20% Leonardo?

Emirates Salvator MundiThis is Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, Savior of the World. Blue-robed Jesus is holding a crystal orb and gazing directly at the viewer. Thus far, this happens to be the world’s most expensive painting.  It was acquired on behalf of the United Arab Emirates government after an intense bidding war at Christie’s in New York in November for £350 million.
Emirates Salvator Mundi

But now Matthew Landrus, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Wolfson College, has said it was actually painted by assistant Bernardino Luini.  Luini have worked with Leonardo and, according to recollections of his contemporaries, he has taken “as much from Leonardo as his native roots enabled him to comprehend”. It sure seems Luini’s native roots comprehended enough to paint with such mastery that to be mistaken for Leonardo many times in Leonardo’s life and even more so thereafter.

Matthew Landrus says: ‘This is a Luini painting. By looking at the various versions of Leonardo’s students’ works, one can see that Luini paints just like that work you see in the Salvator Mundi.’

 ‘I can prove that Luini painted most of that painting. A comparison of Luini’s paintings with the Salvator Mundi will be sufficient evidence.’

Mr Landrus attributes only five to twenty percent of the painting to Leonardo’s hand and argues that Luini, not Leonardo, was the ‘primary painter.’

Acquired for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, the painingwill be unveiled in September at the Louvre Abu Dhabi before its inclusion in a Leonardo exhibition at the Louvre in Paris next year.

Some of the world’s foremost experts confirmed the Leonardo attribution in 2011, when Luke Syson, the then National Gallery curator, included the painting ina Leonardo retrospective at the London gallery that year.

But other leading experts have their doubts. Frank Zöllner, a German art historian at the University of Leipzig, believes the Salvator Mundi could be a “high-quality product of Leonardo’s workshop” or even a later follower, and Charles Hope, the Italian Renaissance specialist, has argued that accepted Leonardo paintings look “quite different”.

Michael Daley, the director of ArtWatch UK, criticized the painting for its lack of Leonardo’s “greater naturalism and complexity of posture”, and said Landrus’s theory was “very interesting”.

One of the noteworthy vox populi comments to this news:

Most people […] would not call Matthew Landrus an Oxford Scholar. He is an author, likely seeking publicity on the back of the Salvator Mundi sale. He appears to be a part time lecturer for the Open University who recently studied DPhil at a very new Oxford college for post grads. No evidence he is credible, except to make money as a conspiracy theory author?

Go and figure.

Main source: The article in the The Guardian

 

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Silent Reading

ReadingIn his autobiography Confessions, written at the end of the 4th century AD, St Augustine of Hippo writes how utterly stunned he was when he observed Bishop Ambrose of Milan reading a book. Ambrose’s mouth was closed, his lips didn’t move. It was a miracle!

In those days readers habitually moved their fingers, slowly, along the lines, pronouncing aloud every word. It took humankind another 500 years to develop silent reading ability to the level that it became a norm.

 

Bone Deep Erotica

Erotica (according to Wikipedia) is any artistic work that deals substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing subject matter. All forms of art may depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, film, music or literature.  But X-ray?

A couple of years ago, the Japanese company Eizo that designs and manufactures computer monitors, released an unusual “side product” — erotic calendar. Free of charge, numerous copies of X-erotica were shipped to clinics across the globe, to accompany an advertizing brochure introducing a new line of  X-ray monitores. Eizo’s marketing fit was a success. The “bone bunnies” calendar even participated in a prestigious Communication Arts Advertising Competition.

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Source: Amusing Planet

Meet St. Valentine

The new scans contradict previous reconstructions of the Patron Saint of Love, which have typically suggested he was an older man of affluence

The real face of Saint Valentine may have finally been revealed thanks to new 3D scans of the Patron Saint of Love’s skull. Digital reconstructions reveal the Italian Saint had a strong jawline and died a young man when he was killed on February 14, 269 AD.

The new scans contradict previous reconstructions of the Patron Saint of Love, which have typically suggested he was an older man of affluence.

