"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Catblogging (updated)

Introducing a new feature here on WITW, which seeks "to provide a non-political respite from the vehement echo chamber that the Blogosphere spins itself into during the week, demonstrating that even the mightiest and meekest of pundits have a love of cats in common". Even though it's been around for a while, I've recently discovered Friday Catblogging, where posts only have a few simple rules:

(1) They should be on Friday (well, duh!)
(2) The post should be about cats (double duh!) - either pictures of your cat, someone else's cat, or something to do with cats.
(3) Snarky political commentary, even if somehow cat-related, is discouraged. The "respite" thing, and all.

So here's my first Friday Catblogging photo:

The sweetie in the middle is Miss Cotton, who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a year ago Thanksgiving at the ripe old age of 22. There's a story about that, but I'll save it for another day. In the meantime, if you want to get into this catblogging thing, here's a few links to get you started:

The Oubliette

When Cats Attack!
Sharp As A Marble
The Daily Whim
Way cool Catbloggers Frappr Map
Finally, use caution when visiting IMAO and The Conservative Cat, who totally ignore the "no snarky political comment" rule.

CatBlogging Friday should be much easier than Half-Nekkid Thursday, as no semi-embarrasing exposed bare flesh is required. The phenomenon has even resulted in the following article which appeared in the New York Times last year:

The New York Times
October 28, 2004

On Fridays, Bloggers Sometimes Retract Their Claws


IN the vitriolic world of political Web logs, two polar extremes are Eschaton (atrios.blogspot.com), a liberal, often anti-Bush site with a passionate following, and Instapundit (www.instapundit.com), where an equally fervent readership goes for hearty praise of the Administration.

It would seem unlikely that the two blogs' authors could see eye-to-eye about anything. Yet Eschaton's Duncan Black (known as Atrios) and Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds have both taken part in a growing practice: turning over a blog on Friday to cat photographs.

"It brings people together," said Kevin Drum, who began the cat spotlight last year on his own blog, Calpundit (www.calpundit.com). "Both Atrios and Instapundit have done Friday catblogging. It goes to show you can agree on at least a few things."

Mr. Drum has moved on to write a blog for The Washington Monthly called Political Animal, which, despite its name, features no cats. But for him, watching bloggers step back from partisanship in favor of the warmth of cat pictures is a reminder of the March 2003 day when he discovered that his cats offered an antidote to stressful blogging.

"I'd just blogged a whole bunch of stuff about what was wrong with the world," Mr. Drum said. "And I turned around and I looked out the window, and there was one of my cats, just plonked out, looking like nothing was wrong with the world at all."

Grabbing his camera, Mr. Drum photographed his cat, Inkblot, and posted the picture (calpundit.com/archives/000597.html). He soon began doing it each Friday, attracting fans who just wanted to see the felines.

"I had a lot of people who were looking forward to it," he said. "I started getting e-mails on Friday mornings where people were like, 'Where's catblogging? What's going on?' "

As often happens in the blogosphere, other people latched onto the idea and ran with it.

These days, all kinds of bloggers are Friday catblogging, often playing around with the concept, even as Mr. Drum has stopped.

Cosma Shalizi is one of them. A postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, Dr. Shalizi sometimes devotes Fridays on his blog, Three-Toed Sloth (www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog), to what he calls "Friday Cat Blogging (Science Geek Edition)."

In those entries, interspersed among his thoughts on various academic disciplines, Dr. Shalizi ventures into scientific discussions related at least peripherally to cats.

On another blog, Spocko's Brain (s88172659.onlinehome.us/spockosbrain.html), the author wrote in one Friday posting: "I'm new to this blogging stuff, but from what I understand all the really cool kids post pictures of their cats on Fridays. Here's mine."

It was a giant Caterpillar tractor.

Even NASA has played along, posting a picture one recent Friday of the Cat's Eye nebula (antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap040910.html).

Some participants take Friday catblogging very seriously. Laurence Simon, a 35-year-old Houston technical support engineer, decided a while back that with so many people catblogging, it would be good to have a weekly compendium of the best of each week's entries.

So he began to post what he called the "Carnival of the Cats," a roundup (www.carnivalofthecats.com) of that week's Friday catblogging, available the following Sunday.

"The reason why I do it on Sunday evening is that most people aren't online," Mr. Simon said, "so on Monday morning, when people get into the office and are facing their first horrible cup of coffee, they can look at pictures of cats until they get screamed at for the first time of the day."

For a while, Mr. Simon was the host of Carnival of the Cats, but he decided to pass along the honor. Now, a different person handles the Carnival of the Cats each Sunday, compiling a healthy group of Friday postings for that groggy Monday morning audience.

One recent host was Sharon Brogan, a poet from Missoula, Mont. Ms. Brogan is new to blogging, having been at it for only three months. But it didn't take long for her to become a Friday catblogging convert (www.sbpoet.com/friday_cat_blogging).

"I enjoy it because it pulls together folks who wouldn't even read each others' blogs otherwise," Ms. Brogan said. "People from all across the political spectrum, Web diarists and serious craft people. As long as you are into cats, you belong in the group."

In any case, given the nature of the blogosphere, others have adapted Mr. Drum's inspiration for their own purposes. There are a number of Friday dogblogging and Friday birdblogging sites. One can even imagine Friday mongooseblogging.

To some, the point is that posting pictures of their animals provides a chance to introduce a softer personality into blogs that are often hard-edged.

"It's just nice for bloggers to do things that show themselves as ordinary people," Mr. Drum said, "not just partisan political writers."

Mr. Black agreed. It's a "way to humanize me and a way to put a little bit of me into the blog without going into my personal life," he said.

Of course, while Mr. Black's readers usually come to Eschaton for his takes on the political landscape, many visit on Friday to check for cats.

"It's the one thing that readers demand that I do," Mr. Black said. His cats "generally get positive comments," he said, although "some people think that they're fat."

WARM AND FUZZY - Kevin Drum at his office in Irvine, Calif., with Inkblot. One Friday last year Mr. Drum began a custom of turning over his Web log to cat photographs. "It brings people together," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

So there you go, everything you ever wanted to know about CatBlogging Friday. Happy CBF and have a great weekend, y'all.


  • At 12/09/2005 04:26:00 PM, Blogger bossann said…

    What a cute picture! Thanks for the catblog links, they were also entertaining. I have to admit that I'm not a very up-to-date-blog-reader so I also appreciated learning of Dave Barry's blog page. (Gasp! How could I NOT have known about that already?!?)

    As to Half-Nekkid Thursdays...guess you'll just have to move back to FL (where it got down to 60 for a low this morning!) I'm thinking that I could come up with a couple of HNT pics (but the website link said not to use 1970's Spring Break pics, so maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea after all!)


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