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I can remember everything, except the things I forget!
Today’s post is about something that at it’s heart is no laughing matter; loss of memory. But the opportunity to open in a slightly frivolous manner is simply too tempting!
Because I admit to not remembering when I started to lose my memory!
But somewhere along the way during the last 5 or 6 years others around me, especially Jeannie, started noticing that my mental recall wasn’t so good. In November, I shall be 69 and have been told (I forget by whom!) that the sort of life changes that these last few years have delivered would be classic causes of declining memory in a person in their sixties.
OK, on with the show.
Some time ago, I received an email from a Daniel Strauss. This is what Daniel wrote:
I’m a contributor to an education improvement resource and I recently published an article providing many tips about improving your memory I think you would be interested in. I found your site and your item, Let’s do nothing, during my research and would like to invite you to take a look at my published piece.
Please let me know if you would be interested in taking a look and possibly sharing with your readers.
My reply was to query Daniel’s motivation before saying ‘yeah’ or ‘nay’. A further email subsequently arrived:
I am one of many contributors on a research project and recently completed work on resource that provides quick and easy tips to keep your mind sharp and be able to remember things you’ve learned. I reached out because I thought you and your readers would be interested in my resource. Here is the link to the resource. Take a look and let me know if you would consider including it among the other resource links that you’ve provided on your site.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for your help.
I was happy to feature these memory tips.
The 75 tips are on a website that is called the Open Education Database, from which one learns “We’ve compiled the Open Education Database (OEDb) to help ambitious or prospective students find the most convenient, valuable, and relevant education programs to fulfill their academic and career objectives.“
Not entirely sure why a feature on memory is part of the OEdb website, but so what! The tips strike me as fabulous advice.
The memory feature is called The Memory Toolbox: 75 Tips and Resources to Go from Amnesic to Elephantic, and is introduced, thus:
Many people expect increasing memory loss as they age, but this memory loss can be reduced or stalled with some simple memorization techniques, physical exercise, and a reduction of stress. In fact, impaired memory has more to do with chemicals that are released in the brain when an individual suffers from chronic stress. But, you can reduce the obstacles and increase your memory capacity with the seventy-five tips and resources listed below. In fact, you can go from amnesic to elephantic within a few short weeks.
Some of the tips you may already know, but we’ve repeated them because they may have slipped your mind. Other tips are from recent news stories that contained information you may not have heard. The links will take you to those news items and to other resources that you can use to increase your capacity to remember anything you deem important.
The 75 tips and resources are sorted into 10 groupings; here are some of the recommendations:
Be in the Moment
You can’t remember something if you’ve never learned it, so focus on learning.
It only takes about eight seconds to process data through your hippocampus into the appropriate memory center, so it doesn’t take long to absorb information.
To learn how to stay in the moment, don’t focus on the past or worry about the future while you’re learning.
Don’t multitask, as you create a “brain drain” when you focus on more than one activity.
Create a Learning Environment
Create a learning environment at home. This is crucial for adult learners who will be taking online courses, while balancing work, family, and other factors.
Use All Your Senses
If you’re learning something, involve as many senses as possible to help retain the experience.
Drawing and writing includes the use of motor skills that help you to remember information as you stimulate motor pathways.
If you utilize these motor skills in a task, don’t try something new for a few days. Instead, repeat some of the exercises listed immediately below a few times during the first week so that they become ingrained with your learning habits.
Talk with another person about the information you’ve gathered. This action will incorporate more than one sense and it will help you to categorize information as well.
Attach your ideas to an inert object for your learning process. For instance, connect the introduction of a speech to the entrance of the house, move on to the next room to connect the introduction to the next idea, and so on throughout a building.
Use Mnemonic Devices
Mnemonic (the initial “m” is silent) devices can provide clues to help you remember things. For instance, you can use visual images to memorize names, places, and events. If you wanted to remember Tom’s name, think of a tom cat and connect that person to that image. Or, use something more obvious, like Queen Victoria for Victoria. Just place an imaginary crown on Victoria’s head and you might remember that person’s name the next time you meet them.
