Archive for November, 2012

Famous American Generals Who Were Not Implicated in a Sex Scandal via Email #5

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. He was the mentor of many of the generals who led the US Army in WWII, including Patton and Eisenhower.

Prior to WWI, Pershing’s military career included frontier duty against the Sioux and Apache, the Spanish-American War, the war in the Philippines, and the expedition to capture Pancho Villa in Mexico.

As a general in WWI, Pershing personally led the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

He was the most celebrated American soldier of the early 20th century. And, to our knowledge, he did not have an affair that was unearthed by an FBI investigation.

Pershing earned his nickname from his harsh strictness as an instructor at West Point. He was a harsh taskmaster and a fan of hazing. He was clearly not liked by his students.

But Pershing was very much admired by the generation of generals he brought up. Although none of the people who considered him a “mentor” slept with him.


Famous American Generals Who Were Not Implicated in a Sex Scandal via Email #4

Monday, November 26th, 2012

General Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He planned and supervised the invasion of North Africa and the following invasion of France and Germany. In 1951 he became the first supreme commander of NATO. As a leader, Eisenhower was a dynamic statesman, with a grasp of diplomatic and managerial issues that proved essential to enabling the Allies to defeat Hitler.

Eisenhower rose from a lowly army officer to Supreme Commander in just four years, which is a testament to his steady and level decision-making abilities, plus the force of his personality, which was an important asset in corralling various Allied commanders to his side.

Ike’s marriage to Mamie Geneva Doud lasted 53 years. However, he has been long-rumored to have had an affair with his chauffeur during the Second World War. Perhaps it’s the title of her autobiography which tipped people off: Past Forgetting: My Love Affair with Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Still, whether or true or not, the book wasn’t published until years after Eisenhower’s death, and this information’s release to the public did not in any way involve a shirtless FBI agent.

Famous American Generals Who Were Not Implicated in a Sex Scandal via Email #3

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Known as “Old Fuss and Feathers” due to his love of both discipline and pomp, General Winfield Scott served on active duty longer than any general in U.S. History. Scott served under fifteen presidents, from Jefferson to Johnson. His military career spanned from the War of 1812 through the Civil War, including numerous Indian wars and the Mexican war, as well as several conflicts which Scott prevented from becoming wars through his shrewd negotiating skills. Not once during this time was Scott revealed to be having an affair through email.

Scott was one of the most famous and admired Americans of his time, and ran for president as a Whig in 1852. He was so popular that the Whigs nominated him over Millard Fillmore, who was the presidential incumbent. And at 6’5″, he was the tallest man to ever run for the office. Unfortunately, he lost to Franklin Pierce, who is considered by most historians to be the worst US president ever.

Scott was sometimes a controversial figure; he was once court-marshaled, faced a Court of Inquiry, and once even accused of treason. However, he was never discovered to be sleeping with his biographer by the FBI.

Famous American Generals Who Were Not Implicated in a Sex Scandal via Email #2

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Contrary to what you read in the news these days, American generals usually don’t get caught having torrid affairs.

Over the next several posts we’ll be writing about American generals with a higher moral standard — or at least ones not so stupid as to get caught having an affair via gmail.

Ulysses S. Grant was a far from perfect person. He was known for his struggles with alcohol, and even had binges on the job.

Grant couldn’t have an affair with his biographer because he wrote his memoirs himself.

As president, his cabinet was mired in corruption, and the utter failure of Reconstruction happened on his watch.

But he never sent sexually explicit emails to a married woman he was having an affair with.


Famous American Generals Who Were Not Implicated in a Sex Scandal via Email #1

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Contrary to what you read in the news these days, American generals usually don’t get caught having torrid affairs.

Over the next several posts we’ll be writing about American generals with a higher moral standard — or at least ones not so stupid as to get caught having an affair via gmail.

One of the most virtuous American generals is also our first president: George Washington.

Washington was a man of inexhaustible energy and nearly superhuman physical strength. He was tall for any time period, and in his he was a giant. Even without his real teeth he must have been a babe magnet.

