Sunday, June 26, 2016

Where Did That Come From?

Awhile ago my brother Mike had enough curiosity and spare cash to sign up with for a DNA test.  The results really surprised him, knowing what he did of our family history, so he sent me a copy, pointed out the anomaly, and asked if I knew wherethehell that had come from.

Now a brief sidebar for our family history: my Dad was the son of Polish Jewish and Hungarian Jewish immigrants, and Mom was... interesting. First, she was a professional musician.  Second, her father was a ne'er-do-well third son of a minor British/Austrian aristocrat named (as far as my grand-aunt remembered) Von Schello.  Her mother, another professional musician, was -- and this was a big family secret -- a Metis:  that is, mixed Canadian French and Chippewa Indian.  Nothing was recorded about granny's father, but her mother was a Chippewa medicine-singer.  That, Mom recalled proudly, was where the female line of our family got their musical talent.  So, my brother and I are mixed Polish/Hungarian Jewish and Austrian/British/French/Chippewa -- in other words, typical American melting-pot.

What the DNA test showed was: about 30% eastern-European Jewish (expected, except for the proportions), another 30% western European (which would cover the Austrian and French) and then...  The that was 30% Scandinavian, 5% Asian, and 5% all over the map.  The all-over-the-map I could understand -- all of us have distant ancestors who wandered in from somewhere else, and everywhere on Earth is walking distance (or at least small-boat distance) if you have time enough.  What we couldn't figure was the complete lack of "Native American" blood, and wherethehell did "Scandinavian" and "Asian" come from?

I'm pretty sure that Mom's family wasn't lying about the great family secret of Chippewa ancestry;  in my grandmother's and grand-aunt's day a touch of non-White blood was something to be hidden.  "Indian" was the formal and honorable term, "Redskin" was no worse than vulgar, and the disparaging term was "Red Niggers".  In short, nobody would have invented a story like that about their ancestry.  So why didn't the DNA test show it?  And whereinhell did "Scandinavian" and "Asian" come from?

So I did some research about the Metis and the Chippewa (a.k.a. Ojibwa) and learned something interesting.  The Chippewa lived in what's now southern Canada and the northern US, on the eastern side of the Great Lakes, near Sault Ste. Marie.  They hunted into New York state, where my mother's family came from.  Nowadays we know that the Indian tribes were a mixture of early Asians, who came from across the Bering Straits about 12,000 years ago, and -- if ya please -- Europeans, the Clovis Point people, who came from northwestern France about 15,000 years ago.  Now that would account for the "Asian" genes, and a percentage of the "western European", but wherethehell did those "Scandinavian" genes come from?  Maybe a bit from the French (the "Normans" had been "Northmen" just a few generations earlier), maybe a bit from the Austrian side of Dad's family, maybe some from the British (Normans/Northmen again), but the percentages just didn't add up.  There was still too much "Scandinavian".

Then I dug a little deeper into Chippewa history, and found the answer. 

Eastern Canada and the northern part of the eastern US was the realm of Vinland.  That's where Leif Erikson's Viking colony was founded.  Although the colony was eventually defeated by disease and attacks of the "Skralings" (99% certainly the Iroquois tribe), there were some Indians that were happy to get along with the Vikings, to trade goods and services and... genes.  Those were the Chippewa, who mutually hated the Iroquois and would gladly befriend anyone the Iroquois fought.

So there we are;  I'm the great-X-granddaughter of Vinland Vikings and Chippewa sympathizers.  The fact that couldn't read that from our DNA -- and didn't realize that all that made up a branch of "Native American" -- makes me giggle.  Didn't they realize that "primitive" people might have some complicated history?  Had they never heard of Lief Erikson and the Vinland colony?  Ah well, I suppose we can't expect microbiologists to study history too, eh?

--Leslie <;)))><         

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Anti-Democratic Faith

I seem to have set off a small firestorm on Facebook, just by asking a simple question about the Orlando shooting.  The whole post is:

"I notice that in the wake of the Orlando Gay-bar massacre, MSNBC and the usual politicians are spouting the usual boilerplate about the awfulness of 'gun violence' and how we need to make it harder for people with no criminal record to buy guns. The more realistic types are asking why the FBI didn't keep better track of a suspected Jihadist, and others are asking what can be done to stop Jihadists from attacking innocent people.

