Pharyngula

An unholy Frankensteinian fusion

We’re about to witness a monstrous event here on Scienceblogs.

Omnibrain: weird neuroscience from an inveterate smart-ass.

Retrospectacle: Parrots and hair cells with Shelley passing out the cookies.

Both are young graduate students in neuroscience, and both have decided to shut down their blogs…and

restart them as one freaky hybrid. They aren’t going away, they’re anastomosing.

There is one obstacle. They don’t know what to call this brand new twisted experiment in blogging, so they’re running a contest to name the new blog (they don’t mention it, but they’re also going to need a redesigned banner), and they’re giving away prizes for the best name: a free subscription to Seed, books, and a hodge-podge of other random science stuff.

I’m no good at the blog-naming biz — look at what I came up with for this one! — but all this talk of Shelley and Frankenstein brought to mind some obvious epithets: “abhorred monster”, “hideous progeny”, etc. I think they like their proposed merger, so those won’t do. So I searched on a full text version of Frankenstein and found the only place where the brain is mentioned in the whole book:*

To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death. I became acquainted with the science of anatomy, but this was not sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body. In my education my father had taken the greatest precautions that my mind should he impressed with no supernatural horrors. I do not ever remember to have trembled at a tale of superstition or to have feared the apparition of a spirit. Darkness had no effect upon my fancy, and a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength, had become food for the worm. Now I was led to examine the cause and progress of this decay and forced to spend days and nights in vaults and charnel-houses. My attention was fixed upon every object the most insupportable to the delicacy of the human feelings. I saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain.

Maybe I’m just morbid, but I think “Food for the worm” is an excellent name for a blog.

Somehow, I don’t think I’ll win any prizes. You people better take over.

*By the way, the next chapter contains the account of the revivification of the monster. It’s not very dramatic — no lightning bolts, no creaking chains in an old castle, no grisly stitchery of corpses. Frankenstein just does it, leaving the method unexplained.

Comments

  1. #1 I don't think I'm owning up to this one
    January 28, 2008

    You could merge the names: Retro Brain … or Omnispectacle. Mua ha ha!

  2. #2 Mike Fox
    January 28, 2008

    Blogenstein: It works, bitches.

  3. #3 Aaron
    January 28, 2008

    Try “Inheritance of the Worm,” it’s more poetic. In fact, I may just have to use it for one of my own projects… :-P

  4. #4 Will E.
    January 28, 2008

    Frankenstein, in book or movie form, is usually seen as an indictment of a man trying to play God, therefore affirming the rightness of theism and belief. I take it more as a condemnation of a god who created a flawed man and tries to avoid the responsibilities inherent in such; Dr. Frankenstein is actually the murderer of his friends and loved ones, and not the poor Monster, who is only doing what his master made him to do. I see Frankenstein as a rationale for atheism–maybe Percy Shelley’s influence on his wife’s work?

    So… hmmm… Pity the Hideous Progeny?

  5. #5 Moggie
    January 28, 2008

    inveterate smart-ass

    First read as “invertebrate smart-ass”.

    I suppose “two heads are better than one” would be unwieldy.

    By the way, it’s pronounced Fronkensteen.

  6. #6 TomS
    January 28, 2008

    Frankenstein just does it, leaving the method unexplained.

    In the best tradition of intelligent design.

  7. #7 Thony C.
    January 28, 2008

    no lightning bolts, no creaking chains in an old castle, no grisly stitchery of corpses

    …because she hadn’t seen the film when she wrote the book!

  8. #8 Claire
    January 28, 2008

    The dramatic “life” scene was taken from the 1926 movie Metropolis – a fine work indicting capitalism and showing the path towards enlightenment and communism.

    Yes, I like old movie perhaps a bit too much.

  9. #9 Reginald Selkirk
    January 28, 2008

    There’s always the name Greg Laden decided not to use: Pharyngul-b

  10. #10 True Bob
    January 28, 2008

    Me likey The Golem Thinks

  11. #11 Epikt
    January 28, 2008

    Blucher!

  12. #12 Andrew
    January 28, 2008

    Braaaaiiiinnnssss?

  13. #13 Geoffrey Alexander
    January 28, 2008

    “Uncommon Dissent”?

  14. #14 Jeb, FCD
    January 28, 2008

    How about “parabiosis”, which is the joining of the vascular systems of two organisms.

    See here.

  15. #15 ajay
    January 28, 2008

    “Parabiosis”? No, no. “CHIMAERA!”

  16. #16 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    January 28, 2008

    With the whole Frankenstein/Shelley thing and the rebirth theme, I like the name “Re-Animated.”

  17. #17 Billy
    January 28, 2008

    How about Retro-Omni?

    No, that sounds like a tricked-out Dodge subcompact (is that what Omnivores eat?)

    How about Retro-Brain?

    No, that sounds like an IDiot Cretinist (sorry, creationist) blog.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.’

