Readers’ wildlife photos

We’re going to count astronomy as wildlife today, as it’s Honorary Wildlife®. These two swell Cosmos Photos come from reader Tim Anderson in Australia, and I’ve indented his notes. As always, click on the photos to enlarge them.

It is the galaxy season in the Southern Hemisphere, which is to say that there are large number of galaxies up in the night sky down in these parts.
Here is one of them. This is an image of the Sombrero Galaxy (catalogued as M104 in the Messier catalogue). The dark dust lane that crosses the galaxy horizon is where new stars are forming.The galaxy is approximately 28 million light-years away from us. The image was formed from sixty 30-second frames taken using a colour camera and a 127mm refracting telescope.
Attached is an image of NGC 2997, a large barred spiral galaxy in the local supercluster. It is approximately 25 million light-years from Earth. The spiral arms contain many star-forming regions of ionised hydrogen gas. The image is a composite of three hundred 30-second shots taken with a colour astronomical camera and a 100mm refracting telescope.

And two marine invertebrates sent by reader Carl Sufit:

From my first and only trip to Turks and Caicos Islands in 2016 (geologically part of the Bahamas chain, so I’ve read):
First, the commonly seen Flamingo Tongue snail Cyphoma gibbosum, ~ 3cm long.  These hang out on (and eat) various Gorgonia (not sure of this species) at  fairly shallow depths .  I’ve heard many divers refer to them as nudibranchs, as they don’t see a shell (but also don’t see any “naked” branchial structures).  What one generally sees is the mantle that has spread out over the shell, and here you see the cephalad (I think) portion of the foot.  The underlying shell has the characteristic central bulge that you can see.

Next is the much less common fingerprint snail, formerly Cyphoma signatum?  This was the first time I’d knowingly seen one, pointed out by our guide. It was very close to some Flamingo Tongues, maybe even on the same coral—I don’t remember.  Apparently the old taxon is kaput, and this is now considered the same species as the above, C. gibbosum.  I’m not a biologist, and don’t know how those changes happen.  Some websites still show the prior name, and some had some very recent dates as to the change.  Was it DNA analysis, or breeding fertile “hybrids??” (I’d like to see the patterns of any crosses, but maybe the common pattern is dominant??)
Again, I don’t know the coral species.


Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

The work week has begun anew as we wend our way slowly toward extinction. It’s Monday, April 15, 2019, and if you’re an American, your tax form is due today.  It’s National Ham Day, from which Jews and Muslims are excluded. It’s also these days, too:

In honor of World Art Day, here is some lovely art; I needn’t tell you the painter:

On this day in 1755, Dr. Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language was published in London. On April 15, 1783, long after the fighting had ended, a preliminary peace treaty for ending the American RevolutionaryWar was ratified, at least according to Wikipedia, though I can find that date nowhere else. The error-ridden site says this: “Preliminary peace articles were signed in Paris on 30 November, while preliminaries between Britain, Spain, France, and the Netherlands continued until September 1783. The United States Congress of the Confederation ratified the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784. Copies were sent back to Europe for ratification by the other parties involved, the first reaching France in March 1784. British ratification occurred on April 9, 1784, and the ratified versions were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784. The war formally concluded on September 3, 1783.” Where’s April 15?

On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died after he was shot the previous evening in Ford’s Theater by John Wilkes Booth. Vice-President Andrew Johnson became President.  On April 15, 1912, at 2:20 a.m., the RMS Titanic slipped beneath the sea after having struck an iceberg shortly before midnight.  On April 15, 1920, two security guards were murdered during a robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts: the crime for which Sacco and Vanzetti were subsequently convicted and executed.

Again I find doubtful information in Wikipedia, which states that on this day in 1923, “Insulin becomes generally available for use by people with diabetes.” But I can find that date nowhere else. It is a fact, though, that on April 15, 1945, Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany was liberated by British and Canadian troops. Here are some of the happy women who survived and were liberated:

It was on April 15, 1947 that Jackie Robinson debuted at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black man to play major league baseball.  Further, and again this is dubious, Wikipedia says that on this day in 1955, “McDonald’s restaurant dates its founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc, in Des Plaines, Illinois.”  Well, maybe the chain does, but look at this, also from Wikipedia:

The oldest operating McDonald’s restaurant is the third one built, opened in 1953. It is located at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. at Florence Ave. in Downey, California (at 33.9471°N 118.1182°W).

