CSotD: Animal Aesthetics

Non Sequitor (AMS) offers a non-controversial chuckle to start a day of myth-busting, because, yes, it would be nice if Parks & Rec also offered scooping this time of year, along with plowing a path.

Our normal leash-free zone closes in winter, but we’ve got an alternative area, the driveway to which does get plowed though we have to park and walk. Getting the dogs to cooperate by not ducking off the plowed part is trickier, and not everyone scoops once the snow sets in.

When the town adopted a leash law, we petitioned for an off-leash area and they gave us about two football fields worth of open land. However, when we asked if the no-leash exception could be swapped to the winter area during that season, the police chief said they really can’t do that without legislative action. However, there’s a lot of looking-the-other-way because dog walkers tend to repel drug dealers.

We’ll get back to that cooperative, work-with-us-here attitude in a minute.

Meanwhile, here’s a canine

Juxtaposition of the Day

(The Flying McCoys — AMS)


(Speed Bump — Creators)

I’ve had dogs who thought it was hilarious fun to run around in clothing and I had one who assumed he was being punished if you put a sweater on him. My current pup — shorthaired but of Scandinavian origin — mostly doesn’t seem to care, though it took several tries to find a sweater she wouldn’t wriggle out of in 10 minutes.

One of her besties is a Boston terrier, and they’re famously vulnerable to temperature extremes at both ends, but I’m otherwise convinced that dog sweaters are for the benefit of dog owners.

I saw a chart on social media this morning telling what temperatures are appropriate for dogs of different sizes, but neither temperatures nor sweaters are one-size-fits-all. My ridgebacks used to scratch at the door five minutes after being put out in winter, while my sister’s Berner would climb up on a snowbank for a nap. Meanwhile, sled dogs consider five inches of snow a cosy blanket.

My own rule is that, when it’s cold enough that I don’t want to listen to other owners’ criticism, I slip the sweater on Suzi. It’s a system that seems to work for everyone.

Now let’s switch to cats so I can piss everybody off.


Meanwhile, in the mostly sunny South, JD Crowe notes a story about cat lovers who emphasize the emotional rather than the intellectual.

The outrage is over two little old ladies who were apparently arrested for feeding stray cats. The first flaw in the heartbreaking saga is that they were not arrested for feeding cats. They were arrested, charged and convicted for trespassing, disorderly conduct and interfering with governmental operations.

It appears that the town of Wetumpka, Alabama, does not have a specific ordinance about feeding feral cats, but it does have laws about trespassing and mouthing off to cops.

I have always admired John Lewis and Rosa Parks and others who defied the law, then took their lumps in the cause of justice. I’ve never –not even “Back in the Day” — had patience with people who broke the law and then wanted amnesty. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth accepting the consequences.

But being obnoxious is not a political position, and these women, the video reveals, behaved no differently than the people normally derided as “Karens” for demanding special treatment. And as someone halfway between them in age, I get particularly annoyed by people who cite age as an excuse for misbehavior.

I don’t recall Benjamin Spock resisting arrest on the basis of being old enough that laws no longer applied to him.

As for trapping, neutering and releasing feral cats, my instinct is to side with experts who say the Trap, Neuter, Release movement is not only ineffective but harmful.

Here’s more on the topic from the American Bird Conservancy, who cite a number of reasons to oppose the soft-hearted approach, and not simply because it allows feral cats to go back to slaughtering songbirds. They offer a variety of supporting links, including one to an overall roundup of information that includes this snippet:

I like cats, but, once outside the house, they are an invasive species. The Oatmeal did a cartoon a few years back, after a chilling report not just on what feral cats do but on what your sweet little tabby does once she’s on her own.

Cats are a scientifically-documented threat to the environment, and the fact that they are cute shouldn’t make a difference. I haven’t heard of anyone in Florida trapping, neutering and releasing Burmese pythons. Besides, many of the endangered species that cats kill are absolutely darling.

Meanwhile, if dog owners have to license and confine-or-control their pets, I see no reason cat owners shouldn’t do the same. I know people with indoor cats, and I’ve even seen cats walked on a leash.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just animal science.


But as long as I’m playing Comics Mythbuster, here’s some good news, in conflict with this BC (Creators).

Certainly, birds do fly into wind turbines and they don’t win the contest. But, as the Sierra Club notes, those collisions are no more of a threat to birds than anything else that sticks up, including communication towers, power lines and houses. Not to mention cats.

Even if there were twenty times more wind turbines, enough to supply the US with electricity, the number of birds killed, assuming no improvement in wind turbine design, would be about 10 million–still far less than most other causes of bird deaths.

And there have been improvements in wind turbine design.


I also like kids, but a growing threat to them is not from windmills or feral cats. It’s from people who, even at Christmas ferchrissake, feel compelled to spread mockery and hatred against those who are different, blaming them and shaming them for who they are.

I’ll let Kentucky State Senator Karen Berg explain how things like Steve Kelley (Creators)‘s cartoon impact the youngsters he targets:

Point of Personal Privilege

I’ll close today on a more comforting note, one which I republish each year at the Winter Solstice, called “Merry Christmas to Those Not Having One.”

