Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last Call

It's not every day a lost Leonardo da Vinci painting is put on display, so when it happens, it's a good thing.  Could there be more out there?

A newly discovered painting by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci has sent shock waves through the art world, prompting speculation that more of his paintings could be as yet undiscovered.
The "Salvator Mundi" was, for years, thought to be a painting by one of da Vinci's pupils or associates. But after a lengthy period of study and conservation, it has been authenticated as a da Vinci.

The painting was sold in 1958 for £45 -- about $125 in today's currency -- by descendants of British collector Sir Frederick Cook, who bought the painting in 1900. Today, the painting is estimated to be worth $200 million, according to some scholars.

Though the conservator who helped to reveal the painting's true identity called it "the rarest thing imaginable," speculation is rife that there are other Leonardo da Vinci paintings still at large, possibly lying unknown in private collections.

There are currently some 15 authenticated Leonardo da Vinci paintings in the world. But they are difficult to attribute, because da Vinci often left his works unfinished and some are thought to have been worked on by other artists in his workshops.

Martin Kemp, Emeritus Research Professor in the History of Art at Oxford University and a leading expert on Leonardo da Vinci, gives the careful estimate that there are probably no more than 20 paintings by the master in the world, which suggests there could be five more to be discovered.

$125, and worth more than a million times that: arguably the greatest attic sale fail in modern history (or win, if you're the folks who bought it and then had the painting authenticated.)  Still, the notion that Leonardo's other lost paintings are out there may be one of the greatest treasure hunts of all time.  Going to make a hell of a movie.

Missouri Madness Continues

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 64-year-old man on his way to his post as a school crossing guard in northeast Kansas City died after being hit by a pickup truck.

Kansas City police say James R. Suman died in the accident early Friday.

Suman, who lived near where he was struck, was wearing a reflective vest and carrying a plastic school crossing sign when he was hit. Investigators said he apparently was walking to a city bus stop to go to a school in the northeast area.
Some people were making the obvious jokes about this, but I'm just sad.  When a reflective vest and sign aren't enough, what is?  At least no kids were hurt, and I'm sure he would have been relieved to know that.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) — Arrest warrants have been issued for a Grain Valley couple whose daughter lost several fingers to a pet ferret in January.

The warrants were issued after Ryan and Carrie Waldo did not appear for pre-trial conferences last Friday.

The Waldos were arrested in January after authorities found their ferret had chewed on their 4-month-old child's hands, leaving only two thumbs and part of a pinkie remaining. They were charged in June with first-degree child endangerment. The couple has pleaded not guilty.

The couple was charged in July, after seven fingers were amputated because of the damage.  This is on my list of articles I follow, so you can expect updates as they come.

Last week, I was asked where we are moving to.  West, away from tornadoes and stupidity steeped in generations of ignorance and stubborn spite.  You can't get away from tragedy, but you can put miles between stupidity and its (unofficial) headquarters.

Ultimate Criminal Neglect- "The Chair Lady"

KANSAS CITY -- A suburban Kansas City woman was left sitting in a vinyl recliner for so long that her skin had fused to the chair and she had to be pried out to be taken to a hospital after suffering an apparent stroke, authorities said.

Carol F. Brown's adult son told a state official he had left his 74-year-old mother in the chair for five days without helping her get up to use the bathroom or bathe because he was honoring her wishes to die in her Independence home, according to court documents that described the woman as a "rotting corpse that was still breathing." Brown later died.

Brown's son, James Owens, told an official with the Missouri Division of Senior and Disability Services that his mother had been in the chair since Oct. 23 and that he was honoring her wishes to be left to die, the documents said.

Owens, who the documents said had started the application process to gain state aid to be his mother's caretaker, said he did give the woman tomato and chicken noodle soup.

I watched this develop and hoped it was dramatized.  It turns out it only gets worse.  This poor woman died, but the misfortune is how she lived until death rescued her from the filth and pain that had to be tormenting her.  Maggots were eating at open wounds, and the smell of her living but rotting body was brutal. The only addition has been that her son is now charged with forgery for cashing her Social Security check.

It's just upsetting beyond words.  I've seen elderly people come into nursing homes from such situations, and neglect so pitiful that it makes your heart hurt.  But this is hands down the worst neglect article I've read in years, and all I can do is feel sad for the woman who lived in agony and then died knowing her child wasn't going to help her.  There's just too much wrong here to even begin.

One Good Deed Leads To Another

HILLSBORO, OHIO: A Southwest Ohio couple who adopted a Saint Bernard to save him say he saved their home from burglary a few hours later.

Rubert “Lee” Littler says he was taking Hercules outside Wednesday night when the 135-pound dog started growling, then charged after a man running out of their basement. The dog bit into the man’s ankle as he climbed a fence and got away. Police say the home’s phone and cable lines had been cut.

Lee and Elizabeth Littler brought the dog home from Highland County’s pound less than seven hours earlier. The dog had been found, bloody and dehydrated, by hikers on Oct. 31.

The Littlers tell The Times-Gazette of Hillsboro they wanted to keep him from being euthanized but now figure he’s earned a permanent home.

