Links January 2014

January 5, 2014

Environmental news:

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Mercury+levels+rising+expanse+around+Alberta+oilsands/9332186/story.html Minamata is everywhere.

An addendum to Decembers beatification and canonization news:

Cultural news:

Imperial News:

real income growth

Imperial conquest news:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-03-231213.html I don’t like this article because of its flashy style of writing and the reduction of Middle Eastern developments to power politics. The text contains interesting thoughts but neglects ecological, cultural, and social vectors, which could at any time lead to unexpected developments and unpleasant surprises.


Everything else news:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/31/profits-may-rise-profits-may-fall-the-capitalist-system-doesnt-care-at-all/ Must read!
http://www.countercurrents.org/rockstroh20123.htm Not one of Rockstroh’s best, but the first two-third of the text is excellent, making it worth reading. Some readers will be unable to decode Rockstroh’s advices and marching instructions in the last third of the essay, their heart may be longing (to use the authors diction) for something more specific.


The following text has no political, ecological, or cultural inclinations, it is about cats and nothing else.

To be more precise, this text is about the cat family who shares the house with me and in addition to that it includes stories about and photographs of a cat friend who is not part of the family, though he often joined our walks in the forest and even visited our house several times. The mentioned cat friend is Gandhi Sr., a huge and good locking ginger tomcat. I don’t know his real name, but I call him Gandhi, because he is the most peaceful tomcat I ever had the pleasure to meet.

When we first encountered him in Summer 2011 during one of our walks in the forest, he just went along with the group as if he were a member of the family. He was very fond of Cindy, who was still alive then, and they sniffed at each other and rubbed their noses. The other cats were quite puzzled and Ma Xi didn’t like the new participant at all, but as I was not objecting and chasing the foreign cat away, they either accepted or ignored the new group member.

Gandhi forest DSCN1419

Gandhi always wore a flea collar, and because of that I concluded the he was well cared for by his human hosts. One neighbor told me that Gandhi’s host family doesn’t let him into the house in summer, which would explain why he is all the time in the woods. Like Cindy, Gandhi is a forest cat, but his main whereabouts is a barn of the tree nursery on the southern edge of the forest. The barn has open as well as closed sections, and a cat like Gandhi has no problems to find a gap through which he can slip into the closed sections to spend some time there undisturbed and unthreatened.

In autumn 2011 Cindy disappeared, most likely killed by a hunter, while Ma Xi became more aggressive and started to attack Gandhi, chasing him away. Gandhi at this time had already made several visits to our house to inspect it carefully and he was accepted by all other cats; he was so much bigger and stronger than Ma Xi that he easily could have repelled him, but as Gandhi was a peaceful cat who tried to avoid fights as good as he could he simply ran away.


When Ma Xi came home one day with a bloody ear and some deep scratches in his face my instinctual conclusion was that he had cornered Gandhi somewhere in the forest and that he had been taught a tough lesson by his adversary. I was confirmed in my assumption when we encountered Gandhi a few days later during our obligatory forest walk and Ma Xi didn’t attack Gandhi but run away to hide in the underbrush where he stayed quietly growling till Gandhi was out of sight.


Despite his considerable weight Gandhi Sr. is a terrific tree climber while Ma Xi never managed to climb higher than two meters. I can remember several incidents where Ma Xi chased Gandhi just to be left sitting at a tree and looking up to Gandhi high above in the tree crown. The most puzzling thing in this story is the fact, that Gandhi is not neutered, while Ma Xi is. Normally a fixed tomcat should be calm and an intact one aggressive, but the story of Gandhi and Ma Xi defies this common knowledge. It defies also my lifetime experience with other tomcats (and the wisdom of the ages in general).

Well, always be ready for a surprise…

Btw, this was not the only time Ma Xi was told a lesson, Miss Marple (aka Sumo) also once handed him a long scratch on the nose, her six kilo surely made a difference.

2012 again saw some major changes in the cat family when my then sister-in-law (who is now my ex-sister-in-law) dumped a cat mother with three tiny kittens into my home. My sister-in-law was in a dire predicament at that time because her longtime relation had broken apart and she had to give up the house that she and her spouse had bought. The new arrivals, which I called “the little family,” increased the resident cat population to nine and brought my home close to the status of an animal sanctuary.

Mia + kitten basket DSCN1842

Mia, the cat mother, is a very pretty, petite cat, black with dark brown patches. She is reticent, her movements are always measured and elegant. Mia grew up in the city of Munich and she is clearly an urban lady. If she would be a human lady, she would wear stockings, designer cloth, and some exquisite jewelry.

