Saturday Nov 03, 2007

Why Cats Annoy Dogs

More than anything else, dogs are highly sophisticated security systems. Everything we know about dog psychology--intense loyalty, hair-trigger barking fits, bone-headed singlemindedness--can be explained in terms of this. Neal Stephenson knew this when he wrote Snow Crash; a book where (among other things) dogs are grafted with technology to create the ultimate security system.

Dogs, I'm convinced, feel most comfortable when they're fully aware of their surroundings. At any given time, a dog maintains a coordinate grid of all active entities within its domain. Mom is upstairs at the computer. Dad is in the kitchen. The child is in the living room. Each of these objects are represented (as it were) by a glowing dot on the dog's projected mental landscape.

This is why cats annoy dogs. Everything about the cat is antithetical to the dog's security sensibilities: the stealth-like motion, the lack of scent, the insistence on privacy. The cat is represented in the dog's mind not as a discreet coordinate, but as a probability field. Feline stochastic distributions are deeply unsettling to the canine psyche, and are classified as a threat for no other reason than that they don't honor the dog's right to be in full knowledge of the situation.

It's left as an exercise for the reader to find analogies between this and the current US political climate.

About

My name is Greg Reimer and I'm a web technologist for the Sun.COM web design team.

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