"I also notice that one question nobody seems to be asking is: out of the 300 people in that bar, why did *not one of them* have a gun of his/her own, pull it out and shoot the killer? Not one of them! Not even the bartender or the bouncer. Yes, Orlando law forbids patrons (even CCW holders) to *bring* a firearm into a place where alcohol is served, but why didn't the *bartender*, or the bouncer, keep a firearm under the bar for emergencies? For that matter, what about tasers?

"That stupid law needs to be rescinded, the personnel of Gay bars need to be armed and trained to deal with terrorist attacks, and all bars should have a policy of welcoming CCW holders."

Well, that started it, 181 comments racked up in short order, and still going strong.  The pro- and anti-gun sides lined up pretty quickly, and I was fascinated to see the nature of the arguments.

The pros quoted facts and statistics (sometimes to laborious length):  1) The bar did have one armed guard -- a moonlighting local policeman stationed by the door -- but the shooter, Omar Mateen, had checked out the bar beforehand and knew where that guard was, and shot him first;  2) Since at least 1950, all but two mass shootings have taken place in "gun-free zones", where legally everybody was disarmed and nobody could shoot back;  3) There have been several cases where armed civilians have prevented mass shootings;  4) According to FBI statistics, Americans armed with firearms prevent crimes at least 900,000 times every year (and the figure could easily be twice as high, since many such are not reported);  5) According to data from the UN ( countries with low gun-ownership have higher homicide rates -- and the US ranks 111th in the world in homicide;  6)  Since 1993, when most states began allowing civilians to ear Concealed Carry of Weapons (CCW) permits, and gun purchases began climbing, the violent-crime rate in the US has dropped by almost 50%;  7)  Police have worse records of shooting innocent bystanders than CCW holders do;  8) Countries which have banned, or almost-completely banned, civilian gun ownership have subsequently seen their violent-crime rates climb, or at least stay the same -- and the same is true of American states and municipalities;  9)  The Constitution guarantees the right "to keep and bear arms" to all citizens, and its excuse -- the "militia" -- is comprised of all citizens over the age of 17;  10) Barring groups of people from that Constitutional right without conviction or at least clear evidence of a crime is "prior restraint", which is illegal;  10)  Government "no fly" lists are notoriously corrupt, and cannot be used to rob people of their rights without clear legal means of getting off the lists;  11) Given Mateen's past (examined by the FBI and written off, hired by a government-sponsored security firm, bought all his guns legally -- despite a history of bigoted and downright psychotic statements and behaviors, duly reported to the police), citizens cannot rely on the government alone for their protection from lunatics, bigots, terrorists or just plain crooks;  12) Intense firearms training for civilians has statistically reduced firearms accidents;  it should be made mandatory to everyone.  13)  "Mass shooting" statistics are exaggerated because the FBI defines "mass shooting" as any event in which four or more people are shot, not necessarily killed or even seriously wounded.  

The antis appealed to emotions, ideals, and "what everybody knows":  "Dancers and drunks with guns would have only increased the carnage in a dark, crowded space."  "I don't want untrained idiots all out there carrying all the guns they can. I personally would rather live in a civilized society where every person doesn't have to have a concealed weapon on them at every moment." "Do you think every yahoo with a gun and a couple of drinks in them is going to turn into Will Smith in 'Men in Black'? Three hundred panicked people running and screaming, shots being fired, loud music, strobe lights flashing,people falling and dying, and you think your imaginary CCW holders are going to be able to hit this shooter and not add to the body count of innocents?"  "Mass shootings are not a common event outside of a war zone anywhere outside the US." "Britain's violent crime rate has NOT been going up since the ban. Neither has Australia's. NO OTHER FIRST WORLD NATION has toddlers shooting themselves or someone else on a weekly basis. NO OTHER FIRST WORLD NATION has mass shootings (4+ more people shot in once incident) on a DAILY basis."  " so many Americans regard mass shootings as a perfectly acceptable side-effect of their right to own machine-guns."  "I heard the armed guard was also killed. But this nit-picking over details is distasteful, especially when used by NRA supporters as an excuse not to limit arms. Wake up America!" "Leslie, you are by far, the biggest jackass I've encountered in months. Let's just arm everyone, even schools and churches!  Deleted and blocked. Go suck a gun."  "More guns never make sense. Seriously, arm everyone? Even a lobotomized patient knows that's not only stupid but illogical and not ever going to happen."   "It's not that anti gun law people lost credibility. IT's Freudian psychology pure and simple. They're all holding onto their dicks. Preach abstinence only and this is the shit you get."

