Archive for the ‘LOLcats’ Category

My Christmas Note to Our Pres

Last week I got a holiday card from President Obama and family. I also keep hearing about how Michelle wants to invite me to dinner – or at least, I’ve got a chance of winning a seat at the table.

Since I’m still Facebook friends with Barack, I took the liberty of answering when he asked on FB what I’d like to talk about over a presidential meal:

WTF rule of law. WTF signing the new detention bill and not vetoing as announced. WTF civil liberties! WTF executing American citizens summarily, without trial, and forcing Bradley Manning to spend long hours naked. WTF habeus corpus and posse comitatus. And not least for us gals, WTF Plan B?!

I promise these topics will flow with pizzazz and charm over fine cuisine and the right wine.

That’s my little holiday rant, verbatim, sent directly to our Commander-in-Chief. Ah, the wonders of social networking!

What are the odds this’ll land me on a watch list of some sort?

(From I Can Has Cheezburger?)

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So tell me, if you’ve ever fantasized about sex in public, did you have a solo effort in mind? And if so, did you imagine just how mind-blowingly sexy it’d be to whack off in your local Walmart? That’s a scenario I’ve never seen in Cosmo. In fact, I think it might even invalidate Rule 34: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” (I went searching for porn set in Walmart. Maybe I’m just having a bad google day, but I came up empty.) Clearly, this is a cutting-edge sex act.

And yet, a local man (not of my acquaintance) dared to live out his pole-polishing fantasies at my local Walmart!

Details in the university’s paper of record, The Post, are tantalizingly brief and slippery:

OMG, did the paper have to juxtapose the crime report with a picture of – what’s that – an erect baseball bat? Hitting it out of the park for – a home run? Oh, Walmart dude: you should have gone to sporting goods. There, you might have started a pick-up game and at least tried to get to second base. (To be clear: the athlete pictured is not the accused Walmart wanker.)

Now, at this juncture I should take a feminist stand. I know this is my duty. I should mention that men who expose themselves in public are engaged in an act of predation and intimidation. I could regale you with my Carl’s Junior bathroom encounter with a peeping tom. And I could concede that women commit similar acts on occasion (Girls Gone Wild, anyone?), but it’s absurd to call nonconsensual exhibitionism and voyeurism a sport protected under Title IX. Instead, these are intrusive manifestations of male sexual entitlement that remind women not to step out of line or consider their sexuality their own. As always, the bedrock principle is self-determination and consent. And I’m quite certain that in this case, his fellow shoppers had not consented to a free peep show.

But I can’t sustain that argument (correct though it be). I just keep bumping into WALMART – and giggling. I mean, a guy actually decided to buff his bishop under those glaring fluorescent lights, in constant danger of ramming carts, and under the watchful eyes of store detectives (or, as the piece preciously puts it, “loss prevention officers”). This just floors me. I’m still trying to parse what it means to be “near” automotive. Was he actually in the nearby toy section, a fact that – if true – trigger a moral panic about local pedophiles? Or was he actually in automotive, turned on by the manly-man smells of grease and rubber tires? Perhaps he had just misunderstood the meaning of “lube job”?

Seeking to understand, I undertook some research, which revealed that our local miscreant was not the first to get a Walmart woody. He’s probably not even the most abject, if you consider a case reported last year in the Frisky:

In case you folks were thinking about masturbating in public anytime soon, let William Tyler Black be an example of what not to do. The 28-year-old substitute teacher (yes … teacher) was arrested in Florida (yes … Florida) yesterday for spreading his baby batter all over a local Walmart (yes … Walmart).

William apparently became aroused by the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, featuring Brooklyn Decker, while browsing at his local Walmart in Sarasota. He decided to pleasure himself right then and there, splooging all over the floor and wiping some of it onto a “Star Wars” light saber in the toy section. When confronted by the staff about his masturbation session, he said he was buying a toy for his daughter. (Oh no! He’s a father?) He was charged with battery and exposure of sexual organs. Just so we’re clear, this is not something you should ever do. I don’t care how hot Brooklyn Decker is.