Interesting article abut the digital reconstruction of Saint Valentine’s physique (if you really want to know how he looked like) with more pictures and video is here:  Is this the face of Saint Valentine? 3D reconstruction of the Patron Saint of Love’s skull .

Happy Valentine!

 

Citizen Sophia

Saudi Arabia grants citizenship to humanoid robot (VIDEO)

Saudi Arabia has become the first country to grant citizenship to a robot. The lucky machine is Sophia the Humanoid, created by David Hanson for Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics.

News of Sophia’s citizenship was announced at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 25th.

“I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction,” Sophia said in an interview with moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”

Asked about the fear that robots could take over, Sophia responded: “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”

Why not ask citizen Sophia to define “nice”, I wonder.

Will Sophia be required to wear a headscarf and abaya in her new country? It remains to be seen. At least she’ll be allowed to drive. Nice.

Mail Me A Baby

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The inauguration of a domestic parcel post service by Postmaster General Frank H. Hitchcock in 1913, greatly increased the volume of mail shipped nationwide, and motivated the development of more efficient postal transportation systems. (Wikipedia).

Many rural customers took advantage of inexpensive Parcel Post rates to order goods and products — food, clothing, grain, tobacco, medicines — from businesses located hundreds of miles away in distant cities for delivery by mail. Many college students and others used parcel post to mail home dirty laundry, as doing so was less expensive than washing the clothes themselves.  Image result for old pictures of postman

Mail was obliged to deliver not only fragile items, such as eggs, but livestock weighing up to 50 pounds. Under this category, the mailing of  baby chickens delighted the farmers and consumers across the land.chicks.PNGBut as it turned out, not only chickens fit this category, but little kids, weighing under 50 pound, too.

In January 1913, Mrs. and Mr. Jesse Beauge of Glen Este, Ohio, sent a parcel to Vernon Little, to be delivered to Mrs. Louis Beague, using the services of Rural Free Delivery.

The shipment cost them 15 cents paid for the postage stamp, while the content was insured for $50. The content of a parcel was the grandson of Mrs. Louis Beague. The kid’s parents figured out that sending a child by mail would be cheaper than taking him to his grandmother by any other means.

It was the first, but not the last child thus mailed.
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On January 27, 1913, Mrs. and Mr J.W. Savis from Pine Hollow, Pennsylvania, “packed up” and mailed their daughter to James Beyrle of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. The girl was safely delivered to the recipient on the same day. The shipment cost the parents 45 cents.

On February 19, 1914, three months before her sixth birthday, May Pierstorff was mailed by her parents from Grangeville, Idaho, to her grandmother who lived 73 miles away. The cost of this “parcel” was 53 cents. May’s weight was 48.5 pounds — less than the maximum permissible 50 pounds.

After this incident, parcel post regulations were changed to prohibit the shipment of humans.

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This photo was published as an illustration to the USPS announcement that the mail will no longer accept humans for shipment.

But, as they say, the laws exist to be broken. A couple of months after the decree, a certain B.H. Knepper from Maryland mailed a 14 lb child to his grandmother in Clear Spring, some 12 miles away. Local newspapers claimed that the baby was sleeping peacefully throughout the entire trip.

In the same year, postal workers of Stillwell, Indiana, accepted a parcel marked “live baby”. The parcel — baby unharmed —  has changed hands through the post office window in South Bend, Indiana, baby’s divorced father on the receiving end. The shipment cost 17 cents.

And yet again, a year later, six-year-old Edna Neff  has been mailed by her mother from Pensacola, Florida, to her divorced father in Christiansburg, Virginia. The family fell on hard times with no money for travel. The shipment cost 15 cents. Edna’s weight was approaching the 50-pound mark. This was, distance wise, the longest registered transport of a child by parcel service.

1915 was a record year for mailing children. In September, three-year-old Mod Smith has been mailed by her grandparents to her mother, Ms. Selina Smith of Jackson, Kentucky. This case has been investigated by postal authority, and, apparently, was the last recorded instance of mailing children by USPS.

I didn’t know, did you?

