Links December 2016

December 7, 2016

Feline news:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cat-sanctuary-aleppo-syria-bombed_us_582c8c1ae4b099512f802121 I knew about this men but didn’t realize that he lived in eastern Aleppo. It’s a sad story and one can only hope that he and his feline dependents will make it out alive. The notice about chlorine made me suspicious because this is normally propaganda of the Islamists.
What about a joint cat sanctuary by both government supporters and Islamists in the pursuit of national reconciliation?

Environmental news:
http://news.trust.org/item/20161116063111-pz297 Another great leap forward.
http://e360.yale.edu/feature/are_trees_sentient_peter_wohlleben/3055/ Something for tree-huggers and other sensitive and sensible people. Forester Peter Wohlleben goes all the way and has also written a highly recommendable book.


Imperial news:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/we_are_all_deplorables_20161120 Another well written piece from Chris Hedges. It is about the “deplorables,” the ones who live in deindustrialized areas and who were left behind by economic developments without hope of a better future. Hedges’ observations are correct and his call for revolt is justified, his denunciation of the corporate elite is important as it makes clear who the real enemies are. Yet, what could be practical solutions and remedies? What could be practical cures to be applied instantly by the people themselves without the need of waiting for a deus ex machine appearing from nowhere to create a perfect compassionate and just society for them?
Why don’t the “deplorables” get help from dedicated activists to set up co-op workshops? Why aren’t they trained to become craftsmen, foresters, local community organizers, why don’t they take the initiative and collect discarded things to restore and recycle them? Why don’t they get a patch of land to start farming? Giving them land should not be a problem in a rundown area with lots of closed factories. Or is the land owned by a billionaire or an equity firm?
Land reform, endowing land, land distribution or redistribution to the poor is not a new idea. It has been done throughout history to empower or appease minorities and disenfranchised parts of the population. Russia does it to populate fare east areas of Siberia and thousands take the chance. It’s not easy, it is not for the tepid, the lazy, the laggards and procrastinators; it’s a hard life but it is a fair chance to be free and in charge of ones own destiny.
Chris Hedges writes: “The only way we will blunt this racism and hatred and allow them to free themselves from the grip of magical thinking is by providing jobs that offer adequate incomes and economic stability.”
Wrong! No corporate godfather should get the chance to hire them and enslave them again in a deeply unjust capitalist society. Basic infrastructure has to be built or repaired as a contribution from the better off, but after that they need to start and create the jobs themselves and build up a local self-sufficient economy. What’s about the legendary “entrepreneurial spirit” of Americans? Is it a myth?
It’s all in our minds. The slaves are slaves because they accept their fate. If they would take away the weapons and the keys of their masters in the night in a concerted countrywide action they would be free and their masters would be in prison, awaiting trial.


Media and technology news:
http://www.propornot.org/ The definitive guide to fake news.


Imperial conquest news:
http://www.dadychery.org/2016/11/19/haitis-rainy-day-presidential-elections-without-clinton-thunder/ If you have not yet made up your mind abut the UN and associated international aid and development organizations, the saga of Haiti’s coups against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the occupation by UNSTAMIH, the reconstruction after the earthquake, and the series of fraudulent elections under the Clinton’s guidance should give you some clues.
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/the-empire-strikes-back-chris-hedges/ One cannot have it both ways. Any economic ties will give opportunities to interfere. Selling off a countries precious resources (Oil, rare earth, and other minerals) will sometimes benefit the population in the short term but will creates dependencies which will be mercilessly exploited.
Sanctions are a double-edged sword. Western sanctions were the best thing that could have happened to the Russian and Iranian economy. Without the 66 year long embargo Cuba would be a US vassal state just like Haiti and the other Caribbean nations.
The prosperity of Western economies always depended on the exploitation of colonies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Today these countries are called “developing nations” or “Third World,” but they are still colonies in all but name. Cutting economic ties with the West would be disastrous only for the corrupt elites, the “comprador class,” while the peasants would have a chance to topple the regimes and reclaim their land (just like they did in Zimbabwe).
One can only hope for more Western sanctions. More sanctions please!
Another (last) point: You can keep your advanced technology and your fancy gadgets for yourself. Apple and Samsung smartphones are not essential for a happy and fulfilled life. One could even argue that they in fact are detrimental.smartphones http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/how-syrian-white-helmets-played-western-media Please also read A matter of belief. There is complete silence about the UN investigating commission of this incident. The commission should have come to a conclusion by now.

