Archive for January, 2009

09w05:3 Memory Encoding

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Computational Influence of Adult Neurogenesis on Memory Encoding |
Aimone1, Wiles, and Gage
“Adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus leads to the incorporation of thousands of new granule cells into the dentate gyrus every month, but its function remains unclear. Here, we present computational evidence that indicates that adult neurogenesis may make three separate but related contributions to memory formation. First, immature neurons introduce a degree of similarity to memories learned at the same time, a process we refer to as pattern integration. Second, the extended maturation and change in excitability of these neurons make this added similarity a time-dependent effect, supporting the possibility that temporal information is included in new hippocampal memories. Finally, our model suggests that the experience-dependent addition of neurons results in a dentate gyrus network well suited for encoding new memories in familiar contexts while treating novel contexts differently. Taken together, these results indicate that new granule cells may affect hippocampal function in several unique and previously unpredicted ways.”

Newborn brain cells “time-stamp” memories | Salk Institute

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09w05:1 Shakespeare's Blog Part VI

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January 27th

It was yesterday and I have scarce breath to write. Liveried barges to Greenwich and then the great roaring fires and braziers against the bright thin cold as we deck ourselves, wine too and ale and chines and boarheads and a tumbling profusion of kickshawses, then we gasp in to the Great Hall, the Queen chewing on broken teeth in her magnificence, gold throne, bare diamond-winking bosoms glowing in the heat of logs and seacoal, laughing lords and tittering ladies and the Queen’s bead-eyes on my lord E, amethysts bloodstones carbuncles flashing fingers jewelled swordhilts the clothofgold bride and silken yawning groom. And so, amid coughs, to our play, Will Ostler trembling and forgetting his lines and finger-clicking for bookholder to prompt but all else going well save for Kemp, impromptu King, who got not so much laughter as he thought his due and chided audience for this. Later almost to blows with Kemp, but he has a share and I am but a poet. So home in dead weariness (torchlight on the river as though the river burned). But in my cold chamber I am dragged wide awake by letter on table with H’s seal. It is to be done. I am to have my share. In fever of delight and gratitude. So I go today to her house, clear flashing winter sunlight making a world all of tinkling money, and I am admitted at once, for all must go well for me now. I have a gift for her if she will accept it, it is no more than a dish of candy from the Court, but it is from the Court the Court, mark that, madam. Aye, my play was done before the Queen’s majesty at Greenwich. Before the Queen? Aye, that. And what did she wear and what noble lords and ladies were there and tell me all all all. And so I told her all.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 147-48)

09w05:1 Alan Kay: "The Computer is an instrument whose music is ideas".

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Face to Face: Alan Kay Still Waiting for the Revolution | Lars Kongshem (April 2003)
Q: You often say that the computer revolution hasn’t happened yet. What do you mean by that?
“A: If you look with a squinty eye at most of personal computing today, you’ll see we’re basically just automating paper—using digital versions of documents and mail. But as was the case with the invention of the printing press, the interesting thing about the computer is that it allows you to have new ways of representing things, new ways to argue about things, and new kinds of fluencies. Most schools define computer literacy as being able to operate Microsoft Office and maybe do a little web design. They’re missing the point. That’s like saying, “If you know which end of a book to hold up, and you know how to turn to Chapter Three, then you’re literate.” Literature is first and foremost about having ideas important enough to discuss and write down in some form. So you have to ask, “What is the literature that is best written down on a computer?” One answer is to make a dynamic simulation of some idea that you think is important, a simulation that you can play with and that you can learn from. […] You can put a piano in every classroom, but that won’t give you a developed music culture, because the music culture is embodied in people. […] If you don’t have a teacher who is a carrier of music, then all efforts to do music in the classroom will fail—because existing teachers who are not musicians will decide to teach the C Major scale and see what the bell curve is on that. The important thing here is that the music is not in the piano. And knowledge and edification is not in the computer. The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas. […] If you take all the anthropological universals and lay them out, those are the things that you can expect children to learn from their environment—and they do. But the point of school is to teach all those things that are inventions and that are hard to learn because we’re not explicitly wired for them. Like reading and writing. Virtually all learning difficulties that children face are caused by adults’ inability to set up reasonable environments for them. The biggest barrier to improving education for children, with or without computers, is the completely impoverished imaginations of most adults.”