If you’re nearby, go visit it! (Downey, of course, was where the Carpenters were from.) But if this is the case, and the Golden Arches were already in place in 1953, then the franchise’s founding date is bogus. 

And according to Wikipedia’s article on McDonald’s No. 1 Store Museum (see below), we see where the date comes from: “Ray Kroc’s involvement with the firm.” Who cares??? What a Kroc!

The McDonald’s #1 Store Museum is housed in a replica of the former McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, opened by Ray Kroc in April 1955. The company usually refers to this as The Original McDonald’s, although it is not the first McDonald’s restaurant but the ninth; the first was opened by Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California in 1940, while the oldest McDonald’s still in operation is the third one built, in Downey, California, which opened in 1953. However, the Des Plaines restaurant marked the beginning of future CEO Kroc’s involvement with the firm. It opened under the aegis of his franchising company McDonald’s Systems, Inc., which became McDonald’s Corporation after Kroc purchased the McDonald brothers’ stake in the firm.

The actual Des Plaines restaurant was demolished in 1984, but McDonald’s realized they had a history to preserve, so they built a replica.

I do remember when burgers, shakes, and fries were each 15 cents, so you could get a filling lunch for less than half a dollar. I grow old!

On this day in 1989, 96 Liverpool fans were killed during a human crush at Hillsborough Stadium in the FA Cup semifinal. This is known as the Hillsborough disaster.  Finally, it was on this day six years ago that the Tsarnaev brothers set off two bombs near the finish of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 and injuring 264.  One of the brothers was killed in the manhunt, while the other, Dzhokhar, was sentenced to death in federal court and is on death row in Colorado.

Notables born on this day include Leonardo da Vinci (1452), Guru Nanak (1469, the first Sikh guru), Leonhard Euler (1707), Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772), Émile Durkheim (1858), Thomas Hart Benton (1889), Nikita Khrushchev and Bessie Smith (both 1894), Nikolaas Tinbergen (1907), Kim Il-sung (1912), Harold Washington (1922), Dodi Fayed (1955), Emma Thompson (1959; she’s 60 today), and Seth Rogen (1982).

Those who gave up the ghost on Tax Day include Abraham Lincoln (1865, see above), Matthew Arnold (1888), Father Damien (1889), the victims of the Titanic, including John Jacob Astor IV and Isidor and Ida Strauss (all 1912), Wallace Beery (1949), Jean-Paul Sartre (1980), Jean Genet (1986), Greta Garbo (1990), Pol Pot (1998), and Edward Gorey (2000).  Gorey, of course, loved cats and often drew them:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is asking about the domestication of cats:

Hili: What actually united humans and cats?
A: I’m afraid it was mice.
In Polish:
Hili: Co właściwie połączyło ludzi i koty?
Ja: Obawiam się, że myszy.

And in nearby Wloclawek, it’s exam time for secondary-school students, and Leon wishes them luck:

Leon: Exam tomorrow? I’m keeping my claws crossed.

Jutro egzamin? Trzymam pazurki!

A gif from the CHEEZburger site, courtesy of reader Su. This cat would be a great goalie in the Feline League:

I found this one by looking at the Twitter sites that Matthew and Grania follow:

A tweet from reader Barry:

Tweets from Matthew. I believe the first one is Kevin Richardson, aka The Lion Whisperer. Somehow he remains alive.

Oh man, that goose is a real jerk:

Progress in making robots is dramatic. Look at this one!

I don’t know what kind of kittens these are (Abyssinians?) but they’re adorable.

Tweets from Grania. The first one is muy heartwarming:

Poor lion! But he’s a good swimmer.

This should help you appreciate how small hummingbird nests and eggs are. You dare not eat that peach!