The patterns that emerge are very different from the usual political assumptions.  The pro-gun crowd want everyone -- including Gays and Latinos, in this case -- armed and trained, believe in common rationality, and trust the average citizen to behave reasonably.  The anti-gun crowd assume that the average citizen is ignorant, hysterical in a crisis, automatically gets drunk whenever alcohol is available, is likely to start and escalate violence, can't be trusted with weapons, and basically needs a keeper;  it's only a short step from there to assuming that the proper keeper for the masses is their own morally and mentally superior selves.  It's ironic that the party calling itself Democratic holds such anti-democratic beliefs.

By the way, the victims of the shooting themselves appear to have made their own decisions as to how to deal with the tragedy.  I've heard from friends that all over southern California there are signs popping up everywhere that show the familiar rainbow flag with the classic Don't-Tread-On-Me rattlesnake superimposed, and below that: "#Shootback".  

--Leslie <;)))><                        

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tempest in a Pee-pot

By now that incredibly stupid Carolina law -- forbidding people to use restrooms that don't jibe with the genders on their birth certificates -- has slipped off the front page, and doubtless the governor and legislature hope it stays that way.  Alas, while the law is still there, the opposition will be too.  There's no escape, you pious fools;  get rid of that law or remain a laughingstock -- as Tennessee was for decades after the Scopes "Monkey Trial". 

Not the least of the law's stupidities is the fact that very few people walk around carrying their birth certificate with them -- drivers' licenses or other state IDs yes, but not birth certificates -- so how is anybody supposed to check them out?  Second, who's going to do the checking, anyway?  Official Pee-Pee Police assigned to every public restroom in the state?  If you've got the tax money to pay for that, you'd be better off spending it on improving your schools.

And without handy birth certificates or Pee-Pee Police, how are you supposed to tell a "transgender"/"transsexual" on sight, anyway?  Real transsexuals are quite rare;  it's a condition in which a person is born with the genes and/or endocrine system of one sex and the physique of the other.  It's a miserable condition, in which the sufferer's body just doesn't fit right, work right, or feel right until s/he gets treatment to bring his/her physique into line.  This is not helped any by the social roles expected from the different sexes in most societies;  a lot of people psychologically fit the "standards" of the opposite sex, which tends to muddy the waters.  But in any case, a real transsexual will do his/her best to look, act, talk, dress, and otherwise be like the sex s/he identifies with -- so a passing glance, or even a close look, wouldn't tell you which gender s/he originally was.  If someone who looks like a man walks into the boys' room and goes to a stall rather than a urinal, how is anybody to know that s/he isn't a born male?  Ditto for females.

The whole excuse for this squawk is the old standby, "to protect the children".  Supposedly, perverts will dress like the opposite sex so as to get into bathrooms and assault kids.  The classic cartoon shows an 8-year-old girl complaining that there's a 40-year-old man in a dress lurking in the Girls' Room.  Uhuh.  Well, what's to keep perverts from sneaking into bathrooms and assaulting kids right now?  A law about birth certificates won't help that.  The solution is to keep some sort of attendant in every public bathroom in the country, and how likely is that?

And even having attendants in the bathrooms, ready to perform "short arms" inspection on everyone who walks in, is no protection against perverts -- because the Pee-Pee Police just might be perverts themselves, using their jobs to get free ogles and gropes.  Twice, while traveling, I've had seat-mates and suite-mates pull this trick on me;  the perv notes my contralto voice and the rather large muscles in my arms and shoulders, insists that I'm really a man in disguise, and demands that I "prove" I'm really female -- by displaying my tits.  Uhuh.  I didn't comply, either time, but I know I can't be the only woman that dirty lads have tried this on.  The last thing we need is to make this game legal.

