The Harriet Tubman $20 Stamp

Frustrated that the US Treasury Department is walking back plans to replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, Dano Wall created a 3D-printed stamp that can be used to transform Jacksons into Tubmans on the twenties in your pocketbook.

Tubman $20 Stamp

Here’s a video of the stamp in action. Wall told The Awesome Foundation a little bit about the genesis of the project:

I was inspired by the news that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, and subsequently saddened by the news that the Trump administration was walking back that plan. So I created a stamp to convert Jacksons into Tubmans myself. I have been stamping $20 bills and entering them into circulation for the last year, and gifting stamps to friends to do the same.

If you have access to a 3D printer (perhaps at your local library or you can also use a online 3D printing service), you can download the print files at Thingiverse and make your own stamp for use at home.

Wall also posted a link to some neat prior art: suffragettes in Britain modifying coins with a “VOTES FOR WOMEN” slogan in the early 20th century.

Votes For Women Coin

Tags: 3D printing   Andrew Jackson   Dano Wall   Harriet Tubman   currency   remix

Alexa Meade’s Living Paintings

Artist Alexa Meade paints right on the bodies and clothes of living models to create the illusion that they’re in 2D paintings. It’s not body art…it’s like living trompe-l’œil in reverse.

Alexa Meade

Alexa Meade

Alexa Meade

Alexa Meade

Yeah, those are all actual people painted and posed in front of painted backdrops. Here’s Meade posing with one of her models:

Alexa Meade

Meade did a TED talk about her work and also recently collaborated with Ariana Grande for her God is a woman video.

I first featured Meade’s work more than 8 years ago, so I figured it was time for a revisit. You can keep up with her stuff on Instagram or her website.

Tags: Alexa Meade   art

A New Twitter Feature: Smart Accounts

Last night, Twitter gave its users the option to switch back to a purely chronological timeline.

Meanwhile, today we updated the “Show the best Tweets first” setting. When off, you’ll only see Tweets from people you follow in reverse chronological order. Previously when turned off, you’d also see “In case you missed it” and recommended Tweets from people you don’t follow.

That’s good! Most users probably benefit from the algorithmic timeline, but not everyone wants to use the service that way (I certainly don’t).

Whenever Twitter changes their mind like this, it always reminds me of a missed opportunity by the company to give people more ways to discover new things on Twitter while keeping the service simple. They’ve tried the Discover feature, sticking likes from friends in the timeline, “in case you missed it”, recommended followers, Moments, Trends, etc. etc. And despite these things being at least somewhat interesting some of the time, many people freak out because they don’t have any control over whether this stuff pops up in their timelines.

What Twitter should do instead1 is use the same simple mechanism people already use to control their timelines: following and unfollowing. Instead of adding tabs to the interface or throwing random stuff into everyone’s timeline for the greater good, those things should be accounts you can follow. Call them Smart Accounts because they would be based on each user’s particular activity. Then users would be able to have a fully chronological timeline but also see tweets from their Smart Accounts according to their particular preferences.

Here’s an example. Seeing likes from people you follow is fun and interesting…the serendipity and relevance factors are high.1 The “Likes from Friends” Smart Account would post tweets that your friends have liked recently and you could set how many you wanted to see each day.

More examples:

– In Case You Missed It. Just like the current feature, except you can follow/unfollow and control the frequency.

– Trends. An account that posts tweets related to trending stories…or maybe it just alerts you that “Mario Kart” is trending. You can see global trends, location-based, or tailored just for you.

– Threads. See X number of the most popular threads posted in my extended network each day.

– Who to Follow. Every day (or X number of times/day), this account would suggest an account to follow.

– Moments. I never ever go to the Moments tab but I would definitely follow an account that periodically tweeted out the five best Moments from my extended network each day.

– Promoted Tweets. This is a Smart Account everyone would have to follow. But maybe you could pay a subscription fee to be able to unfollow?

I would pretty much follow all of those accounts in some way…and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Twitter has all kinds of interest data that you could slice up in interesting ways and feed back into the system. A “Longreads” account that tweets out a long magazine or newspaper article that’s bubbling up in your network each day before your commute home? A “Book Stack” account that recommends books that people in your network have tweeted about recently. A “Smart Smart Accounts” account that recommends new Smart Accounts to follow (*Inception Horn*). A “Random Follow” account that automagically follows a different recommended account each day…then unfollows them and follows a new account the next day. Likes from My Friends’ Friends. Trending Videos. Meme Factory. Check Out My Soundcloud. So many possibilities.

