32 Comments


  • I have a Baby cat, too. She does not live with me, she lives with my mother.

    About 3 years ago or so, she suddenly took a dislike to me — hissing and snarling and attempting to shred me with her non-existant tiny razors. *shrug*

    I had a cat, Petar, who is very similar to my current Sid. Though the place where they differ the most is that Sid is an affection whore, and likes to be petted/beaten/ruffled as much as you will do it, and he doesn’t participate unless you stop. Petar, on the other hand, also an affection whore, would — within minutes — begin to participate in the affection by biting whatever appendage was petting him, and drawing blood. Biting may not be the right term… it was closer to gnawing like a ravenous hound of hell on the bones of recently deceased victims of terror. Yes, that’s far more what it was like.

    People always liked Petar, and he’d swagger up to any visitor at my home, whoring for attention. I’d warn them, “He’s friendly, but he bites. Pet at your own peril.” People didn’t take me seriously, until they discovered Petar had gone from being attention whore to attack animal, and couldn’t remove him from their appendage. I never felt much sympathy for them… my response (in a very Pythonesque fashion) was always: “I warned you.”

    August 05, 2004
  • Bob, how did you get Zoot? She found you and asked to go home with you?

    I’m glad you mentioned Baby. Her photo was very pretty and I’m glad she has not been overlooked.

    August 05, 2004
  • I was very happy to hear about the concert and see Springsteen’s column. I think that one crucial part of his column could be the best way to appeal to swing voters:

    Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country’s unity. I don’t remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of “one nation indivisible.”

    I loathe Bush, but I think a lot about how I would have reacted had he addressed the nation on September 14 and said something like, “I realize the last year has been a divisive and difficult time for America, but the events of this week demonstrate how unimportant our internal differences are. If we are to address this threat seriously, we must put aside these differences. I therefore offer to shift my administration’s focus from tax cuts and regulatory changes to an all-out concentration on dealing realistically and effectively with terrorism and its causes. I ask the Democrats to do the same.”

    I can’t imagine him doing this (or at least, I can imagine him doing it for only as long as it would take Cheney to get himself to the podium) but imagine if he had? Or better yet, imagine if McCain had not been smeared in North Carolina (by the same crowd that’s now behind the veterans’ group now smearing Kerry) and had won the election?

    I think a good leader of either party might have been able to rally people after 9/11, and perhaps start to bridge some of this country’s worsening divide. So I’m glad to see Springsteen leave that end of the conversation open.

    On one of the mailing lists I read, someone in Williamsport, PA, commented on the concert being planned there. I used to live about an hour from “Billtown,” as we called it, and if it’s now considered swing territory, it’s a hell of a lot more liberal than I remember it. But this guy’s comments were not promising:

    An anti-Bush concert in Williamsport, Pa.? This oughta be good.

    We basically have one venue: The Community Arts Center, a restored movie
    theater. Any one of these artists might be able to fill it if they were just
    coming to do a concert of their music. But since their announced intention
    is to do a Linda Ronstadt on the local populace, I’m thinking they won’t
    even sell half of it…..

    Do you suppose if I were to take a sign that has “I Wish John Kerry Would”
    in small letters at the top and “MOVE ON” in great big letters just below,
    people would get offended?

    August 05, 2004
  • Baby learned that from Nathan, I think.

    Our girls are similarly quirky. Tatsuko spends 20 hours a day sleeping, and solicits a pat or cuddle about once every two days. On the other hand, she loves to be picked up or patted even for a moment: stroke her three or four times or she’ll purr for an hour or more.

    Sanju follows Chris everywhere on her three paws; never purrs audibly; and bites and claws Chris even when he’s stroking her.

    Cats are fascinating.

    August 05, 2004
  • Hah! Yes, I’m very familiar with that behavioral quirk: Love me, love me, love me; bite you, bite you, bite you!

