Saturday, 25 May 2019

What the average voter doesn't do about Donald J. Trump

Over the past few years, any discussion about Donald Trump at some point, makes mention of his book "The Art of the Deal". I've never read it. Should I? I'm curious, but more in a know-your-enemy way.

Step #1
I look up the book on Amazon.

Amazon: Trump: The Art of the Deal

I look over the description and under "About the author", I read:

"An ardent philanthropist, Trump is involved with numerous civic and charitable organizations."

A quick search about the Trump Foundation, leads me to this article.

The Guardian - Dec 20/2018
Judge signs off on shutdown of Trump Foundation after ‘pattern of illegality’
New York’s attorney general, Barbara Underwood, taking out a lawsuit against the foundation:
“Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests.”

* Trump had used the charity to pay off legal settlements within his business and even to buy a painting of himself to hang in one of his golf clubs.

* The attorney general had claimed the charity was used as a “piggy bank” to boost Trump Sr’s 2016 presidential campaign, violating rules that bar not-for-profit groups from engaging in certain types of political activity.

* The suit claimed that up to $3m in such funds boosted Trump’s campaign.

* Among examples of improperly used funds is the allegation that the charity spent $10,000 on a giant painting of Trump himself.

It occurred to me: How many people are going to read "an ardent philanthropist", be impressed, but never know the truth? Who's going to bother to do any research to verify if this is true? After all, this is in print, this is on the Amazon web site, heck, it has to be true, right?

On the other hand, if you're a committed Trump supporter, you're going to dismiss the Guardian article by labeling it "fake news". That designation - fake news - is a catch-all Get Out of Jail Free card. Any criticism can be easily dismissed by qualifying it as being fake.

Step #2
Under editorial reviews, I read:

“A chatty, generous, chutzpa-filled autobiography.”—New York Post

Using Google, I search the NY Times web site for this quote. (Type the following into the Google search box. The syntax "site:" tells Google to perform the search on the specified web site, not the entire world.)

“A chatty, generous, chutzpa-filled autobiography.” site:

I find no match. However, Google suggests an alternative spelling for "chutzpa" as in "chutzpah". (The correct spelling of the word is "chutzpah", which means the Amazon entry has a spelling error.)

I don't find any matches. Did the New York Times truly say “A chatty, generous, chutzpa-filled autobiography”, or has some ad person made up the whole quote when making the Amazon entry?

Step #3
But in going down the listing of search results, I run across this article.

NY Times - Oct 2/2018
Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father

The article is long: 14,000 words. It is detailed. It is exhaustive. It tells the story of Donald J. Trump, conman, huckster, a man who has gotten to where he is through slight of hand, of using hired professional help, both legal and accounting, to exploit every possible tax loophole to avoid taxes. When Trump says the tax code is a mess, he's talking from experience.

"The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances. The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show."

And how did this happen?

"By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually in his 40s and 50s."

Step #4
Did Trump actually write this book? From previous reading, I know there was a ghostwriter.

Wikipedia: Trump: The Art of the Deal
Trump: The Art of the Deal is a 1987 book authored by Tony Schwartz and credited to Donald Trump. Part memoir and part business-advice book, it was the first book credited to Trump, and helped to make him a "household name". It reached number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list, stayed there for 13 weeks, and altogether held a position on the list for 48 weeks.

The book received additional attention during Trump's 2016 campaign for the presidency of the United States. He cited it as one of his proudest accomplishments and his second-favorite book after the Bible. Schwartz called writing the book his "greatest regret in life, without question," and both he and the book's publisher, Howard Kaminsky, said that Trump had played no role in the actual writing of the book. Trump has given conflicting accounts on the question of authorship.

Reception and legacy
In October 2018, the New York Times published an investigation contradicting many of the claims made by the Book, particularly the assertion that Donald Trump is a self made billionaire. The investigation details how Trump received at least $413 million in 2018 dollars from his father's real estate empire, rather than the $1 million stated in the book.

Based on Trump's tax returns between 1985 and 1994 which showed a loss greater than "nearly any other individual American taxpayer" during that period, co-author Schwartz suggested that the book might be "recategorized as fiction".

