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Exclusive: The graffiti economics behind Williamsburg’s wall of NFTs

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The graffiti economics behind Williamsburg’s wall of NFTs

#graffiti #economics #Williamsburgs #wall #NFTs

Last year, NFTs started to appear on a three-story brick apartment building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Located at the intersection of Grand Street and Roebling Street, the murals are the work of a graffiti artist called Masnah. Each one is a commission from the token-holder, faithfully reproduced. There are nearly 60 in total, with more still coming in, a kind of physical testament to the NFT boom.

A cyclist pauses in front of the murals, which cover both the northwest- and southwest-facing walls of the building.

Starting from the graffiti world, Masnah was surprised at how graffiti artists were selling NFT versions of their work — and how few were trying to take NFT imagery to the street. “All the big names in graffiti were just doing renders of their art as NFTs,” he remembers, “so I wanted to approach NFTs from the graffiti side.”

After talking the idea through in the CryptoPunks discord, he started taking commissions. “The power of graffiti is that you see it in every corner, right? It’s alive. It’s part of public space,” he says. “I thought that the physical space would be a good place to make these.”

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Masnah’s first commission was blocks away, painting a cowboy CryptoPunk on North 14th Street between Nassau and Wythe avenues. The mural itself got some attention, but it really took off when the owner started sharing it online, with the kind of conspicuous consumption that was inescapable during the NFT boom.

“He flexed it,” Masnah remembers. “When he put that on Twitter, it kind of blew up because no one had done it before.”

On North 14th Street, you can find Bored Ape Yacht Club #768 and CryptoPunk #5974.

That summer, NFT owners were flush with cash, and many were willing to pay to see their profile picture images in physical form. Soon, Masnah was getting dozens of commission requests, so many that he started putting them all in one place: the Roebling apartment building. The building owner was sympathetic to the project, even putting an anti-graffiti coating over the murals in case anyone tried to tag on top of them.

Meanwhile, the commissions kept rolling in. For NFT owners, getting a spot on the wall was part-flex and part-investment. “The owners of these assets saw the value of me painting it in the street,” Masnah says. “If I did the picture, it would get all the attention on Twitter that day.”

Eventually, Masnah put his commission system on the blockchain too. After getting stiffed a few times, he started his own NFT collection, dubbed “Another Flex on the Wall.” To commission a mural, token-holders buy one of Masnah’s tokenized bricks, priced at 1 ETH, 1.5 ETH, and 2.5 ETH depending on the mural’s size. The mural itself goes on the blockchain too, linked back to the original token.

“It’s the first collection of graffiti on-chain. Before NFTs, you couldn’t really own graffiti. You had these photographs from [famous graffiti photographers] Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, who documented the graffiti and took these famous pictures of the trains. Their photographs are worth a lot of money but the guy who painted the train, his work isn’t even really in the market. He’ll never get any credit for that. So now with this technology, as street artists we’re able to own that wall.”

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While NFTs typically represent digital images, Masnah’s project fits into a more recent trend of tokens linked to physical objects. In most cases, the object itself is either kept in custody by the minter or bought and sold independently from the token. The system has been used to sell tungsten cubes, sell a physical painting by Damien Hirst, and manage a marketplace of collectible luxury items.

In the meantime, the mural-for-hire business is spreading. Masnah has heard about an artist called Manny Links doing a similar business in LA, although the rates are lower and he hasn’t found a single building — at least not yet.

The northwest-facing wall of 267 Grand Street.

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Exclusive: Check Out This Drag Racing VW Beetle EV – TalkOfNews.com

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Check Out This Drag Racing VW Beetle EV

#Check #Drag #Racing #Beetle

The Late Brake Show

While it may sound a bit odd, people really like to convert old VW Beetles into electric drag-racers. The practice goes back twenty years, and back in 2011, two brothers shocked the world with their Black Current III electric Beetle. Now they’re back with an even more ridiculous car, the “V8-killing” Black Current IV.

Note: Several outlets are clinging to this story under false pretenses. The modified VW Beetle EV doesn’t have 6,500 horsepower—that rating is both outrageous and plainly incorrect. ‘The Late Brake Show’ acknowledges that it made a mistake, but other publications aren’t doing their due diligence.

