July 21, 2011

"It's one of those quantum mechanical mysteries."

Here is just the last sentence of the first footnote* from Jennifer Egan's 2010 novel "A Visit from the Goon Squad":
"All that can be said for sure is that in the presence of Kitty Jackson, the rest of us become entangled by our sheer awareness that we ourselves are not Kitty Jackson, a fact so brusquely unifying that it temporarily wipes out all distinctions between us – our tendency to cry inexplicably during parades, or the fact that we never learned French, or have a fear of insects that we do our best to conceal from women, or liked to eat construction paper as a child – in the presence of Kitty Jackson, we no longer are in possession of these traits; indeed, so indistinguishable are we from every other non-Kitty Jackson in our vicinity that when one of us sees her, the rest simultaneously react."
*pp. 168-169.

July 17, 2011

"Belgian-Style India Pale Ale"

Washington D.C. Pacifica radio station WPFW refers to the local professional football team as "the Washington professional football team" in order to avoid saying its name.

We would like to suggest, to those NeuroCooking friends who drink beer, that you may want to sample the remarkable 20th anniversary ale from Flying Dog brewery. But we will not print its name here.

[Please note: All trademarks are property of their respective owners; their use here does not denote endorsement or sponsorship. Specifically, NeuroCooking is not supported by the good people of Flying Dog brewery, whose upcoming tour of fine establishments serving their superb ales you absolutely should attend, if you possibly can! To locate this "Belgian-Style India Pale Ale" on the Flying Dog website, see their online beer list, and click on the Latin "canis major".]

July 16, 2011

Summer's here and the time is right for a gerund in the street, boy.

Variations on a theme:

"Summer's here and the time is right for dancing in the street."
– Marvin Gaye, 1964.

"Summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy."
– The Rolling Stones, 1968.

"Summer's here and the time is right for going racing in the street."
– Bruce Springsteen, 1978.

Don't Pave Paradise.

Two-time GRAMMY award winner Cathy Fink sings for Rock Creek Hills Park:

July 15, 2011

What is an algorithm?

[Reggie Watts @ Google.]

"An algorithm is someone who feels good on a rainy day..." [starting at 5:44]

July 13, 2011

" ... music may help you build a healthier life and brighter future."

"Everything in your environment may have some impact on your health.

Yes, that even includes music -- music is an important part of our 'environment'.


... see how music may help you build a healthier life and brighter future."

-from the NIEHS Kids' Pages.

July 10, 2011

On smelling almonds & drinking sweat.

Many words evoke in us a rich web of associations. Depending on your personal experience, the word "almond" may conjure memories of the sight of blossoms waving in the wind, the smell of cake fresh from your grandmother's oven, or the childhood joy of your favorite candy bar.

But this only happens when the word is in your native language, or at least a language in which you are fluent. For example, when you discuss the role of the amygdala in assigning salience to various sensory stimuli, even if you know that amygdala means almond, you just don't get all those associations linked to "almond". Because "amygdala" is a neuroanatomical term, that does not link to your grandmother's cake...

And that is how Pocari Sweat can be a best-selling beverage in Japan.

Although, once you watch this TV ad from the 1980's, the words "Pocari Sweat" may forever conjure up images of an oddly-clad Cindy Crawford wielding a sword:

July 6, 2011

"the ultimate machine"

Claude Shannon (1916 – 2001), "the Father of Information Theory", built several machines, including this one, which he dubbed "the ultimate machine":


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