Sunday, November 30, 2008

Various interpretations of an inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim's hat

On a street not far from here, there's a massive inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim hat.  What exactly was the homeowner who put it out on his lawn trying to say here?  How did he want us to interpret his artistic offering?

Theory #1 --  The homeowner is a no holds barred satirist who's making a radical statement about the heinousness of the Thanksgiving tradition of turkey slaughter by turning the tables on the people who started the tradition.  Imagine, the homeowner suggests, that instead of pilgrims eating turkeys, it was the turkeys who ate the pilgrims.  While this turkey was blooding one of the pilgrims, the pilgrim's hat fell onto the ground and the turkey kept the hat as a keepsake and put it on his own head.  This theory is backed up by the girth of the turkey.  Look at it.  It's massive.  And these were the days before hormones.  What the homeowner wants us to take away from our viewing of this swollen-bellied turkey is that it consumed a multi-course dinner of pilgrims.  The homeowner also hopes we'll extend his Swiftian metaphor and imagine other turkeys celebrating what they call Pilgrim's Day in different ways.  The little ones would make crude crayon drawings of pilgrims.  Dad turkey would sit at the head of the table.  The honor of carving the pilgrim carcass would go to him.  And so on.  What an inflammatory idea.  I'm amazed this homeowner's neighbors didn't torch his house after they saw it.

Theory #2 -- The homeowner is reminding us that both the turkey and the pilgrim, as symbolized by his hat, are alike in that they're both creatures created by the same god.  By combining these two symbols, the homeowner is attempting to drive home the horror of the tradition of one of God's creatures consuming another.

Theory #3 -- The turkey, fully cognizant of its imminent death and worried about its soul, decided to get religion.  Since the pilgrims' religion was the only one he could find, he adopted it and started wearing the hat and writing masochistic, forgiveness-seeking verse.  The homeowner hopes we'll be struck hard by the irony of one creature embracing the religion of the creatures who are about to slaughter and consume it.

Theory #4 --  The homeowner simply got a good deal.  Wal-mart was having a two-for-one special on inflatable symbols of American-perpetrated atrocities.  Here the atrocity of the pilgrims wiping out Native American civilizations is combined with the atrocity of 46 million turkeys slaughtered this Thanksgiving alone just because the pilgrims' descendants enjoy the taste of their flesh.  (Wal-mart was all out of the atomic bomb on top of a white's only drinking fountain and some of their other two for one atrocities.)

