Monday, December 24, 2012

A French accent isn't that hard

A French accent isn't that hard and there is such a thing as French actors (and there is even such a thing as unpretentious French actors) so I don't understand why some movies have people speaking with a British accent when the character is French.  If it were an all-British production it would be more understandable but even the American actors put on a British accent. Almost everything is in English except they will say "monsieur" and "mademoiselle" instead of Sir and Madam and French proper names, some or all written text, and the names of locations are said in French.

They could simply make the point that the setting is France with a graphic in the beginning that says "Location : Paris, France" and then carry on in English. Or they could do it in French and subtitle it.

I assume the reasoning is due to one of or several of the following :
a) A shortcut to let it sound foreign and yet understandable.
b) Hollywood has a very, very poor grasp of geography.
c) A ploy to piss off the frenchies.

A couple examples from the movie Hugo (2011)  (keep in mind that every single character is supposed to be French) :

As I recall, another example would be the 1998 movie version of Les Misérables which had a mess of accents, mostly not French – specifically, Liam Neeson didn't bother putting on an accent and Claire Danes' French character alternated between an American and a British accent.


It's an interesting poster/mural from the movie Hugo.  A globe, a chubby body with something exiting his heart, a blob and a VU on either side. It looks vaguely familiar but I can't place it. I'd love to know what it is.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How Orwellian #2

Military-style assault weapons should be banned in ways that honor the Second Amendment

The NRA and the USA By Brent Budowsky, 12/19/12

Next he'll want to censor books in ways that honor the First Amendment.  And then he'll want to allow unreasonable searches and seizures in ways that honor the Fourth Amendment. And then he'll want to allow people to own slaves in a way that honors the Thirteenth Amendment.

see a previous example of Orwellian doublespeak.

Friday, December 21, 2012


A publisher has an idea : take existing comic book titles and put out a special, extra large issue. Since it has more pages than a regular comic it makes sense to highlight that fact. So, it makes sense to add "Giant-Size" to a regular title and you get "Giant-Size Spider-man" and "Giant-Size Hulk" etc…

But one of the titles is called "Man-Thing." Oh, well, the idea is already rolling. Most kids wouldn't notice anything odd but I bet there were giggles in the office. Maybe people would buy a copy just so they can say "Sure, I have a Giant-Size Man-Thing."

cover of Giant-Size Man-Thing #2 comic book (but when you say Giant-Size Man-Thing some people might not think you are talking about a comic book)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Context matters

Betty and Me #16 comic book where the text out of context of the image could sound more sexually suggestive than one expects for an Archie Comic. Specifically, Betty asks 'Archie, did you have any trouble rescuing me?' and he responds 'I sure did Betty! I had to beat off three other guys'
Betty and Me #16 comic book where the text out of context of the image could sound more sexually suggestive than one expects for an Archie Comic.

Friday, December 14, 2012

"You see, I'm a lawyer."

In the movie Doctor Detroit (1983), Dan Aykroyd asks if he can buy/rent the clothes of a surprisingly self-aware lawyer :

Dan Aykroyd : Would you be willing to part with certain elements of your unique wardrobe for a cash retainer?
Lawyer : Sell my clothes?! … look, if there were thoughts in that direction, I mean, what sort of offer are we kinda talking about?
Dan Aykroyd : Well, I wouldn't want to insult you…
Lawyer : You can't insult me, you see, I'm a lawyer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Goya's Maja

animated GIF alternating between Francisco Goya's Maja nude (La maja desnuda) and his Maja clothed (La maja vestida) making it look like the quickest striptease ever

A comparison of Francisco Goya's Maja nude (La maja desnuda) and his Maja clothed (La maja vestida). I had thought that they were the same figure with clothes painted on one but they are not an exact match.

And although the canvases are the same size (38 x 75 inches) the nude figure is smaller (the clothed figure had to be scaled down to make the comparison)

photo of Francisco Goya's Maja Nude and Maja Clothed side by side at the Prado
photo of Las Majas side by side at the Prado, Spain

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dana Scully unarmed

From the 1993 episode of the X-Files season 1 episode 2 (if you count the pilot as episode 1, otherwise it would be season1 episode 1) titled "Deep Throat" FBI Agent Dana Scully meets a man in black with an intense interest in national security who takes her gun and removes the magazine :
FBI Agent Dana Scully meets a man in black who looks with sunglassed wonder at her empty magazine as she realizes how embarrassing 'loading it all the way hurts my thumb' sounds from a FBI agent
Oh, she is sooooo embarrassed as he looks disapprovingly at the empty magazine.
(frame 1 you can see him pull the magazine from the pistol.
frame 2 you can see his skin through the magazine.
frame 3 you can see the greenery through the magazine. Look away, Dana.)

Rule number one of the Rules for a Gunfight is "Bring a gun…" the unmentioned corollary is bring a loaded gun. (although it is mentioned in these modified rules for a gunfight)

The light colored part at the top of the magazine may be the follower or a cartridge so it may not be an unloaded gun but underloaded. Later in the episode, she holds a guy at gunpoint and there is a distinct possibility she might want more bullets in that situation (Rule 2 of the Rules for a Gunfight is "Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice…")

The Internet Movie Firearms Database identifies her pistol as a Bernardelli Mod.60 32 ACP pocket pistol.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Like a ship in the sky

The KK100 in Shenzhen, China looks like the Titanic sinking. It's like a ship in the sky … which has sunk and  embedded into the earth.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What, Me Worry?

An Alfred E. Newman lookalike asking me worry? with a handwritten note.