At least no light sabers were involved here in Athens, though I should add that there’s one wacky connection between the two incidents: Ohio and Florida are now tied for having the least popular governors! If you’re saddled with a Governor Jerk-off, why not join him?

But geez, Walmart? Rly? This is precisely why the Ceiling Cat created almost-private rooms for us.

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If you haven’t seen this sweet kitteh hugging her very young baby, you probably haven’t been on the Internet this week. Watch for the real hug about halfway through:

If the hugging mama kitteh is already old hat, then you’ll want to proceed straight to these three clouded leopard cubs, born in the Nashville Zoo (via William K. Wolfrum). There’s no actual mother in this clip, only a human simulation of leopard-mama technique. Watch for it starting at 1:05. (My first thought: Oh, if only my son the Tiger had enough of a scruff for that trick to work!

And on the theme of calming our cubs, I’m besotted with the cover of this book,

Go the F**k to Sleep,

which isn’t out yet, but is eagerly awaited.

The cover art alone gets the Kittwampus pawprint of approval for felinity. Want to see the cozy cat family inside? The whole cubs, kits, and kaboodle has been leaked and put up on YouTube:

Sweet dreams! I, for one, am off to emulate that lucky mama tiger, except I won’t be using either of my cubs as a pillow.

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Charlie Sheen is a serial abuser of women, as Anna Holmes argued persuasively in the New York Times earlier this week. As Holmes wrote, his current two live-in partners are “disposable,” not least because they are presumed golddiggers who tarnished their virtue in sex work. I don’t care if they’re only with Sheen for the money, fame, and drugs. We should be worried for these women’s lives. Sheen’s “goddesses” (his word) are living 24/7 with a control freak with a long record of domestic violence charges and no discernable ties to reality.

Despite his evident break-up with the reality-based world, Sheen appears to have his two partners in thrall. That gives even more cause for concern. A People Magazine story portrayed the women’s relationships with him as downright Stepford-ish.

“I’ve always felt that a man should be able to be with as many women as he likes,” says Rachel Oberlin, 24, one of Sheen’s two live-in girlfriends. “I’ve never had the opportunity to share that with any man before because, honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been with a man who was even deserving of that.”

Consenting adults can order their households however they like. But what’s good for the gander ought to be good for the goose – yet here, it only the gander has the privilege of multiple partners. My understanding of ethical polyamory is that it’s based on equality, not hierarchy and paternalism. That’s the exact opposite of how Sheen describes his relationships to People Magazine quotes:

“They don’t judge me,” Sheen repeated. “They don’t lead with opinion. They don’t lead with their own needs all the time. They’re honest enough to tell me, ‘Hey, look, you – you know, park your nonsense. You gotta help me solve this.’ And we solve it.”

When it comes to household decisions, he said, “Everybody’s vote has equal importance. But when we’re approaching crisis, I remind them, ‘Look, I’m 22 years further down the road … my plan is gonna be the best one in the room. So, just trust me on that and everybody will win. Everybody will win and everybody’s needs will be taken care of.”

This is creepy, coming from a guy with a history of physically hurting women. What happens if a goddess dares to express an opinion? The old brick in the face, a la ancient Mesopotamia?

Patriarchy isn’t dead. It has just moved to Hollywood and allegedly developed an epic coke habit. (“For the win!” as Sheen might say.)

Also, the idea of Charlie Sheen as a problem solver and crisis mananger (???!!!) would be hilarious, if he were living in a universe occupied solely by the body and ego of Charlie Sheen. As it is, someone stands to get hurt.

Nonetheless, it’s Caturday, so let’s not just soberly criticize Sheen’s behavior. Let’s mock him, too! (Yes, I know he needs help. He’s making too much money off of not seeking it that mockery is perfectly fair.)

There’s lots more Sheen-y cattiness at the blog Medium Large – check it out. (Thanks to Lisa Simeone for the tip!)