“Every Good Boy Does Fine” is a sentence that many musicians use to remember the lines in a treble staff (E, G, B, D, and F). Medical students use silly sentences to remember anatomical features. Try this tool when you need to memorize a sequence of difficult words or a series like the biological taxonomy (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species): “Kids Played Cards On Furry Gray Skins.”
Connect new data to information you already know. For example, if you already know how to cook a turkey, use that information to relate to how you might cook a goose. You’re merely building on information you’ve already retained and relating it to a new recipe. The new recipe will be easier to remember.
Disorganized people report more memory problems than those individuals who are accustomed to organization. This ability to organize is external as well as internal…External organization can free your brain up for more creative endeavors. Internal organization requires a less stressful lifestyle.
Write things down, but write them down in appropriate places. For instance, write addresses in address books, and write grocery lists in a special notebook that you’ve designated for that list. Accordingly, use specific places in the house for certain items. For instance, if you hang the keys on a hook by the door when you enter, you won’t need to sap your time or brain power to find those keys.
Use online or paper calendars to remember important dates. This will help you to be more social, on time, and employed. Plus, you can free up your mind for more creative endeavors.
Keep a pad, pencil and small flashlight by your bed to write down ideas that you have at night. If you forget these tools, just move something out of place so that you’ll remember that idea in the morning (just throw a tissue or book on the floor so you see it in the morning – those items will trigger memories of the previous evening).
Increase your scholarly productivity with tools that will help you stay organized online.
Spend some time with new material a few hours after you’ve been introduced to it. Review notes and try to consolidate the notes into a broad concept or idea.
Review notes and other information at intervals throughout the next few days. This is called “Spaced Rehearsal” or “Spaced Repetition,” and it’s a more effective method for learning than cramming.
When you use overlearning, you improve recall speed.
Retain a Positive Attitude
Tell yourself that you want to learn and that you can learn and remember the information at hand.
A positive outlook and positive mental feedback sets up an expectation for success.
Exercise increases oxygen to the brain, and oxygen is important for brain function.
Physical exercise reduces the risk for many disorders that relate to memory loss, such as dementia and cardiovascular disease.
The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to age-related deterioration that can affect how well you retain information, so it’s important to maintain an exercise routine as you age.
Walking is not strenuous (unless you power walk), so your leg muscles don’t take up extra oxygen and glucose like they do during other forms of exercise. If you find yourself stressed, take a few minutes to oxygenate your brain with a leisurely walk.
Cortisol, the stress hormone secreted under stress by the human adrenal gland, near the kidneys, can damage the hippocampus if stress is unrelieved.
Physical exercise can help to relieve stress. Even a simple walk can help to clear the mind.
Jokes, soothing music, and even a short nap can help to break the stress.
On the other hand, arousing, exciting, momentous occasions, including stressful ones, get filed away very readily. If you can remember your first date, your first job, 9/11, or when Kennedy was shot, these examples prove that some stressful occasions can create vivid memories.
Other Good habits
Quit smoking – smoking constricts arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain. Research has proven this memory loss in smokers.
Relaxation through meditation, tai chi, yoga, or other techniques that slow respiration, slow metabolism, and release muscle tension can make a huge difference in your overall health and stress levels. Invest about ten to fifteen minutes per day with these techniques.
Staying properly hydrated can do more for your body and mind than eating, at times. Drink your recommended 8-10 glasses per day.
So if you, like me, find the loss of one’s memory to be frustrating, or worse, make a note of the Memory Toolbox website and work your way through all 75 excellent tips and recommendations. It’s a fabulous resource.
I’ll shall be adding the link to my ‘blogroll’ – so long as I don’t forget!
Not quite as obvious as it might seem.
Considering that this blog is called Learning from Dogs, there has been precious little published about the animal species known as Canis familiaris; the classification of the domestic dog. Let me try to correct that.
