So, what is it about a brain? It's all these nerve cells wired together (although the wires are nerve cells, too). If you're in a hurry, you really have no choice but to stuff all your nerve cells into as nearly the same place as you can manage, because it takes so long to get a message from one place to the next. If you're in a hurry, you have to keep them all working at the same time, and each one doing just one thing. After all, every millisecond counts.
But suppose you're not in a hurry. Suppose the same survival pressures drive you to evolve ever more elaborate structure, but days or months drift lazily by in your struggle to best your neighbor. Where would you keep your nerve cells: all in one vulnerable spot, or spread out, more or less evenly? Would they be on all the time, burning calories? Maybe they could be doing something else when they weren't called upon to think. Maybe they could be muscle cells, too, or bone cells, or taste buds, or all three and more.
How many would you need? When you're in a hurry, as many as you can afford -- and they're expensive to keep fed. When you're not in a hurry, you can do the same amount of processing with many fewer, just more slowly. Each clump (if indeed they clump) of cells acting as nerves might worry at all stages of a problem, instead of handing off each intermediate result to some other ganglion.
What about the wiring? When you're in a hurry, nothing will do but to wire each bit as directly it can be to every other bit that might need to hear from it. When you're not in a hurry, a lot less wiring can do the same job. Maybe you won't need any; people once got along sending letters before we got phones.
The point is, suppose a slow creature was thinking big, slow thoughts. How would you find which bits were doing the thinking? How would you recognize that you had found them? How would you even know to look? We have no idea what use a great Sequoia tree might have for intelligence. If it had, we might never notice (not being trees), nor spot any anatomical feature big or small that seemed meant for thinking with.
Search for intelligent life in the universe? We've hardly begun here.
Crashy Galeon got much worse after I turned on memory resource accounting ("echo 2 > memory_overcommit"). Damn OOM-killer. Hey Mr. Kernel Guy, why not keep around enough spare pages to be sure you can swap something out if you need to? Usually when OOM-killer attacks Galeon, I'm not even using it, and there's always gobs of swap unused.
deekayen: Your 5 May entry was the funniest story I've read all week. You should make it a regular column.
Orkut: "Java", 14853; "I hate Java", 752. "Perl", 3808; "I hate Perl", 312. "C++", 10329; "I hate C++", 127. "Lisp", 740; "I resent LISP", 63. "Python", 2579; "I hate Python", 53. Perl (3808/312=12) retains the crown of "Most Hated Language", with LISP (12) skulking resentedly nearby. Java (20) is second in line, with Python (49) a distant third, leaving C++ (81) least hated by an astonishing margin. More people, still, hate Java than like Lisp. Of course these statistics disproportionately represent the feelings of Brazilians (not that there's anything wrong with that!), who now constitute 69% of Orkut's users. They seem to hate Perl more than Java, while Norte Americanos (under 8% of Orkut users!) hate Java a lot more. I imagine Brazilians don't encounter as much Java.