Friday Reads

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast of Tiffany's publicity photo by Howell Conant, 1960

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast of Tiffany’s publicity photo by Howell Conant, 1960

Happy National Cat Day!!

47ABC: National Cat Day shines light on fostering, adopting.

SALISBURY, Md. – Friday is National Cat Day, a day all about celebrating our feline friends, but also about raising awareness of adopting and fostering.

This time of year especially, local shelters tell us they’re very busy with kittens and are in need of fosters.

Arynn Brucie with the Brandywine Valley SPCA says adopting and fostering cats and kittens are equally important, and National Cat Day can shed a light on all of the four legged friends who are looking for temporary and permanent homes.

“The shelter is a great stop for them, but not necessarily great long term, so for the older kitties that may not be adjusting well to the shelter, fostering is great for that, kittens that come in without a mom, or super young or a mom with kittens that may not have a soft nice place to land, fostering is really important for that,” she said.

News Nation: 

According to nationaltoday.com, National Cat Day was founded in 2005 by Colleen Paige, a lifestyle writer who set out to celebrate beloved pet cats while also putting a spotlight on the thousands still waiting to be rescued.

Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak and Pyewacket) Promo for “Bell, Book and Candle” (1958)

Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak and Pyewacket. Promo for “Bell, Book and Candle” (1958)

In celebration of this year’s event, here are some facts, tips and must-have feline finds for any cat lover:

  1. Cats have been companion animals to humans since ancient times. Research suggests that cats first lived close to humans and primarily served as pest control before being domesticated as pets.
  2. Cats have been sharing our daily lives for a long time. It’s estimated that cats were first domesticated in Egypt between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago. Today, there are more than 400 million pet cats worldwide and around 90 million pet cats in the United States. 
  3. Cats’ whiskers help them navigate their surroundings. While face whiskers are the most obvious, cats also have object-sensing hairs throughout their bodies. 
  4. Most cats experience a euphoric reaction to catnip. Purring, pawing, rolling and romping are common reactions. Catnip is a safe treat that many felines enjoy as much as their humans enjoy watching their reactions. 
  5. There are a lot of cats in need of rescue. According to the ASPCA, about 3.2 million cats end up in animal shelters each year. Spaying and neutering cats are vital to preventing unwanted litters of kittens.
  6. Pet cat ownership increased during the pandemic. A 2021 survey by the American Pet Products Association found that 14% of respondents got a new pet in the past year, many of whom chose to get a cat. 

Here’s what’s happening in non-cat news:

Jill Filipovic at The Guardian: Joe Manchin single-handedly denied US families paid leave. That’s just cruel.

Americans will remain some of the last people on the planet to have no right to paid leave when they have children, and for that, you can thank Joe Manchin.

To be fair, 50 Republicans are to blame for this as well. All 50 of them oppose Biden’s paid family leave plan, and none were expected to vote for this bill. If even a few of them had been willing to cross the aisle to support parents and new babies – to be, one might say, “pro-life” and “pro-family” – then Manchin would not have the power he does to deny paid family leave to millions of American parents. So let’s not forget this reality, too: most Democrats want to create a paid family leave program. Republicans do not.

Sigourney Weaver in Alien, 1979

Sigourney Weaver in Alien, 1979

But Manchin’s actions are particularly insulting and egregious because he is a Democrat. He enjoys party support and funding. He benefits when Democrats do popular things. And now, he’s standing in the way of a policy that the overwhelming majority of Democrats want, and that is resoundingly popular with the American public, including conservatives and Republicans.

Paid family leave brings a long list of benefits to families, from healthier children to stronger marriages. And it benefits the country by keeping more working-age people in the workforce – when families don’t have paid leave, mothers drop out, a dynamic we’ve seen exacerbated by the pandemic. By some estimates, paid family leave could increase US GDP by billions of dollars.

This is good policy. But it’s also a policy that is, in large part, about gender equality. While paid leave is (or would have been) available to any new parent, the reality is that it’s overwhelmingly women who are the primary caregivers for children, it’s overwhelmingly women who birth children, and it’s overwhelmingly women who are pushed out of the paid workforce when they have kids.

Read more at the The Guardian.

Not to worry though, we can also thank Manchin for preserving the filibuster (sarcasm). Joyce White Vance at MSNBC: Democracy is dying a slow death in America. At least we have the filibuster!

Those who suggest we should sacrifice the right to vote in order to preserve the filibuster are telling a fairy tale about a democracy gone bad.

