Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gift idea #7: All human knowledge

Did you know you can download a best-of collection of Project Gutenberg's collection of etexts to burn on a DVD, or, if you want to customize the selection, roll your own selection of books to burn onto disk? Combine this with some text-to-speech software and one would never need to feel deprived of something to learn about. The only better thing would be if they had perfected the skull jack so that you could just pipe all this information directly into your brain.

And it's all free. Free, I tell you!

It is true that for the most part, the texts in the collection are only those already in the public domain, and as such are some 80 years or more in age. But if you think about what has happened since the 1920s in human history, you might well conclude that the sum total of mankind's wisdom has not significantly increased since then, and one could even make the case that it has slipped down a notch or two. And there are some dandy selections in there. (Some of which I have even had the privilege of having edited.)

This concludes my little gift-giving series, which I hope has given you an outside-the-box idea or two - please let me know in the comments if you have any success with these. If you're up to it, since after all, Wittgenstein tells us "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." I should caution, however, that in a recent report, scientists tell us people suck at gift-giving for those they care about, so don't set your expectations too high.


Kelley said...

I am so glad that we now have research to support what we have known all these years: that relatives suck at gift-giving.

My mother-in-law gave me a set of novelty Christmas cheese spreaders last year. Oh, and a bright blue velour sweater. Or maybe it's all part of Operation Keep That Woman's DNA Away From My Innocent Future Grandbabies. I suppose it could be part of her strategy.

RichM said...

So you're saying that the sweater functions as a family planning device?

On the other hand, I don't like it that much when I'm prompted for my own wishlist, over on my wife's side of the family. I mean, I'll read movie spoilers and everything, but when it comes to gift-giving, I still want the moment of surprise.

I asked my wife's twin sister for a share in a goat this Christmas. Isn't it cute?

Kelley said...

goats really do become "nannies;" teaching their young caregivers all kinds of skills while building their self-esteem.

It's a pet, and an educational/motivational tool, and dinner! Awesome.

theprovocativecynic said...

Just picked up your blog from pupski's and it's a fascinating read. So diverse and interesting. I'll be checking it often from now on!

There was a clip on the news here in the UK last week, where various 'Third World experts' were questioning the value of giving a goat as suggested by one particular charity. Are you getting a share in a goat for personal use, or donating one?

RichM said...

theprovocativecynic: Thanks, I hope you'll like it here.

I do hope the Heifer international people don't expect to deliver me a goat (or a share in a goat, even worse) for my own use. We are not set up here very well to accommodate a goat, sorry to say. I believe the goat is given to a person in the developing world to raise as their own livestock, with all the plusses and minuses such an enterprise is subject to.