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Empty-Bubble Caturday

My Grey Kitty had a way of staring into space that might have been deeply philosophical. My husband, however, always suspected that if you could see a cartoon depiction of her thoughts, it’d be an empty bubble. Other cat-owned humans have likely seen this in (in)action. Those who knew GK will know precisely what I mean.

GK had white highlights on her face and more of a sprawling belly, but otherwise the likeness isn’t too bad.

(Philosopher kitteh from ICHC? of course.)

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I’ve been very absorbed in family commitments and the terrible political news, but I didn’t want to miss my bloggiversary AGAIN, for the third year in a row.

This blog started as a space to stash thoughts and material for teaching. Within the first month it outstripped my own intentions. Blame its feline inspiration, which – like the patron cat of this blog, Grey Kitty – is hard to steer or discipline.

Three years into this experiment, with 958 posts and oodles of thoughtful comments (thank you!!) to show for it, I think it’s time to celebrate – with a purrito for each year I’ve been at this. (The two grey kittehs’ markings remind me of GK.)

(From ICHC? of course.)

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(Dazed kitteh from ICHC? captioned by me, Sungold)

Despite having foolishly booked my return flight to Ohio through Chicago, I managed to avoid getting stuck there in last weekend’s blizzard – only to be snowbound with the kids all this week. We’ve had three full snow days and two mornings with two-hour delays. The high school kids didn’t get to take their final exams today; my fifth-grader and his friends have to postpone their geography fair until January; and neither of my kids had math even once this week, since that’s scheduled first thing every morning.

A walloping half-foot of snow has fallen over the course of the week, maybe a tad more.

We here in Athens, Ohio, are not like Seattle or Atlanta, where snow takes everyone by surprise. We get it every darn winter. Here in southeast Ohio, we actually get less snow than, say, Cleveland, but my students from Cleveland laugh at our inability to carry on with school once a snowflake sticks to the ground.

The problem, this year and every year, is that we don’t have the equipment to clear the snow quickly. We don’t have the manpower. The city does pretty well at clearing the main streets, but the county roads remain impassible. It’s all a function of money. You could just as well call many of our snow days “poverty days.”

It’s not even the first day of winter, and we’ve already blown through all our snow days. In fact, thanks to our “tornado day” back in September, we’re one in the hole. Our inestimably wise legislators reduced our allotment of calamity days from five to three, starting this fall. I guess they thought our kids would get more edumacated this way. Instead, we’re likely to have a few dozen more two-hour delays between now and March. To make up the snow days that we’re sure to have in the new year, we’ll lose every holiday except MLK and Memorial Day. The school year will extend into the summer, like it does every year. And our kids will miss a month or so of math.

(From ICHC? captioned by me, Sungold)

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Messed-up FIFA Caturday

Why Qatar is the wrong choice to host the 2022 World Cup:

(Soccer kitteh from ICHC?)

Lots of oil. Plenty of petrodollars. A severe shortage of LOLkittens.

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I’ve been so serious these past two weeks, it’s time to take a brief break to gloat. As my long-time readers know, neither of those modes is my usual. I’m not typically a single-minded terrier, and I try not to be too smug. But sometimes The Kitty just has to pounce on an injustice when it’s fresh and new and potentially reversible. The TSA debacle pushed all of my buttons: Possible harm to my kids? Check. Sexualized violence? Check. Creating novel forms of bodily experience? Ugh – check. Trampling the rule of law? Checkmate!

So let this be my “Moment of Smug,” to paraphrase Colbert. Over the past few days, my post debunking the right-wing meme of TSA favoritism toward Muslim women drew thousands of hits – with this result:

In case you can’t quite read the graphic – and even if you can (because hey, I’m gloating!) – my post, “Not Exempt,” is the first listed on Google after the breaking news links. The first. Number one. Nummer eins. Woo hoo!

Starting tomorrow, instead of all-TSA all-the-time, I’ll be going back to a broader mix of posts. But for a few sweet moments, I’m going to savor my ascendancy over Fox News. Yes, I realize my post floated to the top of Google mainly because 100,000 other posts all regurgitated the same right-wing distortion, while I offered a fresh view. In spite of this, I know many readers merely sought to confirm their wingnutty views. (From my comment spam folder: a commenter with the clever handle “fuck you” tells me to “get fucked.”)

