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Can Graffiti Be Copyrighted?

David Anasagasti

This past spring, Miami street artist David Anasagasti’s work started popping up in Japan and South America. It was the type of global exposure that Anasagasti didn’t want: American Eagle Outfitters had built an international advertising campaign around his best-known, oldest image—half-squinting, drowsy eyeballs layered on top of one another. In the ads, young adult models wearing American Eagle clothes frolic in front of his art. One shot featured a model holding a spray paint can, grinning, with Anasagasti’s street mural prominent in the background. Additionally, American Eagle allegedly hired artists to recreate the eyeball painting on an eight-foot-tall panel outside a store in Medellin, Colombia.

More at The Atlantic

The Unusual Language That Linguists Thought Couldn’t Exist


Languages, like human bodies, come in a variety of shapes—but only to a point. Just as people don’t sprout multiple heads, languages tend to veer away from certain forms that might spring from an imaginative mind. For example, one core property of human languages is known as duality of patterning: meaningful linguistic units (such as words) break down into smaller meaningless units (sounds), so that the words sap, pass, and asp involve different combinations of the same sounds, even though their meanings are completely unrelated.

It’s not hard to imagine that things could have been otherwise. In principle, we could have a language in which sounds relate holistically to their meanings—a high-pitched yowl might mean “finger,” a guttural purr might mean “dark,” a yodel might mean “broccoli,” and so on. But there are stark advantages to duality of patterning. Try inventing a lexicon of tens of thousands of distinct noises, all of which are easily distinguished, and you will probably find yourself wishing you could simply re-use a few snippets of sound in varying arrangements.

More at Nautilus

Evolution Is The New Silk Road


There’s been a power vacuum in the online drug trade since black market Silk Road got busted. It won’t last. The internet abhors a vacuum just as much as nature. The proof is Evolution, a smarter, more morally bankrupt version of the Silk Road that’s on the rise.

Evolution isn’t the biggest online black market; Agora and Silk Road 2 have been around for longer, and have more customers. But it’s growing quickly for one reason: It’s the best online black market.

More at Gizmodo

How Prozac Conquered America

No Prozac

When it came to pharmacological solutions to life’s despairs, Aldous Huxley was ahead of the curve. In Huxley’s 1932 novel about a dystopian future, the Alphas, Betas and others populating his “Brave New World” have at their disposal a drug called soma. A little bit of it chases the blues away: “A gramme” — Huxley was English, remember, spelling included — “is better than a damn.” With a swallow, negative feelings are dispelled.

Prozac, the subject of this week’s video documentary from Retro Report, is hardly soma. But its guiding spirit is not dissimilar: A few milligrams of this drug are preferable to the many damns that lie at the core of some people’s lives. Looking back at Prozac’s introduction by Eli Lilly and Company in 1988, and hopscotching to today, the documentary explores the enormous influence, both chemical and cultural, that Prozac and its brethren have had in treating depression, a concern that gained new resonance with the recent suicide of the comedian Robin Williams.

More at The New York Times

Who Funds The Arts And Why Should We Care?

Hidden Figures

Anyone passing through Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall one recent Saturday might have witnessed an unscheduled performance by a group of people writhing beneath a huge square of black cloth. Taking its motif from the Malevich exhibition at Tate, the event – entitled “Hidden Figures” – was designed to flag up the museum’s refusal to reveal details of its financial relationship with BP. It was the latest in a series of protests about the sponsorship of institutions – among them the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery – by the energy giant responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010.

More at Financial Times

Why Is Our Sci Fi So Glum About AI?

Artificial Intelligence

When I was 12, I invented a superhero named Boy Genius, a guy my age who awakens one morning with access to 100 percent of his brain power. This allows him to tap into frightening and exhilarating gifts — telekinesis, telepathy, teleportation. Like most superheroes, Boy Genius is both blessed with and plagued by his abilities. The U.S. government becomes aware of his existence, which means he dodges men in black while also fending off middle-school bullies and tormentors.

My inspiration for Boy Genius was the normal superhero recipe, one part pubescent self-pity, one part junk science fiction. The junk sci-fi, in this case, was borrowed from a movie I had recently watched called “The Lawnmower Man.” (The HBO guide alerted me to expect some “BN,” or “Brief Nudity,” somewhere in its 108-minute run time.) It was reprehensibly silly, the sort of movie that even a 12-year-old awaiting a flash of breasts intuits is insulting to his intelligence. And yet at its witless core was an old question I was encountering for the first time: How would human consciousness contend with a software upgrade?

More at The New York Times

It’s 2014 So Why Are Men Still Paying For First Dates?

First Date

NPR reporter Shereen Marisol Meraji recently dropped in on a professional-etiquette class for teens to see what they made of traditional chivalry. “I can open my own door. I don’t see the point,” 18-year-old Chiamaka Njoku told her. “Most of these doors are automatic anyway.”

But the young woman took a less progressive stance on the topic of money: “If a man wants to pay for the whole meal, I would not stop him,” she said. Why, as other sexist institutions gradually dissolve, does this one stubbornly hang on?

More at The Atlantic

The Strange Case Of An 18th Century Sex Change Surgery

18th Century Sex Change

One day in 1779, a London couple, seeking treatment for their seven-year-old daughter, showed up at the Soho Square Dispensary for the Relief of the Infant Poor. The first doctor thought she might have a hernia. The second had a different idea.

“I shall not trouble the reader with the surprise into which the parents were thrown when I first told them their child was not a girl, as they had supposed, but a boy,” wrote the second doctor. The case was recently discovered in the archives of the University of Kansas and written up in the latest issue of the journal Sexualities.

More at New Republic

TIME Assigned A War Photographer To Embed Himself In A Video Game

The Last of Us™ Remastered_20140814132923

I’ve spent a few days inside the body of an angry Hugh Jackman-lookalike.

TIME asked me to work as a photographer within the video game called The Last of Us Remastered, a hyper violent game in which a player must kill people that are infected with some type of brain and flesh condition. The game, which is very carefully rendered to look as real as possible, gives the player access to a wide variety of weapons, but it also provides players with a camera to shoot their own action. I loved the concept – it brought to mind the ideas of photojournalism produced without a physical camera, best embodied in Mishka Henner’s brilliant series, No Man’s Land, a project that uses Google Street View to document Europe’s prostitution issues.

More at Lightbox

How Catnip Gets Cats High

Scooter And Catnip, August, 2009-2

One of the stranger aspects of the modern human-pet relationship is that many cat owners recreationally dose their pets with a psychoactive drug. I’m talking, of course, about catnip.

Catnip is a bizarre phenomenon for a few reasons. It’s the only recreational drug we routinely give to animals, and though it basically makes them freak out — rolling on the ground, drooling, and mashing their face into wherever the catnip was sprinkled — it has essentially no effect on us.

More at Vox