Mia was a good mother, she was committed, dedicated, she did a tremendous job up to the point of self-sacrifice. She  was very thin and completely exhausted, when she arrived, probably because she only was used to dry food and my sister-in-law never had given her de-worming pills. My sister-in-law considers vaccinations and de-worming pills as unnecessary and as just another ploy of the pharmaceutical industry to extract/extort money. She may have a point to some extent, but as the vet found out, Mia was infected with tapeworms and it was high time to cure her from the worms.

After the treatment Mia recovered and the kittens grew nicely. One was a completely black male, which I called “Black.” His sister was also black but with a brown stripe on the forehead, I called her “Stripe.” The third kitten was a ginger male, which I called “Ginger.” Black was the smallest of them, but very smart and always ahead in his development. He was the first to crawl out of the office drawer where they resided and the first to drag the shoes from the shoe rack in the hall to various other places in the house. Black was always together with Stripe, they were inseparable, while Ginger, though he usually joined his siblings, occasionally also played alone.


Fortunately Black, who is now Marvin, and his sister, who is now Marlies, were taken by a nice family and they occupy a new home 50 km from here across the boarder. They are reportedly doing very well and they enjoy their adulthood. Mia was left with Ginger, whom I christened Gandhi Jr., hoping that he would be as peaceful as his namesake (the cat friend about whom I wrote before).

A couple, who looked for a new cat visited us but they didn’t take Gandhi Jr.. They wanted a big cat and as Mia is very small they thought Gandhi would also be small. As it came out a few month later they were completely wrong and I have to reiterate, that with cats one always should be ready for a surprise.

I’m really glad that they didn’t take Gandhi Jr. away, because, though not as peaceful as his namesake, Gandhi Jr. is a lovely, well behaved, intelligent, uncomplicated, friendly, and social cat. He is now a huge cat, as big as Gandhi Sr. and as big as Harry was. (I wrote about Harry before, here just as a reminder: Harry was the patriarch and the undisputed leader of the cat family right until his untimely dead in 2008.)

Yes, Gandhi Jr. has become a huge cat. In summer I had the impression for some time that he was getting thinner and thinner and I worried about his health till I realized that he was not getting thinner but only longer. Ma Xi must have seen this coming because in January 2013 he became more and more aggressive not only against Mia and Gandhi Jr. but also against all other family members. In was very obvious that he started searching for another host.

Ma Xi is not a pretty cat and he is not friendly or social — he was a feral cat for too long. Yet in the two years with the family he has learned basic social rules and I let him neuter, which for sure has helped to smoothen his rough edges. He also has a nice and nearly complete white fur which may attract some people. I was not surprised and kind of relieved when in February he stopped coming for food. In January he had already refused to sleep in the house, despite the freezing cold he was lodging in the toolshed where I had made a nest for him.

In hindsight I have to admit, that Ma Xi was in an impossible situation and that looking for a new place was the most sensible thing to do. In the forest he was facing a huge ginger cat who had humiliated him already several times, at home another ginger cat was growing rapidly and it was foreseeable that he would soon be humiliated at home as well.

So my friend luckily had found a new family, but there was one catch: Nobody made a walk with Ma Xi.

Nobody made a walk with him except me. From February till June Ma Xi was nearly every day waiting outside in the garden or in the adjacent forest. He was waiting for me to come and to go with him along one of our usual routes. He didn’t want any other cat to join, Princess Min Ki tried a few times to accompany us but he grew very angry, growling and hissing at her till she gave up.

Ma Xi M DSCN0368

Four month long I had to walk twice, one time with Ma Xi alone, a second time with the cat family. No, it was not a burden, Ma Xi was nice and grateful when we were alone. He had his special places where he wanted to make a pause and when I sat down on a tree stump he always jumped onto my lap and I held my hands around him. He curled into my arms and purred and was completely relaxed. There were moments when I really thought that he could maybe overcome his aversions against Gandhi Jr. and join the family again, but as I understand now, this was never in the cards.

At the end of the daily walk and as our route inevitably led us back to my home Ma Xi became moody, depressed and sometimes angry. The nearer we came to the house, the unhappier he appeared to be. Some 50 meters before the house he simply stopped and I had to walk the remaining distance alone. When I turned I saw him standing there, looking after me. Sometimes I stood still and he came to me and leaned against my feet before he slowly walked away.

