A Belated Yearly Checkup

We started Eat Our Brains over on Blogger with the first post being dated 24 October 2006.

In the year and month since we started EoB, we’ve written 737 posts and, between us and our readers, have generated over 5,319 comments.

Kismet means fate in several middle eastern languages and came to English from the Turkish. Akismet is our comment spam filtering service/plugin and it ROCKS.

As of a few minutes ago, we were 52 away from 20,000 comment spams.

So, for every one comment we get, we get 4 spams.

I guess we can think of them as zombies.

They want our brains.

JUMPER the Movie: A Survey

Okay, I’ve been thinking about my (quite easy) posts dealing with the movie news about the Jumper movie.

Boring? Inappropriate? Gross self-promotion?

I mean, Brad once produced an entire video documentary that might as well have been titled, “Steven Gould: Wanker or… Wanker?”

I’ve actually duplicated all the posts about the movie on my own recently renovated site and I’m wondering if I should just put them there and do the occasional one line pointer from here when there is new posts. (Two actually: one and two.)

So, could you sound off in the comments for this post. I will be putting the news on my site but it’s very easy to put the same post at each location. Please indicate your preference (Braniacs, too, please.)

Sign from the Stick Figures In Peril Flickr Group for no particular reason (though I wouldn’t want to live where the sign is relevant.)

Sightings of Jumper in Meatspace

So, Meatspace is that non-cybernet area where you haul your meat around. In this case, specifically, I’m talking about hauling your meat to the cinema.

I’ve been told that the Jumper trailer was playing in front of American Gangster and Hitman in theaters (though I haven’t seen it myself on the big screen.) I’ve also been told that people are seeing largish displays (in one case a very large, over sized poster, maybe ten feet high.)

If you’ve seen the trailer or the poster, out there, or TV spots, perhaps, could you comment here and let me know?

A Cross to . . . uh, Bear

What a (fuzzy) friend we have in Jesus

This is Jesus.  He is a teddy bear.  He is warm, fuzzy, cuddly, and stuffed with straw (on account of He was born in a manger).

Everybody loves Jesus.  After all, He’s a teddy bear.  And who doesn’t like teddy bears?

However, I must emphasize that I did not name him Jesus.  He came with that name.  So if you don’t like it, don’t blame me.

I guess, though, that you do have to blame me for this: 

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Wait; What? College Quidditch??

This is just way too cool. An Earth-bound version of Quidditch has come to college campuses.

Check out this post by Scientist, Interrupted, who has lots more details.

For the first time in my life, I’m envious that I am no longer even remotely college age-able, and can’t play too. Maybe I should see if I can get a local amateur team together. In my copious free time, of course.

College Life Today

Anthropology professor Michael Wesch:

This video was created by myself and the 200 students enrolled in ANTH 200: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, Spring 2007. It began as a brainstorming exercise, thinking about how students learn, what they need to learn for their future, and how our current educational system fits in. We created a Google Document to facilitate the brainstorming exercise, which began with the following instructions:

“… the basic idea is to create a 3 minute video highlighting the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. We already know some things from previous research (and if you know of any interesting statistics, please list them along with the source). Others we will need to find out by doing a class survey. Please add whatever you want to know or present.”

My favorite factoids from the statistical average student in the video:

“I will read 8 books this year, 2300 web pages, 1281 Facebook profiles. I will write 42 pages for class this semester and over 500 pages of email.”

Track Your Child/Spouse/Employee

This is the Trackstickâ„¢ II Personal GPS Tracker.

Little Snitch
It records where it has been and when. This is its only purpose. You can’t use it to rescue someone–it doesn’t transmit where they are. You can’t use it to give someone directions. It won’t tell the carrier where they are. Only after you’ve retrieved it (from a car, from a purse, from a briefcase, from the lining of someone’s coat) can you get the information.

So, why are you using this?

To spy on a person’s movements and, from physical locations, their associates.

It’s only 200 bucks after all. 2.5 meter accuracy. On board USB 2.0 port. 1Mb programmable flash memory. Weatherproof ABS housing.

Why wouldn’t you?

Probably because money isn’t the only cost of betraying trust.

About Books

Free Books

I grew up in a house where everybody read, a lot. Books were allowed at the dinner tables. (Watching TV was not.) At the same time, I grew up in a house where buying books was seen as frivolous and a complete waste of money. In my mother’s mind, you read a book and you were done and to spend money on something you could get for free at the library was, well, worse than pointless. It was wrong.

I had a shelf of books—birthday and Christmas gifts mostly. Horse books and these compendiums of stories, articles, jokes and projects that I don’t think exist anymore. Books were precious. I went through scads of them—at least seven a week at the library–and the threat of not having a book hangs over me to this very day. Something in my soul just went zing when I got an email from Frugal Panda called 17 Ways to Get Free Books. Some of them, like Project Gutenberg and BookCrossing were familiar to me. Others, like SF-Books, socialib, and PaperBackSwap were totally new.

If you’ve got too many books, if you want more books, or both, check out the info on Frugal Panda’s site.

Reading and Books

Darby Dixon, at Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks, posted a link to an article in the Sunday Herald about falling reading rates in Russia. Seems that when reading was a political act, or when your only alternative was Soviet TV and radio, lots and lots of red people read.

In 1991, the year the Soviet Union imploded, 48% of young Russians systematically consumed literature. By 2005 that figure had shrunk to just 28%.

And for the next generation, things can only get worse.

