Archive for December 2010

This Is Your Life: And Don’t You Forget It

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Imagine being able to recall details of every day of your adult life.  I toss out a date at random and you instantly flash back to what you did that day, how you felt.  Any date, back to when you were a teenager or perhaps even younger.  You don’t have to work hard to recall it: it’s just there, as if it happened yesterday or last week.

Though it sounds like a Philip K. Dick story—“We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” might be an appropriate title—it is fact, not fiction.  Or at least it is for a half dozen people in the world today.

Scientists call it Hyperthymesia, or Superior Autobiographical Memory, and Leslie Stahl recently reported on it for CBS’ 60 Minutes.

As Stahl was talking with researchers and the five people in the world documented to possess this amazing power of mind, she thought, “this sounds like my friend, Marilu Henner.”  As a result, Henner was brought into the scientific study and—just as Stahl suspected—became the sixth documented case.

People with hyperthymesia tend to exhibit traces of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): many, if not all of them, seem obsessed about collecting and organizing things, including their memories.  One woman said that she might, for example, quickly compare all the March 3rds in her life:  which one was the best March 3rd?  And how do the March 3rds compare to the March 4ths?

Outliers such as these provide further proof that the human mind’s potential far exceeds its routine workload.

Further info:


Written by breckfield

December 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

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God Bless The Rich

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Over at National Review, Deroy Murdock has written a profile of America’s rich and the charity that they provide.  His last sentence sums it up well:

Despite today’s destructive anti-rich slogans, the data demonstrate that wealthy Americans are much less like Scrooge and much more like Santa.

This comes as no surprise to those of us who value facts over opinions.  We already know that the wealthy donate more dollars to charity.  They donate a higher percentage of their income to charity.  They do more hours of volunteer work.  And, let us not forget, they do all that after paying far more in taxes.

No matter how you slice it, America’s rich give more to society than most Americans do.

I will never be among America’s rich.  But I thank God for all that they contribute, both directly and indirectly, to make our society better.

Written by breckfield

December 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Posted in politics

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Irony of the Week: Julian Assange’s Police Report Leaked

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Further evidence that God’s Poetic Justice dispenser is still well-stocked:

LONDON (AP) — It has come to this: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is complaining that someone leaked a Swedish police report on his alleged sexual offenses.

You can read the full AP news article here.

Written by breckfield

December 21, 2010 at 8:16 am

Posted in politics

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Are Scientists Expected to be Atheists?

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According to a recent article in the New York Times:

In a 1998 survey, 7.5 percent of physicists and astronomers in the National Academy of Sciences said they believed in God…

According to that same article, one scientist claims that he was denied a job because of his Christian beliefs.  A second scientist claims that he was denied tenure, and a third alleges that he was harassed after he published a paper supporting Intelligent Design theory.

If, in fact, scientists who admit their belief in God are potential victims of harassment and job discrimination, is it any wonder that only 7.5 percent of those surveyed admitted to a belief in God?

Written by breckfield

December 20, 2010 at 8:13 am

Posted in politics, religion

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“Stardust” by Joseph Kanon

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I recently finished reading “Stardust” by Joseph Kanon.

A mystery set in Hollywood in 1945, this is the fifth novel by Kanon, whose others works include “The Good German” and “Los Alamos”.

I first learned of this story in Bookmarks magazine, and I knew that the classic Hollywood setting would appeal to me.

The readers’ and editorial reviews average 4 stars (out of 5), and that’s about where I’d rate it.  It’s perhaps a little longer than it needs to be, but that’s a criticism that I have with many books, both fiction and non-fiction.

I haven’t read any of Kanon’s other work, so I can’t offer a comparison there.  But if you like stories of Hollywood in The Studio Era, then I can recommend this one.

Written by breckfield

December 19, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Posted in books

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“Ninotchka”: Good, but Overrated

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We saw Ninotchka recently.

It was good. It was entertaining. We would watch it again.

But I would not consider it a great movie.

There seems to be a lot of four-star love for this film. Maybe this is because it’s the rare  intersection of Garbo and Comedy. Maybe it’s the love affair that movie critics have always had with Ernst Lubitsch.

I think it’s good, and yet overrated.

Written by breckfield

December 18, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Posted in movies

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