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Archive for December, 2010

Wanna see me recite Shakespeare?

Researchers at Wofford College in South Carolina have what may be the smartest dog in the world:

Cats rule, dogs drool, right? Not this time. It looks like the dogs have won this round thanks to a border collie named Chaser, who has the largest vocabulary seen in any animal.

Alliston Reid and John Pilley, psychologists at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, have been working with Chaser to see if there is a limit to the number of words a border collie can learn. So far, Chaser knows 1,022 words.

(…)

Reid and Pilley taught Chaser to recognize the names of 1,022 toys over a three year period. Toys were presented to Chaser individually, and the name of the toy would be repeated in order to help Chaser learn to recognize it.

To make sure Chaser was actually learning the names of these toys, she was tested on a regular basis. Tests consisted of researchers choosing 20 toys at random, and allowing Chaser to retrieve them when the toy’s name was called. The toys were put in an entirely different room so that researchers could not “unintentionally give Chaser cues about which toy to choose.”

Out of a total of 838 tests over a three year time span, researchers reported that Chaser chose at least 18 out of 20 correct toys when the toy’s name was called.

They’ve also taught Chaser to recognize objects by shape and function, matching the developmental level of a human three-year old.

Pretty darned impressive, and I don’t say this just because I’m a “dog person.” In my family we were sure our dogs understood the meaning of some words, not just recognized sounds. Chaser and her human staff* seem to have taken this to the next level, however.

But, does anyone else get a slightly unnerving Planet of the Apes vibe from this? “Get your paws off me, you damned dirty mutt!” 😉

*Oh, admit it. Anyone who’s ever had a dog or a cat knows who the real boss is.

via The Dog Files

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Merry Christmas!

I hope Santa brought all that you could desire. 🙂

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Britain has long hosted it’s fair share of serial killers: Jack the Ripper, Leather Apron, and Dr. Harold Shipman, to name just a few. Now we have a new entry — the Crossbow Cannibal of Leeds:

A British man who admitted to shooting his prostitute victims in the head with a crossbow before dismembering and eating them was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday, according to several British news reports.

Stephen Griffiths, 40, who called himself “The Crossbow Cannibal,” pleaded guilty to murdering Susan Rushworth, 43, Shelley Armitage 31, and Suzanne Blamires, 36, the U.K. daily Guardian reports.

Griffiths was caught when a building supervisor spotted him in the act on closed circuit television in Bradford, near the city of Leeds, in northern England, the Guardian reports.

“(The supervisor) saw an image of someone on the third floor dragging a person into flat 33,” prosecutor Robert Smith said.

Shortly afterwards, a woman ran from the apartment and fell to the floor, the Guardian reports. Griffiths shot her with a crossbow as she lay on the floor, and dragged her into the flat by a leg.

Griffiths allegedly “toasted” the death by raising a can of drink to the closed circuit security camera, the U.K. daily Telegraph reports.

The killer claims to have been working on a PhD in Criminology. I take it this was a “how to” course of study? Reportedly neighbors referred to him as “the Weirdo.” At least he wasn’t one of those quiet types whom you’d never suspect…

RELATED: Not to be outdone, Philadelphia has just announced its own serial-killer infestation – the Kensington Strangler. (via Gabriel Malor)

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This is just so wrong.

Which is why I must share. 🙂

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A series of storms has been lashing the eastern Mediterranean lately, and one caused a cliff to collapse near Ashkelon, revealing a 2,000-year old Roman statue in gorgeous condition:

A long-lost Roman statue buried for thousands of years has been unearthed by massive winter storms that have lashed the coast of Israel this week.

The mysterious white-marble figure of a woman in toga and ‘beautifully detailed’ sandals was found in the remains of a cliff that crumbled under the force of 60mph winds and enormous 40ft waves.

The statue, which lacks a head and arms, is about 4ft tall and weighs 440lbs. It was found at the ancient port of Ashkelon, around 20 miles south of Tel Aviv.

It dates back to the Roman occupation of what was western Judea, between 1,800 and 2,000 years ago.

The incredible find, which was discovered by a passer-by, will now be put on display in a museum.

‘The sea gave us this amazing statue’, researcher Yigal Israeli said. ‘The statue fell into the sea when the ancient maritime cliff collapsed’.

Neat! I wonder what kind of hideous, ancient curse it bears?

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Lego ultra-violence. Love it!

Via Allahpundit.

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Yummy!

 

Haggis-flavored potato chips:

Scotland’s national delicacy, haggis, will soon be available to American snack hounds in potato chip form, a North Carolina importer said.

Great Scot International announced this week it would have Mackie’s Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper chips on display at its booth at the annual Fancy Food Show in New York next month.

“We know that flavors with a Scottish twist are popular because Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper is our best-selling flavor,” Kirstin Mackie, managing director of Mackie’s, said in a written statement.

I think I just lost 1d4 SAN, no roll needed.

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