5.31.02 - Braaaaaaains...
Ever wanted to see inside your
I remember a while back seeing
something called the Visible
Human Project. Some
medical, sciencey folks took a corpse, froze it, sliced it into a few thousand
incredibly thin slices, then photographed each slice. When put together,
this basically creates an animation that moves through the entire body, showing
it in incredible detail. Pretty neat (there's
a sample MPEG here).
link here reminds me of that,
only this isn't a sliced up corpse. This fellow took the data gathered by
an MRI of his own head, and somehow (he explains exactly how, actually, I just
don't understand it) made it into a series of movies. It's really amazing
stuff. It virtually slices away bits of his head so you can see
everything, all without requiring him to be dead! Very cool. The
movies are MPEG format, but the animated GIFS work quite nicely, too.
I think I'd like to have a peek
at my own brain, because, frankly, I've been having problems with it
lately. I can't seem to remember things I need to remember, such as to pay
my phone bill, but I can recall in great detail and without hesitation the
dandruff that clung to my second-grade teacher's eyebrows. Thanks!
However, since I can't view my
own brain, I thought I'd do some reading about brains instead, to see if I could
uncover the problem. Here's what I found:
Our brains have three
layers. The deepest and most ancient layer is the brain stem, or
"reptilian brain", and it handles all the basic stuff, like moderating
our breathing and heart rates, our "fight-or-flight" responses, and
other instinctual stuff such as breeding and eating. Naturally, I
have a problem with this.
Brains began evolving on this
planet hundreds of millions of years ago. Isn't it time for them to start
delegating? Especially now that we humans have such cool ones? Come
on, brain! Why are you still regulating my breathing? My lungs
should have the hang of it by now. It ain't hard. In, out, in,
out. Doesn't take a whole lot of practice. Same with my heart.
Lub-dub, lub-dub. Eating is a no-brainer, and we (meaning my brain and I)
should know by now that we are weak and scrawny and should always choose the
"flight" option over the "fight" option, yes? Our
first rule of Fight Club is RUN AWAY FAST. As far as my "mating"
impulses go, sheez! My dick can handle it. I assure
you. It's ready to go.
And I'm not saying my brain
shouldn't keep an eye on things, because I don't trust my dick any farther than
I can throw it, and my lungs are probably holding a grudge by now. All I'm
saying is, let's distribute some of the lesser tasks to free up some brainpower
where it's needed.
The next layer of the brain is
the limbic, or "mammalian" brain. Like the reptilian brain, the
limbic is non-linear, non-logical, and non-verbal. And non-useful,
by the sound of it! Am I right, folks? No, it actually does
stuff. It basically stores long-term memories, and takes care of our
emotions. Interestingly, the nerve network that now handles emotions and
moods and feelings used to handle smell. This explains why, when
you smell something, for example, Bazooka bubble gum, you instantly have
violent, angry, vengeful feelings. This is because Keith Stone, who used
to beat you up regularly, always chewed Bazooka bubble gum. This
may only apply to those of you whom Keith Stone used to beat up regularly
Obviously, my life would be a
lot smoother if I got rid of some emotions. The violent, vengeful emotions
I mentioned a moment ago, when coupled with the weak and scrawny attributes I
mention two moments ago, obviously will never do me any good. So, they're
gone. Anxiety, embarrassment, paranoia... brain, you can just scotch-tape
those switches in the "on" position and walk away, don't you
think? And hell, we ride the bus a lot. Surely we can save some time
and delegate feelings like "disgust" and "revulsion" back to
the smell network.
The third and most recently
evolved layer is the aptly named "human" brain, which is divided into
two parts, or "hemispheres", the right and the left. The left
brain is cognitive, mackin' with da fresh speech, language, and reasoning
shiznit. The right brain, meanwhile, handles imagination and intuition,
and is associated with creativity. Now we're making progress! First,
we can slash the imagination budget in half. Christ, we spent most of this
morning feverishly imagining we were a starting pitcher for the New York Mets,
and despite all that time and brainpower, we are not a starting pitcher for the
New York Mets. We are a doofus who scraped our knuckles on the wall while
practicing our wind-up and release in the mirror. Okay? Now,
intuition is useful, although we need to install a relay that tells us to do the
opposite of what our intuition tells us, because our intuition is always
In terms of the left brain, our
speech centers are not in great demand since we forgot to pay our phone bill,
and reasoning, as this update probably proves, is not serving us too well and
might as well be tossed.
Language, well, I guess we
should hang on to that bit. You hear me, brain? Don't start, um...
y'know... pulling... any, uh... whatchacallum... plugs... on the uh... lang...
langa... wordy... things. No need... um. Mess. With... them...
bits. You... hear me? Brai... bra... thinky thing? No... do...
Um. Oh. Poop.
5.30.02 - From
Jerk to Shining Jerk
I was trying to determine how I would explain the world around me if I had never
been taught about the world around me. I came up with a giant greasy lemon
behind the sky, an evil hole that stole heat from the ground, and a few other
drunken attempts at humor that prove it's a damn good thing I'm not in charge of
coming up with explanations for thing.
