Thursday, July 26, 2007


Some interesting nonpolitical stories that crossed my path today:

Britain has decided to build two new aircraft carriers, each about 65,000 tons. They will be the largest ships ever to serve with the Royal Navy, three times the size of Britain's current carriers: three Invincible-class ships displacing just 20,600 tons. Even so, they pale in comparison to the American Nimitz class carriers, which tip the scales at 102,000 tons.

What makes this particularly interesting is that very few countries are building new carriers. China is trying to base one off the unfinished hull of an old Soviet carrier, the Varyag; France is considering adding a second carrier similar in size to the new British ones; India, Italy and Spain are all either building or thinking of building small carriers in the Invincible range. But that's it. American naval supremacy has really put a damper on the construction of large capital ships.

Oscar, a cat that lives in a nursing home in Rhode Island has an uncanny ability to identify patients that are about to die. He curls up next to them shortly before they die. He's apparently so reliable that the nursing home calls family members when he chooses someone, because it usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.

It takes more than anecdotal evidence to prove a phenomenon, of course, including strict observation to see how Oscar interacts with healthy patients, what separates a "choosing" from other behaviors, and the like. But the cat apparently does a better job of predicting deaths than the human doctors at the home. And it's easy to at least imagine cues that might guide her behavior -- changes in a patient's smell, for example, or breathing or movement. Spooky, in any case.

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Blogger Daniel said...

It was pointed out in a different blog (I don't remember which) that maybe the cat is not predicting the deaths at all. Maybe the cat is causing them! That is certainly how the police would see it. Furry grim reaper indeed!

7/27/2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

That could be a Stephen King novel. Sort of a feline "Christine".

7/27/2007 3:41 PM  

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