Mail still goes to the World Trade Center – weird and depressing to think about. Don’t we know that zip code doesn’t exist anymore? What asses (sorry – that’s the only word I can think of) don’t have the sense to update their bulk mail? Guess no one knows that the zip code 10048 was the World Trade Center. (or the addresses – World Trade Center 1 to 6 – aren’t any good).

Leonardo DaVinci’s fingerprint may actually lead to any new research about him – even what he ate or that his mother was from the Middle East? Oh-kay – I had no idea that mere ‘prints could do that. Really.

A story on the mental health of Asian immigrants in America:

Asian immigrants in the United States have lower rates of mental health problems than people, including those of Asian descent, who were born in the country, a new study finds.

For example, the study found that American-born women are twice as likely to have a depressive disorder as Asian-born women living in the United States.

The researchers interviewed nearly 2,100 native-born or immigrant Asian Americans, 18 and older, about their history of a number of mental health problems: depression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, substance and alcohol abuse, and post traumatic stress disorder. [….]

I’m always a tad skeptical about psych studies involving the completion of surveys. Only 2,100 people interviewed? That’s what, statistically +/- 4 percentage points of accuracy? Who’s to say that the interview subjects weren’t lying; the stigma of mental illness being what it is and cultural differences on what is mental illness and how one deals with stress may skew who among the Asian populace even has a mental illness. Oh well; just my two cents on this topic; it’s not like I read the study or know enough about psychology or the psychology of Asians in general.
The passing of Robert Volpe, NYC’s art-theft NYPD detective. The obit’s quite interesting; sad about a NYC figure:

Mr. Volpe began his art career painting pictures of tugboats as a teenager and selling them for $250. By the mid-1970s, after his work had turned more abstract, he was selling paintings for $1,500 when he was not on the job for the police, browsing galleries, attending auctions, lecturing at the Smithsonian, traveling to Paris or Rome or tracking down fiendishly clever criminals.

European law enforcement authorities have estimated that crimes involving art and antiquities are third on the list of illicit trade, after drugs and weapons. As epicenter of the art world, New York brims with priceless art in museums and private residences, and according to Mr. Volpe, is the world’s clearinghouse for stolen art.

Before Mr. Volpe was unleashed in 1971 as the city’s first and only art detective, art crimes were handled by the burglary division and other units. After his retirement in 1983, regular details took them up again.

Mr. Volpe’s accomplishments as a painter and curator earned him a place in “Who’s Who in American Art,” and his sweeping mustache, shoulder-length hair and flamboyant clothing fit the part. He had an Armani suit to wear to auctions and a Groucho Marx disguise for no known reason.

In later years he was an object of unwanted attention when his son, the former police officer Justin Volpe, was convicted of brutalizing Abner Louima in a Brooklyn station house in 1997. Mr. Volpe condemned his son’s action but publicly and repeatedly expressed his love for him. The New York Daily News reported in 2004 that Mr. Volpe had found some peace knowing that his son was creating art behind bars.

Mr. Volpe essentially created his detective’s job after computer analyses pinpointed art theft as a growing problem. Asked to make a survey, he came back with actual arrests instead of a report — underlining the need for a special effort.

He became that effort, making the New York Police Department the nation’s only one with a separate bureau for art crime. Around the department, Mr. Volpe was known as Rembrandt. Fellow policemen sometimes put nude centerfolds on his locker with the handwritten question, “But is it art?”

His cases included art thefts, dealer fraud, vandalism and forgeries. He fielded 40 or 50 calls a day, as many from overseas as from Madison Avenue and SoHo.

He recovered two Byzantine ivories worth $1.5 million, stolen from a museum in Pesaro, Italy. A photo of Italy’s foreign minister congratulating him hung over his desk.

Robert Volpe was born in December 1942 and grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He studied art at the High School of Art and Design, Parsons, and the Art Students League. Fresh out of the Army, he joined the police to have an “offbeat” job while he painted, he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1977.

He first walked a beat on the Lower East Side, did undercover work on organized crime cases, and was part of the narcotics squad that investigated the heroin-smuggling operation known as “The French Connection.” [….]

Mr. Volpe recovered art pieces that were stolen before he was born. Other cases evolved faster: on Dec. 22, 1980, the British authorities notified him about a missing candelabrum, dating from 1858 and once in the possession of the king of Egypt. He recovered it by Jan. 2, 1981.

Detective Volpe saw a little bit of everything: from stolen pictures worth $50,000 being sold on street corners, to suspected thieves eager to keep up with art-market trends sitting next to him at lectures. He learned that September and October were especially busy months, as the wealthy returned from abroad to find their homes looted. He was frustrated more than once when judges found convicted art thieves entertaining and romantic and declined to sentence them.

Infrequently, his chases became dangerously dramatic, as when he pointed his gun at thieves of a Russian icon.

“Grade B movie stuff,” he told The Times. “You find you have to behave that way. You don’t come right off with authority, you’re done.” [….]

Newsweek has a Q & A with US-based Chinese writer Qiu Xiaolong, a writer of the Inspector Chen of Shanghai crime series. I just borrowed his book from the library – never heard of Qiu or his books before, so I’m really looking forward to reading this book.
I’m a year older and only God knows if I’m any wiser. Eh. Here’s to many more…

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