Twitter wouldn’t want these accounts to get lost in the shuffle — they need to keep that engagement high — so maybe they’d have special status in the app somewhere: a tab that replaces Moments and they’re listed first on the Following page? Perhaps a few Smart Accounts are turned on by default when you make a new account. Maybe users could pin the tweets from select Smart Accounts to the tops of their timelines (much like Twitter was forcing on people with the algorithmic timeline).

But the point of all this is that Twitter would have a way to deliver new & engaging features powered by their algorithmic special sauce to their users in a very familiar and simple way without always mucking up people’s expectations: by simply clicking the follow button.

  1. I mean, besides banning Nazis.

  2. I should know, I ran a beloved service called Stellar for a few years where people could follow each others likes. Many people miss it and I really do too. In fact, the whole Smart Accounts idea came from Stellar. There were “house” accounts you could follow that fed interesting posts and links back into the system. It kept things simple — every feature is just a followable account — but also gave everyone controlled access to different interesting parts of the data set, increasing the level of serendipity. If I’d had the time and the money and a more stable Twitter API, Stellar would have been very Smart Accounts-driven. And it would have been fucking amazing. (Can you tell how much I like this idea?!)

Tags: Twitter

Wes Anderson’s Movies, Ranked

Rushmore List

For NME, Sophie Charara ranks Wes Anderson’s nine feature films in order of greatness. Her top 3 picks are correct, I think, but I’d shift the order a little. Here’s my list, which is a tiny bit objective but mostly really really subjective.

1. Rushmore
2. The Royal Tenenbaums
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Fantastic Mr Fox
5. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
6. Isle of Dogs
7. Bottle Rocket
8. Moonrise Kingdom
9. The Darjeeling Limited

Honestly, 4-8 could have gone in any order for me and The Darjeeling Limited is not that far off.

Tags: best of   lists   movies   Sophie Charara   Wes Anderson

Jamie Lee Curtis Recreates the Psycho Shower Scene

Jamie Lee Curtis Psycho

For an episode of a TV show called Scream Queens, Jamie Lee Curtis recreated the shower scene from Psycho performed by her mother, Janet Leigh, with a shot-for-shot homage. Even though they had limited time to shoot, Curtis and the crew took the recreation very seriously.

Falchuk began contemplating having Munsch in the shower as an homage to Curtis’ mother. “I thought, ‘Can I do this? Do I need to ask her?’ I didn’t want to offend her but at the same time this would be so awesome,” remembers Falchuk. “So then I wrote it and then got a text from her very quickly after she read the script. Her text was, ‘We need to do this shot-for-shot.’ Then, typical Jamie Lee, she started sending me all the websites and Tumblrs that have each shot laid out and storyboarded.”

What a photo! Curtis’ scene is not quite shot-for-shot, but you can see a screencapped video of it on YouTube and compare to the original.

Tags: Jamie Lee Curtis   Janet Leigh   movies   Psycho   remix

A List of the 100 Most Important Books of the 21st Century (So Far)

After consulting dozens of authors, critics, and voracious readers, Vulture has come up with A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon, aka a list of the 100 most important books of the 21st century (so far).

Any project like this is arbitrary, and ours is no exception. But the time frame is not quite as random as it may seem. The aughts and teens represent a fairly coherent cultural period, stretching from the eerie decadence of pre-9/11 America to the presidency of Donald Trump. This mini-era packed in the political, social, and cultural shifts of the average century, while following the arc of an epic narrative (perhaps a tragedy, though we pray for a happier sequel).

The top vote-getter is somewhat surprising: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt. Also represented high on the list are The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Elena Ferrante’s The Neapolitan Novels, and Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner. I spotted a bunch of my other favorites on the list as well: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, My Struggle: A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and The Harry Potter books. You can imagine the rest of the list as well: Roth, Franzen, Jesmyn Ward, Didion, Atwood, Marlon James, etc.

Would love to see a similar non-fiction list. Off the top of my head: The Warmth of Other Suns, 1491, Sapiens, The Emperor of All Maladies, The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks, The Black Swan, The Sixth Extinction, The Devil in the White City, Between the World and Me, and Moneyball would all deserve consideration.

Tags: best of   books   lists

Seven Species So Endangered that Their Remaining Members Could Fit in a Single NYC Subway Car

Some animals are so endangered that fewer than 100 members of their species remain in the world. For The Guardian, Mona Chalabi depicted the remaining members of seven of those species fitting into their own NYC subway car.

