During the past few days, I've received a number of emails about an essay by Live Science writer Yasemin Saplakoglu called " Cats are too socially inept to be loyal ." For headline readers who don't go on to read much more—and sadly there are far too many for whatever reasons—one could easily draw the conclusion that cats are socially inept and disloyal and that research has actually shown this to be true. This would be a huge mistake and here's why, as Ms. Saplakoglu notes in her piece about a research paper published in Animal Behavior and Cognition titled " Cats ( Felis catus ) Show no Avoidance of People who Behave Negatively to their Owner ." In this study, 36 domestic cats (18 females and 18 males, 13 of whom were house cats and 23 who lived around five cat cafés) and their humans were studied. The clever experimental setup (Figure 1) involved creating a situation in which the cats watched their human try to open a container and remove an object. The humans … [Read more...] about Are Cats More Socially Inept Than Dogs?
Let me start with a confession: I miss my cat, Peanut. Back during graduate school in the 1990s, My wife and I found Peanut when he was a kitten, strutting around our neighborhood in Dover, NH, without a collar, tag, or owner to be found. He was a cute little orange guy, riddled with fleas. As it was New Hampshire, it started to get cold outside. And, well, we just had to bring him in. And while we loved our other cat, Dixie, and have great affinities for the canines in our world, I think everyone in my household to this day, about a decade after Peanut left this earth, would agree that Peanut was the best pet we ever had. He cuddled, he fetched, he meowed, and he got into all kinds of benign mischief that had us entertained each and every day for years. So you can imagine how devastated we were one day in 2007 when the vet told us that our little Peanut had kitty leukemia and had only a short amount of time to live. We miss Peanut each and every day. A couple of years ago, I … [Read more...] about Why We Have Cats
Yours truly, seven years old. Source: Alex Stitt Queer Failure is the internalized belief that, in being an LGBTQ+ person, we have somehow failed at being “normal." Of course there’s nothing wrong with our gender or sexuality , but when faced with our parent’s disappointing gaze, or our friend’s bewilderment, or even our own self-doubt, it can certainly feel that way. Queer theorists including José Muñoz, Jack Halberstam, and Benny LeMaster note that, in order to overcome this sense of inadequacy, we must turn Queer Failure on its head. 1,2,3 In short, it’s not we that failed society, but society that failed us by not making room for our existence. Flipping the onus of social expectation can help us reject the presupposed “norm,” and in turn help us accept who we are. This huge, self-actualizing step is what we call Pride. Admittedly, our first attempts at Pride are rarely eloquent, elegant, or even patient. After having our identities politicized by so many for … [Read more...] about From Queer Failure to Queer Innocence
Looking at cold statistics, it seems the Trump-Biden race in 2020 is where the Trump-Hillary race was in mid-October 2016. Hillary had an approximately 10 point advantage in national polls; Biden has an 11 point lead in several national polls. MAGA Source: Visuals/Unsplash Democrats are rightly nervous and running scared, not taking anything for granted this time around in the battleground states. Former V.P. Joe Biden has been conducting scenic bus tours, long train journeys, and drive-in rallies throughout the countryside to avoid crowded settings due to coronavirus health guidelines, and to gather much needed suburban and rural voters. President Trump , on the other hand, is going back to what worked for him in 2016, airport-hanger rallies, despite “the super-spreader effect” at the White House where as many as 34 of his staff members may have been infected and his own diagnosis of two weeks ago, from which he claims he has fully recovered. His administration … [Read more...] about The Coronavirus Election
New research predicts political orientation from pictures of faces. Source: Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels. You are given two pictures of people’s faces, closely cropped. One is a conservative, one is a liberal. Can you tell guess which is which, just by looking at the face? This is the set-up for Michal Kosinski’s new machine learning paper , one in a series that he has published in the last several years examining how well machine learning algorithms can predict various personal characteristics--like scores on personality tests, and, more controversially, sexual orientation . The headline finding, that features derived from an uninterpretable “black box” neural network algorithm can accurately pick political orientation with 73% accuracy, raises questions and concerns. First, the concerns. Facial physiognomy , the practice of judging a person’s character from their face, has historically been used to justify scientific racism . If you can tell someone’s … [Read more...] about Predicting Politics from a Selfie?