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The Nature of Memory

(Length warning)

A long-time friend of mine suffered a series of small strokes that shut down portions of his brain. He can no longer create visual images. He suggested “You would be surprised as to how many memories are keyed to images.”

I can empathize. In the last few years brain spasms have given me a form of temporary global amnesia.  For a period of somewhere between minutes and hours, TGA means you lose your ability to form new memories. You end up repeating yourself and asking the same questions over and over. When you come out of it (somewhere between minutes and hours if you are as lucky as I was), you remember nothing that happened during the TGA. I was in the hospital the first time, and had NO memory of getting there. I was surprised I wasn’t at home in my chair.

What he told me was amazing. In 40 years of mining my memory for writing, I had never considered the visual nature of memory. Looking back on it, my memories (painful and lovely) are based on visual recollection. I am blessed with the ability to write about them, but the words don’t capture everything, and I neither have photographs nor the artistic ability to draw them.

Some of my memories have been triggered by the written word. Recently, reading a journal from a  half-century ago, I instantly relived the emotions of a deeply painful moment. Later that same day, I realized I could see the whole thing in my mind’s eye, from beginning to end. Some parts didn’t agree with the written word, but frankly, now that I think about it, I trust the visual because it is more vivid than the textual.

I know odors are a powerful memory trigger; now I know visual images are too. I will never think of memory the same way again.

There Are No Little Things 8: The Tasting

My decision to join the World Affairs Council that day during my lunch break was a trivial one. The office was across the street and the membership was cheap. I knew I needed to get out and meet people; turns out the WAC had a wine tasting that night, which fit perfectly into my empty social calendar. I introduced myself to the three tallest women in the room, and one of them chose to date me. The rest, as they say, is history.

There Are No Little Things: Explanation

“Fun” with Language: U.S. Citizen

I am proud to be a U.S. citizen; apparently Tucker Carlson and The Right-Wing Nut Job (RWNT) media are not. They were pushed onto their fainting couches by the effort of a committee in the Computer Science department at Stanford to develop a list of suggested alternative terms. It isn’t done yet and isn’t official for all of Stanford, but you’d never know that from the conservative commentators who are suffering from the vapors, mostly over the entry suggesting U.S. citizen instead of American.

The rationale of the as-yet-uncompleted report: “This term often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas (which is actually made up of 42 countries).”

Read for yourself the proposed list of terms to be avoided. (this downloads as a PDF file). Not banned, just a suggestion they be avoided, although you’d never know that if you lived on Tucker Carson Island in Foxland.

Are some of the entries overwoke, a bit much? Yes. Is it a violation of the first amendment? No. The constitution only applies to the government, not to private institutions. (If Tucker had been in my 8th grade US History class, he’d know that) And any case, a list of suggestions isn’t compromising anyone’s free-speech right.

I recall the LA Times (or was it the Washington Post) offering such a list to its newsroom a few years ago, generating some controversy which, as far as I can tell, has been scrubbed from the Internet.  If you can find it, let me know. I remember one of the “banned” terms was “Dutch Courage.”

On  the lighter side, NPR suggests some words to be banned, starting with Irregardless and including gaslighting.

This and That

Being a Mentor
I promised myself I’d never be a sucker for cute animal videos. I was lying to myself.

First Payment Ever
Well Blow Me Over! Last week’s Right Column Redux (You Could Pay For This Column) resulted in my first paid subscription!

Semirad: impressive again

A great graphic: New year new me

Greta Thunberg
She was replying to a climate change mocker who wanted to email her about the "enormous emissions" he proudly boasted that come from his various expensive cars. Her reply: “Yes, please do enlighten me. Email me at [email protected].”
Voice Recognition
A funny Scottish Accent/Voice Recognition video.

Cameos Considered
Daniel Dern checks in with Holy Cameo Compilation

Business Jargon Job Posting
This comes from LinkedIn with no credit. I did, however find it a hilarious use of AI

Mini Series: MIT Prof. George Thomas

If Thomas were as good a lecturer as Hans-Lukas Teuber (and didn't erase with his left hand as he wrote with his right), I might not have flunked 18.02 (second term calculus) twice. Of course going to his grade B lectures would have helped too. The answer may have been "intuitively obvious to the casual observer" but it wasn't to me.

Groundhog Day and Buddhism

As usual, I expect new material for my Groundhog Day The Movie website from my avid readers. Fire away if you have something you don't see here. It’s getting harder to find things I missed: the site has been up since 2001.

I run this item every year in conjunction with Groundhog Day (Thursday, Feb. 2 this year). The Bill Murray movie of the same name is the 34th funniest American film of all time, according to the American Film Institute. It is also my favorite movie of all times. This is the thirteenth time I've run this item!

And the anniversary item has finally grown so large I had to move it to a separate Groundhog Day The Movie page.