Spiders and snakes

It’s interesting that so many people are afraid of spiders (or bugs) and snakes. I’m afraid of spiders, even though they are so much smaller, but I like snakes. I wonder how much is learned and how much inherent. My parents were careful to raise me without irrational fears; my mother at least concealed her own so as not to pass them on. My brother, on the other hand, when I told him that I was talking myself out of a fear of spiders, took care to reinforce it.

But in Africa, where there are more venomous snakes (and more-venomous snakes) than in North America, chimpanzees are said to have an instinctive fear of snakes. I don’t know how they react to spiders. I noticed recently that my cat reacts with what seems to be instinctive fear. I gently tossed a belt I was going to wear onto the bed where she was dozing, and she startled and jumped away sideways. The only explanation I could think of was that it looked vaguely snakelike. She’s an urban cat and I very much doubt that she has ever seen a snake. She does hunt mice and even rats.

On the other hand, I have two younger cats who are avid hunters. They more than once brought home long strips of spongy weatherstripping putty, seemingly because it was snakelike. Am I reading too much into this? I mean, they also bring home small stuffed toys to wrestle with, and I can hardly claim that stuffed toys are a natural prey item.

Hat tip to the Kelosophy blog.

How did Charles the cat get to Chicago?

The Caturday Felid contest closes today. To win, all you have to do is come up with a story that explains how Charles got from Albuquerque to Chicago.

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A new “Simon’s cat” video

Simon’s cat catches a fly:

Firefox LOLcats

I know it’s altered with Photoshop, but I like it.

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Concensus on I Can Haz Cheezburger is that someone laid ginger tabby markings on some cream-coloured kittens with Himalayan markings. The Himalayan gene, if that’s the right name for it, expresses pigment on the cooler parts of the body, giving rise to a “Siamese cat” pattern. A “Himalayan” is a long-haired cat  with the same pattern.

Using the Web: factory cats project

Clever people are using their skills plus the web to generate publicity and resources to pay for the care and adoption of rescued cats in the Factory Cats Project. The first project, Foreclosure Cats, was to rescue sixty cats perforce abandoned when a man was evicted from his home. I hope that someone helped him, too! That encouraged the people to use the same plan for the Factory Cats project, a colony of forty feral cats.

Adopt a cat

Adopt a cat

Local artists have created artworks that represent the cats, and the money is being used to pay for the cats’ care. Click on the link for the Animal Rescue Art Project. The original artworks are being auctioned on eBay and you can buy copies of the images on Cafepress.

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I�m on ur broom�. � goin 2 Hogwarts

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The age-old question

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Why would a benevolent God allow evil into the world? The answer was asked thousands of years ago. There are a few possible answers:

  • Maybe he won’t—then he is not benevolent and doesn’t deserve worship.
  • Maybe he can’t—therefore he is not all-powerful.
  • Maybe he wouldn’t—then he doesn’t exist.
  • Maybe we don’t understand his reasons. Should we then abandon reason for understanding the world? Why can’t he make himself clear? Send down an explanation if he cares about us?

William of Occam’s Razor: When you hear hear hoofbeats, think horses, not unicorns. The simplest explanation is that he doesn’t exist.

In the beginning…

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