Never mind the haters. I’m still tickled that my information rose above the scum of Islamophobic disinformation. I guess I assumed disinformation always wins because it never fights fair. Some of us feel an inconvenient obligation to the truth, which hobbles you in the fight. It’s lovely to see that sometimes the truth does rise to the top. I’m happier yet that my post might have planted a few seeds of awareness in the minds of people who were sincerely questioning.

Thanks to my readers – old and new – for hanging with me! I’m not dropping the TSA story. You can expect updates when I feel moved to provide them, but they’ll be jumbled in with my usual mishmash of sex, feminism, parenting, kittehs, and any stuff that catches my fancy or pisses me off. For those playing along at home, I’ve put together a list of my TSA posts to date:

Also, if you’re not reading Cogitamus, do pop over there. Lisa Simeone has been covering the abuses of the security state in depth for years. Her co-bloggers are excellent too – among them litbrit, who like me wants Sarah Palin to explain her “wild ride.”

It remains to be seen if the TSA will really be forced to revamp their policies. So far, they seem terrified of losing face. In the meantime, though:

(Smug kitteh from ICHC?)

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Frustrated private kitteh from ICHC?

Raw Story (via Alternet) is reporting a new level of privacy violation on the web:

New software released by Cisco Systems Inc. on Wednesday makes it much easier for banks, retailers, and other businesses — including your employer — to monitor the mountain of data on social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The new SocialMiner software tracks the status updates, forum posts, and blog posts of customers and potential customers in real-time, giving businesses immediate information about consumers’ opinions and preferences. It’s pretty cheap, too: “It can also be purchased for use with a non-Cisco contact center system, Cisco officials say. In each case, SocialMiner costs $1,000 for the server and $1,500 per agent license.”

(More here.)

Now, if we lived in Europe, relief might be in sight. The same article notes that the EU is moving to stiffen privacy protections on Google, Facebook, and more. When I conducted historical research in Germany, archivists insisted on denying access to hospital records that were 80 years old, beyond the horizon where they must remain private. I suggested blacking out names, and they did that for me. (We were all very reasonable about this, but then, Sungold Research Inc. is not a profit-making corporation.)

Americans like to think of privacy as their prized value, but actually German law is far out in front of us. Folks learned from those little experiences with the Gestapo and the Stasi. I’d expect Germany to set the tone for European legislation.

For us stateside bloggers, the extension of data mining reminds me that a layer of pseudonymity, however thin, can avoid a host of hassles. If you’re a professional writer looking to promote a freelance career, then pseudonymity might cost you. The rest of us are likely to be hit by a storm of spam. (Does a product like Spam, almost fully alienated from nature, come to us like the weather? Or am I confusing this with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”?)

Alternet poses the problem as employers snooping. That’s not my worry. My program chair is aware that I blog. I just don’t want to receive even more penis spam, aimed at my nonexistent penis!

Anyway, the rise of data mining strikes me as another good reason to play a tomato on the Internet. This is a very fine day to be “Sungold.”


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(Nauseated kitteh from ICHC?)

The AP is reporting that John Kasich has bumped Ted Strickland from the governor’s seat in Ohio.

That’s the only race that hung in the balance for me, semi-locally. From here on out, given Kasich’s record on higher ed, it may well be my own job that’s hanging by a thread.

Perhaps ironically, my husband passed his citizenship interview earlier today. He hasn’t taken the oath of citizenship yet. It’s not too late for him to back out. (Not that I expect he will, but hey, he’s still got the option. Envious, anyone?)

Also in Ohio politics: Boehner, our new Speaker-in-waiting. Isn’t it a bit of a pity that his name can be misread as “boner”? I mean, a friendly boner is generally rather nice. Boehner? Well, he’s just a dick.

(Sorry for the cheap shots, but I haven’t been this bummed since 2004. And 2000. And 1994. And 1988 and 1984.)

As for the country as a whole? Well, the kitteh above says it all.

