Wednesday, November 30, 2005

an evil and cruel trade in cat fur

I don't always agree with everything that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) advocates, like vegetarianism for cats and dogs.

PETA does have an important role in educating the world about cruelty which exists.

They have uncovered a sinister and evil trade in dog and cat fur.
PETA went into an animal market in Southern China and found cats and dogs languishing in tiny cages, visibly exhausted. Some had been on the road for days, transported in flimsy wire-mesh cages with no food or water. Twenty cats were forced into a single cage. Because of the cross-country transport in such deplorable conditions, our investigators saw dead cats on top of the cages, dying cats and dogs inside the cages, and dogs and cats with open wounds. Some animals were lethargic or frightened, and others were fighting with each other, driven insane from confinement and exposure.

Up to 8,000 animals are loaded onto each truck, with cages stacked one on top of the other. Cages containing live animals are commonly tossed from the top of the trucks onto the ground 10 feet below, shattering the legs of the animals inside them. Many of the animals we saw still had collars on, a sign that they were someone's beloved companions, stolen to be made into fur coats.

You can read more and view a video from the PETA investigation -
PETA's J.CRUEL campaign
(the video may be very distressing. It made my human cry, and he gave me a big cuddle)

It is not just trading in dog and cat fur which is cruel. Why should other animals be treated cruelly and made to suffer for their fur, and for humans' vanity?

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


My human stayed with me today as he was feeling poorly. Woohoo! After he fed me my breakfast, he went back to bed so I had another bedtime. When he eventually got up around midday, I tricked him into giving me another breakfast!

I napped on his lap while he watched two episodes of Smallville which was taped from Sunday night. Not only did the show switch networks, but they also started halfway in season two! The stations always do it with the good shows.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


We all know that catnip (Nepeta cataria) gets about two-thirds of us cats high. Speaking of catnip, my plant died two years ago but still has not been replaced. Hmmmppphhhh. I love catnip and have been deprived!

The question is, which plant has the same effect on dogs?

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had such a nice long brush last night and was enjoying lying on my human's lap until the electricity blacked out at 10.30pm. Thankfully we had candles. I may be able to see a little bit in the dark (though not much), but my human couldn't at all.

The electricity wasn't restored until just after midnight, and we only know as my human forgot to switch off the bedroom light which came back on. It was very scarey, but thankfully the evil tooth fairy from Darkness Falls didn't come and murder us.

After my wonderful meals in recent days of rare cooked veal, I am now back on raw chicken wings, but tonight's was cornfed. I am happy.

My human, on the other paw, is in one of his Munch moods...

Munch's The Scream

Monday, November 28, 2005

a 30th independence day that should, but does not, exist

30 years ago (28 November), the Portuguese colony of East Timor declared its independence.

Nine days later, Indonesian troops invaded and occupied East Timor turning it into its 27th province.

Indonesia's excuse was that the popular Fretilin Party was communist. The United States and Australia did nothing. After all, that dictator Suharto was an ally assisting in the fight against 'communism'.

Between 100,000 and 250,000 people died from the violence and brutality which beset the Indonesian occupation.

It took until 1999 before something was done, and that was a UN sponsored referendum on independence. More violence ensued as the East Timorese voted yes. Following peacekeeping forces to enforce order (most notably against Indonesian militia across the border), East Timor finally declared its independence as 20 May 2002.

East Timor would be celebrating its 30th independence day today if the world had not stood by and allowed such an atrocity to occur.

LINK - Wikipedia (East Timor)

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I tried to get my human to stay home with me today as it was cold (for November) and he was kranky (in the German sense of the word). But he left me anyway to go to work.

I forgot to mention that I had veal for dinner last night. Woohoo! I also had shaved turkey slices for breakfast this morning. But the most exciting thing is, I ate a crocodile! Well, not a whole one. My human had crocodile sausages for dinner last night and he had a few leftover, so after he came home from work, he gave me a nibble of cold crocodile sausages. Delicious! Afterwards I had more veal for dinner. Please don't tell Steve Irwin on me!

new photos

sometimes I like lying by the front door

see no evil

hear no evil

speak no evil

Sunday, November 27, 2005

some mysteries

In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince Hamlet said to Horatio
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

(Act 1 scene 5)

Here are some mysteries that still baffle me.

Do turkeys speak gobbledygook?

What is Victoria's Secret? Surely somebody must have found out by now.
(What is Victoria's Secret?)

Why do some people love the taste of coriander (cilantro), while others hate it, but there is no person who is impartial?

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


There was more rain today. I love cool rainy days as it makes my human lethargic (he goes into hibernation mode) and he cuddles with me on the couch. We watched a terrifyingly scarey movie this afternoon, Darkness Falls. I know my human got scared as he jumped a few times. If your human is scared of the dark and just lost their last baby tooth, tell them not to watch it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

a superhero returns

I am quite excited by the prospect of the new upcoming Superman movie, Superman Returns. My human and I love superheroes.

The thing is, I thought Superman was already here.

First he was here in the 1950s (George Reeves), then he came back in 1978 for a couple of years (Christopher Reeves).

Then he appeared on TV in Lois and Clark from 1993 to 1997 (Dean Cain), and more recently at Smallville since 2001 (Tom Welling).

Now he comes back in Superman Returns in mid 2006 (Brandon Routh).

That would make two Supermans at the same time. Who is the imposter?

LINK - Superman Returns (trailer)

Clark Kent (Tom Welling)

Superman (Brandon Routh)

Now which one of these Supermans will pass, or rather fail, the Kryptonite test? Could it be possible that they are both Superman?

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


There was a huge thunderstorm last night. My human must have got frightened as he woke me up in the middle of the night and thought I wanted a cuddle.

I managed to go outside for a few minutes this morning while the washing was hung out, but they didn't stay on the line on account of the impending rain.

My human then went out for a few hours, but when he came back we had a nice nap together on the couch. Later on we watched Sideways.

Friday, November 25, 2005

the unravelling of the superstring theory (or the theory of everything)

In the beginning, there was light.

Light was thought to have wave properties based on experiments of its behaviour.

Then, somebody discovered that light also behaves as if it is a particle.

In a similar manner, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics both explain certain aspects of matter, particle, energy etc of the universe.

