Tuesday, September 06, 2005

You know, I wasn't going to do this...

...but I can't keep my mouth shut about this any longer.
This whole Hurricane Katrina thing is the biggest fubar you've ever seen.
Yes, the hurricane was a disaster, a terrible thing. But the real tragedy has been playing out now for a week. Literally thousands of people are trying desperately to cling to what life they have remaining, still in the hope that this dream that their country is founded on is going to be visible in the actions of their "government".
The government that is fucking them over, worse than any hurricane Mother Nature can throw at them.
Rumsfeld was in New Orleans the other day, shaking the hands of soldiers and police who are attempting to secure the city, itself a noble task, yet he completely ignores refugees a matter of metres away, as if their concern is none of his.
And then the "president" goes on telly claiming that those in New Orleans are not refugees, they are, in fact, Americans. As if the two are mutually exclusive terms. Is an internally displaced person not a refugee, by definition?
There is a reason I tend not to watch the news, it fills me with this white hot anger that I find myself unable to get rid of.
To add insult to injury, there are stories of refugee children being raped, and people being murdered in what remains of the city, because order has broken down so badly, and there are those out there who claim that of course terrible things would happen, what do you expect from a city of drug addicts, who celebrate homosexuality and sexual liberation. It honestly makes me want to hit someone.
I don't really have a particularly lucid point here, I'm just angry.
I emailed my former thesis supervisor, who hails from Louisiana and is now based in Alabama, to check that him and his family were ok, and he replied almost straight away, poor bloke, saying that they were all intact, but the sight of "our great old city" being destroyed was heart-breaking. They are swamped with refugees in Alabama, I can only imagine how many, because way up here this city has taken (I believe) 200 families, and the university 500 students.
The flag at the State Fair was at half mast, but I wonder if that was for the lives destroyed by the hurricane or those lost through government ineptitude and indifference.
Grr. Anger ball.
Speaking of the state fair...

Happy Things.
The Marcan Tiger Reserve was there with six of their Bengal tigers, and they were so badly, by far, head and shoulders, the coolest things there. Here is Rajistan.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
...and friend.
The really cool thing about these tigers is that is was blindingly obvious to anyone watching that these guys loved their tigers, and took really good care of them. Sure, its sad that the tigers have to live in a reserve and not in their native India, but when they lived in India they mysteriously managed to get themselves on the verge of extinction.
So these cats are born in captivity, but treated in such a way as to encourage instinctive behaviours. The trainers watch them at play, and encourage those activities the tigers are involved in when its just the tigers, not the people. The result is awesome to watch, and occasionally pretty funny. Like when Nina the tiger decided she didn't want to play, and wanted to lie down in the shade. When a cat that big decides she doesn't want to play, you can't make her without causing a bit of a fuss. So she lay there while the others did their things.
I think the ultimate aim is to release descendants of these cats back into the wild, but at the moment there are (I think...) about 25 or 30 Bengal tigers left in the world. So we have to look after the ones we have. These guys live in Florida when they're not out and about campaigning for tiger-dom.

Ok, so next time your kitten jumps on your knee to give you a cuddle, think of this guy getting cuddles from cats this size.
But they do cute things that little cats do as well, like play with balls and chase string. Its just that the balls these cats play with are about the size of exercise balls, and the string is eight feet of rope.
My flatmate Sanjukta is from the Bengal region of India, so we made a vain attempt to convince the tiger-looking-after-guys that she had some sort of ancestral claim to the tigers, and we should be allowed to take one home. Not surprisingly, we remain a tiger-less household.
Unless of course, you count these guys....

Notice toy tigers in the foreground, and real tigers in the background.
They were selling these wee fellas after the show, and the proceeds were going to help look after the tigers. So, we relented, and now, in lieu of a real cat, I have Raji.

The advantage being that he won't get hungry in the middle of the night and eat my arm.
I hope not...