Daniel Tammet


This guy fascinates me. He seems so self-aware and capable of explaining his understanding of himself to the rest of us. I once read an article written by a neurosurgeon who suffered a stroke and recorded her experience as it was happening. I love it when people can express their own amazing weirdness in a way that makes sense to those of us who haven’t been through the same thing. It’s the definition of genius to me.

I read one of his books a whole bunch of years ago, “Born on a Blue Day”. Afterward I memorized π to 75 digits over the next couple of days. I used telephone area codes I had memorized at one of my first jobs, home phone numbers I remember from my childhood, family members’ birthdays, and ZIP codes to find the most memorable patterns, and then when nothing matched I just thought to myself, “oh yeah, the bunch of numbers that don’t mean anything…” But it only stuck with me for about 2 weeks. I had to recite it every day, several times to hold the numbers but it was almost completely gone a week later and forgotten 2 weeks later. Well, not completely. I still remember it out to about ten digits. 

3.1 easy. 415, San Fransisco area code. 926, kind of like the 976 porn phone numbers from the ’80s. 535, 5 seven times. I don’t remember any of the rest of it, but I learned about finding meaningful patterns in noisy number trails as part of this exercise.

Meta Bedtime Story

The bed time story I told my kids tonight:

“Once upon a time there were two little boys who were going to bed. Their dad said, please turn off your iPad, Malcolm. And Malcolm said, I don’t want a story! And dad said just turn it off until the story’s over. And Malcolm said it better be short! And then dad said ‘the more Malcolm argued with dad, the longer the story was and the longer he had to sit there with his iPad off.’ And finally Malcolm turned off his iPad and dad was able to finish his story. All of this made Ian so tired and he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open. And then Malcolm prolonged the story by asking if he could turn on his iPad, to which dad said, ‘no! not until the story’s over!’ Every time Malcolm asked if he could turn on his iPad, the story got longer and longer! It was like magic. And then, Ian was so tired that he just couldn’t stay awake any longer and the time when Malcolm got to turn his iPad back on got nearer and nearer. And then, guess what! Malcolm asked if he could turn on his iPad again and the story got even longer!”

Mal: No I didn’t!

Story: “Oh, wait, no he didn’t. So then the story ended and everybody got to go to bed. Except Malcolm who turned his iPad back on and continued to stay up. The end.”

Lord of the Rings

Just watched Lord of the Rings with my boys. Best movie watching experience ever. They were enthralled and Ian started crying when Boromir dies at the end and we all hugged when Sam won’t let Frodo go alone and then Frodo almost drowns saving Sam. “It’s like they’re brothers! Like me and Ian. We would always stay with each other.” I choked up a little.

Malcolm: “I usually like the bad guys better in most movies, but I hate these bad guys.”

Dad: “me too!” ::pride::

Ian: “I like it when people don’t have wars. I hope there’s never a real war. I’m never going to be in the army.”

Dad: “I can’t really talk right now.” ::I didn’t say that::

We’re going to watch Return of the King tomorrow.