The results of a human sneeze:

A duck sausage fest: six drakes

It started out with two drakes this morning. Then it began snowing and then there were three (photographed from my office window):

Now there are SIX. That’s Gregory in the foreground, doing his best to defend the pond and drive the others out, but I dare not feed him lest the others stay:


What the deuce is going on out there? Does snow make the drakes go to ponds?

New Twitter account flags article on research conducted in mice but implied to be in humans

We all know how bad popular science reporting has become, and here’s yet more evidence. This new Twitter account, justsaysinmice, is useful as it indicts not scientific studies but journalists who report scientific studies in mice as if their results were in humans. It’s not just that they say “this could apply to humans”, but they flat-out mislead the readers into thinking that they ARE IN HUMANS or ARE KNOWN TO APPLY to HUMANS.

Here are a few examples that I checked, and yes, the studies reported were all in mice. I love the moderator’s all-caps notation “IN MICE”.

Mice don’t eat bacon.

That is reported here. Note the picture of the pregnant woman, clearly implying this is in humans.

Are female mice “women”? Report on this study is here.

Original study here (IN MICE).

If you’re interested in science journalism and follow Twitter, this will be a site to watch. And maybe it’ll help hold journalists’ feet to the fire.

h/t: Grania


Consent condoms: a big fail for the woke

Well, I suppose this product sounds good for about a millisecond when you first hear about it, but another millisecond’s thought proves it to be a dumb and unworkable attempt to solve the issue of consent—and lack thereof—in sexual relations.  The report originates with CNN, which shows the product at issue: a condom in a package that requires four hands to open:

From CNN:

It takes four hands to open this new condom, created by an Argentine company in a bid to highlight the importance of consent.

The “Consent Pack” of condoms was designed by ad agency BBDO Argentina for Tulipan, a company which sells adult toys and condoms.

“If it’s not a yes, it’s a no,” and “Without consent there is no pleasure” says the tagline in the promotional video, along with the hashtag #PlacerConsentido, or “permitted pleasure.”

Another tagline reads: “Consent is the most important thing in sex.”

The pack’s “unique system” requires four hands — or two people — to agree to open it, by clicking four buttons on the top and sides of the box at the same time.

Executive creative directors of BBDO Argentina, Joaquin Campins and Christian Rosli, said in a statement to CNN: “Tulipan has always spoken of safe pleasure, but for this campaign we understood that we had to talk about the most important thing in every sexual relationship: pleasure is possible only if you both give your consent first.”

The condom is limited edition for now and being given to bar customers and attendees of events around Buenos Aires. But Tulipan plans to sell it online in the future.

The article mentions as well that few Argentinian men use condoms, but I’m not sure how making the package harder to open will rectify that problem:

How it works:

Well, you can think of several problems right off the bat. First, this makes condom use marginally more difficult, not easier, and so doesn’t mitigate the problem of Argentinian men not using condoms. Second, if a guy was planning to have sex with a woman (or vice versa), you can always get a friend to help you open the box beforehand. I can imagine that some people would find this a better solution because it minimizes interruption of the sex act. Third, unless this is the ONLY kind of condom available, of what use is it? People can always buy the regular kind.

I suppose a woman could produce this product and insist that a man use it or there will be no sex, but she can simply produce a regular condom and insist on the same thing. If he refuses and tries to force a woman to have sexual intercourse without a condom and without her consent, that is an act of rape that will not be alleviated by this product.

Finally, by the time a condom is required during sex—right before intercourse—it would seem that there has already been mutual consent. But there lies the rub(ber)! The most common objection is that consent can be withdrawn after even a four-handed condom has been produced, but there are others:

From Cosmopolitan (their emphasis):

I get the idea: The four-hand requirement ensures that there’s been a clear, consensual agreement from two parties who are about to have sex. In theory, these condoms should promote having a conversation beforehand (never a bad thing!), and from what I can tell, are meant to be somewhat of a symbolic product dropped in a few bars around Buenos Aires. Clearly, no harm intended.

The thing is…the assumption behind this new condom completely misses the mark. It presents a fantasy in which sex is always clear cut and naturally egalitarian; where the simple act of two able-bodied individuals opening a box together assures an equally straightforward sexual experience. It believes that people (including rapists and sexual predators or abusers) always wear condoms in the first place and importantly, that once a condom is on, consent cannot be revoked. Ever. It’s a done deal.