We decided to share this story because it’s really freakin’ cool. It highlights a scene of enthusiasts who are integral to the rise of EVs. The horsepower doesn’t matter.

While previous Black Current EVs were based on very old VW Beetles, the new model is a heavily modified 2013 mk2 New Beetle. It now has a full carbon-fiber body, plus a custom 22kWh battery pack and 800V architecture. Notably, it runs on a total of four inverters, which diligently control the rotation speed of four permanent magnet Axial flux AC three-phase motors.

Brothers Olly and Sam Young, who built the Black Current IV, believe that it can run a quarter-mile in seven seconds or less. That would make it the “world’s quickest” electric vehicle, which is shocking, given that it’s a modified Beetle and it’s street legal. (The Young brothers haven’t brought this thing to top speed yet, so we can’t confirm how fast it actually moves.)

For reference, the Tesla Model S Plaid recently completed a 9.4-second quarter mile. And the current world-record holder, the Rimac Nevera, made its trip in 8.52 seconds.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise—the old Black Current III was a record-setter back in 2011, despite the fact that it ran on a repurposed milk-float motor (an electric motor from a UK milk delivery truck). The only reason why Olly and Sam Young started working on this new Black Current VI is because the previous model crashed at 140 MPH during a drag race in 2017.

Anyway, you should watch the above video made by The Late Brake Show. It covers the Black Current VI and its history in more detail than I’ve provided. Plus, it’s a video, and I know you want to see this weird drag-racing EV.

Source: The Late Brake Show

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Exclusive: The fight against inflation starts at sea – TalkOfNews.com

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The fight against inflation starts at sea

#fight #inflation #starts #sea

Everything from children’s toys and furniture to guacamole has gotten more expensive, so it’s not surprising that inflation is top of mind for many Americans. But with the midterm elections drawing closer — and Republicans hammering the White House about rising consumer prices — President Joe Biden thinks voters should direct their frustrations elsewhere. He says they should be angrier at a critical, but often forgotten, part of the US economy: the ocean shipping industry.

“There are nine — nine — major ocean line shipping companies that ship from Asia to the United States. Nine. They form three consortia. These companies have raised their prices by as much as 1,000 percent,” Biden declared in a speech at the Port of Los Angeles, the country’s largest port, in June. “There’s no better place to start it than right here in the port, and letting those nine foreign shippers understand the rip-off is over.”

Right now, the cost of sending goods across the Pacific is still more expensive than it was before the pandemic. This price surge is a product of not only the delays and bottlenecks in the supply chain created by Covid-19 but also the huge increase in demand for consumer goods that followed. This demand was far greater than what shipping companies or American ports could handle. As a result, the price of shipping went up, creating increases in costs for importers and retailers within the United States. Those costs have now been passed on to consumers, which is partly why many everyday items are more expensive lately. (Surging gas prices, the war in Ukraine, and pandemic-era financial policies may also be driving inflation.)

Experts told Recode it’s unlikely that Biden’s crackdown on the shipping industry will significantly reduce the cost of products, even if it will make some meaningful improvements to operations at America’s ports. The small group of companies that dominate the shipping industry remain extremely powerful: They still benefit from longtime exemptions from antitrust laws and continue to wield enormous power.

The situation serves as a reminder that, while specific segments like the ocean shipping industry can play a massive role in influencing the prices of everyday goods, they’re also participating in the much larger economic system of supply and demand. This system involves everyone from the companies that build ocean vessels that shipping companies use to parents desperately trying to buy Barbie Dreamhouses for their kids. This complexity can make price increases extremely hard to rein in, even if you’re the president.

Ocean shipping, explained

By design, the shipping industry isn’t supposed to have a significant impact on the price of everyday goods. Many companies make their products outside the United States, in places where manufacturing is cheaper. This approach only makes economic sense if these companies know they can ship finished goods to their customers at a low cost.