Step #5
The average person is not going to do what I've just done. The average person gets their information from a variety of media sources and never bothers to check if said sources are factually correct, politically biased, or part of a marketing strategy. The average person is running around saying such and such is true, but in reality, have no tangible, peer-reviewed documentation to back up their worldview.

I look again at Amazon under "About the Author".

Donald J. Trump is the forty-fifth president of the United States. He is the very definition of the American success story, continually setting standards of excellence while expanding his interests in real estate, gaming, sports, and entertainment.

It's impressive. It even staggers the imagination. Who wouldn't want to be Donald J. Trump? We can all wish to win the lottery, and Trump is like winning the lottery.

But is this story true? Is this the bedrock-solid story of a self-made billionaire? Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.

There is no doubt that Trump is a larger than life individual. But is this the sort of man I want to emulate? Is this my measure of success? Does Trump truly define the "American success story"?

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
-Oscar Wilde

How do I want my 15 minutes to play out? Something good? Or under investigation for the rest of my life? Eventually, a house of cards blows over.


Wikipedia: Donald Trump
Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality.

Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated sixteen opponents in the primaries. Commentators described his political positions as populist, protectionist, and nationalist. He was elected president in a surprise victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, although he lost the popular vote. He became the oldest and wealthiest person ever to assume the presidency, and the first without prior military or government service. His election and policies have sparked numerous protests. Trump has made many false or misleading statements during his campaign and presidency. The statements have been documented by fact-checkers, and the media have widely described the phenomenon as unprecedented in American politics. Many of his comments and actions have been characterized as racially charged or racist.

False statements
As president, Trump has frequently made false statements in public speeches and remarks. The statements have been documented by fact-checkers, and the media have widely described the phenomenon as unprecedented in American politics. His falsehoods have also become a distinctive part of his political identity.

Trump uttered "at least one false or misleading claim per day on 91 of his first 99 days" in office, according to The New York Times, and 1,318 total in his first 263 days in office, according to the "Fact Checker" political analysis column of The Washington Post. By the Post's tally, it took Trump 601 days to reach 5,000 false or misleading statements and another 226 days to reach the 10,000 mark. For the seven weeks leading up to the midterm elections, it rose to an average of 30 per day from 4.9 during his first 100 days in office. The Post found that Trump averaged 15 false statements per day during 2018.


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Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Gunfighter (2014 short film)

Published on Nov 13/2013 by Eric Kissack
Vimeo: The Gunfighter (8:48)
Just another period western meta comedy short film.
Featuring the mellifluous voice of Nick Offerman.
Directed by Eric Kissack (
Written by Kevin Tenglin (


Wikipedia: The Gunfighter (2014 film)
The Gunfighter is a 2014 short film directed by Eric Kissack. A twist on the Western genre, the film concerns a group of people in a saloon who, in an act of breaking the fourth wall, are able to hear the narrator of the film.

The film was shot at the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio in Santa Clarita, California, and was partly inspired by the television series Deadwood. It was filmed over the course of a weekend, on a budget of under $25,000, much of which went towards costume design and props. The film's director, Eric Kissack, contacted comedic writer and filmmaker David Wain in order to help cast actor Nick Offerman as the unseen narrator.[1] The film was presented to Offerman with a different narrating voice to act as a placeholder until a superior narrator was acquired. Offerman enjoyed the film and his narration, which is present in the finished film, was subsequently recorded.

Reception and awards
The Gunfighter has received mostly positive reviews, holding a score of 8.1/10 on IMDb, based on 1,065 user ratings. The film won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival and was a "Best of Fest Selection" at the 2014 Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films. Film reviewer John Arkelian wrote that, in regards to the narration, "it’s an omniscient author getting in the way of his own characters. The result is quite amusing, if sometimes vulgar."


