queer grief in pop music at the time, perhaps ever. This song is a moving lyrical tribute to his lover Anselmo Feleppa, another victim of the pandemic.

Kindness in your eyes
I guess you heard me cry
You smiled at me like Jesus to a child
I’m blessed I know
Heaven sent and heaven stole
You smiled at me like Jesus to a child
And what have I learned from all this pain
I thought I never feel the same about anyone or anything again
But now I know

Johann Hari’s 2011 Huffington Post interview with Michael captures the signal importance of Feleppa in Michael’s life, the hugely positive impact of the relationship and the devastating impact of his death just two years after they met.

In a concert in Brazil one night, he spotted “a really cute guy” in the crowd, and “he was so distracting I actually avoided that end of the stage.” But afterwards Anselmo Felleppa, the Brazillian dress-designer face-from-the-crowd, came to George’s dressing room – and changed his life. “It’s very hard to be proud of your sexuality when it hasn’t given you any joy,” he says, “but once you have found somebody you really love… it’s not so tough.” Anselmo “broke down my Victorian restraint, and really showed me how to live, how to relax, how to enjoy life.” It was his first slow, tender sexual relationship with a man, he explains: “I was shagging around but I had so little experience with men that my sex life was so ridiculously inadequate for me, right until I met Anselmo really.” But it was more than that: “He was the first person I had ever loved, and I discovered he loved me too.” Even now, there is a hint of quiet incredulity in his voice.

But then – six months into their relationship – Anselmo discovered his blood was infected with the HIV virus. The sour grief that gripped George gave him – he winces at the irony – one of the best performances of his career, when he played the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert as Anselmo began to die. “Can you try to imagine being any lonelier than that?” he asks. “Try to imagine that you fought with own sexuality to the point that you’ve lost half of your twenties. And you’ve finally found a real love, and six months in it’s devastated. In 1991 it was really terrifying news. I thought I could have the disease too. I couldn’t go through it with my family because I didn’t know how to share it with them – they didn’t even know I was gay. I couldn’t tell my closest friends, because Anselmo didn’t want me to. So I’m standing on stage, paying tribute to one of my childhood idols who died of that disease… the isolation was just crazy.”

The day after Anselmo’s brain haemorrhaged away, a stricken, incoherent George finally told his parents he was gay. “They didn’t even know he existed. The thing that really killed my mum was the idea that I had gone through that without anybody,” he says. While George’s life had always been shot through with depression – “it runs in my family, I’m sure it’s genetic” – it was only now, in the early 1990s, that he descended into “a deep black hole” he thought he would never escape. He made the classic depressive’s mistake of trying to warm himself with cannabis and ecstasy. His mother’s sudden death from cancer floored him, and “it got to a point where I was smoking 25 joints a day”.

Jane Moore’s 2004 GQ interview goes into more detail, quoting Michael’s fears that Feleppa did not seek the best possible treatment for his infection because he feared the negative publicity. Feleppa died, far from Michael, when Michael was scarcely 30. I can barely imagine.

I swear I remember mentions of the press of Michael having something to do with Feleppa at the time of the release of “Jesus to a Child”, even mentioning how this was a tribute to the man without mentioning the significance of the man. The significance of the song, though, is clear: Michael was paying tribute to the man he loved, the man who aved him and the man whose loss prostrated him. Of all the early music groups active in the first half of the 1990s, only the Pet Shop Boys come close to this, in their faintly elegiac cover of “Go West” or their powerful “Being Boring”. Their approaches, though real and definitely meaningful, were more oblique than Michael’s.

What else can I do but congratulate him? Michael mattered.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 5, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • At Apostrophen, ‘Nathan Smith talks about how he made a tradition out of Christmas tree ornamentation over the past twenty years.
  • blogTO notes that Toronto’s waterfront has major E Coli issues.
  • Crooked Timber notes the potential for the recent by-election in London, fought on Brexit and lost by the Tories, to mean something.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on a search for radio flares from brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that China has been installing ecologies on its artificial South China Sea islands.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers what it means to be an ally.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the complex peace negotiations in Colombia.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a map of American infrastructure.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a one-terabyte drive passed from person to person that serves as a sort of Internet in Cuba.
  • Towleroad notes a film project by one Leo Herrera that aims to imagine what prominent AIDS victims would have done and been like had their not been killed by the epidemic.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the complexities surrounding Brexit.
  • Arnold Zwicky has had enough with linguistic prescriptivism.

[MUSIC] Annie Lennox, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”

This Thursday, a [MUSIC] day, also happens to be World AIDS Day. My song choice was inevitable.

I blogged Annie Lennox’s cover of the Cole Porter song “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” back in January 2009. This cover, taken from the 1990 AIDS fundraising album Red Hot + Blue, is perhaps her most beautiful song. The sound of her full voice against the sparse piano and Paris cafe accordion sends chills down my spine. She evokes love and loss–of the epidemic, of the human condition in general–so superbly here she could make me cry.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 1, 2016 at 10:59 pm