 

 

Aliens Downstairs

This story is from the very recent archives of St. Petersburg’s agency of Russian EMERCOM (the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergency Situations and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters), one of the Russian Federation’s emergency services.

Image result for emercom of russiaThe EMERCOM agents respond to the unusual complain from a citizen residing in the second floor apartment of an upscale St. Petersburg’s building.

The agents ring the doorbell. A man wearing an aluminum foil cap opens the door just a crack. When the agents announce themselves and enter the apartment, they can hardly contain their bewilderment. Every surface  in the entire flat — walls, floors, ceiling and every piece of furniture — is covered with aluminum foil. The owner, still wearing the foil cap, explains the reason for his obsession with foil covering as an attempt to protect himself from the deadly radiation emanating from upstairs.  “You see,” he laments, “My neighbor from the apartment directly above mine constantly, day and night, irradiates me. Do something. Help!”alumium.PNGThe agents gently reassure the “victim of irradiation” and, on his insistence, head upstairs to visit the villainous neighbor. They don’t mind, really. As a matter of protocol, they have to make sure that the paranoiac foil-capped man doesn’t bother the inhabitants of the upstairs apartment.

Another doorbell, and the neighbor — bespectacled, bearded, looking, incongruously, like a mad scientist from a bad movie — opens the door. EMERCOM agents walk in and… encounter yet another curious setup. The entire apartment is filled with… microwave ovens. microwave.PNG

Dozens of them. All turned on and facing down. The “mad scientist” explains that this is how he fights against an alien living downstairs who wants to enslave the world!

Funny or not, this is a real and fairly recent story from Russia. I would’ve forgotten about it, if not for this article in Daily Mail: Billionaire Bigelow space mogul says he is ‘absolutely convinced’ there are aliens on Earth.

A billionaire aerospace entrepreneur who has recently worked with Nasa has said he is 'absolutely convinced' that there are alien visitors living on Earth. Robert Bigelow (pictured), speaking in an interview with 60 minutes, said he has spent 'millions' on alien research

A billionaire aerospace entrepreneur Robrt Bigelow has said he is ‘absolutely convinced’ that there are alien visitors living on Earth. 


Robert Bigelow, aforementioned billionaire space mogul, runs Bigelow Aerospace, a private space technology company, often partnering with NASA.

Speaking in an interview with 60 minutes, asked if he believed in aliens, Mr Bigelow responded: ‘I’m absolutely convinced. That’s all there is to it.’

Mr Bigelow made a number of other statements about his belief in aliens among us:

‘There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence [on Earth].

‘I spent millions and millions and millions – I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject [aliens].’

Mr Bigelow did not specify exactly how much he has spent on this research, and declined to comment on any personal UFO encounters.

Correspondent Lara Logan, who was leading the interview, then asked Mr Bigelow whether he felt it was risky for him to say in public that he believes in aliens.

She asked him whether he worried that people might think he was ‘crazy’.

Mr Bigelow responded: ‘I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.’ (–Excerpt from the article.)

Sick Genius

  • CRISPR-Cas9 is a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence.
  • It is currently the simplest, most versatile and precise method of genetic manipulation and is therefore causing a buzz in the science world.

How does it work? That’s how. Amazing stuff, really. However… Editing genes to eliminate cancer or Schizophrenia could stop the rise of geniuses, scientist warns.

 If you haven’t followed the link, the article sums up the following: Dr. James Kozubek, the author of ‘Modern Prometheus: Editing the Human Genome with Crispr-Cas9’ suggests that the gene-editing technology Crispr-Cas9 — which is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer — is not completely a positive.

In 'Modern Prometheus,' Kozubek says the gene-editing technology Crispr-Cas9 ¿ which is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer ¿ is not  completely a positive thing‘Before we begin modifying our genes with gene editing tools such as Crispr-Cas9, we’d be smart to recall that genetic variants that contribute to psychiatric conditions may even be beneficial depending on the environment or genetic background.’

In a word, while gene modification technique is being tested in the US and China to curb the spread of cancer and it may also erase depression or Schizophrenia, it could eliminate geniuses — as high intelligence are often associated with such disorders.

