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H or T?

It’s another long weekend and, improbably, I want to spend some of it scraping an archaeological layer of filth off Badger House. That’s because I’m taking time off in May for my traditional birthday celebrations, and I sure don’t want to be doing it then.

We are not tidy people. In fact, we’re getting on for hoarders. I’ve just gone through our old owner’s manuals, and we had documentation for machines that were made obsolete by the invention of electricity.

Now, in some ways, the fact that we’re both similarly disinclined to throw shit away is a good thing: the marriage of a hoarder to a tidy would probably end in murder. But the downside is obvious: our home is an EFFING DISASTER.

I will say in our favor, a sizable chunk of our crap is books and cool antique doo-dahs so, while it’s technically clutter, it looks sort of awesome piled up in tottery mounds.

Are you a hoarder or a tidy? And, if you have a significant other, what is your spouse’s inclination? I shall leave you to ponder the question while I go hoover up fragments of Elizabethan history. Good weekend, y’all!

April 28, 2017 — 8:58 pm
Comments: 36

Sadly, this is a post about cray-zee


I wasn’t actually looking for another post about cats tonight (Jack’s been his usual happy self today), but I saw the pic of the nice ginger tom on a bale of hay and clicked. It was a boring story about Cats Protection trying to rehome ferals at a country show. Ho hum.

Then I scrolled down to the comments. BANG — nutbaggery! Three breathless messages in quick succession from some guy calling himself Nature Advocate about how cats don’t kill rodents, they attract them, and how he’s shot and buried hundreds of cats on his property. Brrrr.

Too many links, too fast on the trigger, I had a hunch — and, sure enough, if you Google “Nature Advocate” and “cats”, dude is a very busy nutbar. How come the whackadoodles always use the same username wherever they go?

His three messages on that particular article are below, rearranged into chronological order. Bolding mine, italics me. I followed his links and it’s the usual tiny kernels of truth wrapped in a warm coating of crispy flakes. Like, he claims hundreds of people in the US have caught plague from cats; the actual article he links to says several. He claims that cats are the reservoir of plague in the US, but it’s actually prairie dogs and other rodents that cats come in contact with.

I quit after taking a desultory swipe at it. Truth is, it isn’t fun crazy, it’s just depressing and scary crazy. I don’t recommend giving it a read, unless this is exactly the kind of crazy you enjoy — in which case, try the Google search above for all the Nature Advocate batshittery you could ever want.

Nature Advocate
4:38 AM on 27/04/2017

Cats’ most insidious disease of all, their Toxoplasma gondii parasite that cats spread through their scat into all other animals. This is how humans get it in their dinner-meats, cats roaming around stockyards and farms (herbivores can contract this parasite in no other way). 60%+ of game-animals too. This is why cats are routinely destroyed around gestating livestock or important wildlife by shooting or drowning them. [news to me – he seems to savor the killing techniques – s] So those animals won’t suffer from the same things that can happen to the fetus of any pregnant woman. (Miscarriages, still-births, hydrocephaly, and microcephaly.)

Its strange life cycle is meant to infect rodents. Any rodents infected with it lose their fear of cats and are attracted to cat urine. scitizen . Com / neuroscience / parasite-hijacks-the-mind-of-its-host_a-23-509 . html [he’s broken apart all the links like this. Presumably so he doesn’t get filtered out as spam]

Cats attract rodents to your home with their whole slew of diseases (like The Plague from rats and fleas, many people have died from cat-transmitted Plague in the USA already, [several, according to his link] it is alive and well and being spread by cats today). [no, it’s endemic in prairie dogs and other rodents; cats pick it up from them] If you want rodents in your home keep cats outside of it to attract diseased rodents to your area. I experienced this phenomenon (as have many others), and all rodent problems disappeared after I shot and buried every last one of hundreds of cats on my lands. Much better NATIVE rodent predators returned to my lands, rather than these man-made cats that were just attracting more rodents.