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Prop. 19 Caturday

I don’t live in California, so I don’t have a chance to vote for Prop. 19, which would legalize catnip marijuana. But I still loved this comment in Michael Pollan’s recent interview posted on Alternet:

I always kept a little patch of catnip in my garden for my old tomcat, Frank, who really liked it. It’s not a very difficult plant to grow. The patch was hard to miss, because it was so shrubby. But every evening around five or six o’clock, just around the time that I was going to the garden to harvest something for dinner, Frank would come down there and look at me. What he wanted to know was where that catnip was, because he managed to forget every single night. And I would point it out to him or sometimes bring him over to it, and then he would pull some leaves off, sniff them, eat them, and start rolling in the grass. He was clearly having a powerful drug experience. Then he would sneak away and sleep it off somewhere.

But the interesting thing was, as much as this became part of his daily routine, he could not remember where the catnip was. And it occurred to me that this might be a kind of evolutionary strategy on the part of the plant: instead of killing the pest, it would just really confuse it. Killing pests can be counterproductive, because they breed or select for resistance very quickly. This happens with a lot of poisonous types of plants, as it does with pesticides. But if the plant merely confuses the pests or disables their memory, it can defend itself against them overindulging. Pure speculation, as I say in the book. It occurred to me that it might help explain what’s happening with cannabis, which of course also disables memory.

(Read the rest here.)

Of course, it’s easier to muddle memory when the brain in question is the size of a walnut. And even so, Grey Kitty always knew exactly where the nip was stashed. One time while we were out, she got up on a high kitchen shelf and pulled down the baggie. We found her sprawled on the living room floor, stoned out of her little gourd. She was lying in front of the television, as if she was hoping it might magically turn itself on.

Picture of two cats, one sprawled on the ground, the other admonishing him for overdoing the catnip

Stoned kitteh from ICHC?


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(From ICHC, where every day is Caturday, a holy day of rest.)

So yeah, that ought to be just how I feel. The kids started up a week ago. Except once the kids were in school, I got inspired to de-grungify the basement, one of several sites of permamess in my house. Seriously, the EPA ought to extend its Superfund program to cover domestic permamesses. At the very least, I’m lobbying for a gas mask fitted with a top-notch HEPA filter.

What I thought was allergies from the basement turned into a distinct bug – and not one of the creepy crawlies that calls our basement home. It seems to be a wretched virus. The hallmarks of this dread disease: bone-deep aches, a ferocious sore throat, and vats of self-pity. No fever, so I’m inclined to rule out strep or flu. It could be worse: A friend of mine, hit by the same villainous germ, has comprehensive exams over the weekend for her doctoral degree in civil engineering. Oy. Join me in wishing her a quick bounceback.

As for me, when I’m not wallowing in self-pity (did I mention my husband is on a business trip until mid-weekend?), I’m stunned at how part of the basement has been transfigured. (Only “part” because the rest harbors box upon box of old baby and toddler stuff destined for a rummage sale and then ReUse Industries, our local indie thrift stores/charity.) It turns out you don’t have to eliminate every last hairy centipeds. Just vacuum up the obviously dead insects, and the basement no longer looks like a vault for the undead. We had house guests last night, and they were not repulsed by the basement. They were brave enough to sleep there. I even went barefoot down below without any obvious skin eruptions. (Yet.)

Tomorrow, I’d like to do the cat thing and aim for 14 to 16 hours of sleep. instead, I’ve got full schedule of apppointments. My plan is to guzzle Mountain Dew in hopes of finishing my syllabi (so close to done!) and maybe even writing a substantive blog post in between my other commitments. If I can’t fire up, though, you’ll know it’s not for want of trying. There just might not be enough Yellow Dye no. 6 in the world supply of Dew to revivify me.

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Zen Caturday

What is it about Japanese cats? They seem to span the most athletic (Maru, of course) to the most contented. The reigning Zen master of Japanese felinity is Shironeko. I love how he’s often smiling.

