Dive into the archives.
- The War Report
My friend Stacy, in the midst of berating me for the ‘naïve’, ‘romantic’ post I made last week commemorating 5 years of the Iraq war, linked me to Last of Iraqis, a fascinating, infuriating blog by a dentist living in Baghdad who writes under the name Mohammed.
He updates it regularly and has been keeping a steady log of the recent upsurge in violence. For those of us frustrated with the simplified war coverage by America’s threadbare media organizations, this sort of raw first person account is crucial.
Here is his latest entry:
At about 2am last night I woke up on the sound of a very fierce confrontation…there was no millisecond without a bullet and it was so so near, then helicopters started to fly over the area but they didn’t shoot so I think they didn’t have a clear target…the confrontation continued for about half an hour and suddenly it stopped and it was silent again and we were able to get back to sleep.
Today was a lot better than the days before…it was a bit silent and we had about 6 hours of electricity and the water was good. AlMaliki said while he was meeting some of the tribes’ Shaikhs in Basrah “The armed groups that fight the government forces are worst than AlQaida, they are acting according to foreign political interests that tries to make the political experiment in Iraq fail….we were talking about AlQaida while there was who are worst than AlQaida among us, in fact they created AlQaida…..We blame ourselves and take responsibility for being easy with them while the armed militias grew stronger…we have been tolerant and endurance for so long and I believe we are responsible…we were supposed to say NO from the beginning and stand for it….We didn’t come to basrah to be against a political current or a specific party because we don’t want to interfere in politics through a military confrontations”!!!! when and how did you become so smart Maloooki? What happened to you? Where is the old Maliki we know? I’m afraid the he have multiple personality disorder…but If he means it then that’s great although there is nothing easier than talking big words…trust can’t be gained like this and that fast.
- Watch your back
My friend Josh just sent me a link to this shot of Google Earth capturing what looks like a hand-to-hand in Chicago. We debated a little about whether something like this would be admissible in court, and in this case it would probably be considered circumstantial, but still, the writing is on the wall. The technology can only improve from here, so say goodbye to ‘public space’. And here I thought Google Earth was just an innocent tool for finding your old house, viewing crop circles, and ogling low res sun bathers. What a time to be alive.
UPDATE: They’ve removed the picture it seems. So much for the ‘total transparency’ silver lining. Anyway, all this Orwellian satellite stuff reminds me that this week is the 25th anniversary of the Strategic Defensive Initiative AKA Star Wars, Ronald Reagan’s trillion dollar 12-year-old boy fantasy. The project has been pared down considerably since the Halcyon days of the Cold War, but elements are still very much in effect.
One more thing – I just watched this documentary about how geopolitical conflicts have influenced the evolution of video games. Star Wars (mission shield not movie) was a major influence, of course. It’s a bit repetitive and heavy handed at times, but if you’re like me and don’t know much about video games, it’s interesting… Anyway, something to take our minds off the unblinking eye at least.
Google has been recruited by US intelligence agencies to help them better process and share information they gather about suspects.
Agencies such as the National Security Agency have bought servers on which Google-supplied search technology is used to process information gathered by networks of spies around the world.
Google is also providing the search features for a Wikipedia-style site, called Intellipedia, on which agents post information about their targets that can be accessed and appended by colleagues, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
- L I S T E N
You know when you first hear an amazing song, and it physically hurts to go through the day without listening to it, so you seek it out and listen to DJs who will probably play it, then eventually you get hold of the song yourself and you just mercilessly play and re-play it until anyone who shares space with you hates you a little bit? That’s where I am this week. For the past five or six days my life has been ruled by the Mission riddim by Baby G.
The Mission belongs to an elite category of riddims that, for some cosmic reason, command all vocalists who approach them to take their shit 1000% serious. There are no less than 4 genuinely great songs made off of this riddim, and there would be no reason to have a blog at all if I didn’t share them now. Enough intro here they are.
The Mission – Damian Marley featuring Stephen Marley
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Green Grass – Jah Cure
Cater For The Poor – Elephant Man
and last but most definitely not least I’m On The Rock – Mavado
- Portraits from Iraq
Taken from “First Person from the Front Lines” on MSNBC . Five years.
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Barak Obama – “A More Perfect Union” – Philadelphia, March 18 2008
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“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
- A Metalhead in Stone City: The diary of a Rick James roadie
Via the boards at okayplayer.com, I just came to know of the fascinating and hilarious tour diary written by John Sherman Watkins, a head banger from Texas who served as the pyrotechnician for the Rick James “Fire It Up” tour. It apparently consists of dozens of entries, but I’ve only seen the 4 or 5 posted up in the forums of rickjames.com.
