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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Support the Virtual Troops 

Check out my latest Photoshopping doodad. Click on it for the larger version. You can also order your own bumper sticker version! (Thanks to Pat H for reminding me about CafePress.)

Speaking of Which

Speaking of supporting the troops, you'll be happy to know injured vets are getting all the help they need.
Mostly what the soldiers do together is wait: for appointments, evaluations, signatures and lost paperwork to be found. It's like another wife told Annette McLeod: "If Iraq don't kill you, Walter Reed will." . . .

A board of physicians must review hundreds of pages of medical records to determine whether a soldier is fit to return to duty. If not, the Physical Evaluation Board must decide whether to assign a rating for disability compensation. For many, this is the start of a new and bitter battle.
Meanwhile, President Bush wants to cut veteran benefits in order to balance the budget. (Hey look -- it's the Bradenton Herald! Flashbacks, anyone?)

Full Circle

And to bring it all back together: A new report says that surgeons who play video games are more skilled.
A study has found a direct link between skill at video gaming and skill at keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery. Young surgeons who spent at least three hours a week playing video games in the past made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster, and scored 42% better overall than surgeons who had never played a video game at all.
You heard it hear first.


More mindless violence will help you prepare for laparoscopic surgery.

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me 

Yesterday I made a new music video -- this one for the Geto Boys' classic track "My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me", using clips from Shakespeare's play Macbeth. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Mark 

Today is the birthday not only of French SF grandmaster Jules Verne, but also my brother Mark (pictured at right).

As brothers, we fought plenty whilst growing up. He used to like to tease me for various random reasons -- what I was wearing; the music I liked; my choice of cereal.

I remember he used to make fun of rap artists like Public Enemy and Run-DMC, claiming it was noise. (There's a lyric in "Run's House" stating that DMC is "wanted by every fan / across the land". Mark insisted he was saying "I wanna buy every fan" since he needed to bribe people to be his fans.) When Run-DMC and Aerosmith made the video for "Walk This Way," we argued bitterly over who the people in the crowd were there to see.

But we had good times as kids, too. We used to use cardboard bricks to build big fortresses, position Star Wars action figures on the parapets, and then shoot them off with rubber bands. We ate pancakes every Saturday morning whilst watching cartoons. Our house had two bathrooms, which shared a wall -- whenever we were both occupying one, he would knock on the wall and (for some reason) tell me that there was a green man outside the door eating a tunafish sandwich.

Mark is three years older than me, so in both elementary and high school, he was on his way out when I arrived on the scene. Once in second grade, I was eating lunch when his PE class came jogging by. He grabbed my sandwich and took a big, sweaty bite.

Once we moved out of the house and made it into adulthood, we quickly realized that there was no reason for us to be at odds. Our political evolution began around the same time, and we seemed to twist around each other when it came to social consciousness. We'd each explore some part of the world, share it with the other, and re-explore it ourselves. Before we knew it, we were side by side on picket lines and political meetings.

During my first year at New College (three hours south of Gainesville, where we grew up and where Mark was a student at the University of Florida), he helped to start an institution called the Civic Media Center. To celebrate its opening, they recruited Noam Chomsky to speak in Gainesville -- a tremendous event. Mark gave me some posters to put up at NC, and told me to attend, especially since he would be introducing Prof. Chomsky. But as a stupid greenhorn littlun, I passed -- and have regretted it ever since.

To say Mark's been there for me in good times and bad would be a disgraceful understatement. He's been a rugged lodestone in my life, a comforting continuum of laughter, compassion, and friendship. There's a closeness between us that can't be explained; it can (and often does) withstand months of silence (we're both so busy saving the world, we don't have time for family).

Today Mark is in Gainesville, raising heck with the Labor Party and honing his skills as a graphic designer. For a while before I moved up here to Madison, we both lived in Gainesville at the same time for the first time since high school. I loved being able to see him more often, and I wish it were possible today.

Love ya, bro -- I don't have time to send an empty CD case, so consider this your birthday gift. Take some time to relax and eat some catfish.


Blast trucks with Jetspeed! Somewhat amusing.

Today I'm listening to: Blackalicious!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Resistance, Records, and Rabble-Rousers (RIP) 

This is the Photohsop job I mentioned last time (click on it for a larger version). The idea came to me whilst watching an Army commercial. It would be so cool to get this as an actual bumper sticker. (What's the War Resisters League, you ask?)

How About That

Yesterday a student hipped me to a song by Colombian pop superstar Shakira, from her album with the silly name Oral Fixation Vol. 2. The song is called Timor, and -- yes -- it is all about East Timor and their struggle for peace and self-determination. Check out the lyrics.
It's alright, it's alright
If the news says half the truth
Hearing what we want's
The secret of eternal youth
We'll Miss You, Molly

Political columnist, author, and humorist par excellence Molly Ivins died on 31 January from breast cancer. She was 62.

I've loved Ms. Ivins for years -- her caustic wit and ruthless attention to detail were inspiring to me as both a writer and political activist. It's pretty rare that I am truly saddened by the death of someone I didn't know; the last time I felt like this was when Palestinian scholar Edward Said passed away.

Perhaps it's a government plot to eliminate our foremost thinkers on the left. However, no less a target of Ms. Ivins than George W. Bush himself -- Ms. Ivins is credited with the nickname "shrub" for Mr. B -- said:
I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase. She fought her illness with that same passion. Her quick wit and commitment to her beliefs will be missed.
I suppose he has to say something nice, but I still think the fact that he said more than one sentence speaks to her enduring quality as a person. Still, I'll give Ms. Ivins the last word:
Keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.

The new SBEmail is ahprettyprettygood!

Today I'm listening to: Jedi Mind Tricks!

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