So, this reference explains:
The subdivision of Canidae into “foxes” and “true dogs” may not be in accordance with the actual relations; also, the taxonomic classification of several canines is disputed. Recent DNA analysis shows that Canini (dogs) and Vulpini (foxes) are valid clades (see phylogeny below). Molecular data imply a North American origin of living Canidae and an African origin of wolf-like canines (Canis, Cuon, and Lycaon).
Currently, the domestic dog is listed as a subspecies of Canis lupus, C. l. familiaris, and the dingo (also considered a domestic dog) as C. l. dingo, provisionally a separate subspecies from C. l. familiaris; the red wolf, eastern Canadian wolf, and Indian wolf are recognized as subspecies. Many sources list the domestic dog as Canis familiaris, but others, including the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists, more precisely list it as a subspecies of C. l. familiaris; the red wolf, eastern Canadian wolf, and Indian wolf may or may not be separate species; in the past, the dingo has been variously classified as Canis dingo, Canis familiaris dingo and Canis lupus familiaris dingo.
The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet
The domestication of dogs was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication.
Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioural changes central to dog domestication. Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.
The BBC News website picked up on this:
Dog evolved ‘on the waste dump’
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News
Anyone who owns a dog knows that it will rummage around in the kitchen bin looking for food, given half a chance.
But this annoying behaviour may have a more profound undercurrent than we realise, according to scientists.
A new study of dog genetics reveals numerous genes involved in starch metabolism, compared with wolves.
It backs an idea that some dogs emerged from wolves that were able to scavenge and digest the food waste of early farmers, the team tells Nature journal.
No-one knows precisely when or how our ancestors became so intimately connected with dogs, but the archaeological evidence indicates it was many thousands of years ago.
One suggestion is that the modern mutt emerged from ancient hunter-gatherers’ use of wolves as hunting companions or guards.
But another opinion holds that domestication started with wolves that stole our food leftovers and eventually came to live permanently around humans as a result.
Anyone who owns or loves dogs will find this article fascinating. Jonathan Amos goes on to say:
“This second hypothesis says that when we settled down, and in conjunction with the development of agriculture, we produced waste dumps around our settlements; and suddenly there was this new food resource, a new niche, for wolves to make use of, and the wolf that was best able to make use of it became the ancestor of the dog,” explained Erik Axelsson from Uppsala University.
“So, we think our findings fit well with this theory that the dog evolved on the waste dump,” he told BBC News.
Dr Axelsson and colleagues examined the DNA of more than 50 modern dogs from breeds as diverse as the cocker spaniel and the German shepherd. They then compared their generic genetic information with those of 12 wolves taken from across the world.
The Swedish-US team scanned the DNA sequences of the two types of canid for regions of major difference. These would be locations likely to contain genes important in the rise of the domesticated dog.
Axelsson’s group identified 36 such regions, carrying a little over a hundred genes. The analysis detected the presence of two major functional categories – genes involved in brain development and starch metabolism.
In the case of the latter, it seems dogs have many more genes that encode the enzymes needed to break down starch, something that would have been advantageous in an ancestor scavenging on the discarded wheat and other crop products of early farmers.
Do go across to that BBC item and read the rest of the article.
That article and the paper in Nature magazine resonate strongly with an article written on the Dr George Johnson on Science website. In fact I referred to the George Johnson piece when I first published the Dogs and integrity side piece in July 2009. (My how time flies!) As that George Johnson piece reveals:
This week I found myself wondering about Boswell’s origins. From what creature did the domestic dog arise? Darwin suggested that wolves, coyotes, and jackals — all of which can interbreed and produce fertile offspring– may all have played a role, producing a complex dog ancestry that would be impossible to unravel. In the 1950s, Nobel Prize-winning behaviorist Konrad Lorenz suggested some dog breeds derive from jackals, others from wolves.
Based on anatomy, most biologists have put their money on the wolf, but until recently there was little hard evidence, and, as you might expect if you know scientists, lots of opinions.
