Land-o-Links – 12/21/2005

Happy Braggin’ Rights Day!  I’ll have comments on the Illini-Mizzou game and Quin Snyder’s celebrity look-a-like after tonight.  Until then, here is the first installment of recommended reading on the web in Land-o-Links (I was going to call this recurring section the more clever “Land of Linkin'”, but then I realized that people might mistake me for some advocate of the band Linkin Park – which I certainly don’t want to happen, and Eric Zorn from the Chicago Tribune uses this title for his links):

1) Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – The water cooler talk around the nation today is centering around the case ruling that rejects Intelligent Design (I thought we resolved the debate on Evolution in public schools 80 years ago, but I digress).  Any random talking head blowhard can critique Intelligent Design, but the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has taken this issue to a spectacular level.

2) Oracle of Baseball – This is the baseball version of the Kevin Bacon game.  Plug in any two baseball players in history and the program will show you how they’re linked by teammates and teammates’ teammates over time.  For a baseball junkie such as myself, this is like crack with an angel dust chaser (if you’re a movie buff, the classic Oracle of Bacon is here).

3) Stricken Genius (click on “Read the stories”) – On a different note, if you haven’t seen this powerful front-page series on pianist Alexei Sultanov in the Chicago Tribune over the past few days, I urge you to take a few moments out of your day to do so.  Sultanov was a musical prodigy that won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition as a 19-year-old.  At the age of 30, he suddenly suffered 5 successive strokes that left him completely paralyzed and unable to walk or talk.  While Sultanov wasn’t able to move any other part of his body, he eventually was able to get his fingers to move enough to play the piano once again.  The greater point is that he was born with musical gifts that few had ever seen, yet the pressure of living up to his own high expectations of himself made him curse those gifts when he was healthy.  It took the loss of Sultanov’s gifts to get him focus back on why he had loved music in the first place.  With all of the stress and anxiety that we have in our personal and professional lives, taking the time to appreciate what we have is an old adage that never gets old.


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