Anyway this type of bizarre, mutually amusing, mutually enlightening culture clash is what VERY FEEL is about, so I wanted to pass on a couple of entries. In this first one, John meets Rick and the Stone City Band (“Believe it or not, in the early 80′s, Rick James was not getting a whole lot of air play on the heavy metal rock stations I listened to, so all I really knew about him I had learned from the few cassette tapes they sent me in the mail”) and Prince, who was the tour’s opening act. (“Hot pants and booties were all he had on”)
THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE TOO MUCH FUN CLUB or On the Road with Rick James!
Story #35 Pre-Purple Prince Part One
The first time I ever heard about Rick James was in 1980 when I got the phone call to go to work for him. I had just finished seven months on the KISS DYNASTY TOUR, but KISS had no immediate plans for going back out and they were not paying me a retainer either. This had been my first tour and I had loved it, but I did not know if there would be a life on the road for me after KISS. It had been unbelievable that I had gotten that job in the first place and as far as I knew my little dream was over.
- Habitus 03: Buenos Aires
My friend Josh makes an incredible magazine called Habitus. It’s a quarterly journal that explores the concept of diaspora, from inside, outside, above and below. The emphasis is on the Jewish experience, but it expands far beyond that. Each issue takes a different city for its subject. The latest is about Buenos Aires. It includes interviews with composer Osvaldo Golijov and photographer Marcelo Brodsky, fiction from Rodrigo Fresan, Anna Maria Shua, and Marcelo Birmajer, poetry from Alejandra Pizarnik, Tal Nitzan, and Mirta Rosenberg…and a rare interview with Jorge Luis Borges. An excerpt from it will be featured in the “Readings” section of April issue of Harper’s Magazine. (!)
I don’t actually have it yet (LOL), but the issues before it, Budapest and Sarajevo, were both eye opening and mind expanding. So Josh, hook that up.
To learn more and order, check the habitus site.
Here’s Josh’s introduction to the issue:
It’s winter in Buenos Aires, one of the coldest ever. This is a port city in the southern hemisphere—low and humid—and the winds here have a raw, sudden sting. People look restless. If they are outdoors, their heads are down. Most activity has been driven inside. All the life that usually takes place on the street has been corralled into narrow spaces. Noise floods out through the openings in every border or barrier.
- Absolutely mental.
Pretty soon we won’t need our bodies for anything.*
Unbeknownst to me (til about an hour ago), in recent years scientists have made amazing, creepy breakthroughs in the super-hi-tech, Jestsonian field of telekinesis. Thanks to companies like Ambient and Emotiv, the dream of moving material objects without physical contact – for so long a domain reserved exclusively for magicians and horror movie villains – is finally “within reach”. (Sorry)
According to New Scientist
A motorised wheelchair that moves when the operator thinks of particular words has been demonstrated by a US company. The wheelchair works by intercepting signals sent from their brain to their voice box, even when no sound is actually produced.
The company behind the chair, Ambient, is developing the technology with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, in the US.
The wheelchair could help people with spinal injuries, or neurological problems like cerebral palsy or motor neurone disease, operate computers and other equipment despite serious problems with muscle control. The system will work providing a person can still control their larynx, or “voice box”, which may be the case even if the lack the muscle coordination necessary to produce coherent speech.
That’s from a few months ago. Now the same company is out with a new project that allows ‘telepathic chat’. New Scientist again:
A neckband that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals has been used to demonstrate a “voiceless” phone call for the first time.
With careful training a person can send nerve signals to their vocal cords without making a sound. These signals are picked up by the neckband and relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice.
These stories are pretty amazing I think. The technology is obviously still rough and I guess the videos could be staged, but I doubt it. The writing is on the wall, and possibilities (good & bad) seem limitless. I was trying to think up some future applications when my hard gaming friend Stacy showed me this and I realized where all this is “headed”. (Sorry!)
If you thought the Nintendo Wii offered something different when it comes to gameplay, think again. The Project Epoc device from Emotiv brings human computer interaction to a whole new level, thanks to the leaps made in neuto-technology. This unique headset features a bunch of sensors that tune into your brain’s natural electric signals, detecting player thoughts, feelings, and expression. It is connected to different game platforms (from consoles to PCs) wirelessly, enabling gamers to control and influence a game purely by the power of the mind alone.