The issue was finally settled in 1997 by an international team of scientists led by Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles. To sort out the evolutionary origin of the family dog, Wayne and his colleagues used the techniques of molecular biology to compare the genes of dogs with those of wolves, coyotes and jackals.
Wayne’s team collected blood, tissue, or hair from 140 dogs of sixty-seven breeds, and 162 wolves from North America, Europe, Asia, and Arabia. From each sample they extracted DNA from the tiny organelles within cells called mitochondria.
While the chromosome DNA of an animal cell derives from both parents, the mitochondrial DNA comes entirely from the mother. Biologists love to study mitochondrial DNA because of this simple line of descent, female-to-female-to-female. As changes called mutations occur due to copying mistakes or DNA damage, the mitochondrial DNA of two diverging lines becomes more and more different. Ancestors can be clearly identified when you are studying mitochondrial DNA, because clusters of mutations are not shuffled into new combinations like the genes on chromosomes are. They remain together as a particular sequence, a signature of that line of descent.
Do read the full article here.
Finally, just watch this short trailer for a BBC Horizon screened in early 2010. (Wet eyes warning!)
So the next time you look a dog in the eyes or hug their lovely furry body, think how far back the relationship goes and marvel at how much we have learnt from them.
Maybe not from a Mayan perspective but, nevertheless, who knows!
For some time now I have subscribed to the online magazine Big Think. Daniel Honan, Managing Editor, has contrived to bring together a group of very interesting authors from a wide range of disciplines, presenting a weekly collection of thought-provoking articles. Despite the volume of emails that seems to assault my in-box each day, it’s very rare for me not to browse the weekly digest from Big Think.
Thus it was that early on the 13th (last Thursday) I read a wonderful item written by Steven V. Mazie, Associate Professor of Political Studies at Bard High School Early College-Manhattan.
A quick telephone call to Dan Honan produced an immediate ‘yes’ to my request for permission to republish the Steven Mazie piece here on Learning from Dogs so settle back and enjoy.
Googling the Apocalypse: the Web as Epistemological Vortex
Steven Mazie on December 11, 2012, 2:12 PM
Let’s say you’re just now tuning in to reports that the world will end on December 21 when the Mayan calendar resets to zero. Maybe you’re one of the 35 million Americans who fear it will really happen. Maybe the prospect of solar storms, rogue planets and devastating floods is a welcome distraction from more pedestrian anxieties of everyday life. Or maybe you’re just curious how such a ridiculous idea could persuade “panicked” Russians to buy up all the “matches, kerosene, sugar and candles” in town or spur a Chinese man to spend his life savings building an ark to keep him afloat after the catastrophe.
Where do you turn to learn more? To the epistemic umbrella of the 21st century, of course, and here is what Google will show you.
Do you consult the first hit, billed as the “official website for 122112 information”? Do you settle for the detailed account in the Wikipedia entry, listed second? Or do you flick down to the third, an earnest attempt by NASA to explain “Why the World Won’t End”?
If you go with the first site, you will find a bizarre, colorful bazaar of information, perspectives and advice on the approaching doomsday. There is enough to keep you occupied here for a while: a list of celebrities who believe the hype (finding Mel Gibson on the list isn’t much of a surprise, but Janeane Garofolo? really?), an article listing “37 Things You Should Start Hoarding Now” and one remarkable video summarizing the various ways the world might end and calling on world leaders to tell the “TRUTH” about the devastation awaiting us:
The video is a study in epistemic manipulation. Narrated by a man with a severe British accent, the presentation claims — three times — “we just don’t know what to believe anymore” about “the most anticipated date of our time.” Implying that the media, corporate advertisers, the “government-sponsored scientists” at NASA and “even highly respected major religious organizations” are all either mistaken or willfully fooling us, the video appeals to our “gut instincts that something is wrong — something just doesn’t feel right.” It’s a miracle Stephen Colbert hasn’t picked this up yet. “In the eyes of many,” the video announces with no substantiation, “the prophecies of doom have been written.”
