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Author Topic: EP275: Schrödinger’s Cat Lady  (Read 18025 times)
eytanz
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« on: January 13, 2011, 07:00:02 PM »

EP275: Schrödinger’s Cat Lady

By Marjorie James
Read by Mur Lafferty

An Escape Pod original!
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I got out of the car, smoothed my shirt down over my bulletproof vest, and contemplated the cats. They contemplated me right back. I sighed. I hated these jobs.

I opened the tiny gate to the front walk (no fence, just a gate) and made my way to the door. The house was small and tidy, a light blue bungalow with green trim and yellow curtains pulled across the windows, through which the cats were peering. It didn’t smell, which was a relief. And something of a surprise, considering the heat. It was one of those days when the world seemed to be actively rejecting human habitation, where the smog and the humidity made the air feel like warm mayonnaise. On a day like this, a cat overpopulation should be stinking to high heaven. Maybe this wasn’t for real, I hoped. It might just be some neighbor with a grudge. Couldn’t be more than a dozen cats here, max. Maybe this one wasn’t going to be that bad.

I have never been very good at predicting things.


Rated PG For quantum theory and brief violent description.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 267: Planetfall
  • Next week… Rejiggering stuff



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 06:32:23 PM by eytanz » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2011, 09:58:52 PM »

Cute and funny.  I enjoyed it.

I'm a little oogy about the ending, in which I am expected to chuckle at the idea of killing people who have done bad things, which is a position that I have always had tremendous ambivalence about.  I can appreciate that it was meant to be funny, but I find it more creepy than humorous.  Mind you, I *like* creepy.  I'm just not sure that's what I was supposed to feel.
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 10:54:22 AM »

  This story is almost completely utter nonsense, and I enjoyed it all. If it were not for it being based around the whole Schrodinger experiment I would be left wondering why it was not on Podcastle instead though.

  I would have liked there to be some more explanation about why the cats are able to do some of the things they do, like pass through walls (if they could do that, couldn't they have escaped from the boxes all on their own?). Also, what effect Mrs S' is having on all of these thought experiments (how would you react if running through this experiment in your mind only to find your imaginary cat had gone before you opened the box?). Why did Mrs. S' house seem to share some properties with the TARDIS The whole story seemed to be written with a sense of fun though, so it seems just best to roll with it.

  I really liked the ending because, frankly, as fun as the story is, it wasn't really going anywhere. Throwing in that darkly funny ending made it a good place to stop, and I liked seeing that Mrs. S had that darker, more sinister edge to her. I like those sorts of endings, but then I am also a fan of The Punisher.

  My mind is not filled with trying to create a story about melting cats that both makes any sort of sense, and is not disturbingly gross.
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2011, 12:13:18 PM »

Cute and funny.  I enjoyed it.
I'm a little oogy about the ending, in which I am expected to chuckle at the idea of killing people who have done bad things, which is a position that I have always had tremendous ambivalence about.  I can appreciate that it was meant to be funny, but I find it more creepy than humorous.  Mind you, I *like* creepy.  I'm just not sure that's what I was supposed to feel.

Seconded (mostly). I am a person who uh, thinks some people could probably use killing and I wouldn't weep for those guys, but I thought, "I can't believe you're showing this to someone in some kind of law enforcement. Shouldn't that get you in trouble? Wouldn't Eleanor possibly be more disturbed than cheered?"

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about it either.
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acpracht
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011, 03:11:18 PM »

When I heard we were getting a new story by the same author as "The Trouble with Deathtraps" - Marjorie James - my immediate reaction was to exclaim "Yeesss!" to the confusion of anyone who happened to be around me.
I couldn't help it. James writes so playfully and cleverly about macrabe topics that I can't help laughing and snickering aloud throughout her stories.
Lines like, "That was Heisenberg—You just can never know where he is and how fast he’s going" are perfect in their wink to this audience of nerds.
Regarding the ending: I can't say that it bothered me when I listened to it. It seemed to actually fit the character, who maybe could have been better termed "Schroedinger's Crazy Cat Lady."
In all fairness, the criminals got the same deal as the dogs in their fights - 50/50 shot at living. From a literary sense, it was perfect. Then again, I'm a sucker for cleverly dark endings.
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KenK
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2011, 03:29:50 PM »

I agree with the previous observation; When I saw who the author was there was little doubt in my mind that the animal torturers would meet with a bad comeuppance. (Karma! Grin ) A funny little animal story that pokes fun at Schrodinger's famous thought experiment.
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 01:14:04 AM »

When I heard who the author was (I didn't recognize her name, but I did recognize the stories - two of my favourite EPs ever!), I was also very pleased!  (I also immediately thought, Hey, when are we getting another Death Trap story, and can I narrate it when we do? Smiley )

This story made me laugh out loud a few times (making me glad I was commuting by myself).  I loved the whole thing.  I don't know enough about the science behind Schrödinger's Cat to be able to quibble about the science (though I know at least a couple of people who probably could), but even if I did, in this case it was obviously meant to be over the top and silly.

