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Cultural Commentary

People pay only $60 for works by famous artist

A man holds up a local newspaper as he poses for a photo in front of a new art piece by British graffiti artist Banksy in the Brooklyn borough of New York, October 17, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)Have you heard of a "graffiti artist" named "Banksy"?  I hadn't.  It turns out I've been missing a significant cultural phenomenon of our day.

Banksy is a pseudonymous British-based artist, sculptor, film director and painter.  While one of his movies was named Best Documentary Film of 2010, he is best known for his paintings on walls, trucks, and nearly any other public space—works known as "graffiti art."  He has painted on walls all over London, and in American cities such as New Orleans and New York City.

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Orphan pleads for a family—10,000 people respond

Davion Navar Henry Only tossing a basketball in the air, a screen grab from ABC News segment entitled Overwhelming Response to a Young Boy's Heartfelt Plea for a Family (Credit: ABC News via Youtube)Davion Navar Henry Only was born while his mother was in prison.  The 15-year-old has been in foster care his entire life.  In June, he learned that his mother had a criminal background including drugs and theft, and that she had died just a few weeks earlier.

Knowing that he was now alone in the world, Davion went to the front of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida and made a plea for a family.  "I'll take anyone," he said.  "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple.  I don't care.  And I would be really appreciative.  The best I could be."  In an interview with ABC News, Davion said, "If you can, reach out and get me and love me until I die.  I'm praying and still hoping.  I know God hasn't given up and I'm not either."

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Oreos as addictive as cocaine

Small boy sitting at a table dipping Oreos into a glass of milk (Credit: Jaimie Duplass via Fotolia)Studies show that Oreos are as addictive for laboratory rats as cocaine.  (Like us, they eat the filling first.)  In fact, researchers have discovered that Oreos activate significantly more brain neurons than even cocaine or morphine.

Now we learn that monster cereals are making a big comeback this Halloween.  You may remember Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry.  General Mills discontinued them in 2010, bringing them back only for Halloween each year.  Now the cereal manufacturer has announced plans to bring Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute back from the dead as well.

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What the Internet thinks of Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks to the press after leaving the U.S. Senate Chamber after a marathon attack on Obamacare at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 25, 2013. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)Today begins "Free Speech Week."  Launched in 2005, the week is designed as "a unifying celebration, elevating the vision of the Founding Fathers above the political fray and recognizing free speech as something we can all believe in and cherish."

Does it seem to you that free speech is more cherished or abused today?

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Special needs teenager bullied by anonymous texts

Shea Shawhan, a victim of bullying, with her mother, Keri Riddell, in the Plano West High School cafeterial where Shea is a junior (Credit: Keri Riddell via Facebook) "Shea should just have one of her seizures and die."  Shea Shawhan, an 18-year-old high school student, recently received this anonymous text.  She has the mental capacity of an eight-year-old, as the result of a brain injury she suffered at birth.  Nonetheless, she plays softball and is a cheerleader.

Another text she has received: "Why are u still here. Clearly no one wants you. U only have special needs friends. And ur ugly and have a horrible fashion sense. Honestly ur clothes suck."  Others are even more explicit and disgusting.  They are sent from fake phone numbers generated by Internet applications that hide the senders' identity.  Shea's mother has changed her daughter's phone number and blocked the fake numbers, but the texts have continued.

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