The sad hilarity of NASA’s attempt to calm everyone down takes the form of a staid FAQ. There are no bells and whistles, videos, garish colors or flashing links. Just sober, somewhat condescending, straightforward claims: “Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.”
The problem is that credible science often fails to convince the masses. It cannot budge the majority of Americans who continue to deny the reality of evolution. It cannot convince more than 41 percent of Americans that the activities of human beings play a role in global warming. It’s no wonder, then, that so many people worldwide are keeping doomsday supply companies in business, buying up freeze-dried food rations and personal bunkers rather than Christmas presents, or that sites like December212012.com are profiting from these advertisers.
It’s dispiriting to witness the mass delusion of a tenth of humanity. You have to feel sorry for the Chinese ark-builder who will be left penniless on December 22, and you have to empathize with the people who are contemplating killing their pets or committing suicide to avoid the doomsday devastation.
But this unsettling phenomenon is a symptom of a universal human quandary: how to know whom to trust about things we can’t see or don’t understand. In a section on the rationality of belief in his delicious book Cunning (2006), political and legal theorist Don Herzog offers this:
What you believe depends on who you believe. And who you believe depends on what you believe. Your beliefs, your knowledge, your experience, your assignments of what I’ll call epistemic authority, that is, who or what sources are trustworthy on what issues: all are caught up in each other…Whether it’s rational for you to believe something depends on how it fits in with what you already believe, not least about the credibility of those reporting it.
The best argument against the doomsday believers may come on December 22, when, with any luck, most of us will still be around. But as my fellow blogger David Ropeik explained recently, and as Herzog’s analysis indicates, the next epistemological doomsday is just around the corner.
Follow Steven Mazie on Twitter: @stevenmazie
My judgment is that I should leave this post as it is. As a slightly tongue-in-cheek review of this much heralded prediction.
But I can’t.
I’m going to follow Steve’s article with this (thanks Christine):
More footage from Chasing Ice, an astonishing clip of the largest iceberg calving ever recorded. Arctic sea ice levels this summer hit a record low; according to the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Centre in September, more than 600,000 square kilometres more ice had melted in 2012 than was ever recorded by satellites before. We are indeed melting our children’s future, and apparently many of us are too busy to hold our governments to account for their lack of action.
If we don’t change our ways on this beautiful planet pretty damn soon, then my guess is that we are headed for a massive depopulation and a return to a much more primitive lifestyle, a future that will be brutally obvious by 2020.
What is relevant, to a degree unprecedented in the history of humanity, is how the peoples of this planet respond NOW!
Historic times indeed.
A challenging couple of weeks ahead of us.
On the 23rd, next Tuesday, Jean and I plus our eleven dogs and five cats together with the contents of our Arizonan house move the 1,200 miles to SW Oregon! Moving to a beautiful home with 13 fabulous acres just outside the small community of Merlin, near Grants Pass.
But managing Learning from Dogs for the next couple of weeks or so is going to be a challenge.
So I shall be re-running posts from time to time concentrating on posts that were published during the early months of Learning from Dogs on the assumption that many of today’s readers will not have seen them.
It’s likely that internet access won’t be available to me until the early days of November, so, between now and then Martin Lack of Lack of Environment has very kindly offered to monitor goings on and respond to comments. Thank you, Martin!
As British Rail have been known to say, ‘Normal service will be resumed just as soon as possible!‘
I do not believe that civilizations have to die because civilization is not an organism. It is a product of wills. Arnold J Toynbee
Yesterday, I explored a number of ideas around the proposition that the USA is in decline. The case is by no means clear but there does seem to be a preponderance of support for the notion that, as with all great empires, this could be an ‘end time’ for the USA.
One needs to go no further than A. J. Toynbee himself to reflect on that idea. Who was Arnold J Toynbee? Here’s his biography as presented on the Gifford Lectures website, ( Note: A fabulous series of lectures available on YouTube!)