What is being called a systematic crisis even extends to the traditional bedtime story for children. In the 1970s, 80% of parents read aloud to their children. Today the figure is just 7%

Probably because it is easier to sit a kid in front of a TV than read to them. And while we all complain about kids spending too much time in front of the TV–they do! they do!–as a parent I can remember times when I wished my kid would spend more time in front of the TV. Darby’s post is called “Congratulations America! You’ve Won the Cold War. ” It does seem to me to say something about reading, consumerism, and entertainment. But what it says is not entirely clear. In the 1800’s, people bemoaned the rise of novels and predicted that reading them corrupted youth, particularly young women. Now we say that about video games, particularly with regards to young men. A weird kind of progress there. Is it bad that Russians have something better to do than read? Only if you believe that there is almost nothing better to do than read.

Glamor Strikes!

Alerted by the Ever Fabulous Joss Whedon ™, who wrote an excellent rebuttal, I went over to nytimes.com to read an article about the WGA strike. I was amused to learn that because writers may not toil in greasy overalls or work in a service industry (at least in the most restrictive sense of the term) we are, as a class, people who drink designer water, wear arty glasses (?) and sip lattes. In the world of the New York Times it seems that this is what I, as a writer, am supposed to look like:

Madame Recamier

Oddly, not so much. Most writers I know are more like something out of Barton Fink:

John Turturro, hard at work

Except maybe without the snazzy 40’s clothes and the next door neighbor who’s the Devil. Let’s face it: writers have an image problem. Raise hands, Brains: who here has never had someone say some variation on the following to them:

  • Yeah, I have an idea for a book. We could write it together and split the money.
  • We really like you, we’d like to hire you, but since you’re a writer you’re likely to quit the minute your book hits the bestseller lists, and we can’t afford that.
  • I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I never had the time.
  • It must be so nice not to have to work for a living.

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Communicating at the Speed of Sight

Remember that really cool scene in “The Return of the King,” when Pippin lights the signal fire in Gondor, and like a majestic game of tag, signal fires on mountain peaks between there and the riders of Rohan light up one after the other? This post in the blog Cabinet of Wonders gave me the same goose bumps.

By 1793, …Claude and his brothers had set up a telegraph line which ran between two locations near Paris, approximately 26 km apart. Having several allies within the new government, they received permission to test the line. The messages took approximately 10 minutes to transmit, an unheard-of speed at that time – and government people were there to see it happen.

This caused such excitement that within two weeks a decision had been made to establish a national telegraph system, and Claude Chappe was named Ingénieur Télégraphe (Telegraph Engineer), working for the government. Money was appropriated for the construction of a line of fifteen stations from Paris to Lille, at the frontier with the Austrian Empire; this line, when it was complete, could transmit a message in a little over half an hour, a key tool in the war between France and the Empire, as it meant the Capital could keep up on events as they happened.

Blogger Heather MacDougal reports that even today, you can see the towers that communicated the semaphore signals that France developed back then.

I have to say, Cabinet of Wonders is a fascinating blog, full of well researched, informative posts by a lively writer. I highly recommend it.

The Becca Papers

I’ve known and adored Becca since the late 1990’s. She’s one of the warmest people I know, and one of the hardest-working, among many other excellent qualities. And John, her husband, is one of the most alive people I’ve ever met.

But Becca has one serious, nearly unforgivable, flaw. It is this:

She’s probably smarter than I am.

Which, unfortunately, means that she’s definitely smarter than you are.

I know… I know…. This is tough to deal with. We’re all used to always being able to convince ourselves that we’re the smartest person in the room. It took me three or four years to cope. Eventually, you’ll be okay about it, too, as I am. It’s not really her fault, and she tries to slow down for the rest of us, but you can tell that it’s sometimes a strain for her.

She’s in her second year of med school at UTMB, and is doing quite well, thank you very much. Because it’s a foregone conclusion, we already call her Doctor Becca, though she hates that .

She’s given me permission to post a couple of pages from her journal, on the subject of cadavers. I find some of the advanced medical terms used by her and her colleagues to be a bit over my head, but I’m going to look the words up soon. The good thing is that it gives me even more faith in the professionalism and deep stores of arcane knowledge possessed by our doctors.

I’ve placed it below the cut because of the extreme graphic nature of her descriptions.

And now, without further ado, the Becca Papers –

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Cotton-Eyed Vanessa

I’d never heard of Vanessa-Mae before last week. You may not have, either. She’s a big star in Europe, though.

She’s a Singapore-born conservatory-trained violin prodigy, who in her teens decided to depart from classical music for the baser pleasures of what she calls ‘violin techno-acoustic fusion’. She’s a major hottie. She has the coolest violin imaginable.

And sometimes, she just plain gits down, Texas style.



Addendum: Here’s a big YouTube hit of hers — The Devil’s Trill. It’s more techno-fusionoid. She’s still got the cowgirl thang happening in it, though. Yay!

Addendum #2:  Well.  We might as well include her glossy exhibition of pure techno remix disco-sex while we’re at it — I Feel Love.


112 Degrees F

So, we’ve already had snow this year (yesterday and the day before) though it’s all melted now. Pretty big, fluffy flakes.

Today, though, the high was 43 Fahrenheit but mostly sunny. I’ve talked about my office before. I built it the summer of 2006 in the backyard. You can see photos here and here and here. Here’s one of those shots.

Notice the two white rectangles on the otherwise bare stucco wall (left side.) They were part of the design from the beginning and I intended to use them much earlier but I didn’t do it until this month. Continue reading