Delightful!
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2011, 01:49:19 PM »

I, too, really enjoyed this one. It can't be taken too seriously, but then, it doesn't take itself very seriously either.

I didn't really have a problem with the ending, because the cat lady was very clearly operating under a different set of physical and metaphysical rules than the rest of us, and therefore is not necessarily bound by the same moral rules as us.
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 08:22:57 PM »

Argh. Another story mis-interpreting Schrödinger's thought experiment.

Still, cute and fluffy.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 07:31:03 AM »

I think this might be the first time I've ever heard an audio version of an XKCD comic...

This story isn't anything you (or at least I) wouldn't think after the initial idea is introduced.

The ending did give a little nice twist though.

[shrug]
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 08:45:53 AM »

Every once and a while you hear a story that makes you say "ah", I know where this story is going. Then you realize that no, there was a fifty percent chance that it would the way you thought and the other fifty percent, well, who knows?
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 10:14:36 AM »

Argh. Another story mis-interpreting Schrödinger's thought experiment.

Still, cute and fluffy.

Ha, as soon as I listened to this story I thought of Schrödinger’s Lament, an entry in the 2010 Flash Fiction Contest.  I had forgotten that YOU were the one who wrote it.  Smiley  http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=4206.0

Anyway, this one was cute and fluffy, much like the cats contained herein.  Not hilarious but it did get some smiles out of me.  The visit to Michael Vick's* house  at the end didn't really bother me like it did scattercat.  I can't say I really feel sorry for someone who gets filthy rich off of forcing animals to fight each other to the bloody death for the amusement of sadistic gambling addicts. 

*I know Vick wasn't named in the story, but since he's a celebrity who got a handslap for running dogfighting rings he immediately came to mind.
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2011, 01:50:10 PM »

I did enjoy that story. I'm not sure that I could say that the physics jokes went over my head but I can say that wherever they were, they were travelling very fast.
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2011, 08:13:48 PM »

I agree that I immediately thought of the Schrödinger’s Lament story, and said "Oh, someone's going to be upset about this!"  But still, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Not as nice as a new Death Trap story, but very enjoyable nonetheless.  The ending did take a slightly dark turn, but I was fine with it.
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 08:36:34 PM »

Argh. Another story mis-interpreting Schrödinger's thought experiment.

I have no problem with that.  Most people misinterpret it, therefore she's rescuing metaphorical cats from the common form that the experiment takes when we no-nothing liberal arts majors students do in our intro to cosmology classes or late at night we think we're being deep.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to stick a mess of mice in that box.  The liberal arts version.
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2011, 08:52:07 PM »

I agree that I immediately thought of the Schrödinger’s Lament story, and said "Oh, someone's going to be upset about this!"

Ha, as soon as I listened to this story I thought of Schrödinger’s Lament, an entry in the 2010 Flash Fiction Contest.  I had forgotten that YOU were the one who wrote it.  Smiley 

Yeah, I'm just being a grumpy old man :-) In truth, it was hard to resist the inherent fluffiness of this story and Mrs S.
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« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2011, 01:39:31 PM »

Apropos.
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« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2011, 02:09:11 PM »

A charming little tale of science and silliness. Not a lot of depth, but plenty of fun. I listened to it while cleaning my bedroom and hanging out with my lizard.

I wasn't bothered much by the vigilante ending because the story wasn't that kind of real for me. This story had emotional and narrative resonance - it was a fun, slightly absurd piece - but it didn't need to have moral reality. I mean, Lady S. is condemning people for potentially killing imaginary cats, who then go on to dance the cha-cha and run through walls. It was easy for me to consider the lives and deaths of the crooks to be as abstract as the laws of physics.
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« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2011, 02:20:21 PM »

The crooks at the end were not the cat creators, but the masterminds of the dog fights. There wad no action taken against the people who create the cats.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2011, 10:07:40 AM »

Anyway, this one was cute and fluffy, much like the cats contained herein.  Not hilarious but it did get some smiles out of me.  The visit to Michael Vick's* house  at the end didn't really bother me like it did scattercat.  I can't say I really feel sorry for someone who gets filthy rich off of forcing animals to fight each other to the bloody death for the amusement of sadistic gambling addicts. 

*I know Vick wasn't named in the story, but since he's a celebrity who got a handslap for running dogfighting rings he immediately came to mind.