An Alfred E. Neuman lookalike asking "Me worry?" with a handwritten note comparing the recipient to the goofball on the postcard. The postcard predates Alfred E. Neuman and Mad Magazine by decades.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How Orwellian : Like Uganda?

"In their place" Atlas of Women In The World pages 18-19

In the book Atlas of Women In The World section noting how women are kept "in their place" the USA is classified like Uganda where a man can inherit his dead brother's wives and where a man can claim "unmarried women as wives by raping them" and like Swaziland where "married women are legal minors."

The yellowish color on the map above indicates that "cultural norms, religious fundamentalism, or nationalist pressure are imposing increasing social restrictions on women" and the particulars noted for the US are all abortion related.

Curiously, quite a few countries that have much stricter abortion laws than the US but are displayed in a neutral tan color.  Ireland and many countries in Central and South America ban abortion in all circumstances except to save the life of the mother.

How many US states limit abortion to government approved reasons like say Japan, South Korea, Finland and Poland? Zero. (Finland and Poland are tan while South Korea and Japan are not visible because they are covered by the map's key. I hope the mapmaker is suitable embarrassed by that incompetence and especially by the big empty space on the bottom right of the page.)

Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain have gestational limits that are more restrictive than any US state but apparently that is hunkydory because they are neutral tan, too.

Even Angola and Nicaragua get a pass and are tan while they ban abortion in all circumstances including to save the life of the mother.

The map notes that Venezuela allows a man who rapes a woman to marry her to avoid punishment but it isn't colored yellow. Venezuela remains neutral tan despite banning abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother.

France has troubled banlieues where the organization Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissive) was born because women (no matter their beliefs) are expected to follow strict islamic rules or face violence. In France, convicted gang rapists get a pathetic and outrageous slap on the wrist as punishment : "two were given a year in prison; the third, six months; and the fourth, a suspended sentence two were given a year in prison; the third, six months; and the fourth, a suspended sentence" Despite all this France is neutral tan.

This map says a lot by what it doesn't show. Mostly, that it is an incompetently made map.

(the links above are to the Center for Reproductive Rights overview of world abortion laws (PDF link) and to the Guttmacher Institute's overview of US state laws (PDF link). This UN chart (PDF link) also has some interesting bits)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This is why modern men wear pants

Hercules And Diomedes sculpture by Vincenzo de Rossi, 1550 Diomedes grabs Herc's junk!
That's not what he meant when he asked "Give me a hand…"

Hercules And Diomedes by Vincenzo de Rossi, 1550.

They're wrestling! Hercules is trying to throw King Diomedes of Thrace to his own man-eating mares and Diomedes is using a below the belt move to try to prevent it.

This is why modern men wear pants or as some people refer to jeans : tactical anti-wang grabber defensive armor.

While other people are almost certainly checking out Hercules' junk or Diomedes' balls, I'm noticing that Herc has stubby little legs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lesbian Symbol

Studies For The Libyan Sibyl of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

Did I write Lesbian Symbol? Sorry, I meant Libyan Sibyl.

Studies For The Libyan Sibyl of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, circa 1510-11. It is only 11 3/8 x 8 7/16 inches and is simply marvelous. I'm not the only one as evidenced by the fact that people, generation after generation, have looked at it and decided to go to the trouble to keep a fragile sheet of paper safe and intact for over 500 years.

The use and the economy of line is extraordinary. Yet it was intended as a working drawing with scribbles and splatters of ink.  The varying states of completion of various elements makes it a lesson in drawing for those with the talent to learn from it.

I should mention that the back of the sheet, which is also a study for the Libyan Sibil, is much less impressive. The Libyan Sibil as painted on the Sistine Chapel lacks much of the charm of the drawing although who doesn't like a giant book. (here is a zoomable view of the Sistine Chapel)

A sibyl is any of certain women of antiquity reputed to possess powers of prophecy or divination. (The Libyan Sibyl is a woman but I think this drawing is clearly of a man.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Erasing the Past part 2

(This post is continued from Erasing the Past part 1)

Michelangelo's Last Judgement and Il Braghettone (the breeches maker) (1564)

drawing by Il Braghettone after Michelangelo (on left) and a detail of Michelangelo's Last Judgement with the clothed version of the figure (on right).

Daniele Ricciarelli (c. 1509 – April 4, 1566), better known as Daniele da Volterra, was an Italian mannerist painter and sculptor who, after Michelangelo's death, was was hired to cover the genitals in Michelangelo's Last Judgment with vestments and loincloths. This earned him the nickname "Il Braghettone" ("the breeches maker")

During restoration between 1980 and 1994, some of Il Braghettone's censorship/coverings were removed.

A fig leaf for copy of Michelangelo's David (1857)

A plaster cast of Michelangelo's David was given to the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). Supposedly, Queen Victoria was shocked by the nakedness of the figure so a fig leaf was commissioned to be affixed to the statue during Royal visits. Interestingly, while the museum has other nude statues, it seems only David had received a fig leaf.

The statue of David is larger than life size at 17 feet tall (5.17m) and the fig leaf is equally large at 30cm x 40cm x 17cm and stored on the back of David's plinth.

a fig leaf for David

Here is a photo of the statue of David with the fig leaf attached circa 1858. So, the answer is yes, you can bowdlerize a statue.

Trotsky, L.B. Kamenev and A.B. Khalatov disappear (1920s)

Trotsky (saluting while in military cap to the right of Lenin), L.B. Kamenev (who was in glasses and beard to the left of Lenin), Artashes Khalatov (the bearded man who was standing in front of the child and Trotsky) an unknown man between Lenin and Trotsky.
Original from the 1920s with Lenin at the center

If the USSR had lasted longer eventually Lenin probably would have been the only person left in the picture. 
Besides being airbrushed from photos, there were other consequences to a totalitarian society. Lev Borisovich (L.B.) Kamenev was kicked out of the Communist Party several times, was readmitted after a public displays of contriteness and in 1936 he, along with 15 other Old Bolsheviks, was interrogated, told that he and his life and his son's life would be spared if he confessed, he was subject to a show trial and (contrary to the previous promises) executed.

Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927, deported from the Soviet Union in 1929 (deported doesn't seem like the right word for getting kicked out your own country – exiled might be better), and killed by a Soviet NKVD agent with an ice ax to the head in 1940.

A.B. Khalatov, the man in charge of the Soviet state publishing house Goszidat, was executed in 1938.

Lenin and Gorky and others (1920)

before includes Vladimir Lenin (center), Maxim Gorky (behind Lenin), Lev Mikhailovich Karakhan (far left in hat & beard), Karl Radek (with cigarette), Nikolai Bukharin (cigarette in hand), Mikhail Lashevich (in uniform), Maxim Peshkov (behind pillar), Sergei Zorin (hat), Zinoviev (white tie), M.N. Roy (black tie & jacket), Maria Ulyanova (Lenin's sister) and Abram Belenky (foreground in sunhat) 

detail of above photo to better contrast to the edited photo below

Everyone except Lenin and Gorky have either been cropped or airbrushed away. 
Note that some of the posts supporting the porch fence have been repaired by the retoucher but have been poorly drawn making them appear unevenly spaced.

Scans from The Commissar Vanishes p74-75. The top photo is from an album given to foreign delegates to the Second Congress of the Communist International July 19, 1920 taken at the Uritsky Palace. 

What happened to the people in the photo?
Vladimir Lenin (center - died 1924 of stroke)
Maxim Gorky (behind Lenin - died in 1936, possibly killed by the NKVD)

What happened to those disappeared from the photo : 
- Lev Mikhailovich Karakhan (far left in hat & beard - arrested and executed in 1937)
Nikolai Bukharin (cigarette in hand - arrested and executed in 1938)
Mikhail Lashevich (in uniform - expelled from the Central Committee in 1926, expelled from the Communist Party in 1927, died in 1928 from, it is said, either a car accident or suicide, and had his grave marker removed in the 1930s)
Maxim Peshkov (behind pillar - Gorky's son, died 1934)
Sergei Zorin (hat - fate unknown)
Zinoviev (white tie - arrested and executed in 1936)
M.N. Roy (black tie & jacket - returned to India)
Maria Ulyanova (Lenin's sister - died 1937
Abram Belenky (foreground in sunhat - arrested and executed in 1939

Grigorii Petrovsky is squeezed out (1922)

Participants at the 11th Congress of the Communist Party in Moscow, April 1922. Left to right : Emilian Yaroslavsky (alternatively spelled Yemelyan), Mikhail Kalinin, Josef Stalin, Grigorii Petrovsky (alternatively spelled Grigory), and Sergo Ordjonikidze.

Grigorii Petrovsky disappears and Sergo Ordjonikidze slides over to stand next to Stalin.

From the book on Soviet and specifically Stalin's censorship The Commissar Vanishes by David King page 83. The retoucher seems to have been unsure of where Grigorii Petrovsky's arm ends and Sergo Ordjonikidze's arm begins. Another version of this photo exists cropped so that only Stalin is visible.

Grigorii Petrovsky was the Head of the Ukrainian Central Committee, an organizer of the Ukrainian famine and in 1939 he was criticized for condoning "enemies of the people" and removed from all posts. He survived Stalin and died in 1958.

Of those remaining in the photo : Officially, Grigory "Sergo" Ordjonikidze died of a heart attack but Nikita Khrushchev claimed he committed suicide due to his conflicts with Stalin.

Mikhail Kalinin survived the purges, retired in 1946 and died that same year. His wife, however, had been arrested in 1938, tortured until she confessed to counter-revolutionary activities and sent to a labor camp.

Emilian Yaroslavsky had long been an active supporter of Stalin and had written a book titled "On Comrade Stalin" where Stalin is described as "leader of the people" and he repeatedly emphasizes the "ruthlessness of Stalin's enemies." IT seems his sycophancy paid off and he survived the 1930s and didn't die until 1943.

The altered photo's implication is that Russians can't make evenly spaced wallpaper.

The New Yorker and New York Times change who bombed the "Napalm Girl" (1972)

"Napalm Girl"
From the New Yorker in 2012 : " …shots of screaming schoolkids fleeing down a lonely road disturbingly presage the iconic news image of Vietnamese children escaping from American napalm attacks"

From the New York Times (May 12, 2012) : "…the aftermath of one of the thousands of bombings in the countryside by American planes: a group of terror-stricken children fleeing the scene, a girl in the middle of the group screaming and naked, her clothes incinerated by burning napalm." (since corrected)

On June 8, 1972, napalm was dropped near the village Trang Bang in Vietnam not by Americans but by the South Vietnamese Air Force. Campbell contacted the Times and the initial response by the NYTimes was “You are correct that the bombing in question was conducted by the South Vietnamese Air Force. However, the obituary referred only to ‘American planes,’ and there does not seem to be any doubt that this plane was American –- a Douglas A-1 Skyraider, to be precise.

Hypothetically, if Canadian contractors had built 50.1% of the plane would the Times really refer to them as "Canadian planes?"