News from cat land

It is cold and temperatures are below freezing. My feline friends have temporarily metamorphosed to indoor cats, and as it happens with most indoor cats, they are bored and gain weight. We still make our daily walks in the forest but attendance is rather low. Yesterday only Linda, Lucia, and Gandhi Jr. joined the walk.

Winter is the time when the cat family grows together alone by necessity. In spring and summer they have their separate territories and playgrounds, mice are in abundance, there’s no need to cooperate and comply with each other, there’s no need to socialize. In winter, when they gather around the wood stove, they grow accustomed again to the intimacy and closeness. Gandhi Jr. and his grandaunt Rosy lay side by side, Linda and Lucia also sit together, even Miss Marple, our grumpy old lady, accepts the fellow cats beside her.

It is the same with humans. In societies where resources are abundant (fossil fuels), cooperation is replaced by competition and rivalry, cutthroat capitalism is the socio-economic norm. The superrich — people who successfully grabbed what they could from their peers — are admired, the ones who didn’t cut corners, who played by the rules, who acted humane and responsible, are mocked and ridiculed.

In societies where resources are abundant, people have the luxury to live alone without interference by a mate, spending their days in front of TV or computer, fiddling with their tablets and smartphones.

Back to the cat family.

Linda is still growing, though mainly in one dimension. The veterinarian was very impressed by her 5.8 kilogram body weight and noted, that for a female cat she is quite big. Well, when it is freezing cold outside, a solid layer of body fat is exactly what is needed. Humans put on winter coats and Angora wool thermal underwear but cats don’t like to bother with such gimmicks.


What else can a normal feline do in the house than sleep and eat? Sharpening the claws on the furniture is also no option, because they know that I really don’t like it. My little friends for the most part respect my wishes, as I respect theirs. If they need to sharpen their claws, they go into the forest or the garden. The fruit trees are protected with wire mesh but there are enough wooden fence posts left for them.

If the cats would not be spayed respectively neutered there would be an additional pastime and Gandhi Jr., the only former tomcat of the family, would be very busy, yet, it would not be easy to accommodate the 20 or so lovely little kitten born in half a year and subsequently secure a good place for them.

The annual health check plus vaccination is completed. Aunt Rosy and Miss Marple have dental plaque and probably also slightly infected teeth, but there is no urgency and we will look at this again in spring. Anesthesia is required for all veterinary dental procedures and while this should be okay with Rosy, who is 12 years old and in good condition, it could be dangerous for Miss Marple, who will soon be 19 years old.


Miss Marple has some minor ailments but if we are lucky she could live a few more years. Lately she has become a bit clumsy. Like all cats Miss Marple likes to sit on the couch back looking out of the large window front into the garden. But it happened a few times already that she started snoozing, loosing balance and falling from the couch. She is always very embarrassed after that and I have to hold her, stroke her, and talk with her to lift her spirits.

Yesterday in the morning I discovered an eczema on Lucia’s back, a certain indication that she has fleas and is allergic against fleas. All cats got a new flea collar one month ago and until now the protection worked well but it seems that a new generation of resistant fleas has emerged and there’s the need to try another product with a different active ingredient.

When I checked the other cats it came out that most of them have fleas, which means that the flea collars which I applied until now are useless. I phoned the veterinarian and she told me that resistant fleas are common, a short search on the internet brought the same result. Flea infestation is increasingly difficult to treat because the agents which until now eliminated the parasites are not working anymore.

