Y’all knew that, right? Sorry to be a downer, after all the happy kitteh pictures this week, but I was banging around the Web Saturday, wondering what happened in that North Carolina animal cruelty case against PETA. I’ll forget if I don’t blog what I found.
Remember that case? Two PETA employees were nicked for dumping dead animals in a public dumpster behind a restaurant. Turns out, their ‘adoption’ van was a mobile death wagon. As Dana Cheek, formerly of the Norfolk SPCA, put it:
I often receive phone calls from frantic people who have surrendered their pets to PETA with the understanding that PETA will “find them a good home.” Many of them are led to believe that the animals will be taken to a nearby shelter. Little do they know that the pets are killed in the PETA van before they even pull away from the pet owner’s home … PETA refuses to surrender animals they obtain to area shelters for rehoming. If only the celebrity “deep-pocket” donors on the west coast knew that their donations were going to kill adoptable cats and dogs here in Norfolk.
PETA’s response is that the animals are ‘damaged’ and must be put down. Eighty percent of them? Bullshit! The city dogcatcher pulls a higher proportion of healthy cats out of a typical animal-hoarder’s den of filth. Some of the dead animals recovered in the North Carolina case were very adoptable kittens, not a mark on them.
Oh, the outcome of that case? Both acquitted in February on the serious charges of animal cruelty and obtaining property by false pretenses, but they got a littering rap. Like Arlo. At least the trial gave PETAkillsanimals.com some ammo: testimony under oath.
Like the admission that PETA got a $9,370 tax deduction in 2002 for a walk-in freezer. You know — to hold all the adorable fuzzy corpses. That’s what the pair in North Carolina did wrong, I guess: dumped the bodies rather than follow instructions and bring them back to HQ for blanching. (Incidentally, I love the way the freezer appears right after deductions for the Freeda the Fish and Lettuce Lady costumes. Hypocrisy much?).
Look, Providence Animal Control — where I hang out — is a pretty high-kill shelter, I suspect. The Kitteh Man there tries his best and, from what I can tell, makes pretty good choices (I’ve known him to stick his hand in his own pocket for vet services). I don’t ask questions about that part, but there’s too much of the farm girl in me to come down hard for no-kill-under-any-circumstances. But this is PETA we’re talking here. The meat is murder people.
Speaking of which, PETAkillsanimals.com is funded by the Center for Consumer Freedom — a pro-business, pro-restaurant, pro-pharmaceutical, pro-consumer group, which PETArds are apt to take as prima facie evidence that everything PKA says is crap. But facts is facts. And the FOIA is the FOIA. And who the hell else is going to be motivated to check out these sick fucks if not people who have been their targets? Just the occasional lonely journalist, crying in the wilderness.
Look…if you must, give your money to your local guys. The ones that are trying real hard and barely squeaking by. PETA doesn’t just kill kittens, it kills them for no damn reason at all.
Welcome ‘lanchers of various flavors. If this post makes you mad, check out the one above, about Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA. Make sure you’ve had your blood pressure meds first. Whoooeee!
July 31, 2008 — 6:48 pm
So the story goes that cats self-domesticated at about the same time as we began to practice agriculture. Agriculture makes granaries, granaries make mice, mice make cats. Plausible enough, but for a language quibble: I don’t think cats self-domesticated; I don’t think they changed one stripe from the Wild Kingdom version. Self-selected, more like. The ones that, on the whole, rather liked the company of man came out of the wilderness and settled in his granaries.
The fact is, some animals naturally rub along pretty well with people (and some don’t). They say you can’t tame a Felis silvestris grampia, no matter how hard you try. But catch a Felis silvestris lybica as a kitten and he’s anybody’s. They look exactly alike, but they’re different under the hood.
I’ve been thinking a lot about aminals lately. Sorry to drag you along on my middle-age what-do-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up journey to the center of my navel, but I’ve been trying to figure out if “animal artist” is interesting enough to last a lifetime. In the course of which, it occured to me that my favorite animals are the ones that rub along pretty well with humanity. Pets and livestock, of course, but I have a real soft spot for the vermin and the opportunists of nature, too.
Partly because they’re the only animals I get to see and interact with, I guess. But opportunistic animals also have a cheerful, bluff, “hey lady, you going to eat that french fry?” kind of attitude. They can take care of themselves just fine, thanks. None of this weak, whiny, candy-ass “woo, don’t even look at me, I’m endangered” stuff.
I don’t know. You think there’s much call for S. Weasel, famous painter of rats?
July 30, 2008 — 2:42 pm
Here’s how that kitteh study happened. A decade ago, a man in Scotland was taken to court for shooting a protected Scottish wildcat. Remember those? And he got up on the stand and said, “looks like a cat to me.” And they let him go because…well, yeah.
So scientists realized they needed to figure out the whole cat DNA dealio, especially if they wanted to protect some wildcats by law.
So dude went out and sampled almost a thousand cats, wild and domestic, from all over the world. There are five major flavors of wildcat, and the domestic cat can and does merrily interbreed with them all, because she’s a dirty, dirty girl. Which is why it’s so suprising that modern housecats can be traced not just to a single type of wildcat, but five specific individual cats.