The British historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee was born in London on 14 April 1889 and died on 22 October 1975 in York, North Yorkshire, England. He was educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford. He was the nephew of economic historian Arnold Toynbee, with whom he is sometimes confused. His first marriage to Rosalind Murray, with whom he had three sons, ended in divorce in 1946. Professor Toynbee then married Veronica M. Boulter, his research assistant.
From 1919 to 1924 Arnold J. Toynbee was professor of modern Greek and Byzantine history at King’s College, London. From 1925 until 1955 Professor Toynbee served as research professor and Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. During both world wars he worked for the British Foreign Office. He was a delegate to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
While Professor Toynbee’s Gifford Lectures were published as An Historian’s Approach to Religion (1956) he is best known for his 12-volume A Study of History (1934-1961). This massive work examined the growth, development and decay of civilizations. He presented history as the rise and fall of civilizations rather than nation-states or ethnic groups. According to his analysis of civilizations the well-being of a civilization depends on its ability to deal successfully with challenges.
Professor Toynbee oversaw the publication of The Survey of International Affairs published by Oxford University Press under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs from 1925 to 1977.
A Study of History is the longest book in the English language, described in Wikipedia as, “the 12-volume magnum opus of British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, finished in 1961, in which the author traces the development and decay of all of the major world civilizations in the historical record. Toynbee applies his model to each of these civilizations, detailing the stages through which they all pass: genesis, growth, time of troubles, universal state, and disintegration.“
Back to the theme of the essay. One might propose, therefore, that a decline in the USA could be the ‘leading edge’ of a decline not only of the empire of the USA but of the whole of our present civilisation; the ‘universal rhythm of rise, flowering and decline‘.
Back on the 3rd October, Simon Johnson, one half of the famous duo with James Kwak, over on Baseline Scenario published an essay under the title of Fiscal Confrontation And The Declining Influence Of The United States. Let me dip into that. Simon starts off by saying,
It is axiomatic among most of our Washington elite that the United States cannot lose its preeminent global role, at least not in the foreseeable future. This assumption is implicit in all our economic policy discussions, including how politicians on both sides regard the leading international role of the United States dollar. In this view, the United States is likely to remain the world’s financial safe haven for international investors, irrespective of what we say and do.
Expressing concerns about the trajectory of our federal government debt has of course become fashionable during this election cycle; this is a signature item for both the Tea Party movement in general and vice presidential candidate Paul D. Ryan in particular.
Then later, in a reference to my own British history, writes,
Threatening to shut down the government or refusing to budge on taxes is seen by many Republicans as a legitimate maneuver in their campaign to shrink the state, rather than as something that could undermine the United States’ economic recovery and destabilize the world. This approach is more than unfortunate, because the perception of our indefinite preeminence – irrespective of how we act – is completely at odds with the historical record. In his widely acclaimed book, “Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance,” Arvind Subramanian places the rise of the dollar in its historical context and documents how economic policy mistakes, World War II and the collapse of empire undermined the British pound and created space for the United States dollar to take over as the world’s leading currency.
Then Simon endorses the key point made by Arvind Subramanian, namely,
But Dr. Subramanian also asserts that two other factors were important: the sheer size of the American economy, which overtook Britain’s, probably at some point in the late 19th century, and the United States current account surplus. In particular, American exports were far larger than imports during World War I and by the end of World War II the United States had amassed almost half the gold in the world (gold at that time was used to settle payments between countries.)
In effect, the United States dollar pushed aside the British pound in part because the United States became the world’s largest creditor.
Simon’s essay closes thus, (and you do need to read the full essay, by the way, many important ideas are expressed)
The dollar became strong because American politicians were responsible, careful and willing to compromise. Fiscal extremism, confrontation and a refusal to consider tax increases over any time horizon will undermine the international role of the dollar, destabilize the world and make it much harder for all of us to achieve any kind of widely shared prosperity.
Finally, in a call with my son, Alex, just 30 minutes ago (I’m writing this on the morning of the 4th October), he mentioned an item he had read in today’s Guardian newspaper No recovery until 2018, IMF warns.