Dr. David Abraham's The Collapse of the Weimar Republic: Political Economy and Crisis (1981)

Princeton professor Dr. David Abraham's book The Collapse of the Weimar Republic: Political Economy and Crisis was found by Yale's Dr. Henry A. Turner and UC Berkeley's Gerald Feldman to contain quotations that could not be supported by his cited works.  From the New York Times Dec 23, 1984 :

For example, on page 320 of Dr. Abraham's work, an exchange is quoted between two powerful German executives - Hjalmar Schacht, a former president of the Reichsbank, and Paul Reusch, head of a heavy-industry empire based in Oberhausen. Dr. Abraham presents the exchange after saying that Germany's leading industrialists had concluded by early 1932 ''that Nazi participation in or control of the government would provide the best way out of the political crisis while providing auspicious possibilities for a profitable economic recovery.''

Dr. Abraham wrote, ''The following exhange between Schacht and Reusch was characteristic:

The Nazis are not to be circumvented. More than that, they are the positive force. We should contribute to them and their efforts and assist them in altering some of the utopian aspects of their economic policies. (Schacht) After a productive two-hour talk with Hitler yesterday, I fully and completely agree with your suggestions . . . I find myself in complete sympathy with the National Socialists, though they are a bit tactless. (Reusch) (I have begun) a collection for the purpose of supporting them and enlightening them on economic issues. (Schacht)''

The original letters are quite different. [some differences bolded above] Mr. Schacht nowhere in his first letter calls the Nazis ''the positive force.'' Nor does he say, ''We should contribute to them and their efforts.'' He instead proposes to Reusch that they help finance some economists to persuade the Nazis to abandon the ''nonsense'' in their economic ideas.

Mr. Reusch, in his actual response, does not call his talk with Hitler ''productive,'' and he is agreeing to another proposal than the one implied. Mr. Reusch does not say, ''I find myself in complete sympathy with the National Socialists, though they are a bit tactless.''

And Mr. Schacht's later statement that he has begun a collection for the purpose of ''supporting them'' does not appear in the original.

He conceded that quotations on pages 236, 237, 254, 268, 272, 316 and elsewhere were ''inadequate,'' ''compressed'' or ''wrong.'' He also granted, after a reporter examined two of his notecards, that he had made errors in transcribing his notes into his text, as well as in notetaking.

Although David Abraham protested that his were innocent mistakes made by carelessness and not out of malice or an intention to deceive but it is difficult to understand how some of the errors were made.

University of Wisconsin Madison photoshopping diversity (2000)

At the University of Wisconsin Madison, Diallo Shabazz was photoshopped onto the cover of the UW admission application's cover (among other material).

University of Wisconsin Madison application photoshopped to show Diallo Shabazz at a football game he never attended 

This is the original photo that was deemed to contain an insufficient number of black guys 

Diallo did attend the University of Wisconsin Madison but if they wanted to show him at the football game then they should have invited him. While other ads do photoshop elements in or out, most ad photos are created to be illustrations while this was put forward as reality.

One can't help but wonder why other groups were not photoshopped into the photo. The implication is that a Pacific Islander or an Asian or a Native American or any number of potential groups were left out because while they wanted to show one black face they also wanted to show no groups other than blacks & whites. Or perhaps because they thought one person would serve as a token for minorities in general.

Most likely, photoshopping one face was an attempt at being sneaky while photoshopping in a representative for an ever growing list of groups would become a farce.

Historical fabrication in Arming America : The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000)

In 2000, Emory University Professor Michael Bellesiles’s book Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture was published to initial acclaim and won the Bancroft Prize in 2001. The prize was rescinded after it was shown that Bellesiles appeared to have fabricated evidence for his claims multiple times. An investigation by Emory University led to his resigning his tenured position at Emory.

An example (image from "Why Footnotes Matter : Checking Arming America's Claims" by Clayton Cramer)

Bellesiles claimed to quote the Militia Act of 1792 as saying : "every citizen so enrolled, shall… be constantly provided with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints" 

But the law actually says [bold added to highlight the difference from the Bellesiles quote] : "every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints…" 

Bellesiles tried to explain that he inadvertently cited the 1792 act instead of the 1803 Militia Act but while the latter includes the phrase "constantly provided" it doesn't match his quotation either.  (the 1803 Militia Act  [bold added to highlight the difference from the Bellesiles quote] : "That every citizen duly enrolled in the militia, shall be constantly provided with arms, accoutrements, and ammunition."
comparing a scan of Arming America and a scan of inconvenient source material.

An example from the Emory University report :
"The most egregious misrepresentation has to do with his handling of the more than 900 cases reported by Alice Hanson Jones. When critics pointed out that Jones’ data disagreed with his, Bellesiles responded by explaining that he did NOT include Jones’s data in his computations because her inventories, taken during the build-up to the American revolution, showed a disproportionately high number of guns! Here is a clear admission of misrepresentation, since the label on column one in Table One clearly says "1765-1790." If Professor Bellesiles silently excluded data from the years 1774-1776, as he asserts, precisely because they failed to show low numbers of guns, he has willingly misrepresented the evidence. "

Additionally, Bellesiles supposedly counted guns listed in San Francisco County probate inventories on microfilm at a Georgia archive, changed his story when the Georgia archive didn't have the microfilm, then he claimed to have read them at the San Francisco library but that the library he cited says they were destroyed in 1906, he claimed to have read probate records in courthouses that hadn't housed those records in years, falsely claimed travel narratives didn't mention guns when they did, misrepresented sources, misrepresented militia records and miscounted guns listed in probate records. Many problems with Arming America are listed by Cramer, the Emory report and by Jim Lindgren's review of Bellesiles's errors

As a postscript, in 2010, Bellesiles's new publisher tried to rewrite history to present Bellesiles as a victim of  "an infamous ‘swiftboating’ campaign by the National Rifle Association" and not as the Emory investigation found (Emory p18) that "Professor Bellesiles contravened these professional norms, both as expressed in the Committee charge and in the American Historical Association’s definition of scholarly “integrity”…"