The commenters at I Can Has Cheezburger accused Shironeko and his humans of photoshopping, but I’m not so sure. Lots of cats like to squeeze into tight spaces. Not all cats appreciate having stuff placed on top of them (see: Stuff on My Cat). Shironeko is so relaxed you could probably park a twenty-pound turkey on his head. Fortunately, his humans have subjected him to nothing worse than eggplants and lettuce:

funny pictures of cats with captions

(Kitteh with stuff on his head from I Can Has Cheezburger.)

If you need more Shironeko, check out his blog. It’s all in Japanese, but when you’ve got a sunflower on your head, it really doesn’t matter. There’s also a nice selection at the Love Meow blog.

Just for the record: The photo showing a slug-like form on Shironeko actually depicts some sort of seedpod. I feel much better knowing that.

See also: Stuff on my Cat. Be forewarned, though, that most of these kittehs are pissed.

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Here’s hoping for the day when we’ll all have an equal chance to marry …

(From ICHC?)

… and to love, in spite of the odds.

(From ICHC?)

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My “cleverest” parenting ideas are like radioactive compounds. They start out relatively stable, but shortly they begin to decompose. Soon, their positive effects can be measured in nanoseconds, while their toxic fallout is guaranteed to outlive me.

Such was my clever idea of challenging the kids to a “quiet contest” in the stairwell of our Berlin apartment building. We’re there for six weeks this summer, and we expect to return next summer, too. I don’t want to be an asshole to the neighbors who will hear most of our kid chaos. The stairwell has the kind of acoustics you’d expect in a medieval castle. Everything is amplified to eleven and beyond.  Drop your keys, and they crash like a freeway pileup. Normal kid tromping, stomping, and shouting echoes until you imagine someone must be bleeding, though it’s only your own eardrums.

The first few “contests” went well, with the boys tying for first place and Mama (that’s me) losing decisively. But now the kids have begun to bicker about which of them “won.” They won’t drop the contest, even though they’ve proven to me, and to themselves, that they can be wonderfully considerate. They want to stick with it until it ends in a howling match that sets a new decibel record for the building.

It could be worse, though. Until last winter, kids were legally forbidden to make noise in Berlin. In other words, kids were forbidden to be kids! By law! Then Berlin became the first of Germany’s 16 states to allow children to make noise. (Berlin is a state in its own right, as well as a city.) Here’s how the BBC reported it last February:

Until now, only church bells, emergency sirens, snow ploughs and tractors have fallen outside the stringent rules on excessive noise in Germany.

In Berlin alone, hundreds of complaints are made each year about noise levels in kindergartens and children’s playgrounds.

Some day-care facilities have even been forced to close after local residents have gone to court in search of a quiet life.

Here’s how a BBC reporter, Joanna Robertson, experienced the harassment in her own family:

In the beginning, it was the telephone.

“Frau Robertson?” “Yes?”

“I know your daughter’s up there. She’s playing, isn’t she?”

Then came the doorbell.

Neglecting, for once, to peep through the spy-hole I opened the door, all unawares.

There she stood, square in the hallway, the neighbour from the third floor.

A successful detective novelist with a penchant for Parisian murders, she muscled her way in and could not be muscled-out again for quite some time.

The problem? My three-year-old daughter, Miranda – weight: under three stone; footwear: soft bedroom slippers – was allegedly making a noise. Only she was not. …

“Excessive child noise,” warranted a police call-out to our building for the crying of a newborn baby and, one Saturday afternoon, a group of cheerful 12-year-olds playing a game of Monopoly.

Berlin leaves me baffled. True to the spirit of the Brothers Grimm, childhood here is filled with wonders, but is unexpectedly grim.

(Read the whole thing here.)

We never had any formal complaints filed, though last week a woman in the subway was shooting poison darts out of her eyes at my two boys, who were the very picture of quiet civility. (At that moment, anyway.) But neighbors living upstairs from us had to contend with constant harassment and even a lawsuit from a hostile neighbor who simply hated kids.

Even with the new law, I’m not gonna get too smug. Childhood is officially authorized between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. At all other times – including all of Sunday – they are not to be heard. Maybe the kids’ next contest will involve putting their noise on a schedule?