As of this month, 19 states have passed 33 new laws since the 2020 election that will make it harder for Americans to vote. Using false allegations of voter fraud like a monster beneath the bed, Republican state legislatures have passed laws that make it harder to register to vote, stay registered, cast a ballot and have it counted. We’re already entering the next wave of voting rights violations, as data from the 2020 census is stretched and pulled into politically gerrymandered districts that will be with us for the decade.

These laws will make it much more difficult for some voters — and especially for people of color, people with disabilities, and people of lower economic status — to exercise their rights. Some of the statutes veer perilously close to enabling future candidates to do what former President Donald Trump and his allies attempted in 2020: cancel just enough votes to win.

Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, 1960

Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, 1960

Democrats have passed legislation in the House of Representatives that would provide a fix. But it’s come to a standstill in the Senate. That’s true even though Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., morphed the House’s Help America Vote Act into the less beefy but still important Freedom to Vote Act. He thought, unlike anyone who’s been paying attention to Congress over the last few years, that he could attract Republican votes. Whether Republicans are afraid of their party’s de facto leader or afraid of their own political prospects if all of their constituents are free to vote, the Senate floor vote last week made the state of play clear. We are losing ground, and dangerously so, in the fight to ensure American voters can exercise their most essential right in our democracy. But that’s OK! Because we’ll have something much more important, at least according to the Republicans and to Sens. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — the filibuster.

In 2024, your state legislature may decide that because your majority-Black county voted Democratic in the presidential election, there must have been fraud involved. They may remove your local election officials and replace them with their own handpicked people who will “find” enough votes to “fix” the outcome of the election for the Republican — all legal because the Senate failed to pass the law that would have prevented states from doing this. When your vote isn’t counted, you can console yourself with the knowledge that the filibuster is still there for you.

I wonder which side Manchin and Sinema would have been supported in the Civil War?

Mark Zukerberg–another candidate for most valuable player in the destruction of democracy–announced yesterday that he’s changing Facebook’s name to Meta. Jason Koebler at Vice News: Zuckerberg Announces Fantasy World Where Facebook Is Not a Horrible Company.

Moments before announcing Facebook is changing its name to “Meta” and detailing the company’s “metaverse” plans during a Facebook Connect presentation on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg said “some people will say this isn’t a time to focus on the future,” referring to the massive, ongoing scandal plaguing his company relating to the myriad ways Facebook has made the world worse. “I believe technology can make our lives better. The future will be built by those willing to stand up and say this is the future we want.”

Marlon Brando in The Godfather, 1972

Marlon Brando in The Godfather, 1972

The future Zuckerberg went on to pitch was a delusional fever dream cribbed most obviously from dystopian science fiction and misleading or outright fabricated virtual reality product pitches from the last decade. In the “metaverse—an “embodied” internet where we are, basically, inside the computer via a headset or other reality-modifying technology of some sort—rather than hang out with people in real life you could meet up with them as Casper-the-friendly-ghost-style holograms to do historically fun and stimulating activities such as attend concerts or play basketball. 

These presentations had the familiar vibe of an overly-ambitious video game reveal. In the concert example, one friend is present in reality while the other is not; the friend joins the concert inexplicably as a blue Force ghost and the pair grab “tickets” to a “metaverse afterparty” in which NFTs are for sale. This theme continued throughout as people wandered seamlessly into virtual fantasy worlds over and over, and the presentation lacked any sense of what this so-called metaverse would look like in practice. It was flagrantly abstract, showing more the dream of the metaverse than anything resembling reality. We’re told that two real people, filmed with real cameras on real couches, are in a “digital space.” When Zuckerberg reveals that Facebook is working on augmented reality glasses that could make any of this even a possibility, it doesn’t show any actual glasses, only “simulated footage” of augmented reality.

“We have to fit holograms displays, projectors, batteries, radios, custom silicon chips, cameras, speakers, sensors to map the world around you, and more, into glasses that are five millimeters thick,” Zuckerberg says. 

Whatever the metaverse does look like, it is virtually guaranteed to not look or feel anything like what Facebook showed on Thursday. 

Read more delusional stuff at the link. I’m not sure what any of this has to do with the mess I see when I dare to open Facebook.

Of course George W. Bush contributed to the anti-democratic world we’re in today. Here’s a flashback for you from Carol Rosenberg at The New York Times: For First Time in Public, a Detainee Describes Torture at C.I.A. Black Sites.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A suburban Baltimore high school graduate turned Al Qaeda courier, speaking to a military jury for the first time, gave a detailed account on Thursday of the brutal forced feedings, crude waterboarding and other physical and sexual abuse he endured during his 2003 to 2006 detention in the C.I.A.’s overseas prison network.

Art Carney in Harry and Tonto

Art Carney in Harry and Tonto

Appearing in open court, Majid Khan, 41, became the first former prisoner of the black sites to openly describe, anywhere, the violent and cruel “enhanced interrogation techniques” that agents used to extract information and confessions from terrorism suspects.

