Tag Archives: OddBox

Here’s How A Christian Group Prevents Same Sex Couples From Adopting, In the Name of ‘Religious Freedom’

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Republicans across the country, now bolstered by the Trump administration, have been working very hard to enable healthcare providers, adoption agencies, and other organizations to deny services to LGBTQ people in the name of religious freedom. A disturbing new report by USA Today, the Arizona Republic and the Center…

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YouTube: No, We Won’t Remove These Videos of Racist, Anti-Gay Harassment Because It’s Just ‘Debating’

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YouTube has chosen not to take action against right-wing video personality Steven Crowder after Vox host Carlos Maza posted clips of Crowder repeatedly harassing him with derogatory, anti-gay, and racist statements, which Maza says resulted in hordes of Crowder’s fans doxxing him and subjecting him to abuse on social…

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The Swiss City That’s Full of Cat Ladders

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Imagine, if you will, what it’s like to be an average cat. You live with your owner on the fourth floor of an apartment building and, like so many of your fellow felines with exposure to the outside world, you have a fierce case of wanderlust. But until your owner gets home, you can do little more than sit on a sunlit windowsill, press your nose against the glass, and peer wantingly at the neighborhood below. You are beholden to someone who chooses to spend most of the day separated from you. No wonder your species is so notoriously moody.

In most parts of the world, you’d be stuck at home until someone comes and lets you out. But in certain European countries, human residents have built outdoor climbing aids, called cat ladders, to help their feline friends come and go as they please.

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Homemade cat ladders are as architecturally eclectic as they are charming. Many are simple and economical: a teetering plank between balconies; spindly pegs ascending a vertical drain pipe; a slatted wooden bridge laid diagonally from the branch of a climbable tree to a higher windowsill. Some are precarious, scaffolding-like structures of wood and metal that zigzag up multiple stories. Still others span intimidatingly wide gaps between roofs and apartment buildings, dozens of feet off the ground. At least one lucky cat has its own spiral staircase with a small perching platform on top.

Despite their whimsical photogeneity, cat ladders haven’t yet been thoroughly documented. The graphic designer and writer Brigitte Schuster aims to change that. She had spotted the occasional cat ladder in her native Germany, but it wasn’t until she moved to Bern, Switzerland, six years ago that she realized how popular they were. She’s since taken hundreds of photographs of cat ladders around the Swiss capital, compiling them in a book analyzing the structures from sociological, architectural, and aesthetic perspectives. Swiss Cat Ladders will be published by Schuster’s book imprint, Brigitte Schuster Éditeur, in German and English in fall 2019.

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Cats are the most common household pet in Switzerland, and also in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands—all countries, Schuster says, where cat ladders are staples of urban and suburban environments. But a country that loves cats isn’t necessarily one that embraces cat ladders.

There aren’t cat ladders in the United States, where many states have so-called leash laws that forbid the animals from being off-leash outdoors, and where city dwellers have built screened-in “catios.” Russia, which ranks highest in Europe in both cat ownership and household cat population, doesn’t have cat ladders. In Istanbul, hundreds of thousands of stray cats—some feral, some cuddly, all ownerless—roam and scale the city without the help of ladders designed specifically for them. A recent documentary, Kedi, tells the story of seven such cats, for whom every climbable structure is a “cat ladder.”

“I was questioning if cats really need these cat ladders, or if humans impose the cat ladders on their cats because they find them practical,” Schuster says. Her question appears backed up by traditional feline lore: If cats always land on their feet (and have nine lives), why do they need cat ladders? Couldn’t someone just open the window for their dearest feline and let her find her way to the ground, even if doing so requires an acrobatic leap?

“Cats do need them!” says Dennis C. Turner, a veteran cat behaviorist who’s considered, by his estimate, one of the world’s “four or five foremost cat experts.” “They’re very important. But they’re rarely mentioned in books about how to properly house cats.”

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Turner points to two reasons why cats need cat ladders: their physical safety and their mental well-being. Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t always land on their feet—the innate “cat-righting reflex” only works up to 30 meters, Turner says—and even when they do, their daredevil leaps can result in injuries as severe as torn ligaments, ruptured tendons, and broken legs.

