March 25, 2011

Happy Friday. Nice day here again, looks like it will be a tad warmer than yesterday. Low temp overnight was bout +20 and it’s +4 at the airport in the flats.

Yokelly the cat is back in night prowl mode, though she can’t go far from this island in the snow. Doubtless the voles are stirring, though, and before long one will be vole-de-mort.

We watched another program on the brain and memory and learned about infantile amnesia, which accounts for the fact that you can only remember back so far. The young brain in not developed enough to retain the very earliest events in your life, so your earliest memory is likely to be an event that had some significance or emotional import. Also there are several types of memory situated in different parts of your brain, so the guy who lost his antrospective memory, i.e., memory of events going forward, due to an operation on his brain to cure epilepsy, was constantly greeting “new” acquaintances who had known him for years. Yet he could work crosswords without trouble, because that’s a different part of the brain. Some people memorize things by imagining a geographical map of different kinds of information, or make up a story or acronym to recall different things. There was a 16th century Italian Jesuit missionary who was famous for his memory, Matteo Ricci. He lived in China for many years and created one of the first world maps in about 1602 that is remarkably good. He had a memory system keyed to an architectural drawing of a palace, where each pillar and window represented some branch of learning or smaller topic. His map is below. Alaska is a bit misshapen, but considering hardly anyone beside the Native peoples had been here (and no one had seen it from above), it’s pretty good. This is a copy of the 1602 original map (from Wikipedia).

Local news leads with the militia trial. The first trial scheduled is for the Vernons of North Pole, who were unhappy that Judge Beistline did not buy their arguments about why they didn’t owe income tax. “The Vernons, who represented themselves in the tax case, argue that they aren’t required to pay taxes because they don’t recognize the U.S. government as legitimate.” Now there’s an idea. They decided since this argument was not winning their case, to simply assassinate the judge. Problem solved! Remember there are people like this driving around and refrain from flipping them off when they cut you off in traffic.


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