Monday, August 27, 2007

So, everybody and his brother feels compelled to talk about the Michael Vick plea today. For something that any reasonably intelligent person could foresee, it has garnered a surprising amount of coverage. Of course he was going to plead guilty. Once the other co defendants agreed to testify against him in return for a reduced sentence, what the hell kind of case did he have? Vick had to plead guilty, otherwise he was going to end up in jail for a very long time.

But there was at least one entertaining and interesting development to come out in this sordid mess today. A shady, corrupt organization has placed an ad in the New York Times questioning whether PETA kills more animals than Michael Vick. Once you get over the shock of any group, however misguided and corrupt, daring to question the practices of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it's pretty damn funny.

This is funny because this type of in your face, guerrilla marketing is what brought PETA to the attention of the general public in the first place. And anything that's bad for PETA is good for society as a whole. I do not like PETA. I am not a big fan of people who wear fur, but I don't really see it as murder. I do think that if you want to rock a leopard coat, you ought to have the good manners to take the big cat down yourself. But if you want to wear a mink or something like that, I just don't have the time or the energy to care about it.

My real problem with PETA comes from the fact that I believe it is one's moral obligation to eat meat. Think about. Over the last ten thousand or so years, we have domesticated a group of species and eliminated a number of predators in the interest of spreading what passes for civilization. If we suddenly stop eating meat, what becomes of the cattle and the pigs and the chickens and the turkeys? Are we going to allow the bears and wolves and wild cats to come back into our neighborhoods? Something tells me that that won't end well.

Of course, there are other, perhaps more practical alternatives to allowing the natural world to reestablish something approximating population equilibrium the old fashioned way. For instance, food animals could be sterilized and euthanized. What you do with the bodies at that point is beyond me, I realize there are alternatives but I'm not interested enough to research them.

I might be old fashioned, but I don't see how chemically castrating livestock and euthanizing them is particularly more humane than allowing people like me to eat them. I do think that food animals should be treated better than they are at the moment. Don't get me wrong, I have no sympathy or empathy for them. I just believe that if you raise healthier animals, I eat better meat.

I wonder, now, since I have Al Gore's assurance that catastrophic climate change could precipitate another ice age, how am I going to survive if I go vegetarian. I'm not a biologist, but I have noticed some things from casual observation of the world around me. One of the things I've come to realize is that plants have a tough time growing in winter conditions. The winter wheat might have been the greenest stuff Pop Fischer ever saw, but I don't think you're going to see much of it when the glaciers come rolling through the Boston Common.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe prehistoric man weathered past ice ages on a hearty diet of lentil soup and tofu. I have heard that a three bean salad prepared properly has as much protein as a nice, thick porterhouse. But I've come a long way to say that the worst thing to come from this Michael Vick mess has been to elevate the profile of PETA, and the best thing to come from it to this point is this ad ripping PETA.

In other news, rumor has it that Mark Cuban will be this season's token stretch on ABC's inexplicably successful Dancing' With the Stars. I say stretch because Mark Cuban isn't a star. He's a waste of space who creates controversy. One silver lining in this dark cloud (more media attention is not what Cuban needs), is that this little farce might distract him long enough to derail his bid to acquire the Chicago Cubs.

As I watched PTI and Around the Horn this afternoon, I learned two things that some think might make this appearance something less than an abject humiliation (like being denied entry to a Manhattan night club after trying to bribe the bouncer). First, Cuban is a pretty good natural athlete. But more importantly, Cuban helped pay his college tuition by teaching dancing. So he's going to strut his stuff, right?

I have the Benefactor's athletic prowess on good authority. No less a luminary than Michael Wilbon has tested Cuban's skills in pickup basketball games. Hell, if you take one good look at Wilbon, you know he is a tremendous basketball player. Look at his svelte, muscular build. You know Wilbon has game. So if he says Cuban can ball, then the Benefactor us almost certainly a tremendous natural talent.

And then there's his past as a dance instructor. Before we get all kinds of crazy, let's not forget that Cuban taught disco dancing, and he did it while at Indiana University. I don't really want to insult the great Midwest, and Bloomington, Indiana in particular, but it's not like he was tripping a light fandango at Studio 54. I don't know what the last days of disco were like for the Benefactor, but I doubt he was brought in as a consultant on the set of Saturday Night Fever.

I expect Cuban will find a way to come out of this appearance on Dancing With The Stars looking ridiculous. Even if he dances brilliantly, there is no doubt in my mind the Benefactor will find a way to turn a bravura dance performance into a public humiliation. But if he comes out for one show sporting the lily white suit of armor that Commodus rocked in the final battle in Gladiator, I will gain respect for him. I'd go so far as to recant almost 83% of the unpleasant things I've said about him in this space.

Finally, since the game is still going on, and I'm on record as saying I wouldn't post at length on preseason football, I just have a few things to say about the NFL. First, I have to congratulate my old friend DeAngelo Hall. He shaved a message to Chad Johnson into the back of his own head, and then proceeded to be beaten in ugly fashion by that same player.

Then there is the trainwreck that is the ESPN Monday Night Football crew. Tony Kornheiser called Chad Johnson "the irrepressible Chad Johnson" and his mike wasn't cut off instantly. I hate to say this, because I like him as an analyst breaking down film, but Jaws isn't doing anything for me. He does great work on NFL Live and the Matchup show. But he doesn't seem to bring the same insight to the table in real time. Maybe it's just Kornehiser taking the air out of the booth, and that could happen to anyone.

Finally, Asante Samuel is back, baby. And with any luck, he has stayed out long enough so that he'll be out of sync with his teammates. What a shame it would be if the Patriots were to stumble out of the gate this season. I just don't think I could bear up under that type of emotional strain.

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