A Cute Kitten Story

"Cute kittens grow up to be cute cats" writes Arthur Chenkoff. They sure do! Take Private Hammer for example. Hammer is a brave tabby cat who provided some much appreciated support to American soldiers in Iraq:

"He was born at the site," said Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield. "There were two other kittens in the litter, but they ran away. He stayed and kept mice out of our living quarters and out of our dining facility."

Adopted by the troops, the young cat provided warmth and companionship in an otherwise hostile environment. When the unit was attacked by mortar fire, Hammer ran to the bunkers, where the nearest soldier scooped him inside his body armor to wait out the attack.

"He was like our stress therapist over there," Bousfield recalled. "You’d come in off raids where we’d been kicking in doors and guys would be sitting outside by themselves. He’d come over and take their minds off the war."

After neutralizing 5 mice his Army buddies promoted him to private first class. "He should have been major," said Bousfield, "he caught a rat as big as he was."

When it was time to come back home Bousfield didn’t want to leave any of his men behind – and that included pfc Hammer. In an interview with CNN’s Daryn Kagan he explained "I’ve always been taught, you know, you never leave someone behind. And he’d been with us for so long, you know, and been such a benefit to us, you know, we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t leave him behind."

The trouble was, the army don’t let troops take pets on their flights. But Bousfield wasn’t about to give up. He started sending email messages to people he thought might be able to help. One of those messages reached Becky Robinson at Alley Cat Allies. "We had to say yes to an American soldier in Iraq," said Robinson. "We had to do it for the animal’s sake and the men’s sake. They were over there, fighting, doing their job – and rescuing a kitten."

Thanks the big hearted folks at Alley Cat Allies, and some help from Military Mascots, Hammer now shares a house in Colorado Springs with his buddy Rick, his wife Sheri, their children Tiffany, 15, and Jeffrey, 13; and their five cats, the dog, some hamsters and two geckos.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, John Quiggin is complaining that Tim Blair doesn’t get irony. What is irony anyway?

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Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Yes, this is irony alright. And JQ’s “cute kitten” remark was more naked sarcasm really. But Blair still interpreted it in a wilfully obtuse literal manner in order to sool his moron sycophant army onto JQ.

OTO I think Chrenkoff has a point in his response to Tim D’s breach of Godwin’s Law. The Nazi reference really IS inappropriate. US actions in Iraq are certainly having some evil consequences (as well as the good one of getting rid of Saddam), and some of the Bush administration’s motives and actions have been a lot less than pure. But the Nazi comparison is way out of line, and silly as well as offensive.

Don
Don
2022 years ago

Prof Q hates being told he’s wrong. He hates it almost as much as people not recognizing that he’s been the first to post on something.

Q’s been saying some interesting and sensible things lately. I don’t always agree with the prof but he’s always a good read.

I guess that’s why I don’t want to stir him up by explaining that I don’t think he was using irony at all. It seems to me that the ‘impossibly cute kitten stories’ comment is actually an example of synecdoche. One example of a category is made to stand for the entire category (species substituted for genus).

Of course there are many different kinds of irony. One of them is called paralipsis. But let’s not get into that right now.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Don

So you reckon JQ is going to feel more sanguine about only being accused obliquely of not understanding irony, and of being thin-skinned to boot? Have you considered applying for mature age entry to DFAT as a diplomat? Your chances might be marginally better than mine, though.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Don, I’m fond of charientismus.

From Lanham’s Handlist of Rhetorical Terms:

Type of Irony; clothing a disagreeable sense with agreeable expressions; soothing over a difficulty, or turning aside antagonism with a joke:

King. Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in’t?
Hamlet. No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offense i’ the world. (Hamlet III, ii)

I like using a bit of charientismus with EvilPundit when he pops up around the place – which he returns in kind.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Shit, I am trapped among intellectuals. A certain cat meanwhile has the family video camera propped against the sofa and is menacing a terrified rat with a fish knife. The dogs are demonstrating in the back seat of the Ford Suburban saying they won’t go anywhere in the house without armour-plated doors. Oh, and there’s a tiny cache of high explosives hidden behind the kitty litter. But the family is still going to vote Republican even thought the house is completely out of control.

Don
Don
2022 years ago

Ken,

Maybe it’s my warped sense of humor but I think it’s funny when the prof gets defensive. I can’t see why he needed to defend himself against Tim Blair. It never crossed my mind that there were any stories about cats.

… oh… nice use of sarcasm. Was I just getting defensive back there?

And Mark,

I hadn’t heard of charientismus. I like it.

Have I got the synecdoche thing right or am I confused? Have you got a neat name for the kind of irony the prof was using?

Don
Don
2022 years ago

David,

You might appreciate this:

http://www.indybay.org/news/2004/09/1695528.php

Red Peter
Red Peter
2022 years ago

For a better (and more humerous) analogy to the RWDB “good news” charades, rent out “goodbye lenin!”- funny German movie. Watching it in light of rumors about Bush’s pre-senile dementia, I had images of him being in place of the mother whilst his deposed neo-con buddies
scramble to keep news from the “reality based community” leaking in through the cracks.

But more to the point; who the hell calls a CAT Hammer!?

wen
wen
2022 years ago

I think synecdoche is a form of metaphor, rather than necessarily anything to do with irony. Though of course metaphors can be ironic!

wen
wen
2022 years ago

Just looked up definition of paralipsis — good one, Don!

wen
wen
2022 years ago

Or, to remain true to the spirit of paralipsis: “I won’t say good one, Don….”

Don
Don
2022 years ago

Red Peter,

Who the hell calls a cat Hammer? Well I’m glad you asked. According to Rick Bousfield “The company name was Team Hammer, so, naturally, we named him Hammer.”

And in case you’re wondering what kind of cat Hammer is, Bousfield’s vet reckons he’s an Egyptian Mau.

And thanks for the movie tip. I’ll keep an eye out for Goodbye Lenin. I missed it at the cinema.

Red Peter
Red Peter
2022 years ago

Well then -how’s that saying?- “if all you’ve got is (a) Hammer, everything looks like a…”

synecdoche indeed.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Okay.. here’s a test. Can you classify the forms of irony, sarcasm and rhetoric used in the brutally politicised kittens that Don points to?

(thanks, BTW..)

cell phone batteries
2022 years ago

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