Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category
Sorry for the belated posting. Miss Molly had to go in to the vet, who removed two teeth. (Maine Coon cats tend to have dental problems. One good thing about British Shorthairs: very few health issues.)
I used my Wee Scot with the really excellent I Coloniali shaving soap (that uses mango oil). It’s a somewhat thirsty soap, but now I know the drill.
With it, I used the Super Speed TV model—sold only through the TV—and a Swedish Gillette blade. I included the contemporary regular Super Speed in front so you can see the difference: no horizontal grooves.
Three passes to perfection, then a good spray into my palm of Creed Aventus, and that slapped onto my face as an aftershave. A great way to start the day for me, but then Molly was off to the dentist.
She’s back home and resting. Antibiotics for a week.
A bird feeder is nice for birds, of course, but also good entertainment for indoor cats. (Outdoor cats kill birds.)
I had a few bird feeders at the other apartment, and one serious problem is that big birds—jays and pigeons, mostly—would show up, hog the feeder, and chase away the small songbirds.
And then I got the Duncraft feeder shown above. It costs $17, and it’s a jewel of a feeder. As you see, small birds have no trouble eating from it, and sometimes one would actually get inside the feeder and eat there. The larger birds would try to eat from it, but they had no place to stand. They would fly by, trying somehow to tilt their flight to secure food, but it was hopeless (from their point of view).
A great feeder, and it holds almost 5 lbs. of black-oil sunflower seed, enough to feed birds for quite a while.
Filled with seed, it hangs now on the balcony, with some seed scattered on the floor and railing to attract the first feeders. Once word gets out, birds will come regularly so long as feed is provided.
Molly’s going to be so entertained. :)
Scientific analysis in Wired article by Bryan Gardiner:
Take heart feline enthusiasts. Your cat’s continued indifference toward her new Deluxe Scratch DJ Deck may be disappointing, but there is an object that’s pretty much guaranteed to pique her interest. That object, as the Internet has so thoroughly documented, is a box. Any box, really. Big boxes, small boxes, irregularly shaped boxes—it doesn’t matter. Place one on the ground, a chair, or a bookshelf and watch as Admiral Snuggles quickly commandeers it.
So what are we to make of the strange gravitational pull that empty Amazon packaging exerts on felis catus? Like many other really weird things cats do, science hasn’t fully cracked this particular feline mystery. There’s the obvious predation advantage a box affords: Cats are ambush predators, and boxes provide great hiding places to stalk prey from (and retreat to). But there’s clearly more going on here.
Thankfully, behavioral biologists and veterinarians have come up with a few other interesting explanations. In fact, when you look at all the evidence together, it could be that your cat may not just like boxes, he may need them. . .
Maru, the cat in the video above, stars in many short videos and is obviously a wonderful cat. Here’s another Maru vehicle:
Quite an interesting study. Cats, like dogs, use their humans’ responses to gauge the threat level of something new in the environment.
Molly came to sit in my lap, a fraught process that involves much testing and hesitation and tentativeness followed by total relaxation and purring. She usually holds down my arm nearest her hear with a front paw planted firmly on that arm.
But that arm wasn’t available today because I was drinking iced tea. I noted that she then placed that arm-holding paw on the arm of the chair and held it firmly down.
So it wasn’t about holding me down, particularly, it was about wanting a firm support for that paw, presumably so she’ll be able to leap the instant a mouse should present itself present itself.
So I was just sitting there, letting her enjoy the moment (and me as well), and I thought of memes, in this sense.
For those just joining us: Memes, defined in chapter 11 of Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene and expanded upon in The Blind Watchmaker, are replicators very like genes: basic units of inheritance (though inheritance of culture—things that can be imitated—rather rather than of genes), having offspring with slight variations, and competing for resources, with those most adapted surviving. Evolution really does advance the story: later generations gradually become more complex and environmentally manipulative—for example, single-cell entities (where “cell” can refer to a genetic or memetic context) evolve to multicellular entities (organisms, for life evolution; in meme evolution, one gets meme-clusters: memes that reinforce each other, making the meme equivalent of a biofilm). Memes can combine—nationalism and opera and movies and so on—and, as Dawkins says, their evolution is extremely rapid compared to the evolution of lifeforms; and moreover, the meme, like the gene, is “selfish”: i.e., the meme is not so concerned about the well-being of the human hosts as it is about its own survival and propagation. Memes in that sense can act as a kind of disease that doesn’t quite kill the host and is still adapting toward having a more symbiotic relationship: just as physical illnesses become milder as more benign variants are selected. (A virus that killed instantly the host would not spread very far and thus would quickly die out: natural selection at work.)
