Monthly Archives: June 2012

Coyote: Compare and Contrast

Nehalem Bay State Park coyote

Aggressive coyote at Nehalem Bay State Park. Photo has many attributions — It’s probably from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, via a visitor who snapped a photo of what is believed to be the relevant coyote.

On June 21, 2012, a 20-pound female coyote attacked a five-year-old girl in Nehalem Bay State Park in Oregon.  The girl is fine.  The coyote is not, but you wouldn’t know it from this National News article, which reports, both in its headline and in the text of the article, that the offending coyote was “removed” from the park.  That sounds like it was live-trapped and relocated, doesn’t it?  Only at the end of the fourth paragraph do we see what really became of the coyote — apparently it was “safely taken from the park by lethal means“.

“Safely taken”…by “lethal means”?  Not safely for the coyote, surely.

For contrast, here’s an alternative article, about the same event, whose angle implies the coyote was “tracked down and killed”.

Here’s an article that says the girl was “nipped” by the coyote; here’s one that says she was “bitten”; here’s one that says she was “attacked”.  Here’s an article calling the event an “encounter”, using a headline which carefully implies the coyote was not necessarily at fault (“Coyote killed after encounter left 5-year-old girl injured“), and specifically not using the word “bitten”, yet still using the word “attacked” later in the article.  And here’s one that deliberately emphasizes that the attack was made upon a “little girl”.  What do you suppose actually happened?

And, as a bonus, here’s the first article published verbatim by a different news agency without the original byline.  Notice that they changed the headline to include the word “attack”, even though the word “attack” appears nowhere in the article?

This is why I never trust information from just one source.  Journalists are supposed to be unbiased, but it doesn’t often happen that way.

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Repost from Cracked: More Creepy Stuff from the Food Industry

I hate just reposting something without adding anything to it, but this author has said it all.

The 6 Creepiest Lies the Food Industry is Feeding You is posted on Cracked.com, a site which uses the word “boobies” a lot but still manages to produce some insightful articles.  The article covers: the unfortunate origins of honey and spices; “plumping” and other hideous things done to your chicken; the “gluing together” of meat scraps to make fake steaks (something of which I was unaware); the dyeing of meat to make it look healthier; the fact that, unless you are in Japan, you have never eaten Kobe beef; and the fact that you probably have never eaten real olive oil, either.

The article also has a twin brother by the same author, The 6 Most Horrifying Lies the Food Industry is Feeding You, covering: bread made of wood; zombie orange juice; the ammonia bath factories give meat rather than actually maintaining clean slaughterhouses; imitation fruit; the meaninglessness of phrases like “free range”; and baseless health claims on labels.

I like pointing people to these articles as a “baby step” toward larger issues.  They don’t screamingly push an agenda; they’re reasonably funny; they’re very well written and back themselves up with decent references; and they don’t so much say “for the love of god, examine what you are eating” as provide a very real and immediate reason to do so.

Asking For a Broken Leg: Foal Wrasslin’

Humane and safe youth rodeo, by mettem on morguefile.com

Humane and safe youth rodeo, by mettem on morguefile.com

One of my favorite blogs, Snarky Rider, had a post discussing a rodeo event of which I’d never heard, where groups of three children, about 8-12 years old by the looks of it, run up to a foal, grab it, get one of the kids balanced on its back and race for a finish line.  The original post, with photos, from the Goat Whisperer, is here.  The event disturbed me on several levels, and I thought I’d write about it, because people ought to know this is happening.

The event appears to be the “baby” version of an equally (in fact, much more) unpleasant activity, of which I was also previously unaware, called the “wild horse race” (link goes to video; here’s another), wherein adult humans run up to an adult horse, grab it, and attempt to ride it.  The wild horse race doesn’t just take place at the Yakama Nation “Treaty Days” rodeo — they do it at many rodeos.  In fact, I had a lot of trouble figuring out at exactly which rodeo this particular event took place; it actually appears to have taken place at the “White Swan Junior Rodeo Association Spring Round Up” or “White Swan Junior Rodeo”, which seems to be a different event than the “Yakama Nation Treaty Days” rodeo (which features mostly adults).  There is also a Navajo Nation Treaty Days rodeo, and in fact there’s a whole association governing Native American rodeo in the Western states.

