Archive for May, 2011

“Portraits” of People That Don’t Exist

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2011 by braincoffey

The IP used the above “portrait” for his Facebook image a few weeks ago. He was surprised at how some folks thought he was trying to be provocative, or cause some sort of “controversy.” The real reason for him choosing the image was more mundane: he simply liked it. As he said in a brief exchange with another Facebook patron, the picture reminded him of the portraiture of Winold Reiss, an important and multi-talented artist of the early 20th century. Not only that, the image shows what looks to The IP as a nice young black man with an expression that is not at all menacing.

But the fact that the image is of a young black man and was wrought in the manner of a “facial composite” for an alleged crime suspect made one Facebook “friend” bemoan that people might think he has friends that are, and The IP quotes here, “thugs.”

But The IP never told anyone who that sketch was supposed to represent, so saying that it looks like a “thug” reflects no only a bias, it treads on the shaky ground of racism, as if any charcoal sketch of a young black male should be interpreted as a image of a suspected criminal. That’s not only unfair to artists that work in that medium, it’s kinda unfair to all black men.

Does it matter that the image WAS a facial composite of a suspected criminal? It shouldn’t. Aside from the fact that it looks nothing like the Facebook subscriber it’s associated with, it’s really no better or worse than the millions of avatars people use for their profile image, including objects, pets, cartoons, etc.

After the aforementioned “thug” comment, The IP decided to do some research on facial composites. Not surprisingly, that area of crime “evidence” is fraught with ethical and intellectual peril. Did you know, for instance, that eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide? And the role of the “artist” and witness in forming a facial composite is filled with suggestion and bias. Can they get it “right” sometimes? Sure. Can they get it wrong? Read about that here.

The fundamental thing to understand about facial composites is that they are NOT portraits; they are conjectural images based on memory, so they are not really images of people at all.

See some more interesting Winold Reiss portraits here.

The End of Men (With ascots)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2011 by braincoffey

The Congressional Subcommittee on Tropes and Memes has just released a report on the status of men in America. Well, not really. But the idea is out, according to several pundits, that the once-dominant American male is under siege and is loosing his collective mojo. The Atlantic didn’t start this reanalysis of the status of men, but they sort of codified it in their  “The End of Men” article from last year.  And a recent Maureen Dowd piece in the NYT took a look at several planned Fall TV shows that seem to glorify the good ol’ days of the 1960s when American women knew their place.  Evidently, broacast TV is going to have shows that feature 1960s Playboy Bunnies, 1960s Airline stewardesses, and an updated Charlie’s Angels.   This is all because men are in crisis mode and they need to soothe themselves in the balm of TV fantasy, or so the (heterosexual) argument goes.

The IP would rather watch TV from the actual era when American men REALLY were men.  And it dawned on him that there may be a really simple way for today‘s increasingly emasculated men to reclaim their mojo, all the while expressing retro sartorial chic: Wear ascots.

When one looks at some classic TV bachelors from the period, one thing becomes clear beyond their expected masculine behavior: THEY WEAR ASCOTS!!

Let’s look at just 4 such ascot-wearing classic TV bachelors:

#1 Ben Gazzara in Run For Your Life

Ben Gazzara is the shit. And you don’t talk shit about Gazzara. In Run For your Life, Gazzara plays Paul Bryan, an independently wealthy, workaholic lawyer/bachelor diagnosed with the Big C and given only a year or two to live. He scores chicks, has some fights, and drives race cars like all good bachelors do. AND HE REGULARLY WEARS ASCOTS!!!

# 2 Robert Culp From I Spy

As tennis pro Kelly Robinson, Culp teams up with fellow Bachelor Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby) to fight espionage as contract government agents. He scores chicks, has some fights, plays tennis (with Bill Cosby!), AND REGULARLY WEARS ASCOTS!!!

#3 Robert Wagner From It Takes a Thief

As uber-bachelor Alexander Mundy, Wagner plays a former cat burglar working for the government who, you guessed it, scores chicks, has some fights, drives fancy cars, and REGULARLY WEARS ASCOTS!!!

# 4 George Peppard in Banacek

Peppard plays Thomas Banacek, a suave, Polish-American freelance investigator based in Boston. The Polish proverb-wielding bachelor drives a fancy car, scores with chicks, and WEARS ASCOTS ON A REGULAR BASIS!!

