Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brave New World and Jeanie Update

Lately, I've been spending quite a bit of time on the treadmill.  More than I'd like, actually.  But the doctor said I could stand to lose a few pounds and so I'm going to lose them. 

I don't really enjoy the treadmill, but I find that there is something about it that helps me think.  Helps to clear the head.  I get up there, start making my way up the endless incline, and all of sudden ideas start to flow. 

Some of them seem quite promising.  Others fall flat immediately when my heartrate slows.  Most are somewhere in between.  I'm not sure where tonight's idea falls on that spectrum.

Tonight, I found myself thinking about Christmas.  Now as any James Joyce fan will tell you, the stream of one's thoughts is sometimes difficult to follow.  In fact, I've been stuck on the same page of Ulysses for several years.  But I'm a bit better at observing the eddies in my own stream of consciousness than trying to read  an account of someone else's thoughts - and the thoughts about Christmas led me to think about potential presents for my sons.  And for my oldest boy, I started thinking about games.  Last year, the game that seemed to be in every mail-order toy catalog we received was Mattel's Mindflex

I haven't played Mindflex, but understand the basic premise: you wear a headset that picks up your brainwaves through some kind of home-version EEG contraption and, by manipulating your brain waves in some fashion you're able to control a fan that moves a ball.  Cool.  Kind of spooky but cool.

This year, I'm planning to knit quite a few presents.  And as I dropped off the treadmill for a few quick push-ups before getting back on my moving sidewalk, I found myself wondering whether we'll eventually have Mindflex-like controls for knitting.  I've read that scientists have been able to get monkeys to control robotic arms using similar brain wave technology.  In 20 years, will I be able to concentrate my thoughts and set in motion a pair of robotic knitting needles?  And if that technology is available, would I want to use it?  Would I miss the tactile aspects of knitting?  Would it make my knitting any faster?  Would it make my knitting any more even?  Was this all some sort of Daniel Dennett-esque treadmill-induced thought experiment for the crafty?  (And speaking of that, what is it like, exactly, to be a bat?  And why am I thinking about philosophy of mind when I'm stuck on this damn treadmill?)  But back to the knitting - if faster and more even is what I'm after, couldn't I just bite the bullet and buy a knitting machine?  I consider myself a bit of a luddite, and unlikely to adopt this kind of new technology if it were to become available - but Mrs. TSMK is hopelessly in love with her Kindle and I was exercising on a moving belt rather than simply taking a walk around the block, so who knows.

As for the Jeanie giveaway - things are going well.  I've received quite a few entries.  Most of the entries are correctly identifying at least one of the three lies.  Quite a few have picked two of them.  Only one, so far, has correctly identified all three lies.  But there are nine days left in the giveaway so we may end up in the tiebreak after all.  Please keep those entries coming, and stay tuned for the announcement of the winner.


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