    SpectaBrain?

    Wait, I’ve got it. “OmniSpectacle”?

    No. That sounds like the same car with a presciption windshield.

    I give up.

  18. #18 Bob Newman
    January 28, 2008

    “Hindbrain”. Or maybe even “Hinder Brain”.

  19. #19 Kseniya
    January 28, 2008

    With the whole Frankenstein/Shelley thing and the rebirth theme, I like the name “Re-Animated.”

    The Diary of Herbert West? ;-)

  20. #20 Rey Fox
    January 28, 2008

    It’s going to be awkward if there ends up being more comments suggesting names on this blog than on Omnibrain.

  21. #21 Steve Higgins
    January 28, 2008

    hah.. It won’t be awkward at all. That’s why we encouraged PZ to post this – we knew you guys would do a whole lot of good brainstorming. We’ll be checking this thread with interest.

  22. #22 Ken Cope
    January 28, 2008

    2brains1vat

  23. #23 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 28, 2008

    By the way, it’s pronounced Fronkensteen.

    No. Then it would be written with ie, not with ei. Also, st is always “sht” (except exceptions — but this isn’t one).

  24. #24 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 28, 2008

    By the way, it’s pronounced Fronkensteen.

    No. Then it would be written with ie, not with ei. Also, st is always “sht” (except exceptions — but this isn’t one).

  25. #25 PZ Myers
    January 28, 2008

    Uh-oh. Someone who hasn’t seen Young Frankenstein.

    Don’t you know that’s one of the requirements for internet use? You were supposed to take a test that covers YF, The Princess Bride, every Monty Python episode ever, the complete works of Douglas Adams, and a measure of vasocongestive response to photos of Natalie Portman before they ever allowed you on the webosphere.

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to write you a ticket.

  26. #26 Ken Cope
    January 28, 2008

    No, DMOM, I’m afraid that really is Fronkensteen.

  27. #27 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 28, 2008

    Maybe I’m just morbid, but I think “Food for the worm” is an excellent name for a blog.

    That was my reaction as soon as I read the phrase. Didn’t even reach the end of the quote. The Charnel-House also has a certain ring.

  28. #28 Ced
    January 28, 2008

    Brainstuff

  29. #29 Dawn
    January 28, 2008

    Ooops…I don’t meet the minimum requirements posted by PZ. Let’s see…I’ve seen YF, bits of the Princess Bride, some Monty Python, read most of Douglas Adams (once…) but Natalie Portman leaves me cold. Do I have to turn in my secret decoder ring?

    As for the name…I kinda like “Anastamosis”…medical people like to join things together.

  30. #30 Will E.
    January 28, 2008

    Don’t you know that’s one of the requirements for internet use? You were supposed to take a test that covers YF, The Princess Bride, every Monty Python episode ever, the complete works of Douglas Adams, and a measure of vasocongestive response to photos of Natalie Portman before they ever allowed you on the webosphere.

    Hmm… maybe purchasing albums by They Might Be Giants and Frank Zappa, too? At least that’s what I gather from the internets. I fail, miserably, on all accounts. But I did know the “Fronkenshteen” joke, and usually get references to dead parrots, ‘alibuts, and knights who say “ni.”

  31. #31 HP
    January 28, 2008

    David, the name Frankenstein is Germanic, but the character of Victor Frankenstein in the novel is a francophone from Geneva. I’m not sure how that would translate into pronunciation, though, but it wouldn’t be standard German, that’s for sure. (In fact, in the novel, the Creature learns to speak Parisian French, and there’s a tiny bit of humor during his meeting with Victor on the glacier, and he has trouble understanding Victor’s coarse Swiss dialect.)

    The novel is well worth reading, and bears little resemblance to any of the motion-picture adaptations. If you read it, try to find the 1818 edition, not the 1831 revised edition. (Both are all over the internet; just check which edition you’re looking at.) When she wrote the first edition, she was a card-carrying British Radical and a freethinker. (Her parents were the atheist William Godwin and the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.) There’s not even a hint of the “tampering in God’s domain” business in the 1818 edition, which was published anonymously. There are whole industries built around trying to figure out the “message” of Frankenstein. My take is that it’s about a man who thinks he’s some kind of genius-martyr, but is actually a psychopathic asshole. His great sin is not tampering in God’s domain, but in being a thoughtless, self-centered jerk, oblivious to the people who love him.

    As she grew older, Shelley rebelled against her upbringing and became a monarchist and Christian. So, when they wanted to publish a new edition of Frankenstein under her name, she tweaked it to add some of the God stuff. However, even that is not near as suffocating as what’s been done in films, etc.

  32. #32 Rey Fox
    January 28, 2008

    “every Monty Python episode ever”

    Actually, just Holy Grail should have you pretty well covered.