This is where the major ocean carriers come in: Nine companies, including firms like Maersk, Cosco, and Hapag-Lloyd, handle the vast majority of shipping across the Pacific Ocean. These companies have been granted limited immunity from certain antitrust laws, and form powerful shipping alliances that coordinate on routes and even share their vessels. A single ship can stretch hundreds of meters long, and some can carry more than 20,000 shipping containers. These ships may travel between ports in several countries, picking up raw materials, parts, supplies, and finished products throughout their route on behalf of different carriers.

To make sure these ships are filled to the brim, carriers play their own version of Tetris. Because carriers share their vessels, several companies can sell transportation services on the same ship. Companies have to figure out which shipping containers should go where, based on where they’re coming from and where they’re going. Once cargo arrives at its destination, powerful cranes lift these containers from ships so they can be loaded onto trucks and trains traveling inland, and quickly fill the open space on the ship with a new container. Normally, this makes international freight shipping a skillfully choreographed operation, one that has made sending an item across the Pacific a negligible part of the cost of many products we buy every day.

But then came the pandemic. Factories, understandably, closed because of Covid-19, and that created manufacturing delays, threw schedules off course, and ultimately led to shortages of all sorts of products. The pandemic also meant that people spent more time at home, stopped buying services, and cut back on travel. As a result, they started to spend a lot more on consumer goods, goods that typically needed to be shipped to the US from abroad, primarily from countries in Asia. Shipping became harder to provide and much more in demand — which sent shipping prices skyrocketing.

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Now these shipping companies are facing a lot more scrutiny as well as growing concern that they’ve used their longtime antitrust immunity to profit during a crisis. Before the pandemic, these carriers had an average operating margin of just under 4 percent, but during the third quarter of last year, that margin grew to more than 50 percent. This has made importing goods in the US much more expensive: At the end of June, it costs nearly $7,600 to rent a 40-foot shipping container traveling across the Pacific compared to about $1,300 in early 2020, according to one shipping industry index.

“Today, the top nine companies control 85 percent of the trade. Go back 15 years ago, the top 10 companies controlled 50 percent of the trade. They basically ran companies out of business and bottom up,” Sal Mercogliano, a maritime history professor at Campbell University, said. “They were in a pretty vicious rate war, and then all of a sudden Covid happens and rates go through the roof.”

Importers and exporters have also accused these shipping companies of taking advantage of supply chain chaos, which has left them paying exorbitant detention and demurrage fees — fines charged to shippers that don’t pick up and drop off containers on time. Normally, these fees act as an important incentive to make sure shipping stays on schedule, but some logistics companies and importers say that the ocean carriers have made it almost impossible for them to pick up and drop off cargo on time. And ultimately, the cost associated with paying the fees gets passed on to customers.

The cost of shipping is coming down

Inflation isn’t something the president directly controls, and it’s not something that can easily be fixed. Meanwhile, most Americans say the top problem facing the country is rising consumer prices, which means it’s all but certain to become a major issue in the upcoming midterm elections. These elections will determine whether Democrats retain control of the House and the Senate, and will shape what Biden will be able to accomplish in the second half of his presidential term.

With voters acutely aware of the issue, the president is looking to cast the blame for inflation on entities far away from the White House. In this case, he’s pointing a finger at the small but powerful group of international companies that control shipping in the Pacific. Biden also wants to appear to be taking action on the problem, especially since it’s one that consumers notice in their everyday purchases.

“We have socks and plastic buckets, and things like that, being shipped around the world because it costs next to nothing to ship them,” Marc Levinson, a historian of the container shipping industry, explained. “Now, if the cost of shipping for a pair of shoes has gone up from 10 cents to 50 cents, that can actually be significant because there will be a further markup at every stage along the supply chain.”

Enter the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which the president claims will lower costs and help fight inflation. The law, which was signed by Biden in June, empowers the Federal Maritime Commission, the agency that regulates shipping into the US, to investigate carriers’ practices and help craft new rules. The government will also create a more formalized way to track chassis, the metal frames that are used to carry shipping containers at the ports, and expand the commission’s powers when the ports are extremely congested. Finally, the law targets the increasingly common practice of ocean carriers transporting empty containers back across the Pacific instead of waiting to fill their cargo with American exports, including agricultural products that American farmers have sold to customers in Asia.

While all of these measures sound like progress, there’s no guarantee they will do much to lower prices overall. Again, many other factors are also driving inflation.

