Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Mark Littlewood photoed by me and by this other guy
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6000 on Painted people
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Michael Jennings on T20 fun and games
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- Ten years ago today
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- Happiness is a wallet that I didn’t lose after all
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- Nothing from me here today
- Two badly lit views of “Victoria Tower” and why Big Ben is not St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower
- The Mayor and the towers
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Cats and kittens
The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.
The bones come from a cemetery for the wealthy in Hierakonpolis, which served as the capital of Upper Egypt in the era before the pharaohs. The cemetery was the resting place not just for human bones, but also for animals, which perhaps were buried as part of religious rituals or sacrifices. Archaeologists searching the burial grounds have found everything from baboons to leopards to hippopotamuses.
Three policemen in Pakistan guarding the prime minister’s home have been suspended for negligence after a cat devoured one of the premier’s peacocks, it seems.
It seems? Well, did it or did it not?
This Japanese gum commercial makes me wish I had a super fluffy gigantic cat to help navigate the horrors of public transportation and carry me around, avoiding traffic and other pedestrian suckers who don’t have adorable cat chauffeurs. Then I remember that if a cat that big existed, it would probably just maul me to death, ...
Why are there so many cats on the internet?
The problem is that they are asking the wrong question, which should not be “Why cats?” so much as “Why not dogs?” And the answer is that dogs are trying too hard. When a dog gets in a box or hides under the duvet or wears a funny hat, it is because he is desperately trying to impress you – longing for your validation and approval. When a cat does one of those things, it is because it felt like the right thing to do at the time. And it usually was. It is cool, and effortless, and devoid of any concern about what you might think about it. It is art for art’s sake.
This, at any rate, is one of the theories (of which there are an awful lot) about why content related to cats seems to gain so much traction online.
Maybe. I guess that’s part of it.
The original reason for my Feline Friday cat chat is that cat chat on the internet, at first only at inconsequential blogs such as this one but now everywhere, illustrates that the number one impact of the internet is that there is now a new way to be amused, and cats are amusing. The serious political impact of this is that with the internet it is easier to concentrate on what you consider amusing, and to ignore what people who consider themselves to be more important than you consider to be more important. This really ticks them off. Which is nice. The internet puts politicians, for instance, in their proper place, on the sidelines. Cats may or may not be important, depending on how mad you are, but they are amusing.
The willingness of the big old Mainstream Media to tell frequent cat stories, as they now show and do, illustrates that these organs have now accepted that they no longer control the news agenda. If the people of the world decide that it is news that an angry 22-pound cat that trapped a family of three and prompted a frantic 911 call has been sent to an animal shelter, then news it is, and the big old media now accept this.
From Tim Berners-Lee, no less, on the occasion of the twenty fifth anniversary of his glorious invention, the www:
Berners-Lee also mentioned something about a Magna Carta for the web, but I am afraid the cat remark has overwhelmed all that stuff.
Or, maybe the cat angle has drawn attention to the Magna Carta stuff, which would otherwise have been ignored even more. (I am starting to notice many rather irrelevant cats in adverts nowadays.)
Incoming from 6000, aware of my Feline Friday habit, about a 16th century plan to use cats and doves as weapons of war:
Asking for trouble, I’d say.
Thus encouraged on the cat front, I went looking for other weird stuff, in the cat category.
I found this, which is a camera decorated with a logo that is part Hello Kitty and part Playboy Bunny. Weird:
I guess the Kitty is wearing those big pretend rabbit ears.
And weirdest of all, beauty bloggers are decorating cat claws:
It seems that doing crazy things with cats is a permanent part of the human condition. Although to be fair, the excuse for the pink claws above is that they stop your cat from scratching the furniture. And I suppose making them brightly coloured means you can see at once if the cat is wearing them, or has managed to get rid of some of them.
In the latest manifestation of the original Friday ephemera, there are no cats. Not this time. But 6000 included the weaponised cat notion in an ephemeral collection of his own. His final ephemeron was an octopus photo. That also just about qualifies as feline, if you focus on the final three letters.
You were not slow. I am in the habit of arranging blog posts on a daily schedule, but fumbled the date and 19 became 9 so it appeared to be ancient when it was in fact early.