. . . Reading #MeToo accounts can be painful, and it’s understandable, even admirable, that people want to help eliminate sexual violence. The problem is: It’s not going to be simple, or easy, or quick. Consent lives in the nuances of human interaction. Consent involves navigating tricky areas—someone saying “yes” because they’re too shy to say “no,” or verbalizing something like, “It kind of hurts, but I think I’m okay?”

Rolling Stone raises issues that I didn’t even think of!

Instead of being applauded for promoting the importance of consent, the Tulipan condom ad was excoriated on social media, for a fairly wide range of reasons. Some argued it was ableist, as it discounted the experience of amputees who would be unable to open the condom; others argued that it was discriminatory against polyamorous people, on the grounds that it assumed that only two people would be having sex. Some people even expressed concern that such condoms would be used as “evidence,” potentially in sexual assault cases, to protect those accused of sexual assault rather than the accusers, as a way to demonstrate that consent had been provided when it in fact had not.

. . . the Tulipan ad fundamentally misunderstood the concept of consent. As one woman wrote, “putting on a condom does not equal automatic consent of all sexual activity.” The ad basically glosses over the fact that consent can be revoked midway through the act — if one partner does something that the other is uncomfortable with, for instance, or simply if one partner changes their mind for whatever reason. Agreeing to use a condom is a step in the ongoing process of obtaining sexual consent, but it is by no means the final one, and some argued that the campaign minimized the need for an ongoing and open dialogue about consent during and after sex, not just beforehand.

And from HuffPost:

But while the product may be well-intended, critics, including sex therapists, say it promotes some misguided ideas about consensual sex: True consent is not a one-time transaction ― press the magic buttons or hear “yes” once and you’re in the clear. Consent is an ongoing conversation.

But how ongoing?

Yes, of course consent—and it’s clear they’re talking about women—can be withdrawn at any time, and if it is then you need to stop. What bothers me about this is the introduction of this product, and the conversation about it, demonstrates an increasing fear of sex and of accusations of forced sex, issues that surely must be affecting young people.  Certainly consent should be there by both partners throughout the act, but it seems to me that constant questioning of the sort like “Now that I have the condom on, can I insert my penis into you?” has to not only take the pleasure out of sex, but make students unwilling to have sex at all. (This is not a joke: Brown University specifies a series of questions like this.) Does consent always have to be verbal, in answer to a question?

It’s a tough thing to be a sexually healthy young person these days, and the idea of making the act of sex into a continual contract, whether that be verbal or written, combined with the fear of a post-coital accusation of “implied lack of consent”, is gong to turn a lot more young folk into celibates.

Duck report: The Battle of the Drakes

We’ll be back to Readers’ Wildlife tomorrow, but I wanted to slip in a duck report. What took place was an epic battle of the drakes that started yesterday afternoon and continues this morning. (Honey is off somewhere, perhaps sitting on her eggs.)

Since the trees outside my office haven’t yet leafed out, I get a nearly full view of the pond. About noon yesterday I looked down and saw two drakes swimming side by side, synchronously. Sometimes one would hop onto the shore and then hop back, and the synchronized swimming would resume. This went on for several hours nonstop.

Wondering what it was about, I went down to the pond with my camera, and discovered that the drakes weren’t being pals, as I thought they were, but were having a ritual battle of some sort. When they swam side by side, one would peck the other (one duck was always the peckee, the other the pecker). The peckee would eventually jump onto the bank, with the pecker looking up at him. Then the pecker would jump on the bank and chase the peckee, and the latter would jump back into the pond. This continued for several hours, until I left work. They were clearly having a battle, probably over territory. I was grateful that they didn’t seem to be hurting each other.

Here’s what it looked like yesterday afternoon (both videos were taken within the same quarter-hour period):

I think the dominant duck is Gregory, but I’m not sure; perhaps a reader could help. At any rate, the battle continues this morning. When I walked to work, I heard quacking not from the pond, but from the student union courtyard nearby. I couldn’t see the ducks, but when I checked the pond and whistled, the quacking got louder, approaching me, and suddenly there was a huge splash as both drakes plopped into the pond beside me. And then the battle continued.