George Washington: No affairs with married women were discovered by an FBI investigation.

Washington was a man of regal bearing and was a fan of the old Roman model of ethics. Stoic and formal, he was a formidable figure. Washington took his role as the first President very seriously. He made a point of exhibiting exemplary behavior, knowing he’d be the example for future generations.

As a young man Washington had a few loves in his life, and was rejected by two women he proposed marriage to. He also apparently held a long flame for Sally Fairfax, the wife of one of his friends. But in true stoic Roman fashion, Washington did not give in to his passions.

We don’t have any gossip about Washington. The rumors that he had syphilis are unproven, and in any case, he neve exhibited any symptoms of the disease. If there was anything untoward in his relationship with his wife Martha (an older widow who he married and by all accounts loved), evidence of it was destroyed when Martha burned their correspondence after his death.

The closest thing to a sexually explicit email to a married woman we have from Washington? At the end of his life he wrote a letter to Sally Fairfax (now widowed) stating that the glories of the revolution and presidency had not “been able to eradicate from my mind those happy moments, the happiest of my life, which I have enjoyed in your company.”

And he most certainly did not sleep with his biographer.

Setting up the UPG Booth at the Union Square Holiday Market

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Every year, UPG joins in the holiday cheer (aka “shopping madness”) at the Union Square Holiday Market in NYC. You can stop by our booth, see our latest products, and meet real-live Unemployed Philosophers in person!

We’ve spent this week setting up our booth and it opens tomorrow. We’ll be there every day through Christmas Eve, except for Thanksgiving day, when the market is closed.

Come by and say hi. And make sure to hug our employees. They probably won’t call security.

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes of UPG products waiting to be put on shelves.

UPGers David Shaw and Mickey Ryan setting up.

UPG designer Tori Langford organizes our Quotable Notable cards by genre.

Shelves of goodies – UPG style!

Smartass Response to a Philosopher #3

Monday, November 12th, 2012

“That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Note to self: syphilis does not make me stronger.

Smartass Response to a Philosopher #2

Monday, November 5th, 2012

“The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” – G.W.F. Hegel  

So the secret agent handed him the documents after that, right?

UPG Guestpert: Kriota Willberg

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Each month (although it’s technically been a few), we interview a guest expert or “guestpert” for the blog.

This month features Kriota Willberg, an artist, writer, massage therapist, and anatomy teacher. She’s also been a dancer, filmmaker, teacher (of pathology, dance, and massage), and trained as a personal trainer. Instead of trying to explain her past to people, she often tells them she has a background in “body sciences.”

Kriota brings her skills in the body sciences to various unexpected areas of exploration.

With her blog The Cinematologist, Kriota examines medical themes in film, explaining (or finding excuses for) how their science actually might occur in “real” life.  Wonder how Peter Parker excretes those webs in the Sam Raimi version of Spider Man? Check it out here. Want to see her lecture on alien parasite infestations including the Ceti Eel? Check it out here.

In addition to her medical examination of movie plot devices, Kriota is the author and illustrator of Pathology Laffs, a series of cartoons dealing with various pathologies and medical phenomena. She also recently created a minicomic about injury prevention for cartoonists.

We sat down (ok, emailed) with Kriota to discuss her work.

UPG: Which came first for you, art or anatomy?

They have always been running neck-and-neck in my life. When I was a kid, I would draw, paint, dissect bullfrogs that my professor father would bring home from the biology department, or paint and assemble my Visible Horse model. As an adult, art/dance and anatomy became parallel career tracks. As a massage therapist I specialized in sports massage and injury treatment, and taught palpation, anatomy, and pathology. Simultaneously, I was a dancer/choreographer and later a filmmaker. Now I draw, write, and make needlework about the body while working as a massage therapist and I still teach anatomy to anyone who will listen to me talk about it. Over the last five years the boundaries between art and anatomy have gotten thinner and thinner.

UPG: What led you to combine these two elements of your life?

When I was in my mid forties realized I’d been dancing for about thirty years and it was time to stop. But I couldn’t stop making stuff. I decided to try to make things about body sciences instead of keeping my arts career and my day job separate, like I did with dance.

