Wednesday, October 12, 2011


You know what's funny? I was looking back just now through past blog posts on my edit function to see if I had written about something before and found that with a lot of titles I had no idea what I'd been talking about...

Apparently writing a blog about memory is not in itself a great memory enhancer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Memory Tricks

It's been awhile since I posted to this blog, but I saw a nice simple little list of memory tricks and techniques to remember ordinary tasks and names over at Care2 . I have to admit that I found the second tip, for remembering someone's name rather funny in the reading. If you used it too much, you might remember the name, but the person would very likely think you were crazy... 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Paradigms of Human Memory" -"Community"

I found this piece up on Slate a few days ago, and thought it fit into the theme of this blog rather well. I've enjoyed NBC's "Community" for awhile now. It's a cleverer show than some shows that style themselves as clever, and I think actually sometimes the things they are doing with it are a bit over my head, even though the show is pretty entertaining even for lightweights like me.

I had actually watched this 'highlights reel' of an episode when it originally aired, but decided to take a cue from the article to watch it again before reading it, since it aired that night. Again, I missed a lot. Not missing a lot would probably entail being obsessively involved with the show, which I'm not, so I don't feel too bad about it. Anyway, you can probably find the way to watch the show somewhere if the article intrigues you, although I would really probably watch the show first and then read the article.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Google Effect?

I found this little piece on Slate the other day, suggesting that the way our memory is structured based on our ability to access information on the internet. Basically, we try harder to remember if we don't think we can find the info again all that easily, and tend to remember where over what if we think we will have to dig up the information again.

Frankly, this hardly seems like rocket science. I've long been an expert in the lazy art of getting by, and so don't think this is an entirely new development. Having just taken an 'open book' test for an online class, rest assured that those days are not entirely behind me.

Do, if  you get the chance, watch the videos of the charming Betsy Sparrow which I link to below:

I tried to just embed the video, but Google is messing with me. Apparently dissing Google even in a mild way is not advised...

Monday, June 27, 2011

A mnemonic puzzler from Narrative Magazine

Yes, folks, if you have a tricky technique for memorizing something, you can enter the competition HERE.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Joshua Foer on Memory--Five Books

I have to admit that of the various blogs I have somehow found myself writing, this is the one I'm most often dubious about continuing. The other ones seem to have fairly straightforward prompts for posts, but this one I often let lag. I'm not entirely sure of what I mean its focus to be, other than memory and the lack of it. However, just when I think maybe I'll let it slide or merge it into something else, something seizes my attention and I think I'll go forward.

Yesterday, The Browser sent an email about its Five Books segment, and one of them was an interview with Joshua Foer who was the author of the very popular Moonwalking With Einstein: the Art and Science of Remembering Everything. (One of the funny things about selling the book has been that more than one person has come up and said, do you have that new book that has something to do with Einstein? I can't remember the title.) Foer was the 2006 USA Memory Champion, and though I don't know exactly how he came to get the title, he does certainly seem to be a good person to ask about what five books to read on memory. His interview is   here.

One thing that somewhat surprised me was his strong emphasis on books which deal with mnemonic devices--"memory palaces" and the like. I have to admit that when I'm thinking about memory, I'm more thinking about associations to the past, and how things come to our collective awareness and then recede again. I don't think so much about rote learning and tricks for remembering. Perhaps I should...

Another interesting thing was his comment that we have a long history of devices that remember for us, the alphabet being an early one.

An odd note for me is that Giordano Bruno was a memory palace kind of guy. Lately, Bruno of Nolan has been popping  up everywhere. First in Finnegans Wake--repeatedly--then in the mystery novel, Heresy by S.J. Parris, which I'll be finishing shortly and now here. Well, he always was a shadowy, slippery individual.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The World Memory Project

This is pretty cool. Ancestry.Com and the United Holocaust Museum have joined forces to put 170 million documents on line "detailing the experiences of individual victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II." In the end anyone will be able to search this archive on line for free. Now this venture is asking for your help--anyone who's willing to put in some time can help put these documents on line. Check it out Here.      

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Media Time versus Real Time

"The crises of 2011 have underlined how media time stretches real time. The duration of an event in the public mind is a function of the total length of all broadcasts about that event."