There’s a saying Turner often repeats during interviews and public lectures: “Once an outdoor cat, always an outdoor cat.” That is, if a kitten was born outside and spent its first weeks outdoors, it should be kept as a cat with outdoor access for the rest of its life. Outdoor cats held “captive” indoors, Turner says, will invariably develop behavioral problems, including urine marking and scratching furniture and drapes. For people in urban areas who live in apartments, or even in two-story houses, cat ladders (plus cat doors) are the easiest way to let cats come and go.

For those who might find the notion of an outdoor cat objectionable, Turner isn’t against keeping cats exclusively indoors—“I wouldn’t do it myself,” he says, “but that’s personal”—as long as two rules are fulfilled: They’ve never been outside and their home indoors is physically and mentally stimulating, with scratching posts, elevated perches, sunny views, and so on.

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Not all cats immediately take to their ladders like catnip. There’s a learning curve. Schuster says that some cat owners will put food on different steps to lure their pets out, in a form of positive reinforcement. “Cats only learn when they want to learn,” Turner says. “Punishment never works with them, but positive reinforcement does.”

In the preface of Schuster’s book, Turner writes, “I personally think that all ladders indicate a willingness to house the cats properly and respect the animals’ needs.” A home with a cat ladder is a home that knows and respects the needs of the cats who live there.

If it fits, I sits” is an oft-memed saying associated with images of cats sitting snugly inside boxes, baskets, bowls, and other containers. Cats’ relationship with cat ladders might be described thusly: “If it’s mine, I climb.”

Trump Campaign Tries to Prove Trump Did Not Call Meghan Markle ‘Nasty’ by Tweeting Clip With Him Doing Just That

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Donald Trump and the other Trumps (even Tiffany!) are going to London tomorrow to meet the Queen, but they are NOT meeting Meghan Markle, who is too busy with her new baby to meet this particular motley crew. This is probably for the best, as Trump and his re-election campaign have gotten into a little tussle with the…

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Take a Visual Journey Through 181 Years of Street Photography (1838-2019)

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All of us here in the 2010s have, at one time or another, been street photographers. But up until 1838, nobody had ever been a street photographer. In that year when camera phones were well beyond even the ken of science fiction, Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype process and one of the fathers of photography itself, took the first photo of a human being. In so doing he also became the first street photographer, capturing as his picture did not just a human being but the urban environment inhabited by that human being, in this case Paris’ Boulevard du Temple. Daguerre’s picture begins the historical journey through 181 years of street photography, one street photo per year all soundtracked with period-appropriate songs, in the video above.

From the dawn of the practice, street photography (unlike smile-free early photographic portraiture) has shown life as it’s actually lived. Like the lone Parisian who happened to be standing still long enough for Daguerre’s camera to capture, the people populating these images go about their business with no concern for, or even awareness of, being photographed.


The earliest street photographs come mostly from Europe — London’s Trafalgar Square, Copenhagen’s former Ulfeldts Plads (now Gråbrødretorv), Rome’s Via di Ripetta — but as photography spread, so spread street photography. Rapidly industrializing cities in America and elsewhere in the former British Empire soon get in on the action, and a few decades later scenes from the cities of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East begin to appear.

Each of these 181 street photographs was taken for a reason, though most of those reasons are now unknown to us. But some pictures make it obvious, especially in the case of the startlingly common subgenre of post-disaster street photography: we see the aftermath of an 1858 brewery fire in Montreal, an 1866 explosion in Sydney, an 1874 flood in Pittsburgh, a 1906 hurricane in San Francisco, and a 1920 bombing in New York. Each of these pictures tells a story of a moment in the life of a particular city, but together they tell the story of the city itself, as it has over the past two centuries grown outward, upward, and in every other way necessary to accommodate growing populations; transportation technologies like bicycles, streetcars, automobiles; spaces like squares, cinemas, and cafés; and above all, the ever-diversifying forms of human life lived within them.

Related Content:

Humans of New York: Street Photography as a Celebration of Life

19-Year-Old Student Uses Early Spy Camera to Take Candid Street Photos (Circa 1895)

Vivian Maier, Street Photographer, Discovered

Pristine Footage Lets You Revisit Life in Paris in the 1890s: Watch Footage Shot by the Lumière Brothers

See the First Photograph of a Human Being: A Photo Taken by Louis Daguerre (1838)

The History of Photography in Five Animated Minutes: From Camera Obscura to Camera Phone

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Take a Visual Journey Through 181 Years of Street Photography (1838-2019) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don’t miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.