The International Monetary Fund’s chief economist has warned that the global economy will take a decade to recover from the financial crisis as the latest snapshot of the UK economy suggested that growth in the third quarter will be at best anaemic.
Olivier Blanchard said he feared the eurozone crisis, debt problems in Japan and the US, and a slowdown in China meant that the world economy would not be in good shape until at least 2018. “It’s not yet a lost decade,” he said. “But it will surely take at least a decade from the beginning of the crisis for the world economy to get back to decent shape.
2018! That leaves plenty of time for any number of global ‘surprises’ geopolitical and environmental alike! But my final message is one of caution. I am as vulnerable as the next person in seeing ‘doom and gloom’ ahead. However, drop in to Learning from Dogs next Tuesday and watch something that may surprise you.
So on that note, the closing quote is going be one that I have loved for a long time:
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future. “ Niels Bohr
I have a post coming out in 21.5 hours time and rather have you all wondering why nothing came out today, here’s an image that will make sense when that post comes out.
From the NASA website:
Earthrise at Christmas
Thirty-five years ago this Christmas, a turbulent world looked to the heavens for a unique view of our home planet. This photo of “Earthrise” over the lunar horizon was taken by the Apollo 8 crew in December 1968, showing Earth for the first time as it appears from deep space.
Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders had become the first humans to leave Earth orbit, entering lunar orbit on Christmas Eve. In a historic live broadcast that night, the crew took turns reading from the Book of Genesis, closing with a holiday wish from Commander Borman: “We close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth.”
Regarded as one of the 100 photographs that changed the world, the late adventure photographer Galen Rowell called it “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” Captured on Christmas Eve, 1968, near the end of one of the most tumultuous years the U.S. had ever known, the Earthrise photograph inspired contemplation of our fragile existence and our place in the cosmos. For years, Frank Borman and Bill Anders of the Apollo 8 mission each thought that he was the one who took the picture. An investigation of two rolls of film seemed to prove Borman had taken an earlier, black-and-white frame, and the iconic color photograph, which later graced a U.S. postage stamp and several book covers, was by Anders. Reference from here.
Or should that be ‘quacks’? A delightful duck story from San Antonia, Texas.
With big thanks to Merci O. for sending me the story.
A True Duck Story from San Antonio , Texas
Something really cute happened in downtown San Antonio this week. Michael R. is an accounting clerk at Frost Bank and works there in a second story office. Several weeks ago, he watched a mother duck choose the concrete awning outside his window as the unlikely place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and Monday afternoon all of her ten ducklings hatched.
Michael worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take them to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching.
Tuesday morning, Michael watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off. Office work came to a standstill as everyone gathered to watch.
The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In disbelief Michael watched as the first fuzzy newborn trustingly toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. Michael couldn’t stand to watch this risky effort nine more times! He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling, near its mother, was resting in a stupor after the near-fatal fall. Michael stood out of sight under the awning-planter, ready to help.
As the second one took the plunge, Michael jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the concrete. Safe and sound, he set it down it by its momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from that painful leap. (The momma must have sensed that Michael was trying to help her babies.)
One by one the babies continued to jump.. Each time Michael hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall. At the scene the busy downtown sidewalk traffic came to a standstill. Time after time, Michael was able to catch the remaining eight and set them by their approving mother.
At this point Michael realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs and past pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the San Antonio River, site of the famed “RiverWalk.”
The on-looking office secretaries and several San Antonio police officers joined in. An empty copy-paper box was brought to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother’s approval, and loaded them in to the container. Michael held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the San Antonio River. The mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight, all the way.
As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping in the river and quacking loudly. At the water’s edge, Michael tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to the waiting mother after their adventurous ride.
At last, all present and accounted for: “We’re all together again. We’re here! We’re here!”
And here’s a family portrait before they head outward to further adventures….
Like all of us in the big times of our life, they never could have made it alone without lots of helping hands. I think it gives the name of San Antonio ‘s famous “River Walk” a whole new meaning! Maybe you will want to share this story with others.