The only thing attendants in the bathrooms might prevent is actual assaults in the johns, if that.  The birth-certificate law won't do anything but create fights and lawsuits.  It deserves to be laughed to death, along with the fools who voted for it.

--Leslie <;)))><   

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Report from the Battle Front

Apricot, Avocado and Pomegranate are gopher-resistant.  That would explain why, despite all the gopher holes on that side of the property, my Pomegranates have survived and thrived.  I suppose the presence of the big Eucalyptus tree hasn't hurt, either.  Gophers don't seem to like Eucalyptus.

Anyway, after a couple weeks of gas-bombing their tunnels, I'm seeing a lot fewer fresh gopher-holes.  It's too much to hope that they've given up the territory, so I'll keep on patrolling, digging and gas-bombing.  Also, I got 20 healthy Euphorbia seeds and gave them to Sharan to sprout.  She's as dedicated to the Gopher War as I am, and she has two green thumbs.  We intend to grow as many good sturdy Gopher Purge plants as possible, and plant at least one among the roots of our particularly vulnerable fruit-trees.  I'm working on a song for the plant to the tune of "Euphoria", but this is as far as I've gotten:

"When those gophers start a-diggin' and a-pokin'
It sends 'em off runnin', a-gaggin' and a-chokin',
Scamperin' around tryin' hard to get away
From the

It isn't much, but I'm working on it.  Anyway, since we can't get our hands on gopher snakes, and ferrets would have problems with the dog and the cats, and poisoning is generally a bad idea, we're sticking to gopher-bombs for the short term and Gopher Purge for the long haul.  It's also good to know that the Apricots and Avocados will be fairly safe on their hook when we get around to planting them (in October, the nurseryman recommends, which is when the new black Arisia Pomegranate should arrive).

The interesting fact is that the Blackberry plants that survived the trip from Larry's place seem to be undamaged too.  I would have thought that Blackberry roots would be a feast for gophers, but it seems their roots are as well defended as the rest of the plant -- which can only be handled safely with thick ox-hide gardening gloves.  In their way, they're as prickly as cactus.

I'm trying to think of which trees should get a companion Euphorbia: the Scarlet Fig, obvously, but what else?  The citrus trees?  That's a Navel Orange, another Bearss Lime, and a Honey Lemon.  Maybe the White Guava too, and possibly the Papershell Pecan tree.  The Moringa should be safe;  it comes from Africa, and the local gophers wouldn't be adapted to it.  The grapevines don't seem to have suffered. 

Hmmm, or maybe I should just order more Euphorbia seeds.  They're a bit pricey, but if they drive away the goddam gophers they'll be worth it.       

--Leslie <;)))>< 

Monday, May 23, 2016

What Were They Thinking?

By now the disastrous effects of unrestrained "Syrian Refugee" immigration into Europe -- especially Germany -- are common knowledge.  All those military-age and rarely Syrian young men, who were supposed to thicken Europe's shrinking population of taxpaying workers, have turned out to be demanding welfare bums, shameless rapists -- of women, young (as young as 6) girls and young boys -- thoughtless trashers and rioters.  Perhaps the icing on the cake has been volunteer Muslim Morality police going around to German bars and ordering them shut down on threat of smashing their windows, and worse.  The "refugees" have made it clear (there are several accounts, including documentary footage on YouTube) that they're in Germany to take over.  Their misbehavior, and the Merkel government's placating acceptance thereof, has fueled civilian outrage and caused the rapid rise of right-wing political parties, and the former administration is unquestionably on its way to being voted out.  This pattern is repeating all over Europe, to a greater or lesser degree.  Growing numbers of the populations are actively grumbling for withdrawal from the European Union.