Please click the link, and share as needed.

11 thoughts on “CSotD: Animal Aesthetics

  1. I had followed Henry Berg-Brousseau through his uncle, fellow Q Syndicate cartoonist (and my editor for a time) Dave Brousseau; I hadn’t realized that Henry’s mother was in the Kentucky legislature. It has been devastating to see such a promising young life cut so short. I’m trying to put something together for next week’s syndicate cartoon, and I hope it lives up to this tragic occasion.

    P.S.: I suppose there’s already a study out there about this, but I imagine that banning windmills would save fewer birds’ lives than eliminating windows on buildings would.

  2. Mike, thank you very very much for posting the piece about Se. Karen Berg’s transgender so, Henry, who committed suicide because of the growing Anti-Trans movement in the USA.

    I am a Trans woman (since 1993), and a lesbian. I am totally glad that I made the transition, but now that I am 75 years old, and endlessly ill, I have been surveying the pitiful remains of my life, and seeing the wreckage that the Transphobia has made of it. When I came out, I instantly lost my cartoon career. Nobody would publish me, or even speak to me, or answer my messages. I had to give up trying, and I became a social worker.

    My father told me that if I ever came to his house, he would call the police. My sister didn’t speak to me for 13 years, although she kept on sending me astonishingly abuse letters. Nowadays she denies this ever happened, although she keeps finding new ways to insult and abuse me. (My Mom and one brother were totally supportive from day one.) And after my also-Trans (bulldyke) partner died in 1999, I have never found another partner.

    I lost almost all my friends. I have one old friend (far away), two in the cartoon world. My oldest and dearest friend (since 1953) dumped me without explanation. And that’s it. I am lucky to live in Canada, which supports Trans rights, and the decibel level of threats and hatred is much lower than in the U.S. (although not totally absent). I have one new friend here in Vancouver. I was finally expelled from the social work, because a supervisor accused me of rape, pedophilia, extreme violence, creating porn, and assorted financial crimes (for good measure). The Board of Directors chose not to argue with her.

    Luckily, some cartoon fans here in Canada located me, and I have received two separate Hall of Fame Awards for my old work. And the kind Andy Brown of Conundrum Press published an anthology of my work in 2017, The Collected Neil the Horse. (It is still in print, and available through most book dealers.)

    I have decided just recently to start posting screeds such as this, which I hope are not too inappropriate. I want people to know the effect that Transphobia has on otherwise decent lives. And I also want people to know why I was unable to continue with Neil the Horse, for which I had big plans.

    Thank you for making space for me here.

  3. Housecats whose owners allow them to wander freely outside are not much of a problem in my neighborhood. The mountain lions see to that.

  4. The story of Henry Berg-Brousseau is so sad. Saying that people don’t care about issues until they affect them directly is a fair criticism, but I admit that I learned a lot more about trans issues, and cared a lot more about them, when it arose in my own extended family. Seeing first-hand what someone has to endure to transition made it real clear to me that nobody does it unless they have to. It’s too enormous and difficult and miserable a challenge to do on a whim or a lark.

    A peeve almost nobody cares about but me: the big spinning things that produce electricity aren’t called windmills. They don’t mill anything. They’re wind turbines, and one of the glaring indicators that Trump was an idiot who had no idea what he was talking about when claiming “windmills cause cancer” was calling them windmills in the first place. Regarding bird strikes, they’ve been greatly reduced because large modern turbines spin much slower than the small older turbines. A bird would have to really not watch where it’s going to hit a modern turbine blade. As you (and the Sierra Club) say, the strike rate is probably comparable to hitting anything sticking up that high.

    Katherine, I would be proud to be one of your friends in the cartoon world. Look me up on Facebook, if you do Facebook. Otherwise, my email is easy to find.

  5. @Katherine. Another new friend.

    @Brian. You are not alone. I share your peeve. I’ve lost count of the number of makeshift signs I’ve seen (in neigboring counties or towns) that read: NO WINDMILLS HERE. SAY “NO” TO WINDMILLS.

    TURBINES, you idiots! TURBINES!

  6. Sherwood Herrington & Mary McNeil: Ditto the alligators here in FL. I did see a dead kitty in the road yesterday; about an hour later, the vultures had cleaned it up. Poor baby.

  7. To Brian and Teresa (above) —

    Thank you heartily for your support and friendship. I think that the comics community today is very different from how it was thirty years ago, when I was blackballed. Back then, it was dominated by straight white men, who ran almost everything, and who were very proud of being right-wing gun-owning fascists. That was what was regarded as “normal”. (And everything else was regarded as too weird for words.)

    If I had transitioned this year, instead of the early 90s, my work would probably have gone up in popularity, instead of being tossed in the trash. The younger cartoonists and fans who I have met recently are fresh and eager and excited about positive social change. I was just re-born too soon.

    Oh well, there’s always my next lifetime . . .

    — Katherine

  8. According to Wikipedia:

    “In 2005, after fifteen years in San Francisco, Collins was deported under the USA PATRIOT Act for “crimes of moral turpitude.”

    I’m confused how transitioning is considered a crime of moral turpitude in this day and age.

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