Nature Advocate
4:41 AM on 27/04/2017

The myth about cats being good rodent control has been disproved on every island where cats were imported to take care of the imported rodents. Hundreds of years later and there’s nothing but a thriving population of cats and rodents — all the native wildlife on those islands now either extinct or on the brink of extinction — even those native species which are better rodent predators than cats (such as many reptiles and shrews which destroy rodents right in their nests), the cats having destroyed them directly or indirectly.

Cats actually attract disease-carrying rodents to where cats are. The cats then contract these diseases on contact with, or being in proximity to, these rodents. Like “The Black Death”, the plague, that is now being transmitted to humans in N. America directly from cats that have contracted it from rodents. Yes, “The Black Death” (the plague) is alive and well today and being spread by people’s cats this time around. Totally disproving that oft-spewed LIE about having more cats in Europe could have prevented the plague — more cats would have made it far far worse. Many people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA in the last 2-3 decades; all three forms of it transmitted by CATS — septicemic, bubonic, and pneumonic. For a fun read, one of hundreds of cases, Cat-Transmitted Fatal Pneumonic Plague — ncbi . nlm . nih . / Gov / pubmed / 8059908

abcdcatsvets . Org / yersinia-pestis-infection /
“Recommendations to avoid zoonotic transmission: Cats are considered the most important domestic animal [because the real well of the disease are not domestic animals] involved in plague transmission to humans, and in endemic areas, outdoor cats may transmit the infection to their owners or to persons caring for sick cats (veterinarians and veterinary nurses).”

Nature Advocate
4:44 AM on 27/04/2017

Cats attracting these adult rodents right to them further increasing the cat/rodent/disease density of this happy predator/prey balance. It has been documented many many times — the more cats you have the more rodents and diseases you get. I even proved this to myself when having to rid my lands of hundreds of these vermin cats by shooting and burying every last one of them. A rodent problem started to appear about the same time the cats started to show up, 15 years of it. And, if you check the history of Disney’s feral cat problem, their rodent problem also started to appear at the very same time their cats showed-up. Coincidence? Not at all. (BTW: All cat-advocates’ beloved Disney’s TNR cats are no more, they’ve all been destroyed by hired exterminators last year. Disney finally wised-up.) [I could find no evidence of this at all. Many articles about the feral cats of Disney, though] All rodent problems around my home completely disappeared after every last cat was shot-dead and safely disposed of. All the better NATIVE rodent predators moved back into the area after the cats were dead and gone. Not seen one cat anywhere nor had even one rodent in the house in over seven years now. (So much for their manipulative, deceptive, and outright lie of the mythical “vacuum effect” too.)

Cats DO NOT get rid of rodents. I don’t care how many centuries that blathering FOOLS [*shakes fist*] will claim that cats keep rodents in-check, they’ll still be wrong all these centuries. Civilizations of humans have come and gone in great cities like Egypt, yet their cats and rodents remain in even greater pestilent numbers. [This, delightfully, makes no sense at all].

No cat population anywhere has ever been able to control rodents effectively, in fact cats only attract a rodent problem. But native predators can get rid of rodents — easily.

April 27, 2017 — 9:42 pm
Comments: 8

Toxic masculinity


But instead of Atlanta, my doorstep. And instead of Confederate soldiers, tiny dead baby bunnies.

Okay, two. I found two tiny dead baby bunnies, but it was very impactful. I have to assume Jack left them, as Charlotte has been in all day and any interloper would be unlikely to leave gifts at the door.

The bunny season has begun. Probably anthropomorphizing to think Jack’s trying to get his mojo back. It’s more like the local crop of bunnies have reached that perfect chase-and-murder age.

I didn’t mean to make this Jack Week, but I’ve got nothing else going on and I’m back to ignoring politics.

Changing the subject, they didn’t allow Gone with the Wind on television until the late Seventies, but every so often they’d run it in the theaters. The first time in my lifetime was 1967, in a remastered 70mm format.