  • Writers are 10 times more likely to have Bipolar Disorder.
  • Poets are diagnosed with it 40 times more often than the general population.
  • Thomas Edison was ‘addled’ and kicked out of school.
  • Tennessee Williams, as a teenager on the boulevards of Paris felt afraid of the process of thought and came within a hairsbreadth of going quite mad.
  • Scientists tend to think of variations in life as problems to be solved, deviations and abnormalities outside of a normal curve.
  • In reality, Darwin showed us that evolution does not progress toward an ideal concept or model, but rather is a work of tinkering toward adaptation in local niches.

Go and figure…

Rooms With A View

 

Banksy.jpgBETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian guest house packed with artwork by the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy unveiled itself Friday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, with a sneak peek of what the owner called the “hotel with the worst view in the world.”

Banksy has made previous forays into the Palestinian territories. In one secret visit, he drew a painting of a girl pulled upward by balloons on the barrier facing his current project. Last year, he is believed to have sneaked into Gaza to draw four street murals, including one on a metal door that depicted the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house. The painting, titled “Bomb Damage,” was drawn on the last remaining part of a two-story house that was destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

banksy1Wisam Salsaa, 42, said the nine-room Walled Off Hotel will officially open on Mar. 11, but he offered a handful of reporters a tour. The hotel looks directly out at the West Bank separation barrier erected by Israel to ward off potential Palestinian attackers. The barrier, which Palestinians consider to be a land grab that stifles their movement, is heavily decorated by artists, and Banksy has previously painted several murals on a walled segment of it.banksy2The hotel  has the markings of a gentleman’s club from the English colonial period. One small niche accommodates a life-size figure of Arthur James Balfour signing the 1917 letter that came to be known as the Balfour declaration — the basis for the international push for the creation of Israel. banksyThe cheapest room, $30 a night, is a dormitory-style room with bunkbeds.

The whole project took 14 months to complete and was kept under complete secrecy, in accordance with Banksy’s request to protect his anonymity. 

 An Israeli security watch tower is seen from one of the roomsSalsaa said the entire interior was personally overseen by Banksy, to the very last details. The hotel is the largest new body of the artist’s work in years, according to a press release distributed by representatives who attended Friday’s tour.The hotel, several of whose rooms look onto an Israeli security watchtower, is awash in the trademark satirical work of the mysterious artist. The highlight is Room 3, where guests sleep in a king-size bed underneath Banksy’s artwork showing a Palestinian and an Israeli in a pillow fight.

The artist’s satirical stencils — rats, kissing policemen, riot police with yellow smiley faces — first appeared on walls in Bristol before spreading to London and then around the world. His artwork comments on war, child poverty and the environment. His identity remains a mystery, but his works have fetched as much as $1.8 million at auctions. (From the article by NEBI QENA, AP News).

Articles on Banksy’s newest endeavor appeared in The Telegraph (The Walled Off Hotel: Banksy opens dystopian tourist attraction in Bethlehem) and many other publications and internet sources.

Cheating Beautiful Bastards

DSC_8768Regal and beautiful birds, swans are admired by all. And how could it be otherwise? After all swan is symbol of  everlasting love, purity and fidelity. But it so?

Not according to the results of the recent study conducted by Australian ornithologists. Love and fidelity of swans, as it happens, is a myth now dispelled by scientists.DSC_8742“Swans have long been renowned as symbols of lifelong fidelity and devotion, but our recent work has shown that infidelity is rife among black swans,” said Raoul Mulder from the University of Melbourne’s zoology department.

He and colleagues tested the DNA of many cygnets and found that one in six (17%) is the product of an illicit encounter. (The Myth of Monogamous Swans.)DSC_8787Interesting that about a quarter of “married” black swan couples are formed by homosexual males. Often a couple of males temporarily teams up with a female and, after she lays eggs, they cruelly expel her from the nest.

In fairness it should be noted that while scientists have traced only for a type of black swans, so it is hoped that the white swans behaved more decently.