[deep sigh] I've been trying to not comment on this...
so I did the next best thing to not commenting, I waited until late in the comment cycle, where it will hopefully cause less splash.

I don't like Michael Vick, I don't like football, I find the idea of dogfighting disgusting and reprehensible.

Michael Vick did not get a handslap. He lost three years of his career, a career in a sport with a very definite and short lifespan, years worth tens of millions of dollars, and went broke from legal fees and contract penalties.

Vick didn't get penalized because he engaged in an activity that is cruel to animals, he was penalized because he was engaged in an activity that is cruel to animals, and is popular with poor brown-skinned people.
If he'd taken his money and bought a stable of racehorses (all the same elements, gambling: albeit legal, gentrified gambling, and -if not quite as much cruelty as in dogfighting- plenty of cruelty besides, oh, plus a massive and institutionalized system of exploitation of Latin immigrants) the same people who condemned him would have probably praised him for rising above his poor roots(and he was about as poor as they come).

I like animals; I've raised almost every type of animal you can raise in the U.S. without needing special license, and in spite of, or perhaps because of that, I get really annoyed when people fire off little bits of snark about how terrible people are when they're cruel to animals. Unless you're a vegan, who wears no leather, wool, or silk, and lives with no impact whatsoever on your local biome (if you've studied the subject at all, that pretty much rules out anyone with a computer) you might carefully consider talking about 'animal cruelty'. Please don't use the 'cute' or 'smart' animal defense; I've raised and trained working cattle, they're as smart if not smarter than most dogs, and beautiful animals if they're kept clean. But beef tastes good, so no one cries for the cows.

This is nothing against you personally, Unblinking, this just struck a bit of a nerve.
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Corydon
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« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2011, 11:38:49 AM »

I didn't care for this story at all.  The bulk of it was unobjectionable fluff; I'm not particularly charmed by stories of adorable animals, or by cutesy fiction in general.  Still, the story was slight enough that it'd just be grumpy to complain that the premise made no sense, or that Schroedinger's cat (and Heisenberg's principle) are misused, and horrible cliches.  Forgettable stuff, but not awful.

But then, in the last minute, the story veered off into an ugly revenge fantasy; something I find at least as repugnant as dogfighting, and which was at odds with the tone of the rest of the story.  It left a bad taste in my mouth, and I find myself agreeing with this LOLcat:

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« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2011, 11:57:02 AM »

Reminds me of deconstructionist fairy tales, the kind that try to capture the capriciousness of fanciful beings with surreal, fantastical powers that operate according to idiom rather than the normal constraints of the world.



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« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2011, 02:20:03 PM »

This is nothing against you personally, Unblinking, this just struck a bit of a nerve.

I'll admit that my comment was in rather poor taste, and really was only tangentially related to the story anyway.  I'm sorry about that.  As for the questions of whether Vick's punishment was fitting, and the rating of dogfighting vs. other kinds of animal cruelty, I don't want to have that argument here.  (Not that you shouldn't have brought them up, considering my original comment, but I don't feel that I should respond about that in this story thread).

Anyway, back to the story!
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« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2011, 02:49:24 PM »

This was one of my favorite EP stories, possibly ever.  Grin

Were there holes? Yes, but when you're re-stitching such a large swath of the fabric of reality then you're going to end up with holes. And I was ok with that as I sat giggling at my bench affixing labels on 207 tubes for one of my experiments this week. Besides, I'm a biologist not a physicist. I won't complain (too much) about the misuse of cloning if "you" won't complain too much about this one. Deal?  Wink
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« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2011, 08:44:23 PM »

Besides, I'm a biologist not a physicist.

Surely you meant to say "Dammit" rather than "Besides"? ;-)
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« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2011, 09:37:20 PM »

I laughed soooooooo hard when I heard "I save the cats from the boxes. People put them in there." Funniest EP I've ever heard!  Cheesy
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« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2011, 12:16:48 AM »

Besides, I'm a biologist not a physicist.

Surely you meant to say "Dammit" rather than "Besides"? ;-)


ou, we gotta joker here! Cheesy Though I suppose that would work too, in a Dr. McCoy sort of way...

By the way, I read your flash fiction piece that was linked above and got a real kick out of it Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2011, 02:34:48 AM »

By the way, I read your flash fiction piece that was linked above and got a real kick out of it Smiley

Why thank you :-) Glad you liked it.
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KenK
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« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2011, 09:06:52 AM »

I was thinking of Michael Vick too as the story ended.  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2011, 12:47:48 PM »

I didn't know that not liking cats would make one a pariah among nerds... I thought hating on Firefly did that.
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« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2011, 01:39:54 PM »

I didn't know that not liking cats would make one a pariah among nerds... I thought hating on Firefly did that.
Dislike 'em all you want. Just don't kill or torture them for no good reason.  Wink
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« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2011, 02:02:24 PM »

This one was a dud for me.  The attempts at Quantum Physics Humor were about as funny as Quantum Physics Humor sounds: chuckle-worthy at some spots, but mostly just caused me to cringe.  And in my opinion, nothing against Mur, but her voice isn't very well suited comedic delivery.  It came across as a bit of a flat delivery, on a story that was also just as flat.