Anyhow, these are the theories that occurred to me as I was walking by

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving leftovers

It's tempting to think people can only consume animals by forcing themselves to look away.  We can't resist the taste, okay, so don't tell us about it and we'll block it out of our minds, okay.  But then you look around during the Thanksgiving holidays and you see it's not like that at all.  People are very much okay with the idea of turkeys slaughtered for their pleasure.  Start with the football games on TV Thanksgiving Day.  They kept cutting to the same shot of turkeys in a claustrophobic turkey farm, pecking wildly, frantically climbing over each other, as terrified of the blade awaiting them as any human could ever be.  And, no, PETA didn't buy air time, this was the image the network used to get us in the Thanksgiving mood.  Whenever they cut to this turkey farm image, they'd cue the lush, orchestral schmaltz networks usually reserve for profiles of Olympians from small midwestern towns who overcame personal tragedy to triumphantly pursue their lifelong dream.  This schmaltzy music/turkey farm image combo would create the requisite evocative Thanksgiving mood and the play-by-play announcer would shift his voice down into a solemn baritone as he wished all America a happy Thanksgiving then expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the guys in the production truck, who would then wave to the camera and mouth the words, happy thanksgiving, everyone.  Okay, so there's that.  But we don't just use imminent turkey slaughter to conjure up feelings of humanity and empathy.  Emotionally versatile as we are, we're also able to see the lighter side of turkey slaughter.  Turkey consumption is the source of a neverending font of jokes.  These jokes tend to come in two forms:  1)  the turkey is the siren leading us to our gastrological doom.  These jokes feature us, as the self-deprecating glutton.  We fondly ridicule ourselves about the weight we'll put on, speculating on tomorrow's bulge in the belly after all that turkey.  We hold the turkey accountable for our sin of gluttony, but it's a good-natured condemnation.  After all, the turkey tastes so darn good, so how mad can we be, we're not total ingrates!  2)  the second common joke theme is variations of the turkey doing its level best to avoid slaughter.  These jokes are everywhere.  I just passed a lawn sign, next to an inflatable turkey wearing a pilgrim hat (subject for another time).  The turkey in the sign urges us to eat ham instead.  Heh heh!  Clever turkey understand we only have room for one species of animal at a time in our guts and by god he means to take advantage of this knowledge.  Not so clever turkey, there's room in our guts for every last one of you!  Talk about anthropomorphically projecting our traits, we manage to make this turkey sinister, deceitful and deluded in one fell swoop.  So, what else?  There's a Far Side cartoon that's been showing up on a lot of sales and marketing blogs, I guess because salesmen understand the importance of levity as a pre-requisite to human bonding.  In this cartoon, the turkeys attempt to fool the blind farmer by mooing like cows.  (The ever-observant suicide food handles theme #3, turkey consuming itself, applicable Thanksgiving and all year round, a theme but really miles and miles from being a joke, though that's the only way you can treat it.)  Then there's this one here, pictured above.  It's not a joke exactly either.  A lot of time went into it, whatever it is.  It seems to be a rendering of the turkey contemplating its imminent slaughter with a monkish stoicism that would make Marcus Aurelius proud, and in an unconventional medium to boot -- a wallace & grommitish claymation, I guess.  It looks good. It'll probably earn the studio that produced it the opportunity to bid on a car commercial.  so.  Animal slaughter that makes our food possible isn't our dirty little secret.  We don't have to look the other way, remaining purposely ignorant of the slaughter perpetrated for our benefit.  Just like Sarah Palin using the slaughter as a backdrop for her pardon the turkey so I can look presidential stunt, we're pretty much cool with the whole thing.  So fatten up them turkeys because Christmas is right around the bend.  wE'll replace the pilgrim hats with santa hats on our inflatable turkey lawn ornaments and we'll be good to go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

You in all your boundless wisdom did create the turkey, Oh Lord, but they were living turkeys, running freely upon the earth, when surely, Oh Lord, you intended them to be dead and their corpses to be resting upon our tables.  But worry not, Oh Lord, for we, with wisdom greater than your own, for which we do heartily give thanks, have rectified your error.  We have slaughtered your creation the turkey for you and not only have we slaughtered them, Oh Lord, 46 million of them for this blessed day alone, but to provide ourselves with a greater bounty of flesh, we have pumped them full of hormones, which you also overlooked, Oh Lord, but rather than slander your name, we do confer upon you all our forgiveness.  On this blessed day, we have gathered together, young and old, from all parts of the country, to give thanks to you, Oh Lord, who, in all your wisdom, created us and there can be no greater glorification of you, Oh Lord, than the miraculous creation of us.  We give you our thanks and we pray to you that you do, in your infinite mercy, forgive yourself, for though you did mistakenly create a living turkey instead of the dead one whose corpse now steams upon our table, you rectified your error by creating people with the wisdom to fatten and slaughter these turkeys, and also the wisdom to ignore their suffering and their inexplicable desire to live, and because of this creation of us your reputation will always be great, Oh Lord, rivaling even ours.  Thanksgiving, this time of year when we are warmed by human virtues and we glorify the human race ... well, not the entire human race, most of them do sin greviously, no, we glorify that portion of the human race which does reside within the borders of the United States and who do celebrate this blessed Thanksgiving.  We sing of your virtue, Oh Lord, for creating us and we sing of our virtue for acknowledging your greatness in creating us.  So as we slice and consume the flesh of your creation, which you mistakenly created living instead of dead, and for that we do heartily forgive you, we once again give thanks.  Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The California Milk Board is casting for new Happy Cows!

So let's see how the casting sessions are going...

A cow is led into casting room by assistant casting director.

