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Judy Spooner Viewpoint: Online cat videos are our ball of yarn

I don't watch cat videos because husband Gary (aka Santa Gary) and I have two clown cats of our own.

Blitzen, our little black cat, is part Norwegian forest cat, and uses her paws to grab hold of my head to lick my face.

She looks innocent enough but if I find something dumped over in a closet, and our other cat, Rudolph, is there, Blitzen makes it look like it's his fault.

When Gary and I come home after being gone for a week, all the cupboards in the house will be open in addition to a few top drawers.

Rudy is a very persistent cat and is also determined to remind us that he's not happy in our absence.

He can also jump into the cabinet about the washer and jump up our clothes shoot into our bedroom closet. Rudy also leaves the same way. It's his shortcut to the bowl of cat scrunchies.

I don't have a video of Rudy jumping up the clothes shoot but, after looking at some cat videos for the first time today, I think it would look as funny as cats riding vacuum cleaners.

What seemed even funnier to me is the fact that humans feel the need to make endless videos of their cats. With contagious laughter in the background, however, it was hard not to laugh at three minutes of video of close-ups of a cat moving its tongue in and out of its mouth because of the funny humans.

But if you watch cat videos, you're not alone.

This past week, Google announced that its scientists made an artificial brain with 16,000 computer processors. It was constructed with the freedom to learn from the Internet.

According to Google, it's the largest neural network ever constructed.

When confronted with 10 million digital images from the Internet, it chose to watch cat videos after developing a visual cortex similar to a human brain, but 1 million times smaller. Still, it learned and constructed a cat.

Researchers say that developing a full human cortex by the end of the decade is not out of the realm of possibility. By my estimate, there are plenty of cat videos for it to watch.

There are also videos for cats that you can buy to "keep your cat active" during winter months. "Why not?" I asked myself. "It's fair play. If computers can watch cats, cats should be able to watch computers."

Beware, however, when you show a video for cats on your DVD player. Cats try to find a way to get into the television set to get at the birds and squirrels.

Blitzen likes to watch golf. She puts her paw on the television screen on the ball as it goes toward the cup on the greens.

Daughter Margie wonders what life would like if cats had opposable thumbs like humans.

They could turn on computers and television sets, I said. "What would Rudy watch?" I asked.

"I think he'd watch the Do It Yourself Channel," she said, "for more information about cupboards and drawers."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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