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Graffiti for the People?

This weekend I just finished reading Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude (which is messy, and poetic, and beautiful, and has a lot of great scenes featuring early hip-hop culture in Brooklyn in the 70s and 80s), and it made me think back on this clever/political British graffiti artist I read about in Esquire named Banksy. Anyway, this guy is too fascinating to ignore, so I figured I had to post about him.

Some facts (from Wikipedia): "Banksy (born 1974) is a prolific graffiti artist from Bristol, UK, whose artwork has appeared throughout London and other locations around the world"¦ His original street art form, which combines graffiti with a distinctive stenciling technique, has achieved a certain underground notoriety and widespread coverage in the mainstream media. Despite this attention, he carefully manages to keep his real identity hidden."

  • At London Zoo, he climbed into the penguin enclosure and painted 'We're bored of fish' in two metre high letters.
  • In August, 2005, Banksy painted 9 images on the Palestinian side of the Israeli West Bank barrier, including an image of a ladder going up and over the wall and an image of children digging a hole through the wall. (note, I've posted a few below)
  • In June 2006, Banksy stencilled an image of a naked man hanging out of a bedroom window on a wall in central Bristol, England. The image sparked some controversy, with the Bristol City Council leaving it up to the public to decide whether it should stay or go. After an internet discussion in which 97% (all but 6 people) supported the stencil, the city council decided it would be left on the building

He also has more than a few books out, with lovely, punny titles like "Wall and Peace" and "Existencilism." Anyway, I've posted some of his work below, but here's a link if you're interested in seeing more.

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Big Questions
How Are Royal Babies Named?
Jack Taylor, Getty Images
Jack Taylor, Getty Images

After much anticipation, England's royal family has finally received a tiny new addition. The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second son was confirmed by Kensington Palace on April 23, but the name of the royal newborn has yet to be announced. For the heir to the British throne and his wife, choosing a name for their third child—who is already fifth in line to the throne—likely won't be as easy as flipping through a baby name book; it's tradition for royals to select names that honor important figures from British history.

According to ABC WJLA, selecting three or four names is typical when naming a royal baby. Will and Kate followed this unwritten rule when naming their first child, George Alexander Louis, and their second, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Each name is an opportunity to pay homage to a different British royal who came before them. Some royal monikers have less savory connotations (Prince Harry's give name, Henry, is reminiscent of a certain wife-beheading monarch), but typically royal babies are named for people who held a significant and honorable spot in the family tree.

Because there's a limited pool of honorable monarchs from which to choose, placing bets on the royal baby name as the due date approaches has become a popular British pastime. One name that keeps cropping up this time around is James; the original King James ruled in the early 17th century, and it has been 330 years since a monarch named James wore the crown.

If the royal family does go with James for the first name of their youngest son, that still leaves at least a couple of slots to be filled. So far, the couple has stuck with three names each for their children, but there doesn't seem to be a limit; Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to George VI in 1936, shouldered the full name of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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technology
Amazon Is Reportedly Working on a Home Robot
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iStock

If you feel as though Amazon’s various Echo devices, Dash buttons, Kindle readers, Prime boxes, and other products have left you needing even more of the shopping giant’s presence in your life, you’re in luck. According to reports, the company is working on a robot that could soon be locomoting around your home and collecting terabytes of data in the process.

Bloomberg reports that Amazon is currently working on development of the robots under the project name “Vesta,” after the Roman goddess of hearth and home. The speculation is that Amazon wants to finalize a design that would allow the robot to move from one room to another and utilize an on-board camera to acquire information about their human companion. Those familiar with the project believe that it might be a kind of mobile Alexa, Amazon’s current AI interface that allows people to order products and acts as a kind of universal remote for the home.

With a camera and wheels, a portable Alexa might be able to be more proactive in checking for bathrooms low on toilet paper or kitchen cupboards that might need more packaged goods. It might also be able to respond to commands when its owner has moved to an area out of Alexa’s reach.

The size, features, battery life, price, and adorableness of the robot are all still unknown. If the project continues to move forward, it might be beta-tested in Amazon employee homes in late 2018, before coming to market in 2019.

[h/t the Verge]

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