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joe AREVALO
Lives in Frankfurt am Main, DE-HE
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“[W]hen we are young and literary, we often experience things in the present with a nostalgia-in-advance, but we seldom guess what we will truly prize years from now. I always placed a high value on friendship, but even I had no way of guessing back then that it was more fun to get drunk with a friend than with a lover. Love is a source of anxiety until it is a source of boredom; only friendship feeds the spirit. Love raises great expectations in us that it never satisfies; the hopes based on friendship are milder and in the present, and they exist only because they have already been rewarded. Love is a script about just a few repeated themes we have a hard time following, though we make every effort to conform to its tone. Friendship is a permis de sejour that enables us to go anywhere and do anything exactly as our whims dictate,” – Edmund White, City Boy: My Life in New York in the 1960s and ’70s.
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About the character of God, as represented in the New and the Old Testaments.
Autobiography of MARK TWAIN, Tuesday, June 19, 1906

Our Bible reveals to us the character of our God with minute and remorseless exactness. The portrait is substantially that of a man—if one can imagine a man charged and overcharged with evil impulses far beyond the human limit; a personage whom no one, perhaps, would desire to associate with, now that Nero and Caligula are dead. In the Old Testament His acts expose His vindictive, unjust, ungenerous, pitiless and vengeful nature constantly. He is always punishing—punishing trifling misdeeds with thousand-fold severity; punishing innocent children for the misdeeds of their parents; punishing unoffending populations for the misdeeds of their rulers; even descending to wreak bloody vengeance upon harmless calves and lambs and sheep and bullocks, as punishment for inconsequential trespasses committed by their proprietors. It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading, by contrast.

It begins with an inexcusable treachery, and that is the keynote of the entire biography. That beginning must have been invented in a pirate’s nursery, it is so malign and so childish. To Adam is forbidden the fruit of a certain tree—and he is gravely informed that if he disobeys he shall die. How could that be expected to impress Adam? Adam was merely a man in stature; in knowledge and experience he was in no way the superior of a baby of two years of [age; he] could have no idea of what the word death meant. He had never seen a dead thing; he had never heard of a dead thing before. The word meant nothing to him. If the Adam child had been warned that if he ate of the apples he would be transformed into a meridian of longitude, that threat would have been the equivalent of the other, since neither of them could mean anything to him.

The watery intellect that invented the memorable threat could be depended on to supplement it with other banalities and low grade notions of justice and fairness, and that is what happened. It was decreed that all of Adam’s descendants, to the latest day, should be punished for the baby’s trespass against a law of his nursery fulminated against him before he was out of his diapers. For thousands and thousands of years, his posterity, individual by individual, has been unceasingly hunted and harried with afflictions in punishment of the juvenile misdemeanor which is grandiloquently called Adam’s Sin. And during all that vast lapse of time, there has been no lack of rabbins and popes and bishops and priests and parsons and lay slaves eager to applaud this infamy, maintain the unassailable justice and righteousness of it, and praise its Author in terms of flattery so gross and extravagant that none but a God could listen to it and not hide His face in disgust and embarrassment. Hardened to flattery as our Oriental potentates are, through long experience, not even they would be able to endure the rank quality of it which our God endures with complacency and satisfaction from our pulpits every Sunday.

We brazenly call our God the source of mercy, while we are aware, all the time, that [page 129] there is not an authentic instance in history of His ever having exercised that virtue. We call Him the source of morals, while we know by His history and by His daily conduct, as perceived with our own senses, that He is totally destitute of anything resembling morals. We call Him Father, and not in derision, although we would detest and denounce any earthly father who should inflict upon his child a thousandth part of the pains and miseries and cruelties which our God deals out to His children every day, and has dealt out to them daily during all the centuries since the crime of creating Adam was committed.

We deal in a curious and laughable confusion of notions concerning God. We divide Him in two, bring half of Him down to an obscure and infinitesimal corner of the world to confer salvation upon a little colony of Jews—and only Jews, no one else—and leave the other half of Him throned in heaven and looking down and eagerly and anxiously [watching] for results. We reverently study the history of the earthly half, and deduce from it the conviction that the earthly half has reformed, is equipped with morals and virtues, and in no way resembles the abandoned, malignant half that abides upon the throne. We conceive that the earthly half is just, merciful, charitable, benevolent, forgiving, and full of sympathy for the sufferings of mankind and anxious to remove them. Apparently we deduce this character not by examining facts, but by diligently declining to search them, measure them, and weigh them. The earthly half requires us to be merciful, and sets us an example by inventing a lake of fire and brimstone in which all of us who fail to recognize and worship Him as God are to be burned through all eternity. And not only we, who are offered these terms, are to be thus burned if we neglect them, but also the earlier billions of human beings are to suffer this awful fate, although they all lived and died without ever having heard of Him or the terms at all. This exhibition of mercifulness may be called gorgeous. We have nothing approaching it among human savages, nor among the wild beasts of the jungle. We are required to forgive our brother [seventy times seven times], and be satisfied and content if on our death-bed, after a pious life, our soul escape from our body before the hurrying priest can get to us and furnish it a pass with his mumblings and candles and incantations. This example of the forgiving spirit may also be pronounced gorgeous.