    Cats’ fight or flight responses are kind of on a hair trigger. You can walk them back from that biting thing, but it takes patience and a lot of observation: when you pet them, watch their body language closely. A whipping tail means a strike is imminent. Stop petting immediately. Likewise, if you’re petting the cat and it starts to turn its head, don’t wait for it to bite or feint, just stop. Over time, the cat will usually allow longer and longer petting sessions. Of course, if you’ve established this cycle of affection and violence over a long period, the extinction of the behavior will take that much longer. Also, valium can help. Veterinarians will sometimes prescribe a short course of the drug to desensitize the cat while you’re initially trying to change the behavior.

    Off the soap box now.

    August 06, 2004
  • Baby thanks you. She is a beautiful cat, and best of all I will never have to pay her college tuition or bail her out of a Florida jail after spring break.

    My neighbor feeds neighborhood cats, so a lot of them congrgate near the house. Last year, on Memorial Day, I heard a terrible wailing. I tried to ingnore it, but no, it was heartbreaking. In the driveway next to the house, a tiny black and white kitten was sitting in the pouring rain, soaked through and crying piteously. I didn’t want a second cat (I’d lost the peerless Nathan, my black and white male, the previous Thanksgiving), but when I picked her up, the kitten stopped crying and began purring. She was tiny—she fit in the palm of one hand—and cold. And I had a second cat.

    August 06, 2004
  • I assume you saw that McCain condemned the ads against Kerry? I don’t know what to say, otherwise: I get burned out on political news. I think you’re right that a different approach after 9/11 would have yielded vastly different results; you’re also right that it would have taken a different (better?) man than George Bush to take that approach.

    What is most disheartening is that so many Americans are so easily misled, so easily scared, and so comfortable in their ignorance and parochialism.

    August 06, 2004
  • I think Baby’s crying came was original to her: remember that she developed that trick with ping pong balls, and at first we thought she’d gotten them stuchk in her mouth? The Nathan trick I’ll never forget is him stealing pencils and hoarding them next to the litterbox—working on his little cat novel while he was taking care of business.

    When Tatsuko (nΓ©e Tortilla) was in the hospital we could carry her around for hours. Of course she weighed nothing, and fit easily in the crook of an arm, so it was comfortable for her in a way it wouldn’t have been for a bigger cat.

    August 06, 2004
  • Yay. Great story!

    August 06, 2004
  • She’s a little bulkier now.

    The other quirk of Nathan’s that always cracked me up was when he’d herd ping-pong balls into the corner and crush them so they wouldn’t roll away.

    August 06, 2004
  • Hah! I’d forgotten that. Yes: They won’t get far on foot now!

    August 06, 2004
  • Yeah, well, neither of my cats now do this, just Petar.

    Petar is no longer with me, he lost a game of chicken with a speeding car.

    August 12, 2004
  • Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.

    August 12, 2004
  • Thanks. As much as I loved him, he was a tremendous pain-in-the-ass… and I love my cats I have now even more than he. I might not have gotten more cats if he were still around.

    He was my first cat ever, after years and years of wanting one, so he will always have a special place in my heart.

    The little vicious bastard. πŸ™‚

    August 13, 2004
  • *laughing*
    You’re just not right.

    August 13, 2004
  • not right how?
    Not right as in:
    I think this milk’s not right, I’m not drinking it.
    or
    The facts have been checked, and you’re not right.
    or
    Your mind is twisted in ways I couldn’t imagine, and that’s not right.

    No, really, I want to know what you mean. Because I hate being wrong.

    August 16, 2004
  • The first and last. I say this as a friend, and with nothing but complete admiration.

    August 16, 2004
  • *sigh*

    My goal is to convince people that I only want love, peace, and joy… I guess I’ll never be successful at that world domination I’ve always had in mind, if I can’t even convince you.

    Good news is that I’ve still got some 5-odd billion people to recruit.

    August 16, 2004
  • And my goal is to eat everyone who disagrees with me. Ad astra per aspera. But you know that: it’s your state motto.

    August 16, 2004
  • yeah, but Ad astra per aspera does not speak towards eating anyone Zoot.