The point is: memes evolve rapidly and they are “selfish.” Cf. North Korea.
Given that lifeforms and memes are subject to Darwinian logic, they both will (necessarily) evolve. Since both evolutions are subject to the same laws, it very naturally results that one gets a kind of “convergent evolution,” in which one can find many analogues between lifeforms and meme entities. That is, good evolutionary solutions/strategies will be good in either context, so successful outcomes will have some resemblances. Thus, we naturally enough find many analogues between lifeforms and memeish entities and vice versa.
That means you can look at particular lifeform adaptations and seek their analogues among memes, and vice versa.
Even better… and here’s where the story really begins: you can examine differences between human animals and other animals—those that don’t host memes—and perhaps get an idea of how memes might account for significant differences. It’s the old “How are humans different from other animals?” question, but viewed from a meme perspective: it assumes that any differences of substantial nature are due to memes.
Specifically, I was watching Molly just relax totally with not a thought for tomorrow, and thinking that was what life would be like for a meme-free animal—along with intermittent hunger, fear, pain, etc. But still, when times are good, just enjoy them.
Basically, non-human animals have no drive. They lack ambition. They do not want to leave the world a better place. They do not want to advance the knowledge of their kind, or to become known as a champion of their rights, a protector of their poor (though they may indeed protect the poor/wounded, but they have, I’m sure, no concept of becoming “known” for the deed).
Or, to put it more simply, non-human animals lack memes. We are driven by memes, and the meme “We must advance human knowledge, improve human condition” is a very basic, very primitive meme. Once it became active, it was in effect a meme-factory, kicking off a process that multiplies memes by the millions—thus undoubtedly hastening memetic evolution.
So that’s one difference memes make: ambition. And that’s a big difference.
On thinking further: I don’t think the meme-human situation is like the Puppetmasters. Generally speaking, meme propagation is heavily influenced by what “works” (in whatever context): memes that “work” will spread quickly. They in effect fulfill their promises. (Cf. the rapid spread of the meme-cluster “traditional wetshaving with a DE razor,” for example: that meme-cluster spreads rapidly because its promises are for most fulfilled. If the meme didn’t work, analogous to a virus that sickens its host, it doesn’t propagate very well—certainly not so well as those that do. A country like North Korea is an exception (and a meme-cluster with extraordinarily strong protective memes (analogous to antibodies), but in general, a meme that harms its hosts cannot endure. Or so it seems to date.
So, generally speaking, memes benefit us. Still, there is the puppetmaster aspect: many of those benefits are in the form of memes—meme-currency, as it were—rather than direct animal benefits—because, as we’ve seen, animals do not need much. OTOH, we do now have anesthetic. So it’s not all bad.
It’s a puzzle as to which is in charge, is it not?
UPDATE: It strikes me that we have a nomenclature need—a need that, for all I know, has already been met. We need to be able to refer with a single name the generalization of common structures/adaptations/patterns we find in comparing memes and lifeforms. It’s the word for a particular category or type of evolutionary adaptation when you see examples both among lifeforms and among memes. It’s the general terminology for the specific cases represented by memes and lifeforms.
I say “lifeforms,” but in fact it’s “genes.” But I cannot see genes, so I look at their expression and see the adaptation there. The gene benefits if its physical expression in the lifeform helps the gene’s host (to survive to reproduce).
The analogues are amazing, and we do need those generalized names.
Interesting article. The Wife and I are both cat people, though we do have some friends among dogs.
Just to explain: Molly started eating on the dining room table so she could eat without Megs bullying her away. She has some tummy-acid problems, so we wanted to elevate the food somewhat (mouth above stomach) and used a little box for that, but a box did not seem in keeping with the occasion.
So yesterday The Wife found what amounts to a tiny café table made so that it looks as though it has a scalloped tablecloth. Molly now eats in style. Here she is, beckoning the waiter.
And here she is at breakfast this morning:
Her china pattern is Spode Buttercup.