You must have seen it rather quickly, I’m flattered.
Actually what I saw quickly was the automatic email that I automatically got from Libertarian Home about the latest posting there. I clicked on it, read the Sermon, was impressed, shoved it up at Samizdata, then blogged about the process here. In among all that, I noticed that the posting was dated Feb 9th, and mentioned that I had been rather slow to notice it in the posting here, but not there. All this in the space of about an hour and a half.
The upshot of which is a posting that now declares itself to have arrived at Libertarian Home on Feb 19, but which has meanwhile already become the SQotD for Feb 18.
A while back, I wrote here, at the start of a posting about Manx Cats, this:
Inevitably, this blog, if it persists much longer, will become more and more concerned with the experience of getting old, ...
That posting was about the thing of “sort of” knowing stuff, as you get older. I “sort of” knew that Manx cats don’t have tales. You vaguely remember having once known something. That kind of thing.
This posting now is also about that aging process. Because, when the above email arrived, I should have realised that something bizarre was happening over at LH with regard to dates. I mean, if this Rob Waller Sermon had really been up for the last ten days, how come I had missed it all that time, even though I regularly visit LH? And how come I was only now receiving an automatic email about it?
I never consciously thought it through, but my “sort of” thought process was that either LH was confused or I was, and I just assumed without thinking about it that the confusion must be mine, on account of me having now entered the years of frequent and soon perpetual confusion, about everything. You are now reading prose written by a man who has started to forget, while in the bath, whether he has stood up and washed his private parts yet, or not yet, and who has hence started to do this either twice or not at all. Simon Gibbs, on the other hand, is a smart young guy. He has a smart young wife and a smart young home. He has a paid job and a life. That he might have got his blog posting dates in a muddle just did not occur to me.
Post pictures of cats, they said. Seriously, if you’re not going to be able to write much, and a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture of a cat is worth, well, Six Thousand. Do it.
So, with that in mind, here’s a picture of a cat, ...
I also found myself referring recently to the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think that one of the consequences of digital photography is that this is probably no longer true. Not unless it’s a very good picture. And to be fair to 6000, it is a pretty good cat picture. Also, he was not saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, merely referring to the notion, by saying “if” it is, as an excuse for a quota cat.
One of the things that used to make pictures count for so much was that everyone knew what a bother it was to contrive them. Now, everyone knows that contriving pictures has become very easy.
The reason I can never make myself care about just shoving hundreds of snaps up on the internet using something like Flickr, and why I prefer to put them here (or here), in much smaller numbers, is that I prefer my pictures to be accompanied by words, words that explain what I am trying to say with the pictures, or what I think is interesting about them.
The same principle applied to the old newspaper photographs, where this phrase presumably originated. A picture may then have been worth a thousand words, but there were usually also plenty of actual words attached.
Often, the pictures here are pictures of words. If following a link does not appeal, consider only the previous two postings.
I enjoyed this, which is the Daily Mash take on how cats “love any quirky and winsome humour associated with people”.
The piece concludes:
Cat Denys Finch Hatton said: “Our amusement at the eccentricities of human behaviour may be a way of switching off from our primal and sadistic natures which are obsessed by sex, killing and torture.
“Or maybe we’re just bored with our empty consumerist lives.”
To be a bit more serious, my understanding of cats is that they mostly look on us as giant domestic appliances, supplying food and warmth and strokes. Seriously, machines that do these things seem equally attractive to them.
It’s dogs that are truly interested in people. But dogs are goofy.
See also the Daily Mash view of the Ashes.
And, this is actually quite profound.
Time for an I-told-you-so moment.
I told the Australians not to rouse the kitten:
Darren Lehman may have made a bit of a mistake, when he called Broad a cheat for not walking when Broad was clearly out and should have been given out, and said that Australian crowds should have a go at Broad in the Ashes series this winter in Australia. Lehman was only joking, but it was a joke he may regret.
But they went ahead and roused the kitten anyway. Here is George Dobell reporting on Day One of the Ashes:
Rubbished, ridiculed and reduced - the front page of one Australian tabloid dubbed Broad a “smug pommy cheat” on the morning of the game - England, and Broad in particular, arrived with abuse ringing in their ears.
