Of Cats, Time, and Ebola
September 17, 2014

How does a cat perceive time? Simple question.

I think I can be certain that they don’t perceive days and nights, weeks and months and years. Or hours, minutes, and seconds. I suspect they perceive the passage of light and dark, one into the other, but they attach no artificial construct to such passages.

How do they know to be at a certain place at a certain time of day to get food? Kitty wristwatches? The quality of light in the sky – dawn, pre-dawn, dusk, late afternoon, high noon? Are they as accurate when the sky is darkly clouded? How accurate are they? Do they hit an approximate window and then wait for the food? I think Sammy, the outside cat, may do that.

Time, as we parse it, doesn’t exist for cats. Everything is now. They don’t worry about or get anxious about or think about the food delivery that will occur seven or eight hours from now. When the time is right they’ll go to the food spot. In the meantime they’ll lie in the sun, snooze in the shade, chase insects and butterflies, terrify mice and chipmunks, and nap.

Humans on the other hand have broken time. Shattered it. Hammered it into little pieces. Milliseconds. Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years. Decades. What time is it? That’s the cry heard across the universe, the cry emanating from this little planet where humans may have run out the clock on themselves. Time is just another falsehood we use to prove to ourselves that we are in control of the world, of our lives.

Time may be running out for humans. Ebola is a deadly viral epidemic in West Africa now. From a killer of little villages, it has gained the potential to be a civilization killer. Ebola has entered the human population now in a big way, in crowded cities where the infrastructure needed to contain it is weak or non-existent, where ignorance and fear fuel the spread of the virus. And from what I read there are indications that the virus is mutating. Evolving to deal with its new ecological niche.

No one can predict what the mutations will ultimately amount to. One possibility, perhaps the worst, would involve two mutations. One would have it become transmissible via aerosol, via sneezes and coughs, able to survive outside a host or a victim for lengthy periods of time. The second would have it sporulate. If that happens then it could be picked up in the dust storms that blow westward from Africa and coat the Amazon basin, Central America, and the Southern United States with dust. If those two things happen then the virus could likely not be contained.

This morning there’s a story on BBC that a vaccine is being tested, one that shows good promise of being effective. Perhaps. Or perhaps too little too late? Time will tell. And if not Ebola, what else?

Obama is sending three thousand American soldiers to Liberia to fight the epidemic. They’ll build seventeen treatment facilities and act to educate the public and train health care personnel. Whether they’ll actually get it done in time to slow or stop the epidemic is an open question.

Africa could be hollowed out, relieved of its human burden, perhaps even its entire quota of primates. It could become the forbidden zone of science fiction, the place where no one goes. It might return to the state of being the Eden it once was, where Nature has full sway. Yes, with all the brutality of tooth and claw that goes along with Nature, that is a fundamental part of Nature, but Africa would once again become a place of balance instead of a place overrun with a plague of humans who corrode and destroy the Nature on which their very lives depend. And wouldn’t that be ironic, the place that gave birth to mankind would be scoured clean of men and become closed to men. Man, kicked out of Eden. By an invisible bit of barely animate protein.

Of course if the virus mutates, Earth, all of Earth, could become Eden, with life getting a fresh start, a new direction, perhaps creating a timeless world. Ruled, undoubtedly, by cats.


March 31, 2012

Give your cat a dollar bill to play with. Or a twenty. Or a fifty.

Yesterday my new wok arrived from a company in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a nice Helen Chen carbon steel wok and I spent the afternoon seasoning it. Later I found a tarantula in the bathroom. I live on Cape Cod.

That’s all.


Molly, R.I.P. 03.10.2011
March 10, 2011





She was nine years old, way too young, and she was sweet and neurotic and lovable and I loved her.

She died peacefully at the vet’s.

This And That
August 15, 2007

Way off my feed this week. Had an emergency with my oldest cat yesterday. One of the others nailed her with a strategic claw or two at breakfast and she lost a lot of blood so at 6 a.m. I was on my way to the emergency hospital. She’s doing okay for now. But the adrenaline rush threw a real monkey wrench into my day. The last thing I gave a damn about was the crap going on in this country.