CASTING DIRECTOR:  Okay, it's the Happy Cow auditions and you're auditioning for the part of Sally.  You'll be frolicking in sunlit fields while the voice-over tells people great cheese comes from happy cows.  See, in our focus group testing, "great cheese comes from miserable, abused cows in dark cramped cages" didn't go over so well.  So happy cows it is.  Okay, here's a little backstory on your character.  In order to produce milk, you have to lactate and the California Milk Board can't wait around for that top happen naturally so the dairy farmer hoists you up on  a rape rack and artificially inseminates you.  Suppose you give birth to a male.  Just as you joyfully start cleaning it, the dairy farmer yanks it away from you to sell it to the veal producer and it's back to the rape rack for you.  Okay, ready for your audition, I want to see happy now ... and ACTION!  No, that look of misery is all wrong.  We're looking for happy here! You're called the happy cows, not the despondent cows.  Not the cows of blackest despair!  Come on, work with me here.  Let's try another take.  You're back on the rape rack.  This time you give birth to a female.  She's not going to a veal crate, so you can turn that frown upside-down and be happy.  The two of you will get to spend some good quality mother/daughter time together when she's old enough to join you on the rape rack.  Okay, show me happy!  And ACTION!  You call that happy?!  I've seen happier looks on a pig about to be skinned alive.  Thank you, we'll get back to you.  If we need you, we know where to find you, or at least what's left of you after you get a quick stun bolt to the brain, heh heh heh.  Look at the bright side, you may not get to be a happy cow, but at least your skin will be worn by the pretentious director with a fake British accent who films the happy cow commercials.  So you're still in show biz.  Okay, next....

More Happy Cows here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The rough and final drafts of the Hormel Foods position on humane handling

The final draft:

A video was released that showed images from a hog farm in Iowa.  It is important to note that the farm in the video is not a Hormel Foods' farm and the people are not Hormel Foods' employees.  We find the images in the video appalling and they are inconsistent with our standards and industry standards for humane handling.  The abuse on the video depicted practices that are completely unacceptable.  Animal welfare and animal husbandry have always been top priority at Hormel Foods.  This is simply about treating animals humanely because it's the right thing to do.

The rough draft:

A video was released by some do gooder freakshow punk that showed some images from a hog farm in Iowa of a hog getting dunked in boiling water while it was still living.  It is important to note that it was a freaking hog!  You hear us, a freaking hog!  So the workers got a little carried away and they dunked it in boiling water when it was still alive.  And now it's dead.  Are we missing something here?  What part of it's a freaking hog don't you understand?  Yeah, you're all so civilized.  You want to think we treat the hog to a five star spa experience before we slit its throat.  You know why we slit its throat?  For you!  Because you've got a taste for hog flesh!  No hypocrite with a taste for hog flesh is going to get all high handed with us and act like you're so deeply horrified about what happened in that video.  Oh, we almost forgot.  It's a freaking hog!  You people make us sick with all your holier than thou preaching.  Now we got to waste time acting like we give a shit so people who don't give a shit any more than we do can read it and think we're all so nice and civilized.  You want us to say how humanely we treat 'em, how we give 'em room to turn around and stretch their little legs?  Are you forgetting something?  We freaking kill them!  So you can eat their flesh.  Okay, fine we'll jot down a few bullshit words saying how appalled we are, how that video is inconsistent with our standards, how we demand our suppliers adhere to the strictest standards and stick it on our website and you hypocrites can go back to salivating over the hog flesh on your plates and saying grace like you live in some polite and genteel world where hogs live like little princes until they magically turn into pork.  You want us to leave you with a Hormel humane treatment policy?  Fine.  Not giving two shits about what happens to these hogs has always been top priority at Hormel Foods.  You know why?  Because they're freaking hogs!  Now will you leave us the fuck alone?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Time for the annual turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House

In a few days, (soon-to-be-former, thank god or whatever) President Bush will keep alive the great American Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning a turkey.  The idea that this president is giving a pardon rather than receiving one is a topic for another day.  A couple from Elsworth, Iowa will present the approximately 45 lb. turkey that gets pardoned to the president.  Paul "butterball" Hill, his wife, Mary Hill, and their entire family -- because you don't exclude the children from an honor like this -- presented the turkey to the Iowa press today (think man lands on moon front page) and by tomorrow will be flying to the White House.  Paul Hill was given the honor because he is chairman of the National Turkey Federation.  Herein lies a tale of deceit and betrayal.  George Thornton (also pictured above) is President of the National Wild Turkey Federation.  He thought the honor of presenting the turkey for pardoning was going to him.  With good reason.  Much like with the Sunnis and Shiites, the Bush people played the National Turkey and National Wild turkey federation chairmen off each other.  They whispered things in their ears.  They encouraged, they baited, they offered enticements.  In the end, the honor went to Paul "Butterball" Hill and George Thornton returned home to lick his wounds.