    August 17, 2004
  • We each set our own goals in life. Am I WRONG to want to eat my enemies?

    August 18, 2004
  • Well, that’s a very subjective question, Zoot.

    I would argue, yes, you are wrong to want to eat your enemies. But I’m a pacifist, and can never find justification for violence.

    But… you’ve got to eat, as you’re a carnivore… so I would prefer that you eat your enemies rather than innocents. So if that’s what you’ve got to do, you go ahead sweetie.

    But if you ever visit, I’ll be serving you normal cat food.

    August 18, 2004
  • I’m not sure I can take your advice. You are dealing with English gentlemen. We are dealing with monsters.
    German philosopher Martin Buber’s response to Mahatma Gandhi, who suggested that passive resistance be used to combat the Nazi government in Germany, as was used against the British in India.

    From ‘s Fabulous Quoteserver

    As long as some hairless persons use force to take what they want (land, oil, fishy treats), or to bend others to their will, violence will have its place. My appetite, at least, is harsh but just: I only eat those who deserve eating. It is a long list.

    August 19, 2004
  • Of course, that’s using the argument which goes something like “since there is bad in the world, I am justified to do bad things”

    Well, you’re not.

    But since I also support free will, you go ahead. The karma will still be there… next lifetime, you’ll be reborn as a fish.

    I very much disagree with the actions of most hairless persons.
    I also happen to agree with Buber.

    August 19, 2004
  • I’ll have to preempt Zoot here: this is too weighty a discussion to wage with a six-pound compulsive self-groomer.

    If you agree with Buber and disagree with the notion that violence is sometimes a necessary evil, it’s difficult to see what position, however nuanced, you could shimmy in between them.

    …that’s using the argument which goes something like “since there is bad in the world, I am justified to do bad things.” Well, you’re not.

    Are you saying that self-defense is categorically wrong? Are you saying that violence in defense of a helpless third party is wrong?

    August 19, 2004
  • What I agree with, (Buber) is that the Nazis were closer to monsters than were the English, and that the path of non-violent resistance would have been the absolutely wrong tactic to take.

    I do not accept that violence is ever necessary or justified. From a spiritual perspective, I believe it is wrong. Capital W – R – O – N – G.

    From a practical standpoint, I accept that this is not the way the world we live in currently is going to work. I understand that through evolution, the traits of being violent are something that has enabled us to survive. I accept that.

    Depending on whether one believes on relative or absolute values, makes the argument for/against violence a bit different. I lean toward absolute values, and therefore can’t accept violence as a “necessary evil”. Whether it is necessary or not, it is still evil.

    Since I also support freedom of choice, I also accept the idea that if one is willing to accept the consequences of violent action (karma, if you will), then it can be a valid choice. What I vehemently object to is the idea that violence is the First choice in a conflict, that it is the Only choice in a conflict, and that it’s the Best choice in a conflict. While this may be true from an evolutionary standpoint, we are human creatures gifted with the ability to EXCEED our animal instincts (unlike our dear compulsive-grooming Zoot) and are therefore obligated to use our Fore-brains, not our Hind-brains, in making decisions.

    Since there is such a concept of non-violence, we should explore this as a legitimate option, rather than dismissing it in favor of (what I consider) a crude and basic method of dealing with the trials of our humanity.

    August 20, 2004
  • Depending on whether one believes on relative or absolute values, makes the argument for/against violence a bit different. I lean toward absolute values, and therefore can’t accept violence as a “necessary evil”. Whether it is necessary or not, it is still evil.

    I guess I reject the dichotomy of relative versus absolute values: there is the world we live in, and that’s it. If your values are predicated upon the existence of a purely spiritual plane they have no meaning.

    Of course violence is bad: real violence (as opposed to its highly choreographed parody in action movies) is ugly and atavistic and heartbreaking, and has emotional and psychological consequences that ripple outward forever. But bad doesn’t necessarily mean evil. We sometimes have to do bad things to prevent evil things from happening, and we have to accept the moral ambiguity inherent in that, rather that trying to separate people (or their actions) into good and bad.