Good news all around.  And the doggy gets a new home, and an angel gets her wings.

Lameness, Thy Name Is Ashton

Pledging on Wednesday night to stop Tweeting until he finds "a way to properly manage this feed," Ashton Kutcher has arrived at a solution.

"I feel responsible for delivering an informed opinion and not spreading gossip or rumors through my Twitter feed," Kutcher wrote in a blog post entitled "Twitter Management" on Thursday. "While I feel that running this feed myself gives me a closer relationship to my friends and fans, I've come to realize that it has grown into more [than] a fun tool to communicate with people."

Reiterating that he's "truely (sic) sorry if I offended anyone," Kutcher explains although he will still post 140-character updates, he is turning the management of the feed over to his team at Katalyst Media "to ensure the quality of its content."

Lame. Manage content? Just check before you speak, or be cool with accepting an occasional mistake. Anyone who posts constantly will make mistakes. We don't drop and let a publicist filter our content. We say oops, correct ourselves and go on.

I'm sick of overreactions in face of a mistake. What is so wrong with taking the hit? Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect much from old A.K. but I think it represents a problem many bloggers and tweeters have. If you are going to publish thousands of things, at least once you are going to be wrong. It's going to be embarrassing. It happens to everyone, take your turn and make it right. If you go to a thousand charity dinners, you will fart loudly once during a quiet moment. This principle of "farts happen" echoes throughout frail humankind's history.

To err is human. To push it off onto a person to filter stupidity is for swine.

Doubling Down On Red InThe Bluegrass State

After Republicans here in Kentucky spent quite a bit of time and money trying to convince everyone that all Democrats here personally worked for Barack Obama's army of Thug Life baby-eating New Black Panthers and failed miserably, it looks like they've discovered the keys to their defeat:  One, their Tea Party candidates in a state that produced Rand Paul for them last year are simply not insane enough, and two, Democrats are still allowed to vote.  Both oversights apparently must be fixed.

Loyalists in Kentucky's Tea Party movement who helped propel Republican Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate last year say they share no blame for the GOP's poor showing in Tuesday's state elections, especially in the race for governor.

Instead, they point to the Republican Party establishment, which they say too often backs and fields candidates who don't adhere to their call for limited government and fiscal responsibility.

"I'm a registered Republican, but my reasoning for Tuesday's loss is that we saw an establishment candidate, Republican David Williams, get rejected by the Tea Party," said Lexington conservative radio talk show host Leland Conway. "The establishment part of the Republican Party of Kentucky needs to learn that its candidates have to be true conservatives for the Tea Party to line up behind them and to win."

Now, the funny part is if you're a Kentucky Democrat like myself, you've long since realized that a Democrat like Gov. Steve Beshear would be a Republican in any other state in the nation, save maybe West Virginia, and a Kentucky Republican in any other state would be laughed out of the party for being a complete nutjob.  Instead, we get Sen. Rand Paul.

The notion that David "The Axe Man" Williams lost huge because he wasn't conservative enough in his crusade to rid the state of income tax, is both hysterically funny and outright bone-chilling.  Here's the thing:  if that notion is true, independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith and his Ron Paul glibertarianism would have stomped Williams AND Beshear.  Instead, Beshear got 56% of the vote anyway.

But sure guys, go ahead and run a candidate next time who has a platform of dissolving the Commonwealth of Kentucky, firing every state employee and turning us back into a territory so we can play Oregon Trail for real everyday.  I'm sure people will go for that.

The War Against Ourselves

The key component of any Republican argument is a tautology involving whatever it is they don't like being the greatest threat to our universe since the Weeping Angels.  As yesterday was Veteran's Day, at least one Republican from Tennessee has decided that the Big Bad threat is Muslims in our military.

State representative Rick Womick (R-TN) has made no secret of his anti-Muslim views. A New York Times article from July described Womick on the statehouse floor, warning his constituents that Islamic law was the most urgent threat to their way of life. But in an interview on the sidelines of the “Preserving Freedom Conference” at the Cornerstone Church in Madison, TN, Womick went to new extremes to paint Muslim Americans as dangerous and seditious.

Somebody's been watching too many episodes of Homeland.  Back to back.  While mainlining whatever Rick Perry's been on for the last month.

"Personally, I don’t trust one Muslim in our military because they’re commanded to lie to us through the term called Taqiyya. And if they truly are a devout Muslim, and follow the Quran and the Sunnah, then I feel threatened because they’re commanded to kill me."

I had no idea Mr. Womick here was a theological expert on the Muslim faith, not only able to interpret the Quran and its meaning, but able to divine Islam's tenets and their individual meaning to every one of our men and women serving in the military who are Muslim.  I mean his argument is "If you're a good Muslim, you'd be trying to kill me" seems, oh, what's the word I'm looking for?  Insanity to the point of a persecution complex that has probably already compromised his ability to effectively serve as Representative to his constituents, and that he should resign immediately after saying this?

But no, behavior like this is not only tolerated in the Republican Party, it's encouraged because it's a political plus with voters.  Ten yeas after 9/11 and they're still demanding the great purge of The Enemy from America.


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