It was hard, it was really hard and I often had tears in my eyes. I liked the walks with Ma Xi but I hated the ending, the sad and painful and often prolonged good bye procedure. Ma Xi was still my friend, I cared about him and understood him.

“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” I have sung that tune myself, though not as ingenious and inspiring as Donny Hathaway — I’m not a talented singer. I sang it as good as I could and sometimes I was lucky and was not ridiculed. No, Ma Xi was not a burden, he was not a burden because he was a little cat with just below five kilo and he was not a burden because he was my friend and I had to be there for him as long as he needed me.

Maxi forest DSC00964

In late June Ma Xi unexpectedly stopped but after a few days he again waited in the garden. I went out, ready to make a walk with him, but he only hissed at me and turned around. It was his way to tell me that this was the end, that it was over finally. The walks had been nice but the painful good by procedures were too much to bear. It was a short and undramatic farewell.

Farewell, my friend, I like you still and I care about you!

I haven’t seen Ma Xi anymore since then and I hope, that he is alive and well. The cat family grows together and has reached a level of harmony that I never would have considered as possible. Princess Min Ki is not bossy anymore and shares her leadership with Rosy. Gandhi Jr. still needs some education, but he is a fast learner. Miss Marple aka Sumo has become 16 years old, she seems to be more content and more agreable. I spend a lot of time with her — who nows, how much time we have left…

Mia has gained weight significantly, she is not as heavy as Rosy or Miss Marple, but she is well rounded. Mia adores her son Gandhi Jr. and she is so proud of him. Cat mothers often leave the place when their children grow up to avoid conflict and competition but Mia and Gandhi are the best friends. If he wouldn’t be neutered and she not spayed, they would enjoy a splendid incestuous relationship.

Mia Gandhi basket DSCN0489

I always thought, that the father of her kittens must have been a big ginger cat and my ex-sister-in-law recently confirmed this assumption. Mia would love to have both Gandhis around and it is sad that the two are not friends. If Junior would realize that he looks exactly like Senior he would (may)be less hostile, but cats are not self aware (they also don’t recognize themselves in a mirror). Gandhi Jr. occasionally jumps onto my lap while I sit on the computer and I then play movies for him that I recorded when the kittens grew up. When Gandhi sees his siblings he stands up and gets completely excited. Yet the movies where he is the lone actor don’t bother him at all, he just doesn’t realize, that this is about him.

I wrote about Gandhi Sr. as well as the Junior already in my blog post Walking with Gandhi and reading this earlier post would be very helpful to better understand the situation.

Gandhi balancing DSC01114

In October we met Gandhi Sr. once more during a walk and he joined us for a while. We were on our way from the valley where the tree nursery is located to the big clearing on top of the hill in the middle of the forest and shortly before we reached the clearing we made a pause at a place where there are a lot of tree stumps. The cats all rested on the tree stumps, as usual every cat occupied her/his own stump, only Mia and her son were laying together. But Mia soon went up and walked to Gandhi Sr. She climbed onto his tree stump, her tail high up, sniffed at him and tried to lick him. Spayed cats usually don’t allow sex but I can’t rule it out that Mia would have made an exemption for Gandhi Sr.

Yet it didn’t come that far because Gandhi Sr. was not at all responsive, and when Mia tried once more and rubbed her head again his he just shortly hissed at her. It was not an aggressive hissing, it was just a notice, that she should stop.

Mia was seemingly disappointed and sad and she didn’t take part in the walks for some weeks after that event.

This evening, as we made our daily walk in the forest, we met Gandhi Sr. again (and this is the reason while I type now a blog text in the middle of the night). I had a LED flashlight with me, because it was already dark, and when the eyes of the cats reflected the beam of the flashlight I discovered that Gandhi Sr. has bright blue eyes, very different from the Junior, who has amber/orange eyes.

As usual, Junior was growling and hiding behind a tree, while Gandhi Sr. unimpressed and undeterred by the Juniors hostile behavior walked to me, leaned against my feet and started purring. I stroke him for a little time and then we continued with our walk. Gandhi Sr. accompanied us a few minutes before he disappeared into the dark.

He for sure has occupied a place in my heart. He is not (and most likely never will be) a member of the cat family, but we are good friends. Two friends, who due to adverse circumstances cannot come closer but who will nevertheless hold each other always in high esteem and remember each other fondly for the rest of our lives. 

Gandhi guitars DSC00707

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