BTW: @blueeyeddevil, completely agreed.
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« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2011, 04:31:25 PM »

I didn't know that not liking cats would make one a pariah among nerds... I thought hating on Firefly did that.
Dislike 'em all you want. Just don't kill or torture them for no good reason.  Wink

Just to be clear, I lurvz teh kittehz... I have five of them myself. It's Firefly I don't like.
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« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2011, 08:28:43 PM »

*brushes cat fur off keyboard*

Ahem. First, let me just say I was incredibly relieved to see a cat-lady who not only wasn't flinging cats at neighbors and or harming them through hoarding. As a potential future cat-lady myself I am happy to have such a rewarding example to live up to!

Reminds me of deconstructionist fairy tales, the kind that try to capture the capriciousness of fanciful beings with surreal, fantastical powers that operate according to idiom rather than the normal constraints of the world

I completely and utterly agree. I just enjoyed it for that, did not think to much on whether the physics was correct because frankly, its been to long and fluff is fluff, Tribbles not withstanding. A great little tale that I'm glad my cats didn't hear. As for the ending, as I regarded Mrs. S much as NoNotRogov described, it seemed perfectly fitting.
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« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2011, 06:04:00 AM »

Just to be clear, I lurvz teh kittehz... I have five of them myself. It's Firefly I don't like.

Complete opposite for me ;-)
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« Reply #35 on: January 24, 2011, 11:31:02 AM »

Just to be clear, I lurvz teh kittehz... I have five of them myself. It's Firefly I don't like.

Complete opposite for me ;-)

You have five Fireflies?
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« Reply #36 on: January 24, 2011, 11:32:20 AM »

Oh, I forgot to mention that I liked Mur's comparison between someone with a dozen cats getting legal action against them, but dozen kids getting a TV show.
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« Reply #37 on: January 24, 2011, 08:07:59 PM »

Firstly, I wanted to say thanks to Mur for her diplomatic way of phrasing which she "camp" she belongs to, without stroking anyone's fur backwards. Well played. Smiley

Quantum mechanics aside, I was just grateful to hear the rare "ailurocentric" story, putting cats in a positive light for once. Ever since that Bond villain and his Persian, movies (more so than books) seem stuck in the trope of casting cats or cat owners in the role of badguy, or basically, "dramatic foil", to the good guy and his dog again and again. It gets a lil old, and hearing a cat story for cat people feels really good. I think the last cat-as-hero story I recall on EP was His Master's Voice, which even still, centers on a canine protagonist, but hey. (I still play that one over and over.)

Also a positive spin on the cat lady! I was not bogged down by the Fairy Catmother's powers or where she gets them, anymore than I am about Santa Clause's powers. (Hmm, same powers.) This is a simple what-if fable about where stray ideas go (like stray cats), and of course, what happens to naughty villains.

I did not see the ending as a "dark turn" or ugly, I was a bit surprised by people's reactions to it. It was your standard bad-guy-gets-his ending. Besides, it stands to reason that, with all the imaginary cats she's been pulling out of imaginary boxes, she would have loads of leftover imaginary radioactivity-triggered poison assemblies just lyin around her imaginary inside-out cat mansion in the sky. Me like!
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« Reply #38 on: January 24, 2011, 09:07:57 PM »

FWIW, I don't like "bad guy gets his" stories much in general.  I dislike violence and violent conflict, and I find them to be poor tools of conflict resolution.  A story that is light and whimsical which ends with the gleeful murder of guilty parties makes me uncomfortable, because I don't regard that sort of thing as light or whimsical and it makes me uncomfortable to see it presented as such.
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« Reply #39 on: January 25, 2011, 09:28:04 AM »

Cat stories shouldn't be too hard to find.  I haven't done a tally, but they seem more frequent than dog stories.  Just a couple suggestions in case you're looking:  What Fluffy Knew, here on Escape Pod.  And the novel Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams.  I know there are plenty of others but they're not immediately coming to mind (probably because I tend to prefer the dog stories).  Smiley

Firstly, I wanted to say thanks to Mur for her diplomatic way of phrasing which she "camp" she belongs to, without stroking anyone's fur backwards. Well played. Smiley

Quantum mechanics aside, I was just grateful to hear the rare "ailurocentric" story, putting cats in a positive light for once. Ever since that Bond villain and his Persian, movies (more so than books) seem stuck in the trope of casting cats or cat owners in the role of badguy, or basically, "dramatic foil", to the good guy and his dog again and again. It gets a lil old, and hearing a cat story for cat people feels really good. I think the last cat-as-hero story I recall on EP was His Master's Voice, which even still, centers on a canine protagonist, but hey. (I still play that one over and over.)

