The grim reaper

Today, AP has a story about a cat that predicts the death of nursing home patients:

Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don’t know he’s there, so patients aren’t aware he’s a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.

The AP reporter is missing the other obvious conclusion: the cat is sucking the life out of the patients. Everyone knows, after all, that cats can kill babies.

Save Africa!

There’s an interesting commentary in the Washington Post that’s making the blog rounds today: “Stop Trying to ‘Save’ Africa.” The author’s aversion to a certain type of attitude in regard to Africa reminds me of my dislike of the slogan “Save the Earth.”
I’m pretty sure life on earth will continue on in some form for millions, if not billions, more years, even if we humans manage to make the environment inhospitable for our own species.
So, I think ‘Save the Earth’ really means: help to keep the environment in a state that will continue to support human life similar to the way it currently is.” That in itself is a worthy cause, but the hubris implied in ‘Save the Earth’ really rubs me the wrong way.

eMusic rox, take 2

I’ve sung the praises of eMusic before, but I have another reason to like them today. After I downloaded all my tracks last month, I accidentally deleted all of them before importing them into iTunes. I was bummed that I’d lost $20 of music. This morning, I went to eMusic to start finding some music to download in the coming month when I realized I still had a few downloads available from last month. I decided to download a few of the tracks I’d deleted. After I downloaded one, I noticed that the number of available downloads hadn’t been decremented. I had accidentally discovered that I could re-download my previous purchases! I just recovered the lost tracks by downloading them again!

Good advice

Last week, I was chatting with the phlebotomist while I was donating blood. In the course of the conversation, he told me, “You know, one of the first thing we teach new people around here is that if you make a mistake, don’t say “Oops!” or “Uh oh!”

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber

I haven’t posted about a book in quite some time. A couple of reasons: I haven’t been reading much lately, and I haven’t read anything that really captured my attention. I’m glad to say that The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber has broken that stretch. This book passed several of my criteria for a good thriller:

  • Characters were well fleshed out
  • Only a couple of times did I read something and think “Ah, this will be important later”. Given the complexity of the plot, that’s pretty good.
  • I also didn’t guess much of the conclusion–just a couple of pretty obvious points. I was looking forward to seeing how the various plots and characters would come together
  • Finally, most of the plot lines came together very well. The only part that I thought was handled poorly was the part of the brother Paul–though he was an interesting character nonetheless.
    • All in all, a very enjoyable read.