09w04:2 Shakespeare's Blog V

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January 20th

Today I pierced that fastness. The bit-and-piecing of the play goes on in rehearsal but, hearing the set speech I have given Theseus on the lunatic the lover and the poet I, standing hand-rubbing oldly as Philostrate, was of a sudden filled with lunaticloverpoet’s pride. I marched bold as a soldier to her house in the afternoon, there being no performance, and knocked and said to the maid, a long-nosed girl, that Master Shakespeare was come to deliver somewhat to her mistress. Her mistress, says she, is occupied and cannot be seen, mayhap she herself can take. I say no, I am here on the Lord Chamerberlain’s behoof and will not bandy with servants. And she she she comes into the hallway to ask who is here. She sees me and says: Well, come in and let us know what is your business. So I leftright leftright to a fair panelled room and we sit. The somewhat I have for her is but a cordial summons to tomorrow’s Romeo. Is Master Burbage in it, she would know, and I say aye. Ah, she is sorry then but she is promised abroad. You have then, madam, a large acquaintance in London? Oh, I am invited much. For mine own part, madam, I find a poet’s life a surfeit of clawers and rubbers. I was but saying a week gone to my near friend Harry Wriothesly, the Earl of Southampton that is … He is a friend, you say? The Earl of Southampton is your friend? Oh, I have earls and dukes enow as friends; I was saying but this morning to Duke Theseus …

You speak English prettily, madam. What, though, is your native tongue? Say somewhat in it. She says (I write it on my tablet): Slammat jalan. What means that, madam? It is what we say to one who is leaving, it means: let your journey be safe. And so I am gently dismissed. But I kiss that wonder of a warm tawny hand before leaving.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 146-47)

09w03:2 Chronicle of a Suicide Foretold: The Case of Israel

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Chronicle of a Suicide Foretold: The Case of Israel | Immanuel Wallerstein
“The three-element strategy of Israel is decomposing. The iron fist no longer succeeds, much as it didn’t for George Bush in Iraq. Will the United States link remain firm? I doubt it. And will world public opinion continue to look sympathetically on Israel? It seems not. Can Israel now switch to an alternative strategy, of negotiating with the militant representatives of the Arab Palestinians, as an integral constituent of the Middle East, and not as an outpost of Europe? It seems quite late for that, quite possibly too late. Hence, the chronicle of a suicide foretold.”

09w03:1 Shakespeare's Blog IV

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January 13th

So cold and kibey a day that I laugh in scorn of our trade that we represent midsummer, all leafy and flowery. She has kept indoors, her house all muffled up with shutters as it too feels the cold. I am sick of these sugar rhymes. I dream after dinner (a drowsy one of fat pork and a pudding) that I am ass-headed Bottom in the bower of a tiny golden Titania. Thou art as wise as thou are beautiful. The mirror shows bad teeth and beard fast graying, a wormy skin. Old dad.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 146)

09w02:4 Shakespeare's Blog III

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January 9th

At the Theatre in the mornings they are rehearsing already in their several groups, for that is the one way to deal with short notice, to write a play soft-jointed and separable out. And it was without the walls that I had the good chance to see her and, my heart beating unwontedly, even to address a word. I was leaving for my lodging and her coach was coming by. Then a gentleman appears from Spitalfields way and his horse slipped and slithered in all the foul slushy snowbroth so that her own two took fright and the offside reared and whinnied. It was I that nimbly darted, though panting much after, and seized his head, saying calming words. Her coach-man got down and first her maid put out her face from the coach and the she on the other side, drawing aside her veil to see what was the matter. And so I went up and doffed my hat and bowed.

-All is right now. That horse slipped, see. He had ridden on and all is well again.

-I am beholden. I thank. Wait, I will give …

-Ah, madam, no. I am a gentleman. I am Master Shakespeare of the Theatre there.

-You are there? You are of Master Burbage’s company?

How knows she of him? Her voice is prettily foreign. She cannot say th or w. I tank. Bwait, I bwill geef … I drank in her goldeness.

-You have seen Master Burbage act then, madam?

-Him I did see in Rish Hard de Turd.

And so I smiled, saying:

-The play of which I myself am the author. You are welcome any time at the Theatre. I will be most happy to offer you what hospitality the house affords.

But she smiled queenlily, saying:

-I tank you. Now must we on.

So saying, she bade her coachman continue on their way and left me there standing in the dirty snow. And I was aware that H has said no more of the £1000 and I remain the writing hack whom they will welcome as a whole shareholder can I but find the money.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 145-146)