Also a positive spin on the cat lady! I was not bogged down by the Fairy Catmother's powers or where she gets them, anymore than I am about Santa Clause's powers. (Hmm, same powers.) This is a simple what-if fable about where stray ideas go (like stray cats), and of course, what happens to naughty villains.

I did not see the ending as a "dark turn" or ugly, I was a bit surprised by people's reactions to it. It was your standard bad-guy-gets-his ending. Besides, it stands to reason that, with all the imaginary cats she's been pulling out of imaginary boxes, she would have loads of leftover imaginary radioactivity-triggered poison assemblies just lyin around her imaginary inside-out cat mansion in the sky. Me like!
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« Reply #40 on: January 25, 2011, 09:59:56 AM »

There's also 'His Master's Voice', Episode 227. Smiley

Slightly dog-centric but the cat's alright. Tongue And it gets to wear armor!
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« Reply #41 on: January 25, 2011, 12:30:50 PM »

There is *cough* "Fetch" over in Podcastle.  (Although you can make a case that the cat there is slightly sinister.)

If you're okay heading outside of the podcasts, Kij Johnson has done several cat stories, including the novel "Fudoki," which was just lovely, in my opinion.
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« Reply #42 on: January 25, 2011, 03:39:06 PM »

I loved this.
Mur (and Marjorie, I suppose) had me at "some even seemed to come straight out of the walls."
Of course, that was when I knew exactly where this story was coming from and where it was going (but not how fast). Now it's just a matter of how silly it will get.
And it was perfect. Not too silly to completely reduce the quality of the writing, but just silly enough to make the nascent physicist in me gasp in mock horror. I loved seeing all the effects of quantum mechanics on a macro scale. Quantum tunneling, the uncertainty principle, even quantum entanglement!
And I especially like the idea of our thoughts having real power, and manifesting real objects. Did this story take place on the Discworld?
Although, my favorite part was the multiverse effect of infinite Schrödingers evoking infinite thought experiments with different animals.
"See? Let's take a box. And in the box we'll put a Loch Ness monster. (It's a really big box). Now nothing can enter the box or escape from it. In the box we put a jar of poison that will be released when a certain amount of a radioactive material decays. Now the thing is, we won't know if Nessy is dead until we open the box. But until we do, Nessy is both alive and dead at the same time."
Deal with that Mrs. S.
Also I liked how there are more around the end of the semester because the students all need to study....
It's funny for me because I'm a student and I have exams now.
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« Reply #43 on: January 25, 2011, 03:47:12 PM »

Argh. Another story mis-interpreting Schrödinger's thought experiment.

Still, cute and fluffy.
Cats generally are.
Falcons though, that's a whole other story. Don't ever try to pet a falcon.
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« Reply #44 on: January 25, 2011, 08:49:54 PM »

Meh.  Not enough to bite onto for me.  Cop goes to cat lady's house, is confused.  Goes back, is confused.  Goes back, is confused, author ascends soap box regarding dog fights, cop is confused, criminals might die.  I found I could drift in and out of the story and not miss anything, and it seemed like the author needed a way to stop it, so she introduced the dog fighting near the end (please let me know if the dog fighting was introduced earlier during one of the parts where I was spacing out). 

I felt a little impatient since I knew the deal with the cats because I'm familiar with the Schrodinger thought experiment and I'm listening to an SF podcast, but I had to wait for the MC to catch up.  It's natural that the MC would take longer to catch on than the average listener, but I felt frustrated that the trick was clear to me, but not to the character I'm supposed to identify with. 

It needed some kind of tension beyond the MC struggling to understand something that is obvious to the listener. 
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« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2011, 04:44:21 PM »

I married a physicist (10 years last week!), so I found myself appreciating this story from a unique perspective. My husband and I attended college together, albeit in different programs, so I was often in the company of hordes of physics majors and their professors. While other listeners are commenting on cats in boxes and what they thought of the plot, I can't get over how the author perfectly captured the personality of a room full of physicists.

I could recommend this story to all of my physicist friends, but I won't. If you've ever watched a movie with one, you know what I mean.
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« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2011, 04:51:29 PM »

And I especially like the idea of our thoughts having real power, and manifesting real objects. Did this story take place on the Discworld?