Governments in general are not notable for high intelligence, but couldn't the European governments have foreseen that this would happen?  Didn't they learn anything from, say, the example of Dearborn, Michigan?  ...Well, remember that the governments of Europe learned nothing about the grim possibilities of modern warfare from the example of the American Civil War, but still, didn't their own history teach them anything?  Both before and well after the Crusades, Muslim countries made persistent attempts to conquer Europe -- efforts that ended as recently as World War One.  They might have ignored the Muslim countries' persistent attacks on Israel -- after all, those were only aimed at Jews, you know -- but did they forget the enthusiastic Arab support of Hitler in World War Two?  They might have felt sympathy for the Muslim victims of leftover-Nazi "ethnic cleansing" in Albania, but didn't they remember the way the Muslim members of Hitler's SS behaved in Hungary and the Balkans?  Surely not everyone in the assorted governments of Europe were ignorant of the past, or couldn't calculate what would happen!

So why did they do it?  Why did they take in any, let alone so many, of those not-so-Syrian-but-definitely-Muslim "refugees"?  Merkel's claims -- that they needed new workers (preferably low-wage), or that they needed to prove how "liberal", "global", and "tolerant" they were -- just don't hold water.  Even oil-blackmail by the Saudis doesn't explain it;  Europe could have bought oil from Russia, Venezuela, or the United States; they could also have made even greater efforts than they already have to shift to non-fossil fuels. Not even pressure from the UN can explain it;  all the countries of Europe (and their economic clout) can swing enough weight in the UN to outclass all the Muslim countries put together.  Not even thundering stupidity can explain it!  So why in hell did the governments of Europe invite this disaster on their heads?

The only answer I can think of verges on the fringes of way-out conspiracy theory: that the assorted governments of Europe, particularly Germany and Sweden, had grown very tired of the European Union -- and even the United Nations -- and of the Liberal policy of placating the demands and excesses of the Muslim countries, and decided on a radical policy to shed all of them.  This is hard to believe, since it would require political self-sacrifice on the part of a lot of politicians (who are not known to be a self-sacrificing lot).  Still, what else would give them excuse to break the European Union, deport all the Muslim immigrants who have been infiltrating their countries over the past few decades, and throw out the whole "globalist"/"multicultural" ideal for the next generation or two?  What else could reverse the effect of half a century of cunning Arab propaganda besides actual experience with a lot of not-so-subtle Muslim invaders?

So the question is, have the various governments of Europe been incredibly stupid, or amazingly cunning?

I can't think of any middle ground between the two.  Can you?

--Leslie <;)))>< Fish   



Thursday, May 12, 2016

This Means War!

I have had it with those goddamn gophers!  I did no more than shovel dirt back in their holes when they burrowed up under the floor in the storage shed.  I only flooded their tunnels with water when they started digging up my grass.  But now that they’re eating the roots of my fruit-trees, I’m going to exterminate the little buggers.

The four trees that died in my front yard might have been victims of underwatering, or the neighbor’s carelessness with weed-killer (read Roundup), but now that my original 3-year-old fig tree is dying of obvious causes, I’m not so sure about those four.  There were gopher-holes around them, after all. 

That Turkey Brown fig tree was perfectly healthy at the start of the month, budding plenty of fruit, thick with leaves.  Then the leaves mysteriously began turning yellow and falling off.  I applied plenty of fertilizer and minerals and water, but all that happened was that the remaining leaves withered without even turning yellow first.  It also became very loose in the ground.  ‘Twas Sharan who figured it out – and found the gopher tunnel that led to that tree.  “It has no roots,” she pronounced.  The damned gophers had eaten the nice succulent roots of my fig tree.

So we spent yesterday afternoon hunting up gopher-holes, digging them out, finding which ones led to actual tunnels and which ones were shallow little one-night gopher motels (about one to three), stuffing gopher-bombs down the tunnels and sealing the holes with dirt after them.  The way a gopher-bomb works is that it burns phosphorus (which won’t harm the plant roots;  it’s an ingredient in common fertilizer) in the tunnel, thereby sucking up all the oxygen in the tunnel and replacing it with animal-fatal phosphorus smoke.  A small road-flare will do the same thing.  The problem is making sure you’ve found all the tunnels. 

So, tomorrow we’ll go down to the hardware store and get a bunch of gopher-bombs, or road-flares if they’re cheaper, and after that the search-and-destroy mission begins.  We’ll tramp up and down both our yards – which is no small feat, given the size of those yards – looking for gopher-holes and digging them up.  Wherever we find a tunnel, in goes a lit flare.  I’m also looking for a mail-order house where I can get Gopher-Purge seeds, and in every hole where we don’t find a tunnel I’ll plant those seeds. 