  33. #33 Ken Cope
    January 28, 2008

    I’m usually the guy referenced in this Onion article, the guy with the Zappa catalog, along with every Firesign Theatre line that ever went out over the ether, but then, I collect a lot of spoken word and audio strangeness. That should just clue you that I skew old for the webosphere. I mean, I’m not just older than PZ, I’m older than Wilkins.

    Oh, and PZ, you left out MST3K, which usually include Firesign Theatre lines that get blurted out when something funny should be said. It’s kind of like comedy tourettes. It’s mostly harmless.

  34. #34 Linkmeister
    January 28, 2008

    Shouldn’t there be a reference to Thomas Willis in the name, for the cognoscenti?

    I suggested “You talkin’ to me, Willis?” but with little hope of success.

  35. #35 Rey Fox
    January 28, 2008

    “There’s not even a hint of the “tampering in God’s domain” business in the 1818 edition”

    How about peppering in God’s lo mein?*

    * This one’s on the advanced internet user test.

  36. #36 Steve Higgins
    January 28, 2008

    Ken Cope you are a sick sick man..

  37. #37 Donnie B.
    January 28, 2008

    Frankenblog

    Brain and Brain, What Is Brain?

  38. #38 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    January 28, 2008

    You were supposed to take a test that covers YF, The Princess Bride, every Monty Python episode ever, the complete works of Douglas Adams, …

    Um, just a minute, let me make a Venn-diagram with the constraints…, okay, I get “Weird Science”.

    … and a measure of vasocongestive response to photos of Natalie Portman …

    Nope, the control would be Kelly LeBrock.

    How about the mongrel “Grey Parrots Matter”?

  39. #39 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    January 28, 2008

    You were supposed to take a test that covers YF, The Princess Bride, every Monty Python episode ever, the complete works of Douglas Adams, …

    Um, just a minute, let me make a Venn-diagram with the constraints…, okay, I get “Weird Science”.

    … and a measure of vasocongestive response to photos of Natalie Portman …

    Nope, the control would be Kelly LeBrock.

    How about the mongrel “Grey Parrots Matter”?

  40. #40 s1mplex
    January 28, 2008

    How about:

    Neuropsychedelia

    ?

  41. #41 phio gistic
    January 28, 2008

    “the wonders of the eye and brain” has a nice ring to it

  42. #42 phio gistic
    January 28, 2008

    “Don’t you know that’s one of the requirements for internet use? … and a measure of vasocongestive response to photos of Natalie Portman …”

    Oh, yeah, there are only men on the internet. I forgot. (Disappears in a cloud of smoke, weeping quietly to the tune of “The internet is for porn.”)

  43. #43 Ken Cope
    January 28, 2008

    Thank you Steve. Here’s another: Autocerebroscope

  44. #44 Mercurious
    January 28, 2008

    Phew reading through the comments and I didn’t see the one I thought of immediately.

    I present you with “Abby Normal”

  45. #45 chezjake
    January 28, 2008

    Considering the “death” of two blogs and their subsequent merged “resurrection,” how about “They rise again”?

    Paying homage to the immortal bard and Macbeth’s line, “There was a time that when the brains were out a man would die, but now they rise again.”

  46. #46 Mark POV
    January 28, 2008

    c’mon, you guys! PZ’s “Food for the Worm” if fucking AWESOME!

  47. #47 Mark POV
    January 28, 2008

    is*
    Sorry.

  48. #48 YSTH
    January 28, 2008

    “Bird Brains”? “The Merged Bird/Brain Blog”? Sigh…I agree that “Food For the Worm” is pretty damn good.

  49. #49 Marc Mielke
    January 28, 2008

    While I think ‘Food for the Worm’ is fantastic, I’d have to chime in with one I used for a RPG Adventure title:
    “Dissolution of the Chordates”.

  50. #50 Monado in Savannah, GA
    January 28, 2008

    Ken Cope, do you have the Goon Show memorized as well?

    I like Hindbrain, 2brains1vat, Grey(Parrots)Matter

  51. #51 Ken Cope
    January 28, 2008

    Nothing memorized really, more than the Ying Tong Song. I’ve got a couple of double CDs worth, Tales of Old Dartmoor–Spike Milligan solo (I’m Walking Backwards, for Christmas) and Peter Sellers solo.

    Goons were too late a discovery for me; I could probably recite most of the Bonzo Dog Band catalog from memory, though.

  52. #52 Kevin
    January 28, 2008

    “Maybe I’m just morbid, but I think “Food for the worm” is an excellent name for a blog.”

    naaa

    Food FOR Worms

    that’s it.

  53. #53 uh, Clem
    January 28, 2008

    Well YSTH beat me to it. I swear “Bird Brains” was the very first thing I though of.

    Don Smith, FCD

  54. #54 thumpthumpeyes
    January 28, 2008

    what about…

    NeuroLinguisticParrots
    :-D

    whatever they call it, I know it’ll be good!!

  55. #55 Rey Fox
    January 29, 2008

    Why not pay tribute to Mr. Bungle and name it Retrovertigo?

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