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From the BeebDogs Understand Human Perspective, Say Researchers.

Well of course they do.

When the lights were turned off, dogs in a room with their human owners were much more likely to disobey and take forbidden food.

The study says it is “unlikely that the dogs simply forgot that the human was in the room” when there was no light. Instead it seems as though the dogs were able to differentiate between when the human was unable or able to see them.

 Juliane Kaminski carried out the research into how dogs are influenced by human circumstances

The experiments had been designed with enough variations to avoid false associations – such as dogs beginning to associate sudden darkness with someone giving them food, researchers said.

Dr Juliane Kaminski, from the University of Portsmouth’s psychology department, said the study was “incredible because it implies dogs understand the human can’t see them, meaning they might understand the human perspective”.

This could also be important in understanding the capacities of dogs that have to interact closely with humans, such as guide dogs for the blind and sniffer dogs.

Take that, you people who dismiss what any dog-lover knows as mere airy-fairy anthropomorphizing!

Previous studies have suggested that although humans might think that they can recognise different expressions on their dogs’ faces, this is often inaccurate and a projection of human emotions.

“Humans constantly attribute certain qualities and emotions to other living things. We know that our own dog is clever or sensitive, but that’s us thinking, not them,” said Dr Kaminski.

“These results suggest humans might be right, where dogs are concerned, but we still can’t be completely sure if the results mean dogs have a truly flexible understanding of the mind and others’ minds. It has always been assumed only humans had this ability.”

I might add that cats also have this cognitive ability, and may even be sharper studies than dogs.  The big difference between them, however  is that when you flip the lights back on and that pound of chuck you’d left on the kitchen counter is missing, the dog will immediately give himself away, telegraphing his guilt via expression and body-language.  In all my puff, I’ve never known a dog with a poker-face.   On the other hand, I’ve never known a cat without one.  Further, a cat has no conscience.  She will just calmly stare you down, as if to say, “Oh, yeah?  Prove it, smart guy!”


In the shadow of other momentous headlines this morning, let us not forget that today is the day pitchers and catchers report.  (Robbo’s beloved Nats actually kick off on Wednesday.)

Woo, Hoo!

Yes, the long, off-season drought is coming to an end.

charlie-brownIndeed, yesterday found Self and the youngest gel scrambling between church services to get over to the local gym, wherein were being held the annual spring softball tryouts for our local league.  Despite the fact that, as happens every year, we failed to practice at all over the winter and were reduced to a last-second crash course of reviewing basic positions and technique in the basement Saturday evening, the gel did just fine throwing, catching, running and hitting.

The league is also offering a level of play for 13-16 y.o. girls this year, for which the eldest has signed up.  She’s been out of the game for a few years but has shown some interest in trying out for her high school j.v. team.  She reckons that she probably would not have made the cut this year owing to being so rusty, so thought it would be a good idea to play in this league for a season in order to get back up to speed.

The middle gel has also announced her intention to play softball at school this spring.

Ol’ Robbo’s going to be spending a lot of time hanging around various diamonds, most likely again in some sort of assistant coaching capacity.  I can tell you even now that I’ll enjoy every minute of it.  One of my proudest achievements as Dad has been to inculcate into all three gels a love of the game.  Indeed, I’ve overheard all of them on more than one occasion telling friends with some heat that the reason the friends think baseball is boring is because they don’t understand it.  Always brings a smile to the ol’ face.

Anyway, play ball!



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I’m sure that by now you’ve all heard the astonishing announcement that Pope Benedict XVI is retiring/resigning at the end of the month?  Here’s his statement on the matter.

I must confess that when I first heard mention of his name on the NPR nooz update, I had a chilling split-second in which I thought his death was being reported.  The poor man has been looking increasingly frail and weak over the past few months, and I’ve found myself dreading such surprise stories about him.  Thank God it wasn’t as bad as that.

So I suppose this means we’ll be getting a new Pope for Easter?  This will be terra incognita for ol’ Robbo – I’ve never been through a Papal succession, having come aboard only five years ago.   It’s no secret that one of the factors that influenced my own conversion was my admiration for Benedict’s theological scholarship.  I’m not sure at that point whether I would have been as attracted by a more charismatic, less academic Pontiff, because at the time I was struggling primarily with the crisis of recognizing just how shallow and empty the remains of Episcopal theological reasoning had become.   However, I like to think that I’m secure enough in my faith now that I can take anything that the College of Cardinals chooses to serve up.

Of course, there will be a great deal of (mostly ill-informed) speculation in the MSM and elsewhere about Benedict’s successor.  Stand by for a steady drum-beat for the Vatican to choose somebody more “liberal”, “modern” and “with the times”, meaning a Catholic In Name Only who will bow down to the secular world and, to the extent he actually holds orthodox beliefs, keep them  to himself.   Ain’t gonna happen, of course, not with the work JPII and B16 have done between them clearing out the last of the aging, Paul VI-era, liberal clutter.

I do hope, however, that the next Pontiff has more of a flair for public relations, is better able to articulate orthodoxy in popular language.  He’ll certainly have an enormous task.  Yesterday I found myself behind a Cadillac sporting a bumper sticker that read, “I Support Separation of Church and Hate”.    Ziiiiiing!   I’m pretty sure the ex-hippie driving was not thinking of Islam when she slapped it on her bumper.


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February 2013