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Monday, 13 May 2019

Jackson Browne: Somebody's Baby

Published on Jul 4, 2016 by Retrospective Soundtrack
YouTube: Jackson Browne - Somebody's Baby (Fast Times At Ridgemont High) (1982)

Well, just - a look at that girl with the lights comin' up in her eyes
She's got to be somebody's baby
She must be somebody's baby
All the guys on the corner stand back and let her walk on by
She's got to be somebody's baby
She must be somebody's baby
She's got to be somebody's baby
She's so fine
She's probably somebody's only light
Gonna shine tonight
Yeah, she's probably somebody's baby, all right

I heard her talkin' with her friend when she thought nobody else was around
She said she's got to be somebody's baby; she must be somebody's baby
'Cause when the cars and the signs and the street lights light up the town
She's got to be somebody's baby
She must be somebody's baby
She's got to be somebody's baby
She's so
She's gonna be somebody's only light
Gonna shine tonight
Yeah, she's gonna be somebody's baby tonight

I try to shut my eyes, but I can't get her outta my sight
I know I'm gonna know her, but I gotta get over my fright
We'll, I'm just gonna walk up to her
I'm gonna talk to her tonight
Yeah, she's gonna be somebody's only light
Gonna shine tonight
Yeah, she's gonna be somebody's baby tonight
Gonna shine tonight, make her mine tonight


Wikipedia: Somebody's Baby
"Somebody's Baby" is a song written by Jackson Browne and Danny Kortchmar and recorded by Browne for the 1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High movie soundtrack. Reaching #7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 after debuting at #73 on July 31, 1982, the track would be Browne's last top ten song, as well as the highest charting single of his career, spending nineteen weeks on the chart.

Wikipedia: Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age comedy film directed by Amy Heckerling and written by Cameron Crowe, adapted from his 1981 book of the same title. Crowe went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego and wrote about his experiences.

The film was the directorial debut of Amy Heckerling and chronicles a school year in the lives of sophomores Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer), and their respective older friends Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) and Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), both of whom believe themselves wiser in the ways of romance than their younger counterparts. The ensemble cast of characters form two subplots with Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a perpetually stoned surfer, facing off against uptight history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), and Stacy's older brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold), a senior who works at a series of entry-level jobs in order to pay off his car and ponders ending his two-year relationship with his girlfriend, Lisa (Amanda Wyss).

The soundtrack album, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Music from the Motion Picture, peaked at #54 on the Billboard album chart. The soundtrack features the work of many quintessential 1980s rock artists.

Several of the movie's songs were released as singles, including Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby", which reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Other singles were the title track by Sammy Hagar, a cover of The Tymes' "So Much in Love" by Timothy B. Schmit, "Raised on the Radio" by the Ravyns and "Waffle Stomp" by Joe Walsh. In addition to Schmit and Walsh, the album features solo tracks by two other members of the Eagles, Don Henley and Don Felder. The soundtrack also included "I Don't Know (Spicoli's Theme)" by Jimmy Buffett and "Goodbye Goodbye" by Oingo Boingo (led by Danny Elfman).


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Sunday, 12 May 2019

Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Published on Mar 26, 2019 by TEDx Talks
YouTube: Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? | Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic | TEDxUniversityofNevada (9:32)
There is a pathological mismatch between the qualities that seduce us in a leader and those that are needed to be an effective leader. Based on research on the psychology of leadership, Chamorro-Premuzic shows that if leaders were selected on competence rather than confidence, humility rather than charisma, and integrity rather than narcissism, we would not just end up with more competent leaders, but also more women leaders. In fact, he argues, the main obstacle preventing competent women from becoming leaders is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men. Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in psychological profiling, talent management, leadership development, and people analytics. He is the Chief Talent Scientist at Manpower Group, co-founder and CEO of DeeperSignals and Metaprofiling, and Professor of Business Psychology at both University College London, and Columbia University. He has previously held academic positions at New York University and the London School of Economics, and lectured at Harvard Business School, Stanford Business School, London Business School, Johns Hopkins, IMD, and INSEAD, as well as being the CEO at Hogan Assessment Systems. Dr. Tomas has published 10 books and over 150 scientific papers, making him one of the most prolific social scientists of his generation. His work has received awards by the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology, to which he is a Fellow.


official web site: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
I was born and raised in the Villa Freud district of Buenos Aires, but spent most of my professional career in London, and now live in Brooklyn.

I’m currently the Chief Talent Scientist at Manpower Group, co-founder of Deeper Signals and Metaprofiling, and Professor of Business Psychology at University College London and Columbia University.

Twitter: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic @drtcp

Wikipedia: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an organizational psychologist who works mostly in the areas of personality profiling, people analytics, and leadership development. He is currently a professor of business psychology at University College London (UCL) and Columbia University, as well as the Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup.

Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic is the author or co-author of a series of books dealing with psychology and how it relates to individual personality and the workforce. He has also published over 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Amazon: Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Look around your office. Turn on the TV. Incompetent leadership is everywhere, and there's no denying that most of these leaders are men.

In this timely and provocative book, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic asks two powerful questions: Why is it so easy for incompetent men to become leaders? And why is it so hard for competent people--especially competent women--to advance?

Marshaling decades of rigorous research, Chamorro-Premuzic points out that although men make up a majority of leaders, they underperform when compared with female leaders. In fact, most organizations equate leadership potential with a handful of destructive personality traits, like overconfidence and narcissism. In other words, these traits may help someone get selected for a leadership role, but they backfire once the person has the job.

When competent women--and men who don't fit the stereotype--are unfairly overlooked, we all suffer the consequences. The result is a deeply flawed system that rewards arrogance rather than humility, and loudness rather than wisdom.

There is a better way. With clarity and verve, Chamorro-Premuzic shows us what it really takes to lead and how new systems and processes can help us put the right people in charge.


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Saturday, 11 May 2019

Star Wars and all that jazz (à la Dave Brubeck)

Published on Jun 2, 2008 by buckinny
YouTube: Dave Brubeck - Take Five

Wikipedia: Take Five
"Take Five" is a jazz standard composed by Paul Desmond and originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet for their 1959 album Time Out. Made at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in New York City on July 1, 1959, fully two years later it became an unlikely hit[a] and the biggest-selling jazz single ever. Revived since in numerous movie and television soundtracks, the piece still receives significant radio airplay.

Musical style
Written in the key of E♭ minor, "Take Five" is known for its distinctive two-chord (E♭m / B♭m7) piano vamp; catchy blues-scale saxophone melody; inventive, jolting drum solo; and unusual quintuple (5/4) time, from which it derives its name.

Although released as a single on September 21, 1959, "Take Five" fulfilled its chart potential only when reissued in May 1961, that year reaching No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 (October 9), No. 5 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart (October 23) and No. 6 on the UK Record Retailer chart (November 16). The single is a different recording than the LP version and omits most of the drum solo.

May the Five/Fourth Be With You
On May 4 2019, I ran across the following meme on social media. Amused, I passed it along to family and friends.

I then had second thoughts and made some inquiries. Much to my horror, nobody got the joke. I'm not a stand-up comedian, but I can imagine being at the mic and hearing a room full of crickets. At least they're not booing and throwing rotten tomatoes.

For the uninitiated, let me explain everything. If you know some of this, bear with me as it may now be better to over-explain.

"May the force be with you" is a catchphrase from the Star Wars movie franchise. May 4th is considered "Star Wars Day" based on the pun "May the Fourth be with you". (Wikipedia)

The jazz composition "Take Five" is written in the time signature of 5/4, a pun on the expression "take five (minutes as a break)".

5/4 also works as May 4th, May being the 5th month of the year.

Well, that pretty much beats this joke to death. Is there anything left for even a chuckle? I'm reminded of times where I've had to explain a piece of humor, and the other person finally says, "I get it now." Unfortunately, when they say "I get it", that's usually accompanied by a smile of sympathy with the subliminal message, "You tried. I'm being polite. But that sucked, and I mean royally."

If I ever get a time machine, I'll now go back and do two things:

1. Kill baby Hitler*.

2. Unsend my email with the Dave Brubeck Day meme.


* Yes, killing baby Hitler is a thing. See TV Tropes.

Cultural References
In discussing Dave Brubeck with my brother (He didn't get the 5/4 joke.), he mentioned seeing the following meme. We talked about humor based on cultural references. I'm not a follower of sports, but like most in North America, I'm familiar with the game. I don't necessarily have to know the player pictured: Chin-lung Hu (b 1984), Taiwanese professional baseball player (Wikipedia). However, I do have to know the 1938 Abbott & Costello radio routine "Who's on first?". (Wikipedia). If I don't, this meme makes no sense.

I've never seen the TV series Breaking Bad, or the Lord of the Rings films, or even the Netflix series Game of Thrones. And yet, I know enough that I understand what GOT means (acronym of Game Of Thrones). I realise that to appreciate any late night comedy TV monologue, we need to understand cultural references as a number of the jokes reference politics and entertainment. We have to know what's going on. We have to be aware of the latest news.