And even if you enjoyed the story, do settle down for 3 minutes and watch the YouTube version – it’s something you will treasure, I promise you!
Both versions end with this thought:
Live honestly, Love generously, Care deeply and Speak kindly
Reflections on a year of Blogging.
Learning from Dogs would not be anything without you, dear reader. So what follows is an accolade to you. This Blog first saw the light of day on July 15th, 2009.
By the end of 2009 there had been a total of 15,800 viewers.
In comparison, by the end of 2010 there had been a total of 85,200 viewers, a growth of 439%!
Today, the last day of 2011, the total number of viewers for the year will be in excess of 243,000, a breathtaking increase over 2010 of nearly 158,000 viewers (184%).
So from Pharaoh and me, thank you all so very, very much and a Very Happy New Year to you all.
When it’s written without integrity!
Wow, this seems an odd-ball topic for Learning from Dogs. But, as all you regular readers know, Learning from Dogs is about understanding the importance, the critical importance of integrity, and having dogs, who are integrous, act as an example and metaphor for humankind.
OK, to the point of the article.
It’s a known fact that PR agencies and corporations have been burrowing into the community of online, “public” reviewers and obscure bloggers and easily corrupting them with trinkets. It’s like a lost tribe being bribed with a pretty necklace of cheap polished rocks. Now there is some proof that there is a problem.
I received a press release titled, “Buyer beware: study reveals hidden motives behind Amazon reviews.” Here is the gist in a nutshell:
In the first academic study of its kind, Trevor Pinch, Cornell University professor of sociology and of science and technology studies, independently surveyed 166 of Amazon’s top 1,000 reviewers, examining everything from demographics to motives. What he discovered was 85 percent of those surveyed had been approached with free merchandise from authors, agents or publishers.
Pinch, who also found the median age range of the reviewers he surveyed was 51 to 60, a surprise said Pinch, because the image of the internet is more of a young person’s thing. Amazon is encouraging reviewers to receive free products through Amazon Vine, an invitation-only program in which the top 1,000 reviewers are offered a catalog of free products to review.
John later linked to the website set up by Trevor Pinch, called Freelunch, where the full details of what is going on are contained in a report, available for all to download and read. The web page from where the report may be downloaded is here, and below is what you will read if you go to that weblink.
They tell us what to buy, but who are Amazon’s elite product reviewers and why do they do it?
They are the familiar faces of the world’s largest online retailer, the voices of reason we rely upon to make sense of everything from Shakespeare to sleeping bags.
But who are Amazon’s top reviewers, why do they invest the massive effort required to review tens of thousands of products, and how are changes at Amazon changing the way these reviewers help us decide what to buy?
In the first academic study of its kind, we examine the elite class of top-thousand Amazon reviewers by conducting a detailed survey with a subset of 166 of these top reviewers. The study, examines everything from age, gender and education (typically middle-aged, male and master’s degree), to the motives and concerns of this volunteer corps who’ve helped drive Amazon’s growth from quaint virtual bookstore to the planet’s most valuable retail brand.
The study was carried out just as Amazon introduced a new way of ranking its reviewers causing much consternation as some fell dramatically in the rankings. We ask why it is that Amazon has changed its ranking system at this time and we elicit the top reviewers responses to this change.
Our study holds an assumption and asks a question: the assumption is that there are no free lunches. So how come Amazon has managed to persuade so many people to give them the morsels from which they have built one of the biggest free lunches ever? That is the question.
Speaking as someone who probably spends a couple of hundred dollars a year with Amazon, particular on books, and who does get tipped into buying an unknown book by the reviews, this report is not without consequence.
Indeed, as you read this there will be winging it’s way to me two books ordered last week. The first was Hyman Minsky’s book, Stabilizing an Unstable Economy, cost $21.14 and a book that I had no doubts about wanting to read.
But the second, The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding, was bought a) to take me over $25 and provide me with free shipping and b) because it looked like a book I would enjoy and all six reviews were strong recommendations!
Well done PC Mag and all concerned.
H’mm, another lesson from the school of life!