Subway Species

The data was taken from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Tags: biology   extinction   infoviz   Mona Chalabi   NYC   subway

For Sale: Han Solo’s Jacket & Indiana Jones’ Fedora

A huge cache of rare Hollywood memorabilia is up for sale at a London auction on September 20. The catalog includes over 600 items from movies like Back to the Future, Blade Runner, Batman, Blues Brothers, Die Hard, Goonies, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman, Terminator, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and X-Men.

Among the most valuable and unique items are the iconic Indiana Jones hat worn by Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (estimate £200,000-£300,000):

Hollywood Auction 2018 01

They’re also selling Indy’s bullwhip from Temple of Doom (estimate £50,000-£70,000).

The most expensive item is Han Solo’s jacket from Empire Strikes Back (£500,000-£1,000,000):

Hollywood Auction 2018 02

Pairs nicely with this stormtrooper helmet from the first film (estimate £40,000-£60,000):

Hollywood Auction 2018 03

Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Back to the Future II (estimate £30,000-£50,000):

Hollywood Auction 2018 04

They’re also offering the DeLorean’s OUTATIME license plate from the first film (estimate £10,000-£15,000):

Hollywood Auction 2018 05

A Wonka Bar from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (estimate £8,000-£10,000), a rare item because most props from the film were “destroyed at its Bavarian film studio to allow production to wrap quickly, making way for the immediate filming of Cabaret”:

Hollywood Auction 2018 06

Captain Picard’s uniform from the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation (£10,000-£15,000):

Hollywood Auction 2018 07

And a bunch of other stuff, including John McClane’s radio from Die Hard, Edward Scissorhands’ costume, Mikey’s doubloon from The Goonies, a T-800 exoskeleton from Terminator 2, Tom Hanks’ helmet from Saving Private Ryan, a THX 138 license plate from American Graffiti, and a full-size drivable replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future.

If you want to bid on any of this stuff, either in person, via the phone, or online, check out the info page on how to register.

Tags: Back to the Future   Indiana Jones   movies   Star Trek   Star Wars   TV

How We Could Build a Moon Base Today

This video explores how humans could begin to colonize the Moon today, using currently available technology.

We actually do have the technology and current estimates from NASA and the private sector say it could be done for $20-40 billion spread out over about a decade. The price is comparable to the International Space Station or the budget surplus of Germany in 2017.

That’s also only 12-25% of the net worth of Jeff Bezos. I don’t know whether that’s more an illustration of the relative affordability of building a Moon base or of Bezos’ wealth, but either way it’s a little bit crazy that the world’s richest man can easily afford to fund the building of a Moon base and somehow it’s not happening (or even close to happening).

Tags: Jeff Bezos   Moon   science   space   video

How Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will become President

Dwayne Johnson The Rock.jpg

My friend, the novelist/fabulist/media inventor Robin Sloan, has a charming new short story that imagines how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will become President, first by playing the role in an imaginary movie. Along the way, there are some poignant thoughts about the nature of our political imaginations, the role of new media like Instagram in shaping public perception, and the ways leadership can, spell-like, be brought into being.

Here is the meager gift tucked into the disaster that is Donald Trump: now, anyone can be elected president, so anyone will be elected president. We might never have another lawyer in that office again. Donald Trump broke the seal, but Dwayne Johnson will fulfill the prophecy.

Can you imagine him on the debate stage? The way he’ll look alongside his opponents in the primary? A line of normal, rumpled humans, and then this towering figure. A political revolution: his suit will fit.

If he runs, he will win, and he will run, so the question isn’t, will Dwayne Johnson be president; rather, it’s: what kind of president will Dwayne Johnson be?

“Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth,” said Archimedes, maybe. With this book, we’ll set our feet and push.

The story and its narrator are so cynical and idealistic at once that it’s hard to characterize. Wasn’t the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” a self-invention of sorts? the story’s narrator asks. Couldn’t a new myth, a new colossus, reanimate that central idea, that openness to all peoples and possibilities, again?

The fact that on the one hand, America is “a nation of Presidents,” creating its own institutions, rules, and leaders, and a nation that could swoon for The Scorpion King because his Instagram videos are just so damned good, just illustrates one of hundreds of central contradictions about this place.

Are those contradictions hindrances to us? Do they fuel us? Or are they just unavoidable, constituent elements to the place and its peoples?

I don’t know. But I’m glad this story is poking those contradictions with a stick.

Tags: Dwayne Johnson   Instagram   politics   The Rock

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