My father’s family were rural and small town people, and Tennesseans (meaning family on both sides of the Civil War). This wasn’t really his deal. But my mother’s people were from Louisiana and real live slave-and-plantation owners. There was once dizzying money in my mother’s father’s line (not a penny of which reached as far as me, alas).

Mother solemnly took me to the 1967 screening like it was my first Communion or something. Behold, my child, this is how it was meant to be.

Mother carried herself like royalty. Which is pretty funny since she was born and raised on a pokey little dirt farm in Armadilloballs, Texas.

April 26, 2017 — 8:38 pm
Comments: 15

Kitty cat heaven


I’ve posted about Celia Hammond before. She’s an ex-model who runs a cat rescue, one branch of which is not too far away in Sussex. I posted about it when we went to their Open Day a couple of years ago. It’s a big open landscape where they send semi-ferals and unhomeables.

I’m telling you, it was the most serene place I’ve ever been. Forget your Buddhist rock gardens, when I want to find inner peace, I close my eyes and picture those hundreds of moggies drifting gracefully around the meadows, waving their wild tails. I don’t know how they avoid territorial conflict — maybe because there are just too many cats to fight, maybe they put Kitty Valium in the Friskies — but I didn’t hear any hissing or see any aggressive behavior at all.

They didn’t seem feral, either — a bunch of friendly old pussoes headrubbing and begging skritchies. There were acres of grass and woods, dotted with tiny wooden cabins full of straw. It was cat heaven.

The picture above, by the way, is from a recent rescue of sixty cats, all one family. They were on a small farm with an elderly owner who died. Somehow, of the sixty, only eight were males, so they bred out of control really fast. They’re a strict no-kill shelter, so homes will be found for all.

If it turns out Jack’s nemesis is a stray, I can think of no happier fate for him than to be in that blessed place. I’d have to be sure, though. It would be an awful thing to spirit away somebody’s pet cat.

If you clicked that first link, I done you dirty. It’s a direct link to the cats-needing-homes page. I’ve been known to stay up too late, drink too much and start clicking. “I’ll take you home, kitty! I’LL TAKE YOU ALL home!”

April 25, 2017 — 8:39 pm
Comments: 11

It snew!


It snew in Scotland this morning. It was back to Spring by afternoon (as the photographer documents), but we are having a cold snap. It’s going to flirt with frost for the next few days, even down here. The gardeners are all worried because things have started to flower.

Janna asked for an update on Jack and his territorial dispute with the neighbor’s cat. It isn’t going well.

I heard him screaming this afternoon and ran next door to his aid, only to find him screaming into the neighbor’s livingroom window. Neighbor is taking care of her daughter’s cat, so Jack was screaming at an extremely elderly cat minding her own business in her own house. I apologized and withdrew.

Half an hour later, he’s next door screaming again. I shouted over the fence and the neighbor said that time it was indeed his nemesis, ginger-and-white. She chased off the intruder.

Half an hour later, he’s next door screaming again. I asked if it was the neighborhood bully again and she said, “no, Jack is standing in the middle of my garden screaming at nothing.”

Between these shrieking sessions he’s his good-natured old self, but he loses his shit when he feels threatened. I’ve warned everyone not to approach him when he’s screaming at air. Will try to find out who owns ginger-and-white. If he’s feral, I might try to relocate him, but I have a bad feeling he belongs to our newest neighbors.

April 24, 2017 — 9:07 pm
Comments: 12

But are you bad enough?


It is one of my great regrets that I never visited the Museum of Bad Art when I was in the States. It’s in the basement of a movie theater in Somerville, Mass. I had a job right around the corner; I could’ve nipped out at lunch.

But with a gargantuan sigh of relief I note — nothing of mine has made it into the collection. Yet.

When I moved, see, my studio was a complete mess, so the real estate agent suggested I take out everything I wanted to keep and let the disposal guys hoover out the rest while I was out of town. Less traumatic for me. Lots and lots of bad early Weasels ended up in the dumpster, or worse.

