Money wins Elections is an excellent, scrolling infographic that illustrates how money corrupts the American legislative process, showing that time and again, Congress has voted the way that the big money told it to, against the prevailing popular opinion. It's all in support of the American Anti-corruption Act, and it was created by Tony Chu for part of his MFA thesis project.
The new US$100 bill will go into circulation on October 8, 2013. New security features include a "3-D Security Ribbon" woven into the paper. The image changes from bells to 100s with the viewing angle, and "color-shifting" bell graphic that changes from copper to green, "an effect which makes the bell seem to appear and disappear within the (copper-colored) inkwell." "The Redesigned $100 Note"
Artist Martin John Callanan and the Advanced Engineered Materials Group at the UK's National Physical Laboratory used an infinite 3D optical microscope to capture 400 million pixel images of the lowest denomination coin from many currencies. "The Fundamental Units"
Larry Lessig presented at TED his new project, an effort to curb the corrupting influence of money in American politics with a reform to campaign finance, so that the government depends on the people alone. It's a wonderful talk:
There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That's the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.
US currency was beautiful, once upon a time, when it sported images of animals and symbolic statuary, rather than deifying its citizen-rulers by putting presidents on the money as though they were kings. This 1901 $10 note (available on Wikimedia Commons in a 33.34MB, 6,454 × 5,784 JPEG!) is a case in point.
An opinion piece by Chris Arnade on the asymmetry in pay (money for profits, flat for losses), which he describes "the engine behind many of Wall Street’s mistakes" That asymmetry "rewards short-term gains without regard to long-term consequences," Chris writes in a new guest blog at Scientific American. "The results? The over-reliance on excessive leverage, banks that are loaded with opaque financial products, and trading models that are flawed." [Scientific American Blog Network] — Xeni
The British government paid out £20 million to compensate 3,000 slave-owning families for the loss of their "property" when slave ownership was abolished in Britain's colonies in 1833. At the time, that sum amounted to 40% of the UK's annual spending budget; today, one could calculate the total value of the 19th-century payouts to be around £16.5 billion (=USD $25 billion; the actual sum can vary, depending on how you calculate).
In The Independent, an article digging in to the data, which will be released this week in the form of a publicly accessible database.
Etsy seller GuitarPickCollection sells handmade guitar (mandolin, banjo, etc) picks made from coins and slugs that have been formed to suit. I was never much of a guitar player and so I can't guess whether this would be good news for your favorite axe, but if you do fancy a coin-pick, this maker's stuff is rather beautiful.
You know those cool commemorative coins that the US Mint keeps issuing? Turns out that they're a handy way for Congress to get around the ban on porky earmarks for their home district. As reported last April in The Foundry:
Here’s how it works: In June of last year, Rep. Peter Roksam (R-IL) introduced legislation authorizing a commemorative coin honoring the Lions Club, a service organization based in Oak Brook, IL – part of Roksam’s district.
The legislation dictates that proceeds from the coin sales be used to pay for the cost of producing the coins, but adds: “all surcharges received by the Secretary from the sale of coins issued under this Act shall be promptly paid by the Secretary to the Lions Clubs International Foundation for the purposes.”
In other words, assuming the costs of production are covered, the legislation will steer federal funds to an organization in Roksam’s home district. No earmarks required.
There's a long list of other commemorative coins, mostly issued at Republican instigation (the coins all seem to emanate from the House), but sometimes with a Democratic push in the Senate.
The tree-like ornament is made of 88 pounds of pure gold, standing about 7.9 ft high ... It is decorated with pure gold plate silhouette cutouts of 50 popular Disney characters and draped with ribbons made of gold leaf. The price tag? A mere $4.2 million.
A man in Rhode Island was either too dumb or too cheeky for his own good: the counterfeit bills he tried to pass at a local Target had Abraham Lincoln on the $100, popularly known as a Benjamin. [Sun Chronicle] — Rob