In 1993, the owner of the 5Pointz building in New York City began allowing graffiti artists to use the walls for their masterpieces, but by 2013 had grown weary of the building's look and had the walls whitewashed. In June 2015, nine of the artists filed a federal lawsuit demanding that the owner compensate them, substantially, for destroying their creations — and they stand a good chance of collecting (under the Visual Artists Rights Act) if they prove their particular works are of "recognized stature" and not merely art of an "ephemeral nature." At its height, 5Pointz attracted more than 350 artists' works from around the world.

This modern world

Among the protesters at New York City's Gay Pride Parade on the Sunday after the Supreme Court's historic gay-marriage decision was a group of men outfitted in Jewish prayer garments and representing the Jewish Political Action Committee, carrying signs reading, for example, "Judaism prohibits homosexuality." However, the men were very likely in fact Mexican laborers hired for the day. A representative of the committee told the New York Times that the men were necessary because the committee's rabbis would not permit their students (who normally staff such protests) to be exposed to the parade's typical sights.

Government in action

WOOD-TV of Grand Rapids, Mich., seemingly uncovered an antiquity — if not a potential vulnerability — in the city's public school system in June when it reported that the heating and cooling systems at 19 schools are controlled using a Commodore Amiga computer (released in the 1980s, about the same time as Windows 2.0), operating on an early Internet modem. It had been installed by a computer-savvy student and, according to the maintenance supervisor, still works fine. Fortunately, the supervisor said, the student still lives in the area and is available if problems arise.

Government officials who insist on such "bells and whistles" as redesigning their department's logo are often ridiculed for wasting taxpayer money (yet design consultants continue to sell the illusion that a new logo can give a bureaucracy a refreshing rebirth). In May, Tennessee officials unveiled a new state logo (which cost only $46,000 — not counting the expense of changing signs, cards, stationery, etc.), which consists of the letters "TN" in white inside a red box with a blue trim underneath. (A critic suggested a contest to design a superior one, but open only to kids age 12 and under, with the prize a $50 gift certificate.) Readers might recall that earlier this year the city of Minneapolis went through a month of back-and-forth votes before opting for a new logo.

Animal world

The "parasitic ways" of the cuckoo bird were remarked upon "as far back as Aristotle," wrote a Wall Street Journal book reviewer in May, but some biologists may not have believed the behavior because it was so cold-blooded. The bird, according to Nick Davies' book "Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature," lays its eggs in other species' nests to trick those birds into incubating the cuckoos, which then hatch and kick the eggs of their host out of the nest. The mother cuckoo, it is said, times her mating schedule so that her eggs mature just before the victims' eggs would. Hence, according to Davies, she is "nature's most notorious cheat."

Least competent criminals

(1) Christopher Furay, 33, pleaded guilty in Pittsburgh in April to six bank robberies — the first four in which surveillance video revealed him to have a reddish beard and the last two in which the video revealed him to be wearing a fake red beard covering his reddish beard. Furay did not explain. (2) In June, police in Roseville, Minn., quickly located J&J Construction's missing equipment trailer (stolen from a work site) — parked near the Washington County Courthouse in Stillwater, where the thief apparently had left it while he answered a court summons. WCCO-TV reported that the man was soon jailed on a separate charge.

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