And today, I shall
continue! Tired of looking up at the sky, I cast my uninformed gaze at the
lumpy land around me, and spot:
Crap! Da hell is this thing? It's big, it's wet, and when I run
excitedly to examine and/or hug it, the waves knock me down and bounce me along
the bottom and get muck in my mouth and water in my ears, and I have to spend
days knocking my hand against the side of my head, until one night I'm trying to
sleep and the water comes out of my ear with a soft "gloog" and it's
all warm and gross. I hate the ocean, or as I have named it, BigBlueJerk.
BigBlueJerk also becomes the
first member of my intricate system of gods and deities. I figure with so
much around me I couldn't really explain with my tiny, limited mind, with so
many wonders in the world, with so many huge, incomprehensible forces of nature
out there, I would determine that there were powers at work, powers that defied
explanation, powers that dwarfed both me and the land in which I lived, powers
that existed long before I arrived on the scene and would continue long after I
had gone. Powers that completely, utterly, and absolutely hated my
ass and would take every opportunity to fill my mouth with muck, both literally
and figuratively. Thus, my god system, named TheManagement, was
are all part of TheManagement. There are mean ones, like wolves and lions,
that are faster than I am and chase me and try to eat me. I don't like
them. There are rabbits and birds, that I chase and try to eat, but can't
catch. I don't like them, either. There are some, like
elephants, that are big and slow, and I can catch them but can't hurt them with
my feeble and pathetic attempts at violence. Plus, I step in their poop a
lot. So I hate them. Then, there are little tiny ones, like bugs,
who bite me and fly up my nose when I'm running from the fast animals that are
chasing me. I hate all of them. I name these gods, collectively, Bitch.
I spend most of my time glaring sullenly at them while eating dirt and grass.
Trees and Plants:
Trees and plants completely suck. I am unaware, naturally, that I am
dependant upon plants to provide the oxygen that I breathe, so I can't really
see any use for them. No way in hell would I ever have figured out how to
burn wood, how to use leaves and roots medicinally, or how to chop down trees or
build shelter. Trees seem to be around for members of Bitch to hide in and
jump on my head in an attempt to eat me, as well as for other members of Bitch
to scamper up when I am chasing them in hopes of eating them. Branches
scratch me and leaves make me itch and undergrowth is hard to walk around
in. When, after giving up on eating the small, fluffy members of Bitch, I
eat berries from the plants and they make me extremely sick and give me horrible
wet gas. Plants and trees are the very essence of TheManagement, and I
therefore name them... well, I don't so much as name them, as give them a
dismissive wave and make a noise like: "gaaahhhHHHH" when referring to
Eggs: Eggs are
gods, too. And I'm not saying that simply because I forgot to change the
egg graphic up on the top left this week. Really.
Mountains: Mountains are
pretty, but hard to climb. Still, I would climb one of them, the tallest
one I could find, simply to get away from BigBlueJerk and *dismissive wave*
"gaaahhhHHHH" and hopefully all the hurtful members of Bitch. It
looks pretty quiet up there, and I figure I can sit and sulk in peace, and
possibly eat passing PuffyFloatingThings for sustenance. Of course, it
takes me months to climb the damn thing, and it's cold and windy and I fall down
a lot and cry and occasionally try to catch and eat the members of Bitch I see,
but they are nimble and jump around on the cliff walls and I have to eat rocks
and ice. Finally, though, I reach the summit, make myself a little home
out of rocks and dead branches, stuck together with some Bitch poop I find,
discover I can't eat the PuffyFloatingThings, and settle down to live an
extremely sulky but hopefully short life. And then the damn top of the
mountain explodes, and this hot red stuff shoots out melts my loving, stinky
home, and ash fills the air, and I have to run all the way back down.
Mountains, or DEATHPAINHATE,
as I call them, are obviously gods. Huge gods. UpperLevelManagement.
5.29.02 - It
page! Thanks to Bob for the great suggestion!)
Back when people started being
more like people and less like monkeys, they began to wonder about stuff.
What was this big thing they were living on? What was all that stuff in
the sky? Why did it rain, and snow? What was the deal with trees and
earthquakes and butter and horses? Why was King of the Hill still
on when it obviously sucked? Y'know?
Someone had to come up with
answers, which at that point, were just guesses. Take the sun, for
instance. At different points in history, and in different parts of the
world, different people thought different things about the sun. It was a
god to be worshipped, it was a chariot, a celestial fire, a burning mask, a
woman carrying a torch... it was even the result of a bet between an owl and a
This is all well and good, but
the real question here is: what do I think? Or rather, what
would I have thought? See, sometimes, I just wonder how I would
have explained certain things if I hadn't already been told what they
were. Hey, it's either think about that or think about spreadsheet
Let's say I was raised out in
the wild, by wolves or rats or dingos, or just by incredibly dumb people who
didn't know anything. Surely, I would look around and wonder about things,
and come up with explanations and names for them on my own. Right?
So, how would I have explained things like the sun and moon and seasons and Sam
Donaldson's eyebrows? That's my goal today: To think of what I would
have thought of.
It's tough to be objective at
this point, however. There's already stuff in my head, crammed there by
teachers and parents and books and loud-mouths who couldn't let me figure things
out for myself. How can I clear my head of all the information already in
there? How can I completely rid myself of all knowledge and judgment?
The answer seemed obvious: I had nine beers, which always destroys any judgment
I have, and then I sat down and tried to explain things:
The Earth: The
Earth is big. You can walk a long time and not find the end of it.
You can walk for weeks and not even find a decent pizza place. So, it's
big. In fact, it continues on forever. And isn't round. It
isn't flat, either. It's hella bumpy, especially in the San Francisco Bay
Area. There's all sorts of hills and things that are hard to walk up, and
that pisses me off. I'd say the earth is shaped like a blanket thrown over
a scattered bunch of legos. Kinda lumpy. LumpyDirtLand is the
name I would have given it. It doesn't move or float or revolve or
anything like that; since it goes on forever there's nowhere for it to move
to. Sometimes it shakes, which I think probably means it's growing more
stupid hills for me to walk up.
The Sun: I'd
say... it's a hole in the sky, and on the other side is, um... something
yellowish. Maybe a big lemon. The sun is also evil. It's
obvious that it's sucking all the heat out of LumpyDirtLand. I mean, the
sun comes up and it starts getting really warm around here, as the heat comes
out of the ground. When it's right overhead, the heat is really pouring
out of the ground and up to the hole in the sky. Stupid sun! Taking
our heat! Die! It makes us sweat, too, which means it's stealing the
water right out of our bodies! I'd name it HotRoundHole. And
then I'd realize how completely dirty that sounded and call it StupidHoleInSky.
It makes us turn pink if we take off our clothes when it's around, probably
because it thinks we should be embarrassed about our naked bodies, which,
frankly, we should be. At least, I should be. The only things that
stop the dastardly, evil StupidHoleInSky are:
The Clouds: They
save our heat by blocking StupidHoleInSky and they look like you could eat
them. I bet you could bounce on them, too. I call them PuffyFloatingThings.
When they get gray, they start dropping water on LumpyDirtLand, to fill up the
oceans and rivers and to give us our sweat back. They also shoot heat back
down to LumpyDirtLand with lightning, which I'd call YellowJabbyLines.
Every time that happens, the StupidHoleInSky gets mad and knocks the big lemon
over, which makes thunder, or as I'd name it, HolyShitThat'sLoud.
But we just laugh! Stupid StupidHoleInSky!
The Moon: The moon
is another hole in the sky, but it doesn't seem to be sucking anything out of
the Earth. In fact, it makes it so we can see at night, so I call it NiceHoleInSky.
I'm hoping it will take over the StupidHoleInSky, which it seems to be trying to
do. I mean, the StupidHoleInSky is never out at night, but sometimes the
NiceHoleInSky is out during the day, which leads me to believe it's going to
pounce on StupidHoleInSky one of these days and totally kick StupidHoleInSky's
ass. Thing is, whoever controls the NiceHoleInSky hole sometimes puts the
lid on it. Really slowly. You look up, and every night the lid is a
little bit more covering the hole. Must be a damn heavy lid, or else the
NiceHoleInSky Guy is just a huge weak pansy. Once I saw him try to put his lid
on StupidHoleInSky but it just slid off the other end. Damn. That
big lemon must be covered in grease or something.
Stars: Stars are a
bunch of small holes poked in the sky. They're not stupid or nice. They're
just kinda there. I probably don't notice that they move, because, sheez,
I have better things to do than stare at the goddamn sky all the time. I
guess I call them TeenyHolesInSky. Shooting stars-- er, I mean,
Shooting TeenyHolesInSkys are when a TeenyHoleInSky is nice and tries to give us
some heat back, maybe some heat that PuffyFloatingThings missed
somehow. It's only a tiny bit of heat, so the StupidHoleInSky doesn't
notice, and doesn't get mad and knock the huge lemon over.
The Seasons: There
are four seasons. There is FuckIt'sHotOut, GoddamnLeavesEverywhere,
FreezingMyNutsOff, and Spring.
Man. There's a lot of
stuff to figure out and explain! I haven't even done animals or trees or
clog dancing yet. I'll have to pick this up tomorrow, I think.
Oh, and I call
Or, TheRealReasonYouComeHere! We've got Shite Price, where
you can see how much your poop is worth! If you're going to use the
restroom at work, simply start the Shite Price timer, then stop it when you get
back, and it will tell you how much your bowel movement just cost the company
(in pounds, not dollars, so you Yanks will have to convert it). Also, get
ready to squint! We've got Guimp, which is the world's smallest
website. There are even games there. Tiny ones! Finally, a
neat Flash game called Hexxagon. It's fun and tricky! Links are on
the left-hand sidebar in a box that looks like this:
Week on Not My Desk!