Maureen Dowd's Dowdification in the New York Times (2003)

Dowdification as described by Best of the Web

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote :
Busy chasing off Saddam, the president and vice president had told us that Al Qaeda was spent. "Al Qaeda is on the run," President Bush said last week. "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. . . . They're not a problem anymore."
The use of ellipses in quoted material is entirely legitimate, but not when it changes the meaning. Many a blogger noted that Dowd did just that, and did so quite egregiously. Here's what Bush actually said, according to the official White House transcript, with the portion Dowd omitted in bold:
Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly, but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore.
Dowd's bowdlerization of the quote changed the antecedent of they, making it appear as if Bush had said al Qaeda as a whole was "not a problem anymore"--something no one claims--rather than that its dead and captured members are no longer a problem, something no one can deny. notes that many liberal commentators, in print and on television, picked up Dowd's misleading quote.

Sandy Berger steals and destroys documents from the National Archives (2004)

Former National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, pilfered 5 classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed 3 of them.

Berger's associates admit he took five copies of an after-action report detailing the 2000 millennium terror plot from the Archives. The aides say Berger returned to his office, discovered that three of the copies appeared to be duplicates and cut them up with scissors.

The revelations were a dramatic change from Berger's claim last year that he had made an "honest mistake" and either misplaced or unintentionally threw the documents away.

Berger was fined $50,000 but surprisingly received not even a single day of jail time.

 (This is extra dickish because his denial that he took the documents, if it had been believed, would lead to the blame falling on an innocent National Archives employee.)


Sunday, November 18, 2012


Apotheosis of Saint Bernardino attributed to Andrea Pozzo (1642,-1709 Venice)
(click to embiggen)

Apotheosis of Saint Bernardino attributed to Andrea Pozzo (1642,-1709 Venice)

Nothing inspires spirituality like the disembodied heads of small children floating in the clouds.

The angel in blue on the right is obviously sitting on an invisible stool.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

French postcard

Here's a french postcard :

You can tell it is a French postcard because it stays "Carte Postale" on it which is French for "post card".

(for anyone searching for "french postcard" wanting to see erotic naked photographs of women then here is the front of the card).

labeled "J. Mandel 273 A-N"

(as a reminder of the inevitable human mortality I'll point out the model is probably dead. If she isn't then by now she is, to be kind, vintage – to be unkind she is ancient, decrepit, creased, wrinkled, robbed of many of her charms by age and gravity and probably looks like a she was made of wax and kept too close to a flame with her bounce and jiggle replaced with a sagging waddle.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

a monkey reading a newspaper

click to embiggen

This is Fine Art as scanned from a Christie's East auction catalogue.

Joseph Schippers (Belgian, 1868-1950) Le Vieux Politique, painted 1900, oil on panel.

"La Vieux Politique" is French for "The Old Politics"

Is that a map on the top left? It vaguely looks like Austria-Hungary.

I don't know much about Joseph Schippers other than he seemed to spend more time than your average painter painting monkeys acting like people.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The stupidest cops in New York City

To be fair, they may not be the stupidest cops in NYC; they might just be ignorant of the law and incompetent.

from Law & Order : Special Victims Unit season 7 episode 6 entitled "Raw" :

Ice T (sic) : What about the weapon Munch found on the roof? Any prints?
Cragen : No, but the serial number's intact.
Cragen : John, where are we with the gun trace?
Munch : on a cross country tour. It was lovingly manufactured in Sturgis, South Dakota, made it's way to a wholesale distributor in Brainerd, Minnesota who then shipped it to a whimsically named little shop called "Gun Ho!" on Staten Island.
Cragen : When?
Munch : Less than a month ago. Gun Ho! sold it last Thursday.
Cragen : We have a legal purchase?
Munch : Complete with loophole. It's a long gun so no background checks are required.
(In New York City, the buyer needs a license to own (pdf link) regardless whether it is a handgun or a long gun. You would think that someone at One Police Plaza would think to check if the applicant is a convicted felon (as the shooter was) before issuing approval and the buyer must register a rifle with the city. That is in addition to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System aka NICS. About the NICS : the Federal Firearm License holder contacts the FBI's "NICS Section via a toll-free telephone number or electronically on the Internet through the NICS E-Check System to request a background check with the descriptive information provided on the ATF Form 4473. NICS is customarily available 17 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays (except for Christmas)."

It seems the SVU cops don't know either Federal law or NYC laws.)
Cragen : Cash sale?
Munch : Of course.
Cragen : Buyer's signature on the affidavit?
Munch : Yeah but it's illegible and I guarantee you it is bogus.
Cragen : Looks like "S. Brockwoll" or "Rockwell"
Stabler : first initial could be "G". Who made the sale?
Munch : The owner of Gun Ho! the name is… Brian Ackerman.
Cragen : Well he did a pretty half ass job. He didn't get a clear signature or a full first name.
Stabler : Let's go talk to Mr. Ackerman.

What else do the SVU cops not know about? Notice any difference in the Law & Order SVU's version of the ATF form 4473 (above) and the real ATF form 4473 (pdf) version shown below?

ATF Form 4473 page1 (click to embiggen)

The investigation would have been so much quicker and easier if they had looked at the top half of the form that Munch didn't post on the board.  Specifically, box one (where the buyer prints his first and last name) and box two (the buyer's address) of the 4473.