I expect I’ll also go out with the pickaxe and root up those weeds that Roderick missed, and plant Gopher-Purge there, too.  Of course, if I could have found anybody in the state of Arizona who sells live Gopher Snakes, this problem could have been solved a lot easier;  poke some hungry snakes down the tunnels, and let them do their thing.  Alas, no available snakes.  Damn.

I have reason to be anxious about the other trees, too.  The new almond tree hasn’t budded, and looks dead;  it’ll be expensive to replace.  The same with the one chestnut that I’ve got planted – but then again, the two that are still in pots haven’t budded either;  I may have to order new, older, chestnut trees from that same nursery, which won’t be cheap.  The new Scarlet fig looks healthy, but who knows when it’ll be attacked.  The little black Eight-Ball pomegranate is losing its leaves and dying, and I can’t get a new black Arisia pomegranate until September.  I’ve gotten a new Pakistani mulberry tree, but it’ll have to stay in the pot until the weather cools in autumn – the nurseryman recommended planting it in October.  Ditto with the apricot, macademia and avocado trees – and the avacados will need special planting to keep salt in the soil away from them (dig a hole at least four feet deep and eight feet wide, fill it with mulch and potting soil, mound it up in the center, plant the tree at the top of the mound, and then water from the top of the mound only so that the water will always flow away from the tree, flooding away the salt). 

All this is going to cost us, and we’re pinched for income.  The one thing we can’t afford is to keep replacing trees because the goddamn gophers eat their roots!  The Neem oil has done a fine job of protecting the trees from molds and bugs, but it’ll take serious war to get rid of the gophers.  So I’m appealing for donations again, to help us buy armaments as well as replacements.  Anyone who thinks that a war of extermination is always an Unthinkable Evil has never owned an orchard attacked by gophers.  Kill ‘em all, kill ‘em all: no mercy.  Maybe I should print up personal War Bonds.

--Leslie <;)))><        

Friday, April 29, 2016

Encounter With a Cat-Hater

Understand that I've started up a club to promote my new breed of kitty-cats, which meets every Sunday noon in Kell Park, next to the Buckeye downtown library.  While waiting for interested cat-lovers to show up, I display three or four of my cats in a folding cage, set out cheap soft drinks and play cat-themed songs -- of which I have almost enough to make an album by now.

I hadn't realized that I, and especially my cats, had an enemy.

So I was sitting on the bench in Kell park, singing cat songs, when this woman came walking by.  She was middle-aged, with the kind of discreetly chic clothing and jewelry that whispers of money.  She gave me barely a glance, but she stopped to look at the cage with the three silver cats in it, frowned, and asked me what I was doing there.  I explained that this was a meeting of the Silverdust cat club, and I was waiting for the other members to show up.  She asked what sort of 'cat club' it was, and I explained further: that this is a new breed of cat, and I'm seeking out other cat-lovers to help develop the breed.

That set her off.  She launched into a tirade about how nobody should be breeding cats, we should be spaying and neutering them instead -- all of them, since cats are an "ecological disaster".  She claimed that "cats kill songbirds", that cats "kill billions of birds and mammals every year" and "have driven 35 species to extinction", and more, and more.  She was working herself up to a serious hysterical rant, and when she started arching her fingers -- with their inch-long red-painted nails -- into claws, I grew seriously afraid that she'd attack me or my kitties.  I didn't say anything, but I discreetly slid my hand down to my belt-purse and gripped my gun.  I don't know if she saw that or not, but she checked herself, gave me a poisonous smile and said "Think about all that," and turned and hurried away.

Well, that was upsetting enough to remember clearly.  After another hour with nobody else showing up, my husband helped me pack up and take everything home, and I went straight to my computer to do some research.  It turns out that there are a lot of people -- including, under their supposedly animal-loving exterior, the PETA people -- who believe all that vicious nonsense.  And nonsense it is, carefully crafted and spread by people who clearly hate cats -- including, if you please, some veterinarians!  Just why they hate cats I can't say, but their hatred is genuine enough to motivate them to some amazing lies.