May the farce be with you.

Published on Jan 22, 2012 by Tori Chitic
YouTube: Dave Brubeck - Take Five
Live in Belgium 1964: Paul Desmond (alto sax), Joe Morello (drums), Eugene Wright (bass) and Dave Brubeck (piano)

I ran across another musical joke. It's been years since I did anything musical, so I had to double check the key signature for B minor. (Wikipedia). Yup, two sharps: It's relative major being D major. Once again, if you don't know anything about the technical side of music, this joke won't be funny.


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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Fine Young Cannibals: She Drives Me Crazy

Published on Oct 10, 2017 by London Recordings
YouTube: Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy (Official Video)

I can't stop
The way I feel
Things you do
Don't seem real

Tell you what I got in mind
'Cause we're runnin' out of time
Won't you ever set me free?
This waitin' 'round's killin' me

She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can't help myself

I can't get
Any rest
People say
I'm obsessed

Everything that's serious lasts
But to me there's no surprise
What I have, I knew was true
Things go wrong, they always do

She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can't help myself

I won't make it
On my own
No one likes
To be alone

She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can't help myself

She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can't help myself

She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can't help myself


Wikipedia: She Drvies Me Crazy
"She Drives Me Crazy" is a song released in 1988 by English group Fine Young Cannibals, and included on their 1989 album The Raw & the Cooked. Peaking at No. 5 on the British singles chart in January 1989 (it was released on New Year's Day), "She Drives Me Crazy" is the band's highest charting single in their native UK. The single proved an even bigger hit in the US, topping the Billboard Hot 100 on 15 April 1989 (for one week), and becoming the first of two chart-topping singles for the band on this chart. "She Drives Me Crazy" also reached No.1 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart, as well as in countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, New Zealand and Spain. It reached the top 3 on several European charts including Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland.

Music video
Two music videos were produced for the song, one by Philippe Decouflé and another by Pedro Romhanyi. As with Decouflé's only other music video (for New Order's "True Faith"), his version includes extensive choreography and performers in unusual costumes. One looks like a pillow and another resembles the title character from the movie Beetlejuice. Also included are two identical dancers wearing similar but different coloured outfits with goggles used in tanning salons, and a karate fighter with a TV on his head. A guitar is seen catching fire.

Wikipedia: Fine Young Cannibals
Fine Young Cannibals were a British rock music band formed in Birmingham, England, in 1984, by bassist David Steele, guitarist Andy Cox (both formerly of The Beat), and singer Roland Gift (formerly of the Akrylykz). Their self-titled 1985 debut album contained "Johnny Come Home" and a cover of "Suspicious Minds", two songs that were top 40 hits in the UK, Canada, Australia and many European countries. Their 1989 album, The Raw & the Cooked, topped the UK and US album charts, and contained their two Billboard Hot 100 number ones: "She Drives Me Crazy" and "Good Thing".

Fine Young Cannibals disbanded in 1992, although they briefly returned to the studio in 1996 to record a new single, "The Flame", which would complement their greatest hits compilation The Finest released that year. In the early 2000s, Gift (without Steele or Cox) reactivated the band name and toured as Roland Gift and the Fine Young Cannibals.


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Monday, 6 May 2019

Rape and Victim Blaming: “Medusa” by Luciano Garbati

I recently ran across an interesting piece of art. In investigating the artist, I discovered a curious twist on an old story. The more I know, the less I know. It's a big world, and there is much in the world I know nothing about.

Quartzy - Oct 3/2018
The story behind the Medusa statue that has become the perfect avatar for women’s rage by By Annaliese Griffin
Maybe you’ve seen her in your social media feed. A woman in the midst of an unsavory, unrequested task, she stands naked, her hair a tangle of serpents, a sword in one hand, a severed head in the other. Her gaze is not triumphant, exactly, but resolute.

This vision of a re-imagined Medusa myth is a sculpture by Luciano Garbati, a 45-year-old Argentine-Italian artist based in Buenos Aires who has watched in amazement lately as a piece of art he made in 2008 has gone viral across social media, as the perfect avatar for a moment of female rage.

