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The Street Art Pioneer

Dan Witz

In the late 1970s, Dan Witz began painting hummingbirds on walls around downtown Manhattan. The work — created illegally, with acrylic paint and brushes — so predated any notion of “street art” that the term hadn’t even been codified yet. It was years before artists like Keith Haring would attract a mainstream audience to the format, and decades before the likes of Banksy and Shepard Fairey became household names.

More at Animal

The Man Who Stole Einstein’s Brain To Study It Was Wrong About Everything


My headline may be a bit misleading. Albert Einstein, the Nobel prize-winning physicist who gave the world the theory of relativity, E = mc2, and the law of the photoelectric effect, obviously had a special brain. So special that when he died in Princeton Hospital, on April 17, 1955, the pathologist on call, Thomas Harvey, stole it.

Einstein didn’t want his brain or body to be studied; he didn’t want to be worshipped. “He had left behind specific instructions regarding his remains: cremate them, and scatter the ashes secretly in order to discourage idolaters,” writes Brian Burrell in his 2005 book, Postcards from the Brain Museum.

More at National Geographic

The Case For A Maximum Wage

Maximum Wage

The debate about rising economic inequality that’s been building since the financial crisis of 2008 has approached a boiling point in recent weeks thanks to the publication in English of French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The book has already received a rave review by Paul Krugman in The New York Review of Books (headlined “Why We’re in a New Gilded Age”), and has been the focus of a cover story in The Nation as well as both an op-ed column and news article in The New York Times. (The book, which uses a rich trove of data to track long-term trends in inequality and to warn about its recent rise, is currently out of stock at Amazon. Not bad for a 700-page tome filled with dense economic analysis and history.)

Also contributing to the conversation is a recent study by academics at Princeton and Northwestern that purports to show that the U.S. is evolving into an oligarchy in which wealthy elites exercise far more power over the political process than ordinary citizens.

Nearly everyone writing on the subject agrees that inequality is increasing, and growing numbers of Americans are troubled by the trend. The question is what can be done about it.

More at The Week

Intricately Carved Egg Shells

Carved Egg Shells

Unless you spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours with a tiny electric drill carving intricate patterns into eggshells the last few months, you may have yet to reach your Easter egg decorating potential. One person who clearly has is artist Piotr Bockenheim who uses a reductive drilling technique to transform goose eggs into slitherting tangles of string and various geometric or floral patterns.

More at Colossal

The SS Doctor Who Converted To Islam And Escaped The Nazi Hunters

Aribert Heim

The Holocaust, as you’ll probably know, produced some of history’s worst human beings. The thing is, though, besides those who made it into your textbooks—the Hitlers, Görings and Himmlers—many escaped unscathed, free to live out the rest of their days pretending to be mild-mannered expats who’d moved to Argentina simply because they preferred empanadas and polo to bratwurst and car manufacturing.

One SS member to ultimately escape prosecution was an Austrian concentration camp doctor called Aribert Heim, who later became known as “Doctor Death.” The atrocities committed in the Nazi camps have their very own scale of horror, and Heim sits somewhere near the top (his trademark was injecting gasoline into healthy people’s hearts and keeping their skulls as trophies). Despite his horrific crimes, he managed to mostly evade the authorities, and when they did finally catch up with him, in the early 60s, he had already fled Germany.

More at Vice

A Majority Of Americans Still Aren’t Sure About The Big Bang

Big Bang

A majority of Americans don’t believe in even the most fundamental discovery of 20th century physics, which 99.9 percent of members of the National Academies of Sciences do: that our universe began with an enormous explosion, the Big Bang.

51 percent of people in a new AP/GFK poll said they were “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that the statement “the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang” was correct.

More at The Atlantic

Trip Advisor Reviews A Sex Resort


Down in Jamaica, there’s a place aptly named Hedonism II that features a special brand of inhibition-free “adult” resort action. While this all-inclusive getaway offers your usual all-you-can-eat-and-drink beach-side fun in the sun, there’s also a “clothing optional” policy, mirrors above all the beds, and a strong emphasis on pleasure of the “anything goes” variety. Basically, the whole joint is one big swinger soirée. After catching wind of this utopia for the undressed, we checked out their website, only to find it oozing with the sort of over-the-top descriptions normally reserved for bodice-ripper paperback novels with an equally ripped Fabio flexing on the cover. Things like, “It’s what happens when you combine warm water, a white-sand beach, open bars, and open minds,” “In these lush gardens of pure pleasure, the word “no” is seldom heard,” and “Push the boundaries of human pleasure” are standard fare. Heady stuff, right?

Well, when coupled with actual quotes from the Trip Advisor reviews of this carnal Caribbean carnival, let’s just say a picture was painted, and it wasn’t one you’d want to hang above your mantle.

More at Esquire

Are Atheists The New Mormons?


It’s a bit like holding the Republican National Convention in Berkeley: This weekend, the American Atheists are gathering in Salt Lake City for their annual conclave. Attendees can hear a keynote speech by outspoken former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, attend workshops with titles like “So you want to debate Christians?” and mingle during a karaoke night and a costume dinner.

The whole event is taking place at a downtown Hilton, just three blocks away from Temple Square, spiritual and administrative capital of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The convention has its official opening on Good Friday. It concludes on Easter.

More at The Daily Beast

A Material That Can Be A Mirror Then A Window

Mirror Window

A group of MIT scientists have created a new material that can be both a mirror and a window, and no it’s not a one-way mirror.

This new material can filter light depending on the direction of the light beams. In the image above light that hits from one angle goes straight through (white beam) but light that hits the material at different angle is reflected back (red beam). For designers it might make for interesting new tricks for walls or new forms of windows.

More at Core77

The Myth Of The Artist’s Creative Routine


Charles Dickens wrote while blindfolded. Virginia Woolf took three baths a day, and always with ice-cold water. Stephen King eats a blood orange at every meal whenever he is working on a book. Joyce Carol Oates writes only in Comic Sans.

None of those things is true. Before you go and stock your kitchen with blood oranges or switch the font on your word processor, let me assure you that I invented every one of those writerly habits. But what if I hadn’t? What if you had read them in an interview or in any one of the million aggregations of writerly routines? Would you really stop taking hot showers or start blindfolding yourself when you write?

More at Pacific Standard