A few days ago Engadget blogged a story originally reported in the Israeli print media that a local family was surprised to discover that their Roomba had ingested a dangerous poisonous snake (Vipera palaestinae). (Within a few days, the story was echoed by Gizmodo, Boing Boing, and Jewschool.)
In so far as Jewish lore goes, the virtues of alert domestic household guardians in disposing of wayward lizards was recognized as early as 350-371 CE in the Babylonian Talmud. The source below, Tractate Pesaḥim, Chapter 10, p112b, provides something of a utilitarian justification for the adoption of cats in this regard:
אמר רב פפא ביתא דאית ביה שונרא לא ניעול בה איניש בלא מסני מאי טעמא משום דשונרא קטיל לחיויא ואכיל ליה ואית ביה בחיויא גרמי קטיני ואי יתיב לה גרמא דחיויא אכרעיה לא נפיק ואסתכן ליה איכא דאמרי ביתא דלית ביה שונרא לא ניעול ביה [...]
In his 1978 essay, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later“, Philip K. Dick wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” This ontology is challenged by a syndrome recently brought to my attention in a recent post on boingboing.net, “Hallucinations brought on by eye disease,” wherein David Pescovitz writes,
In recent days, both the Daily Mail and Wired.com looked at Charles Bonnet Syndrome [CBS], a disease characterized by bizarre and vivid visual hallucinations. Interestingly, people who suffer from CBS aren’t mentally ill but have visual impairments such as macular degeneration. Even weirder is that the hallucinations often involve characters or things that are much smaller in size than reality.
Read the whole post and follow the link to this article at the Daily Mail on Charles Bonnet Syndrome, and this interview at Wired with neurologist [...]