Friday, March 11, 2011

With some help from my grandma

In his bestselling book, “Moonwalking with Einsten,” Joshua Foer describes how he transformed himself from an averagely forgetful 20-something into a mnemonic superathlete. The main technique he learned was to weave dry facts, numbers, playing cards, etc. into memorable stories. For example: “Michael Jackson defecated on a salmon burger and captured his flatulence in a balloon.” Why are such stories memorable? It turns out the brain remembers more easily really bizarre action sequences. And, apparently, nothing beats raunchy scenes like “indecent acts” involving one’s mother or grandmother. Who could think that brain building could be so much fun?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The power of positive thinking

Pete Alcorn talks on TED about the world in 2200. His main message is that a pessimistic outlook can result in some hasty decisions and suboptimal management of the complex social and technological transition the world will undergo. A positive mindset, on the other hand, results in creative solutions to even the most intractable problems. Yes, indeed, this is precisely what the Romans lacked in 410 AD; and the French knights in 1415; and British Light Brigade in 1854; and the Polish cavalry in 1939; and the bankers, plus all sorts of other "investors," in 2007...


According to a new study quoted in the NYT, "the average smartphone owner spends 667 minutes a month using apps. That is more time spent with apps than spent talking on a smartphone or using it to browse the Web." As it turns out, BlackBerry users launch much fewer apps than owners of iPhones and Android sets, mostly because they have access to a much smaller selection of those. Hm, those BlackBerry users are real suckers, missing out on the greatest revolution in the deployment of the "spotlight of attention" by countless users. They should really know better and buy immediately into the iWahatever dream masterminded by those great wizards at Apple.