Meanwhile, the garbage trucks make as much noise as they like, even at 7 a.m. Oh, and jackhammers seem to enjoy similar rights. No word on the legality of vuvuzelas.

(Intolerant kitteh from ICHC?)

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The heat spell grinds on. The German Rail company now blames global warming for its massive breakdown of high-speed trains. They were built to a “Norm” (standard) of functioning that went all the way up to 32 C (90 F), so all must be well! In the early 90s, no one could imagine such high temps (although I experienced the mid-90s and beyond in those years). So everything and everyone followed the rules!

This is the sort of head-in-sand reasoning that also ensures you can’t buy a simple fan when the mercury rises. Germany never gets really hot. Therefore stores don’t carry fans. The few fans in stock sell out immediately. An email list I run for scholars in Berlin is bubbling with desperate queries on how to locate a fan without having to mail order it. My family and I own three, which seems positively immoral – as though we’re hoarders in wartime.

If it weren’t so darned uncomfortable, I’d feel gleeful about the U.S. not being the only country that struggles with being “reality based.”

By now, though, I’m begging for mercy. The city smells nastier by the day. The collection of municipal compost – so laudable under ordinary conditions – creates walls of stench that sucker-punch passers-by. Things die, and their remains grow ever more pungent. My sweet children stink unless washed thoroughly each day. As for myself? Be grateful this blog has no scratch-n-sniff function.

The heat wave is supposed to break today, with rain and thunderstorms and more rain. Otherwise, expect me to resemble this kitteh (from ICHC, as usual).

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I periodically vent here about my squabbling offspring, but I need to pause now and celebrate a moment of pure glory.

A few days ago I crashed into a major professional roadblock. I was fretting about looming unemployment after next May. Feeling bitterly rejected. Trying to act brave while actually, literally crying into my ice cream at the edge of a busy Berlin street. (It was good ice cream, too: creme caramel gelato. It deserved better from me. As did my kids in that moment.)

After I wiped away my tears, I explained to the kids that I’d just gotten an email with some very disappointing news about my future job. They listened quietly. For once, no one interrupted.

We finished our cones and proceeded down the street, one child on either side of me. Each of them inserted their ice-cream-sticky hands into mine. Breaking the silence, the Tiger said: “Mama, the goodest thing is that you’ve got me and [the Bear].”

A child is not a job. Kids and paid work are not fungible – and what a mercy that is. But the Tiger is absolutely right. I got teary again for a whole ‘nother reason. And I remembered – I knew – I’ll be okay.

(Happy mama kitteh from ICHC? not intended to essentialize this post to bio-mothers; loving, engaged parents of all stripes and spots can be blessed the goodest thing, too.)

Update, 11:55 p.m. CET, 7/16/10: Not to leave anyone hanging: If you want details on my career roadblock, I don’t want to air them on my blog but am happy to discuss them in private with people whom I trust: sungold85 [at] gmail.com.

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I’m still waiting for someone to help me understand what the financial reform package will and won’t do. (So far, I suspect that my understanding is vague partly because the reforms themselves are vague; on German TV, I heard them described as more of a framework than a set of concrete reforms.) Until the lights breaks upon me, here are the two most helpful explanations I’ve heard of how we landed in our current financial pickle.

The first comes via Sir Charles of Cogitamus. It’s Marxist flavored, which is no surprise, since it’s a presentation by noted Marxian scholar David Harvey. But it’s not dogmatic. Harvey begins by laying out a lot of the competing theories and acknowledging that all hold some truth. If you’ve got a smidgen of Economics 101 background, it should make sense to you, whether or not you agree with Harvey’s conclusion that it’s time to opt out of capitalism.

(Here’s the clip if you can’t see it.)

The second cogent explanation aired on This American Life, “The Giant Pool of Money.” It predates the actual global market meltdown, but it does a brilliant job of connecting the American mortgage crisis to the crisis on Wall Street and the financial markets. So go here and listen: The Giant Pool of Money. The reporters on this story, Alex Blumberg and NPR’s Adam Davidson followed up after the mega-meltdown with Another Frightening Show About the Economy. Note that both of these shows aired in fall 2008 (early September and then early October). They still provide a beautifully lucid explanation of whodunit – and how.

