Sunday, August 17, 2014

League Assignment: Comparrot and Con(ure)trast- Human vs Avian Intelligence     

     Let me say, by way of introduction that the words "compare and contrast" give me a twinge of 30 year old dread from my high school days. I feel like I suck at these types of writing, which is all the more reason to do it. I have been thinking a lot about avian intelligence, lately, both in terms of my housemates and birds I have experienced in stories or on videos

     Human Intelligence has reshaped the world. Where it is too cold to live, we build houses and install furnaces. Where it is too hot, we put in air conditioning...air conditioning- even the name talks about our attitude: we are just making the air tolerable. If where we are going is too far to walk, we learned to ride another creature or build a vehicle with "horsepower". To equalize conflicts with larger creatures, we threw rocks, and then made better and better rock throwers, like guns and bows. Where we want to go, we have laid paths. To tell us what paths to take, we have made maps and GPS units. To tell the time, we have made digital watches. To communicate abstract concepts, we have made an abstract language...lots of them in fact. We cluster together in colonies and Compete with our neighbors for status, better living space and more stuff

     Our intelligence seems to be based on our ability to imagine things that are not real. in some cases it leads us to make real what we imagined, such as a new tool, or a piece of fiction. In some cases it leads us to firmly believe in things for which there is no evidence, like "justice" or "truth" or "the American way". We have evolved to realize the ideal and to idealize the unreal.

     A Parrot or a Corvid is about as smart as a human toddler, as a point of reference. they can learn a large number of sounds, mimic a large number of words, and in many cases have a good grasp of the meaning of those words they have learned. Their play is imaginative, and in some cases seems highly complex. They are in many cases able to use simple tools, and to find efficient and swift methods for breaking our tools, such as de-keying a keyboard or shredding a laptops power cord to turn our attention back from such a device. I know that my bird seems to learn vocabulary like a human child does- repetition, imitation, and figuring out context- Depending on his mood and wants, I might be "daddy", "hey Shawn" or just "HEY!". I have a theory(not backed by any actual science, just anecdotal) that he has precise quartz time measuring equipment in his belly. This is mainly backed by the fact that he always knows mealtimes to the minute, and exactly when one is late.

     My observation tends to support avian intelligence being of a more pragmatic nature. they learn first what they need to survive. Even picking up words, which seems whimsical, is done to focus our attention on them, or to show off for other birds and increase their status. I know my conure trades noises with the neighborhood magpies, and my roommate has observed the magpies leading their young in "cool noise practice". One of the young magpies followed that teaching up by driving off a flock of attacking blackbirds with a hawks cry. To live in hostile environments, Birds can copy the successful strategies other birds that live there, or attach themselves to a flock that is unlike them, either other birds, or in the case of my parrot, to humans(oh, yes, I bought my bird, which is exactly what he planned to have happen). there are multiple reported cases of wild cockatoos adopting themselves into human homes in Australia, for a season at least, in order to have an easy ride and free meals. The biggest problem with pelican rescues is not keeping the injured birds in-it is keeping the uninjured birds out when they get the idea that other birds are getting "three hots and a cot"


     To Conclude, I started this off talking about how I was doing this despite the fact that this type of writing dredges up old fears. Fear is a perfectly rational response, even if it is a fear of irrational things, like essays. As humans, we try to control our fear responses, to belittle them, and sometimes force ourselves onto dangerous ground to prove our courage. Courage is another one of those little Ideals we treat as a real thing. Birds...well birds react to their fear. They flee, or gang up on a predator and chase it off, but they never try to pretend the fear isn't there or that it's something silly.