We are told that the two halves of our God are only seemingly disconnected by their separation; that in very fact the two halves remain one, and equally powerful, notwithstanding the separation. This being the case, the earthly half—who mourns over the sufferings of mankind and would like to remove them, and is quite competent to remove them at any moment He may choose—satisfies Himself with restoring sight to a blind person, here and there, instead of restoring it to all the blind; cures a cripple, here and there, instead of curing all the cripples; furnishes to five thousand famishing persons a meal, and lets the rest of the millions that are hungry remain hungry—and all the time He admonishes inefficient man to cure these ills which God Himself inflicted upon him, and which He could extinguish with a word if He chose to do it, and thus do a plain duty which He had neglected from the beginning and always will neglect while time shall last. He raised several dead persons to life. He manifestly regarded this as a kindness. If it was a kindness it was not just to confine it to a [half a dozen] persons. He [page 130] should have raised the rest of the dead. I would not do it myself, for I think the dead are the only human beings who are really well off—but I merely mention it, in passing, as one of those curious incongruities with which our Bible history is heavily overcharged.

Whereas the God of the Old Testament is a fearful and repulsive character, He]is at least consistent. He is frank and outspoken. He makes no pretense to the possession of a moral or a virtue of any kind—except with His mouth. No such thing is anywhere discoverable in His conduct. I think He comes infinitely nearer to being respectworthy than does His reformed self, as guilelessly exposed in the New Testament. Nothing in all history—nor even His massed history combined—remotely approaches in atrocity the invention of hell.

His heavenly self, His Old Testament self, is sweetness and gentleness and respectability, compared with His reformed earthly self. In heaven He claims not a single merit, and hasn’t one—outside of those claimed by His mouth—whereas in the earth He claims every merit in the entire catalogue of merits, yet practised them only now and then, penuriously, and finished by conferring hell upon us, which abolished all His fictitious merits in a body.
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If you're an LGBT athlete and would like to connect with other young athletes like yourself, visit GO! Athletes.: http://www.goathletes.org

A support network of current and former LGBTQ collegiate and high school student athletes.
A support network of current and former LGBTQ collegiate and high school student athletes.
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MALTA
This photo shows Birgu, one of the three cities opposite Valletta. This photo was published as cover art for the June 2014 issue of Lufthansa.

http://lifeasahuman.com/2014/photography/malta-the-historical-island/
Fritz Grimm,  A German photographer based in Malta http://fritz.photography/
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MALTA
Figolli (Marzipan-Filled Easter Pastries)
Figolli are cookies filled with almond paste "intrita" or sometimes, date paste placed  between two similar shapes of pastry and and cut out to represent symbolic figures. They are traditionally prepared for Easter and decorated with sugar icing  ("ġelu") or chocolate and often, an Easter egg is put on top of each figolli. They are rather large cookies! 

Since the Maltese language has been strongly influenced by Latin and Italian, it's possible that the word figolla (plural, figolli) is a worn-down version of the word figura, a form, shape, or image. Whatever the case, around Easter time in Malta, figolli are in every baker's window, and are also sold in shops and by various organizations to benefit charities.

Traditionally they were a post-Lenten treat intended mostly for children. The oldest shapes were of men and women (something like gingerbread men and women), and also fish and baskets -- possibly a reference to ancient symbols of fertility. But later other shapes started turning up -- ducks and bunnies, cars and butterflies. Whatever the shape, figolli are brightly decorated in icing and chocolate, and the biggest ones often incorporate a whole Easter egg (real or chocolate) wrapped in foil or paper.

Photos: Josette Camilleri
h/t 
http://www.europeancuisines.com/Malta-Maltese-Figolla-Figolli-Marzipan-Filled-Easter-Pastries
http://sweetartichoke.com/2011/04/21/figolli-maltese-cookies-for-easter-biscuits-maltais-de-paques/
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Il-Warda tal-Irjieh bil-Malti

It-Tramuntana - north
Il-Nofsinhar - south
Il-lvant - east
Il-Punent - west
Il-Majjistral - north west
Il-Lbiċ - south east
Il-Grigal - north east
Ix-Xlokk - south west

Mid points are referred to by joining the two points with some alterations

South south east - Il-Nofsinhar ll-Lbiċ
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Happy Easter to "This Business"


h/t: Photo: Twitter ‏(@joetamborello) via GayStarNews
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A Little Bit of Pink Pip and Pop

I saw a dream like this
(in collaboration with Aurelia Carbone & Alex Bishop-Thorpe)
Arte Magre - from the opaque
Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide 2013

http://somethingaboutmagazine.com/a/little-bit-pink-pip-pop-%E2%98%BC/
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MALTA
The zebra crossing on St Anne Street in Floriana was given a new image yesterday. It was painted with the rainbow colours to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people. The initiative was taken by the Civil Liberties Ministry to mark the first anniversary of the Civil...
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Further vs Farther
While both words have to do with measuring, what they measure is different.

#englishsoup
Last updated 08 March 2015 Farther refers to length or distance. It is the comparative form of the word far when referring to distance. The clue is the stem far. This obviously relates to physical distance. Further me...
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Moving out of the sphere of achievement into the sphere of enjoyment and appreciation and relaxing to the wonder of it all.

I'm an aspiring hobby-blogger.

"You only are free when you realize you belong no place - you belong every place - no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great."
 ~ Maya Angelou
Places lived: Los Angeles, Mammoth Lakes, Reno, San Francisco. 
Hometown: Maywood, California.
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Joseph Arevalo-Adam