End of the pledge drive: a final plea for a donation to Feline Friends London

March 21, 2019 • 7:30 am

Here’s one more cat rescue story designed to prompt those of you who haven’t yet donated to the Official Website Charity® (Feline Friends London) to ante up a bit of cash. So far we have about £2500 pounds donated, but if every subscriber donated just one pound we’d have nearly £60,000! I really would be happy if those of you who read this site regularly could kick in a pound or ten (donation information below).

I will continue importuning you from time to time by enclosing endearing cat rescue stories and photos of cute kitties.

As I’ve explained before, FFL is a no-kill cat rescue organization that saves the street cats of London. It operates on an all-volunteer basis and the budget is tight. All donated money goes to rescue cats, much of it for vet bills to help injured or sick strays, or to spay, neuter, and de-worm them.

And here’s the story of one rescue of two black kittens, who happen to have been adopted by readers Laurie and Gethyn. Laurie wrote this a few days ago and sent two pictures (one cat is named after me!):

One month ago, two rescue kitten/cats moved into our lives.

They experienced immeasurable upheaval in their compendious little lives: born in a market in East London and extricated from these frightening confines before being dispatched forthwith to a fosterer, then swiftly replaced to the rescuer to be conveyed to the Vet to be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before being conducted finally to the fosterer to await adoption.

We named them Alcestis Jerry (yup, Jerry!) and Octavia Sadie and upon arrival [JAC: Laurie is a classics scholar], they persisted inside their carriers.  On the first day, they ate and drank nothing, remained in their safe room and for the first week; we disquieted ceaselessly.

Alcestis Jerry

However in four short weeks, they have taken behemothic strides: they haltingly emerged from the safe room and we began to distinguish indications that they were curious about us.

Today is day 22.  They prospect the entirety of the flat (including rooms colonised by us), confidently insert themselves upon surfaces of varying altitudes, advance up onto our bed (albeit briefly) whilst we repose in it, boisterously and uproariously play with us and each other (in fact, they keep me awake most nights and love their laser pointer), nom healthily, take treats from our hands and revel in rubs; purring emphatically.

Octavia Sadie

They are enduringly restive and occasionally scamper away from us if we move too swiftly. They have not yet been in our laps and we have not held them.

We are delighted that we are able to give them their FURever home, and we will endlessly love them.  The little jerks.

We have not had rescues previously; so, special mention to Uncle Jerry for your guidance.

Click on the screenshot below to donate using your credit card. And I assure you: every penny will be well used and will help distressed cats. Remember too that I’m giving two autographed books out to two lucky donors selected at random (each book will have a cat of the reader’s choice drawn in it).

Please donate to Feline Friends London

March 15, 2019 • 8:30 am

Many thanks to the roughly 70 readers who contributed to Feline Friends London, a no-kill and impecunious cat rescue organization that has become my pet charity (excuse the pun). I have asked readers to donate twice now (here and here), and will do so once more after this, but I don’t like to hector people. But cats can’t ask for money, so I have to.

I’m told that the total received is about £1000, which is certainly very helpful, but it’s far less than I expected. When I made my first appeal (here), I said that if every subscriber gave just one pound, we could raise 60,000 pounds for the shelter. Only about 1% of subscribers—and there are more readers than that—have kicked in, and I’m sort of sad. I’m thinking that if only 1% of the readers appreciate this site enough to give even a pound or so, I’m not doing a very good job—or that people will take but not give even a pittance in return.

But there is still a chance to give a few pounds and, if you say in the comments that you’re donating, you could win a free autographed book with a cat drawn in it. (Two will be given.) Just click on the screenshot below to make some rescue cats very happy. This is a plea—for the cats.

To donate using your credit card, click on the screenshot below:

Look at it this way: you don’t have Jerry Lewis annoyingly importuning you for 24 hours straight. You have only Jerry Coyne asking you politely to open up your wallet a bit.

