Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Thursday Night Links

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* Thank a Boomer: the North Pole is now a lake.

Three-Quarters Of Young, Independent Voters Describe Deniers As ‘Ignorant, Out Of Touch Or Crazy.’

* Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought.

* MOOCs enter the “Sure, they’re a complete disaster, but what if they weren’t?” phase of the hype cycle.

* College enrollment fell 2 percent in 2012-13, the first significant decline since the 1990s, but nearly all of that drop hit for-profit and community colleges; now, signs point to 2013-14 being the year when traditional four-year, nonprofit colleges begin a contraction that will last for several years. Better hire some new assistant under-deans to tackle this problem.

* Why would CPS throw more money into recruiting recent college graduates with five weeks of training and no teaching certificates into the district when it lets go of highly-qualified, certified, veteran teachers? What’s the Difference Between Teach For America, and a Scab Temp Agency?

* What’s the Matter With North Carolina? Meanwhile, Eric Holder tries to reignite the preclearance provision of the VRA under Section 3.

* Scientists believe they have successfully implanted a false memory into a mouse.

* Sleep is a standing affront to capitalism.

* There’s no such thing as black-on-black crime.

* Ally-phobia: On the Trayvon Martin Ruling, White Feminism, and the Worst of Best Intentions. White People Fatigue Syndrome.

* “Summer Vacation Is Evil”: the ultimate #slatepitch.

* Today in coffee-is-good-for-you news: Coffee drinking tied to lower risk of suicide.

* A unique defense: Lance Armstrong says it doesn’t count if everyone should have known you were lying.

* And tonight’s poem: “Rape Joke,” by Patricia Lockwood.

‘Without Forgetting It Is Quite Impossible to Live at All’

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Here come the forget-me-nows.

By coupling these amnesia cocktails to the memory reconsolidation process, it’s possible to get even more specific. Nader, LeDoux, and a neuroscientist named Jacek Debiec taught rats elaborate sequences of association, so that a series of sounds predicted the arrival of a painful shock to the foot. Nader calls this a “chain of memories”—the sounds lead to fear, and the animals freeze up. “We wanted to know if making you remember that painful event would also lead to the disruption of related memories,” Nader says. “Or could we alter just that one association?” The answer was clear. By injecting a protein synthesis inhibitor before the rats were exposed to only one of the sounds—and therefore before they underwent memory reconsolidation—the rats could be “trained” to forget the fear associated with that particular tone. “Only the first link was gone,” Nader says. The other associations remained perfectly intact. This is a profound result. While scientists have long wondered how to target specific memories in the brain, it turns out to be remarkably easy: All you have to do is ask people to remember them.

This isn’t Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-style mindwiping. In some ways it’s potentially even more effective and more precise. Because of the compartmentalization of memory in the brain—the storage of different aspects of a memory in different areas—the careful application of PKMzeta synthesis inhibitors and other chemicals that interfere with reconsolidation should allow scientists to selectively delete aspects of a memory. Right now, researchers have to inject their obliviating potions directly into the rodent brain. Future treatments, however, will involve targeted inhibitors, like an advanced version of ZIP, that become active only in particular parts of the cortex and only at the precise time a memory is being recalled. The end result will be a menu of pills capable of erasing different kinds of memories—the scent of a former lover or the awful heartbreak of a failed relationship. These thoughts and feelings can be made to vanish, even as the rest of the memory remains perfectly intact. “Reconsolidation research has shown that we can get very specific about which associations we go after,” LeDoux says. “And that’s a very good thing. Nobody actually wants a totally spotless mind.”

After Turkey

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* Apes Unwilling to Gamble When Odds Are Uncertain.

* TSA outrage of the week: Documented “revenge screenings” in Phoenix.

* America now has two distinct literary cultures. Which one will last? MFA vs. NYC. Via John.

The most recent example is an announcement by two scientists at Johns Hopkins University that they may have discovered a way to erase traumatic memories from the mind by removing certain proteins from the amygdala, the brain structure that processes memory and emotional reactions.

The procedure is still theoretical, and primitive, but Richard Huganir, a professor and chair of the neuroscience department at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told the Baltimore Sun on Monday that the discovery “raises the possibility of manipulating those mechanisms with drugs to enhance behavioral therapy for such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Let’s trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle.

* And Americans are not as foolish as the media would sometimes have us believe.

Friday Night

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* Breaking news: TPM is reporting right this second that Obama has brokered a climate deal with China.

* Also breaking at this hour: I will never get a job.

* Trinity College entrance exam, 1900-1901. Via Mitch.

* Two more Avatar reviews, here and here.

Yes, on one level it’s a crock: predictable, sentimental, and tin-eared. It’s an attempt to rewrite (and reanimate) American history in the form of a barely disguised parable of Native Americans triumphing against white imperialists who would drive them from their ancestral lands — aided by a white imperialist (a Marine) who has Gone Native. Set in the year 2154 on Pandora, a moon of the vast gas planet Polyphemus in Alpha Centauri, it’s Dances With Thanators (and Banshees and Direhorses and Hexapedes and Hammerhead Titanotheres and Leonopteryxs). The narrative would be ho-hum without the spectacle. But what spectacle! Avatar is dizzying, enveloping, vertiginous … I ran out of adjectives an hour into its 161 minutes.

* Muhammed Ali fought 50 men. Only one disappeared.

* And There Will Be Blood wins movie of the decade on Gawker’s meta-list. Surprised to see Eternal Sunshine and the Lord of the Rings series as such close seconds, and found this observation noteworthy: “If the Pixar movies had been one series, it would have won the decade. Easily.” PS: Quentin, Wes, Alfonso, Chris, and the Coens wuz robbed.