How do we remember this (and not that, or the other thing)?

How do we remember this (and not that, or the other thing)?

The Neurocritic has a fascinating report on recent research exploring memory interference. One of the primary problems with memory is deciding what to remember and what to forget. As an example of the scale of the problem, if we recorded every image we ever saw in its raw format, we’d soon exhaust our memory reserves. And what if we remembered every word we’d ever read, instead of recalling the larger sense of what we learn? Again, eventually we’d run out of space.

When we encounter new images or words, we must decide which memories should be discarded, and which we should keep. Memory interference is one mechanism we use, and one type of memory interference is one that privileges older memories over new ones. It can make sense: if we’ve retained an item in memory, there’s probably a good reason. It’s more likely that the new information is just noise.

The new research has identified the region of the brain that’s responsible for this type of interference:

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Lebanese opposition puts on show of Muslim unity

Lebanese opposition puts on show of Muslim unity

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A Lebanese Sunni preacher led thousands of anti-government Shi’ite protesters in prayers on Friday, in a show of Muslim unity designed to dispel fears of sectarian strife.

The Hezbollah-led opposition has besieged government headquartersfor the past week to try to topple the Western-backed cabinet of PrimeMinister Fouad Siniora.

Shi’ite Hezbollah is the most powerful force in the opposition while Siniora and his main backer,parliamentary majority leader Saad al-Hariri, are both Sunnis.

The city center protest has heightened tensions between the two communities, but Preacher Fathi Yakan, who leads a small pro-opposition Sunni group, urged unity.

“This mass protest is not for Shi’ites or for Sunnis or any other sect. It is for all of Lebanon,” he said, accusing the government of being an agent of the United States.

“Fellow Lebanese, Sunnis and Shi’ites, Druze and Christians, beware and then beware of sliding toward the hell of strife,” he said, his words echoing around downtown Beirut which still bears the scars of the1975-90 civil war.

Shi’ite parties withdrew their ministers from the cabinet last month and have called for the creation of a government of national unity following this summer’s 34-day war with Israel.

“Your sit-in, God willing, will foil the American project in Lebanon,” Yakan said.

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Beach volleyball bikinis shake up Asian Games in Qatar

For Qatar, men tolerate beach volleyball bikinis

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — When Salim Al-Nabit and his friends went to see beach volleyball for the first time, they left their wives home.

Al-Nabitsaid he would watch the bikini-clad women, but he certainly wouldn’t want his wife to do so. He was there, he added, because it was a matter of national honor.

“We don’t see this a lot in Qatar,” Al-Nabit said. “I think most people think it is outrageous. But we accept it because it is important for our country. We want others to see us as a generous and hospitable people, willing to accept their ways, even if we don’t agree.”

Beach volleyball’s penchant for bikinis has touched off a bit of a cultural clash in this conservative Muslim city, which by hosting the Asian Games, a regional sports extravaganza, is trying to bolster its bid to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to the Middle East.

The city has transformed itself in an effort to woo the Olympics. It has spent billions on infrastructure and sparkling new sports facilities, including the 50,000-seat “Aspire” stadium.

Doha organizers brought in 80 truckloads of sand from dunes in the desert outside the city to create the proper beach setting for the volleyball competition. They then even had the sand tested by a Canadian contractor to make sure it was just right.

But some things are just too much to ask.

Though 16 Muslim nations are represented at the Asian Games, only one, Iraq, is competing in women’s beach volleyball. And its team, sisters Lisa and Lida Agasi, are Christians.

Do they feel uncomfortable?

“No, not at all,” Lida said after her first game on Saturday. But their coach noted they seemed a bit overwhelmed because “all eyes were upon them.”

Even so, the Iraqis wore considerably more conservative outfits than their opponents, the Japanese. While the Agasis were clad in yellow, two-piece tights that went down to mid thigh and coveredmost of their shoulders, the Japanese pair’s uniforms were so small that the country name had to be abbreviated on their bikini bottoms.

The Qatari women are sitting out the event, though Qatar has teams for everything from archery to skeet shooting.

“It’s not good,” said Parvana Khoory, who watched from the almost-empty stands around the 1,500-seat center court dressed in black from head to toe. “We want a woman to cover all of her body. I think this discourages Muslim women from playing this sport.”

Some of the players agree that the outfits don’t need to be as brief.