So instead of Kiltix, which I used until now, the cats will get Seresto. Both collars are from Bayer, which is terrible, because Bayer just bought Monsanto, creating a food-industry behemoth who will globally flood the shelves of supermarkets with genetically modified “Frankenstein foods.”

One has to make compromises. Tomorrow I will fetch three of the new flea colors from the veterinarian. I will test them first on Princess Min Ki, Wendi, and Lucia, the cats where I found the most fleas. Princess Min Ki and Lucia also have eczemas, they need immediate relief.

The new flea collars are not cheap, one costs 38 Euros. On eBay I would get them for 30 Euros but I avoid eBay. Occasionally I use eBay if there is no other source available. Oh, I forgot — the Mac mini, on which this text is written, was a bargain on eBay.

I never would buy anything from Amazon — this is a line I will not cross.

Bayer is one of the most terrible companies I can think of, but one has to acknowledge, when it comes to poisoning living beings they are unrivaled, they are a class on their own, they are king. Their flea collars hopefully will work and if not I will have to comb all of the cats every day carefully with a special flea comb. I did that today and caught a lot of fleas. One has to be fast and squash the insects instantly, because otherwise they will jump away and be gone. They are tiny and hardly visible.

I combed Princess Min Ki for about 10 minutes, eliminating six fleas. She was visibly relieved and grateful and after the combing procedure went to the entrance door, looking at me and thereby suggesting that we have to make a walk in the forest. I hurriedly put on my coat and out into the cold we went.

In the morning the trees had been coated in ice, it was a winter wonderland. But now, at 2 pm the sun was shining, the ice had melted, it looked like the normal late autumn scenery. The sun is very powerful now and temperatures are rising significantly on sunny days, I suspect that the ozone layer is thinner and blocking sun radiation to a far lesser degree than in former years.

No one speaks about ozone depletion anymore, as no one speaks about contamination with heavy metals, endocrine disrupters, and POPs (persistent organic pollutants). No one speaks about mass extinction of species, the dwindling of forests, the increase of deserts, coral bleaching, acidification, algae blooms, dead zones in oceans. Nobody speaks about the overflowing landfills, plastic particles everywhere, toxic waste, and the unsolved problem of radioactive waste which would have to be safely stored and guarded for thousands of years.

Keep quiet and don’t disturb the party — don’t be a spoiler.

When we entered the wood, Princess Min Ki chose the route of our walk and we went together to the big clearing in the middle of the forest, from there to the middle-aged forest at the left of the main path and from there back along the western edge of the wood to the little wilderness which is opposite our home. We have walked this route now since seven years and we both know it well, but I’m still astonished how easy cats find their way even if the vegetation has changed dramatically and important landmarks have been removed.

Trees may have fallen down, blocking the way, thorny bushes may make passage impossible, the cats always will find a bypass. I only have to follow them, they will guide me safely through the forest. During the many years of my life with cats they have again and again astonished me, impressed me, sometimes ashamed me, always charmed me.


Cats have their intellectual limitations, but they are more clever than we would imagine, using their 760 million neurons very efficiently. I don’t know how the number of 760 million neurons came about, I read it in several publications. For a long time the number of 300 million neurons was circulated, but at the moment 760 million seems to be the universally accepted amount.

The physical structures of human and cat brains have been found to be very similar, They have a hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, cerebellum just like we have. Their neurotransmitters also work in a similar manner than ours. Well, they cannot construct grammatically correct sentences or solve mathematical equations, but their emotional world should be quit similar to ours.

760 million neurons is a huge number, but it is still not much compared to the 86 billion neurons in human brains. For many years scientists talked about 100 billion human neurons, meaning with that not the exact number but rather the possible range. The number of 86 billion is undisputed after the exceptional Brazilian neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel developed a sophisticated method to quantify human braincells. She used this methods also for various animal brains, discovering among other things that elephants have 247 billion neurons. 

Shocking! That are 161 billion more than we have! Yet, as only 5.6 billion of these braincells are in the cerebral cortex compared to the 16 billion in the human cerebral cortex, scientists still consider humans as more intelligent than elephants.

I have my doubts.


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