In the study of his dark house on the edge of Time, Death looked at the wooden box. PERHAPS I SHALL TRY ONE MORE TIME, he said.
He reached down and lifted up a small kitten, patted it on the head, lowered it gently into the box, and closed the lid.
THE CAT DIES WHEN THE AIR RUNS OUT?
‘I suppose it might, sir,’ said Albert, his manservant. ‘But I don’t reckon that’s the point. If I understand it right, you don’t know if the cat’s dead or alive until you look at it.’
THINGS WILL HAVE COME TO A PRETTY PASS, ALBERT, IF I DID NOT KNOW WHETHER A THING WAS DEAD OR ALIVE WITHOUT HAVING TO GO AND LOOK.

From The Last Hero
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #47 on: January 26, 2011, 06:06:10 PM »

I could recommend this story to all of my physicist friends, but I won't. If you've ever watched a movie with one, you know what I mean.
Oh yeah. Definitely. I'm running out of people who: a) I want to see a movie with and b) want to see a movie with me.
Also, that scene from The Last Hero did come to mind. Tongue
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« Reply #48 on: January 26, 2011, 08:49:32 PM »

...I can't get over how the author perfectly captured the personality of a room full of physicists.

Err... you mean the cats? Or Mrs S?
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tinygaia
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« Reply #49 on: January 27, 2011, 09:44:39 AM »

...I can't get over how the author perfectly captured the personality of a room full of physicists.

Err... you mean the cats? Or Mrs S?

Just the tone of the piece. You think you know where the story is going, and then you have cats running through walls.

Also, some have commented that the ending came out of left field, but I've heard a Society of Physics Students meeting break out into Ogden Edsl's "Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun" - I'm telling you, the ending was perfectly in keeping with the rest of the story.
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« Reply #50 on: January 27, 2011, 10:01:50 AM »

I could recommend this story to all of my physicist friends, but I won't. If you've ever watched a movie with one, you know what I mean.

Ha!  My brother's a physicist, and he's very hard to watch a movie with.  I hadn't considered that the two might be related.  Tongue 
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veganvampire
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« Reply #51 on: January 28, 2011, 10:13:38 PM »

I did love the story!  It made me smile and generally enjoy myself, even as I suspected others were being driven crazy by how physics were being presented.  But all I really expect out of a story like this is sillyness and insanity, which were both there in abundance.

It inspired me to make a bumper sticker, and I'm not sure if I can insert it here or not.  I'll try.
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« Reply #52 on: January 28, 2011, 10:15:49 PM »

Okay, and so I don't get in trouble, the cat pictures were from Ilkerender and Rusty Boxcars from Flikr; used in accordance with the licence.
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« Reply #53 on: January 29, 2011, 02:10:59 AM »

I could recommend this story to all of my physicist friends, but I won't. If you've ever watched a movie with one, you know what I mean.

Ha!  My brother's a physicist, and he's very hard to watch a movie with.  I hadn't considered that the two might be related.  Tongue 

My experience with physicists is that suspension of disbelief is a difficult concept for them to grasp. I find the same with Economists
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #54 on: January 29, 2011, 12:20:45 PM »

I could recommend this story to all of my physicist friends, but I won't. If you've ever watched a movie with one, you know what I mean.

Ha!  My brother's a physicist, and he's very hard to watch a movie with.  I hadn't considered that the two might be related.  Tongue 

My experience with physicists is that suspension of disbelief is a difficult concept for them to grasp. I find the same with Economists
Have you ever watched an action movie with a soldier? Not fun.
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« Reply #55 on: January 29, 2011, 12:32:25 PM »

I could recommend this story to all of my physicist friends, but I won't. If you've ever watched a movie with one, you know what I mean.

Ha!  My brother's a physicist, and he's very hard to watch a movie with.  I hadn't considered that the two might be related.  Tongue 

My experience with physicists is that suspension of disbelief is a difficult concept for them to grasp. I find the same with Economists
Have you ever watched an action movie with a soldier? Not fun.

You know what's really obnoxious? Watching a fantasy movie with an elf. Those guys can be jerks.
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« Reply #56 on: January 29, 2011, 04:57:22 PM »

I could recommend this story to all of my physicist friends, but I won't. If you've ever watched a movie with one, you know what I mean.

Ha!  My brother's a physicist, and he's very hard to watch a movie with.  I hadn't considered that the two might be related.  Tongue 

My experience with physicists is that suspension of disbelief is a difficult concept for them to grasp. I find the same with Economists
Have you ever watched an action movie with a soldier? Not fun.

You know what's really obnoxious? Watching a fantasy movie with an elf. Those guys can be jerks.

