Empathetic Canines

Your dog might understand you more than you think.

It appears dogs can ‘catch’ yawns from humans – but it seems to work best when there’s a bond between dog and man.

Dogs yawn even when they only hear the sound of their owners doing the same, researchers have found.

A study found that nearly half of all dogs yawned when played a recording of a human being making such a noise.

But when the yawn played belonged to their owners, the canines were five times more likely than if the voice belonged to a stranger.

The researchers said it was further proof that dogs empathize with their owners and understand what they are going through.

In her report behavioral biologist Karine Silva, the lead researcher, said: ‘These results suggest that dogs have the capacity to empathize with humans’.

Previous studies have found that dogs are among the few non-human animals to yawn – others include macaques, baboons and chimpanzees.

When somebody ‘catches’ another person’s yawn it has long been taken as a sign you understand what they are going through – and are tired as well.

To see if canines do the same researchers from University of Porto in Portugal tested 29 dogs which had lived with their owners for at least six months.

They recorded the owners yawning and played the recordings to their dogs, along with the yawn of an unfamiliar woman and a control sound, which was a yawn noise played backwards.

The dogs were given two sessions one week apart and the number of yawns for each noise was monitored.

The results showed that when dogs heard their owners they were by far more likely to yawn than under any other set of circumstances.

Scientists who were not involved in the study said it gave new insight into human and dog relations.

Evan McLean, a Ph.D. student at Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center in Durham, North Carolina, told Science Now: ‘This study tells us something new about the mechanisms underlying contagious yawning in dogs.

‘As in humans, dogs can catch this behavior using their ears alone’.

But Ádám Miklósi, an ethologist at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, raised a note of scepticism and said that previous studies showed dogs looked guilty even when they were not.

He and said: ‘Using behaviors as indicators will only show some similarity in behavior, but it will never tell us whether canine empathy, whatever this is, matches human empathy.

‘Dogs can simulate very well different forms of social interest that could mislead people to think they are controlled by the same mental processes, but they may not always understand the complexity of human behavior.’

The research will be published in the July issue of Animal Cognition.

Attribution: Daily Mail

Squaw no More

By: The Common Constitutionalist

How might you find Elizabeth Warren? Just look for the Trail of Tears. (buh-dum-bum)

Yes, by now we’ve all heard the claim by Massachusetts democrat candidate for Senator, Elizabeth Warren, that, due to her high cheek bones, she was 1/32 Cherokee Indian and thus claimed minority status as a Law Professor.

Joke-A-Hontas

Well it turns out that’s not quite accurate. As a matter of fact, it’s about as inaccurate as one might be, unless she made the claim on that well-known holiday,  “Opposite Day”.

See, one of her ancestors, although not an indian himself was directly involved with the Cherokee…mainly slaughtering them.

Paul Reed, a Utah genealogist who is a fellow at the American Genealogical Society, said he found primary documentation that shows Warren’s great-great-great grandfather Jonathan Crawford served in a Tennessee militia unit that rounded up Cherokees before they were force-marched to Oklahoma in the infamous “Trail of Tears.”

He was Militia member? Did he own a gun? Hope he had a permit. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Thousand of Indians died from exposure and malnutrition on that trail, mandated by the  heartless “Indian removal Act” of 1830, signed by that evil bastard, Andrew Jackson.

“Jonathan H. Crawford did serve in the Indian wars,” said Reed. “He is listed as serving in the company that rounded up Cherokees.”

In my opinion, this is just another example of elitist arrogance. These folks have been protected by the media and housed safely in their academic cocoons for so long, they believe they can do or say anything without ever being questioned. She could have said that she stowed away in the Apollo moon lander and the only question to her might be, “How was the food”? 

When someone finally does question them, they become belligerent and try to deflect attention onto someone else. In this case, her republican opponent, Senator Scott Brown, asking why he keeps on this topic. She complains he should stick to the issues and no one in the media ever bothers to remind her that she was the one who started this whole indian nonsense.

Ring of Death

A ring of ground-to-air missile launchers could be deployed around London to protect Olympic venues, the Ministry of Defense confirmed yesterday.