“I felt kind of funny about it at first,” said Japan’s Satoko Urata. “But what can you do? It doesn’t bother me now. They have uniforms like this in swimming and track, too.”

That has been a sticking point with Muslim athletes as well. Few Muslim teams at the Asian Games include female swimmers. Of those that do, some, like Pakistan, prefer its women wear full-body swimsuits.

Beach volleyball has strict rules dictating what constitutes proper attire. Women can wear one- or two-piece uniforms, and that usually means they play in bikinis and sunglasses.

Competition manager Ramon Suzara, an official with the Asian Beach Volleyball Association, said that allowances have been made for Muslims.

“They can wear what they want, so long as it is appropriate,” he said.

Suzara added, however, that he hopes Muslims will come to accept the same kind of outfits that the athletes of other nations wear.

“This is sport in the 21st century,” he said. “I think this will be an eye-opener for Doha.”

It was for Al-Nabit, who confessed that, in the end, he enjoyed watching the competition.

“But I felt very shy about it,” he said.

via [CNN]

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Searchmash Google interface experiment

Searchmash Google interface experiment


New web search interface Searchmash (which is apparently run by Google) offers web, images, video, blog and Wikipedia search results all on one dynamic page with modules that expand and collapse.

At first Searchmash doesn’t seem like much, but its results page offers some nifty features, like dynamically appending more results to the page, image and video thumbnails in collapsible modules, and showing/hiding result details. Plus, there are no ads! Reader Ben writes in with some insider info and more usage tips:

It seems that Google has set themselves up a sandbox at where they can test out new UI and search ideas without having any outward appearance of Google-ness. The intention was that the test users would be impartial if they didn’t know it was really Google.

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Create a shutdown shortcut for your desktop

Create a shutdown shortcut for your desktop


The collaborative DIY web site Instructables has a neat trick for adding a shutdown shortcut to your Windows desktop complete with the shutdown icon (or anywhere else, for that matter).

In fact, the little how-to also shows you how to make shortcuts to restart, logoff, and shutdown your computer, as well. Our readers have sort of covered this territory for us already, but Instructables puts it all together in one neat step-by-step package. Again, since these are shortcuts, you can put them anywhere; for example, I like being able to restart/shutdown my computer from the Quicklaunch toolbar.

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Download of the Day: Remote Desktop (Windows)

Download of the Day: Remote Desktop (Windows)


Windows only: The IntelliAdmin weblog points out an updated release of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client with lots of added features, like:

· Network Level Authentication
· Server Authentication
· Plug and Play redirection
· TS Gateway support
· Monitor Spanning
· 32-bit color and font smoothing

If you have a dual monitor setup, the monitor spanning is an especially good addition, and the new client feels like it’s got a little extra snap to it. Those of you who use Remote Desktop regularly know that, even though controlling your home computer via VNC is a great solution, you’re not likely to find a faster/better tool than Microsoft’s Remote Desktop client for a Windows-to-Windows connection. If you give it a try, let us know how the new client works for you in the comments.

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Toyota Designs Hybrid Vehicle Using Pedal Power and Electricity

Toyota Designs Hybrid Vehicle Using Pedal Power and Electricity


Toyota has designed a concept car for that time when we’ll all be towing our Priuses with a team of horses, calling its creation a Renewable Lifestyle Vehicle (RLV). It takes the word “hybrid” to the next level, splitting its powertrain between pedal power and a battery-powered electric motor.

Yep, it’s like that little pedal-powered fire truck you had when you were a kid. It’s super light, made of aluminum, bamboo and something called “bioplastic,” known to you and me as garbage. Why was this designed, anyway?

Toyota didn’t say if or when it plans to build such a vehicle; the company was just playing a game called the Design Challenge, dreamed up by the greater Los Angeles Auto Show, urging nine carmakers to imagine “a time when all vehicles have technology allowing the public to enjoy the distinctive Southern California lifestyle and unique environment without harming it.”


The goofiest vehicle in the competition was the Green Hummer, pictured above, that somehow uses panels made out of slime, I mean, algae, to pay back for all of that polluting carbon dioxide it spews. The algae is supposed to photosynthesize oxygen out of the Hummer’s plentiful supply of carbon dioxide emissions.

We’ll find out who wins this competition on Thursday (November 30).

Toyota Unveil Hybrid Pedal-Electric Concept ‘Car’ ]treehugger]

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