Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Obama's own Twitter account, spiders falling from the sky, the imitable Grace Jones and more in this week's look at the web


1. The Skate Girls of Kabul

Award-winning photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s powerful “Skate Girls of Kabul” series is currently on display at London’s National Portrait Gallery and is set to be published in an upcoming book. Dobson traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan to capture the inspiring story of the organization Skateistan, which empowers young Afghan girls through the usually male-dominated sport of skateboarding. By providing the girls with an open skatepark and the support of a nurturing, like-minded community, Skateistan hopes to encourage the youngsters back into full-time education.

2. Pratt Institute’s Cat-Loving Chief Engineer

79-year-old Conrad Milster has been keeping Pratt Institute up and running since 1958. As the university’s chief engineer, he’s in charge of maintaining the steam engines that provide heat and hot water to the school. Aside from being a master of his craft, Milster is a proud Brooklynite, cat person and collector of anything old—including VHS tapes, books and outdated mechanical machines. As Milster ponders retirement, he debates if anyone would be able to keep the steamplant in the impeccable condition he works so hard for and, more importantly, if they’ll take care of the cats. Watch the full video on Vimeo.

3. Obama Finally Gets His Own Twitter Account

Six years into his run as the 44th President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama has finally launched his own Twitter account. The president isn’t new to tweeting though, as he’s previously posted messages to his staff-managed account @BarackObama. But with his new handle @POTUS, Obama is taking full control of his own retweets and favs. The new account is meant to help the president speak directly with the American public and, according to the White House, “@POTUS will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them”—aka memes and cat GIFs.

4. Spiders Fall From the Sky in Australia

Millions of spiders were recently seen falling from the sky in the Southern Tablelands region of Australia, using parachutes made from their own silk strands. The tiny spiders—known as sheet-web weavers or money spiders—took to the skies in a mass migration called a ballooning event. During these events, the spiders will crawl to the highest point they can reach (ie: a fence pole) and cast out mini webs in order to catch air currents and then ride those currents until eventually falling into their new homes. Don’t worry, these spiders don’t bite.


5. Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Limbs

The latest installation of The New York Times’ video series “Robotica” examines the ongoing development of mind-controlled prosthetic limbs. The video follows the life of 59-year-old Les Baugh—who lost both of his arms in an electrical accident when he was a teenager—as he helps Johns Hopkins University engineers test the latest technological marvel, Modular Prosthetic Limbs (or M.P.L.). After strapping on two robotic arms, Baugh is able to control his limbs through thought, and may one day be able to experience sensations through his sensor-equipped protheses. Watch the full video on The New York Times.

6. Happy 67th Birthday Grace Jones

Singer, model, actress, style icon and eternal life of the party, Grace Jones turns 67 today. To celebrate, The Fader looks back on her captivating existence through a 14-part visual journey, entitled “14 Reasons Grace Jones Is Cooler Than You’ll Ever Be.” Jones’ unique style and effervescent swagger remain relevant in pop culture today and she continues to be an inspiration to musicians, artists and designers alike.

7. Songs That Make Us Cry

After asking listeners to send in songs that make them cry, NPR trawled through 7,000+ tracks and found that though some of the results were expected, others weren’t. While “Adagio for Strings” sounds like it was composed to make people misty eyed, “Highway to Hell” perhaps doesn’t. However, the team at NPR found that oftentimes, the reasons songs made listeners weepy isn’t about composition and was mostly due to association. Whether through heartbreak, tragedy or deliriously happy memories, music proves over and over again to have profound effects on our emotions.

8. A Futuristic Flag for Earth

When American astronauts first landed on the moon, it seemed natural to plant the flag of the United States. But what happens when an international team of space-explorers venture beyond our orbit? They’ll be representing their own nations, but also the entire planet Earth. Recognizing this, 24-year-old Oskar Pernefeldt has designed a new flag called the International Flag of Planet Earth. The design features a set of interlocking rings enveloped in a sea of blue, illustrating the unified nations of Earth bound by their aqueous home planet.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on Twitter, and rounded up every Saturday morning.