Alternatively, they could have called the New York City License Division for the buyer's Rifle / Shotgun Permit (pdf) which includes not only the buyer's name and address but also :  the buyer's fingerprints and a full color photo of the buyer taken within 30 days of the license application. Shame on the NYPD in the Law & Order TV-land who approve gun licenses for convicted felons. Tsk, tsk.

Other things needed to get a license to own a gun in NYC :

  • if you were ever arrested for any crime or violation you must submit a certificate of disposition from the court concerned indicating the offense and the final disposition of the charges. You must do this even if the case was dismissed, the record sealed or the case nullified by operation of law
  • Four color photographs, (Taken from the chest up, 1½ x 1½), of the applicant must accompany the application. (Taken within last 30 days)
  • You must submit proof of your present address. Acceptable forms of proof are utility bills, such as gas, electric or telephone bills, or a notarized lease. 
  • If you were born in the United States, you must submit your birth certificate. 
  • All persons filing applications must bring their original Social Security cards with them to the Rifle/Shotgun Section when applying for a permit.
  • A signed "Affidavit of Co-Habitant" stating the nature of the relationship and swearing "I understand that the applicant has applied for a rifle/shotgun permit or handgun license from the New York City Police Department, and I have no objection to him/her receiving a permit or license and storing firearms in my home."
  • The application fee is $140.00.  The fingerprint fee is $94.25. Both fees are nonrefundable.
  • But even if you supply all of the items above, they still might turn down your application.
Episodes like this, that lie about the state of gun control in the US, cause some to suspect the media of an anti-gun-rights bias.

Later, Law and Order SVU Detectives Stabler and Munch go to the gunshop, talk their way in, and at the end of the scene Munch tears an antisemitic pamphlet in two (at 1:55) and shoves a pile of paper to the floor (at 2:19).

I kept waiting for someone to say "Gee, Munch, just because you don't like someone or the despicable things they say doesn't mean you should use your position of power to destroy their property and be a dick by making a mess. Haven't you ever heard of do unto others as you would have them do unto you?" But, disappointingly,  the incident wasn't brought up once in the rest of the episode.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Erasing the Past

The latin phrase "damnatio memoriae" means the "condemnation of memory". It is to erase someone from history (and therefore from the future) as a form of punishment. If effectively done the future won't know it was done. After the physical records of someone's existence are destroyed then once those with memory of how it really was die the verbal history can be reduced from fact to mere rumor and innuendo. The impossibility of perfect central control makes it difficult to implement completely.

Below are some of the Orwellian examples of trying to erase the past and change history.  This is not an exhaustive list. Notice how the reasons for the purging of history have changed. Instead of being imposed by rulers as a means of showing power and consolidating power, it is now often done at the behest of neo-puritian busybodies, but that totalitarian instinct remains.

Personally, with the modern censors, I don't understand the logic in ignoring the stubborn reality and trying to create the illusion that the world appears the way they long for it to be.

(Here is Erasing the Past part 2)

Hatshepsut (c. 1458 BC)

Hatshepsut's (c. 1479–1458 BC) figure was chiseled off the wall (click to embiggen to see it more clearly.)  probably ordered by the Pharaohs who ruled after her. 

Publius Septimius Geta (c. AD 211)

Publius Septimius Geta's face scraped from a family portait
Publius Septimius Geta (lower left) was removed from this portrait of Septimius Severus' family at the order of his brother Caracalla (lower right). Geta and Caracall had been co-emperors and once Geta was dead Caracall was the sole Roman Emperor.
Roman inscription from c. AD 193-211 with Geta and his wife Plautilla's names removed.

Marino Faliero (1355)

Marino Faliero, the 55th Doge of Venice, was executed for leading a coup and his official portrait replaced with this
Marino Faliero was the 55th Doge of Venice. He attempted a coup d'etat which failed and he was executed and his portrait removed and replaced with a painting of a black cloak bearing the inscription "Hic est locus Marini Faletro decapitati pro criminibus ("This is the space reserved for Marino Faliero, beheaded for his crimes")
Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov & a 4th person

Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov & a 4th person before being removed from a photo
Taken Nov 7, 1919

Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov & a 4th person are gone after being removed from a photo
Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov, and a 4th person have disappeared.
Leon Trotsky was exiled and later killed with an ice ax to the head in 1940.
Lev Kamenev was arrested and executed in 1936. His two sons and his wife were also executed.
A.B. Khalatov was arrested and executed in 1938.

Hitler edits Josef Stalin (c. 1939)

"After the forging of the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939, Hitler prohibited the publication of photographs of Stalin with a cigarette, reasoning, according to his photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, that among the German population such images would threaten the respectable status of the statesman with whom the Führer had struck a deal" 

(Sorry, I haven't seen an example)

Nikolai Yezhov (c. 1940)

From left to right : some guys, Josef Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov of the NKVD aka the Vanishing Commisar.
From left to right : some guys, Josef Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov of the NKVD aka the Vanishing Commisar.
more Soviet era photo manipulation at englishrussia.comNikolai Yezhov, who had been the bloodthirsty Commissar of the NKVD, was removed from all positions, arrested, confessed under torture, was tried and executed in 1940. His execution remained a secret until 1948.

Mussolini (1942)

Mussolini asks what stable boy?

Lavrentiy Beria et al in and out of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1953)

In 1953, after Lavrentiy Beria's downfall from power in the USSR, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia mailed subscribers replacement pages (including University of California at Berkeley) and instructed them to cut out and destroy the 3 page article on Beria and paste in pages omitting Beria and expanding the adjacent articles (F. W. Bergholz –an 18th-century courtier–, the Bering Sea, and Bishop Berkeley)

Beria wasn't the only one. Nikolai Bukharin and others were also subject to the political winds revising what had been. More on censorship in the USSR at wiki.