Don't know anything about the National Turkey Federation?  (Sorry, George Thornton, not enough space here to pimp the National Wild Turkey Federation.)  Here's the "about" section, which was composed by the poet laureate of Iowa:

The National Turkey Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities which increase demand for its members' products by protecting and enhancing their ability to profitably provide wholesome, high-quality, nutritious products.

So Paul "butterball" Hill and family are probably flying to Washington this very minute.  Last Thanksgiving, Bush pardoned two turkeys named Biscuits and Gravy and he made the following two jokes:  "You cannot take the heat and you're definitely going to stay out of the kitchen."  "Biscuits had to earn his spot.  It was neck and neck."  And you thought those presidential speechwriters couldn't do comedy.

So what happens to these pardoned turkeys?  They go to Kidwell Farms, in Frying Pan Park, in Fairfax County.  Really.  I thought the turkey slaughter puns had trickled down from the White House to the newspapers reporting the story but no.  The pardoned turkeys really do go to Frying Pan Park, where visitors can stroll down Carving Knife Lane through the Basting Gardens or camp in 450 degrees for 3 Hours Campground.  That's silly.  Paul "butterball" Hill would never stoop to making facetious, some might say cynical, comments like that at a solemn ceremony like this.  So Kidwell Farms.  The pardoned turkey will join goats, pigs and cows at the petting farm, where people can pet and make cooing noises at the animals they normally consume.  This is where George "butterball" Hill's approximately 45 lb. turkey will end up after being subjected to a few slaughter-themed puns by George W. Bush.  And the next day, the visitors will arrive to pay homage.

DAD:  here, Billy, pet the nice turkey.
KID:  What, so we can kill it later.
DAD:  Not this one, Billy.
KID:  But we kill the others, one of its relatives.
DAD:  We don't kill it, Billy.  Someone kills it for us.
KID:  So we're cowards?
DAD:  No.
KID:  Hypocrites?
DAD:  Okay, fuck it, we're going to Six Flags.

So to follow up on the question of the hypothetical conscience-stricken kid, what exactly does happen to turkeys on turkey farms?  Not Frying Pan Farm.  The non-pardoned turkeys, I mean.  Stephanie e posted a video of what happens on one of those farms.  You don't want to see this video.  REally.  You don't want to see it unless you want to go to sleep tonight hating your fellow man.  Next time you think people force themselves to ignore the abuse and  suffering of animals because they like the taste of their meat, you'll remember this video and you'll know that some people don't just ignore it, they actually derive pleasure, the kind of pleasure that sex can only dream of equalling, pleasure from choking and bludgeoning and neck-stomping and other things that should never exist outside of hell.  It's stomach-turning, nauseating stuff.  I was going to say maybe the White House could supplement the pardoning ceremony with this video and if it's a little harsh for the camera-snapping tourists, they could just add a laugh track to soften it.  But that's a joke, and there's no place for jokes anywhere near this video.  Just saw the video again and there's only one more thing worth saying.  The end.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rape Rack Raspberry: A new flavor from Ben & Jerry's!

