Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Web Secret 424: the inner search engine

Did you know that the expression "is that even a thing?" is just a couple of years old?

The plasticity of the English language is one of the reasons for its dominance across the world. Invent a new object, experience or concept and a new Anglicism seems to appear overnight.

So the term "inner search engine" has recently taken flight.

It's a thing.

It's a thing of beauty.

Most of the mental health professionals I come across are quick to express dismay at the rapidity with which technology is matching human performance. Certainly, that is a cause for concern.

But it is also cause for wonder. Can you believe the human brain can do that? Whatever "that" is?

Recently, I began to focus in on my inner search engine - which functions pretty well.

If I was a Marvel superhero, my power would be: "able to read a single page of text at a glance, memorize it, and extract the information in about a second - years later."

Nowhere is this more obvious than when I do the Monday New York Times crossword puzzle.

The Monday puzzle is the easiest of the week, rewarding knowledge of facts and information rather then aptitude for wordplay or puns.

I usually complete it in a stupor - (I'm the furthest thing from a morning person) - using a fountain pen - in about 5 minutes or less.

With the help of my inner search engine.

Clue: "Wildcat with tufted ears" Answer: "Lynx." That just popped into my head.

Clue "Emile of the Dreyfus Affair" Answer: "Zola." I know why I know this. I have been fanatically interested in the Dreyfus Affair since the age of 12. It was an espionage scandal in late 19th century France which resulted in the unjust conviction of a French Jewish officer. The great writer Emile Zola, came to the defense of Dreyfus when his open letter to the President of France was published in the newspaper L'Aurore" with the headline "J'Accuse."

Clue: "Indian state known for its tea and silk" Answer: Assam. No clue why I know this.

Clue: "Dresden denials" Answer: "Neins." Questions like this are a gift to me because I know three languages fluently and have studied another four.

Clue: "One side of a Faustian bargain" Answer: Satan. I read Goethe's Faust when I was 13. He makes a pact with the devil exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Spoiler: bad idea.

And so it goes until I complete the crossword grid.

What is your super power?

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