May 14th, 2014
This week's 99% Invisible podcast discussed recent efforts to figure out how to warn our great-to-the-Nth grandchildren about the risks of nuclear waste being stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, given the distinct possibility that language will have drifted over the course of 10,000 years to the point where a sign saying 'DANGER: Radioactive waste!' may not be understood.
The most hands-down 99pi favorite solution, though, didn't come from the WIPP brainstorm – rather, it came out of the Human Interference Task Force, a similar panel that was pulled together in 1981 for the now-defunct Yucca Mountain project. It was proposed by two philosophers, Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri.
Bastide and Fabbri came to the conclusion that the most durable thing that humanity has ever made is culture: religion, folklore, belief systems. They may morph over time, but an essential message can get pulled through over millennia. They proposed that we genetically engineer a species of cat that changes color in the presence of radiation, which would be released into the wild to serve as living Geiger counters. Then, we would create folklore and write songs and tell stories about these "ray cats," the moral being that when you see these cats change colors, run far, far away.
Makes you wonder if there's some bit of puzzling animal behaviour going on all around us right now about which the folklore has failed to be passed down or got distorted. Instead of pointing and laughing at all those Animals Sucking at Jumping as it becomes clear what terrible, long-forgotten threat they were trying to warn us about?
May 2nd, 2014
It's now been around six months since we introduced Molly, the new cat, to the household. We were told at the rescue centre that one of her main personality traits was an abiding hatred of all other cats, without distinction. Observing her adventures in the neighborhood, we have found this to be true.
We can add that she tolerates humans and dislikes dogs intensely, in particular our dog, Katie. Since Katie is a Jack Russell accustomed to leading the non-human hierarchy in the house and jealous of any attention paid by resident humans to other animals, this has made life interesting. In fact, our house has become the contested territory in a four legged combat that bears quite a remarkable resemblance to a classic Maoist People's War, with cat and dog as insurgent and regime respectively. […]
March 12th, 2014
Animals Sucking at Jumping caused me to laugh so hard I neglected to breathe.
For some reason, watching all those cats fail to stick a landing didn't worry me one bit, but seeing horses and rabbits and racoons do the same left me wishing there was a 'No animals were hurt…' notice to reassure me at the end of each video.1
Oh, and for the record, I reckon this cat knew exactly what he was doing:
- Is it because cats are haughty aliens who don't care about humans so why should I care about them, or just that cats always land safely, if not necessarily gracefully? ↩
July 17th, 2013
June 12th, 2013
Beware the teenage(?)
mutant ninja turtle tortoise:
Quite a turn of speed there at the end as he chases the cat down the corridor.
[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]
April 1st, 2013
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox: April 1, 2013 Mobile Usability for Cats: Essential Design Principles for Felines…
- Rapid double and triple taps are common among felines, especially kittens; any response from a multi-tap should be even faster/louder/blinkier than from a single tap.
- Swiping is expected to work from any and every direction, so ensure that your targets are extra responsive and include corresponding sounds.
- Animation is especially important, including blinking. In fact, if your site or app doesn't animate, it's pretty much useless.
- This is a revolutionary finding, considering that blinking has been contraindicated in web design ever since it was #3 on the list of top-10 design mistakes of 1996.
- A sensory-activated "pause mode" is highly suggested, as nearly half the cats randomly stopped what they were doing to lie down on their devices and stretch, nap, or self-groom for extended periods before resuming their tasks.
December 14th, 2011
- To do: edit WordPress configuration to include local copies of the appropriate images in error pages. ↩
October 9th, 2011
July 27th, 2011
French law requires that a purebred dog or cat – that is, an animal belonging to one of the breeds listed in the Livre des origines français or the Livre officiel des origins felines – be given a name beginning with a prescribed letter of the alphabet, determined by the year of its birth, rather like the way British car registration plates used to be organised. The alphabetised system began in 1926, with Z omitted. In 1972 the Commission Nationale d'Amélioration Génétique further regularised the system, and K, Q, W, X and Y were also taken out of contention. […]
- #376 in an ongoing series. ↩
January 25th, 2011
10. His Cat Suffered Depression
Fond of animals, Einstein kept a housecat which tended to get depressed whenever it rained. Ernst Straus recalls him saying to the melancholy cat: "I know what's wrong, dear fellow, but I don't know how to turn it off."
August 23rd, 2010
March 16th, 2010
Eventually, Ant built my Android app out of 14 lines of Duby, and I needed the USB cable so I could ship it to the phone. The phone was handy but the USB cable was across the room, and my elderly female cat has earned a few evenings of undisturbed lap time.
Then I remembered that my laptop has a Web server and my phone was on the same home LAN, so I copied the .apk over to /Library/WebServer/Documents/whatever.apk and did an ifconfig -a | grep 192 to find my address and then pointed the phone's browser at http://192.168.1.57/whatever.apk. The phone installed the app, I proved to myself that it worked, and did some further enjoyable tinkering, all while routing round the cat.
November 27th, 2009
[Via Chocolate and Vodka]
- Yes, it's a kitten video. An awesomely cute kitten video. And your point is…? ↩
September 14th, 2009
It's the surprised expression on the dog's face that does for me every time…
May 31st, 2009
Sage advice from Robert Brady:
If one is swinging a cat with any sense of urgency, one should ideally have a short stiff cat and a large target.
Yes, there is a story behind that line.
May 13th, 2009
[Via Making Light: Particles]