Ben & Jerry are pissed.  The FDA approved meat and dairy from cloned animals and they aren't having any of it.  It's the cloned part that annoys them, not the animals slaughtered for human pleasure part.  "We're beside ourselves, twice over," they say on their website, the playful pun tempering the indignation, reminding anyone with power or money who might happen to stop by their site that at heart Ben & Jerry are still a couple of fun loving sixties goofballs, so nobody should take their rant too seriously and take it out on the wildly successful businessman part of them.  Never mind that.  It's not the issue here.  Everyone knows the story of Ben & Jerry.  They made a name for themselves as countercultural stoners who made good.  They're known for retaining their Chomskian views and their hemp wallets.  They created the Caring Dairy initiative to convert farms to green energy.  They use fair trade ingredients.  They treat their workers well.  I've been to their factory in Vermont.  It's the biggest tourist attraction in the state.  I've seen the busloads of tourists limping out of busses and up the steps on their canes to get free ice cream to supplement their obesity ... stupid wine that I'm drinking, that's not the point either.  Ben & Jerry's outrage over cloned cows appears genuine, not like the statements about animal welfare on, say, the Hormel website, written by flak #478 in cubicle #4524.  Ben & Jerry's "intends to tell consumers exactly what's in our ice cream and other products through truthful labels..."  Truthful labels, they say.  I say, hmmm.  I don't want to trash Ben & Jerry.  I've probably gotten stoned to the same music they have, though it's more of a retro stoned.  I still spend a lot of time in Vermont.  But really now, Ben, Jerry.  You must know the fate of the cows that produce your ice cream.  The rest of the do good philosophy plays well in the press.  Brand image, as we used to say in my advertising days of hypocrisy and rationalization.  But doing good has to have boundaries, doesn't it?  And the thick, uncrossable boundary for Ben and Jerry is what happens to those ice cream producing cows after their ice cream days are over.  If they really want labels of truth on their ice cream, they could tell people the fate of the original source of Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey when she stops being productive after a few years.  And maybe a separate label to tell people what happens to her male offspring, how it ends up in a veal crate.  You're always looking for new flavors, aren't you, Ben & Jerry?  How about "Veal-nilla?"  And how about one named after the dairy cows that get artificially inseminated on the rape rack?  Raspberry Rape Rack.  It's alliterative, just like a lot of the Ben & Jerry flavors, so it should be popular, though maybe not in the Cherry Garcia, strawberry cheesecake universe of hyper-popularity.  Okay, back to the rant on their website.  "Ben & Jerry's still believes every cow has a right to be herself."  Up until we milk her dry and slaughter her the same way we slaughtered her son ... No, Ben & Jerry didn't say that part.  That was me, rearing my editorial head.  Ben & Jerry say ... ah, screw it.  I'm tired and a little buzzed.  I'm going to bed.  But you should take a break from your rant about cloning, Ben & Jerry, and check out what happens to those ice cream producing cows of yours afterwards.  If you can't make it to your local slaughterhouse, there's plenty of videos online.

VP, marketing considers making his products cruelty-free

VP MARKETING:  We're losing sales to products that claim they're cruelty-free so I was thinking, what if we put cruelty-free labels on our products...

VP LEGAL:  Cruelty-free means we don't test on animals.  But we do.

VP MARKETING:  We force feed them toxins.  That's not testing on animals.  It's testing in animals.  You see what I'm saying?

VP LEGAL:  I'm not sure that distinction would stand up in court.  Besides, we do test some of our products on animals.  We douse rabbits with our shampoos until their skin melts off.

VP MARKETING:  Good point.  I forgot.  Wait.  I got it.  Our products are cruelty-free.  Not as in free from cruelty.  But as in we don't charge for that cruelty.  Our cruelty is free.  You see where I'm going with this?  We tell people, those other guys, when they do unspeakably cruel things to animals, they pass the cost along to you, the customer.  But not us.  All the unspeakably cruel things we do to animals costs you absolutely nothing!  Because we value our loyal customers.

VP LEGAL:  I'm not sure we want to advertise the fact that we do unspeakably cruel things to animals.

VP MARKETING:  Here me out.  Maybe we do.  Maybe the forthright, direct approach is the way to go here.  People love getting value.  We tell them, you know how much it costs us to set up a lab, hire enough sadistic technicians, design all those unnecessary experiments, pay for the animals to test on, pay for having their carcasses hauled out afterwards, pay for the PR agency to come up with all those lies whenever there's a protest against us.  It aint cheap.  But though you, our valued customers, reap the benefits of all this unspeakably cruel animal testing, you don't pay a dime for it.  No, our cruelty is absolutely FREE.  What do you think?

VP LEGAL:  It could work.  Mention it at the meeting this afternoon.  Throw it against the wall and see what sticks.

VP MARKETING:  Wait, isn't that one of our animal tests?  Heh heh heh!

VP LEGAL:  Heh heh heh!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The human animal

People abuse other animals, but we're even-handed in our abuse.
We do not discriminate on the basis of species, size or habitat.
Mammal or bird,
Whether they live on land, in water or sky,
It makes no difference.
We brutalize them all equally.
We inflict pain and misery with a blind eye to their differences,
And the same blithe unconcern for their sufferings.
We stun bolt farm animals, use meathooks on circus elephants, clubs on seals and harpoons on whales.  Our cosmetic tests blind rabbits and rub raw the skin of mice.  We've got bullets for deer, hooks for fish, leg traps for wolves,
And on and on.
Sure, we've granted a special status to dogs and cats who share our homes.  But the ones unfortunate enough to live without a name and collar get a quick burst of poison to send them to the hereafter.
It's safe to say there's not a species known to zoology that hasn't experienced some form of human savagery.
And still, regardless of country or faith, we still persist in thinking heaven awaits our coming.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free range chicken: the progressives' version of driving a BMW

"Normally when we fill our advertising with outrageous lies, we have to dress them up to make them believable.  But the beauty of this whole free range, humane treatment thing is our target audience wants to be lied to.  The wilder and more preposterous the lie the better.  We say our chickens have more space to romp around in, they live under sunny blue skies, every day is heaven on earth and, cha ching, our target audience will pay whatever we charge.  My term for our target audience is the "aspirational ethicals."  They consider themselves progressive, concerned about problems beyond their own personal self-interest.  This perceived altruism is a source of moral superiority for the aspirational ethicals and source of profit for us.  So what does our target audience look like?  You'll often see them dressed in earth preservation-themed tee shirts, carrying canvass shopping bags, world music smiles on their faces.  If there's a petition outside the store, they're all over it.  Clean air, clean water, homelessness, literacy -- where do they sign?  So when they hear about how animals are mistreated on factory farms, it disturbs them, not so much because the animal is suffering, though that's part of it, but because they're helping perpetuate that suffering and sensitive ethical people like themselves shouldn't do that.  That's why they're so susceptible to our bogus humane treatment pitch.  Most consumers are cynical.  They've got their defenses up, they're on the lookout for our lies.  But, as I said before, our aspirational ethicals want us to lie to them.  Please, tell me the chicken led a happy life.  I'll pay anything so long as you let me feel like I'm an ethical shopper.   Then when they're in our store, purchasing the free range chickens, not only do they get to feel like an ethical person who cares about the well-being of the animals they eat, other people get to see them acting ethical.  It's the progressive version of driving a BMW.  You'll see them standing outside the refrigerated section, picking up the chicken, saying something like, "I'm so glad this chicken had a happy life," in a voice loud enough for all the surrounding shoppers to hear them and be impressed by their social conscience.  People, the sky's the limit with the aspirational ethicals.  The profit margin on our free range products is through the roof.  To sum up, cha ching!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The World Pork Expo -- booth #21, the captive bolt stunning gun firing range

Booth #21, the captive bolt stun gun firing range

All work and no play?  No siree!  That's our motto at the World Pork Expo.  And we want it to be your motto too!  After a long day studying feed ratios and penning equipment, it's time to unwind a little.  Come test your marksmanship at the captive bolt stun gun firing range.  We ain't talking paper targets here.  The live piggies will keep you on your toes.  The way they wriggle and squirm they're slippier than a watermelon seed.  Just make sure to wear old clothes, 'cuz those buggers spurt a regular blood geyser.  Then after you clean yourself off, it's time to head to the bar and finish off the night with a viewing of America's funniest slaughterhouse bloopers.    The World Pork Expo starts June 3rd.  So mark your calendars and we'll see you here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pork Council's 2008 Commemorative Toy Tractor and Hog Carcass

Painstakingly crafted down to the smallest detail, the 2008 Commemorative Hog Carcass comes with, not one, but two separate captive bolt stun gun holes to the head -- the misfired shot that merely stunned the hog and the killshot that pierced its brain.  But the attention to detail doesn't stop there!  It also comes with eyes frozen with ungodly terror and legs spalyed out as the hog struggles in a desperate but futile attempt to escape.  Squeeze it and it emits a realistic, piercing scream of pre-slaughter terror.  You won't believe how life-like it is!  This true collector's item makes the perfect gift for all those hard-to-shop-for sadists and self-styled compassionate, animal loving progressives who look the other way when it's time for dinner.  The vibrant and decorative 2008 commemorative hog carcass comes with its own display base.  It's sure to liven up any room.  So order yours today.

Also collect these other popular hog figurines:

Hog dunked alive in boiling water
Hog confined in tiny crate
Hog carcass dangling from meat hook
Pile of hog carcasses (deluxe edition)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The hamburger hall of fame

Each year, The National Provisioner magazine inducts one food processor, one retailer and one food service establishment into the hamburger hall of fame.  I couldn't make time to attend the ceremonies, but I was able to find a transcript of one of the acceptance speeches.

Inductee is standing at the podium waiting for the applause to die down.

Inductee:  Thank you!  Thank you so much!  I'm humbled in your presence.  Who ever would have thought that a guy from Storm Lake, Iowa would be standing up here before you today about to join the greatest hamburger people of all time?  When you're a boy growing up you visualize this moment, but you never think it's possible.  I want to thank ... ho, boy, where to begin?  I want to thank National Provisioner for selecting me.  All the great hamburger lovers out there.  And most of all, a special heartfelt thank you to the cattle.  I'd never be here today if it weren't for you guys!  There's people out there called vegans who refuse to eat hamburgers.  No, I'm serious.  I'm not making this up.  They don't like the idea of cattle getting slaughtered.  But there's something these vegans don't understand.  The cattle I know aren't content to spend their lives standing around in a field grazing.  Unlike these vegans, cattle aspire to greatness.  They want to become hamburgers.  But not just any hamburger.  They want to be the best damn hamburgers in the world.  And you know what, fellows, it looks like your hard work and sacrifice has paid off.  I'm the one up here getting inducted into the hamburger hall of fame, but you guys are with me in spirit, every one of you.  I'm sorry, I'm getting a little weepy.  It's just that I feel so much gratitude.  Especially to you, Vernon.  Vernon, he was my favorite.  A big old black and white steer.  I can see him now, tail twitching, big old round eyes staring at me.  Old Vernon understood his calling.  He walked right up and took the stun bolt to the brain without even blinking.  Sniffle.  I told myself I wouldn't do this.  It's hard.  These guys mean so much to me.  I just want to say in closing the future of the hamburger is bright as ever.  We've got a great new generation of cattle coming up, preparing themselves to become the finest ground beef in the world.  Together we'll continue to make hamburgers that are deserving of this great honor bestowed upon us today.  Thank you and God bless!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Prop 2 redux: Humane Society says, "Let fly the corks!"

Friends take a bow.  Open the window and give out a whoop.  Let fly the corks ... No agribusiness titan can overlook the mandate:  people do not want their animals treated with wanton cruelty.
 So said the blog of Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, after the passage of Prop 2, which mandates that, starting in 2015, all chicken cages must be big enough so the chickens can turn around.  They'll even be able to extend their limbs.  Life is good.  Until it ends the same way it always has.  Which begs the question:  if a jolt of electricity followed by a knife across the throat doesn't qualify as wanton cruelty, what kind of cruelty is it?  Compassionate cruelty?  Cruelty-free cruelty?  "We can't acknowledge it without endangering our fundraising" cruelty?  So people do not want their animals treated with wanton cruelty.  Okay, fine.  But they still want their animals on menus and in refrigerators and on barbeques.  That's the problem, isn't it?  The narrowed spectrum of the debate.  Evil titans of agribusiness on one end, good people who insist animals have room to stretch their legs before the slaughter on the other.  Those are the two outer poles.  And veganism?  The possibility of eliminating the suffering of these animals by eliminating our consumption of animal products?  That's off in Siberialand.  If Wayne Pacelle mentioned any of that on Oprah, the sponsors would have all hightailed it for Judge Judy.  So Prop 2 passes, the chickens can stretch their legs before they're slaughtered and the Humane Society comes away with so much publicity I'm sure they've let fly a few corks of their own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Even if we can't, so what?

A country stained for so long by slavery and its aftermath has elected an African-American to lead it.  The outgoing president has finally justified his existence.  His torching of countries and ideals made possible the otherwise impossible election of Barack Obama.  So the world rejoices, as it should.  But it's hard not to look a little further down the ballot and see that here in California voters took it upon themselves to tell people they've never met, sorry, but marriage is for us, not you.  And then a little further down still the proposition to "end cruelty" by adding a few cubic feet of legroom to the pre-slaughter lives of pigs and laying hens won a resounding victory.  In the minds of the voters, the issue has been resolved.  The all-you-can-eat conscience-free buffet is now open for dinner.

People are still giddy from last night's seismic change.  Suggest to them that maybe the passage of Prop 2 is a setback instead of an improvement and they'll shake their heads in frustration.  How can anybody be thinking about farm animals during a time of economic upheaval, unjust wars, corporate pillaging and catastrophic climate change that some day soon will render all other issues moot?  Can you really be such myopic, single-issue obsessives?

The answer is yes, when that single issue is society's daily imprisonment, torture and slaughter of millions of sentient beings and when this daily slaughter takes place with barely detectable resistance from people who eagerly join the fight against every other injustice.  Talk to these people about a day when animals are no longer deemed human property to dispose of as we see fit and they'll tell you it's naive, self-indulgence by wide-eyed fools tilting at windmills.  "It'll never happen, I wish it would but it won't, no matter how much you hope it will," someone said to me a few days ago.

Hope?  Who said anything about hope?  Dan Cudahy, author of Unpopular Vegan Essays, wrote recently in a comment on the Animal Person blog,
I'm not going to get into my personal lack of hope about the future regarding animal rights ... because it has nothing to do with my advocacy/activism.  I advocate for what I think is right regarding sentient beings ... regardless of my doubts of ever achieving it.  ... I have no need for hope.
We're guided by what we see in front of us, and what we see is one species, which has the capacity to reason, using that reason to decide it's perfectly legitimate to torture and kill other species who cherish their lives just as we do, who fear just as we fear and suffer just as we suffer.

A proposition to put an end to our dominion over other species won't be on the next election's ballot.  It probably won't be on next century's ballot either.  So do we really truly hope to succeed?  Do we honestly think people will ever give up enslaving and slaughtering millions of their fellow animals each day?  What we hope is beside the point.  It must be stopped.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prop 2.5 -- Standards for Confining Tyson Executives

Tomorrow California will vote on Prop 2 -- standards for confining farm animals.
Prop 2.5 -- Standards for confining Tyson chicken executives will not be on the ballot.

Prop 2.5 states that the corner and window offices of all Tyson Foods executives shall be replaced by cages with dimensions proportionate to the size of the battery cages Tyson suppliers use to confine their laying hens.  Just as it has been deemed more cost-effective to confine multiple hens in the same cage, significant savings can be obtained by packing multiple executives in the same office/cage.  Therefore, each office/cage shall house no fewer than seven executives.  Much like chickens trying to establish a pecking order, executives are hierarchical by nature.  Executive VP's will attempt to dominate Senior VP's who will attempt to dominate ordinary VP's and so forth.  To prevent these executives from harming themselves as they attempt to assert dominance in such tight quarters, their pens, keys and other sharp objects should be removed prior to the executive being placed in the office/cage.  After all, an injured or damaged executive is far less productive than a healthy one.  Finally, as the intent of Proposition 2.5 is to ensure that the executives are treated humanely, it is mandated that each office/cage has sufficient space for the executives within to rotate freely on their swivel chairs, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.  Exceptions will be made for transport to meetings and feeding in the office cafeteria.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dialogue between HSUS and Tyson Foods about Prop 2

The first line of the Humane Society mission statement:  "Celebrating animals, confronting cruelty."

So how exactly did that confrontation against cruelty go?

HSUS:  Killing animals for human pleasure is cruel!
TYSON CHICKEN, ET AL:  And your point is?
HSUS:  Come on, throw us a bone here.
TYSON:  A wishbone or a drumstick?  Hee hee hee.
HSUS:  Hee hee hee
TYSON:  Are we bonding?
HSUS:  We're bonding.
TYSON:  So...
HSUS:  Look, we celebrate animals and confront cruelty.  That's the very first sentence in our mission statement.
TYSON:  It also says in your mission statement that you join with corporations on behalf of corporation-friendly programs.
HSUS:  No, the actual wording is we join with corporations on behalf of animal-friendly programs.
TYSON:  Stop splitting hairs.
HSUS:  Sorry.
TYSON:  I've got an idea.  How about if instead of confronting cruelty, you appear to confront cruelty?
HSUS:  Not bad.  As long as it appears that way to our donors.
TYSON:  Hee hee hee
HSUS:  Hee hee hee.
TYSON:  Okay, tell people you want a little more space for the chickens to move around in.  We could work with that.  We've been doing the same thing ourselves.  You should see our website.  We go on and on about humane treatment blah blah blah.  People eat it up.  It makes them feel less savage.  Great for sales.
HSUS:  We could put a proposition on the ballot!
TYSON:  There you go.  Win win.
HSUS:  Win win.
TYSON:  High five!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The self-contradicting lawn sign

I just walked by a sign on San Vicente that said, "Stop animal cruelty.  Yes on Prop 2."  I can only assume the sign maker was a fair-minded person who, after writing, "Stop animal cruelty," decided the opposing point of view deserved equal space.  So he added, "Yes on Prop 2."