Here are some more cats up for adoption (three are taken already!):


Doctors Without Borders nurse killed in Gaza while reportedly firing and throwing grenades at Israeli troops

August 27, 2018 • 9:15 am

This news has been reported by several sources, including among others Reuters, the Deutsche Welle, and The Daily Mail. According to those sources, a 28 year old Palestinian, working as a nurse for Doctors Without Borders (DWB, or MSF if you use the parent-organization French name, Médecins Sans Frontières), was killed by Israeli soldiers while allegedly opening fire at them and throwing grenades. (I will take these reports as true until I learn otherwise.)

According to Reuters, al-Majdalawi might have been acting as a lone wolf:

The organization later confirmed in a statement that Majdalawi had been killed but did not elaborate.

“MSF is working to verify and understand the circumstances regarding this extremely serious incident, and is not able to comment further at this stage,” it said.

Its website says the group runs three burns and trauma centers in Gaza, whose Islamist Hamas rulers have fought three wars against Israel in the last decade.

Gaza authorities did not confirm Majdalawi’s death, saying that would require having his body, which they believed was being held by Israel. The Israeli military said it could not immediately confirm this.

No armed Palestinian factions claimed Majdalawi as a member.

Responding to Israeli media reports on Majdalawi’s killing, his brother, Osama, described the married 28-year-old on Facebook as a “martyr” who had “bought the weapon with his own money” and acted “completely independently”.

Now this can’t be laid directly at the door of DWB—except that the organization has long had an anti-Israel policy, even implying that Israel shouldn’t exist. It’s repeatedly taken sides with Palestine against Israel and made excuses for Palestinian terror attacks against Israel. Read this article in The Forward (of course it may be biased, but do your own investigation and note that the author links to the “explanation” of the Executive director of MSF). Click on the screenshot to read:

An excerpt (my emphasis):

On June 30, 2016, Jason Cone, Executive Director of Medecins Sans Frontiers-USA (MSF-USA, Doctors Without Borders) attempted to defend his organization from scrutiny over its politicized, anti-Israel bias. He did so through a strawman argument, claiming that his organization was being falsely accused of antisemitism. In this way, Cone deflected attention from the larger issue, namely, that it is wholly inappropriate for a humanitarian organization such as MSF, to assume a one-sided politicized agenda on a complex, multi-faceted issue like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Along with his colleagues, he has adopted a narrow understanding of this protracted conflict and has decided to agitate against Israel, while embracing the worst of Palestinian extremism.

Under Cone and others, MSF’s various branches have vacillated between ignoring Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians, and seeming to justify or celebrate it, as in the MSF-France online, interactive exhibition, “In Between Wars.” Described by the head of MSF-USA as “depicting the humanitarian hardships Palestinians face,” the presentation serves as a showcase for virulent anti-Israel propaganda.

While purporting to present Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza, the exhibition parrots the “Nakba” narrative that views the founding of the State of Israel as a catastrophe, delegitimizing the very existence of the Jewish state. Worse, MSF glamorizes deadly Palestinian violence by referring to images of “armed soldiers face[ing] young stone throwers or Molotov cocktails” as “icons symbolizing the struggle of the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation.” Similarly, one of the exhibits displays the living rooms of Palestinian homes, identifying them as a place to pay tribute to “martyrs”—a term that whitewashes the murderous terror attacks many carried out against innocent civilians. This sympathetic portrayal of Palestinian violence led Roger Cukierman, head of the Council of Jewish Institutions in France, to condemn the display as “an apology for terrorism” and warn “that [it] could inflame antisemitic violence.”

. . . Jason Cone’s own July 7, 2015, opinion piece contributed to this demonization by presenting Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians as being “called acts of resistance on one side and terrorism on the other.” Furthermore, he mentioned a rise in “Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians (mostly settlers),” suggesting that some terrorist attacks are more acceptable than others.

Yes, the “terrorism” is all by Israelis, and attempted killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinians is simply “resistance.” For further articles along these lines, see here, here, and here. (For MSF’s response, see here.)