I'm not sure this relates to memory in anybody's mind but mine, but I thought I'd link to this recent post for Yahoo! India by Girish Shahane called Fast Food and Smoking Guns in any case. He manages to state clearly something that at least occasionally this blog is supposed to be about. In some ways he is talking about something quite different--how media stretches our interest, but perhaps the inverse is true. When the media has left the issue our minds turn away from it as well.

In any case, Girish always writes thoughtful pieces, and here is a good place to sample his work. You can also leave a comment for him at his own blog, Shoot First, Mumble Later .

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Although it's still Sunday here, I thought I'd post the link to Craig Sisterson's thoughtful piece about rising at dawn to celebrate ANZAC Day at one of its seminal places--the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. 96 years ago on Monday, Australian and Kiwi soldiers landed on Gallipoli's shores. If you've seen the movie by Peter Weir, you'll know what happens after that. Whether or not you already know the story, it's good to hear it from a Kiwi perspective. Check it out here.

It's an excellent opportunity to check out Craig's very dedicated Kiwi crime blog as well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Firing on Fort Sumter--the 150th anniversary

I wanted to post something on this anniversary, and was prompted by this segment of the Rachel Maddow show.

There remain many unhealed wounds of this war. I'm hoping that a reexamination may reopen the dialogue about them again. To that end, I'm planning on reading an interesting blog from the New York Times called Disunion, which chronicles the way it all fell apart. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day, 2011

I am hurriedly posting this little reminder that today is the hundredth anniversary of International Women's Day. Hurriedly because for most people who might chance upon this, it's probably pretty much over, and also because thanks to a fateful evening at the bar, I'm actually helping monitor our own local event and will have to get down there before too awfully long. Santa Cruz is taking part in the international project Join Me On the Bridge. We'll be walking from the Water Street bridge to the Town Clock, another local icon, where we'll undoubtedly hear a lot of talk about peace, equal pay for equal work, and what still needs to be done for women's issues everywhere.

Frankly, this is not so much a lapse of memory on my part as complete ignorance of the date. But it's one worth knowing about. Egypt, for instance, having newly ousted a dictator, is being called out of it's old mentality by a demand for a million woman march on Tahrir Square, because women were being frozen out of leadership positions in the new government. I just checked on what happened, since they are ahead of us in time. It's a bit troubling, but you can read about it here. As the article ends: "Mubarak is gone. Misogyny might be a tougher foe."

Although today is officially the anniversary, the first year it was actually held on March 19th. So if you feel like you've missed out, check to see if, as in Santa Cruz, there will be some larger celebrations this weekend near you. 

And if nothing else, take a moment today to think about what women's rights have meant to you.

Yes, even if you're a man.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thank Wisconsin It's Friday--a Rachel Maddow segment

Yes, remember the Wisconsin labor movement of the past as you clock out for the weekend.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to create a collective lapse of memory

I caught this on Rachel Maddow last night. It seemed to fit into the general theme here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


A good piece with Bob Herbert about our "lapse of memory" when it comes to American violence.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day

Another Monday holiday, but it wasn't always so...

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Tell-Tale Heart

Over the last year and a half or so, I've had the great good fortune to reconnect with some of my long lost high school friends. One of the sad things that  has made this current bond a bit stronger is that we collectively mourned the passing of two of our friends and peers at about this time last year, both of whom had been in my extended circle. One of them was Dagmar Matzat, who I especially remembered for her dramatic flair.

Here's why I'm choosing to commemorate her in this particular blog. When we were all in eighth grade together, Dagmar did a solo rendition of Poe's The Tale-Tell Heart. She was just a young girl, barely a teen, but she managed to put her heart and soul into her rendition:

TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been, and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Harken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

I'll never know why she chose this particular story, but I will until I lose life or sentience always be able to picture her pacing the stage in a fevered way, conveying the madman's character.

The odd thing, though, is that no one I know has the slightest recollection of this piece. This role, this bravery of undertaking it, which is the defining essence for me of my long ago friend, is not part of anyone else's general consciousness. Perhaps there is someone else in the world who remembers this, but among the four or five people I asked, it made not an impression, and I know at least some of them were there that day.

I suppose Dagmar herself would have remembered it, but alas, I will have no chance to ask her, and it's quite possible that even she would by now have suffered a lapse of memory.