Thursday, December 06, 2007



Greetings Mr. & Mrs. Catholic and all you other Christians at sea. This week, after long thought, the Newsreel's intrepid reporters have decided to present for your erudition stories from off the beaten track regarding that most important of man's organs. (Sigh) No, not THAT one; (What blog do you think this is?) we mean the OTHER most important organ. That's right, this week we take at a look at the brain. And in order to help foster cognitive development, this week's Newsreel will have an interactive feature in which you, the reader, get to supply the humor. Brains! They're not just for zombies anymore. Now off to press.


One doesn't normally associate video games with brain power, however, a recent story from Wired Magazine may just change that perception. The next generation of video game joysticks, Wired tells us, may actually utilize brain controlled interfaces. "Consumer BCIs use noninvasive electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors attached to the scalp to detect brain-wave patterns. The signals are amplified and digitized, so a computer can process the information." (Insert your own Microsoft Windows joke here.) Sounds cool! However, "many scientists worry that users brains' might be subject to negative effects. (Insert your own ironic Grand Theft Auto joke here.) For example, the devices sometimes force users to slow down their brain waves. Afterward, users have reported trouble focusing their attention." (Insert your own typical teenager joke here.) "Most gaming companies contacted by Wired News, including LucasArts, Activision and Disney Interactive, would not comment on whether they're developing BCI games. Capcom and Eidos, however, say they're not."


One can't help but wonder how effectively BCI technology would operate on the subject of our next story. Ananova reports that "doctors treating a Chinese woman who complained of feeling weak discovered she only had half a brain." (Insert your own women's ordination joke here.) The entire left side of the woman's brain, which is the hemisphere commonly understood to control language functions, is simply not there. And yet, to the doctor's amazement, the "patient has no problem communicating with people... She graduated from high school with good marks. (Insert your own public education joke here.) Her memory is very good. She remembers phone numbers and names immediately."


Still, half a brain is surely better than almost no brain at all. An article from July's New Scientist tells the story of a Frenchman with an incredibly tiny brain. (Insert your own France joke here. Limit three per reader please.) "Scans of the 44-year-old man's brain showed that a huge fluid-filled chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue." (Okay, you can insert one more France joke here, but that's the last one.) Amazingly, although the man's brain is 50-75% smaller than the average, his IQ is close to normal and he is not considered mentally impaired in any way. In fact, according to his work record, he is more than capable of functioning adequately in his capacity as a government employee. (Insert your own presidential candidate joke here.)

So perhaps, dear readers, you may now be wondering why all the stories about limited mental capacity? Well, as the Catechism tells us, "Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law." But that doesn't mean we get to try the old "ignorance of the law" excuse when we happen to do something wrong. "Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man." Or to put it in our own inimitable way of speaking here at the Newsreel, there are some things even an idiot should know. "A material brain is much less powerful than the spiritual intelligence our souls have." said Father William G. Most. We tend to believe he was right.

What do you think?

Until next week, we sign off as always with the words of the great Les Nessman, "Good evening, and may the good news be yours."

(And go ahead and throw in one more France joke. You've earned it.)


Anonymous said...

What - no Hannibal Lector jokes? I thought this was a movie blog.

EegahInc said...

We tried to reach Sir Hannibal Lecter for a comment, but he was too busy polishing his Oscar too come to the phone. Sadly, our budget here wouldn't allow us to stay on hold during a transcontinental call.