November 9th, 2009

Ann Vole

Despareaux revisited

I finally purchased a (previously enjoyed) DVD of the animated film Despareaux. I had only seen it once in the theatre so I noticed a lot if fun stuff with watching it over again several times. I still amazes me how a minor character (and a evil one) could take over the film as the new central character (I am refering to the rat... forgot his exact name - Rascureaux?). Like the mice charavcters in the new Prince Caspian movie, I loved how the characters seamlessly changed between 2-legged upright walking or running and the natural 4-legged running. There was about two frames of an evil look in the teacher's facial expression just before she revealed the carving knife flash card to the class (they are supposed to cower)... I love that. The chef's vegitablle-spirit friend did not have legs or feet except in the part where the rats attack him... I wonder if the character design change came after the story was nailed down for that part of the film (and that scene is not in the book). When the chef picked Despareaux up where his needle-sword had no effect on the human and then to be held by the tail really had the feeling of helplessness on Despareaux's part.
Ann Vole

Methods to asses language in fossorial animals

(Fossorial animals live underground) In response to a couple replies to a recent post, I will lay out research already done (that I have read about) and how I intend to take it a few steps further. The first study I believe was done in Lethbridge Alberta on Richardson Ground Squirrels (RGS) where high-frequency microphones were hooked to computers to do wave-form analysis on the calls of a colony of wild RGS. They sent lots of different animals and people through the RGS colony at different angles and speeds and analyzed the warning calls given by the RGS. Using this information they could determine that the RGS had specific words for different animals (nouns), words for the actions of the intruders (verbs), words for the color and size of the intruder (adjectives) and words describing the speed and direction of the movement of the intruder (adverbs) and often put several words together suggesting the concept of sentence structure. The variation in the calls was mostly found in the ultrasonic frequency range so to us humans, all the calls sounded identical but the computer could see the vocal paterns exactly like when trying to interpret human speech and could process those words the same way too. To test the assumed meanings of these RGS words, thay would play recordings of those calls and confirm that the RGS would respond as expected like looking in a particular direction (includiing skyward for bird intruders). RGS live all around me in pest-population levels yet they also make fine pets. Because of this, I hope to breed colonies of RGS in controlled environments with computer controlled doors and food dispensers and even computer games for the RGS to vocally interact with computers all day everyday from birth.

Someone was studying Woodchucks (also called groundhogs) to assess what is needed to sucessfully breed the endangered Vancouver marmots in captivity (woodchucks are a species of marmot closely related to the Vancouver Marmots). Part of the study was analyzing the vocalizations of the mother and the babies. They determined that the mother had specfic names for the babies and the babies would respond to their name accordingly. In the USA, Prairie Dogs were both listed as pests to be killed anyway you wished and listed as endangered species by organizations outside of the USA based on the specific criteria. To establish evidence to protect prairie dogs or at least some species as endangered animal listing within the USA, some groups funded a variety of research into these animals. One of those research projects was a repeat of the RGS research and another project involving recently captured prairie dogs and recorded calls of wild ones.

I am not aware of research into talking animals outside of the following four areas: fossorial communal rodents (as described above), sign language and video games for large primates, video games and similar "press the right button" testing on pigs including the use of buttons that say human sentences to be pressed by the pig, and testing a few large finned aquatic mammals (whales, dolphins). If you know of other research like about raccoons or birds (as mentioned in the responces to my earlier post), please elaborate so I can research the research... most interesting stuff for me as my life goal has always been connected to talking animals.
Ann Vole

Micheal Moore is a commie

I just watched the "documentary" "Capitalism, A Love Affair" by Micheal Moore. As a anarchist, I was totally on-board as the film showed all the tax money being stolen by CEO's and various government bodies and those that controlled the use of that tax money. All the way I saw how socialist-minded policies and union-based corporate monitary incentives were being abused due to the high tax structure making such money to be easy targets. Then, near the end of the film, the film showed the devistation of Katrina and said that devistation was the direct result of capitalism... what? Then There was a lot of people rebelling against the tyranny of corporate interests... what people usually confuse with the term "anarchy". A senator who was interviewed often in the film was shown telling people with failed mortgages to stay in their homes and they showed a sheriff who refused to do reposessions. These actions are not democratic nor communist but just plain wrong... even if the banks or rich affected are heartless and evil. If you want a revolution, it should involve opposing taxes or something. Instead I see Obama giving us the highest future tax burden ever known in human history and yet praised greatly in this film... must be because Obama calls himself a democrat rather than any real facts. Don't get me wrong, I am all in favor of many socialistic things like health care that Obama is bringing in but there are many fine ways to fund those things other then taxes and government debt. One thing that really surprised me was the film listing great socialist things various countries added to their constitution and one was the ability of government to take over private businesses for the good of the people... that is exactly what Hitler's union-based government did a lot of. Basically I was very disappointed in the lack of truth in Micheal's attempt to push communism and Obama without any actual reasons to do so (beyond "gready capitalist scum must be opposed")