Caturday Dreaming

Cats’ Internet Domination Now
Extends to Cutting Edge Research

Since cats so quickly jumped to the top of the Web’s food chain, we feel gladly obliged to every once in a while pay our respects to such a riveting phenomenon. So welcome to the latest disappointments of Henri, le Chat, Steven, the guitar player who won’t bother with an earthquake, and Denis, Cat Burglar and collector extraordinaire.
Plus what’s up with a certain Virginia lady and her backyard full of homeless cats, and the surprising findings of a Google/Stanford’s computer neural network project. That’s right, even machines are teaching themselves to search the Internet for them. Today we’ll get started with Kodi, the Kitten, and his 7-step guide to walking your human.
Or rather, let’s chat a bit first. Way before this phenomenon was even apparent, back in 1997, there was Arthur and his dolphin friends, Shiloh and Thunder. As much as we’re ambivalent about using animals for entertainment purposes, one can’t deny the educational value of exposing children to marine creatures.
Hopefully, this kind of institution, along with zoos, circuses and any settings where wild beasts are showcased to the public, are all on their way out. Holograms, beam-me-up-Scotty technology, anything, something is sure to come to replace the need to submit this vanishing living wonders to the humiliation of being reduced to stuffed toy status.

Those few minutes that Arthur interacted with the dolphins, though, may have been the highlight of the life experiences of everyone aboard that boat, off the coast of Florida. And in some way, the video has that transfixing quality, of two species separated by insurmountably excluding worlds, communicating in such a poignant and natural and expressive way.
And, here comes our own bias, it shows how easy felines exude a sense of self-assurance, no matter the circumstances, that makes them always the center of the action. The Internet is full of videos of different species interacting. And yet, whenever there’s a tiny cat involved, the others seem to bend backwards in order to please the little furry thing. You bet, we’d too.

There a fine line separating people who pathologically collect pets, and usually end up not being able to afford their keep, and domestic animal rescuers, who put up their own resources and time, in order to create a safe environment for them. Both are an endangered species. The crazy ones need medical attention. The other kind, our sympathy.
Because the work that anthropologist Barbara J. King does, managing a 1,400-square-foot sanctuary for 26 stray and feral cats in Virginia, extrapolates her research about animals and, at the end of the day, is all about her respect and love for her animals. Work, by the way, that has involved books on African primates and god studies, and a weekly NPR radio column.
Work that’s also diverse from those who collect wild animals without the necessary academic background, or humanitarian reasons for doing so, and wind up hurting those under their guard. If you know a thing or two about animal control in big cities and why without public awareness, no amount of shelters will prevent its explosion, you’re familiar with the issue.

Then along comes the Google/Stanford project, which connected 16,000 computer processor to create a neural networks for machine learning, and then hooked it up to Internet, for it to ‘learn’ on its own. Guess what the 10 million digital YouTube images it collected led it to do? what, search for cats, of course.
Remarkably, the network taught itself to recognize them without being told what a cat is, and it ‘invented the concept’ of one, according to Stanford University computer scientist Andrew Y. Ng and Google fellow Jeff Dean, who developed the project.
The Google brain assembled a digital image of a cat by successively cull out common features present in millions of images.
The implications are far reaching and, somewhat, scary too. The scientists noted that the way the machine worked resembled how the brain’s visual cortex composes images. But, and that’s a big, furry, thoroughly cleaned butt, researchers are not yet prepared to say that they’ve have hit upon a sort of machine that can teach itself. SkyNet, you’ll have to wait, for now.
Now nerds be damned if we don’t have so fun videos to watch too. So here’s Kobi, the Kitten, a cat who seems to have a knack to submit humans to the same sort of humiliating training most pets are broken into in order to learn. In the end, everyone is happy, even the other cat living in the house, who himself has just learned a valuable lesson from his mate.

When a roaring 6.2 magnitude earthquake was captured on camera last week, most humans in Melbourne were probably got frozen on their tracks out of sheer fear. Not Steven, at that precisely moment, busy mastering just the perfect guitar strolling needed for the song. Earthquake? Aren’t they common enough yet? Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be seeing me here, if it were that serious.

They call him Denis, the Cat Burglar, which is not just unimaginative, it’s downright offensive to what this clever creature is really capable of. Day and night, Denis goes into his no longer secretive incursions, searching for just the right items to store under his watch. But alas, this cat is out of the bag and it’s all recorded on film. For future generations.

We’re not sure what captivates us and draws us to Henri like moths to an abat-jour. He reminds us of Marvin, the depressed robot of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Except that, unlike Marvin, Henri‘s well aware of his own superiority and openly despises everyone around him. He may have a point, but he is, above all, one Sartrean existentialist cookie.

3 thoughts on “Caturday Dreaming

  1. Lisa at fLVE says:

    Awe. Such a cute cat post.Thanks for sharing caturday. By the way, the vid with the cat and dolphin doesn’t work.


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