Elves at least stay down when you punch 'em. Never try punching a troll...
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« Reply #57 on: January 29, 2011, 07:12:03 PM »

watching sci fi with aliens is pretty annoying as well, although that's nothing on watching Twilight with a real vampire. To this day I don't know how I survived that.
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« Reply #58 on: January 29, 2011, 08:48:58 PM »

watching sci fi with aliens is pretty annoying as well, although that's nothing on watching Twilight with a real vampire. To this day I don't know how I survived that.

That must have sucked.
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« Reply #59 on: January 30, 2011, 08:02:26 AM »

I loved this.
Mur (and Marjorie, I suppose) had me at "some even seemed to come straight out of the walls."
Of course, that was when I knew exactly where this story was coming from and where it was going (but not how fast). Now it's just a matter of how silly it will get.
And it was perfect. Not too silly to completely reduce the quality of the writing, but just silly enough to make the nascent physicist in me gasp in mock horror. I loved seeing all the effects of quantum mechanics on a macro scale. Quantum tunneling, the uncertainty principle, even quantum entanglement!
And I especially like the idea of our thoughts having real power, and manifesting real objects. Did this story take place on the Discworld?
Although, my favorite part was the multiverse effect of infinite Schrödingers evoking infinite thought experiments with different animals.
"See? Let's take a box. And in the box we'll put a Loch Ness monster. (It's a really big box). Now nothing can enter the box or escape from it. In the box we put a jar of poison that will be released when a certain amount of a radioactive material decays. Now the thing is, we won't know if Nessy is dead until we open the box. But until we do, Nessy is both alive and dead at the same time."
Deal with that Mrs. S.
Also I liked how there are more around the end of the semester because the students all need to study....
It's funny for me because I'm a student and I have exams now.
Perfect! What Max said  Grin
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« Reply #60 on: January 30, 2011, 11:18:40 AM »

Screw that, Max has just tried to kill Mrs S!
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ajames
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« Reply #61 on: February 09, 2011, 05:47:08 AM »

I did enjoy this one, mostly cute and funny as others have said. Not anywhere near the Trouble with Death Traps in my opinion, but those are tough stories to match.

One thing did jar me from the story, though. Dogs trained to fight CAN be rehabilitated. Since Vick has been mentioned already - almost all if not all of his dogs have been rehabilitated and are alive and well today. I suppose making it necessary to kill the dogs was the author's way to make the subsequent murders something the reader might get behind (although even this didn't do it for many EP readers) - but it struck me instead as poorly researched. But I suppose the story was just a thought experiment, after all.
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« Reply #62 on: February 09, 2011, 09:57:19 AM »

It can be nearly impossible to find homes for them, though, even the ones who can be rehabilitated.  Plus, even rehabilitated fighting dogs often are difficult pets, in the same way that children who have trauma in the early years often act out in terrible ways later in life.  It's not unheard of for such animals to be killed.
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« Reply #63 on: February 09, 2011, 11:25:09 AM »

It can be nearly impossible to find homes for them, though, even the ones who can be rehabilitated.  Plus, even rehabilitated fighting dogs often are difficult pets, in the same way that children who have trauma in the early years often act out in terrible ways later in life.  It's not unheard of for such animals to be killed.

I'd second this, I have friends that work for shelters, and Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are very difficult to find homes for, and if they have scars, doubly so, because people assume that they will be vicious, when in fact, they are often very very loving towards their owners.  Many adopted dogs have some sort of trauma in their early life that can manifest for the rest of their life.  I adopted a dog that was terrified of bathrooms anything stick-like, such as brooms, mops, or even if you picked up a chair.  Turns out, she had a bladder problem and had many accidents.  Her previous owner would beat her with the mop when they were cleaning, and throw her in the bathroom for hours.
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« Reply #64 on: February 09, 2011, 12:59:29 PM »

It can be nearly impossible to find homes for them, though, even the ones who can be rehabilitated.  Plus, even rehabilitated fighting dogs often are difficult pets, in the same way that children who have trauma in the early years often act out in terrible ways later in life.  It's not unheard of for such animals to be killed.

I'd second this, I have friends that work for shelters, and Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are very difficult to find homes for, and if they have scars, doubly so, because people assume that they will be vicious, when in fact, they are often very very loving towards their owners.  Many adopted dogs have some sort of trauma in their early life that can manifest for the rest of their life.
As the owner of a pit-rott cross from a shelter and a prior bad home, I agree. My baby was on death row until I saved and rehabbed her- she is as vicious as a piece of banana but everyone thinks she must be agressive.....
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« Reply #65 on: February 09, 2011, 01:54:45 PM »

Not really to the point, but I think Rottweiler puppies are the cutest variety of dog on earth.
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« Reply #66 on: February 09, 2011, 08:43:40 PM »

...she is as vicious as a piece of banana but everyone thinks she must be agressive.....