For example, if Quantum Physics couldn't come up with an explanation for one thing, Relativity could. But the twain could never meet as both used very different concepts.

So scientists came up with String Theory in a hope to provide a common 'language' of explanation.

More recently, Dr Lawrence Krauss who is a very famous particle astrophysicist has stirred the pot a bit with his new book called Hiding in the Mirror.

Check out - NPR interview with Dr Krauss (audio)

I told my human about this and he looked very crest-fallen. He told me that the Kaluza-Klein Theory (related to superstrings) was one of his favourites.

In any case, this is a huge development in this area, and terribly exciting! Now get excited people! Got it?

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


It was a bit drizzly with rain today, but turned fine in the afternoon.

After my human came home after work and fed me, I tricked him into sitting on the couch with me and I lied on his lap. Then he promptly fell asleep! It was great and I fell asleep too, which lasted an hour, until he woke up and decided he should make some dinner for himself. Drats.

Tonight, we have been listening to sigur rós' album, Ágætis Byrjun (see album cover below). Is cool!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

school photographs

Oh, I am in big trouble again. My human read my last few posts and told me that I should be nicer to my American friends and not to generalise. Just because I was angry about the news article mentioned yesterday (about the young boy in Nepal meditating), or didn't agree with the US government position on the UNESCO declaration on cultural expression, I shouldn't be unpleasant.

He told me that his friends in the US are very smart and would not take too kindly to being lumped together with other stupid people.

My human is right (this time), I hope I did not upset my clever kitty friends on Catster.

To make up for my harsh tone, I will tell everybody about a great database website which has collected many scanned school photographs since 1926 from all over the world.

If your human missed out on getting their school class photo for any particular year, they can do a search. There are also extra photos filed under names. So who knows, one of your human's friends may have provided a scanned photo to the database of them together.

If your human has all their school class photos, they may also submit their school class photo (but they may want to do a search in case the site already has it).

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


The weather was a bit cooler today again. There was a little bit of rain. This morning I had some ham for breakfast. Then I napped for most of the day on the couch listening to ABC Newsradio.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ram Bomjon is just meditating

Some news services have picked up a story from the UK Daily Telegraph Pilgrims flock to see 'Buddha boy' said to have fasted six months by Thomas Bell in Bara District, Nepal (filed 21 November 2005).

The story is about a 15-year-old boy called Ram Bomjon, in southern Nepal, who has been meditating under a pipal tree for the past six month, not having eaten or drunk anything since then, nor relieving himself (I don't mean scratching but, oh you know what I mean).

Bell wrote that thousands of pilgrims are going to see Bomjon in order to worship him.

There are even claims that light has been emanating from the boy's forehead.

Prince Siddhartha Gautama who became the historical Buddha over 2,500 years ago achieved enlightenment when he meditated under a pipal tree for 49 days. He also taught followers about the path to enlightenment through his teachings. As I mentioned before about Buddha, he was a teacher and never claimed to be a god. What Bomjon is doing is very similar.

Anyway, Bell further wrote that last week, a snake was said to have bitten Bomjon and a curtain drawn around him. After five days he told people not to call him Buddha and that he was only at the level of rinpoche (like a lama).

Unfortunately, an industry has sprung up around the young boy with profiteering by people setting up market stalls to cater to the increasing crowds of pilgrims.

Now for my scathing attack!

Wire service United Press International has re-reported a shortened version of the story which has been picked up by some American media outlets. And in a not so surprising move, the photo which they published with the story is of the Big Buddha statue on Lantau Island in Hong Kong (from Getty Images).

What was the point? What did a big statue in Hong Kong have to do with the story set in Nepal? Did they think their stupid American readers needed a photo of a big Buddha statue to show what a statue looks like? It gave the impression that the pilgrims were visiting this large statue in an environment that looks totally nothing like Nepal's. Perhaps those news outlets were just totally clueless as usual. Ignorance driving further ignorance. No wonder other people think Americans are stupid. Not only that, why was the story filed under 'wierd news'? The possibility that someone may achieve enlightenment is a serious matter.

See for yourself:
- KGET TV 17 (NBC affiliate in Bakersfield, California)
- WWTI (ABC affiliate in Adams/Newark/Syracuse part of NY)
- 13 WHAM TV (Rochester, NY)

As for that reporter from UK Daily Telegraph, he wasn't any better. For instance, he didn't answer questions like who was the boy? What was the boy like as a child? Was the boy religious? Was the whole thing a set up and a big joke?

Appalling news reporting makes me so angry!

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


The weather was a bit cooler today. I was hoping for rain but it didn't. I was back on to my chicken wing for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"in the cat seat"

Some people talk about being "in the cat seat" or "in the cat's seat".

So I tried to find one of these special cat chairs at every online furniture shop that I could including IKEA.

But it doesn't exist!

No matter. The couches are mine, so are the dining chairs, in fact I sit or nap on any item of furniture in the house. So they are all "cat seats".

Then I realised that cat seat means something completely different.

To sit "in the cat seat" (or "cat's seat") means to be perched high up enabling the observation of everything below. The chair attached to a large telescope used by astronomers to control the telescope is also called a cat seat.

It also means, being in control or controlling behind the scenes, or being in an ideal position (to pounce).

I am always in the cat's seat. I am a cat after all.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Tuesdays are quite dull. However, I have been listening to some more new music tonight. I really like Aural Planet which my human brought back for me from a friend at work. Acoustic Plantation Releases (CHILLING CUTS VOL.1) is mindblowing (even for a cat)!

Monday, November 21, 2005

World Television Day and global culture or cultural diversity

Another international day of something, and again, nobody noticed.

Today was World Television Day (proclaimed by the UN in 1996) and member states are urged to observe it by encouraging global exchanges of television programmes focusing, among other things, on such issues as peace, security, economic and social development and the enhancement of cultural exchange.

Television is a very powerful medium and can be used as a tool for increasing understanding of the world around us.

Australia has five free-to-air broadcasters (and their regional affiliates). Three are commercial stations with the usual local sports, drama, comedy (including sitcoms), news and current affairs, 'reality' shows etc. They also rebroadcast the quite a significant amount of American shows (they are cheaper to buy compared to local productions).

