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Thought I joked, eh?
But no, there is indeed a World Cat Day and the Municipality of Rome does organize a Gattotour, starting today at 14,30 from the parking lot of the Campidoglio. This year the tour will take (well, has taken them at time of writing) people to see two of the more than 400 recognized Roman stray cat colonies, all of which are guaranteed from abuses (feral animals are protected by a special law in Italy - we have spots of high civility where less you would expect us to) and benefit from assistance from the town's veterinary service. Spaying is free, though other expenses are shouldered by the colonies' wardens.

The colony of Porta Portese in particular shelters cat particularly down on their luck: maimed, ill, abused cats, cats who have been poisoned or were in a car accident are cared for in a small hospital, housed, fed and petted, and the volunteers try to adopt them out. Among the traditional Roman cat ladies ("gattare"), they tell me, there are now every day more boys and men.

The Villa Flora colony also gives out food, health care, cuddles and tries to find a home for the animals.

Last year's Gattotour visited the older and more popolous colonies in Rome - the one in Torre Argentina, with more than 300 cats, and the one at the Piramide, with 200.

There are 300.000 cats in Rome, 180.000 living with humans, the rest on the streets. Any groups of more than five cats is a cat colony and protected by the law - nobody can dislodge them.

English language article

I had this idea about a new comic superhero today. Well, maybe a superanti-hero. My guy is a meek and mild-mannered editor in a fiction publishing house by day, but on some nights a dark and moody, er, mood descends upon him, and donning a white cape with pencil marks on it and red pen furious scribblings, he wreaks terrible justice on hapless authors who send terrible manuscripts to his slushpile. Every week a different gruesome death appropriate for the kind of literary crime committed. First week, death by overabundance of misplaced commas.

His name is SLUSHKILLER! Terror stalks the slushpiles...

Actually, what happened was that yesterday I wrote a long (2,500 words) and very cruelly detailed letter to the authors of one egregiously bad manuscript. I started from the spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes and when I got to the stylistic problems I just about stopped myself from writing "We are sorry to say that there are so many of these that a complete listing just isn't possible."

Anyway, this morning I reflected on the fact that one of those poor clueless women is actually suffering from bipolar disorder (which she tries, and signally fails, to depict in the book) and that I doubt the wisdom of inflicting that kind of rejection even on a healthy person.

I voiced my doubts to my editor but she growled: "No. Some people have got to be stopped."

I still think that suicide is probably, like, overkill in this case.

But yes, when people tell me admiringly that at least all these would-be authors are writing what I usually say is "Believe me, it would be better if they didn't".