Speaking personally, I always avoid bananas. Can't forget the time I was nearly trampled to death by a stampeding herd of bananas.
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ajames
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« Reply #67 on: February 10, 2011, 09:24:33 PM »

Looks like I was the one who didn't do enough research on rehabilitation of fighting dogs - Vick's dogs are more the exception than the rule (http://www.npr.org/tablet/#story/?storyId=129989424. My apologies to the author!

And I agree, rehabilitating is one thing, finding homes another. Our local shelters are 80-90% pit bulls and not all of them find homes. Very sad.
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« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2011, 12:33:44 AM »

I just wanted to thank everyone for a truly enjoyable and eclectic thread!! At last, I am rewarded for coming late to the party!

Oh, and regarding the story, I thoroughly enjoyed this fun piece of fluff.
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« Reply #69 on: February 14, 2011, 12:33:23 PM »

One of my co-workers has a pair of pit bulls that will viciously attempt to drown you in saliva.  She's a member of Rotta Love, an organization that exists to help Rottweilers and Pit Bulls and other traditional fighting breeds to find homes, and to help people understand that they're misunderstood breeds.  She's pointed out media misconceptions of them, particularly when there was a local "pit bull attack" as reported by the news that turned out not to be a pit bull, the media just guessed at the breed to make it more sensational.
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« Reply #70 on: March 17, 2011, 01:51:04 PM »

Oh, I was grinning throughout this entire story. Schrodinger cat lady! What a beautiful concept! And Mur's narration was priceless. It made me want to stop over for tea myself, just to watch all the cats antics...and since they don't exist, my allergies won't act up either!

I would admit I had to play the ending back a second time because I was startled by its dark turn. Dang. Don't you dare mess with the Schrodinger Cat Lady or else she'll mess you up. Probably. I mean...you never can tell...
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« Reply #71 on: March 18, 2011, 06:38:17 AM »

Awesome story.  It didn't tick any of my usual boxes for a sci fi story, but was clever and funny.  The humour caught me right away and kept me right to the end.  As has been said, Mur's narration was top notch.
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« Reply #72 on: December 16, 2012, 03:37:17 AM »

this story made me happy and i like being happy, somewhat.
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« Reply #73 on: December 17, 2012, 10:03:55 AM »

this story made me happy and i like being happy, somewhat.

It's fun to read your comments, even when they're brief.  I kind of want to put this one on a t-shirt.
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« Reply #74 on: December 20, 2012, 08:44:41 AM »

sure thing, if you like. I have been writing short messages because I stood on my keyboard and i've had to type out my comments into the onscreen keyboard with my mouse. the strain is tremendous.
 
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #75 on: December 20, 2012, 01:20:07 PM »

sure thing, if you like. I have been writing short messages because I stood on my keyboard and i've had to type out my comments into the onscreen keyboard with my mouse. the strain is tremendous.
 
Let this be a lesson to us all: always take off your shoes before trying to type with your toes.
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« Reply #76 on: December 21, 2012, 07:59:26 AM »

sure thing, if you like. I have been writing short messages because I stood on my keyboard and i've had to type out my comments into the onscreen keyboard with my mouse. the strain is tremendous.
 
Let this be a lesson to us all: always take off your shoes before trying to type with your toes.

good one ya evil swine
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« Reply #77 on: January 30, 2019, 09:35:19 PM »

Here's a testiment to the stickiness of this story in the brain.  Also spoilers for the Season 4 finale of Gotham.

It's the opening scene of the episode and Selina is on a hospital gurney after being shot.  The recording is paused because someone (me) had to get up between episodes. 

So, my wife quips "We don't know she's going to live or die.  She's Schrödinger’s Catwoman!" (Have I mentioned that I love my wife's sense of humor?). After we all laugh, my daughter says she was just telling a friend about this story, "Schrödinger’s Cat Lady".  (Have I mentioned I love that my kids enjoy some of the same things in fiction that I do?)

After we explain the story to my wife, I told them about the Schrödinger reference in Dirk Gently's Hollistic Detective Agency. Somehow when I'd first heard this story I didn't make the connection.   

Quote
Oh, that. Well, some researchers were once conducting such an experiment, but when they opened up the box, the cat was neither alive nor dead but was in fact completely missing, and they called me in to investigate. I was able to deduce that nothing very dramatic had happened. The cat had merely got fed up with being repeatedly locked up in a box and occasionally gassed and had taken the first opportunity to hoof it through the window. It was for me the work of a moment to set a saucer of milk by the window and call "Bernice" in an enticing voice -the cat's name was Bernice, you understand

Dirk is my favorite character that Douglas Adams created, so making the connection, no matter how tenuous,  between these two stories made me smile a bit.  I thought I'd share in hopes of making someone else chuckle.
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