On May 6, they’re hosting a free event inviting the public to bring along horrible art for evaluation. You have to think anything truly MOBA-worthy will be something somebody plucked from the trash. No genuinely awful artist is capable of recognizing his own horror; quality blindness is a necessary prerequisite.

Anyway, do spend some time browsing their collection and reading the captions. Never fails to cheer me up!

Oh, and happy National Tea Day. We celebrated by buying a teapot today!

Nah, not really. We bought a teapot today because Elbows here knocked the old one over and smashed it earlier this week. Good weekend, all!

April 21, 2017 — 6:54 pm
Comments: 13



In the Sixties, British Rail had a financial crisis (Google: “Beeching report) and shut down a third of the services and more than half of the train stations nationwide. This coincided with the wrapping up of the expensive-to-run steam trains.

Brits love them some trains, so this change cut a million British autists to the heart. There are all sorts of inspirational stories of engines rescued and, eventually, tiny parts of the closed lines restored by obsessive fans. These are the so-called Heritage railways which are dotted across the country.

The dream has always been to link heritage lines back up to the real network. Problem is, when they tore up the tracks, they sold those bits of land off to dozens — hundreds — of landowners. It seemed hopeless to buy enough of them back (in a contiguous line!) to connect with the real world.

Never bet against obsessives; they are finally managing it in places. The photo is from this article about the Bluebell Railway – “The first preserved standard gauge steam-operated passenger railway in the world to operate a public service, the society ran its first train on 7 August 1960, less than three years after the line from East Grinstead to Lewes had been closed by British Railways” (I stole that bit from Wikipedia). But it’s taken them until just now to link all the way back up to East Grinstead.

Linking up to the real world opens all kinds of possibilities, like commuters paying to go to work (at least partly) on steam trains. Which is doubly neat because we also have a handful of high-speed trains here. I can’t articulate why I think having both in service at once is so cool, it just is.

The Bluebell is one of the most-used railway lines in movies and TV, so do click over and have an explore.

April 20, 2017 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 9



Somebody’s opened a crow cafe in London – like a cat cafe, but…you know…with corvids (there’s also a rook and a raven).

Good idea. I like corvids. We had a couple of pet crows when I was a kid. I’ll tell you stories some day (some other day; it’s late and I have to go take a bath).


Their rook probably needs a buddy. Rooks are the sociable ones. You know the old saying: if you see a solitary rook, it’s a crow; if you see a bunch of crows, they’re rooks.

The trees around our house here are alive with rooks and I’ve been awfully tempted to feed them.

Know how you tell the difference? Crows and ravens look pretty much alike, except ravens are bigger and shaggier. But rooks have a strip of unpleasant-looking crusty white flesh where their beaks meet their heads. Thusly:

And on that educational note, I’m off to my bath. Toodle pip.

April 19, 2017 — 9:14 pm
Comments: 20

Moby Dig


No, that’s not original. Readers of the Mid-Sussex Times were asked to name this stranded digger and Moby Dig narrowly edged Digger McDigface. The digger is supposed to operate partially submerged, but something’s gone wrong and they ain’t saying what, so there it sits.

They’re using it to build a windfarm off Worthing Beach, so it can rot for all I care.

Locals must love this story, though, because the Times is asking if they’d be willing to vote for Moby Dig for MP. I hope they do, because fuck politics is why.

This is a very politically clever thing Theresa May has done, calling for a snap election. At the moment, the Tories are at a historic high (polling around 50%), Ukip is having an identity crisis, the LibDems are in disarray, and Labour is polling at an exceedingly weak 17% or so. Her party is sure to do well, and she will use this as evidence of a mandate on Brexit.

But what sort of Brexit are we looking at? Ay, there’s the rub.

April 18, 2017 — 8:09 pm
Comments: 11

To the moon!


Four random thoughts on this story:

My Easter holiday was fantastic, thanks for asking. Do I really have to get up in the morning?

April 17, 2017 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 50