OK, on to the clips!

In this clip, bachelor Paul Bryan removes his ascot in his European bachelor pad while wooing an Italian babe. He doffs the scarf within the first minute of the video, so don’t feel obligated to watch it unless you want to see how the unfettered Bryan manipulates his prey.

This clip features the awesome opening title sequence of I Spy. It doesn’t have any depictions of ascots, but you get the general idea of the show. Bill Cosby is, for some reason, shown shirtless in many episodes.

Another great opening title sequence showing the exciting bachelor life of Alexander Mundy. Of the four bachelors showcased here, Mundy got the most “action” in terms of hooking up with “the ladies.”

Polish-American investigator Banacek cruises through Boston in this opening title sequence. Note I.M. Pei’s John Hancock Tower under construction. Banacek has babe “friends” all over Beantown. Let’s hope he doesn’t spill HIS beans!

All these shows are still broadcast today on The IP’s favorite network, RTV.

Here’s a bonus bachelor track:

48 Kids in 26 Years! Super Mom!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2011 by braincoffey


The IP wants to make you pithecanthropus aware of one of the most amazing birds (and moms) in the world. Not a species of bird, but an actual, individual bird that lives in Scotland in the Spring and Summer and travels to West Africa for the Winter. This female osprey has been named “Lady,” and she is a record-setter. Here is what the Scottish Wildlife Trust has to say about this amazing raptor:

The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve has been home to breeding osprey for the last 42 years, since 1969.

For 21 of those years, one remarkable female osprey has returned time and again to the astonishment of ornithologist and experts in conservation, as well as wildlife enthusiasts across the globe. Affectionately known by some as ‘Lady’ or ‘the Lady of the Loch’, this individual osprey is thought to be the oldest known breeding osprey ever recorded in Britain.

But how remarkable can one old bird be? We say – let her statistics speak for themselves.

Species: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Estimated age: 26 years (the average lifespan of an osprey is 8 years)

Number of eggs lain in her lifetime: 58

Number of chicks fledged from her nest: 48

Estimated number of miles travelled in her lifetime: 123,000 miles (3000 miles x 2 – from West Africa to Perthshire and back again – every year for approximately the last 20 years, plus 3,000 miles back this year)

The IP has been watching SWT’s osprey web-cam for two breeding seasons, and, with patience and luck, has witnessed some fascinating osprey behaviour. Some basic facts about ospreys make them some of the best raptors in the world:

Diet: Fresh Fish  High in protein, low in fat, and caught live with a spectacular dive into the water.

Sharing is Caring: The male shares incubation duties with the female, and is a “fishwinner” par excellence, bringing fresh fish to his mate on a regular basis.

Keeping it Clean: Both the male and female breeding pair are meticulous with keeping their huge nest clean, always removing fish scraps and taking care to pass waste outside the nest.

Parental Care: Again, both the male and female osprey are fully committed to feeding and protecting their brood, making sure each chick gets his or her share of fresh fish and protecting them from Scotland’s frequent rain.

Fidelity: While not all ospreys are monogamous, all are at least monogamous for the entirety of the breeding season, making sure to be good parents until the chicks fledge, learn to fly and catch fish; Lady never fails to find a suitor during her vacation in West Africa. 48 kids in 26 years! WTF?

Watch Lady (and if you’re lucky, her mate) on The Loch of The Lowes Web-Cam:


From The Loch of The Lowes Blog:

Events at the nest today:

Although our osprey pair have braved a few passing showers, the weather has brightened up significantly today. So far today, our male has brought in two fish to the nest. The first, very large, whole fish arrived at 10:10am this morning. The second arrived at 12:59pm. This fish was just the tail end and had already been fed upon by the male.

In an unusual turn of events, a red squirrel was caught on the nest camera in a topmost branch of the nest tree at 16:55pm. This caused the male to get a bit flustered and he stood off the eggs, stretching out his wings in warning. The squirrel quickly got the message and moved on, allowing the male to continue his incubation duties comfortably.

A question we received via asked us if the male always brings in a headless fish or if they are sometimes brought in whole. From what we have seen, the male will usually eat the head of a fish he catches himself and then deliver the rest to the female for her to eat. However, he will occasionally bring in a whole fish. This will most likely depend on how hungry he is at the time of catching it.

Watch An Osprey Catch a (BIG!) Fish: