Saturday, May 27, 2006

Some Crazy Things You Might Not Realize

Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper Painting: Right now with the Da Vinci Code Movie so popular, there is a popular misconception that the 1495-1498 painting of The Last Supper is somehow being taken as an accurate representation of this historic religious history event. But the painting is merely a Middle Ages artist's representation, and not a historically accurate document of the actual event. At no normal table does everyone merely sit on one side of the table rather than around the table. At the real last supper, all were seated around the table, not merely on just one side as the Leonardo Da Vinci painting illustrates.

In the Dan Brown book, THE DA VINCI CODE, the absurd premise is promotted that it is Mary Magdelene rather than the disciple John that is seated next to Jesus. However Brown never bothers to mention that many years of damage to the painting has taken place that dates back to 1517 in which the painting began to flake. By 1556 the painting had deteriorated so badly that the figures were not easily recognizable. And a number of restoration projects, both good and bad sometimes did more damage than good to the painting. One of the most damaging was a restoration effort by Stephen Barezzi in 1821 who was supposed to be a fresco expert who badly damaged the center of the painting attempting to move it a safer location after he realised that painting was not a fresco. Barezzi attempted to glue pieces together, but already the faces had been sometimes poorly repainted by previous artists in other attempts to restore it by Michelangelo Bellotti in 1726 and by Giuseppe Mazza in 1770. A arch type doorway was even cut into the center of the painting in 1652, and on August 15,1943 while sandbags were placed in the refectory to protect the painting, a bomb likely caused further vibration damage to the painting. By 1978 the most major restoration project by Pinn Brambilla Barcilon was started and finally completed 21 years later in 1999. But many serious art critics were very unhappy with the final result including James Beck who is the founder of the Artwatch Society as well as a professor of art history at Columbia University.

It may be easy for a novelist such as Dan Brown to pen an absurd premise based on the badly damaged and poorly restored Leonardo Da Vinci painting, however with so many poor attempts at restoration, artists interpretation repaintings, and other damage, the final result is a painting probably far different than the original one.

Besides being a very great painter, Leonardo Da Vinci was an amazing designer of machinery and inventions as well including a crude computer, a helicopter, a battle tank and an automobile that used windup springs as a power source.


CSI: For purely dramatic reasons, on the very popular CSI program on CBS, the actors are often seen poking around in darkened houses with flashlights, when it would be far simplier to simply flick on the light switch. From this program you'd think that no one bothers to pay their electric bill. In real life, real crime scene investigators often work in very well lit labs with white lab coats in very carefully controlled conditions so that evidence is not compromised.

And in CSI, the actors are often seen questioning or interrogating witnesses and suspects, which in real life crime scene investigation does not really happen either. For dramatic reasons, it may add an element of excitement to CSI to add this questioning element, but it simply does not happen in real life crime investigation work. Real crime investigation work is nowhere as dramatic as this TV drama. And even juries expect that DNA or other invesigative methods can conclusively solve crimes, and now often base their decisions on what is called the "CSI effect", missing the point of limitations to technology or problems with evidence gathering, damaged evidence or inconclusive evidence.


George Bush and Dick Cheney: When George Bush and Dick Cheney ran for president and vice president in 2000, they both claimed to represent a real change from the character problems that plagued the Bill Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky Scandal. However, both Bush and Cheney failed to mention that they were the only ticket ever to run for president in which both had a criminal history.

While in college, a young George Bush pleaded guilty to theft after stealing a wreath from a hotel. In 1972, an author, J.H. Hatfifield claimed that Bush was arrested for cocaine possession, but had his sentence reportedly commuted down to just community service time in Houston's Martin Luther King House Community Center, of which Bush once publicly claimed that the National Guard had "stationed him there". However the Bush explanation of the National Guard supposedly stationing him at a community service project was a highly questionable claim that the national media never bothered to investigate. This court ordered community service time also explains a lapse in duty from the National Guard, another issue that was not fully addressed by the national news media after pressure to fire CBS reporter Dan Rather after questions about the bush guard duty were raised by Bush supporters. Highly questionable and contradictory smears of the military service by an independent 527 committee, the Swift Boat Vets were allowed to be reported on to ruin the reputation of 2004 Democratic candidate John Kerry by the national media, but right wing bully efforts forced any questions about the National Guard service of President Bush to be quickly dropped.

On Friday October 20, 2000, controversial Hustler Magazine publisher, Larry Flynt brought up a question that Bush was involved in a 1970 abortion scandal with a 15 year old girl while a young man with CNN moderator Bob Novak on the political program, CROSSFIRE . There was an interesting exchange between Novak and Flynt in which Novak replied, "Mr. Flynt, you said if it's true and you have no proof of that. I gather you are a very strong..."

Publisher Larry Flynt, replied, "The hell we don't have proof!".

Interestingly, by October 22, 2000, by the time that CNN offered transcripts for sale of the CNN CROSSFIRE program, the entire exchange over this supposed abortion incident was deleted from transcript available for purchase at CNN. It was one of the first times in CNN history that a transcript was not issued as the actual text of the program, and was subject to editing. Larry Flynt did go as far as naming both the girl and the hospitol in Houston in which the abotion supposedly took place, however the current husband of the girl, now a woman has threatened lawsuits if the woman was named, claiming that the event never took place. So this story is under heavy dispute.

In another claim, a girl who was 14 at the time had claimed that George Bush had tried to lure her with alcohol when he was a young man while at the Houston Hemisfair. However this relies only on the testimony of this girl who considers herself a friend and is only her version of the story.

Bush did face a DWI arrest in Maine on 9/4/76 according to police records. And author Kitty Kelley has claimed both alcohol and cocaine use by Bush as late as 1988. Dick Cheney was arrested twice for DWI on November 62 and on July 63.

As Governor of Texas, there were some allegations that Bush may have committed a felony by lying under oath in a funeral home scandal after whistle blowing by a state worker. Then Texas StateAttorney General, now U.S. Senator, John Cornyn filed a motion to quash a supena for Gov. Bush to testify that he had improperly talked to a Texas funeral home industry company, SCI , about a state investigation of this company. A printed quote from Newsweek published in 1999, seems to contradict the Bush claims that he had not commented on the state investigation to SCI executives. Executives at SCI were known to be big poltical contributors to George Bush. Interestingly, Houston attorney, Harry Whittington who was shot in the face by Duck Cheney in the recent hunting accident, continues to serve as Texas state head of the Funeral Commission after being appointed by Bush while Governor. There are many unresolved questions about this scandal that involves a similar question of lying under oath as Bill Clinton faced in the Paula Jones deposition claiming that he had no outside sexual relations but the Monica Lewinsky Scandal seemed to clearly contradict this testimony.

It is an interesting historical note that this winning ticket for president and vice president is the only one in U.S. history with a criminal arrest record by both the president and vice president as well as debatable questions about other possible criminal acts.

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