Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quick Takes - The baffling evolution of the kitten

I think there are some holes in here, science ...

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I am often confused by the behavior of my kittens. Two nights ago, one of them, Sasquatch (that's her name, because she likes to hide in her own homemade caves ... just go with it), discovered the dark backside of the washing machine and dryer, and was unable to get herself out. What prompted her to jump down there, knowing that it would be nearly impossible for her to get back out? Was it hubris that slayed the beast? I eventually had to push the machines as far apart as they'd go and coax her out with treats, which is a super good use of my time as a human, only to have her jump down again a day later and get stuck in linty purgatory for a second time! I got her out again and rigged an ironing-board/pillow apparatus to keep her from falling down. So far so good.

But where is the evolutionary progress there? If her species' genetic disposition was so risky that they would routinely get stuck in places and starve to death without some sort of intervention, how did they manage to make it this far? Is it simply an environmental issue, that there's no genetic coding for "laundry room faux pas?" Or did she have a bag of survival tricks up her sleeve? I suppose, if things got really desperate, she could've latched onto a hose or two and Cliffhangered her way to safety, or maybe she'd worked out a cloak and dagger deal with her sister, Triceratops, to bail her out if she got stuck (I can't begin to fathom), but that seems like a bit of a stretch, and there's really no reward for the risk in the first place. Lint is not a reward, not when it clings to your fur and turns you into a walking feather-duster. So, from an evolutionary standpoint, I'm utterly baffled by her decision-making skills. Perhaps the trapped lint looked like food to her, and her instincts to hunt and find food outweighed the risk of getting stuck: "If this is where mice live, then yes, I can sustain a healthy supply of food. No, it's quite cozy down here, thank you. Please leave."

  • Joe Paterno, the legendary head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, has been fired effective immediately after the board of trustees decided it was the right time and the right situation to let him go. Considering the circumstances surrounding Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's alleged 40 counts of child sex abuse and Paterno's knowledge, however limited it was, of some of Sandusky's behavior in the past, it's hard to argue with his termination. It's sad, because JoePa was always one of the great immovable objects of NCAA football, and he's had a tremendous legacy tarnished by someone else, but when you find out about something like that, you can't just pass the buck to someone else and wash your hands of the situation. You have to take responsibility, just like I'm sure he's told hundreds of college athletes and students over the years. What's sad to me is that someone of his obvious character, someone who would go out of his way for each and every one of his athletes, didn't do the same for those kids Jerry Sandusky allegedly preyed on. Joe Paterno had a chance to protect more children, or even just to do the right thing for the children that had already been abused, but it seems like his loyalty to the school, his program, and his coaching staff got in the way of his responsibility to those kids. I can't pretend to crawl inside his brain and know what he was thinking when he first heard about Sandusky's behavior, and we'll never really know how he may have interpreted whatever he was told (sounds like it was a big game of telephone), but you don't get in trouble for reporting someone to the police for this type of behavior, even if it turns out to be untrue. It may destroy a relationship, but isn't that worth the risk when you think of the alternative?
  • John Daly has quit the Australian Open PGA tournament after partially completing the first round (only 11 holes), and in the aftermath, Australian Open officials have called him unprofessional and asked for other events to not invite him. Daly, currently ranked 666th in the world, isn't qualifying for any of these tournaments, but is still such a fan favorite that he's getting sponsorship exemptions to play. After starting out poorly, Daly appeared to give up on the 11th hole and launched whatever remaining balls he had in his bag into the water hazard. Perhaps the drink cart girl should just go around next time.
  • In British horse racing (oh yes, I'm going there), jockeys who excessively use the whip against their horses will face lesser penalties after an amendment in the rules. Instead of a five-day ban for going over the allotted amount of whips, jockeys will now only get a two-day ban. The horses couldn't be more pleased.
  • Did you know that Tim Tebow is averaging 23.7 points per game so far in fantasy football? It's like every Denver Broncos fan's wet dream is coming true through arbitrary scoring, confirmation bias, and bad logic, "See, I told you he was good!"
  • Boston Bruins forward Daniel Paille was hit in the face with a slap shot Monday night and has since been sent to be examined by a specialist. Boston coach Claude Julien said, "The puck hit him in the face, in the nose area, so we'll probably know more tomorrow once he's seen by a specialist." There's a slapshot-to-the-face specialist?!?

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