Broad, it was claimed by an Australian media stoked by their national coach, was little more than a medium-pacer whose disregard for the rules shamed him, while England’s batsmen were running scared of Australia’s pace attack.
But instead of wilting in the cauldron of the “Gabbatoir”, Broad appeared to revel in the occasion. Indeed, he even admitted he found himself whistling along as a large section of the crowd chanted “Broad is a w*****.”
This may be no surprise to the England camp. As part of their exhaustive preparation process - a process that was ridiculed at the start of the tour when sections of the Australian media were leaked details of England’s nutrition plans - England’s players were analysed by a psychologist and Broad was one of three who, in his words, “thrive properly on getting abuse”.
“It’s me, KP and Matt Prior,” Broad said. “So they picked good men to go at.
“It was good fun out there. I think I coped with it okay. It’s all good banter. Fans like to come, have a beer with their mates and sing along. I’m pleased my mum wasn’t here, but to be honest I was singing along at one stage. It gets in your head and you find yourself whistling it at the end of your mark. I’d braced myself to expect it and actually it was good fun. I enjoyed it.”
Australia 273-8. Broad, so far: 20 overs 3 maidens 65 runs 5 wickets, including the first four, and including the one truly class act in the Oz top six, Clarke.
Last night I attended the Simon Gibbs talk about how to herd cats. For me the problem was right there in the title. It was like he knew he was attempting something impossible.
My immediate reaction is that what I do to cats is stroke them, if they will let me. If I “owned” a cat, that would mean that it would also be my duty to feed it. But herding cats? There’s a reason this phrase is used to describe social schemes that can’t work.
Simon’s scheme seems to depend on some kind of website. Websites are not my strong point, even understanding the point of them let alone actually making them work. The less new software I have in my life, the happier I am. So maybe I am missing not something here, but everything. Simon made several mentions of a “button”. When I find out where this is (somewhere at Libertarian Home?), I’ll give it a go. If others do and do whatever Simon wants them to do, then I guess the cats will start being herded and my present scepticism will be proved wrong. I hope that happens. (As I said to Simon after his talk, see this.)
Slightly more seriously, Simon’s talk made me think of a distinction that I associate with the great American theorist of management, Peter Drucker. As I recall it, Drucker describes various different ways to do organisation.
One is to imagine the perfect organisation. You ask: Suppose we had no organisation already, with all its obligations and habits and rituals, what would the ideal organisation for what we are trying to accomplish look like? And then let’s turn what we have into that. An example Drucker was fond of was Sloane’s General Motors, probably because Drucker worked for Sloane, although exactly when he did that work, I’m not sure.
Another is not to dream dreams of future perfection. It is to ask: What little steps can we take, now, immediately, in the right general direction, given the strengths and resources that we already now possess?
In my opinion the second attitude is better suited to the life of a London libertarian with a bit of influence but not much (i.e. libertarians like me and like Simon Gibbs), than is the first.
The late Chris Tame, whose Number Two I was for about a decade, was one hell of a libertarian organiser. Over the years he organised some superb and superbly ambitious events, because he asked what the perfect event would look like (as I did not) and then went ahead and organised it. But my ongoing disagreement (it never boiled over but it was always there) with Chris was that too many of his ideal schemes did not achieve anything other than some rather demoralising costs.
My own approach was to concentrate on much smaller completions – a small meeting, a pamphlet, a radio performance – and just try to get each potential completion completed as quickly and satisfactorily as possible, at which point it was on to the next one, and so on until victory is achieved. (You can see why I like blogging so much. And perhaps also why Chris never liked it, although he had other reasons besides the mere smallness of individual blog postings.)
The reason I mention Chris Tame, apart from the fact that I think it may illuminate, is that what I may very well be doing here is being reminded by Simon’s current scheme, as expounded last night, of a past argument in my life, and then slotting him into that argument on the other side from me. I may, that is to say, be completely misunderstanding what he is now proposing. I might, as the saying goes, be fighting the last war rather than this one. Since I do not now really get what he is proposing, this is not, to put it mildly, unlikely. Happily, Simon’s talk was being videoed, so you’ll soon be able to watch it for yourself and decide for yourself what you think about it.