There are two government funded broadcasters (similar to the BBC). One of these is the amazing SBS which rebroadcasts programmes from around the world. These include:
- the very popular Kommissar (Inspector) Rex from Austria (in German with English subtitles)
- a police drama Rejseholdet (Unit One, from Denmark, in Danish with English subtitles)
- the American South Park which is too offensive to be shown on the commercial stations

Today, on SBS, there was French film called Ce vieux rêve qui bouge. Later on tonight, there is another French film called Nos enfants chéris. During the rest of the week, there are films from Cyprus, South Korea, Denmark, Greece, Japan, Italy, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

In the mornings, there are news bulletins from:
- Japan in Japanese (from NHK)
- China in Mandarin (from CCTV)
- Italy in Italian (from RAI)
- Germany in German (Das Journal from Deutsche Welle)
- Spain in Spanish (from TVE)
- France in French (from FR2)
- Russia in Russian (from NTV)
- Greece in Greek (from ERT)
- Dubai in Arabic (from DRTV)
- Indonesia in Bahasa (from TVRI)
- Poland in Polish (from Telewizja Polsat)

SBS is wonderful in reminding us that we in Australia are just a small part of a larger world.

This brings me to my next point about global culture or cultural diversity.

Last month (on 20 October), UNESCO adopted the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Most countries (148) voted in favour. The United States and Israel voted against. Unfortunately Australia abstained (along with Honduras, Nicaragua and Liberia) so as not to offend the majority or the United States.

Basically France has been very supportive of the Convention and most countries believe that they should have the right to set their own cultural policies. France also protects its local film and television industries (with subsidies) much to the consternation of American television and film companies. France does not want their culture to be taken over by globalised American television and films.

On the other paw, aside from excellent films, France does produce bad television as there is little competition.

One last point about American culture. One of our commercial networks used to rebroadcast the American ABC World News with Peter Jennings. For a 'world' news, there was hardly any news from outside the United States. I say, thankfully there is CNN, and even the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, otherwise viewers will remain ignorant about the rest of the world.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Last night after my post on this blog we watched The Neverending Story. What a cool film! My human loves that film (I can now understand why). He also enjoyed the book by Michael Ende (translated by Ralph Manheim - the English vocabulary is far too complex to be a children's book). Actually, my human still means to read it in its original German, Die Unendliche Geschichte.

Atreyu riding on Falkor, the Luckdragon in The Neverending Story

Monday again! I spent all day looking forward to my brush tonight when we watch Numb3rs

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What about the wombat?

Australia has finally qualified for the FIFA (Soccer) World Cup finals in Germany next year. The last time this happened was in 1974 (also in Germany).

Our national men's soccer team is called Socceroos (as in soccer kangaroos).

This brings me to the the topic of this blog. Our national:
- men's basketball team is called Boomers (which is another nickname for a kangaroo);
- women's basketball team is called Opals (a gemstone);
- rugby union team is called the Wallabies (a smaller type of species of kangaroo);
- rugby league team is called Kangaroos;
- men's hockey team is called Kookaburras (a bird); and
- women's hockey team is called Hockeyroos (hockey kangaroos).

Spare a thought for the poor fat waddly wombat which has no national sporting team named after it. Maybe if we got into sumo wrestling, it would be an apt name.

Wombats may look fat, and spend all their time eating, but they scurry along quite fast.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I ate cold cooked chicken for breakfast (defrosted, reheated and recooled), but oddly, don't feel like it for dinner (my wings all cooked up).

I did have a good day though most of which was spent on my human's lap, except when he was doing chores or reading the newspaper. We watched the rest of Firefly. It is such a good show - kinda like a space western set in the future. We also had another nap on the couch together in the afternoon. My kinda weekend.

This was sent to me from the Albert Einstein's archives at Princeton University.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

India is an interesting place

Last year, Lakshmi Mittal who is an Indian steel tycoon spent US$60 million on his daughter Vanisha's wedding (to Amit Bhatia).

The wedding was held in France.

Now for some interesting facts to put it all into perspective.

- The average income in India is US$500 per year.
- What Mr Mittal spent on the lavish wedding could have employed 120,000 people for one year.
- The candles alone for the wedding parties cost US$250,000 alone
- Australia is providing A$10.2 million in aid to India over 2005-06 fiscal year.
- United States has committed nearly US$128 million to India in aid for fiscal year 2005.

- $60 million to say 'I do' Indian steel tycoon throws 6-day bash for daughter's wedding (Associated Press/NBC)
- For richer, for poorer: India's economic curse (Sydney Morning Herald)

Go figure!

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I was much better today. I had some of the cold cooked turkey for breakfast, and again for dinner. All the excitement last night must have been too much for me.

I spent most of the day napping on the couch and on my human's lap while we watched three more episodes of the very interesting Firefly series.

We even had a nap together on the couch in the afternoon.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Life support

I haven't thought of anything interesting to write, so here is something funny (by human standards).

A man and his wife are sitting in the living room and he says to her,

"Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state dependent on some machine. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."

His wife gets up and unplugs the TV.

I don't get it, as it must be a human kinda joke. Your human might find it amusing.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I wasn't feeling well tonight. My human came home much earlier than usual and pottered in the kitchen. Afterwards, I lied on his lap on the couch and we watched another episode of Firefly.

Then Elizabeth (from Melbourne) came over. Then Merlin's human Kim came with Liam. Later Margaret came but without Lisa, her daughter. They've all come to visit me at some time or another. But tonight there were too many humans for me (usually I don't mind more human visitors).

Anyway, they had some drinks outside on my deck, then went inside for a dinner of slow cooked lamb shanks (cooked in a tomato base - the last of the winter or cool climate meals), served with mashed potato and sweet potato (or kumara as it is called in some countries), and white and green asparagus and broccolini. Liam had his special meal of thin sausages, mash and normal broccoli (grown up food would be too messy for him to eat).

I didn't feel like sitting on too many laps and napped mainly on the couch. I wish my human was there with me. Earlier on, he served me a chicken wing which I didn't feel like. So he cooked up a turkey tenderloin (which comes off the breast) and I didn't feel like that either. Then I was given some lamb leftovers. But I didn't feel like having that either (and lamb is usually one of my favourites).

I think I just need a big cuddle at bedtime tonight. I don't know what is wrong with me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is Madonna illiterate?

On 17 October (a month ago) I wrote about Madonna and her hypocritical views about television.

She's done it again.
Pop superstar MADONNA refuses to buy newspapers and magazines because she is sick of the inaccurate stories they print about her.

See news article - Madonna avoids newspaper reports (Digital Spy, UK)

Well, if Mrs Guy Ritchie (I call her Mrs as most of the married women in the UK seem to prefer that to Ms) only considers trashy tabloids as newspapers, no wonder.

First point - the world does not revolve around Mrs Ritchie. There are plenty of other things to read.

Second point - there are plenty of other quality print media in the UK (where she now lives), and if she was literate enough to read them, like
- The Guardian
- The Observer (but only on weekends)
- The Independent
- Daily Telegraph
- The Times, and
- Financial Times,
she might find that they are not that interested in her, and have far more important things about which to write.

She doesn't watch TV (not even for BBC News), she doesn't read newspapers (or magazines), no doubt she is also computer illiterate so not getting her news from the internet, and she is far too famous to listen to the radio. I very much doubt she hires someone to scan the media and brief her on the status of trade talks, environmental issues, geo-political tensions etc. Consequently, if she offers an opinion on something, it would be very much uninformed (here I go again).

I have found a new past-time. It is called Madonna-bashing. Sometimes rich and famous people should just keep their mouths shut. Idiots!

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


My human is a little late back tonight, so I haven't had my dinner yet. He did tell me this morning that he was going to catch up with Jack and Bad Cat's humans Jess and Mands in the city for a drink. Hang on, I hear him at the door.

Oooh, some gossip about Bad Cat. She has adopted another human in the neighbourhood from their old place and refused to move house with them. My oh my. I can understand why she wants to be an only cat.

I better go and have my dinner now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

uh oh... and IDT

Uh oh. My human is kinda mad at me. Sometimes I hog the computer, tap tap tap... typing with my little paws and my nose, so it wasn't until tonight that he read my post for last night.

He told me that I should be more tolerant. Not everyone is a curious cat or a curious human who is interested in nearly everything.

So I told him that it makes me mad that people twist facts to make hateful arguments like those statistics on unwed mothers, or the Paris riots. Even worse are the people who aren't interested in learning as much facts as they can. They get swayed by very thin and illogical arguments and then repeat them, perpetuating the dissemination of misinformation. It's enough to make me get my CLAWS out!

Okay, so he finally agreed with me, but said I should concede that everybody is different in their intellectual ability and we should be nice to stupid people, after all, their laps are just as comfy for a cat to lie on. What sort of lame and shallow logic is that?

Anyway, speaking of being tolerant, today was the International Day for Tolerance. But who knew about it? Certainly hardly anybody in Australia. And we were one of the member states of UNESCO which agreed to the Declaration of Principles of Tolerance. Here is Article 1 - Meaning of Tolerance:

1.1 Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.

1.2 Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. In no circumstance can it be used to justify infringements of these fundamental values. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals, groups and States.

1.3 Tolerance is the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments.

1.4 Consistent with respect for human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one's convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one's own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behaviour and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one's views are not to be imposed on others.

- Declaration of Principles on Tolerance (Proclaimed and signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November 1995)
- UNESCO Tolerance Programme

(UNESCO is short for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation)

I like the bit about respect, acceptance and appreciation. I'm not sure I agree with the last point. I think everybody should agree with me!

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Midweek. Not long to go before the weekend. I live for the weekend as I get lots more of my human's company.

Tonight we may watch some more of the Firefly series.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Who was Jack Kerouac? If you don't know, is ignorance bliss? Plus one more thing on the Paris riots...

J Peder Zane recently in The News and Observer (North Carolina) wrote:
Over dinner a few weeks ago, the novelist Lawrence Naumoff told a troubling story. He asked students in his introduction to creative writing course at UNC-Chapel Hill if they had read Jack Kerouac. Nobody raised a hand. Then he asked if anyone had ever heard of Jack Kerouac. More blank expressions.
. . .

The floodgates were opened and the other UNC professors at the dinner began sharing their own dispiriting stories about the troubling state of curiosity on campus. Their experiences echoed the complaints voiced by many of my book reviewers who teach at some of the nation's best schools.

All of them have noted that such ignorance isn't new -- students have always possessed far less knowledge than they should, or think they have. But in the past, ignorance tended to be a source of shame and motivation. Students were far more likely to be troubled by not-knowing, far more eager to fill such gaps by learning. As one of my reviewers, Stanley Trachtenberg, once said, "It's not that they don't know, it's that they don't care about what they don't know."
. . .

Here's where it gets really interesting. In comforting response to these exigencies, our culture gives us a pass, downplaying the importance of knowledge, culture, history and tradition. Not too long ago, students might have been embarrassed to admit they'd never heard of Jack Kerouac. Now they're permitted to say "whatever."

When was the last time you met anyone who was ashamed because they didn't know something?

Lack of curiosity is curious by J Peder Zane (6 November 2005)

Utterly shameful. My human recounted to me that when he was working in the federal education department a few years ago, they did some work on the education minister's trip to the United States. The minister wanted to meet with Peter Singer (the ethicist). My human's boss had no idea who Professor Singer was. One other work colleague did, and my human and her were quite incredulous at the lack of intellectual capacity of people working in government.

As a very knowledgeable cat, I also like to keep my human well informed of things. He also told me once that when he contributed to some discussion on China-Taiwan relations (in some considerable depth I might add), the other people were incredibly surprised by his knowledge and asked why and how he knew so much. His response was, why not? He did admit to them that he studied post-graduate international relations.

My human told me that other people always seem to be surprised by the things that he knows (I know how he feels). He can usually guess the language being spoken by taxi (cab) drivers by listening to it (these are their private conversations on mobile (cell) phones when they should not be using the phone whilst driving), and they always react in surprise too. Mind you, he said that they are usually delighted, especially one taxi driver who appreciated my human's understanding of the issue over Macedonia, when 90 percent of people would be asking where it is on the map.

And who was Jack Kerouac? If you don't know, I am not telling you. Look it up yourself .

Jack Kerouac - official website

One last thing on the Paris riots, President Chirac has finally made a statement. I hope people with uninformed opinions will now reconsider before they open their mouth or write anything ignorant. This bit is poignant:
Nous le savons bien, les discriminations sapent les fondements même de notre République. Une Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations a été créée. Ses pouvoirs sont considérables, puisqu'elle pourra désormais infliger des sanctions. Mais ne nous y trompons pas. Ce combat ne pourra être gagné que si chacune et chacun d'entre nous s'y engage vraiment et personnellement.

Les entreprises et les organisations syndicales doivent se mobiliser aussi sur la question essentielle de la diversité et de l'emploi des jeunes issus des quartiers en difficulté. Il n'est pas question d'entrer dans la logique des quotas, qui montre en quelque sorte du doigt ceux qui en bénéficient et qui est injuste pour ceux qui n'y ont pas droit. Il s'agit de donner aux jeunes les mêmes chances face à l'emploi. Combien de Curriculum Vitae passent encore à la corbeille en raison du nom ou de l'adresse de l'intéressé ? Je rencontrerai sur cette question les représentants des partenaires sociaux dans les prochains jours.

Déclaration aux Français de Monsieur Jacques CHIRAC, Président de la République - lundi 14 novembre 2005

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had such a great long brush of my fur last night. My human also gave me extra long pats and cuddles just before bed time. I now declare him fully trained.

I spent some of the morning on my mat on the deck, then I went inside to nap on the couch. It was cooler today and it also rained a little bit.

Tonight we are listening to Green Day's International Superhits which comes highly recommended by my dear cat friend Camilla.

Monday, November 14, 2005

top ten list of bizarre names for celebrities' children and post-script on Paris riots

Just published is the list of top ten bizarre names for celebrities' children (from - no it is not on their website).

1. Moon Unit - Frank Zappa (see also No 7)
2. Apple - Chris Martin/Gwyneth Paltrow (What will they call the next kid, orange or pear? How about banana?)
3. Misty Kyd - Sharleen Spiteri (singer from band Texas)
4. Geronimo - Alex James (bass guitarist from band Blur)
5. Heavenly Hirani Tiger Lily - Michael Hutchence/Paula Yates
6. Dandelion - Keith Richards (Rolling Stones, kinda cute but she changed her name to Angela)
7. Dweezil - Frank Zappa (Just as bad, his other two, Emuukha Rodan and Diva Muffin - sound like drag queen names).
8. Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q - Bono (U2)
9. Zowie Bowie - David Bowie (Zoe would have been better)
10. Rufus Tiger - Roger Taylor (Queen)

Michael Jackson's mocked up pathetic royalty, Prince Michael and Prince Michael II did not get into the top ten.

Some blame should be apportioned to the birth Registrars for allowing such ridiculous names to be registered.

Hopefully these celebrities will leave their children enough of a fortune so they never have to work (except as fellow musicians or some other entertainer). They obviously do not expect their children to enlist in the military or work as bank clerks, medical doctors or civil/public servants.

Further to yesterday's post on people giving their misguided opinions about the Paris riots, here are examples from American newspapers:

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands by Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times (of 6 November 2005) - full of venomous hate which is very unhelpful, and his views are just as extremist as those he is criticising.

What Makes Someone French? by Craig S Smith from The New York Times (of 11 November 2005) - a much more insightful and well considered view.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Last night at around 3am (my human had looked at the clock and reminded me of the time), I kept on insisting on going under the covers, then out again, then under again a couple of time... but I know my human loves me, so he let me.

I had sliced turkey meat for breakfast (pre-packed like sandwich ham). Yum yum. Now why haven't I eaten that before?

After an interesting morning, I accepted my plight of being left home alone again.

Tonight is Monday night which means a long brush of my fur while we watch Numb3rs on TV. To recap, it is about an FBI detective and how he teams with his brother who is a mathematics professor to solve crimes using mathematics.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Paris riots - some informed opinions please

There has been a great amount of rubbish being written about the Paris riots with lots of very much uninformed opinions being bandied about.

Sadly, the issue is being used by some xenophobic Americans to push their own cause against "illegal" immigrants in the United States and for "assimilation". Nothing could be further than the truth.

These young Frenchmen (they are invariably male) of Algerian and Moroccan descent are indeed Muslim, but that is totally irrelevant.

They are rioting so that the French government and their fellow French citizens will pay attention to their plight, which is high unemployment and discrimination. They are also protesting the "French" way, reminiscent of the 1960s riots by students. It is nothing to do with religion.

It is not because they are unassimilated. French policy took care of that. When their parents and grandparents arrived from Algeria and Morocco, they were expected to become French. Unfortunately, little help was given to them. Nor was the rest of France educated about welcoming them.

They are alienated and marginalised. Whose fault is that?

I have had good discussions with my human about this and he has considerable expertise on these issues as he used to work in a government policy area dealing with policies on new migrants (and he knows a lot about French, American, British, Canadian etc policies too).

Amazingly, the best analysis has come from an Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald.

Leave la France: for some it's the only option from Jame Button in Paris
Reasons to hate by Paul McGeough

Definitely read these to form an informed opinion. People who profess an opinion to push their own misguided views without real knowledge are idiots.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had a great day today. Lots of lap time. I helped my human watch the pilot of Firefly. We missed it on TV (it was on too late) so catching up from the boxed set.

We also watched the second part of the documentary on TV tonight called 1421: When China Discovered the World (a PBS/Pearson/Paladin co-production). Very interesting, we hope more facts come to light.

Some new photos

Here are some new photos of me which shows you what I mean about being "outside, but not outdoors" (taken two weeks ago).

My deck with covered pergola. Can you see me? The grass outside has since been mowed (that was yesterday). The door is usually closed and locked. Just to the left of the steps at the bottom is my au naturelle litter area with pine mulch which I use to help to fertilise the plants.

A little bit closer now. This is where my human visitors like to sit during summer (and me on their laps). Some of the jungle vines of the Virginia Creeper hanging down have now been pruned (I kinda liked the jungle look).

A close up now. Here is my own mat where I sometimes nap. To my left is a cat door so I can come and go as I please without actually going outdoors (to nap and use the litter).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ginny, the dog who is an honorary cat

An eulogy for a great dog called Ginny who died in August this year (at age 17) will be attended by 300 cats. Ginny the dog (Schnauzer-Siberian Husky) was a hero to many cats.

In fact, in 1986 Ginny was named Cat of the Year at the Westchester Cat Show for her bravery in finding and rescuing many cats from danger or death. One of the best-known rescue by Ginny was the time she threw herself against a vertical pipe at a construction site to topple it revealing the kittens trapped inside. Another time she dug through a box full of broken glass, ignoring her own pain, to find an injured cat inside.

The eulogy will be held on 19 November at the The Westchester Cat Show in White Plains, NY (Cat Show on 19-20 November). I will be there in spirit.

Ginny loved cats and cats loved Ginny. What a great dog. May she rest in peace.

Ginny Fan Club
Cat show plans memorial service for dog from The Boston Globe

Ginny with Blondie (1996)

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Well, Earth vs the Spider was a very interesting film. Kinda like what could have gone wrong with Peter Parker/Spiderman.

I had so many visitors today. Nina's tin-opener Hugh came over and made a lot of noise, but I noticed the jungle in the back was reduced to a lawn (still weed-infested). I also got to sit on his lap during his rest and lunch.

Then Devi and her sister Nicky came over very quickly but left with my human, and then they all returned with some boxes. But not to stay. Then my human did lots of chores.

In the evening Declan and Nell came which was great as I sat on their laps. For dinner, they had beef cheeks slow cooked in red wine with caramelised onions and sage, served with mash potato and sweet potato, and white asparagus and broccolini.

They left as converts to Scissor Sisters (see earlier posts) after listening to the CD and watching the DVD.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembrance Day

Today was Remembrance Day (11 November) which marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914-18). Each year Australians observe one minute's silence at 11am on 11 November in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts. All across Australia places of work and elsewhere fall silent for a minute. People also wear Red Poppies as a reminder.

In 1993, on 11 November, Australia's Unknown Soldier from the First World War was interred at the Australian War Memorial. The Prime Minister at the time, the Hon. Paul J Keating delivered one of the most moving speeches ever written. Excerpt -
The Unknown Soldier honours the memory of all those men and women who laid down their lives for Australia. His tomb is a reminder of what we have lost in war and what we have gained.

You can read this speech (eulogy) in full (and listen to audio) here - 1993 Remembrance Day speech.

More information on Remembrance Day from - Australian War Memorial.

Today there are too many people who have no knowledge about the First World War and what we are Remembering (Remembrance Day in Australia and other Commonwealth countries, Armistice Day in France, and Veterans' Day in the United States).

Like my human said once to me, everybody should pay a visit to a war cemetary from the First World War. It is very humbling and moving to see all the gravestones of boys and young men who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Florence War Cemetary (which my human visited during the northern summer in 2000)

If your human has any relatives, old family friends etc who fought and died during the First World War in the Western Front, they can search for burial locations from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Friday. Woohoo! After my dinner tonight, I had a nice little nap on the couch with my human (he was catching up on some sleep from the very long day yesterday!). I also had some lamb for dinner. Double Woohoo!

I think tonight, I am going to just lie on my human's lap while we watch Earth vs the Spider (it was a bargain basement priced DVD).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Red Rolling in Riches

We can all envy Red the cat. His elderly human David Harper died at age 79 and left his fortune of US$1.1 million to him.

What a lucky kitty. I am certain though that Red would prefer his human than all that money.

As Red is only three years old, he has many years to enjoy French Champagne and Beluga caviar (wait, that is actually my human's fantasy).

I hope Red's new providers (the United Church of Canada) will not skimp on his care and food in favour of helping poor and homeless humans. After all, Mr Harper scrimped and saved (and lived frugally) all his life so his wishes should be respected. I'm sure Red would not mind sharing a few of his scraps with the hungry strays.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had a very unusual day today. Firstly my human woke up much too early (it was still dark) and he also left very early. That is always a bad sign, but there was no big bag so I was very confused. I was given my breakfast very very early, it was cold cooked salmon but I didn't feel like it. So I napped on the couch all day waiting, waiting, waiting. Besides, usually I wake him up in the morning. This time he got up before I did!

He returned late as well, but before twilight. My human told me he had to fly to Sydney for work at short notice but didn't want to tell me in case I fretted. At least he didn't leave last night (even though he hates waking up so early to catch those early morning flights) which would have meant me being alone for nearly 24 hours.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

space: the final frontier

(queue music from Star Trek original series)

Today I want to pay tribute to Dr Carl Sagan who was born on this day (9 November) in 1934 and died very much pre-maturely from myelodysplasia on 20 December 1996.

Dr Sagan is best known for his work on astronomy and his television series Cosmos which was shown world-wide during the 1980s.

Although he did not have the same effect in astronomy as Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe or Galileo Galilei (and they were fighting against conventional religious thinking at the time), Dr Sagan brought an understanding of astronomy and science to a lot of people.

Those familiar with his work will confidently agree that Dr Sagan would probably not have very nice things to say about 'intelligent design'. He was after all, a major proponent of the the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project.

More information from Wikipedia

Andromeda - somewhere in this galaxy is a planet which is the ancestral home of all cats...

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


My appetite is back to normal. I had a super fresh grain-fed raw chicken wing for dinner and gobbled it up in one go. I didn't swallow it whole, I did use my teeth and crunch through the bone (calcium, iron and other essential minerals).


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is located in northeastern Alaska (North Slope Region) and covers about 19,049,236 acres (79,318 km²). It was established in 1960 by the Eisenhower administration as a wildlife reserve.

Sigh! Such beauty

The Arctic Refuge is home to 45 species of land and marine mammals, from the pygmy shrew to the bowhead whale. The 36 species of land mammals include bears (polar, grizzly, and black), wolves, wolverines, Dall sheep, moose, muskox, and free-roaming caribou. There are also 36 species of fish and more than 180 species of birds.

Polar Bear numbers having been decreasing

It is one of the most pristine places on Earth (Antarctica is another).

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service - Alaska)

On Thursday, 3 November 2005, the US Senate voted to sell oil leases within the Arctic Refuge within two years. President Bush claimed that this additional domestic oil supply would lower gasoline prices and energy bills and that technology would ensure little impact on the land or wildlife.

The 'no impact' drill rig

The United States now uses about 7.3 billion barrels of oil a year. The Arctic Refuge site may yield 10.5 billion barrels.

News item from CNN

Given that global warming is going to kill off most of the species in the Wildlife Refuge, heck, why not plunder it ahead of time, given the increasing price of petroleum?

What I don't understand is President Bush claiming that increased domestic production would lower prices. Mr Bush, the markets determine the prices. When was West Texas Crude ever significantly lower in price relative to Brent Crude or North Sea oil, etc?

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had a wonderful long fur brush last night. I had my cooked chicken last night for dinner (out of the choices).

Tonight I also had more cooked chicken, but it was corn-fed (from the leg/drumstick - my human is such a cheapskate!).

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Monday, November 07, 2005

on Camus, Sartre, Sokal, post-modernism and pseudo-intellectualism

WARNING: this blog entry contains language which may offend some readers.

Back in February 2005, I wrote that, in my opinion, post-modernism is a load of crock.

Well, today was Albert Camus' birthday (born 7 November 1913, died 4 January 1960). He was a French author and philosopher best known for his work on absurdism, existentialism and his books, L'Étranger (1942) and La Peste (1947). Camus' work is actually quite interesting.

Camus was a friend of Jean-Paul Sartre (also an existentialist) until they fell out over views about communism.

Anyway, my human told me that while was working in the city some years ago, there was a colleague who'd always sit in a cafe, downstairs from their building, reading Sartre's Nausea with a cup of coffee so that everybody could see what he was reading, as he held the book up. Well, my human had read the book ages ago and thought that this colleague was a pretentious wanker. Not only was this guy showing off, it took him too long to actually read the book.

Speaking of pretentious wankers, we do like Alan Sokal (Professor of Physics, NYU) who publicly exposed the real lack of intellectualism in the humanities, cultural studies etc (i.e. he showed that a whole bunch of them were actually pretentious wankers).

What Sokal did was to write up a paper that was intentionally gobbledygook (but understandable to real physicists as a parody) and had it published in a reputable cultural studies journal, Social Text - Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity

At the same time, Sokal wrote to another journal, Lingua Franca (which folded in 2001) exposing his own hoax - A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies.

Sokal also did a great interview with NPR and you can read the transcript here.

Basically Sokal's concern was the use of scientific jargon, or coverage of scientific matters by those not educated in such matters, quoting scientific concepts totally out of context. Here is an example which Sokal cited:
Here is Jacques Derrida, famous French philosopher talking about Einstein's Theory of Relativity -
'The Einsteinian constant is not a constant, is not a center. It is the very concept of variability. It is finally the concept of the game. In other words, it is not the concept of some thing, of a center starting from which an observer could master the field, but the very concept of the game.'
Now, what the hell does that mean?


If you have a scientific training (cats and humans alike) and want to read more, check out Sokal's book, Intellectual Impostures .

Even Baudrillard (who is a pompous fool) gets a serve, for his referencing of 'non-Euclidean geometry' way out of context. What a wanker!

My human attended an academic conference a few years ago on literary studies, cultural studies etc and he found the use of chemistry terminology completely out of context very frustrating. Of course he thought they were idiots - academics who try to come across as highly intelligent just sounded like pretentious wankers and morons.

[please note - the use of the term 'wanker' is meant to be derogatory and not intended to imply activities of a sexual nature]

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Mondays... what's to like? I didn't feel too well this morning and didn't eat anything and just sat on the couch, which got my human all worried.

For dinner tonight, he has left a buffet for me of (1) raw chicken wing, (2) cooked chicken meat, and (3) tinned tuna.

Wait, there is something good about Mondays, it is Numb3rs and a nice long brush of my fur.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

the accent

Not much to say tonight, except for an observation on the globalisation of the film industry.

A Texan speaking like a Londoner, almost flawlessly - Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones;
An Irishman portraying a singer from Mississippi - Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Elvis Presley; and
countless Australians in Hollywood (Aussiewood - Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julian McMahon etc) all faking a variation of the American accent quite well.

Unfortunately no American or British actor has been able to replicate the Australian accent flawlessly. Not even Meryl Streep in A Cry in the Dark (aka Evil Angels) could manage it. My human still has a laugh when he remembers her "the dingo's taken my baby" or "we're talking about my baby daughter". She was bad!

There is one word which is indicative of whether a person is Australian or not. Ask them to say water (similarly, daughter, quarter, etc, or even tomato).

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had much more lap time today - my human stayed with me all day. Woohoo! In the morning, my human watched Jurassic Park III while I napped on his lap (I simply refused to watch humans being eaten by dinosaurs).

Just like a tin of sardines, only tastier

Later we had a lovely mid-afternoon nap together on the couch, before he decided to do chores.

We did watch the first part of a fascinating documentary on TV tonight called 1421: When China Discovered the World (a PBS/Pearson/Paladin co-production). My human had read the book by Gavin Menzies two years ago and told me it was remarkable and astounding.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Guy Fawkes: gunpowder, treason and plot

I hope our kitty friends in the UK and certain parts of the world do not get too frightened by the firecrackers and fireworks tonight (being Guy Fawkes Night).

Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot on the evening of 5 November 1605 (exactly 400 years ago) when a group of radical Catholics (including Guy Fawkes) tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London by detonating 36 barrels of gunpowder underneath, when Protestant King James I (also James VI of Scotland) and the Queen were attending the opening of Parliament.

They had their reasons as it was illegal to practise Catholicism and had been repressed for 50 years. Following the assassination of King James and his government, they hoped to re-establish England as a Catholic state.

Australia used to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night until sometime in the 1970s when the government decided that it was not really relevant to our history.

The Gunpowder Plot: Parliament and Treason 1605 from British Parliament
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot from BBC (2004) - this is an excellent docu-drama if you get the chance to watch it (perhaps on PBS)

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I thought I would have more laptime today, but my human left me for most of the afternoon, so I spent most of the day on my daybed napping. I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Karate Kid

Happy Birthday to Ralph Macchio who turned 44 today.

Macchio played the lead character, Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid (1984), The Karate Kid, Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid, Part II (1989).

These movies were an institution during its time, and are now firmly part of popular culture. For example, from Mr Miyagi "wax on...wax off".

The movies are well worth watching again, even though Daniel-san gets really whiny by part III.

LINK: Karate Kid on Fast-Rewind

Here is the explanation for yesterday's picture of the tiger and piglets

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had cold cooked salmon for dinner last night, some of which my human sacrificed from his salad for dinner. This was after I refused the chicken wing (I do get tired of them).

Unfortunately my human went back to work today, via a doctor's appointment, so I spent most of the day alone on my mat on the deck. Hmmmppph. But the weekend is here!

Tonight I had cooked chicken for dinner. Woohoo! Mind you, again some of this was sacrificed from the risotto that my human was making (with onion, bacon, fresh mushrooms and fresh asparagus).

Merlin's human Kim came over tonight. After the human's risotto dinner, we watched Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. I got to sit on her lap and she even gave me some corn chips. Yeah groovy baby!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Boga lizards

Just a really short one today.

Memo to George Lucas:

Jar Jar Binks was really annoying, but the Boga lizard which General Kenobi rode in pursuit of General Grievous was really cool. It was totally fully sick!

I wrote about Pirate Cat Radio on 9 September 2005, but my dear friend Camilla found an actual radio station which broadcasts to a feline/canine/other pets audience - (online only). Much thanks for the tip Camilla.

(An explanation will be provided tomorrow)

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


My breakfast was late this morning. I tried to wake up my human, who must have been feeling very poorly. So he stayed home with me all day. We had a wonderful nap on the couch together around midday. He really needed extra rest.

Anyway, he let me watch Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith which was really neat (I missed out on going to the cinema as furry companions aren't allowed).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

a view, a view, give me a room with a view...

As my vet said some years ago, indoor cats must have a view. A window with the blinds up, or the ability to go behind the blinds (or other window furnishings) to let us see the outside world.

We love to watch things going on outside. Especially humans walking their dogs.

One of the best books written about a view is A Room With A View by E M Forster about Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone Miss Bartlett, two Englishwomen visiting Florence. The first chapter sets the scene really well.
The Signora had no business to do it," said Miss Bartlett, "no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!"
"I want so to see the Arno. The rooms the Signora promised us in her letter would have looked over the Arno. The Signora had no business to do it at all. Oh, it is a shame!"

"Any nook does for me," Miss Bartlett continued; "but it does seem hard that you shouldn't have a view."

Lucy felt that she had been selfish. "Charlotte, you mustn't spoil me: of course, you must look over the Arno, too. I meant that. The first vacant room in the front--"

"You must have it," said Miss Bartlett, part of whose travelling expenses were paid by Lucy's mother--a piece of generosity to which she made many a tactful allusion.

"No, no. You must have it."

"I insist on it. Your mother would never forgive me, Lucy."

"She would never forgive me."

Of course, they end up with rooms with a view, but the rest of the story is even better.

It is absolutely wonderful reading. When my human was doing his undergraduate studies in college (at ANU) he lent his copy of the book to a friend/fellow student. She took it to Fiji with her and gave it back to him all tattered with some rips. He never forgave her nor lent her anymore books. My human told me that books should be respected with much care and not be treated as disposable objects. I agree.

Anyway, A Room with a View was also made into a wonderful film by Merchant Ivory. We love that film. My human told me that Florence today still looks charming, except for the two-stroke scooters which causes a smog cover.

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


Devi dropped over tonight after work for a quick dinner of Hokkien noodles with Chinese BBQ duck meat and Asian greens (choy sum). I got to sit on her lap (heh heh heh she usually tries to avert me).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

a horse is a horse of course of course...

Before I talk about the horse, I wish to say Happy Diwālī (or Dīpāvali) to our kitty friends owning humans with Hindu, Jain or Sikh background.

I also want to acknowledge the 250th anniversary of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. My human visited Lisbon more recently and said that much of that city, while old, only dates back since the earthquake when it was all rebuilt.

On to the horse. Australia has one famous Tuesday, and that is the first Tuesday in November for a horse race. Other countries have Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) or Super Tuesday (elections).

Today, we had a horse race which stopped the entire nation. Literally. Just about everybody who works through out Australia stops what they are doing at 3pm (Australian Eastern Summer Time) to watch Race 7 at Flemington (in Melbourne). Of course, Race 7 is the Melbourne Cup, one of the most famous horse races in the world, and certainly one of the world's richest in prize money.

As far as a horse race goes, not even the UK Grand National (a steeple chase) or the Kentucky Derby has the same effect on an entire nation. It is a public holiday in Melbourne, and for the rest of Australia, not much work actually gets done as people prepare sweeps (draw horses out of a hat for $1 to $5 each - the person who drew the winning horse will get x amount, 2nd horse y amount, and 3rd horse z amount), have lunches or parties.

The winner of this year's Melbourne Cup was Makybe Diva, an eight year old mare who won her third Melbourne Cup in a row. She has now attained legendary status in the same league as our Phar Lap and the American Seabiscuit.

Makybe Diva after winning the 2005 Melbourne Cup

She probably wouldn't appreciate cat claws hanging on her back

More information:
Melbourne Cup - from the Australian government (truly)
Victorian Racing Club - this also tells you what else goes on

While on the subject of horses, my human wanted me to mention that a plaster sculpture of a horse by Elie Nadelman (1882-1947) is one of his favourites. It was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia in 1980.

Elie Nadelman, Horse c.1911-15 (plaster) 92.8(h)x72.6(w)x27.2(d)cm

He also likes the Tang Dynasty pottery horses. Unfortunately the prices are beyond the capacity of the household to afford such an acquisition.

Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) pottery horse from the Fongxian area of Shangxi Province

One more thing about the horse, Mister Ed didn't actually talk. People gave him peanut butter then dubbed his eating motion with a human voice. It was just a TV show.

Another thing about the horse, in Shakespeare's Richard III, King Richard the Third said "A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!" in Act 5, Scene IV.

One final thing about the horse, my human told me he was sorry that he ate that horse steak in Zurich. He didn't realise it was horse meat. (Yeah yeah, I know that he knows what the word Pferd means).

*As always, please check out Cooper and Camilla who always have interesting things to say.


I had a long brush of my fur last night, including from the new knobbly gloves.

I also had cooked chicken and some of my human's sirloin steak for dinner tonight. Mmmmmm, haven't smelt steak cooking for a while.