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology notes that tapping forty percent of the geothermal heat under the U.S. would provide 56,000 times the electrical energy demand. But the Department of Energy refuses to consider spending more than the two million dollars it has already allocated to geothermal energy.


Why, with five percent of the world’s people, does the United States have a quarter of the world’s prisoners? That’s over two million locked up and five and half million on probation or parole. Nineteen percent are for violent felonies. Thirty one percent are for non-violent drug offenses and thirty-two percent for economic crimes (burglaries, etcetera). (From The Nation)

Drugs are not a moral issue. They’re a biochemical issue. They’re a medical issue. They’re a psychological issue. Locking people up for using drugs is stupid. We don’t lock people up who get caught driving drunk five or six or nine times. No. We sensibly wait until they kill someone. How does that make sense?

Either treat alcohol as a drug, or treat drugs as alcohol. You all remember how well Prohibition worked. Well, we’re in Drug Prohibition and it’s not working. It will never work. It’s not much of a stretch to say that Drug Prohibition creates drug addicts.

So give them prescriptions, reasonably priced, send them to the drugstore, and let them go home and get high. If they drive high, bust them on traffic laws, and so on. But sending them to prison for choosing drugs? The depth of stupidity. Want to see the crime rate plummet? Take the moral nonsense out of drug use. Prescriptions and treatment. End of the drug problem. Not the end of addiction – there will always be addicts. But the end of hundreds of billions of dollars of waste in corrupt wars on drugs, in unnecessary crime, in useless prisons and prison time and wasted court time.


Iran is rounding up and deporting hundreds of thousands of illegal Afghani immigrants.

The U.S. thinks that’s an ‘unsettling hint of Iranian mischief-making in the region,’ according to the Globe.

But it’s a sign of rationality and reasonableness when Republican hard-liners want to do the same thing to twelve million Latino illegals in the U.S.

(And why is it that so-called ‘hard-liners’ seem to be so soft in the head?)


Dana Perino is back at the old White House newsstand. Don’t you just hate to see a good-looking blonde broad just spewing stupidity and Republican baloney?

She jumped on Hilary Clinton’s ad about families, single moms, and soldiers being invisible to the Bush administration.

Said the inestimable Perino:

“As to the merits of it, I think it’s outrageous. This is a president who, first and foremost, has helped millions of seniors across the country have access to prescription drugs at a much lower cost.”

Dana, Dana, Dana! Your boss let the drug companies write legislation that would fill their coffers and ultimately kill Medicare – which was and is the purpose of the Part D drug plan. Your boss and his confederates in Congress made sure that the government could not negotiate prices with the drug companies. Your boss and friends don’t and didn’t give a damn about the seniors. They’re out to destroy Medicare and every other social service they can get their grimy hands on.

I’ll bet Dana fakes her orgasms, too.

And finally…

From the obit page, one Heinz Barth, an SS officer convicted for his part in slaughtering 642 men, women, and children in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in 1944, died yesterday at the age of 86.

The Germans forced 241 women and 209 children into a church, set it afire with grenades, and machine-gunned it.

The men were machine-gunned separately in a barn.

Barth also volunteered to take part in executing 92 Czech civilians in 1942 and was convicted.

He lived under a false name in East Germany until discovered and imprisoned in 1981.

In 1997 a court freed Barth because of his poor health. At the time he claimed he felt guilty about the crimes, and added “But I have paid long enough.”

No, you didn’t, Barth. And you should never have been freed. You should have been left to rot.

Be that as it may, the obituary made me wonder what people will be reading fifty or sixty years from now about American war criminals from George Bush’s megalomaniac and ultimately stupid so-called war on terror.

I’d like to be around to read someone who writes “No, you didn’t, Bush. And you should never have been freed. You should have been left to rot.”