“It’s not like furniture is suddenly going to be cheaper overnight, right away. That’s not the way the system works, and frankly, it’s not the way the economy works,” Daniel Maffei, the chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, said. “Everybody would like a silver bullet to inflation.”

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act does set the groundwork for addressing growing concerns that carriers are engaging in harmful, anti-competitive behavior. (A recent investigation by one of the agency’s commissioners found no evidence of illegal behavior or collusion that had contributed to high shipping prices.) The legislation comes as the FMC ramps up its efforts to investigate carriers, including a push to crack down on unfair fees that the commission began last year, and a new partnership with the Justice Department announced in February.

But the law, which was not as aggressive as another proposal in the House, doesn’t change the fact that shipping is still dominated by just three alliances, despite mounting calls to curtail their power. Nor does it give the FMC the ability to set the price of shipping. Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t deal with one of the primary issues that drove the high cost of shipping: surging demand for products that need to be shipped. Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told Recode that whether the legislation would help lower prices is “to be determined.”

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“Declining demand will help,” Willy Shih, a management professor at Harvard Business School, said. “If we go into a recession, then demand will drop and then that’ll give everybody time to catch up, and even things out more.”

The global supply chain is made up of many different countries, companies, and people, which means that the price of a single good is influenced by myriad factors that are incredibly hard to control. That means that, for now, you shouldn’t expect Joe Biden’s mounting effort to regulate the shipping industry to have an immediate impact on the price of the stuff you buy.

In reality, the best way to lower the cost of shipping is for people to stop buying so many things that need to be shipped. Given that the economy doesn’t seem to be in a great place right now, that just might happen sooner rather than later. For what it’s worth, imports to the US seem to be declining, and American consumers appear to be returning to their pre-Covid spending habits.

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Exclusive: Xbox 360 games will no longer be part of Xbox Games with Gold in October – TalkOfNews.com

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Xbox 360 games will no longer be part of Xbox Games with Gold in October

#Xbox #games #longer #part #Xbox #Games #Gold #October

Microsoft is planning to remove Xbox 360 games from its monthly Games with Gold offer in October. The software maker has started emailing Xbox Live Gold subscribers to warn them of the change, noting that the company has “reached the limit of our ability to bring Xbox 360 games to the catalogue.”

Games with Gold is a monthly benefit for subscribers of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Microsoft hand picks free games each month, and all Xbox 360 titles are playable on the latest Xbox Series X / S consoles and Xbox One.

Microsoft’s Xbox backward compatibility program briefly returned with 76 new games last year, but the company made it clear it had “reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing, legal and technical constraints.” That would explain why it has now reached the limit on new Xbox 360 titles for Games with Gold.

If you’ve already downloaded or redeemed Xbox 360 games through Games with Gold, this change won’t impact those titles. This just means starting October 1st, Microsoft won’t be adding any additional Xbox 360 titles to the Games with Gold offering.

While Xbox Game Pass has become the must-have subscription for Xbox owners, Xbox Live Gold is still incredibly popular. Microsoft attempted to double the cost of a yearly subscription to the service last year, but after a backlash the company reversed course and even removed the Xbox Live Gold requirement for free-to-play games.

Xbox Live Gold also provides monthly discounts for the Microsoft Store, but most of the subscription’s core features are now free to all modern Xbox owners. You’ll still need an Xbox Live Gold subscription for an Xbox 360, though. As for the future of Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft started moving away from the Xbox Live branding last year, as it now refers to the set of software and services as Xbox network.

Here’s the full email from Microsoft to Xbox Live Gold subscribers:

From 1 October 2022, the monthly games provided to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Live Gold members via Games with Gold will no longer include Xbox 360 titles.

We have reached the limit of our ability to bring Xbox 360 games to the catalogue; however, Games with Gold will continue to include exciting Xbox One titles and exclusive savings each month.

This will not impact any Xbox 360 games that you downloaded before October 2022. Any Xbox 360 titles that you redeem via Games with Gold before that time are yours to keep on your Xbox account, regardless of whether you continue your subscription.

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Thank you for being a loyal member.

Team Xbox

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