For more than two hours, he spoke about dungeonlike conditions, humiliating stretches of nudity with only a hood on his head, sometimes while his arms were chained in ways that made sleep impossible, and being intentionally nearly drowned in icy cold water in tubs at two sites, once while a C.I.A. interrogator counted down from 10 before water was poured into his nose and mouth.

Soon after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003, Mr. Khan said, he cooperated with his captors, telling them everything he knew, with the hope of release. “Instead, the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” he said.

The dramatic accounting capped a day in which eight U.S. military officers were selected to serve on a jury, which will deliberate Friday on his official sentence in the range of 25 to 40 years, starting from his guilty plea in February 2012.

Read the rest at the NYT.

More stories to check out:

Will Sommer at The Daily Beast: He’s Writing Tucker’s Deranged Jan. 6 Movie—After Directing a Pizzagater’s Opus.

The Washington Post: Flight attendant suffers broken bones in ‘one of the worst displays of unruly behavior’ in the skies.

Reuters: Trump’s real-estate empire pays the price for poisonous politics.

The Bulwark: Truth Social Violated Mastodon’s ToS; Trump’s Entire Platform Might Now Be DOA.

The Washington Post: Chief federal judge in D.C. assails ‘almost schizophrenic’ Jan. 6 prosecutions: ‘The rioters were not mere protesters’

Buzzfeed News: White Supremacists Used Racist Slurs And Cursed In Bizarre Opening Statements For The Charlottesville Trial.

Jane Mayer at The New Yorker: A Retiring Democrat Places Blame for Paralysis in Congress.

 
 
 
 
 
 


23 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Satan is behind giving us immunity from the coronavirus? Hot damn!

    • quixote says:

      Well, obviously. Nearly two billion — billion with a “b” — people have been vaccinated so far, which is enough that you can see them on every street corner, doing the zombie walk and muttering obscenities like, “Must. Have. Paid. Parental. Leave.”

  4. Beata says:

    I adopted my shelter cat 11 years ago next week. She was a kitten who was found wandering across a busy city street at night. A kind woman stopped her car, rescued the kitten and took her to a shelter. I then adopted my darling cat. She is a joy forever!

    I have heard that many shelters across the country have lots of kittens and cats available for adoption now because people have had to give them up for financial or medical reasons. Please consider adopting a shelter cat if you can! You will be rewarded with so much unconditional love.

    • NW Luna says:

      What a sweet story, Beata! Rescue cats are the best.

    • dakinikat says:

      My current cats are ferals that came in after being fixed. I basically got them right off the street. I was on the phone with BB when I bought my 10-year-old Dinah home. My most recent shelter cat was a senior cat abandoned with thyroid problems. I had her 3 wonderful years before she finally couldn’t be treated for the problem anymore. Senior cats and dogs need a forever home too!!!

      • Beata says:

        I agree. When I went to the shelter 11 years ago, my intention was to adopt a senior cat. But someone there told me about the kitten who was found crossing the busy street. I held the kitten and she would not let go of my arm. She chose me! She had a lot of trauma problems. Now she is a senior cat herself and very sweet.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Awwww…that’s so sweet. I’m glad you two are still together.

          • MsMass says:

            The price of adopting a cat is way too much, locally it’s $300 for an older cat, and $425 for a kitten. I just can’t do it. I remember “free kittens “! And this is excessive.

          • Beata says:

            MsMass, that high price is just cruel! Those kitties need homes. Here kitties over 6 months old are free. That includes spaying/ neutering and necessary shots. Kittens under 6 months are $50 (which also includes spaying/neutering and first shots), plus a 2 for 1 price (just $50) for 2 kittens (they can play together!). The humane society here is very good. They work with people so the animals get loving homes and they have an active foster program. The kill rate is very low (only animals who are too sick to survive are put to sleep).

  5. NW Luna says:

    From that Guardian story by Jill Filipovic, who ought to know better:

    it’s overwhelmingly women who birth children

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. Beata says:

    Responding further to MsMass about the high cost of shelter cats: Adopting a shelter pet should be affordable as I know you agree. These animals need caring homes and people need the loving companionship of animals!

    I know a man in his 80’s who was widowed and became so depressed, he was suicidal. A friend convinced him to adopt a senior shelter cat (it was free) and that cat changed this man’s life. It gave him a reason to get up in the morning and it gave him cuddles and love. He slowly came out of his depression. I also know veterans who have PTSD whose lives have been greatly improved by having companion animals. But these animals need to be affordable! I hope something can be done in everyone’s community to make this possible.

  8. dakinikat says: