Another re-post, because speaking out against the rodeo is something one should do every day.
Houston Rodeo — Selling Others For Profit
It’s rodeo time in Houston again and there is just something strangely familiar about the whole affair. I enjoyed reading 25 Random Facts About the Houston Rodeo, laughed through many of them, but I’m already tired of all the local hype and it’s only been a week.
Rodeo reminds me of another time in our darker colonial past. Both events are steeped in history, rooted in power of one over another, but at least one has been hard pressed to go away because it is just so dang’d profitable.
Sizing Up — Workers for Sale
(Image Credit: Abolition WYA)
Slave Cattle Trade — 21st Century
(Photo Credit: Unknown)
At least the four-legged guys don’t know what’s coming to them. (Hint: It’s neither picking cotton nor whistling dixie. Untimely death is their intended purpose.)
Yes, both racism and speciesism is alive and kicking here in Texas as are a whole sort of other -isms. Turn on the news or go out to dinner and one will hit you right between the eyes like a captive bolt. Like the slave trade of our past, pair speciesism with a sure profit with an under-represented party and you’ve got yourself an enduring legacy, folks.
Black, white, or brown, we know that we are all the same species, and for that we no longer (legally) exploit one another. But that is where the line of demarcation ends. More than a hundred years later, some of us continue to perpetuate oppression in different forms. It may be illegal to exploit people in the name the Almighty Dollar, not so with so many other species that share our space.
Who isn’t entertained as the bull-rider scrambles to get away from the one-ton, pissed-off bull intent upon skewering him? Only to be saved in the nick of time by the likes of a clown? (You’d be pissed off too, if your testicles were painfully strapped as you were ‘ridden’ undignified.) But the rodeo isn’t about calf scrambles, live music, or carnival rides.
‘New meat’ is required (pardon the pun) to keep the raising and selling of animals in America continuing long into the future. There’s money to be made on the backs of others and the meat and dairy industries don’t do anything small. What kid in the world doesn’t fall in love with baby calves or piglets or goat kids? So…how about luring them young’uns into the future program with all that baby bait?
FFA — Future
Farmers Foodies of America
(Photo Credit: Houston News)
To train a speciesist early starts with FFA setting up shop in our rural schools. It’s a seemingly innocuous task of raising of an animal lovingly and purposely from its birth to its eventual sale. If all goes well, this animal will — hopefully — earn a blue ribbon and some prize money for the kid at the County Fair or Livestock Show. The difficulty arises as ‘the truth’ of having to let go ‘their animal’ to the slaughter becomes imminent. There are usually some tears. That’s the point of the whole thing: breaking a child’s natural empathy for other beings. It’s a necessary rite of passage.
Judging from some of the rodeo events, unquestioned cruelty upon others may very well be the other half. I won’t even get started on calf-roping or what kids will do with their fair-raised bunnies that didn’t win a ribbon.
How it is we can continue to justify long-term exploitation or cruelty of another as ‘necessity’ is beyond my capacity to understand. Perhaps I am alone in thinking more deeply of others, but there will be no carnival ride, deep-fried Twinkie™ or front row seat to Kenny Chesney that could ever change my mind about it.
‘Negative Campaigns’ Deserve ‘Negative Vote’
Super Tuesday in Texas is — thankfully — behind us now. For more than a decade, I have flip-flopped between primary parties like a certain hairpiece does on a blustery day. This year, I sat out. By now I have yet to settle on either party, sitting smack dab on the 50 yard line. It was just easier to stay home and let the establishment duke it out.
Much as the Paleo dieters are married to the cruelest protein choice by damn, the Democrats and Republicans hold fast to their silly platforms which have left me decidedly on the outside. Each election season is a putrid, rotting mess that feels more like Judge Judy than a beauty contest for the Leader of The Free World. Many are clambering out of the crevices solely for the entertainment value and changing the radio or TV station does nothing to make it palatable.
So maybe it’s time we altered the voting process.
I love the digital world of 0’s and 1’s which is how our election system works. How about we add a negative vote as an option to every race — a 0, 1, and a -1? I’m not talking about a negative vote in the sense of voting for the other guy (who could be just as bad). I’m talking about being allowed to take a vote away from a candidate in a race rather giving one or (like many of us do) leaving all the boxes unchecked.
Stay with me now.
In a race where there is only one candidate, he’s a shoe-in even when a bunch of unchecked boxes tally as ‘under-votes.’ For instance, when 1,000 people show up to the polls, he may win with only 150 votes from people that know him, resulting in 850 ‘under-votes.’ Under-votes are vague; it is assumed that the person either didn’t want to vote in the race or simply forgot to ‘check the box.’ If a negative vote was an option, this same candidate could win a race with a total -750 votes (that’s -850 + 100 = -750 for the non-math types) which raises a red flag to future candidates. Should someone with a clean campaign run against him next term, he’s quite likely to win.
There are some candidates for whom — even if he’s the only one on the ticket — I would not cast my vote on his policy principal alone. But once someone’s in office…
Likewise where there are multiple candidates in a race, don’t abstain a vote by not checking a box, give a negative vote instead to the candidate you want least to win (for me, the biggest mud-slinger). If 30,000 people show up to vote in an election, and negative 20,000 votes were tallied with the other 10,000 positive votes, it is possible that the candidate with the least number of negative votes could cinch the race. Winning with negative votes is not a good thing — watch your back. In this example as in the previous one, the voter was able to give feedback where the the under-vote lacked.
Many candidates can dish out a negative campaign. Many voters may not know enough about a person to vote him into office (with a positive vote), but nearly everyone knows who they won’t vote for come hell or high water. Only each person can decide at the poll which vote or type of vote carries the most weight given what he knows at the time.
Until then, life is made simpler and more manageable when I just bird or play in the dirt. To unplug from the media madness and enjoy some face-to-face company of friends, family, and community — without the conversation going to politics, religion, or sports or catching viruses — is so much better. Snapping the occasional photograph of nature’s beauty is evidence to my own eyes that life is both rare and precious and that we all have our purpose on earth.
Nature is brilliantly beautiful and uniquely designed to sustain us, entertain us, and fulfill us to to that end. We all need to think on that a little more deeply, but first we should turn off the TV and computer screen where the crazies, apparently, compete for our attention.
Politics aside, a well-placed bag on the pegboard of the garage both creates invaluable real estate for another and also gives us an unlikely form of daily entertainment. Go ahead; have a look.
No cost for admission or vote — negative or positive — required.
Moving On Up
If it’s not chickenpox, it’s something else. Today, we are all recovering from one nasty virus that had the entire family vomiting or otherwise crawling to the toilet. While sipping Pedialite and writing this somewhat rant-y post, it is apparent — and refreshing — to me that Homo sapiens remains in the middle of the food chain. There may be hope for the world yet.
I survived…though barely. My recovery was largely due to the petroleum-based infusion of products the like of Emitrol and Immodium. We may be able to live 30 days without food, but no person one can go days without water, particularly when your body is intent upon getting rid of it. In another time and place, I might have just expired along with thousands of hapless others. It is nature’s way, after all, and we humans continue to be part of no matter how hard we try not to be.
The jump-up burpee is the exercise that may have hastened at least my physical endurance coming into martial arts’ intermediate level if not helped me recover from illness. In between the viral bouts were several days a week with military sit-ups, push-ups, and — ugh — burpees as my morning routine.
They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I totally believe this now.
The two-on-mom spar at the end of the rank exam was apparently worth the price of admission. One thing is for sure: I’m going to have to work extra hard in the coming months to keep roundhouse kicks from meeting up with my head. At only 4-feet tall, I blocked kicks above my shoulder on more than one occasion from my youngest daughter!
We call her the ‘Texas Tornado.’
Orange belts — Three minutes of sparring was nothing like 8 seconds on a bull…but it sure felt like it.
(Photo Credit: Dad)
Tomorrow…a garden and keyhole update.
And you know there’s another birding post in the making!
We never stop. 😀