Saturday, January 15, 2011

Poodle Bitch is unimpressed with Sonny the wonder dog

Yahoo!'s main page today featured a story in which was asked the age-old question, "Do you think a dog can read?"

To which Poodle Bitch would reply, "Of course a dog can read. How do you think dogs find the material about which to blog?"

However, after viewing the video linked from the yahoo! main page, Poodle Bitch feels confident in saying that, while she believes that dogs can read, she does not believe that this particular dog, Sonny, can read. Poodle Bitch encourages the reader to view the video for him/her-self:

Poodle Bitch will happily concede that Sonny "the wonder dog" could not be more cute, even if he were a poodle. She will also concede that Sonny has been well-trained, or is at least very eager to please. But she is unwilling to concede that Sonny can actually read.

Poodle Bitch wonders if Sonny's human companion asks her inane questions in the same order every time? She also wonders if she uses the same cards every time? Perhaps the answer is even more obvious than that -- Poodle Bitch notes that the human subtly lifts the card with the "correct" answer inscribed upon it, just as Sonny reaches out an innocent paw.

Poodle Bitch speculates that poor Sonny is likely responding to cues in his human companion's voice, and reaching out a paw as he's been trained; then he merely touches the hand that has raised slightly to meet it.

Of particular interest to Poodle Bitch is the sequence around the :35 mark, when the human companion asks Sonny, "What do you chew on?" When Sonny attempts to answer, wrongly, the card on which is inscribed that wrong answer (Poodle Bitch admits she could not read what was on that card) is pulled back as Sonny reaches toward it. Sonny then looks at something or someone off camera and then manages to select the other card, on which has been inscribed the word "Bones."

This is of particular interest because it would seem to confirm the hypothesis that the human companion is "feeding" cues to Sonny (as opposed to bones); it is also of particular interest because sophisticated humans provide their canine companions with tomato slices or chicken on which to chew.

Poodle Bitch has a message to the humans who exploit their canine companions for fleeting internet fame: If you're going to debase them in such ways, at least give them tomato slices.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders if the definition of "surprise" has changed since last she looked it up?

Poodle Bitch once attempted to watch "Jersey Shore," but she was unable to make it more than a few minutes into the episode. She understands the program's appeal (after all, she does on occasion watch VH1 reality shows -- or, she did, before they "evolved"); that appeal, however, is lost on her.

That said, Poodle Bitch is well aware of the exploits of many of the program's characters. How could she not be? She has internet access. She knows that one of the characters, Snooki, has written a novel.

Or, had one written for her. Or, collaborated on the writing of a novel. Apparently an author called Valerie Frankel had a hand in Snooki's debut novel, A Shore Thing:
She's Jersey-born, opinionated and not afraid to piss people off. But unlike Snooki, Valerie Frankel has read more than two books. She's also written almost a dozen, which is why she was hired to turn patented Jersey Shore-isms into a work of fiction. "A Shore Thing," released this week, follows a girl named Gia who spends the summer picking up Jucie-heads on the beaches of Jersey. Together, Frankel and Snickers have born lines like: "Yum. Johnny Hulk tasted like fresh gorilla" and "She could pour a shot of tequila down his belly and slurp it out of his navel without getting splashed in the face."

Poodle Bitch admits that the two lines quoted from the novel made her laugh out loud. Parody is not dead, and yet, look at what's being parodied.


Snooki was more than happy to appear on a program called the "Today Show," which alleges itself to be a news program, to promote the novel she either did not write, or collaborated upon, but which bears her name. She explained to the host of that show,
"I wanted to do a story about the Jersey Shore," she told Matt Lauer on Tuesday. "People probably expected my first book to be a biography or guidelines to be a guidette or something like that, and I wanted to surprise everyone with a novel."

The 23-year-old went on to say that she had collaborated with a co-writer on the project but had still written a substantial amount herself. "If you read it you know the first page that I wrote it," she explained. "It's all in my language."

The storyline revolves around two girls - based on Snooki and her MTV co-star JWoww - who spend summer on the Jersey Shore.

"It's pretty much like the show but you're reading it," she said. "So it's like 289 pages of Jersey Shore?" said Lauer. "Exactly!" replied Snooki.

So Snooki wanted to surprise everyone by not writing about herself. So she wrote about herself.

Poodle Bitch wonders if anyone is surprised by that?

Should Snooki's future Library of America volume include Valerie Frankel's name on the cover?

Poodle Bitch does not want dogs to be blamed for the no doubt imminent downfall of humanity

For better or worse, human beings are the dominant species on planet earth. Poodle Bitch believes this has a great deal to do with the will power and resourcefulness of which humans are capable. There is something within the human makeup that compels them to solve any problem, no matter how long it might take them, no matter how daunting the odds.

Also, human beings have opposable thumbs.

Nevertheless, upon reading this story, Poodle Bitch began to wonder just how much longer those opposable thumbs are going to keep human beings at the top of the species ladder.
Tufts University is throwing stressed-out students a bone: therapy dogs to play with during their final exams.

Colleges have long extended library hours and offered extra counselling [sic] around test time. Now they’re adopting quirky stress-fighting events for students, who face a tough job market in addition to finishing up the semester. From dog visits to free midnight massages to laser tag, students are getting help navigating those last days before turning in final papers and taking finals.

Poodle Bitch has heard of the use of "therapy dogs" in helping human children with life-threatening conditions, and elderly people who enjoy the nonjudgmental companionship that most dogs provide (Poodle Bitch admits that she herself can occasionally be judgmental -- she is going to be judgmental in the next sentence). However, Poodle Bitch finds it absurd that otherwise healthy college students would be so "stressed-out" as to require the services of animals that might otherwise be employed in the comfort of children who are facing actual, real-life stress situations.

She wonders why it is that colleges have taken it as part of their duty to ensure that students receive "free" (aren't they paying tuition, and aren't all of these "free" services included in the cost of said tuition?) "stress-fighting events" (oh, what a wordsmith it was who composed the original AP article!). Poodle Bitch was under the impression that colleges were supposed to prepare human beings for the real world. Just to be sure, Poodle Bitch went to Tufts' website where she found, amidst a great deal of flowery academic purple prose and incoherence, the following "Teaching Philosophy":
Tufts is a world-class research institution with an abiding commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. What happens in the classroom is the essence of the Tufts experience–active dialogue, engaging coursework that extends into the field and around the world and opportunities to think outside the textbook and ask the big questions that really matter.

How can an academic institution on the one hand encourage its students to "ask the big questions that really matter," and then on the other hand tell its students that facing the blank page of a Blue Book creates stress akin to that experienced by a small child facing a debilitating disease?

Surely those "big questions that really matter" are more stressful than a mere exam?

That said, Poodle Bitch does note that Tufts's teaching philosophy does not mention that the students might be asked to come up with answers to or solutions for those "big questions that really matter." Apparently, to Tufts, the asking of the questions is enough. Once a student has asked one of those "big questions," s/he can then spend a few hours seeking comfort in the nonjudgmental paws of an exploited therapy dog, who no doubt believes that said college student is facing some horrible disease.

Poodle Bitch is an optimist, yet there are times when she wonders just how much longer human beings are going to need their opposable thumbs.

Poodle Bitch wonders if the young Tufts University RA shouldn't be more ashamed of himself?