NEAL CONAN, HOST:
It's Thursday, and time to read from your comments. Last week, during the inauguration here in Washington, D.C., we asked listeners for a snapshot of their lives right now.
Alvin(ph) wrote: Where are we right now? We imagine ourselves to be the greatest nation in the world, but, in fact, lag behind many other nations in terms of health care, civil rights, education, environmental responsibility, et cetera. It's time to stop congratulating ourselves and to start looking beyond our borders for examples of responsible government that works.
Katherine in Folsom, California, saw the day differently. She wrote: I look forward to each Inauguration with the sense of wonder and pride. It's a celebration of our collective belief in the goodness of our fellow citizens. We rest on the certainty that we can call a radio station, complain with vehemence about the choices our president has made that negatively affected our lives and never fear any type of retribution coming from that president. That's a powerful statement on the goodness of humans. This is a good place to live.
We also spoke with author and neuroscientist Dan Levitin about what happens to our sense of self once we start losing memories.
John from Tucson called to tell us he worried about not being able to recognize his grandchildren someday.
Elaine wrote in to respond: My son was five when my mother began to experience memory loss from Alzheimer's. My son formed a lovely and close relationship with his grandmother. He played silly games with her, told her the play-by-play of his soccer games over and over while she patiently listened, took her hand and guided her up to the buffet at a restaurant and retuned with plates full of bacon. And when I would sometimes break down and cry at the loss, I felt my son and my mother were often happily interacting together, focusing on the joy of the moment. Memory was not the only thing that made my mother a loving and joyful person to be with.
Last week, we also marked the 125th anniversary of National Geographic, and we asked which Nat Geo stories you never parted with.
Meg Butler said hers was the late '80s edition of the Steger expedition to the North Pole. My first cousin, Ann Bancroft, was on that expedition, and was the first woman to dogsled to the North Pole.
And Mark wrote to ask: How could you do a story about the National Geographic Society's 125th birthday without playing their movie theme? Many of us of a certain age have fond memories of grade school movie days and pounding our desks on that final thu-dum. Well, Mark, here you go.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
CONAN: Now that are desks are properly bruised, if you have a correction, comment or question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. If you're on Twitter, you can follow us there @totn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.