Most domestic animals were domesticated simultaneously all over the place, from local wild stock, but not the cat. All the tens of millions of American housecats are the children of cats brought over on ships from the Olde Worlde — despite all our lovely lynx and margays and ocelots, the American domestic shorthair is all lybica. Isn’t that odd?
Okay, back to the Scottish wildcat for a second. One of the reasons they’re endangered is that they merrily interbreed with housecats. What researchers have found, though, is that over time the wildcat genes are stronger. That is, subsequent generations become, genetically, more and more like Felis sylvestris grampia and less like Mister Fluffybutt.
So I’m thinking that must by Lybica‘s trick. That despite inbreeding with some very dubious gentlemen, the line always moves back toward the original. Tabby breeds true.
A lot of cats have some stripeyness. Catch her in the right light and you can see faint bars under the black parts of Charlotte’s fur. But, other than that, Lybica characteristics aren’t usually sold separately. They all come together or not at all — the black lips, the brick red nose and paw pads, the long, blunt, wavy tail. It’s the whole Franklin Mint set, plus the beautiful mahogany display case.
All the slutty behavior and the silly shapes and colors cats have mutated into, it’s extraordinary how common cats like Schroedinger and Damien are — animals that have slap-bang regressed ten thousand years to the prototype.
I think that’s just so cool.
July 29, 2008 — 1:50 pm
Minion Scubafreak sent me pictures of Schroedinger the kitten on Friday, and I was struck by how much he looks like Damien at that age. “So what, Weasel?” you’re thinking. “Little gray stripey tabbies are as common as muck.”
Can I just take a second to tell you how very tired I am of reading your minds?
Anyhow, gray tabbies are different. Damien was my first and I observed him closely, after which I started paying attention to shelter tabbies and Cheezburger tabbies. It’s not just gray with black stripes and white highlights. Oh, no. There’s a whole constellation of unusual breed characteristics that go with: their paw pads and noses are a brick red. Their lips and the velvets of their paws are black. There’s a hint of brown undercoat around their muzzles and in other spots. Coarse fur, gray on the body (actually a side-by-side mixture of dark and light, like a badger). Long, wavy, blunt tails with black tips and a black dorsal stripe.
I could go on and on. In fact, I just did. Here, have some more.
There’s a tabby personality, too. They’re friendly, pushy, go-to-hell cats. Damien had a little hitch in his britches, a little trot in his trousers, a little wavey, jivey, slinky, shovy, hissy thing going. It was a cinch that boy would get into trouble; he probably invited an 18-wheeler to kiss his stripey ass. I have always believed he somehow bred true to some long ago wild pusso ancestor.
And I’m right, as usual. That lovely beast top left is a Near Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris lybica. Thanks to the miracle of mitochondrial DNA testing, they have recently discovered that animal and my boy had a common ancestor 130,000 years ago. Well, five common ancestors. In Eye-rack!
They weren’t domesticated that long ago. They’re thinking maybe that happened maybe 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, but they used to think was 4,000 years and in Egypt, so this is pretty interesting. If you find this sort of thing interesting. Which I do and it’s my blog so you can cut it out or I’ll turn this thing around right now.
They found a cat buried, presumably with his owner, in a 9,500 year old grave in Cyprus. Which I thought was really sweet until I reflected that they undoubtedly killed the cat to accompany his owner into the afterlife. Unless the cat died first and they killed the man to keep the cat company in the afterlife, but I think that’s pretty unlikely.
Added: Did you see the thing Gabe linked at Ace’s, about how women bloggers aren’t popular because they post too much about their personal lives and their pets? Look, bud, there’s some shit about DNA in there, too. I didn’t really get that part, but it had some stuff with Latin words and everything, so ha ha on you. Jerkface.
July 28, 2008 — 10:07 am
July 26, 2008 — 10:00 am
Hey, kids! Bozo is dead!
Did y’all see this? Larry Harmon died in his home on the third of this month. He was 83.
He wasn’t Bozo’s creator (that would be Alan Livingston of Capitol Records), nor was he the first Bozo (that would be Pinto Colvig, the voice for Disney’s Goofy), but Harmon bought rights to the character in the Fifties and flogged that clown for a zillion bucks. Harmon trained and licensed over 200 Bozos to perform in local cities across the US.
I knew somebody who claimed to know the Nashville Bozo. Said he a pervert. I bet they say that about all the adult men who opt to dress up and play with children for a living. I was told this guy paid $30 grand to become a licensed Bozo.
According to Wikipedia’s list, there wasn’t a Nashville Bozo, so I’ve probably been had. Kids waited years for tickets to go on the program. My big brother was on once, but I don’t even know where. <insert funny anecdote and/or recollection here>
Many local Bozos went on to become local bozos. Weather men. That guy who used to introduced the afternoon movie on TV. Like that.
In 2004, controversy swirled when the International Clown Hall of Fame took down Harmon’s plaque, claiming that he had misrepresented his role in the Bozo legend. Geez. He carried that fool thing for fifty years. Give the man his plaque.
