- On February 20, 1872, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its doors to the public for the first time, and this is what it looks like (you can read the whole story on their blog):
- There’s an incredible story about a “lost” Black painting by Frank Stella, and here’s the snippet from the interview in the New York Times that explains what happened:
Q: I think people fantasize that there’s an extra Black Painting tucked away.
A: Once, when I was moving from my studio on West Broadway and I had to carry things down to Walker Street, I had a painting in a cart that I was pushing, and the painting kept falling off — a Black Painting, rolled up. I just bent it in half and stuck it in the trash basket on the corner of West Broadway and Canal.
Q: Wait, are you serious? Somebody could’ve just found a Black Painting one day?
A: Yeah. It never reappeared.
- Eli Valley is the comic artist we all need right now, and it’s great to see Vulture profiling him:
Valley barred no holds when he submitted work to the Forward, and occasionally had to be reeled back in. Even with editorial guidance, he regularly received blistering criticism from the Jewish establishment. Take, for example, one of his earliest Forward cartoons, November 2008’s “Evangelical Zionist Tours of Israel.” In it, he lampoons the kind of Christian Evangelicals who root for Israel out of a hatred for Arabs and a belief that Jews must retain sovereignty in the region in order to bring about Biblical armageddon and the subsequent victory of Jesus — as well as the Jews who accept their support. In one panel, a Christian tourist asks the prime minister of Israel, “Would you be so kind as to declare yourself king, then unmask yourself as the Antichrist?” To which the prime minister responds, “That depends. How much money do you have on you?”
- Writing for Gizmodo, Rhett Jones mentions that an AI company backed by Elon Musk has created a text generator that is “too dangerous to release”:
The OpenAI researchers found that GPT-2 performed very well when it was given tasks that it wasn’t necessarily designed for, like translation and summarization. In their report, the researchers wrote that they simply had to prompt the trained model in the right way for it to perform these tasks at a level that was comparable to other models that are specialized. After analyzing a short story about an Olympic race, the software was able to correctly answer basic questions like “What was the length of the race?” and “Where did the race begin?”
These excellent results have freaked the researchers out. One concern they have is that the technology would be used to turbo-charge fake news operations. The Guardian published a fake news article written by the software along with its coverage of the research. The article is readable and contains fake quotes that are on topic and realistic. The grammar is better than a lot what you’d see from fake news content mills. And according to The Guardian’s Alex Hern, it only took 15 seconds for the bot to write the article.
- Carolina Miranda writes about her “most LA thing ever” and also discusses Los Angeles before the United States colonized it:
Before California was West, it was North and it was East: the uppermost periphery of the Mexican Empire, and the arrival point for Chinese immigrants making the perilous journey from Guangdong. It was part of different maps that co-exist, one on top of the other: layers of visions and lesser-known narratives, that are ongoing and still unfolding.
This other, deeper story of Los Angeles is contained in an unremarkable map that hangs on the first floor of the Chinese American Museum, a small historical institution downtown. The map is neither a historical relic nor particularly aesthetically pleasing, containing no fine engravings of fantastical sea creatures. It doesn’t even have a formal name.
Instead, the map is a utilitarian, black-and-white reproduction of an early 1900s plan that charts the blocks around LA’s historic core. Anchoring the upper left hand corner is the Plaza de Los Angeles, which, in those days, was employed as a space for commerce, celebrations, and rallies in support of labor movements and Mexican revolutionaries., Extending from the plaza is a rambling geometry of urban blocks. Laid over it is a clear plastic sheet that shows an outline of the neighborhood’s grid as it stands today.
- Karl Lagerfeld died this week in Paris, but not everyone wants to whitewash his terrible history of misogyny, xenophobia, and hate:
Publications have described his comments as “catty”, “bitchy”, “acid-tongued and superficial” and “controversial” instead of sexist, misogynistic, racist, fatphobic, and islamophobic. The blatant separation of the artist from the art perpetuates cycles of abuse in which men like Lagerfeld can occupy prominent spaces in our industries and face no consequences for their words or actions, and be fondly remembered when they are dead. The fashion industry continued to let this terrible person hold a place of high-esteem and reduced his commentary to Lagerfeld simply being a bit eccentric. It’s time the fashion industry make honest remembrances of the man and that you grapple with his true legacy and the reality of oppression in fashion if you truly hope to make more space for marginalized people and bodies in fashion—I’m not going to hold my breath for this one, I don’t want to pass out.
- USA Today reviewed 900 US yearbooks from the 1970s and 80s and the level of racism they discovered was disturbing:
At Cornell University in New York, three fraternity members are listed in the 1980 yearbook as “Ku,” “Klux” and “Klan.” For their 1971 yearbook picture, a dozen University of Virginia fraternity members, some armed, wore dark cloaks and hoods while peering up at a lynched mannequin in blackface. In one of the most striking images – from the 1981 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign yearbook – a black man is smiling and holding a beer while posing with three people in full KKK regalia.
Reporters collected more than 200 examples of offensive or racist material at colleges in 25 states, from large public universities in the South, to Ivy League schools in the Northeast, liberal arts boutiques and Division I powerhouses.
- Daniel Immerwahr explains how a massive empire, such as the United States, has hide its empire for so long, even from its own citizens (emphasis mine):
In the century before 1940, the US claimed nearly 100 uninhabited islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Some claims were forgotten in time – Washington could be surprisingly lax about keeping tabs. The 22 islands included here are the ones that appeared in official tallies (the census or other governmental reports) in the 1940s. I have represented them as clusters of dots in the bottom left and right corners, although they are so small that they would be invisible if they were drawn to scale.
The logo map is not only misleading because it excludes large colonies and pinprick islands alike. It also suggests that the US is a politically uniform space: a union, voluntarily entered into, of states standing on equal footing with one another. But that is not true, and it has never been true. From its founding until the present day, the US has contained a union of American states, as its name suggests. But it has also contained another part: not a union, not states and (for most of its history) not wholly in the Americas – its territories.
What is more, a lot of people have lived in that other part. According to the census count for the inhabited territories in 1940, the year before Pearl Harbor, nearly 19 million people lived in the colonies, the great bulk of them in the Philippines. That meant slightly more than one in eight of the people in the US lived outside of the states. For perspective, consider that only about one in 12 was African American. If you lived in the US on the eve of the second world war, in other words, you were more likely to be colonised than black.
- The Southern Poverty Law Center just released it’s new Hate Crime report and they found an all-time high in hate groups in the US (1,020):
The previous all-time high number of hate groups the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) counted was 1,018 in 2011, when rage against the first black president was roiling. Amid the era of Trump, hate groups have increased once again, rising 30 percent over the past four years. And last year marked the fourth year in a row that hate group numbers increased after a short period of decline. In the previous four-year period, the number of groups fell by 23 percent.
How the solar system actually travels through the galaxy.
Credit: thistimeisgreat pic.twitter.com/5iAjy0RiiD
— Physics-astronomy.org (@OrgPhysics) February 20, 2019
- Also, how is this real?!
a lot of things happened yesterday pic.twitter.com/N6pNrx6e4K
— Mary Lambert (@marylambertsing) February 17, 2019
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