 Six sites, including two residential complexes, are being tested as launch pads for missile systems capable of thwarting any airborne terror attack.

Starstreak and Rapier missile systems – which have a range of around 4 miles – would be deployed as a “last resort” to shoot down any low flying aircraft intending a 9/11 style suicide mission at one of the Olympic venues.

Defense sources claim radar would identify rogue aircraft and the missiles would be deployed long before they reached built up areas.

But experts have claimed that the systems are useless in poor weather as they rely on the operator being able to see the target.

Nick Brown, editor in chief of IHS Jane’s International Defense Review said, “The system’s weakness is that the missiles are laser-guided, steered onto their target by the soldier keeping his sight on an aircraft. So if the soldier can’t see an aircraft, they can’t hit it.

 As a result, the missiles can be badly affected by weather and would also not be able to engage targets ‘masked’ by buildings on their approach to the stadium.”

People living close to where the missiles are to be housed have also expressed concern about the dangers of using such weapons in urban areas.

The systems will be tested in the coming days as part of a major military exercise organized to check Olympic security preparations, although no test missiles will be fired.

Today members of the armed forces visited Bow Quarter in preparation for tomorrow’s exercise. Photographs taken by residents appear to show soldiers carrying large boxes.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said they would be setting up equipment but would not be installing missiles, which are still at the “proposal stage”.

The six sites identified as potential locations for missile launchers are:

:: Bow Quarter, a large apartment complex close to the Olympic stadium.

:: Fred Wigg Tower, a 16 story residential tower block in Walthamstow, east London.

:: Blackheath Common, close to Greenwich where the Equestrian events will be held.

:: William Girling Reservoir, in Enfield, North East London.

:: Oxleas Wood, near Woolwich in East London

:: Netherhouse Farm in Epping Forest, North East London.

The missiles are intended to form part of a “layered” defense system, which will see 13,500 military personnel deployed to support the police for the duration of the games.

Typhoon aircraft will conduct low flying exercises over the capital and helicopters carrying snipers will also coduct practice operations.

General Sir Nick Parker, standing joint commander, said around 100 sites had initially been considered for missile launchers, but that had eventually been narrowed down to six.

He said the aim was to provide an “effective layered plan that provides a proper deterrent” adding that they could be used to defend venues against all manner of airborne attacks from the 9/11 style assault to a smaller “low and slow” attack from a single light aircraft.

He added: “There are two locations where we are going to place missiles on buildings because that is the very best place for them to go to do the jobs they are expected to do.

“This is what is going to be practiced over the next 10 days. We need to see that we can integrate them and they are really in the right place. Once we have done that we can make a final decision and make a final recommendation.”

He added: “I do understand that this is unusual and that people will be concerned. For the greater good it is prudent for us to provide this sort of air security plan. It would be sensible to be prepared for the worst.”

He added that the final decision on whether to fire the weapon systems would be taken at the “very highest political level”.

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said: “Support for the Olympic Games will be an important task for defense in 2012 and this exercise is about pushing our people and our systems to the limit to ensure that we are ready for the challenge.

“The majority of this exercise will be played out in full view of the public and I hope that it will have a secondary effect of reassuring the British people that everything possible is being done to ensure this will be a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the National Olympic Security Coordinator, said: “The Olympic Games are unusual so there will be a number of things we are doing which are unusual because the Olympic Games are coming. This is about trying to put in place a proportionate, necessary and sensible plan.

“The purpose of the exercise is to test whether they will work or not and then to make recommendations to the ministers because obviously, it has to have final approval from the ministers and not ourselves.”

Attribution: Mail Online

Joke of the Day

A couple is dressed and ready to go out for the evening. They phone for a cab, turn on a night light, cover Tweety, their pet parakeet, and put Hag, their cat, out in the back yard.

The taxi arrives, and they open the front door to leave. Suddenly the cat they put out scoots back into the house. They don’t want the cat shut in there because she always tries to eat the bird. The wife goes out to the taxi while the husband goes back in. The cat runs upstairs, with the man in hot pursuit.

The wife doesn’t want the driver to know the house will be empty. She explains to the taxi driver that her husband will be out soon. “He’s just going upstairs to say goodbye to my mother.”

A few minutes later the husband gets into the cab.

“Sorry I took so long,” he says, as they drive away. “Stupid Hag was hiding under the bed. Had to poke her with a coat hanger to get her to come out! Then I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching me. But it worked. I hauled her fat butt downstairs and threw her out into the back yard!

The cab driver hit a parked car.

This Just In…Lenin Murdered!

The founder of Russian communism Vladamir Lenin died after being poisoned by his political successor Joseph Stalin, according to a sensational new theory.

Russian historian Lev Lurie, believes that while Lenin was already in poor health having suffered several strokes, Stalin may have finished him off after a bitter feud.

Lenin, who had initially supported Stalin’s rise to power, later began aligning himself with Leon Trotsky.

In notes dictated before his death, Lenin criticizes Stalin’s rude manners and ambitious nature.

He even suggested that Stalin should be removed from his position of General Secretary of the Communist Party.

Poisoning would later become Stalin’s preferred method for dealing with his enemies, Lurie points out.

He added: ‘The funny thing is that the brain of Lenin still is preserved in Moscow, so we can investigate.’

Popular theory maintains that Lenin died from the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis.

His embalmed body still lies on public display in a Red Square mausoleum almost 20 years after the collapse of the communist state he helped bring to life.

Mr Lurie and UCLA neurologist Dr. Harry Vinters reviewed Lenin’s records for an annual conference at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on famous people’s deaths.

Dr Vinters put forward a separate theory, maintaining that stress or a family medical history could have accounted for Lenin’s death

Prior to his death, the 53-year-old Soviet leader’s health had been growing worse over time.

In 1921, he forgot the words of a major speech and he had to learn to speak again and write with his left hand after one stroke.

A subsequent major stroke later left him paralyzed on one side and unable to speak.

An autopsy found blood vessels in his brain were extremely hardened, results that have been difficult to understand, said Dr. Philip Mackowiak, who organizes the yearly event.

‘Number one, he’s so young and number two, he has none of the important risk factors,’ Mackowiak said.

Lenin didn’t smoke – he never let smokers near him. He also didn’t have diabetes, wasn’t overweight and the autopsy didn’t find any evidence of high blood pressure, Mackowiak said.

There was ‘considerable suspicion’ among Russians at the time of Lenin’s death that syphilis was to blame, Mackowiak said.

However, family history appears to have worked more against Lenin, Vinters said.

Lenin’s embalmed body still lies on public display in a Red Square mausoleum almost 20 years after the collapse of the communist state he helped bring to life.

Lenin was treated for syphilis using the primitive medications available at the time, and while the sexually transmitted disease can cause strokes, there is no evidence from his symptoms or the autopsy that was the case with Lenin, Vinters said.

The Soviet leader’s father also died at 54 and both may have been predisposed to hardening of the arteries.

Stress also is a risk factor for strokes, and there’s no question the communist revolutionary was under plenty of that, the neurologist said.

‘People were always trying to assassinate him, for example.’ Dr Vinters said.

Dr Vinters, who reviewed autopsy records and the leader’s clinical history, said toxicology tests that might have revealed poisoning were not conducted during the autopsy.

Reports from the time also show Lenin was active and talking a few hours before his death.

‘And then he experienced a series of really, really bad convulsions which is quite unusual for someone who has a stroke,’ Vinters said.

The conference is held yearly at the school, where researchers in the past have re-examined the diagnoses of figures including King Tut, Christopher Columbus, Simon Bolivar and Abraham Lincoln.

Attribution: Mail Online

Joke of the Day

Little Emily was complaining to her mother that her stomach hurt.

Her mother replied, “That’s because it’s empty. Maybe you should try putting something in it.”

The next day, her teacher stopped by Emily’s family’s house for a visit.

Emily’s teacher mentioned that her head hurt, to which Emily immediately replied, “That’s because it’s empty. Maybe you should try putting something in it.”