Snopes has some doubts about whether a child ever told Bozo to “cram it” live on-air. However, they did go out live, so I’m sure plenty of unsavory things snuck through. My mother said she saw an episode where some kids sitting in the bleachers got the giggles. When none of them would tell Bozo what was so funny, he asked one of them to whisper it to him while he stuck the microphone by his ear. “Jimmy farted.”
Yeah. Weasel’s back.
July 25, 2008 — 1:11 pm
Pissing and Moaning Week continues on sweasel.com.
Okay, sure…I’ve been upgraded from ‘tasteless’ to ‘personal’ on Websense (thank you, Websense — I wonder who dropped a dime on me in the first place)…my desktop machine booted up normally, first try. But it takes more than THAT to tickle an weasel.
The conference room across from us has been ceded to a large, loud, high-priced IT consultant from Atlanta. She’s got a sinus infection and every few minutes — shitting you I am not — she horks up a giant loogie.
This is followed by a series of quiet gasps, moans and little moos of horror running down Cubicle Row. (Relax, minions — that’s not how Stoaty got wet. That comes later).
So to get away from it at lunch, I went to visit the pussoes again. They were crating up some dogs to take to the vet, so they didn’t let us in at the usual time. Half a dozen people waited outside under the porch when another of those short, HELLACIOUSLY powerful thunderboomers rolled through. Soaked the lot of us before anyone could let us in. The staff was all apologetic when they finally hustled the steaming herd of animal fanciers into the building.
That’s when I saw the CAT ROOM CLOSED TODAY sign. Respiratory infection. They’re pretty good at stopping that now, before it runs through the whole room, but it means careful isolation for a few days. (Say, I wonder if that’s what the IT consultant has got…)
Still, the quickest way for six strangers to become temporary friends is to get soaking wet together. While I waited for the worst of it to pass over, we chatted about pets and pointed out our HAVE YOU SEEN ME? flyers to each other and had a grand time there on the Group W bench.
And tomorrow, now that I have my connect back, I might actually blog. About things.
But don’t count on it.
July 24, 2008 — 5:23 pm
HIT BY LIGHTNING! Hit by lightning. As Uncle B revealed in my comments section, I got hit by lightning. I GOT HIT BY LIGHTNING.
Okay, not me precisely, but Weasel Street. One of those short, potent thunderboomers moved across town. I got soaked just dashing from the car to the house when came the Big One. The flash and the boom were absolutely simultaneous, and then things started to go thataway. Connect went down immediately. My desktop worked okay for a while, and then got wonky and refused to reboot, so…not sure what’s go-bust there. Please stand by.
I’m in with my laptop and I don’t seem to be stealing signal from any of the neighbors, so my cable must be okay.
On a not-particularly-related note, sweasel.com was successfully recategorized as “personal” via Websense, but I still can’t get in from work. Whether that means “personal” is also blocked or whether it means the new database hasn’t fully propagated, I do not know. Tell you tomorrow.
For those who doubt the Almighty has put a certain weasel on his Celestial Shit List, I present I Got Hit By Lightning, a play in one act.
July 23, 2008 — 6:39 pm
The woman who sits next to me was working in another office today, so I visited the pussoes. None of the original bunch is left, except for the other little mama. She was pregnant longer than any cat the shelter guy had ever heard of. Me too. I thought maybe the kittens had died and she was resorbing them (this can happen, I think. Nature can be so…ew). But, no. Just as he was about to haul her to the vet, out popped four of the healthiest fat furballs you ever did see. No two alike, so she’s no better than she should be.
While I was chatting with the Kitteh Man, a nice young gay couple came in cat shopping. I thought to myself, “I wonder which cat they’ll choose…NOT!”
Yup. Fluffy McHomosexual here is no longer a stray. Well. He’s a good cat and I’m sure the nice gentlemen will make him a lovely home. Plus, they were eyeballing a certain kitten and a tuxedo tom and made inquiries about taking all three. So, hooray for soft-hearted cat-adopting persons of the same sex!
Sweasel.com is still blocked by Websense. I’ve sent another “I’m not that tasteless, pretty please” request. Frankly, the internet is in the summer doldrums anyhow (have you noticed?) and ain’t nothing to blog about. I’ll just…catblog or photoblog to show willing until I get this straightened out. And if I can’t work it out this week, I’ll see about setting up a mirror or something.
Good think I never monetized this sucker, or I’d be pissed.
July 22, 2008 — 4:34 pm
Still blocked. I don’t know if the report Brian L. kindly filed on my behalf has had time to go through. He said 24 hours, and that was Friday. I presume that’s 24 business hours, so it’s touch and go. I’ve just signed up (with my real name and address…brrr) to make a polite request of my own.
Meanwhile, those of you subject to the Big Red Hand, don’t check from work until I give the all clear. BRH is one of the metrics that Websense measures. Wouldn’t want to get anybody in trouble.
It’s not like anything interesting will be going on here while I’m locked out…
July 21, 2008 — 5:08 pm