Now I am not an unalloyed supporter of Israel. Their settlement policy is deeply problematic, and Netanyahu seems recalcitrant to consider what I favor: a two-state solution. On the other hand, the Palestinians are also making a two-state solution impossible, and, indeed, I don’t think Hamas—who control Gaza and whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel—wants that solution. They want Israel gone completely. I despair of such a solution ever occurring; but realize that it’s been largely the fault of the Palestinians. Since 1937, they have turned down offers of sharing land with Israel as separate states seven times, and for a long period even refused to negotiate. In contrast, Israel has never rejected either negotiation or the “accords” that were worked out since the late 1980s.

In terms of which state is acting more ethically, I think it’s Israel, as Palestinians use human shields, regularly and directly target Israeli civilians, and engage in repeated acts of terrorism against civilians. In my view, the Palestinians, with the collusion of Western media, have painted themselves as guiltless victims at the same time they preach anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in their schools and state media. If there’s an “apartheid state”, it’s Palestine.

By taking sides with a terrorist state, MSF is violating its own dictates to perform humanitarian action without regards to politics. When Kelly Houle and I auctioned off my multi-autographed version of Why Evolution is True on eBay, we donated the entire $10,000+ to Doctors Without Borders. And I put them in my will, scheduled to get a lot of money when I die.

No longer. I have a multi-autographed version of Faith versus Fact that I’ll also auction off for charity. But the money won’t be going to Doctors Without Borders: I’ll find another organization that does similar things. And I’m taking DWB out of my will, replacing them with an organization that doesn’t support terrorism. (I’ve divided up my inheritance money between medical relief organizations, organizations helping poor children throughout the world, and conservation organizations that buy up land and preserve wildlife.) I’m sure I can find organizations less problematic than DWB that deserve my dosh.


Our donation to Doctors Without Borders

April 10, 2015 • 2:45 pm

After selling the Fancy Book and realizing over $10K from that, and with artist Kelly Houle donating her profits from the sale of her painted book cover (and a percentage of her profits from the Darwin’s orchid print), we have finally received the money from the buyers and donated it to Doctors Without Borders.  I know readers will trust us that the money indeed went to charity, but I wanted to put up the donation receipt just for the record.

Kelly put up the auction pages, ran the auction, received the money, sent off the goods, and made the final donation, for which I am immensely grateful. And here’s what DwB got (we had to give $400 to PayPal for the transaction, an execrable action on their part given that it was a charity auction, and there was also a fee for the registered mail to send the book to the winner). It’s $10,357.97.


Despite the mercenary grasping of PayPal, that’s still a lot of dough. I think I’ll do it again with Faith versus Fact, and will begin collecting signatures on the first edition when the book comes out on May 19. Kelly has kindly volunteered to illuminate and illustrate the book again, so look for another auction in a couple of years!

Professor Ceiling Cat is pleased

March 21, 2015 • 9:40 am

The auction for the illuminated, illustrated, and autographed copy of WEIT, which runs for 8 more days on eBay, has already succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Artist Kelly Houle and I (she set up the eBay page and is managing the auction) decided to start the bidding at $995, hoping to get at least $1000.  (Two years ago, two autographed copies of the book, with only my signature and no illustrations, went for about $300 at the British secularist auction for Doctors Without Borders.)

I awoke this morning to find that the bids were considerably higher—$3,050! That represents lot of help for the activities of Doctors Without Borders (DwB).

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 6.01.36 AM

Remember that every cent of the proceeds goes to DwB, so if you either have deep pockets, or have friends with dosh, feel free to raise the bid. And please share the site with other people who might be interested.

Don’t forget, too, that Kelly is also auctioning two of her own artworks, one of them a small-sized (22″ X 30″!) version of the cover of what will be The Illuminated Origin of Species. The proceeds from that also go to DwB.

