Saturday, May 03, 2008

Off to the Glue Factory

The late Eight Belles

They say blogs are best when fresh and new, relevant and timely. I haven't posted in a while for a couple of reasons. The first is that not much worth posting has floated my way. The second is that I don't have much time. And then today comes around, and I'm given the gift of time and a story.

It's Derby Day, beloved by the uber-wealthy, horse freaks (sorry friend), and junkies in casinos. It's the sport of kings, after all. But I'm more of a serf, and it's just not relevant. Sure, I'll watch it, but I'm that guy hoping for tragedy. You see, I was sad when Barbaro died at the beginning of last year. I was sad because the news stories of a horse receiving flowers and candy and get well cards would come to an end. I was sad because people could no longer project ridiculous, contrived "love" for animals they don't own or know above the love they don't feel for random people who invariably get hurt much more often, and aren't wealthy enough to have doctors pour over them every minute of every day so that hopefully, some day, they'll live out their lives in a grassy pasture having sex with all the pretty girl horses. And don't think my contention ends with horse people. Generally speaking, I think that the least of humans is still higher and more worthy of life than the best of animals. So when you croon at the "whittle pwuppy" and I don't respond in kind, don't be surprised.

Today's big race was surly a great to-do for rich trophy wives in big hats and horse trainers who were once so down-and-out that they were sleeping in horse stalls and those two Cuban guys who defected and toiled day and night to survive meagerly and - oh - spend $35,000 on a horse. Wow, talk about a heart-warming story. I could have just cried for them, I was so happy. But for the rest of us, I assume we'll pay a small amount of attention to the Preakness to see if Big Brown (boring horse name, by the way) can continue his improbable bid for the elusive Triple Crown. If he does, great. If not, well, I'll probably have forgotten his name anyway.

And let's not forget the harrowing plight of Eight Belles, the filly who could. She gave it her all, literally. After breaking both ankles after completing the race, she collapsed and was euthanized. Sounds like she was juicing - that's a pretty ticky-tack injury for an animal that should be in phenomenal shape. I really hope - for her owner's sake, because this was probably their last chance at feeding their family - that an ankle injury doesn't devalue her at the glue factory. But I guess that's just one more reason not to buy a horse.

This one's an oldie but a goody, from my post-Barbaro post on my old blog.


Brett said...

You're heartless and you have no soul!!!


Also, what came to my mind first when hearing about the death of the filly was Hillary Clinton - she had made a somewhat humorous statement by telling an audience to 'bet on the filly' in the derby.

Then the filly came in second, and promptly died. A bad omen, a bad image, for Mrs. Clinton, don't you think?

I think the death of the filly IS sad - sad for its owners, and for the people who followed the sport. It's like when a human's house burns down, but a little bit 'worse' - in this case, the house (here representing an 'object' to which one applies significance and importance) also has some degree of sentience.

Though one could argue, of course, that the house actually provided some 'necessary' service for the human. whatevs. It's a wash.

I mean, I was sad when Seinfeld ended, and when Winnie Cooper didn't end up with Kevin on the Wonder Years. And I get too emotional to even Talk about Saved by the Bell.

I was sad when John Denver died. But if I hear on the news that someone died, I'm not usually sad, because that person had no connection to me.

People react emotionally, all the time, to things that don't really matter (and to things that kinda matter, like a filly dying).

I remember a friend of mine who was a huge Notre Dame fan...when he was talking about that game where they lost to USC in the last second, he said it 'felt like someone in his family had died.' And he wasn't being facetious.

Also, we watch movies and get excited - or sad or afraid.

I dont think it's necessarily a bad thing. I'm glad I don't become emotionally involved when someone I don't know dies. If I did, I would be utterly and absolutely worthless as a human being.

But some people had an emotional attachment to the filly. If they didn't, watching the sport wouldn't be any fun whatsoever.

Also, it's a dramatic story, so it will garner interest.

Emotions are powerful things. More often than not, they outdo our reason. So the trick is in being conscious of what one Chooses to be emotional about (if one can do as much).

And to be a bit principled about it, if one can.

But I'm sure you've felt much greater agony over a college football game than you have over the plight of someone you've passed on the street or heard about on the news. Or just knowing that Right Now someone died.

And now.

And now.
Not now.
But now.
A murder happened!

A rape.
Female Circumcision

This doesn't make you a bad person - our 'feelings' are not what define us - it's our principles and behaviors that do, and generally those are expressed in behaving politely and well with people we know, not in saving the lives of those we don't.

Which is weird to think, you know? I mean, we in America, pretty much all of us, have enough money and power to save a life. Take the money you spend on alcohol in a year, put it toward buying food for someone in a third world country (or providing medicine or mosquito nets). Voi la. You saved a life!!!

So I agree that the lowest of humans is more important than the highest of animals.

But I don't know if I agree that we should be condescending towards those for whom the death of an animal is an emotional event... If the Celtics had lost game 7, there would've been millions of people filled with all sorts of negative emotions, emotions much more powerful and present for them than when they read some headline about 100 people dying from a natural disaster.

It's Weird! But it's life.

To wrap it up: Emotional responses to an event are Not based upon the universal importance of said event. And I don't think they 'should' (or more importantly 'could' be).


I think we should lived principled lives, regardless of emotional involvement.

Brett said...

oh, and here's Peta's Response:

Peta is just so LUDICROUS all the time. It makes me feel bad for my friend Peter, who's from Wales, and so people there pronounce his name 'Petah.' He doesn't deserve to be aligned with such a lame organization.

I say that non-profit groups are like horses. If they're lame, they should be euthanized!

(I actually don't agree with the above statement, though I think it's funny. I'm all for the multiplication of factions. I ain't no commie!)

Also, I wonder if people with chronic ankle problems get offended when I use the word 'lame' as a general insult describing a person or action that is 'weak,''uncool,' 'pusillanimous,' 'self-righteous but not self-aware,' or 'douchebaggish.'

Sorry to offend, young-Forrest-Gumps of the world.

Brett said...

And to expound a bit:

One of the reasons that the coverage of the filly doesn't bother me too much is because it's being covered in the area of sport.

The vast, vast, vast majority of things that happen in sports are actually totally irrelevant and 'meaningless.'

The Lakers beating the Jazz, Kobe winning the MVP, my fantasy baseball guy getting a sprained wrist. These things have zilch in terms of universal importance...just like what's happening in a soap opera.

So a lot of coverage about a filly dying within coverage about sports...well, that actually seems somehow balanced.

What's unbalanced is when actual 'news' outlets spend more time on one pretty lost white girl in South America or on a presidential candidate taking 11 seconds to fill a cup of coffee than 20,000 + people dying in Myanmar.

dave said...

what a shame!!
What degrees our sports have slipped to when athletes under the age of 5 feel the need to juice just so they can have a chance to make it big. The risks that these young athletes take. Perhaps they should not have put her down, she could have filmed and invaluable public service anouncement letting all young athletes know about the dangers of steroids. Alas, now the only positive contribution that she can make to society is by holding some 6yr olds macaroni picture together and satisfying the tastebuds of paste eaters everywhere.

Brett said...

RE: Steroids. She was on steroids. But it's totally legal (at this point) in horse-racing.

So don't you think you could join with Peta and push for the banning of steroids in horse-racing so you wouldn't have to be exposed to schmaltzy news coverage of horsey-death?