Gregory is not eating and I worry that this is using up all his energy. I also wonder why the defeated duck won’t surrender and leave the pond. I don’t think he knows there’s a hen around.

UPDATE: Gregory was by himself about half an hour ago, and I fed him a big meal. He was famished! But now I see that the Peckee has returned to the pond and the passive-aggressive battles have resumed.


Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s Ceiling Cat’s Day: Sunday, April 14, 2019, and you will be stoned to death if you gather sticks on this day. It’s National Pecan Day, courtesy of Big Pecan, and South and Southeast Asian Solar New Year, when the Sun enters the constellation of Aries. I don’t believe in astrology, of course, but I bet lots of good food will be served.

The weather in Chicago, which has been sunny and on the warmish (17°C) side, has turned vicious, with rain, snow, and a temperature of 3° C (38° F) this morning. The drakes are still battling it out in the pond (see next post), but I’m concerned that Honey is shivering on her eggs.

On this day in 1561, as Wikipedia notes, “A celestial phenomenon is reported over Nuremberg, described as an aerial battle.”  From the picture below, I suspect it was a sundog, or perhaps a mass hallucination. Here’s a picture and description of the phenomenon as given in a news broadsheet printed that month (see the translation of the description, which is truly bizarre, here):

On this day in 1828, Noah Webster copyrighted the first edition of his famous dictionary.  And on April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth while watching a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Lincoln died the next day.

Another interesting but obscure bit of history from Wikipedia: on April 14, 1881, “The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight is fought in El Paso, Texas.” It was indeed that fast, and three of the four dead were shot by  Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire.  On this day in 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m, and sank about three hours later.  In 1939, John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath, which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It also played a role in Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded in 1962.

Two hail incidents occurred on April 14. In 1986, the biggest hailstones ever reported—a full kilogram in weight (2.2 pounds), were reported in the Gopalgani district of Bangladesh. The hail killed 92 people. Bangladesh just can’t catch a break: floods, famine, and now hailstorms! Here’s a smaller one that fell in South Dakota in 2010: it had a circumference of 47.3 cm (18.6 inches) and weighed 0.88 kg (1.9 pounds). These are killers! (See more such records at Hail World Records.)

And look at this hailstorm in Cardston, Alberta in 2012:

Speaking of hail, on this day in 1999 a huge hailstorm struck Sydney, Australia, producing 2.3 billion Australian dollars in damage; it’s been pronounced “the most costly natural disaster in Australian history.” Here are some hailstones from that one, given with a cricket ball for scale.

Finally, it was on this day 16 years ago that the Human Genome Project was pronounced “completed,” as 99% of the genome had been sequenced with a reported accuracy of 99.99%.

Notables born on this day include Ann Sullivan (1866, Helen Keller’s teacher), Arnold Toynbee (1889), John Gielgud (1904), Rod Steiger (1925), Loretta Lynn (1932), Frank Serpico (1936), Julie Christie (1940), Pete Rose (1941), and Francis Collins (1950, who of course was part of the Human Genome Project completion, announced on his birthday).

Those who expired on April 14 include George Frideric Handel (1759), Rachel Carson (1964), F. R. Leavis (1978), Burl Ives (1995), Don Ho (2007), and Percy Sledge (2015).

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili acts out an aphorism:

Hili: I have a feeling that the grass is greener on the other side of the path.
A: You’ll have to check it.
In Polish
Hili: Mam wrażenie, że po drugiej stronie ścieżki trawa jest zieleńsza.
Ja: Musisz to konieczenie sprawdzć.

Below are two tweets I pulled from the feed of reader Dorsa Amir. The evolution of whales from terrestrial artiodactyls is one of our best-documented examples of “macroevolution” in the fossil record. Click on the whole tweet to see some specimens:

My dad used to ask me, “Jerry, think of a face you never saw before,” knowing it would be nearly impossible. And it was. But now we can produce such faces!

A tweet from reader Nilou; cats will be cats:

Tweets from Grania: more “cats will be cats”:

Given the credits, this seems like a real video, but it’s still hard to believe:

This is also amazing: a pigeon enforcer!