     It leaves me a little unsure as to which of us is truly the smarter

for more on birds- 

A few of my Co-leaguers had their own comparisons and contrast
Culturally Significant used the Venn Diagram to show us Pop Culture juggernauts old and new

Pop Rewind Compared Ytv with Nickelodeon with a little side of Canada vs USA

Brian from Cool and Collected compared the old and new of those "Damned, Dirty Apes"- Chuck Heston was not harmed in his post

Retro Robot Review gave us the turtles, through the years, in pictures

The Man who Stares at Toys gives us what I know as Jetfire, but you may call a Veritech Fighter

Kalem Klub touches base with the old Twilight Zone and the New one

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Guardians of the Galaxy Review


Direct Falsehood

     I had a fascinating experience in Walmart last night, that still has me thinking about it

       First- to set the scene: in the Walmarts in my area, if you walk past the electronics department, they generally have not one, but two direct TV people there to confront you, and try to get you to sign up for their service. They generally start this confrontation with "can I ask you a question?"

     My policy has been, to now, to tell them either (a) that the answer to the question will not make them happy, or (b)to tell them that I know what the question is, and that my answer is that I do not have a TV provider, by choice

     My TV is provided by Hulu, or, or this is the way I like it, and I don't feel an overpowering urge to change that. if I do feel such an urge...I will change it.

     Last night, I was in Walmart. I walked past electronics. The sudden yet inevitable confrontation took place. I issued canned response (b)(see above) and got a response back that surprised me.

"Next time just lie and tell us you have Direct TV."
     I was a little floored- more so because the person who told me this was offended that I suggested that having to adjust my behavior to tell this particular lie was morally questionable.
"Well if you don't want us bothering you, just lie and we will leave you alone"
     I don't know if they do this where you live. I don't know if you go to Walmart, or even if this bothers you like it bothers me. All I know is it bothers me. And I find it amusing that their solution is to lie your way out of it.
     So to this turn of circumstance, I am initiating plan (c), and adding it to my list of responses
Response (c): "I have been instructed by one of your representatives to lie to you and tell you I have Direct TV as my provider"

I will report back on how that one hits

I may also decide to immediately ask for the store manager to let him know I will be avoiding walking by his electronics department in the future. If I'm going to be a jerk, I may as well not keep that warm light hidden from all humanity

Sunday, August 10, 2014

League Assignment: Top 10 G1 Update Figures


  These are from my collection, and my rules: the figure has to improve on the original G1 figure in detail and articulation, while keeping with the spirit of the the Generation 1 Cartoon

WARNING- the might not all be Has/Tak-remember: MY RULES(which are discussed here)

  • 10: Generations Cliffjumper-not so true the the cartoon, but very true to the character, and I love the figure

  • 9: Generations Legends Swerve-no real world analog truck, but he's JUST FUN

  • 8: Generations Legends Cosmos-goofy green flying saucer

  • 7: MP12 Masterpiece Sideswipe- great, but there are characters I love more

  • 6: Reveal the Shield Special Ops Jazz- he's just excellent-he almost manages to be the original Porsche

  • 5: Transformers United Autobot Tracks- the US version hood paint just doesn't cut it

  • 3: Generations Spinger- and yes, hes a triple changer

  • 2: IGear PP05w weapons specialist "Ironhide"- he has every gun in the world

  • 1: MP10 Masterpice Optimus Prime-this is the big guy in all his glory, with Trailer and Roller

other leaguers have their own lists- here are 10 links

Knives Tales gives us her top 10 short stories

Go Play Listen gives us the top 10 DVDs on his shelf, with some great selections

Good Will Hunting 4 geeks gives us his top 10 minifigures of the moment

DI Treasures gives us his top 10 cereals

The Nerd Nook chimes in with his top 10 knick knacks

Awake oh Sleeper stirs us with the top 10 movie monsters

Adam Nori crosses the streams with his top 10 ghostbusters items

Brian from Cool and Collected gives us his top 10 marvel movies

AEIOU and Sometimes Why gives us his top 10 rescores for GOTG-spoiler alert!

and the Man Who Stares at Toys gives a list of 10 great looney tunes classic shorts

check them out along with everyone who posted!