For example, that one about "cats kill billions of birds and mammals":  depending on who you talk to, there are between 74 and 93 million cats in the US.  The vast majority of them (the 74 million figure) live in human households, where they get regular meals and have no need to hunt.  Cats, like humans, who hunt for sport don't kill very many prey.  As for stray/feral cats (probably the other estimated 20 million), they live around human settlements and mostly feed off what humans produce -- including large populations of rats and mice.  Now a billion is a thousand million, and there's no way that even 93 million cats could kill one billion -- let alone two or more -- birds and mammals.  The only way to get that figure is to add up, or estimate, the number of prey of every species of cat in the world:  not only house-cats but bobcats and lynxes, ocelots and margays, leopards and cheetahs, lions and tigers, jaguars and cougars, and a dozen species more. 

Then there's that one about "driven 35 species to extinction".  I couldn't find any solid proof of that statement, just claims of falling prey-animal populations with no proof that house-cats were the cause.  Also, some of those "species" turned out to be only sub-species -- breeds -- such as a local brown-footed variety of a usually white-footed mouse.  This is bad science.

As for the charge that "cats kill songbirds", that can be disproved just by observing birds.  Except for the raptors -- owls, hawks, eagles -- birds have eyes on the sides of their heads, so that they can see almost completely around them without moving their heads.  And they do move their heads!  It's very, very difficult to sneak up on a bird;  the only animals that seem to manage it consistently are snakes -- not any kind of mammal.  For another thing, 99% of all birds on Earth can fly.  In a split second, a bird can thrash its wings and be ten feet up in the air -- and I've never seen a cat that could jump higher than eight feet up.  Third, birds are fast.  Their metabolism and reaction time is faster than any other order of animals.  In fact, the fastest-moving animal on Earth is a bird -- the hummingbird, to be precise, which usually beats its wings twice a second.  A bird can easily fly faster than a cat can run -- or jump.  Now some people worry about cats climbing trees to get at nests and eat the eggs or baby birds, but consider that most birds raise their young as pairs -- one parent to tend the eggs or babies while the other hunts for food.  That means that the nest is always watched by at least one bird, who can quickly call the other for help if a predator approaches.  Two angry birds attacking one cat, who also has to worry about falling, is no contest.  The result is that cats very rarely manage to kill birds, and then only those too sick or injured to fly.  The chief predator of birds is other birds -- hawks, owls, eagles -- with snakes coming in second and mammals (all mammals) a distant third.

Now the chief prey of house-cats -- or other small cats in the wild -- is small rodents: mice, rats, voles, moles, gophers, ground squirrels, sometimes tree squirrels, and even small bats.  Snakes and raptor-birds also prey on rodents, and in the wild they keep the populations of rodents under control.  In the human-ruled part of the world though, the ratios are different.  Tree-squirrels may live in our suburbs and other rodents out in farming country, but in our cities the most common rodents by far are mice and rats.  Likewise, the closer you get to urban areas, the fewer the species of predators are.  In fact, the only serious predators of urban or suburban rodents are -- guess! -- small dogs and cats.  Get rid of the cats, and the small dogs (as the PETA people love to do), and it will be a race between the rats and the mice as to which species takes over the city first.  Once the rats or mice have moved in, it will take a lot of cats and small dogs -- and snakes, if you can get them -- several years to drive them out again.  Just ask the city of Apopka, Florida.

So there are not too many cats -- or dogs -- in the world.  There are too many rodents, and that is the doing of man -- and has been, for the last 10,000 years: ever since humans started farming, and provided rats and mice with a reliable smorgasbord.  The ancestors of house-cats, following the mice and rats, moved in with humans not long afterward.  We've had a good working relationship ever since. 

As I said, I don't know why the cat-haters hate cats -- Chinese legend says that such people were rats in a former life -- but they do us no favors with their lies and half-truths and attempts to get rid of cats. 

If that crazy woman comes back on Sunday, when I'll be out in Kell park with my guitar and my cats, I really don't know what I'll do -- but I know I won't let her harm my little creatures.  And I always wear my gun.

--Leslie <;)))>< Fish