“Medusa” by Luciano Garbati

The original Greek myth of Medusa offers plenty to be angry about. The monstrous being with snakes for hair starts out as a human woman, who Poseidon rapes in Athena’s temple. The goddess then punishes Medusa by turning her into a Gorgon and exiling her. Perseus is later sent on an errand to bring Medusa’s head to King Polydectes. Equipped with a mirrored shield, winged sandals, and a special sack for her head, Perseus creeps up on Medusa while she lies sleeping, cuts off her head, and then uses it as a weapon for turning enemies into stone.

Garbati came to question the characterization of Medusa as a monster, pointing out that she was “raped and cursed and killed.”

My Research
As you can see from the above Quartzy article, Mr. Garbati has created an interpretation of Medusa that has caught the eye of feminists and the #MeToo movement. I became curious at his questioning "the characterization of Medusa as a monster". I realized I knew little or nothing about Greek mythology.

Below, I link to several sources I consulted — Wikipedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, and Classical Wisdom Weekly — trying to confirm the full story of this mythical figure. The following is based on the writings of Ovid (43 BC - 17/18 AD), a Roman poet. Athena is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare.

Classical Wisdom Weekly: Medusa: Sympathy for a Monster
According to Ovid, Medusa was born human and grew into an excruciatingly beautiful woman. Every man who saw her face and her gorgeous, silken hair immediately asked for her hand in marriage—all but one. The sea god, Poseidon, fell for her amazing looks but instead of asking for her hand, took her virginity—raping her inside the sacred sanctuary of Athena.

Athena, as the virgin goddess, was incredibly enraged by this defilement of her temple and chose to punish Medusa for her part in the whole affair—she cursed Medusa’s beauty. According to this version of the myth, it’s at this point that Medusa’s beautiful hair becomes a tangled mass of snakes, and she is cursed with her deadly power—the ability to turn whoever looks upon her to stone.

It’s important to stress here that Medusa has no control over this ability—should anyone at all look upon her face, they’ll be instantly transformed. In essence, Athena dooms Medusa to a life of solitude, a life in which Medusa will never have the comfort of looking at another human face without destroying it—all for the crime of being raped. After years of this torture, Perseus’ sword must have come as a welcome deliverance.

The important point is this: Athena punishes Medusa for being raped. Yes, you read that correctly. As one commentator wrote in a user group discussing this myth, "classic victim-blaming". Athena doesn't hold Poseidon responsible for raping Medusa, she holds Medusa responsible for being raped. The criminal isn't responsible for committing the crime; the victim is responsible for being the target. And you will note that the person inflicting the punishment is a woman, not a man. A woman holds another woman responsible for being raped.

Athena is angry that her temple has been defiled by the rape, but why does she hold Medusa responsible for this defilement, not Poseidon the perpetrator?

It's beyond the scope of this article to delve into the psychological aspects of this story. — Wikipedia has articles on victim blaming and rape myth for further study. — My point is that Medusa is always considered horrible, and Perseus beheading Medusa is seen as good triumphing over evil. But behind this common telling is another story.

Over the years, I discovered this: Happy people are kind, generous, and sympathetic, if not empathetic. Unhappy people are mean, cruel, and always find fault with everybody else, never with themselves.

In other words, supposedly bad people may have a reason for being bad. Now don't get me wrong, some bad people can't be rehabilitated, and like a rabid dog, must be put down and locked up. Forever. — If I could go back in time, would I kill baby Hitler? (Wikipedia: Grandfather paradox)

My point is this newly discovered (well, for me) backstory to Medusa. Poseidon rapes her, and the goddess Athena holds her accountable.

In Ovid's telling, Perseus describes Medusa's punishment by Minerva (Athena) as just and well earned. (Wikipedia)

Now, I'm curious: In the Wizard of Oz, why are the Wicked Witch of the East and the Wicked Witch of the West wicked? (Yes, the plot of the 1995 novel Wicked by Gregory Maguire and the subsequent musical.)

official web site: Luciano Garbati

MWTH Project (Medusa With The Head)
MWTH (Medusa With The Head) is an exhibition entangled in the narrative habits of classical imaginaries, their foundational role in present culture and visions of the future. MWTH seeks to reorient androcentric lore, to queer iconography, and to re-reformulate antiquity’s heroic center and its modes of (re)production. Through stories that are told and retold over centuries, our iconography shapes our ideology.

Twitter: luciano garbati @GarbatiLuciano

Facebook: luciano garbati

Wikipedia: Perseus with the Head of Medusa
Perseus with the Head of Medusa is a bronze sculpture made by Benvenuto Cellini in the period 1545-1554. The sculpture stands upon a square base with bronze relief panels depicting the story of Perseus and Andromeda, similar to a predella on an altarpiece. It is located in the Loggia dei Lanzi of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy. The second Florentine duke, Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, commissioned the work with specific political connections to the other sculptural works in the piazza. When the piece was revealed to the public on 27 April 1554, Michelangelo's David, Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus, and Donatello's Judith and Holofernes were already erected in the piazza.

The subject matter of the work is the mythological story of Perseus beheading Medusa, a hideous woman-faced Gorgon whose hair was turned to snakes and anyone that looked at her was turned to stone. Perseus stands naked except for a sash and winged sandals, triumphant on top of the body of Medusa with her snakey head in his raised hand. The body of Medusa spews blood from her severed neck. The bronze sculpture and Medusa's head turns men to stone and is appropriately surrounded by three huge marble statues of men: Hercules, David, and later Neptune. Cellini breathed new life into the piazza visitor through his new use of bronze in Perseus and the head of Medusa and the motifs he used to respond to the previous sculpture in the piazza. If one examines the sculpture from the back, you can see the self-image of the sculptor Cellini on the backside of Perseus' helmet.

Wikipedia: Medusa
In a late version of the Medusa myth, related by the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.770), Medusa was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden, "the jealous aspiration of many suitors," but because Poseidon had raped her in Athena's temple, the enraged Athena transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. In Ovid's telling, Perseus describes Medusa's punishment by Minerva (Athena) as just and well earned.

Ancient History Encyclopedia: Medusa
Ovid relates that the once beautiful mortal was punished by Athena with a hideous appearance and loathsome snakes for hair for having been raped in Athena's temple by Poseidon.

The Odyssey Online: The Horrible Tale of Medusa
One of the most popular beings from Greek mythology is not even a god or a monster; she is actually a cursed woman who is a victim to a horrendous crime. Her name meant "guardian" and "protectress." Her tale shows the cruelty of the Greek gods and how mankind is nothing but items to the gods. Medusa is known as a woman with snakes for hair and a gaze that turns men into stone. But who knows the truth behind this woman? This is her story.

Medusa was a priestess to the goddess Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom and battle. One requirement to be a priestess for Athena is that the young woman must be a virgin and give her life to the goddess. One day, Poseidon, the god of the Sea and rival to Athena, saw Medusa and decided to humiliate Athena by raping the priestess on the steps of Athena's temple. Poseidon vanished after he was done and left Medusa vulnerable and weak.

Medusa prayed to Athena for guidance and forgiveness. After all, in those days, the gods claimed their mates as their partner forever, and Medusa was now Poseidon's wife. Athena looked down in anger and cursed Medusa for betraying her. Medusa was sent to a faraway island and was cursed so that no man would want her. She was given chicken legs, giant metal wings, cracked skin, madness, and her signature snake hair and stone eyes. Medusa was now a monster woman.


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Sunday, 5 May 2019

Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus: In Mourning and In Rage (1977)

Published on Nov 24, 2010 by OtisCollege
YouTube: In Mourning and Rage (8:05)
Suzanne Lacy, Leslie Labowitz, Bia Lowe (Los Angeles, 1977)

In December 1977, Los Angeles waited in suspense as each new victim of the "Hillside Strangler" was broadcast on the evening's news. Soon there were ten women, strangled and dumped on the sides of roads. Media sensationalized these victims' lives, contributing to a climate of fear and superstition. In spite of a growing body of literature on the politics of crimes against women, stories focused instead on the randomness of the violence.

Photo credit, Susan Mogul

Wikipedia: In Mourning and in Rage
In Mourning and in Rage was a work of performance art and activism by Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz. The performance took place in Los Angeles, California in 1977 as a response to the rapes and murders covered by the media in the "Hillside Strangler" case. "As if the horror of these crimes wasn't enough, the press coverage of the events sensationalized the sexual nature of the crimes. For feminist activists in Los Angeles involved in the movement to end violence against women, this analysis was unacceptable."

