Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two (or more) minutes of silence for Paul the octopus

Some people are suckers when it comes to betting on sports events and then along comes Paul the Octopus who had an uncanny ability to pick winners. Notice the usage of the past tense since Paul has gone on to meet - well - wherever octopuses or the scientifically correct, octopi, go when they pass on.

To many people, he looked like an ordinary octopus but Paul's special ability made him an instant celebrity. Born in January 2008 in Weymouth, England, he received the name, Paul the Psychic Octopus after being able to correctly predict the winners of last summer's World Cup.

According to reports, Paul passed away in his sleep in his tank from natural causes. There are people who aren't convinced he died under normal circumstances, and believe that Paul met with foul play. According to one Jiang Xiao, the director of a forthcoming thriller entitled Who Killed Paul the Octopus, she believes the superstar octopus had really been dead for the last three months. Furthermore, Jiang related to the Guardian Newspaper that she was "60 to 70% sure" Paul had died in July and been secretly replaced by his keepers. When pressed further to explain how the deception could have been perpetrated, Jiang explained that there could have been a switch since all ocotopuses (or octopi) look alike.

True but can all octopuses predict World Cup wins? Doubtful but then again nobody has ever tested the overall ability of octopi to see if they have any psychic abilities.

"We are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life here and that the care provided him by our dedicated displays team could not have been bettered, Stefan Porwoll, manager of the Oberhausen Sea Life Center in Germany that housed Paul, commented.

Paul's method of predicting winners was simplicity personified. His caretakers at the Sea Life Centre placed a mussel in each of two clear plastic containers within his tank, and each container was marked with the flag of the competing soccer team. Paul always took his first mussel from the container bearing the flag of the team he "knew" or "sensed" would win.

There is no information regarding funeral arrangements or even if Paul had any siblings or next-of-kin. There is also no information as to whether any attempt to track any down will be made.

"We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within our grounds and erect a modest permanent shrine,” said Porwoll.

The aquarium realizing a good thing...that is to say, recognizing that octopuses have as yet undiscovered talent, is already grooming a successor also named Paul. Who knows - if Paul 11 proves to be as psychic as his predecessor, could a salmon or flounder be far behind? I mean, just saying...

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