If someone enlightens me equally on the financial regulatory reforms, I’ll be sure to share. :-)

(Kitteh in a pickle from ICHC?)

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But first things first: Germany continues to play a fun, effective, thrilling, indeed beautiful game. Berlin is buzzing with vuvuzelas, fast cars a-flutter with black-red-gold flags, and young Turkish men cheering the German team. Now I remember why I’m here and not in Ohio. All I can do is gloat. 4-0! Against Argentina!

That said, I’m still very partial to the Uruguayan soccer team. They’ve played wonderful ball and they have the handsomest players. (I know, I know – I’ve promised a post on that latter point! It’s still coming!) Uruguay is the sole survivor of the four South American teams who entered the quarterfinals. Yes, they won yesterday on penalties after an egregious “hand of God” incident, and yes, it’s awfully sad for Ghana and all of Africa. I wish that match had ended fairly. Still, selfishly, I’m glad we’ll see Diego Forlan play two more games.

Here’s Uruguay’s moment of shame and victory:

(Apologies if that clip disappears – it claims not to violate copyright. Translation: it’s probably in violation, and YouTube will axe it. Also, if you’re not seeing this clip on a reader, there are more to come, so you might as well come on over to the original post.)

Paraguay? They have an iron defense and embarrassed much-overrated Spain. In the end, though, they couldn’t take advantage of their few offensive opportunities. We cheered for them anyway.

Brazil? They deserved to lose against a scrappier Dutch team that wasn’t hobbled by overconfidence. So much for the favorite. It’s a pity because we won’t get to see any more Brazilian football for the rest of the World Cup. But then again, this team wasn’t playing Brazilian football.

Argentina? I would have put money on them beating my German team (and so would other expert analysts), but oh! We didn’t just dominate the game: except for a few scenes before the 2-0 fell, we made it look like the most natural thing in the world. Of course, a super-early goal doesn’t hurt. The view from Walhalla was so rosy, I thought the stranger at the next table was about to give me a hug. Did I mention the score was 4-0? That said, I have a soft spot for Lionel Messi. He’s an incredible player and he has “lion” right in his name. Rather than going home scoreless, I would have liked to see him sink a goal … in the 92nd minute. I still think Argentina were the best team in the tournament – that is, were, before Germany beat them today – and I’ll miss Argentina, unlike Brazil. They had great style and talent and they gave their all. Today’s match should have been the final.

Proof positive that this game was the bee’s knees? Even my little Tiger wasn’t bored. He stopped begging for me to play cards with him, and started cheering for a 5-0.

Along with the Argentine players, their coach, Diego Maradona, now has a one-way ticket home. That, too, is a pity. After France’s coach Raymond Domenech flunked out in the group stage  while substituting astrology for strategy (!!?? WTF helped this guy’s team win second place in 2006?), Maradona set the benchmark for batshittery. He relied on his dreams to pick players; told his players they could have sex as long as their women did all the work; ran over cameramen;and  trotted out his 31-year-old girlfriend to “prove” his heterosexuality. He also promised to run through Buenos Aires naked if his team won the cup. That, at least, we shall be spared. And yet, we at Kittywampus will miss him dearly.

Maradona was (of course) responsibile for the original “hand of God” moment in World Cup soccer, which you must watch now, especially if you’ve never seen it:

Right after the match, Maradona insisted that it wasn’t his hand that hit the ball into the goal. The Almighty himself had intervened. Later, perhaps fearing for his immortal soul, Maradona backpedaled a bit:

But hey, it’s Caturday, right? I don’t have any great feline soccer moments for you. Instead, in honor of the Spanish-speaking teams that have provided some awesome soccer (and let us not forget, the Brazilian speak Portuguese!), I offer up a purrito – even if it’s unlikely to be recognized south of the Texas border.

(Purrito via ICHC?)

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