I may very well, at some future date (maybe after watching the talk again), be explaining why this posting is completely wrong.
Quotes from there
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Finding Rover app tracks lost dogs using facial recognition
Edwin is a bad person
A fake feline photo and a faltering feline enumerator
Cats without tails are not scary
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Monopoly Cat replaces Monopoly Iron
Domestic cats are destroying the planet
Kissa yrittää mennä laatikkoon
The strange state of the enviro-argument
Mon chat se tient debout tout seul
It got my attention
Surely the answer is for them to get 275 cats each
Photographing the other photographers with my new camera
Like a crisp packet being popped
How to immobilise a cat
Quimper cat on Harley-Davidson
Lion steals camera
Friday link dump
Bizarre History - Johannes Brahms did not murder cats
Brainwave-controlled cat ears for humans created by Japanese Neurowear
Shostakovich with cat
Guido the cat
It’s interesting …
Animals that like the smell of humans dying
Julian Assange drove Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s cat Herr Schmitt crazy
The free market encourages curiosity
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
Happy New Year
Delayed action Dubrovnik cat
And here’s the proof!!! Sixteen little square pictures!!!
From pop to purrfume
Cats only seem smart and dogs only seem dumb
Another ephemeron for David Thompson?
Cat defeats alligators
Cats know more about fluid mechanics than dogs
Only up to some random linkage and a little felinity
MP’s kitten custody battle
Funny feline ephemeron
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
Why not just sell them?
Graeme Swann on drink-driving charge after 3am dash to save kitten
Farnborough (5): Supacat Bloodhound Falcon
Cool cat that obeys Allen’s Rule
Farnborough (4): Cat on teeshirt - insect on cat’s nose
Lynxes and an A380
Next door’s cat
Cats with human faces
Cats and bridges on Pixdaus
One man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing
Yo! Sushi cat says: Yo! Stay away!
Darling and Darling cat
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
Green cat email mystery solved
Green cat copyrighted picture email vanishes
Quota cat rubber
“I can’t respond to any e-mails today …”
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Alfie the cat answers the Elmlea challenge
Nasa and Gordon Brown both have their uses
Chained cat in Vietnam
The cats from out of town that cleared out the rats during the siege of Leningrad
Two real cats sighted in Spain!
Two red cats
How some cats are dividing Cyprus
A cat lands on its feet
Picture purrfection and a rather good Clive James piece
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
In other news …
Strange purple cat with four eyes
David Farrer photos
Saying what we aren’t meant to say
Green cats - feral cats - cats murdered in Wales - more than 113 cats in Livingston NJ
God is killing cinemas!
Friday baby marmoset
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Vince Miller with cat
My confusion about free banking
Philippa Micklethwait - the Eulogy
Actually quite a big cat
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Tama the feline stationmaster saves the Wakayama Electric Railway Co.
Not the same thing
Cats are (as of) now being counted in permanent italics
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Paul Graham on the death of the family cat
The return of Friday cat-blogging
What I’ve done so far with Jesus
Tatiana the normal tiger
Cat stuff on Tuesday?
Operation Cat Drop and some Hello Kitty Bags
For Skimbleshanks read Tizer
What kind of blogger are you?
Manhole cover cats and Angel of the North shelves?
The cat genome is cool
Someone is displaying mutilated cats in San Antonio
Yes this is cat blogging
A visit from The Guru and a picture of three local cats
Photos - four transport - two artistic
A squinting cat and a master ephemerist
At the dogs
Lots of links
City Cat runs on air
Not actually a photo of Saturn’s rings
When members of parliament attack
“That’s not Minnie Mouse - that’s a cat with large ears”
Armed police in Hertford hunt big cat
It’s Friday again
Cats can be taught!
A John Lewis cat and a John Lewis DAB radio
Cats cause mice
Clever old Catt
Cats and keyboards
Norman interested – Harry has some wildness in his genealogy
A basic part of the domestic cat’s heritage
Very very low cost kitten in space
Other people’s photos (4): Kitten on man’s head