Tag Archives | Cats

Google’s Virtual Brain Goes On YouTube And Looks For Cat Videos

Kaibara87 (CC)

Sounds like Google’s virtual “brain” consisting of 16,000 networked computers does a pretty good job of enjoying the same dumb stuff that humans do. John Markoff reports for the Sydney Morning Herald:

Inside Google’s secretive X laboratory, known for inventing self-driving cars and augmented reality glasses, a small group of researchers began working several years ago on a simulation of the human brain.

There Google scientists created one of the largest neural networks for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors, which they turned loose on the internet to learn on its own.

Presented with 10 million digital images found in YouTube videos, what did Google’s brain do? What millions of humans do with YouTube: looked for cats.

The neural network taught itself to recognise cats, which is actually no frivolous activity. This week the researchers will present the results of their work at a conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Dead Cat Turned Into Remote-Control Flying Helicopter

I can’t see how cats would be happy about this development … Writes Deborah Netburn in the LA Times:

We’ve seen a lot of strange things on the Internet, but this dead cat turned into a remote-control flying helicopter may be the strangest yet. The cat helicopter was conceived by Dutch artist Bart Jansen, and debuted for the public at the KunstRai ArtFair in Amsterdam that ended Sunday. Jansen calls his creation the Orvillecopter and describes it as “half-cat, half-machine.” The Orvillecopter is exactly what it looks like: A taxidermied cat with a plastic propeller attached to each paw. No animals were harmed for this project. The cat, who was conveniently named Orville, belonged to Jansen and died after he was hit by a car.

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You Are What You’re Infected With?

Crazy CatVia the mermaid’s tale:

Rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii do crazy things. They find the scent of cat urine sexy and attractive, they don’t run from the actual beasts; they are more active in running wheels, which might indicate that the parasite induces increased activity which may more readily attract a cat’s attention. When an infected rat is eaten by a cat, the T. gondii is passed on in the cat’s feces to infect again. T. gondii can only reproduce inside the cat. Great survival strategy on the part of the parasite, this trick of making the rat no longer fear cats — now that’s really building a better mouse-trap! Did this strategy evolve by adaptive selection, or is it just something that happened?

Czech biologist, Jaroslav Flegr, thinks T. gondii infections do much the same to humans — his story is told in the March 2012 Atlantic Monthly.

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How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

catnapIs a microscopic, mind-altering parasite spread by cats responsible for car accidents, hoarding behaviors, and schizophrenia? Respected scientists are now saying that “crazy cat lady” disease is real and millions of people are infected. Shocker from Kathleen McAuliffe in the Atlantic:

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?

The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis — the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death.

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Arkansas Democrat’s Cat Gets Murdered Because He Is ‘LIBERAL’

arkansas catFrom RawStory:

An Arkansas Democrat has a message for whomever killed his kids’ cat: “I’ve got a gun and I know how to use it.”

According to the Blue Arkansas blog, the campaign manager to Ken Aden, who’s running for the state’s third congressional district, came home last night to discover the family pet had been murdered and left on their front porch, as if the attacker wanted it to be discovered.

The feline’s skull was bashed in, and an ominous message was carved into its side: “LIBERAL.”

“If I have to protect my kids, I’ll do it without hesitation,” Aden campaign manager Jake Burris told Blue Arkansas.

The killing comes after a weekend of positive press for Aden, a former soldier running for Congress as a Democrat in one of the most conservative areas of Arkansas…

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Longest-Living Two-Headed Janus Cat Turns Twelve

bildeA household pet that deserves to be worshiped as a god. Via the Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

He has earned a spot as the longest lived Janus cat in the new edition of the Guinness World Records. The cat’s owner is a Worcester woman named Marty Stevens who has owned Frank and Louie since a local breeder brought him into Tufts Veterinary Clinic to be euthanized when he was a day old.

Janus cats, named after the Roman god with two faces, are extremely rare and seldom live more than a few days after being born. Often they die within hours. But under Marty’s dedicated care Frank and Louie flourished. He turned 12 years old on Sept. 8.

Frank and Louie has two mouths, two noses and two normal eyes with one larger non-functioning eye in the center. The cat has two faces, but only one head and brain, so the faces react in unison and not as separate entities.

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Parasite Tricks Male Rats Into Becoming Cat Food

Tom and JerryVia ScienceDaily:

When a male rat senses the presence of a fetching female rat, a certain region of his brain lights up with neural activity, in anticipation of romance. Now Stanford University researchers have discovered that in male rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma, the same region responds just as strongly to the odor of cat urine. Is it time to dim the lights and cue the Rachmaninoff for some cross-species canoodling?

“Well, we see activity in the pathway that normally controls how male rats respond to female rats, so it’s possible the behavior we are seeing in response to cat urine is sexual attraction behavior, but we don’t know that,” said Patrick House, a PhD candidate in neuroscience in the School of Medicine. “I would not say that they are definitively attracted, but they are certainly less afraid. Regardless, seeing activity in the attraction pathway is bizarre.”

For a rat, fear of cats is rational.

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San Francisco To Outlaw Pet Stores

sonia_real_puppy Kudos to San Francisco for its decision to crack down on an industry based on animal misery. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

San Francisco’s ever-active Animal Control and Welfare Commission has renewed its push for a pet sale ban in the city – only this time, it even covers goldfish. The idea is to put the squeeze on puppy and kitten mills that supply pet stores, and to discourage “impulse buys” of hamsters and other small pets that often wind up being dumped at shelters.

“Most fish in aquariums are either mass bred” under inhumane conditions “or taken from the wild,” commission member Philip Gerrie said. That leads to “devastation of tropical fish from places like Southeast Asia,” he said.

The proposed ban, which the commission just adopted after a year of study, was expanded to cover animal breeders as well as pet stores.
As you might expect, it has local merchants like Ocean Aquarium owner Justin Hau dumbfounded.

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First Cloned Cat Turns Ten Years Old

Cat Clone AnniversaryIt feels like just yesterday that the first generation of cloned animals captured the headlines — now they are passing comfortably into old age (without any bizarre mutations, eyeballs spontaneously falling out, et cetera). Cloned pets turning ten is our generation’s Bob Dylan turning seventy. Via the Houston Chronicle:

Almost 10 years later CC, aka Copy Cat, is still in the College Station area. She has a mate, Smokey, and they live with their three offspring in a cat mansion built by Dr. Duane C. Kraemer, an A&M researcher who helped bring CC into the world.

CC and her family seem like perfectly normal cats, which disappoints many guests hoping to see something more exotic, said Kraemer’s wife, Shirley, the head cat wrangler.

A&M’s cat-cloning operation was an offshoot of the Missyplicity Project to clone a dog named Missy with funding help from a company that wanted to market pet cloning.

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