And I was also happy to see that my own publisher, Viking, tw**ted the auction (I didn’t ask them to):

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 6.09.19 AM

Chili’s cancels its support-the-anti-vaxers night

April 6, 2014 • 2:43 pm

As noted below, the restaurant chain Chili’s was going to donate 10% of its dining receipts on Monday (tomorrow) to the National Autism Association, a group that touts vaccination as a cause of autism. That connection has been totally discredited, and I suppose Chili’s heard from a number of people about this. They have, as a commenter noted in the original post, cancelled their “give-back” night. Here’s the tw**t:

Screen shot 2014-04-06 at 4.38.24 PM


People can make a difference, and that NAA will not only lose the money it would have made, but has now garnered a ton of unfavorable publicity.  Good for Chili’s. It’s a pity that they didn’t send an even stronger message by turning that evening into a fund-raiser for one of the reputable anti-autism organizations.

Baby lions: where I need to be.

February 26, 2014 • 1:05 pm

Regulars here will know that foremost on my personal bucket list is the experience of petting a baby lion or tiger. It’s been hard to find such opportunities. However, one reader sent the video below showing how, by volunteering in an animal conservation center in South Africa, you can have the Baby Felid Experience. Don’t think I’m not considering such a thing—after I retire. (I’m also told you can volunteer to feed the kakpos [flightless parrots] on the New Zealand island where they’ve been sequestered to protect them from introduced predators.)

This page shows you lots of volunteer experiences available in southern Africa, ranging from lions to penguins to Homo sapiens.

Speaking of cats, we’ll announce the winner of our Cat Confession Contest in the middle of next week (it’s a hard decision!)

Atheist website meetup

September 19, 2013 • 9:43 am

Reader Chak Dantuluri is organzing an Indian dinner at his house in Naperville, a Chicago suburb, a week from this Saturday (i.e., on Sept. 28) at 7 p.m. I’ll be there and so will Hemant Mehta (aka “The Friendly Atheist”) as well as other heathens. Chak’s wife Kavita, who I’m told is an excellent cook, will be preparing a largely home-cooked Indian meal, including both north and south Indian food.

This is sort of a benefit, so we’re asking everyone to donate at the dinner to our official website charity™, Doctors Without Borders (suggested donation $50); all the proceeds will go to that organization.

If you’re in the area and interested (there is room for 5-7 more people), contact Chak at his email address, drchak@yahoo.com.

Last day for free autographed books

September 25, 2012 • 1:10 pm

Just a note: I’m leaving for Yurp tomorrow (details follow) and today’s the last day you can get in requests for a free, autographed copy of WEIT (with a hand-drawn cat bonus!) if you donate $100 or more to Doctors Without Borders.  I think the readers here have raised nearly $5000 for that awesome organization, and maybe we’re not done yet.

Donate here (if you’re feeling in the chips, give more than $100) and then send me proof of donation and your home address. A book will go out in late October when I’m back in Chicago. You can specify how you want it signed and what kind of cat you want (no dogs, please!).

Just think, you, too can have something like this (posted on reader Jeff Lewis’s website, “Jeff’s Lunchbreak”):

That one had a gratis mouse, too.

Thank you!

September 21, 2012 • 2:54 am

Since I renewed the offer of an autographed copy of WEIT (plus gratis cat drawing) in return for a donation of $100 or more to Doctors Without Borders, I’ve been swamped with requests.  (I think the picture of Dozer getting fusses did the trick.) Since Wednesday there have been 18 new donations ranging from $100 up to $1000 (awesome!). The total amount we’ve given to DWB, including the proceeds from D. P. R. Jones’s eBay auction of two of my books, is now approaching $5000.

I’m grateful to all the generous readers who stepped up to the plate for such a good cause.  In fact, I have run out of books! I had four paperbacks left and didn’t anticipate the response. But no worries: I’ve ordered more from my publisher, and nobody will go bookless.

Since I’m off to Europe next week, most books won’t go out until after mid-October, so if you’ve donated please be patient.  I promise to come through and to do my best on the drawings.  And for those of you who haven’t yet donated: the offer is still open.

To paraphrase George M. Cohan: Doctors Without Borders thanks you, D. P. R. Jones thanks you, and, most assuredly, I thank you.