This is true: read the article to see how Volkswagen got into the sausage business:

Tweets from Matthew. Ponder these temporal changes in favored genres of movies over the last 108 years. The fall of Westerns and the rise of documentaries!

Ceiling Cat bless that owl!

I really need to read this article. The biogeography of cat fleas!

Giant isopods on the sea floor rip apart an alligator carcass!

Reader J. J. sent me a link to the fascinating video below along with the commentary below, which, along with the video, tells you all you need to know. I’ll add, though, that this euthanized gator was placed ten miles off the coast of Louisiana and 1.25 miles down on the sea bed. And I have the feeling that this study was motivated as much by simple curiosity than by the more arcane questions the scientists raise in their narration. You can almost imagine a Gary Larson cartoon with a couple of lab-coated nerds saying, “Hey, I wonder what would happen if we dumped this big alligator carcass on the bottom of the sea and watched it?”

Giant isopods are crustaceans that live in the deep sea and scavenge for food. And they are giant. As Wikipedia notes, “the adults generally are between 17 and 50 cm (6.7 and 19.7 in). One of the “supergiants”, B. giganteus, reaches a typical length between 19 and 36 cm (7.5 and 14.2 in), with a maximum weight and length around 1.7 kg (3.7 lb) and 76 cm (30 in), respectively.”  A 2.5-foot, four-pound isopod! I wonder if they would make good eating? They are, after all, crustaceans.

From J. J.:

I just came across this culinary video of giant isopods dining on a dead alligator. I don’t know if you’ve seen it: it’s dated April 5, 2019 on Youtube.  There’s informative narration from two of the scientists involved in the dropping-dead-alligators-into-the-sea-to-see-what-happens project. (The gators were donated from a project to save American alligators, and were humanely killed.)

The meal itself starts about 2 min. in. Grisly but fascinating. However, the video preface is interesting because it shows some crazy denizens of the sea floor that I’ve never seen before, even on WEIT (or missed them), which frequently posts about weird sea creatures — a red fish looks as if it has a propellor on one side, another fish that looks like it’s on stilts,

I’m glad that you had a good trip and showed us photos of your culinary adventures — much more civilized than the isopods eating the gator, but I’m sure their special dinner was just as delectable to them as your Dutch dinners were to you, …especially since they might not eat again for years​. I’d bet it was a 5-star meal to them — some gorged themselves so much that they dropped to the sea floor in surfeit.​


Saturday duck report

Honey hasn’t shown up at the pond for 2.5 days, but I suspect she’s off incubating her eggs. Meanwhile, her mate Gregory Peck (aka Mallard Fillmore aka Dr. Quackenstein) spends most of his day swimming around and around the pond, often quacking. He rarely rests, and will eat only a bit when I feed him. For a while I suspected he was neurotic or even mentally ill, but I think this compulsive behavior is just his expending nervous energy while waiting for Honey’s return.

Finally, this morning I saw him resting: sleeping on the “duck ring” with one eye closed:

The whiteness in the eye is his nictitating membrane, which is how he closes his eye while sleeping:

As the weather has been warmer, the turtles have been out in force, trying to get into the sun to warm themselves. This poor guy failed to achieve purchase on Duck Island #1:

Caturday felid trifecta: Garfield the supermarket cat signs his book; watching cat videos for a living; police cat gets promoted after coercing confession form a suspect

Here, from the BBC, is the story of Garfield the Ginger cat, who took up residence in a Sainsbury’s grocery store in Ely, Cambridgeshire (click on screenshot). Now he has a Facebook page and a popular book.

From the BBC:

Ginger tom Garfield took a liking to Sainsbury’s in Ely, Cambridgeshire, after the store was built on his old stomping ground.

. . . . Garfield, now 12, first started visiting the store after it was built in 2012 on a meadow opposite the flat where he lives with owner David Willers.

His favourite spot was a sofa in the Virgin travel shop in Sainsbury’s lobby, and he often tries to get into people’s cars outside the store.

Fans of the cat posted photos of him at the supermarket and at one point his owner had to ask people to stop feeding him as he was becoming fat.

