Friday, September 25, 2009

Robert Strange McNamara 1916-2009

Until recently, I hadn't heard that Robert Strange McNamara had passed away this last year. An interesting biography on this "Strange" and often contradictory figure in American foreign policy.

McNamara gained fame and acclaim originally as defense secretary for John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and his notable accomplishments included engineering the war in Vietnam, and developing US defense doctrine for nuclear war that exist to this day. He was known for ruthlessly applying the cold, calculating precision of mathematical statistics to decision making.

Despite being the architect for America's invasion and conflict in South-West Asia, he later became a tireless advocate against war and America's militaristic and agressive foreign policies. In his later years, he became a tireless activist for nuclear disarmament and the ever present danger that nuclear weapons pose.

Ironically, McNamara later became an outspoken critic of his own war, saying,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Poverty

"Poverty is not created by the poor but by the institutions and policies that we, the better off, have established. We can solve the problem not by means of the old concepts but by adopting radically new ones." ~ Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank for Micro-credit

Grameen Bank

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

People With Super Memory

Here's a guy who lost his cell phone. I'd be panicking because I would never be able to remember all the numbers. This guy didn't because he'd already memorized all of them. He also remembers the scores of every Pittsburgh Steelers game he ever saw. And the final scores. Since he was 7. Researchers can show freeze frame pictures to him from the games, and he can name the game, date, and score of that game.

According to researchers, he has a rare condition that gives him a super powerful memory, known to researchers as super-autobiographical memory. And there are only four people known to have the condition. Their minds, likened to video cameras that never stop running or a computer hard drive that downloads every web page visited, can recall trivia and minutiae from everyday life that some of them find unbearably stifling.

According to the article, the condition is closely linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, and researchers suspect it may be more common and undiagnosed.

Either way, I personally think it would be wonderful to have a super powerful memory that could be accessed like a Google server. Imagine an enormous memory with no limits to what you can recall? I'd be able to learn every Korean word after hearing it only once? How cool would that be? Heck, I could learn every Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Latin, Greek, and French as well!

4 People with Super Memory, by David K. Israel

Mental Floss: Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix