July 26th, 2010

[CAT] "Shakespeare and the Hexbot"

Several people on Facebook linked to this New York Times article talking about the existential threat posed to human civilization by cute cat and dog videos on the Internet. The author emphasized two points.

¶One: this is no accident or fad. Cats and dogs are doing this on purpose: behaving cutely whenever they sense that a camera is running. Anyone who has owned either type of animal knows that these beasts are not stupid; they are evil masters of manipulation — cats with their haughty indifference, dogs with their unrestrained enthusiasm. The premise of that new Animal Planet special is to decide, through a series of spurious competitions and what look like amateur videos, which is the superior pet, but the supposed cat-dog rivalry underlying the show is a fabrication. These species aren’t rivals; they’re co-conspirators.

¶Two: these dog and cat videos are sapping the United States, and civilization in general, of its greatness. Notice how we can’t seem to get anything done anymore? The Second Avenue subway is unbuilt; the World Trade Center site is a wasteland; the century-old water and sewer systems under our cities are unreplaced. Look back through history and you realize that the great eras of human accomplishment — the Roman Empire; the Renaissance; the Industrial Revolution — had one thing in common: no videos of cats playing pianos or dogs going down sliding boards. People got things done because they weren’t being distracted.

The author provides an example.

To calculate the damage this is doing, all we need to do is look at “Surprised Kitty,” a YouTube video that went up only last October but has already been viewed more than 28,500,000 times. The video features an unseen woman tickling a kitten’s stomach. When the woman pulls her hand back, the kitten spreads its paws as if in surprise. That’s it.

“Surprised Kitty” is 17 seconds long. That means humans have wasted roughly 484,500,000 seconds watching this thing. That’s more than 15 years. It took just over a year to build the Empire State Building; about four years to construct the Golden Gate Bridge; eight to land a man on the moon. In the time that we collectively were watching “Surprised Kitty,” we collectively could instead have done all those things and still had a year to sit back and admire our work.

Maybe. Here's my entry, featuring Shakespeare trying to deal with a little six-legged robot.

Thoughts, compliments, suggestions for improvement?

(I want in on this.)

[REVIEW] Inception

I saw Inception yesterday afternoon with lemurbouy and David at the former's suggestion, and I liked it. Christopher Nolen's direction was visually interesting, it was great to see Ellen Page again and Tom Hardy in a non-Shinzon capacity, and the story made me think

My Google Reader accounted pointed me to an interesting analysis of the film, "The Neuroscience of Inception", by Jonah Lehrer. I'm not sure if this--obviously, spoilers-filled--analysis doesn't aim for too meta/high-level an analysis of the film's import, but it's worth reading.

Finally, here's some very relevant music.