    And about Karmic consequences: hogwash. Aside from the fact that I believe in a mechanistic universe, without reincarnation nor supernatural forces, I believe this: the person who benefits from violence is just as morally responsible as the person who commits violence, perhaps more so. The person who commits violence on behalf of his family, his tribe, or his nation, bears the emotional and psychological consequences in this life. The beneficiaries of that violence often bear no adverse consequences. Your house, your person and your belongings are safe, in part, because you are protected by the threat of state-sponsored violence, in the form of armed police and the penal system.

    I bitterly opposed the war in Iraq, not because I oppose war at all costs, but because the harm caused by war seemed far worse than the harm caused by leaving Saddam Hussein in power. And, of course, the reason Saddam wasn’t as dangerous as he could be was because his regime had previously been largely disarmed by force or the threat of force.

    Do I wish violence was unnecessary? Yes. Does wishing make it so? No. I think it takes more moral conviction and courage to use violence with eyes open to its horrors, than it does to reject violence out of hand and allow a greater evil to go unchecked. If you allow someone to be harmed or killed because you declined to use violence to protect them, then you have to share some culpability for their suffering. Believing otherwise is trying to have one’s ethical cake and eat it, too.

    August 21, 2004
  • Karma – in its strictest definition is only “action” or the consequences of action. In which case, I believe in it fully. One does not do things in this life that do not have consequences.

    And, frankly, I think you missed what I was trying to say. What I mean to say is that:
    a) I have a personal/spiritual view that makes any form of violence abhorrent to me. This is an absolutist view that I have, that applies to me only. The rest of the world doesn’t hold the same values that I do, and I accept this as truth.

    b) that my preference, when it comes to social mandates regarding violence is that — since we can consider peaceful solutions (non-violent) to any given conflict, we are duty-bound to explore those solutions. Not that we can never resort to violence, but that we exercise the use of violence carefully, specifically. What I object to is the haphazard use of violence to resolve conflict, which is something that I witness on a daily basis, from the small instances (parents slapping their children to make them obey rules) to the large ones (the war in Iraq, for instance.)

    What I object to is the tendency of our society to glorify violence, to show that violence is the only solution that works. That’s not always true. In fact, usually non-violent options are better options, in terms of the benefits that are going to be gained from all parties involved. When non-violence is explored as an option, there can be a consensus when “everyone wins”. That’s not the case when violence is used as an answer. The use of violence always results with a winner and a loser. And there are almost always innocent casualties, as well, and that’s just really abhorrent, especially when a non-violent solution could have been used.

    August 23, 2004
  • If we add a couple of more posts to this thread it will become just a line of single letters running down the right-hand side of the page.

    What I object to is the tendency of our society to glorify violence, to show that violence is the only solution that works. That’s not always true.

    Well, we agree on that, for sure. As a society we romanticize violence as the solution to complex problems. I was talking to a cop, years ago, about civilian gun owners, and I’ll never forget what he said (though its logic is self-evident):

    In the movies, when you pull the trigger, your problems are over. In real life, when you pull the trigger, your problems are just starting.

    August 24, 2004
  • The longest off-topic comment thread ever…

    You think?

    Anyway, I would agree with your cop friend.

    Glad to hear we can agree on something, once again! (I thought we weren’t allowed to let that happen? Or was that with the other guy I’m chatting up???)

    It’s been an interesting conversation, at least.
    Kij warned me that you liked to discuss things.

    August 24, 2004
  • Re: The longest off-topic comment thread ever…

    Kij warned me that you liked to discuss things.

    Boy, I’m not sure I like the sound of that:
    “Kij warned me you liked to bathe regularly.”
    “Kij warned me you liked to read on the couch.”
    “Kij warned me not to look in the hall closet… OH NO! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!

    August 25, 2004
  • Re: The longest off-topic comment thread ever…

    Well, I tend not to snoop in people’s hall closets.

    Only their linen closets.

    August 25, 2004

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