Facebook page set up with photos of the cat in the supermarket has a following of more than 5,500 fans from places as far away as the United States, Canada, Australia and Russia.

A book of his adventures and misadventures has now been written by Mr Willers with Suffolk author Cate Caruth.

The title – What’s THAT Doing There – refers to Garfield’s reaction when a fence was erected across his favourite meadow ahead of the supermarket being built.

Some drawings from the book:

The book tells how Garfield was once banned from the store for scratching a customer who became a little too familiar – and many of his other adventures.

In the book he is called Garfield Abercrombie Reginald Fergusson, but as that was “far too much like hard work… everyone just called him Garfy”.

“It is a little familiar of people,” Garfy would always think, “but I suppose I can live with it,” he says in the first chapter.


Garfield “signed” his book in Ely Library with a paw-print stamp.

It was modelled on his real paw.

And Garfield’s staff has a tattoo of the famous moggie on his leg:



This story, also from the BBC, describes the guy who has the world’s best job, vetting cat videos for the CatVideoFest, a big movie that’s a collection of Internet cat videos. It’s received good reviews.

It so happens that the man who does the vetting is also the staff of Henri, the existentialist cat whose depressed videos became viral a few years ago.

From the BBC report:

The production is the creation of Will Braden, a 39-year-old filmmaker from Seattle, Washington.

Over the last few years, he has become king of the cat video world. He estimates that he watched about 15-17,000 last year alone.

It’s fair to say that this is not a direction Will ever thought his career would take.

His journey with cat videos started back in 2006 when he was a student at the Seattle Film Institute.

“I was supposed to do a video profile of someone and I had just procrastinated way too long,” he recalls.

Eventually his attention turned in desperation to the family pet he was looking after.

“I thought, maybe I’ll do a video profile of this cat and if I parody some of these old French New Wave films we’ve been watching and I make it funny enough, maybe they won’t notice I didn’t really follow the assignment,” Will says.

Henry, a black and white longhair tuxedo cat, became Henri le Chat Noir – a character with a parodied pretentious French persona.

The video features stoic shots of the cat and is narrated with existential musings and cutting criticism of the human world around him.

You can see a Henri video here.

Now well into his mid-teens, he officially bid Au Revoir and retired from YouTube last year.

Cat videos remain a huge part of Will’s life. He began helping to organise the festival in 2014, and then took it alone as CatVideoFest in 2016 when the art centre stopped hosting.

Since, he’s been a one-man-band running it alone. His day job involved combing through the far corners of the internet, thousands of submissions, booking venues and handling marketing.

In 2018 he signed a nationwide distribution deal – a move that has made the festival’s ticket sales explode.

By the end of 2019 the film will have reached more than 200 theatres across the US. A chunk of proceeds from each screening is donated to a local cat shelter in every city.

Go see it: you can find out where it’s showing here.  And here’s the official trailer:


Finally, from Cole and Marmalade, we hear of a police cat in North Carolina called Sergeant Butterscotch (click on screenshot).

Police Cat Receives Promotion After Coercing Confession From Suspect With His Therapeutic Purr

The good sergeant wandered into the police station a year ago and was immediately adopted, helping the officers and detectives with their paperwork:

But then he did his job as a detective!

But his secret weapon would show itself soon enough. Not only was it unexpected, it was effective at serving justice! 

Shortly after he began his watch at the station, he earned a well-deserved promotion–purrmotion?

After a high-speed chase ended in the county, a suspect was brought in. The woman was eventually approached by the “fuzz’, in this case, literally. Butters confronted the woman with a sly sparkle in his eye. His methods were simple for flushing out a confession.

office, the woman reached down and picked him up.

“Awe, look at the little cat,” she reportedly exclaimed. 

Butters [sic] purr motor started and the woman fell under his therapeutic spell. Sitting and calmly petting the soothing cat, the suspect eventually came to her senses. She confessed to the crime right then and there!

Sgt. Butters, as he’s called, is the official Department Food Inspector, and gets lots of visitors at the police station. Who can resist a Police Cat (or, for that matter, a Grocery Store Cat)?

h/t: Laurie