I can’t find a lot of info on the “junior wild horse race”.  It appears to have been held previously: here are some photos from the 2011 event, and from the 2010 event.  The event differs from the “dinner bell derby” or foal race, which is held at multiple rodeos, where foals are temporarily separated from their mothers (who are within sight), taken to one end of the track and released, to run to their mothers, who form the finish line.  (Whether or not this is cruelty may come down to the individual players in each individual event.  The video I saw involved some struggling and smacking to get some nervous babies to stand still and then to run, but the run itself was quite short and they made it to mama in generally good shape.)

That the baby wild horse race is not mentioned widely online does not mean it is not popular.  It just means that it’s not mentioned on the fliers.  Googling for “junior wild horse race” brings up some results, including mentions of such events happening in Rapid City, South Dakota and Chadron, Nebraska.  (Please do not get me started on breeding miniature bulls just for youth rodeo.)  This implies it’s a little more widespread than just one rodeo in Washington state.  On the bright side, they may not all be describing the same event: here are some photos from the Wood Mountain Rodeo’s 2010 junior wild horse race.  There are kids involved, but they are: a) older, b) wearing safety gear, and c) working with adult horses.  Image searching for “junior wild horse race” turns up a couple more photos from different rodeos, again with older kids, safety gear, and adult horses.  Not that I approve of this event in general, but I can think of ways where a “wild horse race” with adult horses and sane older kids/adults in safety gear can be done humanely for all parties, and I can’t imagine a single way it’s possible for three eight-year-olds to humanely — or safely! — aggressively wrestle into submission a three-month-old foal.  (It’s also not something I’d want my eight-year-old — or my foal! — to be learning when it comes to human/animal interaction, but that’s just my personal opinion.)

Hopefully, the White Swan Junior Rodeo Association’s use of extremely young horses and extremely young children in a wrestling contest where they are both just asking to get broken is a lone blip.  (And, as Goat Whisperer suggests, we should be writing the Yakama Nation and asking them, politely, if they have lost their minds.)  Either way, this is another in a long line of very good reasons not to attend or support a rodeo.  Surely in this day and age we can think of more productive things to do with our spare time?

 

400 Die In One-Vehicle Crash

Sheep.  Photo by penywise at morguefile.com.

Sheep. Photo by penywise at morguefile.com.

A while ago, I noted a flurry of articles which casually mentioned that, when two barns  at an egg farm burned down, 470,000 chickens died.  No-one seemed to find it a cause for concern that this meant each barn had held 235,000 hens.

Today I noticed many articles about a truckload of sheep which “crashed, rolled, and hung over an Australian overpass” on May 31, 2012.  (As a bonus, that particular article also begins with the highly professional and journalistic sentence “Counting sheep has never been so horrific.”)  Sheep rained over the side of the overpass and fell on motorists below.  This article has a little more detail, and some rather sad photos if you’re feeling brave.

And again, a major point is being missed….

FOUR HUNDRED SHEEP?  On one truck?  Four HUNDRED sheep?

There’s no information about the model of truck involved (there are photos though, including some here, here, and here), but, concerning the maximum size of haulage vehicles, the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales mandates:

A trailer built to carry cattle, sheep, pigs or horses on two or more partly or completely overlapping decks must not have more than 12.5 metres of its length available for the carriage of animals, measured from the inside of the front wall or door of the trailer to the inside of the rear wall or door of the trailer, with any intervening partitions disregarded.

12.5 meters is approximately 37.5 feet.  From the same document, we know the trucks are at most 2.5 m (7.5 ft) wide, so one level of the truck has (37.5 x 7.5) = 281.25 square feet.  281.25 square feet x (let’s be generous, and hope this truck, like this one, has four levels) 4 vertical levels = 1125 square feet in the entire vehicle.  That gives us…2.81 square feet per sheep?  What?  For an animal which can weigh 150-350 poundsThree square feet?  150-200 pounds is about an average human…can you fit in three square feet?  (That’s a little more than three sheets of typing paper, by the way.)

I’m not insane, apparently — this is a real thing, against which people have been protesting for a while.   Why aren’t we hearing more about it?  A Google search for “australian sheep truck” turns up pages and pages of nearly verbatim reposts of this story — why isn’t anyone curious as to how four hundred sheep got onto one truck, or why they are allowed to be crammed in that way?