Friday, August 16, 43 A.B.
Do I Hear Ten Cents For This Entry? Five Cents? Hello??
Our state fair is a great state fair,
Don't miss it, don't even be late.
It's dollars to donuts
That our state fair
Is the best state fair in our state!
- Rodgers and Hammerstein
The Ohio State Fair continues to lumber on here in the Great State of Ohio.
It'll continue to lumber on through Sunday.
If you planned on visiting the fair in order to pet something, though, you're too late. They auctioned off the animals Wednesday night.
A.J. Genter's hog fetched $11,000. It was AJ's third year at the top of the hog heap. The 19-year-old Genter has made so much money in the process, his college is all paid for. Now he's using his little piggies to buy a house.
His hog wasn't really worth $11,000, of course. The companies that bought it (Nelson Auto Group and Swan Cleaners) didn't do so because they thought it a great substitute for a loaner car or a new hand at the counter. They bought it for the publicity. And perhaps because a good chunk of the money will actually go to the Youth Reserve Program (which in turn hands out scholarships and fair awards).
It doesn't really matter why they think they bought it, though. The effect is to perpetuate a mindset and a way of life I find kinda hard to take.
Consider Mark Gray's lamb. It also fetched $11,000. And Gray just happens to be 19, too. But when asked to discuss the sale of his animal, he didn't mention college or a house. He talked about how hard it is to let go of an animal he's spent a lot of time with.
Animals that are almost always slaughtered soon after their sale.
"They get to be more like a buddy than a project," Gray admitted. "But that's the point of it, it's for the consumer."
Some people say the fair and its "youth projects" builds character. I say it takes kids, squeezes the natural compassion and empathy out of 'em, and perpetuates a mindset which treats fellow species as capitalist property.
That mindset, in turn, is what has allowed Ohio and other states to welcome factory farms - virtual concentration camps for cows, pigs, and chickens of all colors, genders, and denominations.
A hundred years from now, I suspect that today's news stories about animals being auctioned off at the fair for slaughter will seem as bizarre and disgusting as 19th century stories about slave auctions in Washington, D.C. seem today.
Until that day comes, however, I can only wonder: How many 19-year-old Ohioans would be willing to feed and groom me in exchange for a shot at $11,000?
How many would be willing to settle for a year's worth of imitation moos and a red ribbon?
It's a scary thought - putting myself entirely in the hands of a 19-year-old farm boy - but it's still better than relying on the state welfare department or prison system to take care of you, I bet.
In fact, maybe a hundred years from now the Ohio State Fair will be rewarding kids for their ability to house, care for, and train poor people and criminals rather than sheep and pigs.
And the sheep and pigs will be free to - uh, well, I don't know. Oversee Florida elections? Frolic in sports stadiums that are used less than 1% of the time for sports? Stand in line at Graceland and wonder what it must have been like to live in the Age of Elvis?
Ok, so maybe there are worse fates than slaughterdom.
If we start funding the research now, maybe that'll be different in a hundred years.
I swear, some people have such small imaginations, it's a wonder their hats don't hit their shoulders every time they try to put 'em on. Don't you be one of them! Write your elected officials demanding an increase in research funding TODAY!
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(©Now by DJ Birtcher just liked he was trained to do)
This morning I woke up dreaming that I was applying for an editorial position at a U.S. newspaper. In the course of being interviewed, I was given the following sentence and asked how I would correct it:
"The king ate his milk wisely."
How SHOULD it be corrected? Should it be corrected AT ALL??
Any guidance you can provide will be greatly appreciated!
I really, REALLY wanna get this job when I go back to sleep tonight!!