A continuation of Three Weeks in May, Lacy and Labowitz designed In Mourning and in Rage as a personal response to the sensationalized media coverage of violence against women as well as an expression of grief and rage towards the loss of life. The performance was a collaboration between Lacy, Labowitz, Bia Lowe, Holly Near, City Councilwoman Pat Russel, the Woman's Building, Women Against Violence Against Women, and Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women. The event was staged for mass media coverage at the Los Angeles City Hall.

The performance consisted of a large funeral motorcade of black-clad women lead by a hearse from the Woman's Building to the Los Angeles City Hall. Once there, nine seven-feet-tall women draped in black emerged from the hearse along with a women dressed in red. The mourners then climbed the steps of city hall where each of the nine women gave a statement into a microphone expressing their solidarity with the murdered women, emphasized by a chorus of "In memory of our sisters, we fight back!" from the rest of the motorcade. By making this performance public as well as highly crafted for media coverage, Lacy and Labowitz looked to highlight not only the deaths of the ten women killed by the Hillside Strangler, but the significantly larger population of women victims whose stories went uncovered by mainstream media.

The piece concluded with direct statements to the press explaining the rationale for the piece as well as a speech demanding resources for women's self defense. Singer-songwriter Holly Near performed her song "Fight Back" which was written specifically for this event.

In Mourning and in Rage was highly covered by the press and resulted in increased support from Los Angeles City Council members and a pledge from the Rape Hotline Alliance to provide self defense classes.

To further the conversation about social action and art, Lacy and Labowitz produced a video documenting In Mourning and in Rage as well as a pamphlet entitled What is Social Art?.

My question: Why do men perpetrate violence against women?
The WHO has studied the statistics. One may argue that the above crime is not comparable, however my question is about why the above men targeted only women. Is this in some way related to the Incel movement? (my blog: Incel, Insane, Incensed - May 31/2014)

World Health Organization - Nov 29/2017
Wikipedia: Violence against women
  • Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence – is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights.
  • Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
  • Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health, and may increase the risk of acquiring HIV in some settings.
  • Men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting of violence, and a sense of entitlement over women.
  • Women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence if they have low education, exposure to mothers being abused by a partner, abuse during childhood, and attitudes accepting violence, male privilege, and women’s subordinate status.
  • There is evidence that advocacy and empowerment counselling interventions, as well as home visitation are promising in preventing or reducing intimate partner violence against women.
  • Situations of conflict, post conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing violence, such as by intimate partners, as well as and non-partner sexual violence, and may also lead to new forms of violence against women.

"So this male friend of mine, who does by the way exist, conveniently entered into the following dialogue. I said, "men are bigger, most of the time, they can run faster, strangle better, and they have on the average a lot more money and power." "They're afraid women will laugh at them," he said. "Undercut their world view." Then I asked some women students in a quickie poetry seminar I was giving, "Why do women feel threatened by men?" "They're afraid of being killed," they said."
-Margaret Atwood, Wikiquote


Suzanne Lacy: In Mourning and In Rage (1977)

Wikipedia: Suzanne Lacy
Suzanne Lacy (b 1945) is an American artist, educator, and writer, professor at the USC Roski School of Art and Design. She has worked in a variety of media, including installation, video, performance, public art, photography, and art books, in which she focuses on "social themes and urban issues."

Wikipedia: Leslie Labowitz-Starus
Leslie Labowitz-Starus (b 1946) is an American performance artist and urban farmer based in Los Angeles.

Wikipedia: Hillside Strangler
The Hillside Strangler, later the Hillside Stranglers, is the media epithet for one, later two American serial killers who terrorized Los Angeles between October 1977 and February 1978, with the nicknames originating from the fact that many of the victims' bodies were discovered in the hills surrounding greater Los Angeles. The police, however, knew because of the positions of the bodies that two individuals were killing together, but withheld this information from the press. These two individuals were discovered to be cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono Jr., who were later convicted of kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering 10 women and girls ranging in age from 12 to 28 years old.


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