NOTICE: Posting schedule is irregular. I hope to get back to a regular schedule as the day-job allows.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Poking fun at myself... [Full link to blog for email clients.][FT:C44]

There is a bit of fun going around internet and Facebook this week, regarding how a noted Science Fiction author might order pizza. [ for the link impaired.]

As I write to educate about the brain, and particularly how to incorporate brain science in SF, I also read about the skills that writers must develop.  A particular weakness of beginning writers is the tendency to "infodump" and put too much background information into the writing (often in the opening of the novel.)

David Weber is a master at the "As you know, Bob..." method of inserting small background descriptions into his stories, hence the humor in the above link.

Another board has been playing around with the idea, poking fun at SF authros and their writing styles.  If I can get permission, I will post links as they go up.  One that I created for Novelist Stephanie Osborn is here.  [] (To understand the humor in the post, it helps to know that Steph was a NASA payload specialist and spent many shifts in Mission Control.  The style and lingo sneak out in her books.]

Then it occurred to me that I might be setting myself up to be parodied in the manner. 

Well, far be it from me to resist, in fact, I'll do it myself.  So sit back, have a breadstick, and read:

How Speaker to Lab Animals orders pizza... 

"First let's look at how speech patterns are generated. Just as important as Broca's area in the left frontal lobe of the brain is Wernicke's area which is located at the junction of the temporal and parietal lobes - in fact it is directly in the path of projections from hearing and vision centers, which is logical since Wernicke's area mainly processes language that we see and hear. The proximity to the temporal lobe memory processing regions is also important since the brain must match sight and sound against memory to determine what is real language vs. nonsense syllables... 

"... vocal processing involves many different muscular systems. The actual pitch and tone of speech comes from loosening or tightening neck muscles. The 'vagus nerve' (also known as Tenth Cranial Nerve) controls the throat or internal muscles, while the 'accessory nerve' (Eleventh Cranial) controls external neck muscles. The tongue is controlled by a complex of nerves including the 'glossopharyngeal' (Ninth Cranial), vagus, and 'hypoglossal' (Twelfth Cranial) nerves... 

"...thus the mechanism for mouth movements is directly controlled by cranial nerves and does not require much of the spinal cord and conventional motor cortex. This is one reason why 'locked-in' quadriplegic patients learn to use neck, tongue and facial muscles for control of wheelchair and computer. Of course, speech still requires enough airflow to cause the vocal cords to vibrate. Without sufficient spinal cord activity to take a deep breath and let it out slowly, it is not possible to speak... 

"...Broca's area is the brain region most associated with speech, and as with many of the specialized brain processing areas, is closely located next to the face and neck areas of the motor cortex. In addition, it sits directly over the arcuate fasciculus, a subsurface bundle of nerve projections from the sensory association areas (including Wernicke's area) to the frontal cortex... 
"Extra-large original crust. Extra pepperoni, extra cheese.

"No breadsticks."


"Thirty-five minutes? Thanks."

"The sense of time passing is intriguing, for while there is no specific 'timer' in the brain such as in computers, there are many oscillatory rhythms which may fulfill a similar function..."

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