Wandering Eye: Cop found not guilty of killing dog, Hopkins' dolphin video game, and more

Hopkins neurologist John Krakauer's team of computer game designers gets a long and impressive look from The New Yorker's Karen Russell this week, and even if you're familiar with their work (they are the geniuses who are changing the way stroke victims recover by using FUN), the story is worth your time. Omar Ahmad, Kat McNally (who is on my volleyball team), and Promit Roy have created a computer game that allows players to inhabit a dolphin named Bandit, controlling its movements with their arms. The hope is that stroke victims will be able to regain much more range and strength this way. "You're learning the ABCs again—the building blocks of action," Krakauer told Russell. "You're not thinking about your arm's limitations. You're learning to control a dolphin. In the process, you're going to experiment with many movements you'd never try in conventional therapy." The game itself—the effort put into making the dolphin's movements realistic, the graphics, the design of the backgrounds and the tasks—all had to be top notch, because the computer team is also commercializing it as a game ("Bandit's Shark Showdown" was among the first apps designed for the relaunched Apple TV in October). "It's not sufficient to say, 'Take this, it's a medicine,'" Krakauer said. "Physical therapy is boring and difficult and uncomfortable, and I planned to ask my patients to spend two hours a day working hard in this virtual world." Russell was apparently impressed. "Just watching that shiver in the water," she wrote, "I knew it was alive." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

The Oxford American's Southern music issue is always a treat and this year's edition, which focuses on Georgia, is no different; hell, it might even be a little better than usual. There's David Ramsey on Little Richard and Amanda Petrusich on the Allman Brothers and, most important, Kiese Laymon on legendary Atlanta rap duo OutKast. Laymon's piece, "Da Art Of Storytellin' (A Prequel)' is a personal essay on what OutKast means to Laymon (and through that, so many other listeners) but it is also a deep dive into the complexities of being black in the South and finally a rumination on the nature of "stank"—the "roots and residue of Southern poverty, devalued black Southern labor, black Southern excellence, black Southern imagination, and, black Southern women magic," Laymon writes. It's a word employed by OutKast quite frequently (its 2000 album was titled "Stankonia") and, in a sense, is an adjustment to the way George Clinton used the word "funk." Laymon does a lot of things in this essay. He tells his story, he tells his grandmother's story, he charts a still-oft-ignored narrative of the hip-hop generation (Southern hip-hop's influence years before crunk broke), and he close-reads one of OutKast's most devastating songs ('Da Art of Storytellin' (Pt. 2)') and compared OutKast's "Aquemini" to Octavia Butler's "Kindred." (Brandon Soderberg)

 

Jeffrey Bolger, the Baltimore Police officer who allegedly said "I'm gonna gut that thing" before slitting the throat of a Shar Pei that was loose, was acquitted on all charges yesterday, as The Sun reports. "Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death of a seven-year-old Shar-Pei named Nala, when he slit the dogs throat in June 2014," reports Jessica Anderson. "Bolger was charged with mutilating an animal, animal cruelty and misconduct in office." So what was missing in the case? The judge was convinced the officer was acting in the interest of safety and that the dog, according to testimony from Maryland's Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler, likely died before having its throat cut. (Brandon Weigel)

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