Cats Choose to Ignore You
New research suggests that cats do indeed recognize their owner’s voice, they just choose to ignore it. Researchers in Japan conducted research by measuring 20 house cats’ reactions (movement of their ears, paws, head, or tail and whether they meowed or dilated their pupils) when responding to their owner calling their name or other normal cat-talk. They then compared the cats’ reactions to recordings of strangers using the same language. While the cats had a significant greater response from their owners’ calls, they didn’t bother to get up.
The reason why cats don’t respond to owners’ calls may be that they indeed control the domesticated relationship with humans, partly due to evolution, according to a story about the research in The Independent. “Recent genetic analysis has revealed that the common ancestor of the modern housecat was Felis silvestris, a species of wildcat that first came into contact with humans around 9,000 years ago. As early societies developed agriculture, these cats moved in to prey on the rodents that were attracted to stores of grain. In the words of the paper’s authors, they effectively domesticated themselves: “Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans’ orders. Rather, they seem to take the initiative in human–cat interaction.” This is in contrast to the history of dogs and humans, where the former has been bred over thousands of years to respond to orders and commands. Cats, it seems, never needed to learn.”
Haydn Killed by Cell Phone
Last month, pianist Christian Zacharias was interrupted during a concert in Gothenburg Concert Hall. He stopped playing in the middle of Haydn’s Piano Concerto, after a cell phone began ringing.
Learn How to Succeed
Brandon Todd wanted to dunk a basketball. Yet, at only 5’ 5” that seemed like an impossible dream. In accomplishing this seemingly simple task, he learned much about success, and himself. “Your biggest challenge isn’t your opponent, it’s yourself.” Brandon’s best message: “You have to learn how to succeed. It’s as simple as that.”
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Modern Trailer
In this very clever video, Stephane Bouley creates a modern movie trailer for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you’ve never seen the film, well it’s not quite what you’d expect from this teaser.
Shot of the U.S. Open
Early on in his first round match against Ryan Harrison, Rafael Nadal runs down this overhead and makes an amazing shot. A sign of things to come for the rest of the tournament for sure. I just got back from a weekend at the tournament and I now see more fans wearing Rafa gear than ever.
The English Major
Let’s hear it for the English major. In the Chronicle for Higher Education, Mark Edmundson argues that every college student should be an English major. “English majors want the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of people who—let us admit it—are more sensitive, more articulate, shrewder, sharper, more alive than they themselves are. The experience of merging minds and hearts with Proust or James or Austen makes you see that there is more to the world than you had ever imagined. You see that life is bigger, sweeter, more tragic and intense—more alive with meaning than you had thought.”
I love what Professor Edmundson says about the English major’s love of language and quest for truth. “The English major wants to use what he knows about language and what he’s learning from books as a way to confront the hardest of questions. He uses these things to try to figure out how to live. His life is an open-ended work in progress, and it’s never quite done, at least until he is. For to the English major, the questions of life are never closed. There’s always another book to read; there’s always another perspective to add. He might think that he knows what’s what as to love and marriage and the raising of children. But he’s never quite sure. He takes tips from the wise and the almost wise that he confronts in books and sometimes (if he’s lucky) in life. He measures them and sifts them and brings them to the court of his own experience. (There is a creative reading as well as a creative writing, Emerson said.)” Of course as a former English major, I have to agree. As college students prepare to begin classes this fall, it would be wise for them to look to English classes to fill their course schedules.
“What we’re talking about is a path to becoming a human being, or at least a better sort of human being than one was at the start,” writes Edmundson. “An English major? To me an English major is someone who has decided, against all kinds of pious, prudent advice and all kinds of fears and resistances, to major, quite simply, in becoming a person.”
The Voracious Reader
Great advice from Tim Sanders: Buy 50 books a year; read 200 samples. And share what you are reading with others. “This will create a positive feedback loop in several ways. First, people will reciprocate with their own recommendations or personal experiences. Share enough, and soon, you’ll be swimming in trusted book recommendations. Second, by sharing the knowledge, you’ll feel rewarded for the time you’ve invested in reading. This will only stoke your desire to read more!”
The History of Typography
Type is power. So says Ben Barrett-Forrest in this delightful stop action short on the history of typography (It uses 2,454 photographs, 291 letters, and took 140 hours to create the resulting five-minute film.) The Atlantic interviews the designer about his inspiration for the film and his work with type.
The Beauty of Books
Book lovers will enjoy this program released by the BBC called The Beauty of Books. The series “combines human stories, expert interviews, book illustrations and historic archive to reveal the beauty of books.” The four episodes examine the impact of paperback books, illustrated volumes, medieval masterpieces, and ancient Bibles. Here is a clip from episode one called Ancient Bibles.
From BBC: “TThe British Library in London is home to 14 million books, on shelves that stretch over 600km. Extraordinary vessels of ideas and knowledge, they testify to the love affair we have with books. This series explores the enduring appeal and importance of books from a 4th century bible to present day paperbacks.
“The Codex Sinaiticus is the world’s oldest surviving bible. Made around 350 AD, it is a unique insight into early Christians and their effort to find a single version of the biblical text that everyone could accept - a bible fit for the Roman Empire. 800 years later, an illuminated bible rich in gold and lapis lazuli and produced in Winchester, recalls a time when bibles were at the centre of the Church’s struggle with the State for ultimate authority.” Courtesy of Brain Pickings and the Book Design Blog.
The Heart of the Matter
Much has been written in recent days about the release of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences report called The Heart of the Matter, which examines how the humanities are losing their place in education and in our culture. The report, which was released just yesterday, attempts to ignite a national conversation about why the arts and humanities remain critical to the function of our democracy. (Read David Brooks’ column about it in today’s New York Times.)