VIDEO FROM SPACE

Well OK, not really.

It’s an in-joke.

But I do have some video type content to share with you today as well as the usual odds and ends.

Like this. Now I am not normally all that into birds. I have nothing against them and they have as much right to live and thrive as any other creature on Earth.

And I absolutely love the incredible colors on some of them.

But I have never found them particularly cute or appealing as pets, but this video of an owl might just change that forever.

Tiny. Little. Hoots.

That is the cutest damned thing since tiny squeaky kitten meows!

I have seen other videos with that particularly species of owl, with its fetching huge eyes and reassuringly diminutive size, but I had never heard its tiny hoots before and well, that just makes it all the cuter, doesn’t it?

Also in the realm of cute animals, check out this BBC web page that shows the secret lives of cats.

They attached tiny video cameras and GPS units to the collars of ten cats, all in the same area, and the website has links to some of the footage.

And for a cat lover like me, they make for fascinating viewing. Every cat lover who has ever let their cat out to go prowl on their own has wondered what, exactly, their kitties get up to out there.

And now we can know. It’s fascinating from both a cat lover’s and a scientific points of view, because it is rare that we can capture such a rich behavioural data set for any animal. Usually, we are limited to field observations by human beings, or at best, what the animal happens to get up to when a camera happens to be around.

But with these tiny cameras and GPS units, we can track every moment of an animal’s day and find out just what they do and where they go when there are no humans around.

And I love that. I have been trying to figure out just what is going on inside the fuzzy little heads of cats ever since I was a little boy in a cat-filled household.

What I really want to know is exactly what is going on when cats are in their “calculating” mode. You see this when they are getting ready to make a big jump and they just stare at their destination, sometimes for as much as ten seconds, before finally making the leap.

Or when they encounter a novel situation they don’t know how to handle. They will just blank out, their tail waving back and forth like a metronome, until they decide what to do.

I am interested in this question because we normally oversimplify animal behaviour as being driven by “instinct”, as though that was any kind of of an explanation.

Everything we human beings do is driven by some instinct or another, whether it’s putting human beings on the Moon or scratching our butts. But we wouldn’t consider that a sufficient explanation.

And when you look at your cat and see them clearly figuring something out in a very human way, but without the capacity for the sort of formal abstract reasoning that we derive from our capacity for language and our powerful frontal lobes, you really have to wonder just what the cat is thinking.

Do they see various versions of the jump in their mind? Do they stare at their target and use some specialized part of their brain to encode what they see into a set of control variables for their formidable muscular system? So much tension built in this muscle, so much in that, adjust for distance, that sort of thing?

Don’t laugh, we human beings have the same sort of hardware in our own minds. That’s why we are so agile and adaptable. We have Newtonian machinery in our brains that let us do things like climb trees, turn at sharp angles while running at high speeds, learn to use tools, and all the other things we do.

The only thing I have seen that is anything like a cat’s “think” mode is when a professional marksman or archer is settling in to take a shot. You can see the same tiny adjustments of muscular tension based on eyesight right before they shoot.

Oh right. Today’s vid by yours truly. Here it is :

First, let me apologize for yesterday’s lack of numbers on the entries. I got so into making the white flash plus bloop noise effect that I totally forgot the numbering.

And you will notice that there is no such white flash business on today’s vid (but the numbers are back). I decided that the white flashes don’t really add anything to the experience, and despite being lightning fast, they slow down the comedy somewhat, so I think I will forgo them for now.

But I am growing discontent with the current scheme. I feel the need to innovate further. Today’s vid was a lot like the last two, and the whole point of this exercise is to learn how to make really awesome video for the Net and maybe build up a fanbase, so there is no room for complacency.

I am still considering the hats and props idea. I have a bunch of stuff just sitting in my closet, waiting to be used in something. I could put a little more showmanship into it.

But I dunno. That feels kind of stagy and lame to me somehow. Very “trying too hard”.

So maybe the secret is to go beyond the lists and try to think of something a little more substantive that is still fresh and funny and Internet friendly.

I suppose I could try to do a fake newscast a la The Daily Show. I have a knack for satire and it would be slightly classier than me just doing list comedy in my sweatpants.

I would need at least a jacket and tie, tho…. hmmm.

Stay tuned, folks! Who knows what I will come up with next?

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