[personal profile] chaosvizier
Oops, lost track of things. So let's finish up this November Meme with the last two entries merged into one, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] sskipstress and [livejournal.com profile] sskipstress. Convenient, wot wot?

On the one hand, she was curious about my thoughts on presidential pardoning of turkeys.

On the other hand, she wondered what were some of the most useful, most amusing, and utterly useless mnemonics.

In the words of Leroy Jenkins, "Let's do this!"

The role of a President (or any other Head of State) is challenging, fraught with tough questions, fierce opposition, and difficult choices. Your life is full of discussion of war and peace, disaster and turmoil, support and condemnation, and speech after speech after speech of empty words and hollow points. No sir, it is a difficult life indeed.

What takes the edge off the daily hassles of leading a nations? Oddly enough, it's the small things, the ceremonies and pomp and circumstance that might seem meaningless, but they serve as a breather from all the serious issues that bombard a world leader 24/7. Speaking at a college commencement? Sure! Cutting a ribbon for a new building? Woohoo! Presiding over a gladiatorial bout? Bring it! These little things take the edge off the heavy crown of rulership.

So, God Bless America and all that, the President of the United States presides over what might be one of the more ridiculous ceremonies ever, the official pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey. Thanksgiving, for those of you unfamiliar with our strange American ways, is a holiday in which the customary food is turkey. Turkey by the whole body. So obviously that means that en route you have a metric shit-ton of dead turkeys. But one turkey per year is pardoned by the President and granted amnesty and freedom. That being said, the President promptly goes home and eats a different turkey, reminding our pardoned friend that his life is purchased at the expense of another.

So... what happens to this forgiven bird? Is he free forever more, never to worry about the headsman's axe? Does he visit other turkey farms like Katniss Everdeen on a Victor's Tour, reminding other birds that the odds are ever in their favor? Or is his freedom short-lived, and next year he has to re-enter the lottery and hope for ongoing safety? Maybe there's a special farm somewhere, where all the Pardoned Birds reside in peace and isolation, to live out their natural lives in safety? These are all important questions, and we need to know.

Learning: one of our greatest challenges. Especially when it comes to rote memorization. Some things just have to be committed to our neural net by brute force. How many times did you study your multiplication tables? How many times did you have to recite the Preamble of the Constitution, or one of Shakespeare's soliloquies? Memorization is a part of learning, and not often an easy part.

And thus, mnemonics. When your memorization involves a list of things, you can create a simple sentence or phrase matching the starting letters of the things in your list. By remembering the sentence, you can trigger a memory of the actual list. You can also create an acronym or a phrase that helps trigger the memory

Science gives us the classics, like My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas for the planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto1) and Kings Play Chess On Fiber Glass Stools for the categories of life (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species). Music offers Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge for the notes on the lines of musical notation (E at the bottom, then G, B, D, and F at the top)2. From math I learned about My Dear Aunt Sally for the order of operations (Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction)3.

I learned a number of key phrases, like "Never mind the reason why, just invert and multiply" to explain how to divide fractions, or "i before e except after c" to explain certain spelling issues with English. Many of us know the poem "30 Days Hath November" to remember the number of days in every month.

The great thing is, you can create your own. These are popular examples that show up all the time, but anything put into list format can be modified into a mnemonic of your own design. Want some examples? Well, that's what youtube is for. Don't believe me? Try these out for size.

1 Yes, Pluto, dammit. We believe in you, little buddy.
2 The counterpart to this is the acronym FACE, indicating the notes on the spaces between the lines (F for the lowest space, then A, C, and E for the top space).
3 When I first learned this, I added the word "Please" to this phrase, to indicate Powers (exponents) that preceded the other operations. I was a precocious little math dork when I was young.

TL,DR version: If you learn a mnemonic, you'll save the turkey.
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