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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Off to Louisiana with senses on my mind and a song on my lips

In a few hours I'll be headed down South to Buras, Louisiana to see what damage Katrina wrought, and try to lend a hand or two to help. I'll try my best to post regularly while down there, but I don't know what the Internet situation will be.

Before I go, I wanted to mention an extremely interesting article I read in Wired's April issue (I know, I've been mentioning the mag a lot this past week). The piece is called Mixed Feelings by Sunny Bains and the tag line on it is:

See with your tongue. Navigate with your skin. Fly by the seat of your pants (literally). How researchers can tap the plasticity of the brain to hack our 5 senses — and build a few new ones.
Briefly, it talks about the adaptability of the human brain and describes several scientific experiments that show we can perceive the world in new unconventional ways. In one example, electrical pulses are applied to the human tongue to transmit visual information to the brain, enabling the subjects to "see" without their eyes. Interestingly, some people who have had their senses "hacked" have a difficult time adjusting back to the old ways of experiencing the world.

Reading these types of stories gives me the impression that we're on the verge of some pretty major advances in both medicine and the development of artificial intelligence. My guess is, the science will butt up against the usual resistance, especially in the faith communities.

Through loose association, the story brought to mind an old favorite song, and since I've been neglecting to post lyrics lately I thought I'd get back in the saddle.

Senses Working Overtime by XTC

Hey, hey, the clouds are whey
There's straw for the donkeys
And the innocents can all sleep safely
All sleep safely

My, my, Sun is pie
There's fodder for the cannons
And the guilty ones can all sleep safely
All sleep safely

And all the world is football-shaped
It's just for me to kick in space
And I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste
And I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to take this all in
I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to taste the difference
'tween a lemon and lime
Pain and pleasure
And the church bells softly chime

Hey hey, night fights day
There's food for the thinkers
And the innocents can all live slowly
All live slowly

My, my, the sky will cry
Jewels for the thirsty
And the guilty ones can all die slowly
All die slowly

And all the world is biscuit-shaped
It's just for me to feed my face
And I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste
And I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to take this all in
I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to taste the difference
'tween a lemon and lime
Pain and pleasure
And the church bells softly chime

And birds might fall from black skies
And bullies might give you black eyes
And buses might skid on black ice
But to me its very, very beautiful
Beautiful

And all the world is football-shaped
It's just for me to kick in space
And I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste
And I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to take this all in
I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to tell the difference
'tween the goods and grime
Dirt and treasure
And it's one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to take this all in
I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to taste the difference
'tween a lemon and lime
Pain and pleasure
And the church bells softly chime
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