Monday, December 29, 2003

Cows: Angry or Barmy?
One of the most frustrating things about being vegetarian these days is that people with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease can't understand you when you say "I told you so." It's maddening. You walk around shouting "Ha ha! I told you so! Nonny nonny boo boo!" and they just look back blankly at you, mumbling something about how great it is that the severe mental incapacity makes it possible to ignore the intense pain.

Ah, I kid my carnivorous brethren. I would never say "I told you so." Not about the Mad Cow, the E. coli, the heart disease, the pinkeye, the growth hormone, the antibiotics, the black leg, the clogged arteries, the fat asses or the poop in the food. But I do admit to taking a wee bit of satisfaction from listening to US authorities explaining that it's safe to eat beef. Really, it is safe, they say. Honest. Just don't eat brain. Or hamburger. Or any meat close to the spinal column. Oh, and T-bone steaks. That T is where the rib meets the spine -- you should probably steer (har!) clear of T-bones. And McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. They have beef. Oh, and their French fries, too. And...

Basically, any beef is safe to eat, so long as it didn't come from a cow.

But perhaps the biggest problem with bovine spongiform encephalopathy is the nickname "mad cow disease." That seemed to work better in the UK and in Canada, where "mad" is a more commonplace synonym for "crazy," (which is how infected cows act). In the states, mad almost always means "angry." Here's an example:

Imagine Eric Idle sitting on a fence rail, looking at a field of cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Some of the cattle are stumbling around as if the farmer accidentally spilled Rush Limbaugh's OxyContin stash into the grain bin. Others are thrashing about, trying to bite off their own tails. Idle exclaims, "Blimey! Those cows look bloody mad!"

Now imagine Dr. Dre sitting on that same fencepost. Dre says, "Damn! Those motherfuckin cows are motherfuckin mad!" See the difference?

Or imagine Prince Charles on the fencepost. "I say, is it my imagination or are those cows positively mad?" Now, Donald Rumsfeld: "I don't know how many times you're going to ask me the same question! Are those cows mad? Yes! They are mad!"

So you can see, "Mad Cow Disease" is probably not the best name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the US. People are just going to think our cows are angry. And who cares if they're pissed? We're just going to eat them anyway. Who wouldn't be pissed?

No, to better prepare the good people of the United States for their post-beef lives (or for their spongy, elastic, hemorrhaging brains), we should rename the disease to better reflect its insane nature. I humbly suggest, "Bobby Knight Disease."