Monday, April 27, 2009

Never give up on them

So, it seems I spoke a bit too soon when I said that Kinser was healthy and problem-free. Over the past few years, she's had a few seizures, and the last one being just a few weeks ago, I guess I have to face the fact that she has epilepsy, and that it wasn't just random cases with the first two she had. Luckily, they only happen about once a year or so. They seem to terrify her though, and it's so difficult to not be able to explain to her what's happening.

In addition to that, it was just discovered that she has hyper-thyroid. Now I give her medicine twice a day for that. It seems to be helping.

I still wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.

The Conversation

Crows are known to have a complex language, and are more intelligent than some primates.

The quiet moments

Whatever was on her mind at this moment, it consumed all of her focus.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chicks are smart

A friend of mine sent me this article, and me being me, of course I had to share.

Baby chicks do basic arithmetic

By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC News

Baby birds can do arithmetic, say researchers in Italy.

Scientists from the universities of Padova and Trento demonstrated chicks' ability to add and subtract objects as they were moved behind two screens.

Lucia Regolin, an author of the study said the animals "performed basic arithmetic" to work out which screen concealed the larger group of objects.

The findings are reported in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Chicks always try to stay close to objects they are reared with - just as they stay close to and follow their mother as soon as they hatch. This instant recognition is known as "imprinting".

"We had already found that the chicks have a tendency to approach a group containing more of these familiar objects," explained Professor Regolin, who studies animal behaviour at the University of Padova.

She and her team were able to test the birds' numerical skills as they followed the objects - which, in this instance, were small plastic balls.

"We used the little plastic containers you get inside Kinder eggs and suspended them from fishing line," Professor Regolin told BBC News.

"We made these balls 'disappear' by moving them behind the screens one at a time."

Counting chickens

In each of the mini maths tests, a chick watched from a clear-fronted holding box while one of the researchers slowly moved the balls behind the screens - three behind one screen and two behind the other.

The front door of the box was then opened, releasing the chick into the tiny arena, so it could walk around and select a screen to look behind.

"The chicks still approached the larger of the two groups first, even though they had to rely on memory to work out which screen to choose," said Professor Regolin.

Swapping the objects from one screen to another didn't fool the maths-performing chicks.

"In a further experiment, once we had hidden the balls behind each screen, we transferred some of them from one to the other," Professor Regolin explained.

The birds, she said, were able to "count" the balls that were moved to work out which screen hid the larger set at the end of the transfer.

"They still chose correctly - adding up the numbers based on groups of objects they couldn't see at that moment."

It is already known that many non-human primates and monkeys can count, and even domestic dogs have been found to be capable of simple additions.

But this is the first time the ability has been seen in such young animals, and with no prior training.

No long sermons this time. What I hope you take away from this article is the fact that all animals, no matter their size or shape, have intelligence that, generally speaking, is greater than we tend to give them credit for. While animals like chickens are thought of as 'stupid' by us, we mainly come to that conclusion by comparing their intelligence to our own, which only makes us seem foolish, not to mention arrogant. My hope is that you will consider these things when you encounter animals, whether they're in the wild, or on the dinner table.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I wouldn't normally comment here about articles like the one I just saw, but this just seems so insensitive, and so insane that I have to share this:
Fannie, Freddie worker bonuses total $210M

WASHINGTON – Mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to pay more than $210 million in bonuses through next year to give workers the incentive to stay in their jobs at the government-controlled companies.
The article goes on with more of the same, but here's the kicker: as my eyes drifted to the right side of the screen, there in a small box titled "Top Stories" was this little gem:
Unemployment soars to 8.5 percent; 13M now jobless
I don't even need to go on and on about this, because I have to think we're all on the same page on this one, right? And I realize that not every employee at Freddie and Fannie are responsible for this meltdown we're having, but seriously, if some of them want to leave their jobs, why not let them? Why shouldn't they have to suck it up a little bit like the rest of us?

There are plenty of intelligent, good, hard-working people who are desperate for a job. You want some incentive to stay at your job? How about "not being unemployed"? Isn't that incentive enough? Well, if it's not, then take a hike. Because guess what? Those of us who pay our taxes are paying those particular bonuses. And I'll tell you what, I don't really feel like I should have to pay someone just to stay at their job - the same job that's already paying them!

This is all just a bunch of crap. Greed and selfishness have caused this meltdown, and it continues on even as the powers that be pretend they're trying to correct it. And this crosses all party lines, so Democrats and Republicans, stop pointing your fucking fingers at everyone else, because you're all to blame. Corruption runs rampant all through our government, and the ones paying for it all are the honest hard-working folks of this country. And as one of those folks, I'm sick of it.

I'll be honest, I don't know what the answer is, but it's extremely clear that the folks making the decisions don't know the answers either, and in the meantime, we're getting stuck with the bill.

This has to stop.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

So long, humans. It's been fun.

Robot scientists can think for themselves
By Ben Hirschler – Thu Apr 2, 2:30 pm ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Watch out scientists – you may be replaced by a robot.

Two teams of researchers said on Thursday they had created machines that could reason, formulate theories and discover scientific knowledge on their own, marking a major advance in the field of artificial intelligence.

Such robo-scientists could be put to work unraveling complex biological systems, designing new drugs, modeling the world's climate or understanding the cosmos.

For the moment, though, they are performing more humble tasks.

At Aberystwyth University in Wales, Ross King and colleagues have created a robot called Adam that can not only carry out experiments on yeast metabolism but also reason about the results and plan the next experiment.

It is the world's first example of a machine that has made an independent scientific discovery – in this case, new facts about the genetic make-up of baker's yeast.

"On its own it can think of hypotheses and then do the experiments, and we've checked that it's got the results correct," King said in an interview.

"People have been working on this since the 1960s. When we first sent robots to Mars, they really dreamt of the robots doing their own experiments on Mars. After 40 or 50 years, we've now got the capability to do that."

Their next robot, Eve, will have much more brain power and will be put to work searching for new medicines.

King hopes the application of intelligent robotic thinking to the process of sifting tens of thousands of compounds for potential new drugs will be particularly valuable in the hunt for treatments for neglected tropical diseases like malaria.

King published his findings in the journal Science, alongside a second paper from Hod Lipson and Michael Schmidt of Cornell University in New York, who have developed a computer program capable of working out the fundamental physical laws behind a swinging double pendulum.

Just by crunching the numbers – and without any prior instruction in physics – the Cornell machine was able to decipher Isaac Newton's laws of motion and other properties.

Lipson does not think robots will make scientists obsolete any day soon, but believes they could take over much of the routine work in research laboratories.

"One of the biggest problems in science today is finding the underlying principles in areas where there are lots and lots of data," he told reporters in a conference call. "This can help in accelerating the rate at which we can discover scientific principles behind the data."

(Additional reporting by Stuart McDill; editing by Maggie Fox and Tim Pearce)
Once they task these robots with saving the planet, the first thing they'll do is get rid of us, and for good reason. This is going to be one interesting war...