Kriota’s needlepoint of her own brain MRI

UPG: What can anatomists learn from artists? And how about the other way around?

I’ve met a lot of artists who say, “Oh! Scientists need artists to teach them to be creative, like us!” Which is, frankly, a naïve statement and a bunch of bull. Good scientists – in research, applied, and education – are oozing creativity. To think that the arts are the only place where creativity exists or is expressed is just dumb.

On the other hand, I’ve also been to arts/science conferences where a medical person is on a panel with artists and has been shocked, shocked at the level of investigative and intellectual rigor some artists apply to their creative practice. So there are low expectations on both sides, I guess.

I’m not sure that artists and scientists need to learn from one another as much as they might like to inspire and be inspired by one another. Artists could have studio-crawls for scientists, and scientists could have lab-crawls for artists and then they could all go drinking together and commit to crazy interdisciplinary projects that they would regret the next morning.

UPG: Many people who cross disciplines experience a difficulty in their other work being accepted people who are just in one of their disciplines. Has that been a problem for you?

Yes, I’d say that up until a few years ago, people expected me to only be good at one thing. When I started teaching massage and anatomy, dancers and massage therapists would assume I was quitting dance. Later, my dance colleagues were shocked to find out I was working as a sports massage therapist for the New York Giants. I’d get compartmentalized to whichever crowd I was working with that day. These days, lots of people are interdisciplinary (which is such a buzz-word, isn’t it?). It’s acceptable to have more than one area of expertise. I think that people are encouraging of my schisms now because I’m also thematically consolidated while being cross-disciplinary.

UPG: A lot of what you do with the Cinematologist is to justify uniformed choices by writers and producers who don’t care to do actual research into real science. Is there any film that you’ve written about that’s been just impossible to explain?

Sure! And that adds to the fun of the film! Face Off is just soooo stupid because a major plot point of the film is that one of the characters is type O blood and one is type B, or somesuch. If we ignore tissue typing for just a moment and look at transplant tolerance only from the perspective of blood type, rejection of the type B face on the type O body is guaranteed. Clot and necrosis city! If the movie were more “realistic” (ha!) John Travolta and Nick Cage would have had to fight over only one face. The type O face… But they didn’t do that, which was fine. Actually, as I think about it, the type O face might be useless to it’s original wearer after the type B person was using it. The problem is that it’s impossible to get all of the blood out of the capillaries in the tissues. The wrong blood type is attacked by the host’s body and voila! Clotting. The film was a highly entertaining laugh riot due to the mixed up plot. I love that film!

Kriota presenting material from the Cinematologist at Kevin Geeks Out in NYC

UPG: What’s so funny about pathology?

People, mostly.

Many people are dangerously cavalier about disease. People who tell me they “never get sick” seem to think they will never get cancer or Parkinson’s either. Some people just don’t want to take the time away from something else in their lives to exercise or sleep or wash their hands. They don’t seem to think these habits will have an effect on them. On the other hand, other people go to extremes of diet, exercise, and other types of supposedly health-inducing rituals to guard against disease. To the point where they seem to think that if someone is ill, it is obviously their fault for allowing it to happen.

Really, both scenarios are just rife with humor. Lots of comedy is built around someone ignoring or flaunting the rules. The same applies to the body.

Humor is also a great coping mechanism. Knowing that I will die, studying (and teaching) the variety of ways we could die, and working with patients who are fighting to live, means that I have a lot of steam to blow off. I call ‘em where I see ‘em. What can I say?

A panel from Kriota’s “Pathology Laffs”

I come up with gag cartoons about pathology and health all the time! I think they’re funny, but many of them require a page of explanatory text if you don’t know what fast axonal transport or exocytosis is. Does JAMA run gag cartoons?

You can see more about Kriota at her blog and even take an anatomy class with her if you live in the NYC area!  Although Kriota works as a massage therapist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center it would be a mistake to assume her opinions reflect theirs, or that they even know what she’s up to on her days off work.