Carlos Franqui (1968)
Carlos Franqui (center) in the background as Fidel Castro broadcasts
Carlos Franqui disappears


Gang of Four (1976)
The Gang of Four were airbrushed out of this photo of a memorial ceremony for Mao Tse-Tung

coral damage
"When the Tokyo newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, sent a photographer to document the environmental problems with a coral reef, he carved his initials in the reef for the picture when he could not find enough damage."
(unlike many examples of editing the image of the past, this example is the creation of a fact and in doing so the destruction of the old reality)

The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand reissue (1984)

The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand with Paul and his cigarette
Paul (far left) has a cigarette

The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand reissue (1984) with Paul but not his cigarette
On the 1984 reissue, Paul does not have a cigarette.

Sonny Crockett's pistol (1985)
also from Photojournalism An Ethical Approach :

"The gun and shoulder holster were removed from "Miami Vice" actor Don Johnson (for a Rolling Stone cover) because editor Jan Wenner is an ardent foe of handguns."
Rolling Stone cover (Issue #444, March 28, 1985), Don Johnson had been wearing a gun in a shoulder holster until it was removed digitally. Tubbs is lucky to have survived.
Rolling Stone cover (Issue #444, March 28, 1985), Don Johnson had been wearing a gun in a shoulder holster until it was removed digitally. Tubbs is lucky to have made the cover; he could have been edited out if Wenner objected to men wearing jewelry or an aversion to pink pants.
Sorry, I'm not aware of where the unedited image could be found.

I can imagine Wenner's emotional reason to want to censor guns because he sees them as a representation of potential violence but imagine if they edited all the potentially dangerous things like the guns, knives, cocaine, explosions, alligators, fast cars (potentially driven dangerously), and potentially loose women out of Miami Vice.  It would have been a quick show.

For reference of what was edited out, here is a pic of Sonny Crocket wearing a holster and appears to be wearing the same clothes as the Rolling Stone photo

Robert Johnson postage stamp (1994)

Robert Johnson postage stamp (1994) and source photo with cigarette
after editing (left) on a 1994 USPS stamp and before editing (right) is a cropped version of one of a handful of known photos (only 2 last I heard) of Robert Johnson. Interestingly, the other photo has him in a hat & suit and no cigarette but the photo above is better known.

James Dean postage stamp (1995)

James Dean walking with a cigarette photographed by Roy Schatt
James Dean walking with a cigarette photographed by Roy Schatt
The illustration to the right of the stamps is James Dean walking without his cigarette.
The illustration to the right of the stamps is James Dean walking without a cigarette.

"In a supplementary drawing I did to accompany my James Dean postage stamp of 1995, I was indeed asked to remove a cigarette dangling from Dean's mouth, and the resulting picture definitely lacked some of Dean's inimitable cool" 

Eventually, someone will suggest replacing the cars lining the street with bicycles or rickshaws.

Jackson Pollock postage stamp (1999)

Jackson Pollock painting with a cigarette hanging from his lips.
Jackson Pollock painting with a cigarette hanging from his lips

In 1999, the US Postal Service stamp showing Jackson Pollock painting without the cigarette hangingfrom his lips.
In 1999, the US Postal Service stamp showing Jackson Pollock painting without the cigarette hanging from his lips.

Audrey Hepburn German postage stamp (2001)

Audrey Hepburn German postage stamp (2001)
In 2001 a German Audrey Hepburn stamp was proposed but her son objected to the cigarette holder in her mouth, refused to consent to the stamps production and so the print run was destroyed. The movie Breakfast at Tiffany's still retains tobacco use.

ET the movie re-release (2002)

ET 1982 and ET 2002 re-release with guns replaced with walkie-talkies
In the extended version of ET the element of danger of men with guns trying to catch ET was replaced with the element of potentially being poked by a walkie-talkie antenna or squelched at their general direction. 
I do wonder if they edited out the kid calling his brother(?) an unkind name

"For myself, I tried [changing a film] once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction] to E.T., and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T. [...] If I put just one cut of E.T. on Blu-ray and it was the 1982, would anyone object to that? [The crowd yells "NO!" in unison.] OK, so be it."

Clement Hurd book jacket photo (2005)

The children's book Goodnight Moon's illustrator Clement Hurd had a cigarette photoshopped from his hand in 2005 (17 years after his death) for a reprint edition.
Clement Hurd with and without cigarette.

The children's book Goodnight Moon's illustrator Clement Hurd had a cigarette photoshopped out of his hand in 2005 (17 years after his death) for a reprint edition. He now appears to be holding an invisible cup of beer.

The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 (2006)

The Beatles origin image for the Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 with 3 of the 4 holding cigarettes
the origin image

close up of the Beatles origin image for the Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 with 3 of the 4 holding cigarettes
note a cigarette for Paul, Ringo and John.

The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 without any cigarettes and Ringo without 2 fingers
All 3 cigarettes have been edited away. Apparently, any cigarette held by the fab 4 have been edited out throughout the boxed set.
The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 without any cigarettes and Ringo without 2 fingers
Poor Ringo has lost not only his cigarette but part of 2 of his fingers.

Tom and Jerry cartoons (2006)
still from Texas Tom - Tom, with Jerry's unwilling assistance, rolls a cigarette and smokes it in one drag. Censored in the UK.
Texas Tom - Tom, with Jerry's unwilling assistance, rolls a cigarette and smokes it in one drag.

After a single complaint charged theTom and Jerry cartoons “Texas Tom” (1950) and “Tennis Chumps”(1949)  “were not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children” due to the presence of tobacco use Turner, owners of the Hanna-Barbera library, proposed to the British Office of Communications to edit "any scenes or references in the series where smoking appeared to be condoned, acceptable, glamorized or where it might encourage imitation."
Censored in the UK : Butch, Tom's tennis opponent smokes a cigar
Tennis Chumps - Butch, Tom's tennis opponent smokes a cigar

Burt Reynolds DirectTV ad (2007)
Burt Reynolds in Cosmo from 1972 with cigarette, ashtray and little else.
Burt Reynolds in Cosmo from 1972 with cigarette, ashtray and little else.

Burt Reynolds reprinted from Cosmo for a DirectTV ad without cigarette or ashtray but still a lot of body hair
Burt Reynolds reprinted from Cosmo for a DirectTV ad without cigarette or ashtray
Shouldn't the movie On The Beach (1959) be edited to assure the viewer that the war was fought with cream pies and cupcakes instead of nuclear weapons and so everybody is fine (or at least give Anthony Perkins' supposedly Australian character an Australian accent)?

 Bette Davis postage stamp (2008)

a still of Bette Davis from the fine film All About Eve
above is a still from the fine film All About Eve (which could reasonably be renamed to Bitches in Theatre)

USPS stamp of Bette Davis with altered coat

The painter of the stamp says his source photograph did not have a cigarette and so he did not edit it out but that her mink coat was considered unacceptable so it was replace with a red velvet one. His source was almost certainly a promotional shot from the fine film All About Eve (1950).  If so, then the minks in question (if they were in fact mink and not fake fur) had been dead for at least 58 years before the stamp was released.

Shouldn’t they put sandals on greek nudes sculptures… think of the health risk of tetanus.

 Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's self portrait (2009)

The Artist and the Model, 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo with cigarette
"The Artist and the Model," 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo with cigarette (the original)

"The Artist and the Model," 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo without cigarette (as edited by the Manley Council)
"The Artist and the Model," 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo without cigarette (as edited by the Manley Council)
One of the most despicable and destructive edits on this list as the painter made conscious decisions of what to include and what to leave out of his piece of work.

This growing tendency towards bowdlerization must explain why the otherwise inquisitive media can't seem to find any photos of the admitted smoker Barack Obama smoking.

Winston Churchill (2010)

Winston Churchill with cigar
Winston Churchill with cigar

Winston Churchill with cigar digitally removed
Winston Churchill edited to be without his cigar for a banner outside the Britain at War Museum. The museum authorities claimed they didn't know who did the editing or why it was edited. I don't believe them.

 Shouldn't Buster Keaton movies be altered so he is at a safe distance from dangerous events?

Jean-Paul Sartre (2005)

Jean-Paul Sartre with cigarette
Jean-Paul Sartre with cigarette
altered photo of Jean-Paul Sartre without his cigarette on BnF poster
Jean-Paul Sartre without cigarette between his fingers (as censored by the French National Library aka Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Sartre didn't just smoke; he also wrote about smoking. If they are ok with removing the cigarette then why not photoshop his lazy eye or remove his glasses to suggest he had perfect vision? Why not make him less troll-like in appearance?

Sartre on smoking : "…the act of destructively appropriating the tobacco was the symbolic equivalent of destructively appropriating the entire world."
Asked "What is the most important thing in your life at present?", Sartre responded : "I don't know. Everything. Living. Smoking." (note that smoking didn't just make third place but arguably it is included in his first place answer too)

 Movies like The French Connection and Bullitt wouldn’t be too different if everyone was shown driving the speed limit and obeying the proper rules of the road. 

Jacques Tati (2009)

Jacques Tati on his bicycle with his iconic pipe from the movie Mon Oncle.
Jacques Tati on his bicycle with his iconic pipe from the movie Mon Oncle.

Jacques Tati with his pipe censored and covered with a pinwheel graphic from a poster advertising a Tati retrospective.
Jacques Tati with his pipe covered with a pinwheel graphic from a poster advertising a Tati retrospective.
Sartre and Tati lost their iconic tobacco products due to a french regulation regarding the direct or indirect promotion of smoking.

Bathurst 1000 footage (2012)

Peter Brock's Bathurst car (unedited)
Peter Brock's Bathurst car (unedited)
Peter Brock's Bathurst car censored
Peter Brock's Bathurst car (edited)
vintage footage of the race being censored
vintage footage of the race is also being censored
It seems, while showing a history of the Bathurst 1000 auto race Australia's Channel 7 has edited it to hide the sponsorship from tobacco companies. Even vintage footage of old races, from at a time when tobacco sponsorship was not banned, have been edited with a crude blur. 

Socrates drank... grape juice from a juice box wasn't it?



update Oct 25, 2012 : 
A Visit from St Nicholas (aka 'Twas the Night Before Christmas) (2012)

A Canadian publisher, Grafton and Scratch, decided to remove 2 lines from the 189 year old, public domain poem by Clement C. Moore because they reference Santa Claus smoking.  Additionally, she has ensured that the accompanying illustrations do not show Saint Nick smoking. The publisher, Pamela McColl, is an anti-smoking activist who spends a lot of space on the book's website talking about smoking. She says "I have come to realize the way that children look at Santa and the need for him to be a good example for all children"

The 2 lines omitted : "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath"

I suspect the number of pipe smoking children has probably been on the decrease since before this books publication. 

The LATimes observes that the book includes : a note from Santa on the back flap that says his fur is fake and he has “decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us.” 
However, Santa is still portrayed as obese and includes the lines "He had a broad face and a little round belly / That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly" and treats animals in a manner some would disapprove of but her response to Santa's weight is that "He doesn't eat in the story. That's not my issue." 

(go to Erasing the Past part 2)